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Frederic Chopin - Musicians

Frederic Chopin was born in the river town of Zelazowa Wola, Poland in the year 1810. The exact birth date is not clearly defined, but it was either late February or early March. His father, Mikolaj Chopin, was a Frenchman who had moved to Poland as a young man, never to return to France.

Chopin took to the piano early and easily. At the age of seven, he was deemed a child prodigy similar to Mozart. At this age, he wrote his first two polonaises, G minor and B flat major. A polonaise, which Chopin is widely known as one of the greatest composers of this type of music, is a slow Polish dance. It carries a 3/4 beat and is usually the first dance of the evening in many Polish formal gatherings.

Unlike his father, Frederic Chopin did go to France where he had success as a performer and teacher. His 24 etudes, short pieces of music that trains a soloist in certain technical skill on their particular instrument, are regarded by many as some of the greatest works written for the piano.

Every five years the International Frederic Chopin Piano Competition is held in Warsaw. This competition is probably the most coveted prize for the classically trained pianist. The standards are so high that for two consecutive competitions, 1990 and 1995, no first prize was awarded.

At the early age of 29, Chopin succumbed to tuberculosis and ten years later the illness finally took his life. His memory lives on at his museum in the town of his birth and by the many that still today enjoy the sounds created by this master of the piano.

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