How cheerful the childhood of a person can be who later goes down to music history as a melancolic:
It is carnival when Fryderyk Franczisek Chopin comes into the world, and outside the window the musicians of the village play, as the legend has it.
From the very beginning he loves his mother´s piano playing which he preferably listens to lying under the piano.
At the age of six he has tought himself the basics of this instrument he would later call his second self, and he invents melodies on it at every time of day and night.
Frycek, as he is called as a nickname, has as well a talent for acting, together with his siblings he performs self-written stage plays. He is famous for his parodies of teachers and other adults who he makes fun of with cartoons as well.
As a teenager he spends the summer months in the country with the familiy of a friend, in letters and an own holiday newspater he reports to his parents how happy he is.
Till the age of 13 he is home schooled, then he spends only three years in a regular classroom, and leaves school at 16 in order to concentrate on his musical studies.
He gets his final degree at 19 with just two words on his certificate: „musical genious“.

© Ulla Pilz, ORF - Radio Österreich 1


  • 1810 born in Zelazowa Wola, a village close to Warsaw

  • 1817 first piano lessons, first composition published (a Polonaise in g-minor), first pubic performance at the Palais Radziwill

  • 1828 / 29 concert tours to Berlin (unsuccessful) and Vienna (very successful)

  • 1830 move to Vienna, Chopin cannot join to his foregone success

  • 1831 move to Paris, struggle for freedom in Poland, composition of the Revolutonary Etude

  • 1832 concert debut at the Salon Pleyel in Paris

  • 1833 concert together with Liszt, contact with Bellini and Berlioz

  • 1834 and 1836 encounters with Mendelssohn and Schumann

  • 1838 / 39 journey to Mallorca together with George Sand

  • 1840 - 44 most intense phase of composing

  • 1849 death in Paris

Did you know?

  • At the age of 26 Chopin secretly affiances 17-year-old Maria Wodzinska, her parents prevent the marriage due to the poor state of is health

  • In Paris the famous Rothschild family take him under their wings and povide him possibilities to perform Chopin´s main source of income is teaching, his rate is about twice as high as the usual one; he earns much more by giving piano lessons than with composing or performing.

  • After meeting his later partner, the author George Sand, for the first time, Chopin says about her, „What an unsympathetic woman she is! Is she really a woman?“ Later on a contemporary describes the two as follows: „He is so ladylike, and she is a perfect gentleman!“

  • From his legendary winter at Mallorca with George Sand he expects an improvement of his health, but the weather is bad, and the concubinage with the older woman who (like her daughter) wears men´s clothing is a thorn in the flesh of the Majorcans

  • In his last years Chopin suffers from hallucinations, also he weighs no more than 40 to 45 kilograms at a height of 1.70 meters.

  • Chopin´s musical home is the piano, but at his death bed he wants to hear his only cello sonata, a work he had struggled with over years

  • The stated cause of his death is consumption / tuberculosis and its consequences, from a present-day perspective it could be rather mucoviscidosis, which would explain the hallucinations as well