Born in the Duchy of Warsaw (present-day Poland) and raised in Warsaw, Frederick Chopin (1810-1849) settled in Paris by the time he was 21 years old. His musical compositions are primarily for solo piano and remain among the most popular selections for students, artists, and audiences. While admired for his technical virtuosity at the piano, he was generally in poor health throughout his life. He was in Paris when died of tuberculosis, just 39 years old.
Chopin preferred intimate salon performances over concert work and only gave about 30 public performances once he moved to Paris. The last of these performances was in London on February 16, 1848. The occasion was a fundraising concert presented by Literary Association of the Friends of Poland to aid the several hundred Poles that had fled to London in the wake of the November Uprising of 1830. The “Annual Grand Dress and Fancy Ball and Concert” was a grand and lavish evening. Chopin was one of several performers for the concert portion of the evening, and his appearance was scheduled between operatic vocalists.
Chopin performed on a Broadwood grand piano and felt he had done well. The audience agreed, giving him “much applause.” Others described his playing as “like an angel” and “most brilliant.” Even though he was frail, his artistry was appreciated as “that pure and vigorous style which has already earned him admiration is musical circles.” After his performance, Chopin left the event early and collapsed when he arrived home.
Many examples of Chopin’s music are available on YouTube. Click here to go to one extended playlist.