Frédéric Chopin (1810–1849)

The stature of the Polish composer and pianist as one of the leading piano virtuosos and composers of the 19th century has always been uncontested. He thrilled the public as a piano virtuoso not only in the salons of Paris.

Parallel to his studies at the Warsaw Music College, he obtained his practical and theoretical training chiefly from Jozef Elsner. His first pieces were inspired by the works of Hummel and Kalkbrenner, as well as by the operas of Rossini and Weber. He moved to Paris in 1831 and thrilled the public as a piano virtuoso in the salons. After 1835 he also established himself in the public eye as a teacher.

Chopin's musical oeuvre consists chiefly of piano works: ballades, preludes, nocturnes, impromptus, waltzes... He had these works published mostly by several publishing houses simultaneously, in Paris, England and Germany. As of 1833, Breitkopf & Härtel was also on the roster of Chopin publishers. The Leipzig firm released a first complete edition of Chopin's works only 30 years after his death.

Chopin's Polish origins are reflected in the melody and rhythm of his music. Characteristic of the style of his piano works is, next to chromatic harmonies, the interweaving of improvisatory elements and the ornamental art of the bel canto found in the Italian opera.