Frederick Chopin was well known as a virtuoso pianist and composer, but little is written about his childhood. This article charts his life from birth to early manhood.
Frederick Chopin was born in a village not far from Warsaw in Poland in 1809. Chopin was one of four children, each was gifted and destined to become famous in their own way, but Frederick was exposed to greatness from a very young age. In his early years Frederick Chopin was described as very sensitive to music, often crying whenever he heard it. Childhood habits can be strange precursors, however, as Chopin eventually began to study the very music that once moved him to tears.
Chopin's Early Performances
While he learned many instruments he focused on the piano giving his first public concert at age nine. In his youthful ignorance he honestly believed that the people that were so enthralled with his music were actually only applauding for his fancy clothes. Eventually this youthful ignorance abated as young Frederick Chopin was invited again and again to perform for audiences both public and private. On one occasion young Chopin, dressed in rich velvet, was picked up at his home by the duke's personal carriage clad in silver and drawn by four fine horses.
Early Compositions and Continued Success
Frederick Chopin's career was not limited to performance, however. He began to compose music at age ten with the creation of a march for the grand duke. Additional compositions followed, until Chopin graduated from the Polish equivalent of high school and turned his life completely to music, moving to Berlin to study and learn from the great masters such as Mendelssohn. In 1831 Frederick moved on to Paris, giving concerts in cities across Europe along the way. One might think that this all of this attention might spoil an individual's character, however Chopin often showed that his feet were firmly rooted in humility. Of all of the praise he garnered Chopin was said to be most proud of the attention he gained in a small, rural inn as he played for hours on end in an impromptu concert as he and others around him waited for the carriage to arrive and take them to their destination. He was once quoted as saying, "My success in the old inn and the cheers of those music-loving Germans are dearer to me than any other praise that I ever received." Indeed, the youthful Frederick Chopin was a darling of society wherever he might travel but one that still seemed to remember where he came from.
At the time few would have been able to predict that this aspiring prodigy would become one of the most famous Classical era composers , on par with some of the greatest musical minds in history.