This classic text represents the definitive account of the life of the great Polish pianist/composer, Frederic Chopin. The story is told by his friend and colleague, the legendary Hungarian pianist, Franz Liszt-the ideal man to relate the brief, but brilliant life of Chopin. Liszt's proximity to the subject and insightful accounts make this biography resonate as few can.
Frederic Chopin, a Polish virtuoso pianist and piano composer of the Romantic period, is widely regarded as the greatest Polish composer, and one of the most influential composers for piano in the 19th century. Franz Liszt was a Hungarian composer and virtuoso pianist of the 19th century. This book is not so much a biography of Chopin as it is a way of better understanding Liszt and the circumstances of his time. Though critics of Liszt's book have assailed it for various literary infractions, it is not without merit. There is much to be learned within its pages about both Chopin and Liszt.
A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice. The Sunday Times (U.K.) Classical Music Book of 2018 and one of The Economist's Best Books of 2018. "A magisterial portrait." --Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim, The New York Times Book Review A landmark biography of the Polish composer by a leading authority on Chopin and his time Based on ten years of research and a vast cache of primary sources located in archives in Warsaw, Paris, London, New York, and Washington, D.C., Alan Walker’s monumental Fryderyk Chopin: A Life and Times is the most comprehensive biography of the great Polish composer to appear in English in more than a century. Walker’s work is a corrective biography, intended to dispel the many myths and legends that continue to surround Chopin. Fryderyk Chopin is an intimate look into a dramatic life; of particular focus are Chopin’s childhood and youth in Poland, which are brought into line with the latest scholarly findings, and Chopin’s romantic life with George Sand, with whom he lived for nine years. Comprehensive and engaging, and written in highly readable prose, the biography wears its scholarship lightly: this is a book suited as much for the professional pianist as it is for the casual music lover. Just as he did in his definitive biography of Liszt, Walker illuminates Chopin and his music with unprecedented clarity in this magisterial biography, bringing to life one of the nineteenth century’s most confounding, beloved, and legendary artists.
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Life of Chopin is classical music biography that represents the definitive account of the life of the great Polish pianist/composer, Frederic Chopin. The story is told by his friend and colleague, the legendary Hungarian pianist, Franz Liszt-the ideal man to relate the brief, but brilliant life of Chopin. Liszt's proximity to the subject and insightful accounts make this Chopin biography resonate as few can. Frederic Francois Chopin (1 March 1810 - 17 October 1849) was a Polish composer and virtuoso pianist of the Romantic era who wrote primarily for solo piano. He has maintained worldwide renown as a leading musician of his era, one whose "poetic genius was based on a professional technique that was without equal in his generation." Chopin was born Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin[n 1] in what was then the Duchy of Warsaw and grew up in Warsaw, which in 1815 became part of Congress Poland. A child prodigy, he completed his musical education and composed his earlier works in Warsaw before leaving Poland at the age of 20, less than a month before the outbreak of the November 1830 Uprising. At 21, he settled in Paris. Thereafter-in the last 18 years of his life-he gave only 30 public performances, preferring the more intimate atmosphere of the salon. He supported himself by selling his compositions and by giving piano lessons, for which he was in high demand. Chopin formed a friendship with Franz Liszt and was admired by many of his other musical contemporaries (including Robert Schumann). In 1835, Chopin obtained French citizenship. After a failed engagement to Maria Wodzirska from 1836 to 1837, he maintained an often troubled relationship with the French writer Amantine Dupin (known by her pen name, George Sand). A brief and unhappy visit to Majorca with Sand in 1838-39 would prove one of his most productive periods of composition. In his final years, he was supported financially by his admirer Jane Stirling, who also arranged for him to visit Scotland in 1848. For most of his life, Chopin was in poor health. He died in Paris in 1849 at the age of 39, probably of tuberculosis. All of Chopin's compositions include the piano. Most are for solo piano, though he also wrote two piano concertos, a few chamber pieces, and some 19 songs set to Polish lyrics. His keyboard style is esoteric and often technically demanding: his own performances were noted for their nuance and sensitivity. Chopin invented the concept of the instrumental ballade. His major piano works also include mazurkas, waltzes, nocturnes, polonaises, études, impromptus, scherzos, preludes and sonatas, some published only posthumously. Among the influences on his style of composition were Polish folk music, the classical tradition of J. S. Bach, Mozart, and Schubert, and the atmosphere of the Paris salons of which he was a frequent guest. His innovations in style, harmony, and musical form, and his association of music with nationalism, were influential throughout and after the late Romantic period. Chopin's music, his status as one of music's earliest superstars; his (indirect) association with political insurrection; his often tumultuous love-life, and his early death have made him a leading symbol of the Romantic era. His works remain popular, and he has been the subject of numerous films and biographies of varying historical fidelity.Includes a biography of the author.
Chopin in Paris introduces the most important musical and literary figures of Fryderyk Chopin's day in a glittering story of the Romantic era. During Chopin's eighteen years in Paris, lasting nearly half his short life, he shone at the center of the immensely talented artists who were defining their time -- Hugo, Balzac, Stendhal, Delacroix, Liszt, Berlioz, and, of course, George Sand, a rebel feminist writer who became Chopin's lover and protector. Tad Szulc, the author of Fidel and Pope John Paul II, approaches his subject with imagination and insight, drawing extensively on diaries, memoirs, correspondence, and the composer's own journal, portions of which appear here for the first time in English. He uses contemporary sources to chronicle Chopin's meteoric rise in his native Poland, an ascent that had brought him to play before the reigning Russian grand duke at the age of eight. He left his homeland when he was eighteen, just before Warsaw's patriotic uprising was crushed by the tsar's armies. Carrying the memories of Poland and its folk music that would later surface in his polonaises and mazurkas, Chopin traveled to Vienna. There he established his reputation in the most demanding city of Europe. But Chopin soon left for Paris, where his extraordinary creative powers would come to fruition amid the revolutions roiling much of Europe. He quickly gained fame and a circle of powerful friends and acquaintances ranging from Rothschild, the banker, to Karl Marx. Distinguished by his fastidious dress and the wracking cough that would cut short his life, Chopin spent his days composing and giving piano lessons to a select group of students. His evenings were spent at the keyboard, playing for his friends. It was at one of these Chopin gatherings that he met George Sand, nine years his senior. Through their long and often stormy relationship, Chopin enjoyed his richest creative period. As she wrote dozens of novels, he composed furiously -- both were compulsive creators. After their affair unraveled, Chopin became the protégé of Jane Stirling, a wealthy Scotswoman, who paraded him in his final year across England and Scotland to play for the aristocracy and even Queen Victoria. In 1849, at the age of thirty-nine, Chopin succumbed to the tuberculosis that had plagued him from childhood. Chopin in Paris is an illuminating biography of a tragic figure who was one of the most important composers of all time. Szulc brings to life the complex, contradictory genius whose works will live forever. It is compelling reading about an exciting epoch of European history, culture, and music -- and about one of the great love dramas of the nineteenth century.
Vladimir de Pachmann was perhaps history’s most notorious pianist. Widely regarded as the greatest player of Chopin’s works, Pachmann embedded comedic elements—be it fiddling with his piano bench or flirting with the audience—within his classic piano recitals to alleviate his own anxiety over performing. But this wunderkind, whose admirers included Franz Liszt and music critic James Gibbons Huneker (who cheekily nicknamed Pachmann the “Chopinzee”), would by the turn of the century find his antics on the concert stage scorned by critics and out of fashion with listeners, burying his pianistic legacy. In Chopin’s Prophet: The Life of Pianist Vladimir de Pachmann, the first biography ever of this remarkable figure, Edward Blickstein and Gregor Benko explore the private and public lives of this master pianist, surveying his achievements within the context of contemporary critical opinion and preserving his legacy as one of the last great Romantic pianists of his time. Chopin’s Prophet paints a colorful portrait of classical piano performance and celebrity at the turn of the 20th century while also documenting Pachmann’s attraction to men, which ultimately ended his marriage but was overlooked by his audiences. As the authors illustrate, Pachmann lived in a radically different world of music making, one in which eccentric personality and behavior fit into a much more flexible, and sometimes mysterious, musical community, one where standards were set not by certified experts with degrees but by the musicians themselves. Detailing the evolution of concert piano playing style from the era of Chopin until World War I, Chopin’s Prophet tells the fantastic and true story of an artist of and after his time.