Composers Datebook®

Chopin debuts in Paris

Composers Datebook - Feb. 26, 2024


On today’s date in 1832, Polish pianist and composer Frederic Chopin made his concert debut in Paris at the Salle Pleyel. Among the enthusiastic audience members was another composer-pianist by the name of Franz Liszt, who would rapidly become Chopin’s close friend and advocate.

Chopin dedicated his recently completed Piano Etudes to Liszt, and Chopin once wrote to a friend, “I am writing without knowing what my pen is scribbling, because at this moment Liszt is playing my etudes and putting honest thoughts out of my head. I should like to rob him of the way he plays them!”

The failure of the Polish Insurrection of 1831 had driven a large number of Polish refugees to Paris, where they joined émigré groups of Italians and Austrians who had also fled political repression at home for the more liberal, welcoming atmosphere of the French capitol.

Increasing ill health and crippling stage fright made Chopin’s public concert appearances in Paris rare events. When Chopin did perform in public, he liked to share the stage with a sympathetic singer like Pauline Viardot-Garcia, or a fellow pianist like Liszt. Despite his fame, Chopin’s concert appearances in Paris numbered less than a dozen.

Music Played in Today's Program

Frederic Chopin (1810-1949): Etude No. 10; Maurizio Pollini, piano DG 413 794

On This Day


  • 1770 - Bohemian-French composer Anton (Antoine) Reicha, in Prague;

  • 1879 - English composer Frank Bridge, in Brighton;


  • 1770 - Italian composer and violinist Giuseppe Tartini, age 77, in Padua;

  • 1981 - American conductor, composer and Eastman School of Music director, Howard Hanson, age 84, in Rochester, N.Y.;


  • 1752 - Handel: oratorio “Jephtha,” in London at the Covent Garden Theatre (Gregorian date: Mar. 8);

  • 1877 - Borodin: Symphony No. 2, in St. Petersburg (Gregorian date: March 10);

  • 1899 - Bruckner: Symphony No. 6 (heavily cut), by Vienna Philharmonic, with Gustav Mahler conducting; On February 11, 1883, Wilhlem Jahn had conducted the Vienna Philharmonic in premiere public performance of this symphony's 2nd and 3rd movements only;

  • 1922 - Saint-Saëns: "Carnival of the Animals," in Paris;

  • 1927 - Respighi: “Vetrate di Chiesa” (Church Windows), by the Boston Symphony with Serge Koussevitzky conducting;

  • 1935 - Bizet: Symphony No. 1, posthumously, in Basel, Switzerland, with Felix Weingartner conducting; This symphony was composed by the 17-year old Bizet in 1855;

  • 1939 - Copland: Sextet (arranged from "Short Symphony"), at Town Hall in New York City, by a Juilliard graduate ensemble;

  • 1943 - Roy Harris: Symphony No. 5, by the Boston Symphony, Serge Koussevitzsky conducting;

  • 1946 - R. Strauss: Oboe Concerto, by the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra conducted by Volkmar Andreae, with Marcel Saillet as soloist; This composition of this work had been prompted by a chance comment made by the American oboist (and then U.S. soldier) John de Lancie during a post-war visit with the elderly composer in Bavaria that Strauss should consider writing an oboe concerto (Strauss offered de Lancie the American premiere, but the work was given its first U.S. performance in 1948 by oboist Mitchell "Mitch" Miller and the Columbia Concert Orchestra under Daniel Saidenberg; Many years later, De Lancie made a stereo recording of the piece for RCA Victor, which has been re-released on compact disc) ;

  • 1953 - Bernstein: musical "Wonderful Town," at the Winter Garden in New York City; A trial run of the show had opened in New Haven at the Schubert Theater on January 19, 1953;

  • 1953 - Elliott Carter: String Quartet No. 1 at Columbia University in New York City, by the Walden Quartet;

  • 1959 - Rochberg: Symphony No. 2, in Cleveland;

  • 1981 - Peter Maxwell Davies: Symphony No. 2, at Boston's Symphony Hall, by the Boston Symphony, Seiji Ozawa conducting;

  • 2001 - Klass De Vries: "…sub nocte per umbras" (through the real of spirits), at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, by the San Francisco Contemporary Players;


  • 1832 - Chopin makes his debut in Paris at the Salle Pleyel, playing his Piano Concerto No. 2; Liszt attends the performance.

  • 1856 - American premiere of J.S. Bach's Concerto for Three Claviers and Orchestra No. 1 in D minor, at Dodworth's Hall in New York during a Eisfeld chamber music "Soiree," with Henry C. Timm, William Scharfenberg, and William Mason at three pianos, accompanied by a string quintet; An 1856 edition of Dwight's Journal waxed poetical about this performance, commenting: "The leaven of blurred blockwork of the tyro instrumentalists was forgotten whilst the splendid artistic rendering of the occasion shadowed forth the truly sculpturesque effects designed by the incomparable author";

  • 1874 - First documented American performance of Handel's Coronation Athem "Zadok the Priest," at Steinway Hall in New York, by the Oratorio Society, Leopold Damrosch conducting; Theodore Thomas introduced this anthem in Cincinnati on May 21, 1881, during that city's May Festival.

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About Composers Datebook®

Host John Birge presents a daily snapshot of composers past and present, with timely information, intriguing musical events and appropriate, accessible music related to each.

He has been hosting, producing and performing classical music for more than 25 years. Since 1997, he has been hosting on Minnesota Public Radio's Classical Music Service. He played French horn for the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestra and performed with them on their centennial tour of Europe in 1995. He was trained at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Eastman School of Music and Interlochen Arts Academy.

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