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A Chopin Biography

Updated on January 20, 2012

This hub is a brief biography of one of the greatest piano composers ever. Chopin's piano music is recognized, loved, admired and played all over the world and certainly will be for the foreseeable future. Read on to learn the basic facts of his life and watch and listen to some great performances of his works along the way.

Parents and birth

Frederic Chopin was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1810 to a Polish mother and French father. A musical prodigy from a young age, his teacher in Warsaw, Wojciech Zywny, did not teach him much, but he did introduce him to the works of the great composers Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig Van Beethoven.

Early career and flight to France

Chopin's natural talents gained him acceptance to the High School of Music in Warsaw, where he studied musical composition. While he loved Warsaw, he longed to live in a more sophisticated European city such as Vienna or Paris. He set off on a tour of Europe one week later, when he was in Vienna heard that the Poles had risen up in rebellion against the Russian government then in power. The Poles lost their valiant struggling, making it impossible for the young nationalist to return home safely. He headed on to Paris, which was now flooding with Polish refuges and immediately found his feet in his new home.

Piano Concerto No 2

In Paris

He began to rub shoulders with talented musicians and composers like Franz Liszt and Hector Berlioz, and thanks to the assistance of the popular pianist Frederic Kalkbrenner he was able to give his first concert in Paris in 1832. His talent helped his reputation grow and he earned a good living amongst the French aristocracy through composing, performing and teaching pupils.

Scherzo No 2 in B flat minor

Chopin and George Sand

Chopin eventually fell in love with the novelist George Sand (whose real name was Amandine Aurore Lucille Dupin), whom he met in 1836 but was less than impressed by. But by 1838 they were in the throes of a torrid love affair, and ran off to the island of Majorca, owned by Spain, in order to try to help Chopin recover his health. However, their accommodations were bitterly cold that winter and the doctors of no use

As the 1840s arrived, Chopin was still composing but his health was getting worse. The couple separated in 1846, for reasons we can only guess at in her autobiographical novel Lucrezia Floriani, which contains a very unflattering depiction of a sickly hero..

The final years

Chopin traveled to London and north to Scotland on tour and met with great admiration. But his death was imminent and so he returned to Paris, where his friend, the mezzo-soprano Pauline Viardot, commented that every woman who went into his room fainted because they were so devastated at the thought of losing so great a pianist. Chopin died on the 17th of October 1849 with several friends, including one of his pupils, Adolphe Gutman, and George Sand's daughter Solange, at his bedside.

He was buried at the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris, but in accordance with his own last wishes, the heart was taken out of his body and smuggled to Warsaw, where it has been kept since inside a pillar in the Church of the Holy Cross. 

"Funeral March" from Sonata in B flat minor

Your comments!

What do you want to add to this short summary of Chopin's life? A few words about why you love his music, comments on the performances, or any other thoughts you may have on the subject are warmly welcome in the comments section below!


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    • jamila sahar profile image

      jamila sahar 5 years ago

      What a beautiful synopsis of one of the most fascinating and mysterious composer/pianist that has ever lived. Chopin along with Granados is considered the poet of the piano. He wrote almost exclusively for this instrument and understood how to create the most evocative music on the piano. I am currently working on Opus 35, which I find to be an incredible masterpiece and work of art. The way the movements flow together and in and out of one another I find it to be a narrative of perhaps his own life story told through music. From the stormy first movement to the fiery scherzo which does not end in a bravura fashion as all his other scherzo's but instead flows into the Marche, which then ends with one of the most enigmatic pieces of music, the finale,in which he stated 'the right hand and left hand are gossiping after the Marche'

      I look forward to reading more hubs from my favorite website


    • John Sarkis profile image

      John Sarkis 6 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Very informative Hub - Chopin is one of my 4 favorite composers....

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Excellent hub, as usual! By the way, I never knew about Chopins relationship with George Sand.