Oxhill News

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South Warwickshire, England.

The Oxhill News

April 2009

This months News



Hats off to Chopin!

‘Hats off, gentlemen, a genius!’ Schumann once said about Frederic Chopin, and WI members at their meeting in March understood why as they heard of his achievements and listened to his music, including well-known pieces such as the Minute Waltz and Tristesse.  Speaker Neville Tarratt painted a picture of a gifted musician, who started writing music for the piano at the age of seven and performed for the Tsar of Russia when only fifteen.

Chopin was born in Poland, in 1810, and loved his homeland.  Many of his compositions were inspired by traditional folk dances.  When he left home, aged nineteen, to perform around Europe, he took with him a small box of Polish soil.

Chopin settled in Paris where he made a name for himself among the aristocracy, giving private recitals.  He earned a living by teaching piano to the children of wealthy families.  While there he fell in love with the controversial female writer, George Sand, and they lived together for ten years.  One winter they made the journey to Majorca – no mean feat in the 1830s – and stayed in an old monastery in Valdemosa.  The weather was cold and wet and Chopin, who had suffered from poor health throughout his life, fell seriously ill.  Sand nursed him but they eventually parted in 1847.  Chopin never recovered and he died of tuberculosis in 1849, aged 39.

He was buried in Paris, where the Polish soil from the box he kept was scattered on his grave.  His heart was returned to his beloved Poland and is kept in an urn in the Church of the Holy Cross, Warsaw.

Julie Smart

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Last modified: April 02, 2009