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Composers Datebook®

with host John Birge

Sunday, November 1

Chopin gets out of town

Synopsis

On today’s date in 1830, the Polish composer Frederic Chopin said farewell to his native land at a bon voyage dinner thrown by his friends in Warsaw. It was all quite jolly, with singing, dancing, and drinking lasting well into the night. On a more melancholy note, Romantic legend has it that someone presented Chopin with a vessel of Polish soil, which ended up being buried with him when he died in Paris 19 years later.

Chopin was an ardent Polish patriot, and, thanks to the repressive new czar of Russia, things were looking bad for Poland, politically, in 1830.

Musically, in Chopin’s view, things weren’t much better. “One thing’s for sure,” Chopin wrote to a friend, “I’m not staying in Warsaw. You have no idea how dreary it is here.” Chopin had kept busy by writing two piano concertos. “My second concerto is so original I’m afraid even I’ll never learn to play it right,” he confessed in a letter. Even so, these new works were well received in Warsaw, and one critic even suggested, with prophetic foresight, “Fate has blessed the Poles with Mr. Chopin just as she gave the Germans Mozart.”

Music Played in Today's Program

Frederick Chopin (1810 – 1849) Piano Concerto No. 2 in f, Op. 21 Martha Argerich, piano; Montréal Symphony; Charles Dutoit, cond. EMI Classics 56798

Additional Information

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