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Biography of Frederick Chopin BY HRHaya1 Composer Style Report: Fredric Chopin French Revolution signified a time of great change, influencing not only the political and cultural atmospheres of France and Europe but human society as a whole. The message of liberty, equality and fraternity were spread worldwide setting the stage for free thinkers and encouraging men of action to pursue independent endeavors through the Age of Enlightenment.
Resulting partially from the libertarian and egalitarian ideals of the French Revolution and Age of Enlightenment, the Romantic
Movement aimed to revolt against the prescribed rules and rigidity of its classical predecessors. The Classical Period was, in fact, a short era, generally spanning the second half of the eighteenth century. Of the various composers of this age, there are only three who are very widely known: Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven.
The Romantic Era, however, produced many more composers whose names and music are still familiar and popular today: Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Chopin and Mendelssohn to name a few. Seeking new freedoms by rebelling against traditional ideas about art and reativity, the Romantics ignored realism and instead drew inspiration from emotions, dreams and the imaginative. Romantic artists celebrated nature, patriotism, passion, and the mystical world. 2 Contemporary musicians, though swept up in romantic ideals, respected the composers of earlier generations, such as Back, Mozart, and especially Beethoven.
They continued to write symphonies, concertos, sonatas, and operas, all forms that were popular with composers of the preceding Classical Era.
They also adhered to the “rules” that these musical forms followed through maintenance of the rubrics of rhythm, melody, harmony, harmonic rogression, tuning and performance practices of the Classical period. 3 Yet Romantic musicians yearned for new musical expression and sought to use richer harmonies and changing tempos. Emotional themes were very popular with an emphasis on feelings and expressive aspects of the music.
The Romantic spirit often found inspiration in poetic texts, legends, and folk tales. The linking of words and music either programmatically or through such forms as the concert overture and incidental music is another distinguishing feature of Romantic music. 4 The possibilities for dramatic expressiveness in music were amplified by the erfection of the instrumental range and by the proliferation of specific instruments as the preferred means of composition and expression.
Frederic Chopin propelled the Romantic Era to its fullest heights, significantly contributed to the rise of the piano as the ideal 19th-century instrument. Though he differs greatly from his Romantic contemporaries with music that is revered as some of the most technically demanding for the piano, he is known more for his nuance, his expressive depth and his ability to conjure up the melody of the human voice from the instrument’s keys. For such achievements and his superb blend of skill and artistry, Chopin was known as the “Poet of the Piano. 5 Born in Zelazowa Wola, Poland, Chopin was a piano prodigy at an early age, playing his first concert at the age of 7 and publishing his first composition gaining him national recognition by the age ot 15 6 Chopin illustrates himselt as a true Romantic composer through is devotion to his homeland of Poland. Throughout the Romantic Period, music often took on a nationalistic purpose. Leaving Poland to perform across Europe, Chopin never lost his love and connection to his home ountry.
He eventually settled in Paris but was forever marked by the sense of loss and national tragedy that overwhelmed Poland when Warsaw fell to the Russians in 1838. 7 As Chopin never returned to Poland after his departure at the age of 20, the composer retained a sense of mourning over his lost past and that very nostalgia is one of the key features of his music and all Romantic music. Chopin’s nationalistic ties to Romanticism can easily found in his musical creations. Throughout this lifetime, Chopin composed 15 polonaises and 58 mazurkas.
Initially, these ompositions illustrate Chopin’s affinity for certain forms of expression due, in part, to his desire to retain clarity to structure. However, they also serve as an indication of two means by which Chopin expressed his links with his beloved homeland – the Polonaise, a composition with a more martial, patriotic fervor and the Mazurka, a composition with a more intimate, melancholy longing. 8 The Mazurka, a composite of three distinct dance types rather than any single dance in particular gave Chopin a form in which to introduce many typically Polish harmonic, rhythmic, and melodic elements.
Chopin elevated this folk dance to an art form yet managed to save the Mazurka’s native charm and uniqueness. This evoked an exotic world, feeling and distinction to these compositions that epitomizes them as Romantic in character. Chopin’s music is iconic of the Romantic era. However, unlike his contemporaries, Chopin was not inspired at all by nature or poetry. His compositions were of a “purer” nature that was meant to be understood in purely musical terms without evoking literary or pictorial elements from the past. 10 Chopin broke from tradition and pioneer new musical ideas by the use of new harmonies, rhythms, and unusual yricism.
The development of dissonance added tension and tragic emotion to his music. Several of these elements gave Chopin’s music a distinction, separating him as unique from his fellow artists. Chopin accelerated the genre of the nocturnes, invented by Irish composer John Field, to a whole new level. The Chopin nocturnes comprise of twenty-one short pieces for solo piano. Chopin’s nocturnes are considered the finest solo works for the piano. These nocturnes have had a major impact on music from Chopin’s lifetime and post-death. Chopin’s style influenced many succeeding composers such as Debussy nd Schoenberg.
His romantic style influenced the remainder of the nineteenth century and extended well into the twentieth century. ll Even today, his works are still very popular pieces in Romantic music. Agnew, Signeli. “Profile of Fredric Chopin: Poet of the Piano. ” PBS. PBS, n. d. Web. 11 July 2013. Aguilar, Jorge. “Frederick Chopin: His Musical Styles. ” Frederick Chopin: His Musical Styles. University of Florida, 2003. Web. 11 July 2013. Alciatore, Robin. “The Music of Fredric Chopin. ” Robin Alciatore. N. p. , n. d. Web. 11 July 2013. Christopher, Lau. “Romanticism – Music. Romanticism.
Penn State University, n. d. web. 11 July 2013. Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica. “Romanticism: Visual Arts. ” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, 17 Sept. 2009. Web. 11 July 2013. Libbey, Ted. “The Life And Of Fredenc Chopin. ” NPR. NPR, 02 Mar. 2010. web. 11 July 2013. Malaspina, Ann. “A Romantic Composer. ” Chopin’s World. New York: Rosen Central, “Romantic Music – Part Two. ” Romantic Music – Part Two. N. p. , n. d. Web. 11 July 2013. Schmidt-Jones, Catherine. “The Music of the Romantic Era. ” Connexions. Connexions, 18 Jan. 2013. web. 11 July 2013.