Showing posts with label Frederic Chopin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Frederic Chopin. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

In Tribute to Frédéric Chopin on the Bicentenary of His Birth

Vladimir Horowitz plays Chopin's Polonaise Op. 53 in A flat major


Poland is celebrating the 200th birthday of one of its most famous sons, composer Frederic Chopin, with a week-long marathon of recitals of his music, a commemorative bank note, and a new state-of-the-art museum.

Internationally famed pianists including China's Lang Lang, Israel's Daniel Barenboim, Polish prodigy Rafal Blechacz, and Americans Murray Perahia and Garrick Ohlsson are playing to packed concert halls. And Chopin's wistful face gazes from posters on every street corner.

Murray Parahia, American pianist, said, "You know, all the great music can reach every different level. You know, when you go to a Mozart opera, let's say Magic Flute, little kids can appreciate it as well as seasoned musicians that have heard it 15 hundred times and they still see deeper things into it. The same thing is true in Chopin's music. You can love the melody, this gorgeous melody. And sing the tune, and not realize that this melody is a construction of much deeper forces that a musician can understand only. So, I think at every part of life it can be enjoyed."

Long considered a national treasure, Chopin's bicentenary provides a timely opportunity to market Poland as a land of high culture, firmly back in the European mainstream after a tragic 20th century. The country hopes the celebration will help lure large numbers of tourists.

Chopin's oeuvre, ranging from elegiac sonatas and concertos to lively Mazurka folk dances, is revered in Japan and China as well as in the West. And concerts marking his bicentenary will be held in many countries, including at the Shanghai Expo 2010.

A refurbished, multi-media museum devoted to Chopin's life, housed in a Warsaw palace, opened its doors on his 200th birthday on Monday.

A new concert hall has opened on the renovated estate of Zelazowa Wola near Warsaw, also a museum, where Chopin was born to a Polish mother and French father 200 years ago.

Chopin left Poland at the age of 20 and spent most of his adult life in Paris, but he remained a staunch patriot and his work is suffused with nostalgia for his homeland, which at that time was partitioned between Russia, Austria-Hungary, and Prussia.

In exile, he counted fellow composers Franz Liszt and Hector Berlioz, and artist Eugene Delacroix among his friends. He had a turbulent love affair with the female novelist George Sand. Dogged by poor health, he died in 1849.