Known for music of great simplicity and purity of melody, classical composer and pianist Frédéric François Chopin (1810-1849) was born on this day in Zelazowa Wola, a village near Warsaw, Poland. His father was French, his mother Polish.
A child prodigy, composing by age seven, he graduated from the Warsaw Conservatory then traveled to Paris in 1831 where he joined the era's artistic and cultural elite. Chopin taught piano (a "premiere" instructor) and continued to perform and compose music.
"One needs only to study a certain positioning of the hand in relation to the keys to obtain with ease the most beautiful sounds," he once explained.
Chopin met and fell in love with the dynamic novelist George Sand in 1836. His romantic ballades, preludes, mazurkas, and waltzes celebrated his passion for life. A genius of improvisation and original style, Chopin transformed complexities into simple grace.
"Time is still the best critic, and patience the best teacher," he said. Frail throughout his life, the sickly, elegant genius died of tuberculosis at age 39.
"Beethoven embraced the universe with the power of his spirit," Chopin wrote. "I do not climb so high. A long time ago I decided that my universe will be the soul and heart of man."
All the loveliest things come simply.