Frédéric Chopin | Kennedy Center

His birth name was Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin , born in Zelazowa-Wola, in a village six miles from Warsaw, Poland in 1810, to a French father and a Polish mother. His father had moved to Poland to be a tutor for the son of a countess. He was an extremely rare child prodigy, who started playing the piano at age 4. By the time he was 8 years old he was giving private concerts in Warsaw. He published his first composition “a rondo” at age 15. From 1823 to 1826, Chopin attended the Warsaw Lyceum, where his father was a professor. In the autumn of 1826, Chopin began studying music theory, at the Warsaw Conservatory. He later moved to Paris where he taught piano lessons. He often played the piano in private homes preferring this to public concerts. While in Paris, he became a noted pianist, teacher, and composer. He developed a relationship with and fell deeply in love with French female novelist George Sand (born Aurore Dudevant). At the time she came into his life, he was a virtuoso and a favorite in Parisian salons, he was only twenty-seven years of age. Chopin had begun to suffer from tuberculosis when their relationship ended in 1847, thereafter his musical activity was limited; he scarcely composed. He made several last requests on his deathbed, one request for his funeral, was for Mozart’s Requiem be sung at his funeral, and for it to be held at the Church of the Madeleine. His funeral was delayed for almost 2 weeks while the church considered his wish. Although Chopin is buried in the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris, his heart is entombed in a pillar in the Church of the Holy Cross in Warsaw. He had a fear of being buried alive and asked to be “cut open” to make sure he was dead before burial. He died in Paris of tuberculosis in 1949, at the age of 39.

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