Tag Archives: Composers

Sergei Rachmaninoff

Sergei Rachmaninoff

Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff (Russian, 1873–1943) lived well into the 20th century, but his compositions are unabashedly Romantic. He started learning the piano at age 4 and graduated from Moscow Conservatory in 1892. Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C-sharp minor that he wrote at age 19 became a worldwide hit (and remains a staple of piano repertoire even today). Sadly, that prelude overshadowed much of his early music, and a lack of copyright agreements between Russia and the West meant that Rachmaninoff earned little from its popularity across Europe and the U.S.

Rachmaninoff’s Choral Symphony, The Bells, Opus 35, which premiered in 1913, inspired by the poem by Edgar Allen Poe:

Rachmaninoff premiered his first symphony in 1897, but it was not well-received. Its failure launched him into a three-year depression and writer’s block. However, in 1901, his Piano Concerto No. 2 — which was dedicated to the hypnotherapist who helped him recover — brought him much success and made him a composing and performing phenomenon.

Rachmaninoff’s early body of work included a successful Symphony No. 2 and two piano trios, the beautiful Trios élégiaque, some deeply Russian choral works, many songs and three operas, as well as major sets of variations on themes by Chopin and Corelli for solo piano, plus two books of Etudes-Tableaux.

Political turmoil in Russia spurred Rachmaninoff to travel to the West in the early 1900s. He first toured the U.S. in 1909-10, performing his Third Piano Concerto in New York under Gustav Mahler. (Famous for its complexity and difficulty, this still-popular concert piece was central to the plot of Shine, the 1997 movie about the emotionally-devastated pianist David Helfgott.)

Rachmaninoff emigrated after the Russian Revolution of 1917, eventually settling in the U.S., where he was in demand as both a conductor and a pianist. His virtuosity, impressive stature, large hands and a near-photographic memory gave him a commanding stage presence.

Because Rachmaninoff lived and performed until 1943, we have many recordings of his playing — piano rolls, acoustic discs, electrical recordings. He recorded hit versions of his four piano concertos with the Philadelphia Orchestra (under Leopold Stokowski and Eugene Ormandy), along with conducting the orchestra himself in his Third Symphony, great tone poem Isle of the Dead and popular Vocalise. He also recorded performances of Beethoven, Schubert, Grieg, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Chopin, Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov and Scriabin.

He holds a well-deserved reputation for being one of the greatest pianists and composers who ever lived.

Edvard Grieg


At  an early age, Edvard Grieg (Norwegian, June 15, 1843—September 4, 1907) showed a strong interest in playing the piano. He spent hours sitting at the piano, picking out melodies and making up his own songs. While his father groomed Edvard’s brother John to take over the family mercantile business, his mother cultivated Edvard’s interest in music. He wasn’t a cooperative pupil; he preferred to discover music by himself; rather than practice etudes, he chose to improvise and compose his own tunes. In school, he was a poor student. Everything was secondary to his music exploration.

Edvard’s uncle, Ole Bull, was a famous violin virtuoso. In the summer of 1858, Uncle Ole visited the family, and Edvard was called on to play piano for him. After he had heard him playing some of his own small compositions, the uncle had a serious conversation with the boy’s parents, convincing them to enroll him in the music conservatory in Leipzig, Germany. (This conservatory was founded in 1843 by Felix Mendelsohn, and was reputed to be the best music school in Europe.)

Having spent his youth in the small city of Bergen in Norway, Grieg experienced culture shock in the metropolis of Leipzig with its narrow streets, tall buildings and crowds of people. He battled homesickness and his inability with the German language, but quickly adjusted. His stay in Leipzig exposed him to the greater European music tradition: he studied the works of Mozart and Beethoven, but also the compositions of more modern composers like Mendelsohn, Schumann and Wagner. During this time he contracted pleuritt, a kind of tuberculosis, which plagued him for the rest of his life. His left lung collapsed, which bent his back and greatly reduced his lung capacity. Nevertheless, he successfully graduated from the conservatory in 1862.

Edvard Grieg gave his first concert August 18, 1861, in the Swedish city of Karlshamn. His debut in his hometown came the next year. Among other works at this concert, his string quartet in d-minor was performed, a work that has disappeared without a trace. Grieg’s goal was to compose Norwegian music, but as a realist he knew that he had to go abroad to immerse himself in an environment that could help him develop as a composer; so he went to Copenhagen, the only Scandinavian city with a rich cultural life on an international level.

The time in Denmark was a happy one for Grieg. He made several lifelong friends, the most important of which was his cousin, Nina Hagerup. They had grown up together in Bergen, but Nina moved with her family to Copenhagen when she was eight years old. Nina was an excellent pianist, but it was her voice that fascinated Grieg. He was so charmed by his cousin that they were secretly engaged in 1864. They married on June 11, 1867.

The Griegs went from Copenhagen to Kristiania (Oslo) in order to participate in the building of a Norwegian music scene in the Norwegian capital. Their daughter Alexandra was born on April 10, 1868. That same year Grieg composed his brilliant piano concerto in a minor. This masterpiece was his breakthrough as a composer, and he was recognized as one of the greatest composers of his day.

In the early 1870s, Grieg collaborated extensively with the Norwegian author Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, setting Bjørnson’s poems to music. Their most ambitious project was a national opera based on the history of the Norwegian king Olav Trygvason. The work progressed well in the beginning, but after a while they both lost some of their inspiration and conflict arose between the two. As the work on the opera came to a half, it freed up time for Grieg to compose music for the Norwegian playwright and poet Henrik Ibsen’s dramatic poem Peer Gynt. Bjørnson felt so betrayed by Grieg’s abandoning their opera that a conflict rose between them that lasted almost 16 years.

Setting music to Peer Gynt wasn’t as easy as he had thought it would be, but on the February 24, 1876, the play was performed for the first time on Christiania Theater in Oslo, and was an immediate success. Alongside the work with Peer Gynt, Grieg also set music to six poems by Ibsen. In 1888 and in 1893 Grieg published respectively the Peer Gynt Suite I and II, which contained the most popular melodies from the play Peer Gynt. These two suites are among the most played orchestral pieces in our time.

Grieg traveled extensively and found new ways to insert Norwegian folk music into his compositions. In late 19th century France musicologists spoke about two main styles of music: the Russian school and the Norwegian School. On his many journeys he became acquainted with the composers Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Johannes Brahms, Franz Liszt, Frederic Delius, and Camille Saint-Saens. His music influenced the works of Bela Bartok, Maurice Ravel, and Claude Debussy.

Even though Edvard Grieg was well paid by Peters Verlag in Leipzig for his compositions, it was through his tours that Grieg received his main income. His heavy touring schedule, combined with his weakened lungs, took a great toll, but he was able to return to Norway and Troldhaugen for the summers, and through walks in nature get his energy back before he left again in the autumn. In September 1907 he and Nina planned to participate in the music festival in Leeds, England. They left Troldhaugen for the season and lodged at Hotel Norge in Bergen, waiting for the boat that would take them to England via Oslo. Grieg fell seriously ill and was hospitalized in Bergen, where he died on September 4th 1907 of chronic exhaustion.

Edvard Grieg was fortunate to be a successful composer while during his lifetime. His most famous works were his Piano Concerto in A Minor and the music for Peer Gynt, but he was also known for his Romances and smaller piano pieces.

John Philip Sousa, All-American Composer

John Philip Sousa
John Philip Sousa

When I taught elementary general music, one of the objectives for Grade 1 was to be able to recognize march music. So, of course, we practiced conducting in cut time, and marched to the music of John Philip Sousa. He was quite a character, and my students enjoyed hearing about his life.

Sousa was born on November 6, 1854, in Washington D.C., near the Marine barracks where his father played trombone in the U.S. Marine Band. He was the third of ten children in the family. He grew up surrounded by military band music, and when he was six years old began music lessons, studying voice, violin, piano, flute, cornet, baritone, trombone, and alto horn.

John Philip loved adventure, and when he was 13, tried to run away and join the circus as a musician. His father intercepted him, and instead enlisted him in the Marine Band as an apprentice so he could keep an eye on him. (Can you believe he was allowed to do that? I doubt that would be allowed today. He must have had connections. John Philip’s rank during this time was “boy.”) He remained in the Marine Band until he was 21 (except for a hiatus of 6 months). In addition to his band training, he studied music theory and composition. During his enlistment, he wrote his first piece, Moonlight on the Potomac Waltzes.

After his discharge from the Marines in 1875, Sousa began performing on violin, touring, and eventually conducting theater orchestras, including Gilbert & Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore on Broadway.

On December 30, 1879, Sousa married Jane Bellis. While on tour in St. Louis, Sousa received a telegram from the Marine Corps offering him the conductorship of the Marine Band; so the couple moved back to Washington D.C. in 1880. For the next 12 years, Sousa conducted the band known as The President’s Own, serving under Presidents Hayes, Garfield, Cleveland, Arthur, and Harrison. He raised performance expectations for the Band, threw away most of their music, transcribed orchestral pieces for them, and composed new marches.

Sousa resigned from the Marine Band in 1892 to organize his own civilian concert band. He continued to conduct, compose, and tour for the rest of his life, right up until his death on March 6, 1932.

John Philip Sousa wrote 136 military marches and is rightfully celebrated as the March King.

T is for Telemann


Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767) was possibly the most prolific composer in history. He is considered one of the foremost German composers during the Baroque era, and is often compared to Bach and Handel, with whom he was well-acquainted.

Concerto for Traverso and Recorder in E minor:

Telemann’s father passed away when he was four. His mother disapproved of wasting time on music, but young Georg found himself a music teacher when he was 10, and by the time he was 12 had composed his first opera.

Musique de Table Quartet in G Major:

Telemann composed 33 operas in all; church music, including series of passions, cantatas, and oratorios; several orchestral suites and chamber music pieces; fantasias, overtures, and fugues for keyboard; chorales, fugues, and chorale harmonizations for organ; numerous concertos for violin, viola, horn, trumpet, chalumeau, oboe, bassoon, recorder, and flute; and sonatas for oboe and bassoon.

Adagio from Trumpet Concerto:

Telemann’s style evolved as he aged and incorporated influences from French, Italian, and Polish styles. He was a driving force during the late Baroque and early Classical periods, although his writing remained complex contrapuntally and harmonically, and he considered some of his contemporaries’ works as too simplistic.

Brecht ihr müden Augenlider:

Telemann insisted on exclusive publication rights for his works, thereby setting one of the most important early precedents for regarding music as the intellectual property of the composer. 

Burlesque de Quixotte:

P is for Sergei Prokofiev (and the Wolf)


Sergei Prokofiev was born in 1891 in the Ukraine region of the Russian Empire. Although he is often considered a Russian composer, he was, technically, Ukrainian.

Many people get their first taste of Prokofiev from a piece of music he was commissioned to write for children, to introduce them to the instruments of the orchestra—Peter and the Wolf. The father of two boys, Prokofiev threw himself into the assignment. It tells the story of a boy who witnesses a wolf eating a duck, but then protects the wolf from hunters. Each character in the story is represented by a motif played by a different instrument. In 2007 Suzie Templeton won the Oscar for Best Short Animated Film for her slightly disturbing stop-action version of Peter and the Wolf, featuring Prokofiev’s score. (If you’re in a hurry, the music starts at 5:45.)

Other than Peter and the Wolf, I had no exposure to Prokofiev until my Music Appreciation class, senior year in high school, when we listened to the suite from his movie score for Lt. Kije. He went on to compose music for seven more movies.

Here, Paul Rissmann tells the story of Lt. Kije along with snippets of the music:

My freshman year in college, Prokofiev’s “Classical” Symphony (No. 1) was among two dozen pieces of music we were expected to listen to in preparation for an annual “drop the needle” exam. He composed seven symphonies in all. Here is his first:

In 1914 Prokofiev met ballet impresario Serge Diaghilev, who became one of his most influential advisers and commissioned ballet music from him. He completed a total of nine ballets.

 Here’s Dance of the Knights from Romeo and Juliet:

Prokofiev also composed 14 operas (though some remained unfinished). You may have heard the March from his Love for Three Oranges. Here it is played by Hillary Hahn and Lahav Shani:

Prokofiev was also a gifted pianist and traveled the world giving performances. He composed six piano concertos, 10 piano sonatas, and various other piano pieces. Before his death in 1953, he also composed incidental music, numerous orchestral suites and other works for orchestra, concertos for violin and for cello, vocal and choral music, chamber music, additional pieces for piano, and several marches for band. He is considered one of the leading composers of the twentieth century.

Here is Yuja Wang playing the Tocatta in d minor, Op. 11:

George Frederic Handel


Georg Friederich Händel (1685-1759) was born in Halle, in what is now Sachsen (Saxony), Germany. Though he showed interest in music as a child, his father wanted him to study law. His mother, however, encouraged his musical inclinations. While still young, Georg had an opportunity to play the organ at the court of the duke of Weissenfels. There he met composer and organist Frideric Wilhelm Zachow, who invited him to study music with him. By age 11, he was composing church cantatas and chamber music.

When it was time to go to university, Georg started out in the law program to please his father, but he soon dropped out to devote himself to his music full time. He accepted a position as a violinist and harpsichordist at Hamburg’s Oper am Gänsemarkt. He supplemented his income by teaching private music lessons.

He began writing operas, and as he experienced success in that form, decided to travel to Italy. Composing and performing there for three years, he socialized with many prominent musicians, some of whom talked about the London music scene. Fascinated, he traveled to London in 1710, and received a commission to compose an opera for the King’s Theatre. Two weeks later, he delivered Rinaldo, which earned him widespread recognition.

In 1717, King George I of England requested a concert on the Thames. Handel complied with the Water Music, a collection of three orchestral suites, which was performed three times that year and remains a concert favorite to this day.

In 1719, he became Master of the Orchestra at the Royal Academy of Music, which specialized in Italian operas.

He eventually decided he would never leave England, and became a citizen in 1726, at which point he anglicized his name.

In 1727, Handel broke away from the Royal Academy and founded the New Royal Academy of Music, where he wrote two new operas per season for the next decade. All told, he wrote almost 50 operas. But when Italian operas fell out of fashion with audiences, Handel looked for something new.

His next focus was oratorios. Since they didn’t require costumes and sets, they were much more economical to produce, and they became the new craze in London. Handel even revised Italian operas into the new format, translating them into English. He wrote 30 oratorios in all.

In 1747, King George II (son of King George I) requested music for a celebration in honor of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, which ended the War of Austrian Succession. Handel delivered Music for the Royal Fireworks, a suite in D Major for wind instruments.

The piece of music which Handel is most famous for is his oratorio The Messiah. The story of this inspiring composition can be found here.

Information for this article came from Biography and Wikipedia.



Not the movie (which I’ve never seen, but heard was awful), but the phenomenon.

But first, who was Franz Liszt, and what was so special about him?

Allysia van Betuw tells the story of the Hungarian composer and pianist who lived from 1811-1886 so well:

And here’s the rest of the story:

Here is Lang Lang playing Liszt’s La Companella. Lang Lang is a showman himself, just as Liszt was. In this performance, his hands are sometimes a blur:

Another of my favorite pianists, Valentina Lisitsa, plays the Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2.

Liszt’s work often forces pianists to stretch their fingers wide. His chords are often awkward to play, difficult to position the fingers. They require the musician to take extraordinary care to avoid tension in the hands and fingers, which can cause nerve injuries.

The Rondo Fantastique “El Contrabandista” has the reputation of being unplayable, but Lisitsa does an impressive job:

Kathia Buniatishvili plays Liebestraum (Dream of Love). It is dreamlike, isn’t it?

Buniatishvili playing Mephisto Waltz:

Franz Liszt was a rock star before there was rock. Very handsome, he had a remarkable stage presence, whipping his long hair around as he played. His skilled musicianship and highly emotional renditions stirred his audiences with intense admiration. Lisztomania is a term coined by the German poet Heinrich Heine in 1844 for the frenzy that broke out whenever Liszt performed. During the 1840s, when he was at the height of his popularity, his audiences would go as far as tearing off pieces of his clothing, and fought to pick up his cigar butts (which women would promptly hide in their cleavage) and his used coffee grounds. His image was reproduced on cameos and brooches. (Liszt merch!)

Claude Debussy


Claude Debussy was born August 22, 1862, in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France. He was a highly influential composer of the 20th century. His melodies and harmonies did for music what the the Impressionist painters of his time did for art. He is sometimes called the father of Impressionist music, a title he distained. His major works include Clair de lune (“Moonlight,” in Suite bergamasque, 1890–1905), Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune (1894; Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun), the opera Pelléas et Mélisande (1902), and La Mer (1905; “The Sea”).

Listen to this piano roll recording of Debussy playing Clair de Lune:

Debussy showed his musical gift on the piano by the age of nine. In 1873 he entered the Paris Conservatory, where he studied piano and composition for eleven years.

While living with his parents in a poverty-stricken suburb of Paris, he was hired by a Russian millionairess, Nadezhda Filaretovna von Meck, to play duets with her and her children. He traveled with her to her palatial residences throughout Europe during his long summer breaks from the Conservatory.

In 1884 Debussy won the Grand Prix de Rome with his cantata L’Enfant prodigue (The Prodigal Child). He was awarded a three-year stay at the Villa Medici in Rome to pursue his creative work. He fled from the Villa Medici after two years and returned to Paris. He associated with several women of dubious reputation. His first wife, Rosalie (“Lily”) Texier, a dressmaker, whom he married in 1899, shot herself, though not fatally.

Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun:

In the course of his career, which covered only 25 years, Debussy was constantly breaking new ground. He said that exploration was the essence of music. His single completed opera, Pelléas et Mélisande (first performed in 1902), demonstrates how Richard Wagner’s concept of Gesamtkunstwerk (“total art work,” which encouraged artists to draw on different art forms to create a cohesive whole) could be adapted to portray subjects like the dreamy nightmarish figures of this opera who were doomed to self-destruction. Debussy and his librettist, Maurice Maeterlinck, said that they were haunted by the terrifying tale of Edgar Allan Poe, The Fall of the House of Usher. In his seascape La Mer (1905) he was inspired by the ideas of the English painter J.M.W. Turner and the French painter Claude Monet.

Debussy’s work cannot be judged on the musical level alone. “One must seek the poetry in his work,” said his friend, the French composer Paul Dukas. There is not only poetry in his music; there is often an inspiration from painting. “I love painting [les images, a generic term that might apply to the whole of Debussy’s work] almost as much as music itself,” he told the Franco-American composer Edgard Varèse.

In 1905 Debussy’s illegitimate daughter, Claude-Emma, was born. (He had divorced Lily Texier in 1904 and subsequently married his daughter’s mother, Emma Bardac.) Debussy’s spontaneity and sensitive nature are particularly noticeable in his piano suite, Children’s Corner, which he wrote for his daughter, nicknamed Chouchou.

Seong-Jin Cho plays “Golliwog’s Cakewalk” from Children’s Corner:

Debussy did not adhere to the harmonic practices of the 19th century. He formulated a “21-note scale” designed to “drown” the sense of tonality. Debussy also challenged the traditional way orchestras used instruments. For example, he rejected the idea that string instruments should be predominantly lyrical. The pizzicato scherzo from his String Quartet (1893) and the writing for the violins in La Mer, conveying the rising storm waves, introduce a new concept of string color. In fact, in his music, the conventional utilization of the orchestra, with its rigid woodwind, brass, and string departments, becomes deconstructed sort of in the manner of the Impressionist painters. Each instrument becomes almost a soloist, as in a vast chamber-music ensemble.

Le Mer:

Debussy’s life was cut short by cancer on March 25, 1918.

Information for this article came from the Britannica website.

Robert Schumann, Romantic Composer


When I was a music education student at Glassboro State College (now known as Rowan University), I took a vocal repertoire class on art songs and discovered German lieder. All the women in our class fell in love with Robert Schumann’s song cycle Frauenliebe und Leben:

Click for links to the lyrics and translations of all the songs in Frauenliebe und Leben. You can follow along as you listen. I’m sure you’ll agree that these songs are incredibly romantic! Several students in the class worked Schumann’s songs into their senior recitals. (I’m sorry to say I no longer have my program and I can’t remember if I did or not. It was 47 years ago.)

Schumann was born on June 8, 1810. He began piano lessons at age seven, and loved literature and writing. In his teens, he continued to study piano and he wrote novels. But his family was not a happy one. When he was 16, his father died and his sister committed suicide. In order for Robert to receive his inheritance, his father stipulated that he had to complete a three-year course of study at the university, so Schumann enrolled as a law student at the University of Leipzig. He boarded with Friedrich Wieck, and also studied piano with him. Wieck had a daughter, Clara, who was ten years younger than Robert. During this time he discovered the music of Franz Schubert, who became a major influence.

In 1830, Schumann dropped out of law to concentrate on his piano studies with Wieck. As Schumann realized that numbness in one of his fingers was preventing him from becoming the performer he desired to be, he became active as a critic, and his articulate analyses of music of the past and of up and coming musicians was as well-appreciated by the public as his own compositions.

During the 1830s he wrote the majority of the pieces that established his reputation as a composer for the piano: Carnaval, the Davidsbündler Tänze, the Symphonic Etudes, the Fantasy in C, Kinderszenen (Scenes from Childhood), Kreisleriana, and others.

Vladimir Horowitz playing Scenes from Childhood:

During this time, he befriended Frédéric Chopin and Felix Mendelssohn. He also fell in love with Wieck’s daughter, Clara, provoking her father’s opposition.

By 1840, Clara Wieck, now 20 years old, was a distinguished pianist and had been in the public eye for more than a decade. Because Clara’s father would not permit her to marry Schumann, Robert and Clara filed a lawsuit against him. Schumann focused his pent-up emotion on vocal music, composing nearly 140 songs in 1840, most of them in the anxious months before August, when the marriage permission suit was decided in their favor. In 1841 he wrote two symphonies — No. 1 in B-flat and No. 4 in D minor — as well as Overture, Scherzo and Finale, and a Fantasie in A minor for piano and orchestra. In 1842 Schumann focused on chamber music, composing three string quartets, the Piano Quintet in E-flat, and the Piano Quartet in E-flat.

Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra under Leonard Bernstein play Schumann’s Symphony No. 4:

Such incredible productivity in a single genre at a time was symptomatic of the manic cycles of what was probably bipolar disorder. The depressive cycle turned up as the 1840s wore on, leaving the composer incapacitated. At the end of 1844 Schumann and Clara moved to Dresden. During his next few years, he completed the Piano Concerto in A minor, his Symphony No. 2 in C, his one opera, Genoveva, and a dramatic poem based on Byron’s Manfred.

In 1850, Schumann accepted a position as municipal music director in Düsseldorf. During the three seasons he held the job, Schumann ticked off city administrators and, due to his increasingly erratic behavior on the podium, lost the respect of the orchestra and chorus. He was fired in the fall of 1853. But during that time the Schumanns cultivated friendships with the renowned violinist Joseph Joaquim and the 20-year-old Johannes Brahms, who Schumann immediately recognized was extremely talented.

During the winter of 1854, Schumann’s insanity escalated, due to syphilis. On a February morning he walked to a bridge over the Rhine and threw himself in; he was rescued by fishermen. Insisting that for Clara’s protection he be institutionalized, he was placed in a sanatorium. His doctors prevented Clara from seeing him for more than two years, until days before his death. Meanwhile and after, Brahms stepped up and made sure that Clara and her and Robert’s seven children were cared for.

Schumann is best remembered for his vocal and piano music. His literary sensitivity and introspective nature shows in his work. Nearly all of his piano music refers to literature or poetry.

Schumann’s lyrical, intense musicality produced some of the most beautiful and moving lieder in the repertoire. His Dichterliebe (Poet’s Love), a setting of 16 poems by Heinrich Heine, is his best-known song cycle and a supreme achievement in German lied. Other cycles include the previously mentioned  Frauenliebe und Leben (Women’s Love and Life) and two sets titled Liederkreis (one to poems of Heine, one to poems of Joseph von Eichendorf).

He also composed four symphonies and a substantial amount of chamber music. His Piano Concerto is Schumann at his best. 

Biographical information for this post was taken from an article by Ted Libbey, author of The NPR Listener’s Encyclopedia of Classical Music, who said about Schumann, “He never became a great pianist, was a failure as a conductor, and at times was not even a very good composer. But his entire being was music, informed by dream and fantasy. He was music’s quintessential Romantic, always ardent, always striving for the ideal.”


Delacroix: Portrait of Chopin
Delacroix: Portrait of Chopin

Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849) was a Polish composer and virtuoso pianist who profoundly influenced music in the romantic era. He is one of the most beloved composers of piano music ever. His works are favorites of audiences and critics, and pianists beginner through professional level.

Vladimir Horowitz: Introduction and Rondo by Chopin:

He was born in Warsaw, and in 1831 moved to Paris, where he lived the rest of his life, except for travels. He never married, but had a long-term, often troubled relationship with the writer George Sand.

Lang Lang: Scherzo No. 2, Op. 31 by Chopin:

He was a renowned performer and a sought-after teacher. He maintained friendships with some of the top musicians of his day, including Franz Liszt and Robert Schumann.

Yundi Li: “Fantasie” Impromptu Op. 66 by Chopin:

Sickly for most of his life, he passed away at age 39.

Valentina Lisitsa: Etude Op. 10 No. 12 (Revolutionary) by Chopin:

His output, mostly for solo piano, was prodigious: 4 ballades, 27 études, 4 impromptus, 59 mazurkas, 22 nocturnes, 16 polonaises, 28 preludes, 4 rondos, 4 scherzos, 3 sonatas, 9 variations, 19 waltzes, 2 concertos, 19 songs, and many miscellaneous pieces.

Umi Garrett: Grande Valse Brilliante Op. 18 No. 1 by Chopin: