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This Day in History: Chopin’s final Paris concert
On 16 February 1848, French-Polish composer and virtuoso pianist Frédéric Chopin gave his final public performance in his adopted city of Paris at the age of 39, eighteen months before his death from tuberculosis.
Regarded as one of the great Classical composer along with Bach and Beethoven and quintessentially Romantic”, Frédéric Chopin, or Fryderyk Franciszek, born in Warsaw on 1 March 1810, fleed his native Poland amid the political unrest of the 1830s and lived until the rest of his days in Paris, among the high society in France.
Composed primarily for solo piano or for piano as primary instrument, Chopin’s works are credited with expanding both the technical and the emotional range of the instrument. Among the most important of those works are his Préludes (Op. 28) and Études (Opp. 10 and 25), the latter written as technical teaching exercises that have taken on a life of their own as artistic works.
His own virtuoso piano performances are nearly as great a part of his legacy as his compositions.
Le Ménestral, a music periodical wrote in 1848 his piano playing was like “ the sighing of a flower, the whisper of clouds, or the murmur of stars” and that Chopin’s most defining personal characteristic was his fragility.
A century after his final Paris concert, on this day in 1848, Arthur Rubenstein said “His music is the universal language of human communication. When I play Chopin I know I speak directly to the hearts of people!”
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