Frederic Chopin: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Suzanne Rose

Suzanne has taught all levels PK-graduate school and has a PhD in Instructional Systems Design. She currently teachers literacy courses to preservice and inservice teachers.

Have you ever watched a 'Bugs Bunny' or 'Tom and Jerry' cartoon? Then you've probably heard the music of Frederic Chopin, one of the most famous musical composers of all time. Read on to find out more about Chopin.

Who Was Frederic Chopin?

Frederic Chopin

Frederic Chopin is one of the most prolific musical composers of all time. This means he wrote a lot of music - over 200 musical compositions! Even more unusual is that, unlike many other composers who wrote music for orchestras, Chopin wrote almost all of his music just for the piano.

He's said to be the greatest Polish composer of all time, but his last name is actually French (from his father). Many people have trouble pronouncing the name 'Chopin' - it is pronounced 'show - pan.'

Chopin's Life

Chopin was born in 1810 in Zelazowa, Poland. His father, Nikolaj Chopin, was French and was also a musician. Chopin's mother, Tekla Krzyzanowska, was Polish. He had three sisters; his oldest sister first taught Chopin how to play the piano.

Chopin published his first musical composition when he was just seven years old! By the time he was eight years old, he was performing in public. His parents recognized that he was a brilliant musician and provided private music lessons for him.

As a teenager, Chopin attended the Warsaw Lyceum. Following that, he attended the Warsaw High School of Music. His first fame as a musician came when he was 19 years old and toured in Austria. He then toured in France the following year. Chopin never returned to Poland, and lived the rest of his life in Paris. He toured in England in 1847 and 1848, playing a concert for Queen Victoria and giving his final live performance in London for a group of Polish refugees.

Grave of Chopin in Paris

Chopin never married and died at age 39 in 1849, from tuberculosis. One strange fact about Chopin is that he was afraid of being buried alive. He left instructions when he died that his heart was to be removed before he was buried, so that they would be sure he was dead! His body is buried in Paris, but his heart was taken back to Warsaw, Poland, where it remains today in the Holy Cross Church.

Famous Music

Chopin didn't like to perform. He made his living by composing and only made about 30 public performances over his lifetime. Some people believe this is because he suffered from poor health throughout his life.

One of Chopin's most famous pieces of music is the Waltz in D-flat major, Op. 64, No. 1, which is also known as the Minute Waltz. Chopin's Sonata No. 2 in B-flat Minor, is often played at funerals. It was played for the first time at Chopin's own funeral, and was also played at the funeral of U.S. President John F. Kennedy.

Chopin score and autograph

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