Chopin course 2 – Youth, family, teachers, influences; Mazurka in D flat, Op.30, No.3

This is part 2 of Chopin course series. This edpisode and the next few are built around music Chopin composed as a young man, as he was growing up in Poland, and during his first years as a celebrated musician. Chopin had an unusual background. His father Nicholas was a young Frenchman - hence the French name 'Chopin' - who had come to Poland to seek his fortune. He started out as a tutor. One of his first pupils was the future Marie Walewska, who was to become the famous patriotic mistress of Napoleon. Later Nicholas was appointed first professor of French at the newly lycee in Warsaw. Chopin's mother was a young Polish woman of the minor nobility, Justyna Krzyzanowska. She and Nicholas Chopin were both in the service of the Skarbek family, who lived on a beautiful property 25 miles from Warsaw, where young Chopin first experienced the sights and aromas of the Polish countryside. Chopin's mixed background was to produce some of the greatest music ever. His musical training was unusual and mixed as well. His first teacher was a dear old organist and violinist called Adalbert Zywny, while his second teacher was the head of the Warsaw Musical Academy and the leading composer in Poland, Josef Elsner. He was a composer of operas, however, not piano works. Neither of Chopin's teachers were pianists, but Chopin would later say, "From Zywny and Elsner even an ass could learn."

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