On today’s date in 1832, the 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, Op. 10, to Franz 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.
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