Gerard Schwarz explains how Chopin came to embody the Romantic Movement with his rich harmonic shadings, his intense poetic expression, and his attention to the sensual qualities of music. But Chopin did more than just write music imbued with the spirit of Romanticism. In many ways he embodied an archetypal Romantic character: a lonely genius, doomed by that most Romantic disease, tuberculosis; a visionary musician too refined to seek public acclaim.
Chopin was a child prodigy, penning piano pieces as early as age seven. By the 1830s he was the reigning musician of Parisian high society. In 1836, Chopin began a romance with the author Aurore Dudevant, who went by her pen name of George Sand and was one of the most unusual personages of her day. But all accounts portray Chopin as exceptionally reserved and reticent, a quality that even George Sand found cause for complaint.
Schwarz uses musical excerpts from Chopin's piano music that include Impromptu in C-sharp Minor, Nocturne in E-flat Major, Ballade No. 3, Six Preludes from Opus 28, Fantaisie in F Minor and others to demonstrate Chopin's use of rhythm, melody and his exploitation of the richer piano sounds.
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