Chopin (in Pere Lachaise Cemetery)
N 48° 51.607 E 002° 23.567
31U E 455462 N 5412083
Quick Description: Frédéric François Chopin, (March 1, 1810 – October 17, 1849) was a Polish pianist and composer. He is widely regarded as one of the most famous, influential and admired composers for the piano.
Date Posted: 10/11/2006 12:03:00 PM
Waymark Code: WMTX3
He was born Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin in the village of Zelazowa Wola, Poland, to a Polish mother and French expatriate father. Hailed as a child prodigy in his homeland, Chopin left for Paris at the age of 20. In Paris, he made a career as a performer and teacher as well as a composer, and adopted the French variant of his name, "Frédéric-François". He had a turbulent 10-year relationship with the French writer George Sand from 1837 to 1847. Always in fragile health, he succumbed to pulmonary tuberculosis at the age of 39.
Chopin wrote almost exclusively for the piano, solo or accompanied, and his compositions are widely considered to be among the pinnacles of the instrument's repertoire. Although his music is among the most technically demanding for the instrument, Chopin's style emphasizes poetry, nuance, and expressive depth rather than mere technical display. He invented some musical forms, but his most significant innovations were within existing structures such as the piano sonata, waltz, nocturne, étude, prelude and Polonaise. His works are often cited as among the mainstays of Romanticism in nineteenth-century classical music.
Chopin was born in Zelazowa Wola in central Poland near Sochaczew, in the region of Masovia, which was part of the Duchy of Warsaw. He was born to Mikolaj (Nicolas) Chopin, a Frenchman of distant Polish ancestry who adopted Poland as his homeland when he moved there in 1787, and married Tekla Justyna Krzyzanowska, a Pole.
The family moved to Warsaw in October 1810. The young Chopin's musical talent was apparent early on in his life, and in Warsaw he gained a reputation as a "second Mozart". At the age of 7 he was already the author of two polonaises (in G minor and B-flat major), the first being published in the engraving workshop of Father Cybulski, director of the School of Organists and one of the few music publishers in Poland. The prodigy was featured in the Warsaw newspapers, and "little Chopin" became the attraction at receptions given in the aristocratic salons of the capital. He also began giving public charity concerts. At one concert, he is said to have been asked what he thought the audience liked best. 7-year-old Chopin replied, "My shirt collar." He performed his first piano concert at age 8. His first professional piano lessons, given to him by the violinist Wojciech Zywny (born 1756 in Bohemia), lasted from 1816 to 1822. Chopin later spoke highly of Zywny, although Chopin's skills soon surpassed those of his teacher.
While visiting Vienna, he learned about the November Uprising and decided not to return to Poland, thus becoming one of the émigrés of the Great Polish Emigration. He stayed in Vienna for a few more months before visiting Munich and Stuttgart (where he learned of Poland's occupation by the Russian army), and arrived in Paris early in October, 1830. He had already composed a body of important compositions, including his two piano concertos and some of his Études Op. 10.
In Paris, Chopin was introduced to some of the foremost pianists of the day, including Friedrich Kalkbrenner, Ferdinand Hiller and Franz Liszt, and he formed personal friendships with the composers Hector Berlioz, Felix Mendelssohn, Charles-Valentin Alkan, and Vincenzo Bellini (beside whom he is buried in the Père Lachaise). His music was already admired by many of his composer contemporaries, among them Robert Schumann who, in his famous review of the Variations on "La ci darem la mano", Op. 2, wrote: "Hats off, gentlemen! A genius".
In 1836, at a party hosted by Countess Marie d'Agoult, mistress of fellow composer Franz Liszt, Chopin met Amandine-Aurore-Lucile Dupin, Baroness Dudevant, better known by her pseudonym George Sand. She was a French Romantic writer, noted for her numerous love affairs with such prominent figures as Prosper Merimée, Alfred de Musset (1833–34), Alexandre Manceau (1849–65), and others.
The composer initially did not consider her attractive. "Something about her repels me," he said to his family. However, in an extraordinary letter from Sand to her friend Count Wojciech Grzymala in June 1837, she debated whether to let Chopin go with Maria Wodzinska or whether to abandon another affair in order to start a relationship with Chopin. Sand had strong feelings for and was attracted to Chopin, and pursued him until a relationship began.
In 1845 a serious problem emerged in Chopin's relationship with Sand at the same time as a further deterioration in Chopin's health. Their relationship was further soured in 1846 by family problems; this was the year in which Sand published Lucrezia Floriani, which is quite unfavourable to Chopin. The story is about a rich actress and a prince with weak health, and it is possible to interpret the main characters as Sand and Chopin. The family problems finally brought an end to their relationship in 1847.
In 1848 Chopin gave his last concert in Paris, and visited England and Scotland with his student and admirer Jane Stirling. They reached London in November, and, although Chopin managed to give some concerts and salon performances, he was severely ill. He returned to Paris where in 1849 he became unable to teach or perform. His sister Ludwika nursed him at his home in the Place Vendôme; he died there in the small hours of October 17. Later that morning a death mask and a cast of Chopin's hands were made.
He had requested that Mozart's Requiem be sung at his funeral, which was held at the Church of the Madeleine and was attended by nearly three thousand people. The Requiem has major parts for female singers but the Madeleine had never permitted female singers in its choir. The funeral was delayed for almost 2 weeks, until the church finally relented and granted Chopin's final wish provided the female singers remained behind a black velvet curtain. Also performing was the bass Luigi Lablache, who had also sung the same work at the funerals of Beethoven and Bellini.
Although Chopin is buried in the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris, at his own request, his heart was removed and dispatched in an urn to Warsaw, where it is sealed in a pillar in the Church of the Holy Cross (Kosciól Swietego Krzyza). The Père Lachaise site attracts numerous visitors and is invariably festooned with flowers, even in the dead of winter.
one of the most famous, influential and admired composers for the piano.
Date of birth: 03/01/1810
Date of death: 10/17/1849
Area of notoriety: Art
Marker Type: Tomb (above ground)
Visiting Hours/Restrictions: 09:00 - 17:30
Fee required?: No
Web site: Not listed
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