He was a different kind of composer than Mozart and Beethoven, and he transformed how we hear the piano. John Banther and Bill Bukowski talk about Chopin's early life, relationships, new styles of music he wrote, what set him apart, and more!

Show Notes

The trailer to the movie featuring Chopin called Impromptu

Chopin's Etude Op. 10 No. 12 "Revolutionary"

The Mazurka recommended by Bill

Chopin's famous Scherzo No. 2 in B Flat minor, Op. 31.



John Banther : I'm John Banther, and this is Classical Breakdown from WETA Classical in Washington, we take you behind the music. In this episode, I'm joined by WETA Classical, Bill Bukowski. And we're talking about the life and music of Frédéric Chopin. He was a different kind of composer and musician as you'll soon find out, but he also transformed how we hear the piano and what it can do. We talk about his early life, relationships, ego, and show you new styles of music he brought us like the polonaise, mazurka, ballade and more.
One of the most incredible things I find about Chopin, Bill, is that he only gave 30 public performances. Think of the influence and popularity he's had and continues to have in music. Imagine if the Beatles or the Rolling Stones only gave 30 concerts. I used to work at Disney and doing 30 concerts in 10 days, that was not unusual. That's kind of normal. Of course, Chopin performed a lot, but it was privately in these small concerts and in salons. But what a lasting influence with just these 30 public performances.

Bill Bukowski: Well, it's interesting, you mentioned that because I think that the influence has more to do with the music that he created. I think he would've agreed with the Beatles that a creative artist isn't just somebody who's about performing, sometimes being a creative artist has nothing to do with performing at all. It works for a lot of people. Bob Dylan's still out there on the road heading for another joint, and he's 80 years old. He's been doing it almost constantly for 30 years, but that's not for everybody. And Chopin, well, he just wasn't built that way. But what he did accomplish was changing the way we think about the piano, that's his lasting legacy, I think.

John Banther : Absolutely. And this episode was requested by Katherine who wrote in to Classical Breakdown at weta. org with her suggestion. And I love it because, Bill, the email, it just had two words, the entire email, Chopin, please.

Bill Bukowski: Thank you, Katherine.

John Banther : That's short and sweet, and ask and you shall receive. So Chopin, born in 1810 in East Central Poland. It seems like his early life was quite stable. He had both parents. Shortly after being born his father took a position teaching French at the Warsaw Lyceum, which was also on the palace grounds. I think this really elevated the family's standing. They were able to live on the grounds. I think they had a boarding house for students at the school and he started taking lessons on the piano when he was five years old. And quickly, it sounds like outpaced his peers, the students and even the teachers, it sounds like. And he started composing right after this.
It's no wonder I think that people thought he was the next Mozart, because when I hear that... We listen to a lot of first and early works by composers in this podcast and this one, especially, it's like, oh my gosh, you hear it's Chopin. He's 11 years old here. All these things he's going to do in music right here in this little piece.

Bill Bukowski: Right, he had everything that he needed right from the beginning.

John Banther : So this polonaise as Chopin called it would become a very big influence, of course, on the piano and further I can mention how in just a moment. But first, Bill can you tell us what exactly is a polonaise?

Bill Bukowski: Well, polonaise basically just means French. It's the French word for Polish. Another word for it may be Polka as Tchaikovsky uses in the end of his third symphony. But what it really is, a polonaise is something strictly Polish. It's a courtly dance in three quarter time, one of a series of national dances of Poland that Chopin went on to recreate and reimagine.

John Banther : And it just elevated the whole thing and the piano with it to a new light. And I think because it's this dance it's in three, four, it's got this great da dada dam kind of forward moving motion and all the Polka as you would see it in earlier works also in Tchaikovsky, also Beethoven before him, but no one did it like this and he called it polonaise.
John Philip Sousa wrote the presidential polonaise, which was meant to keep people moving through the White House receiving line, I assume meeting the president. So if you want to play something slow where everyone walks slow and just keeps talking, you got to get them moving along. I think the rhythm of the polonaise does that, and it also is great for things like harmonic emphasis in the music as well with these small lines on the piano and in these big chords popping out of the texture. It's when you hear polonaise, you hear Chopin.

Bill Bukowski: It's interesting, I wonder if they still do that at the White House. It's been a long time since I did a visitor tour. Sounds like a good idea.

John Banther : Yes, keep the lines...

Bill Bukowski: Very elegant. Very elegant. I have to add.

John Banther : I agree. So there is something else in his early years that he would be known for at least in my mind, and I think that's ego and I don't mean that in a negative way, but I mean it musically.

Bill Bukowski: Right.

John Banther : He wrote for the piano and only nine works that he wrote included other instruments from the piano. So out of the 200 something he wrote, I mean it's basically just piano. And he wrote his Opus two when he was a teenager, a set of variations on Mozart's Là ci darem la mano, a very familiar melody. But instead of starting with the theme, like almost every other theme in variation set you hear, its several minutes of piano indulgence, and it's beautiful.
And Bill, when I was listening to this earlier this week, I put it on, and then I was reading something else and several minutes, I think four or so go by, and then I start hearing this Là ci darem la mano. I thought, oh, what am I listening to again? And it's like, oh, I'm listening to this. What have I been listening to the whole time? He's just this long introduction. And it's just exquisite and ego in a good way where it's just all about the piano and the voice that Chopin's bringing to it.

Bill Bukowski: You know, that gets back to comparing him to Mozart because Mozart did that himself. That was his stock and trade. And he would encourage a lot of the time there's no, in his piano concertos, there's no cadenza written out because he figured the pianist would know what to do.

John Banther : Right.

Bill Bukowski: Just take off on your own. I think Mozart would've loved this.

John Banther : Oh yes. And in a little bit later in the... I think it was 1831, Schumann said of this work in his music publication, hats off gentlemen, a genius. I think this is a great point. It's such a short point of Schumann, hats off, a genius with this piece. But I think it's that Chopin factor. A lot of composers, they could write this whole kind of self- indulgence kind of noodling, opening several four minutes or so, but for Chopin it just works.

Bill Bukowski: You know it's interesting that reminds me that Robert Schumann said something else about Chopin's music that I've never forgotten. I think it's a perfect descriptor, guns buried in roses.

John Banther : Okay.

Bill Bukowski: And every time I listen to Chopin, Chopin performance, that's what I'm listening for.

John Banther : And what is it? That just means it's nice and pretty from the start or on the surface, but deeper down there's so much more going on.

Bill Bukowski: There's power and energy and a little bit of danger in the midst of all that beauty, and I think that's really good. Chopin was not a strong person, he suffered ill health all of his life, but you wouldn't know it from his music.

John Banther : No. I think a lot of pianists would agree, danger.

Bill Bukowski: That's it.

John Banther : It's a big element. Its music. So he continues to grow in popularity, he's playing, he's writing some music and he goes to the Warsaw conservatory and he's traveling in the summers. But now when he's 19 turning 20, he starts to think about leaving Poland, right? He considers going to Italy, but I think there was some political unrest, so then he went to Vienna for a little bit before settling in Paris. From what I understand a big part of this was in Poland at the time, and even in Warsaw, there was not the musical infrastructure or support to... I don't want to say house, but to support someone like Chopin as compared to somewhere like Vienna or Paris or London, these huge centers of music.

Bill Bukowski: Yeah, the musical capitals would be where he knew where he belonged. And I think the other thing too, that I want to add is being in Poland in the 19th century, wasn't necessarily the safest or most comfortable place to be.

John Banther : Okay. So before he leaves Poland, he gives some farewell concerts and there's not a lot of musicians or composers, usually when they have to leave, it is for a very particular reason. And for Chopin at this young age, he is this kind of rockstar already. And he premieres some of the works that he wrote that include other instruments like his piano concertos, his number one for instance, Bill, I think shows that his writing for orchestra is actually kind of weak. It sounds like he skipped a lot of orchestration lessons with one of his teachers.
And I go back to this ego idea again in a good way, because in this piano concerto the orchestra's long introduction, like over four minutes, maybe even a little longer, depending on how slow it's played. And they played these three beautiful themes over the course of the introduction. But when the piano comes in several minutes later, he plays them at a completely different level. It's almost like he gave them a poorly orchestrated or formed line so that his would be so much better. That's kind of ingest.
But what he does in the piano with those lines is so much different. There's even parts where you hear the orchestra playing alone and it sounds like a piano. It just sounds like, oh, he played this on the piano real quick and wrote it down, which was strange because sometimes his playing is so thick and richly textured it sounds like an orchestra.

Bill Bukowski: Yeah, this is an interesting critique that has been said about Chopin's (inaudible) works for many years and we only have the benefit of hindsight. We know what came afterwards. But it's probably something to keep in mind that he only wrote these works at the very beginning of his career when he went to Paris and wrote the works that he's most famous for, he left all that behind because that wasn't what he was meant to do if that makes sense.

John Banther : And I like how you mentioned hindsight because it is fun in hindsight because it's almost kind of fun and cute in a way. Look how he's writing for this right here, and then he comes in with this thunderous extraordinary line on the piano, but that wasn't what he was meant to do, writing symphonies and concertos.

Bill Bukowski: And eventually he left it behind. But they're interesting works to hear of just where he was coming from, if that makes sense.

John Banther : I think it does. And it's after these concerts, these farewell concerts that he does leave Poland, and in fact, he would never return to Poland. He saw his parents a few years later, but I think even then that was the last time he saw them. And he ended up in Vienna for a little bit before settling down in Paris. I think it was even a bit of a scuffle trying to get to Paris, something with his visa not being approved or they would not give him travel or something from Polish or the Vienna side. So he had to get Paris to kind of act or ask on his behalf for him to get this material to get there.

Bill Bukowski: See, there are still problems to this day with international travel, something to keep in mind. Chopin went through it, we can get through it.

John Banther : Oh, I've got a lot of stories. So we'll get into his life after Poland, right after this. Classical Breakdown is made possible by WETA Classical. Listen to the music anytime, day or night at wetaclassical. org or on the WETA Classical app, it's free in the app store.
So after moving to Paris, he took the French version of his name Frédéric Chopin, originally Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin, right? So just the French version of his name because his father was part French, right?

Bill Bukowski: Right and of course now he's living in Paris. He needs to sort of settle in and mix in.

John Banther : And while he is in Paris, he meets a big name writers, composers, people like (inaudible) and Liszt. So he goes to Paris and he is this star. And that's what's so kind of funny today in hindsight, he only gives these 30 public performances. He's doing so many of these private concerts and salons. I think he told Liszt that playing on a stage in front of people is terrifying, but playing in these soirees and these salon concerts was much more approachable. It is scary when you're on a big stage in front of 2000 people by yourself, there's a lot of pressure there. The lights are on, or however it was back then. But when you are not on a stage and there's a library of books around you, maybe he felt more comfortable.

Bill Bukowski: I think Chopin is a patron saint of introverts and shrinking violets everywhere. And there's nothing wrong with that.

John Banther : No, and it comes out in his music, the extroverted part, I guess, maybe.

Bill Bukowski: Right, he didn't need to convey his passion on the stage. As a matter of fact, he didn't like that kind of histrionic behavior. I think it was one of the things that annoyed him about Franz Liszt, at least when Liszt was a performer. But all of his passion, all of his emotion is contained in the music that he wrote.

John Banther : Absolutely. So you think while he's in Paris and he is making a living, but he is not doing these big public concerts, how's he making money? So he's of course charging fees to give these concerts. And he made a lot of money teaching piano. Bill, I tried to do some currency conversion, it's not easy going back this far. He did charge one guinea for a lesson and 20 for a private concert. Today, I think that's about $ 450 for a lesson and 9000 for the concert. I'm not surprised about the price for the private concert, a big piano star today, I think they're earning more than that actually.

Bill Bukowski: Yeah, but even for the time, that was a good payoff.

John Banther : It was a good payoff. What's interesting is that $ 450 lesson fee. That is not something I think you can really find today. Even the musicians in the biggest orchestras, some charge over 150, that's kind of hard. Oftentimes if you go somewhere to take a lesson with someone.

Bill Bukowski: Like a masterclass or something.

John Banther : A masterclass, yeah. That's when you're with a group of people, but a one- on- one lesson. Then if someone comes out of town too... Someone's come out of town before and they want a lesson with me, oftentimes I don't charge, especially if they're a student, they're coming in. Of course, you do charge money for regular lessons, but that's too say. He was teaching wealthy children or wealthy students, and he was able to command that price as one of the stars of France.

Bill Bukowski: I think it also probably showed just how good he was as a way of sort of advertising. Well, if you can afford this, you got Chopin.

John Banther : So the polonaise is a big Polish influence Chopin brought or left us with. There's also a mazurka that he writes. Can you tell us about this?

Bill Bukowski: Yeah. Mazurka is another one of those classical Polish dances. It comes from Masovia and it's kind of a jumping off kind of a dance, it's also in three quarter time. And for Chopin, of course it's a jumping off into something greater, you can't dance to Chopin's mazurkas necessarily. You can if you want, I guess, but they're not really designed that way. I find the mazurkas, every time I hear one coming up, I automatically perk up because some of my favorite Chopin music is in the mazurkas because they're more than just a dance.

John Banther : And what's one that you think would be a great representation, that's more than the dance?

Bill Bukowski: If I could pick one piece by Chopin to say to somebody, give me five minutes, there's a series in the New York Times, give me five minutes and I can show you what the magic of Chopin is, that's the mazurka number four, opus 17. It's a marvelous work and it's well worth checking out. I wish we could play it in its entirety here, but of course we can't.

John Banther : No, but we will have performances on the shows notes page at classicalbreakdown. org. And you said five minutes, a lot of his works are on the shorter side. The concertos that he wrote, those are longer pieces, but a lot of the music he wrote, like the polonaises and mazurkas, they're shorter.

Bill Bukowski: They're really all miniatures.

John Banther : Miniatures. That's a good word for it.

Bill Bukowski: Even the polonaise fantasy, I think clocks in at about 13 minutes, if I'm not mistaken, and it's a marvelous journey. But again, it's most of his music that he wrote for solo piano is in miniature form, sometimes even less than a minute.

John Banther : And what he includes in that minute is, as you said before, I mean there's danger and it can be terrifying. And polonaise, mazurka, another thing he was writing was what we call études, which étude is basically French for study. This is interesting because to give a little context, every musician plays études. When you're taking lessons, you have études, these are works written for a solo instrument, your instrument. And they're written with the purpose in mind of working on something within playing, you're working on your range or a certain technique, articulation or playing very smoothly.
Typically, I mean it's common, you work on two études a week, a technical one and a (inaudible) , a very singing one. And these are not something you really... You don't play these in concerts, this is for study. Chopin elevates them to a new level and extreme difficulty. You're not playing these when you are 12, unless you're Chopin I guess, but you can hear these on recitals because they are so difficult and they're just so musically elevated.

Bill Bukowski: They're basically... It's a study in name alone because it actually goes further than that. The famous Tristesse étude, which is one of his most popular ones or the étude number 12 in his first set of études, this is the revolutionary étude, which again, packs a lot of power, a lot of guns in the roses there, if you will.

John Banther : Also, nocturnes and another work that Chopin basically brought us was the ballade. I mean, you hear it and you think, ballad. And so if this is not an Elvis ballad though, this is Chopin. And there's some of the most difficult works for the piano. It's incredible when you're hearing this. What is happening? Sometimes the hands, they seem completely independent of each other and that's basically something he invented, the nocturne already existed. The ballade didn't at least not in this form until Chopin did it. And he only wrote four, but they are...

Bill Bukowski: They're amazing works, each one of them, individual, completely different from one another. And in each one, a perfect example of what a musical ballade is. A ballade of course, being a romantic poem or telling a story, sometimes a sad story, but not always. So there's a lot of drama in a ballade, but in Chopin's music too, there's also a lot of drama. There's no actual narrative. There's no story behind any of them. It's just the style if you will.

John Banther : Chopin is in his 20s in the 1830s and romantically, he had a couple of interests, one of them was if I can say her name correct, the artist Maria Wodzinski, I think is how you say her name. She was an artist, she made one of the portraits that we have of Chopin and still look at today. That relationship did not last long. I think it broke up a year later, he had an envelope with her letters that said my sorrow, that's kind of heartbreaking. But then he started a 10 year relationship, nearly 10 years with the writer, George Sand.

Bill Bukowski: Yeah, that was probably the defining relationship of most of his life. They were definitely star crossed. It was, I love you, go away, in equal measure on both sides. It's a long story.

John Banther : Yes. And he also, right after this in 1838, him and George Sand, they are in Majorca and this is when he gets very ill. It seems maybe the most ill he's been in a long time. You mentioned he was on the weaker side. He did get sick a lot. And he said that there were three doctors that came to see him, one said he was dead, one said he was dying, one said he was about to die or something like that. So George Sand basically had to be caregiver and get him off the island.

Bill Bukowski: The trip to Majorca was probably as good as distillations of what the problem with their relationship was. For somebody who had problems with consumption and breathing and lungs and everything like that, a damp place like Majorca, which it was at that particular time. It's the last place on earth that you should be.

John Banther : Yeah, usually you go to a dryer place.

Bill Bukowski: Exactly.

John Banther : Well Chopin learned that lesson the hard way, but he was also a friend with Franz Liszt. And I think you alluded to earlier, it was kind of a love- hate relationship.

Bill Bukowski: Competitive, I think.

John Banther : Competitive.

Bill Bukowski: You would imagine to a couple of pianists, composers like that, whether his performers or musicians, temperamentally they were very different. Franz Liszt was probably one of the most generous hearted musicians and composers who ever lived. But they were two completely different temperaments. The other one too, as I alluded to before was Robert Schumann loved Chopin's music, but he didn't love Schumann's music. So it's just one of those things, different artistic temperaments.

John Banther : And when it came to playing his music, because he's making money by giving these private concerts, giving these lessons and he is publishing his music, he's making a lot of money by publishing his works. And there's some great quotes about just the style or what makes Chopin, Chopin. (inaudible) said that he had... Chopin created a kind of chromatic embroidery whose effect is so strange and (inaudible) , has to be impossible to describe. Virtually, nobody but Chopin himself can play this music and give it this unusual turn. For me again, that's that Chopin factor. Another composer said, what in the hands of others was elegant embellishment, in his hands became a colorful wreath of flowers.

Bill Bukowski: Both really beautiful descriptions of Chopin's music.

John Banther : One of the things that I think are involved in those statements are the use of rubato, which I think today means something a bit different than before. Basically in music if you rubato written into your part, that's basically indicating, here's a moment where I can be much more expressive and much more liberal with the time and the rhythm. I basically can dictate and control the pacing here.
I think in Chopin's time, it was slightly different in this way, in terms of it meant speeding up and then slowing back down.

Bill Bukowski: Stretching it a little.

John Banther : Stretching, right. You're literally robbing time from one place to give to another. So maybe there's a different way of doing it, but you hear this change of tempo all the time in his music and it's not written in actually most of the time. So there's definitely an interpretive choice that musicians have to make. But for me also, that's what makes Chopin, Chopin in the sense of the tempo is almost sometimes nebulous. It is not... Music cannot... You almost can't dictate on written page in music what the music actually is.

Bill Bukowski: And it gives performers to this day sort of a chance to really sort of stretch out and see what they can do with Chopin's music.

John Banther : What they can do with Chopin's music, that's an important point because everyone's putting their interpretation on it, on his music. So reasons for you might slow down or speed up or do this rubato stealing time moment is to... Especially in Chopin there's a repeat of material. The big theme is coming back in. He'll stretch it out to make it really extravagant, and then he'll jump right back into the rhythm. Another way to just heighten the expressive moment in his piano concerto. There's some beautiful themes when the piano comes in that are just... He's holding onto you and he doesn't let go in his music, basically. I think part of that is making you hang by a thread waiting for that next note.

Bill Bukowski: Right, I'm wondering where it'll be and where it's going.

John Banther : Other works he wrote, scherzos, one of my favorite works, Bill, that I always recommend is the scherzo in B minor.

Bill Bukowski: That's one of my favorites too.

John Banther : Okay. It's one of the first things I heard actually, my roommate in Conservatory, he played it all the time. He wasn't a piano major, he was insane. He could do anything on the piano, but he would play that, and it blew my mind every time. So, that's when I always recommend...

Bill Bukowski: The first time I heard it was years ago. And then there's that middle movement, that's the little Christmas lullaby.

John Banther : Oh yeah.

Bill Bukowski: And I remembered that from my father's records growing up and I'd heard that and it kind of stopped me in my tracks and brought me back to when I was a kid listening to Christmas records.

John Banther : I think Chopin would be pleased. He also wrote, like many other composers would, in the (inaudible) of Johann Sebastian Bach, these set of preludes.

Bill Bukowski: Yeah, 28 preludes which are... That's a marvelous collection of works. That is probably one of the pieces of... Or the one genre that Chopin wrote that you have to listen to them all at once. I mean, you can excerpt them and play them here and there, but they really need to be heard from beginning to end. Takes a little less than an hour, I think, but it's just a remarkable journey.

John Banther : Sometimes you see the preludes was described as being also very characteristic. It's almost like sometimes they are depicting something, but Chopin was really not into programmatic music or depicting something like that at all, was he?

Bill Bukowski: No, he wasn't. And the other thing that I want to point out, a lot of people and myself included have favorite Chopin works, and typically they're drawn to the ones with the nicknames, Tristesse, Raindrop prelude, he hated anybody putting nicknames or any kind of extra musical image on his music. He and Stravinsky would've been very much simpatico in that regard.

John Banther : He'd want to just... I mean, no titles or nicknames. It was polonaise one or the opus, whatever.

Bill Bukowski: The music said everything that it needed to say.

John Banther : Which is... I mean, it really does. It is some of the most characteristic, dreamy... It'll put you right into a whole new world, but he just leaves it as it is.

Bill Bukowski: And it'll sometimes also rattle your world.

John Banther : Rattle your world, yes.

Bill Bukowski: Which is also what he was trying to do.

John Banther : So Chopin unfortunately did not live a very long time. He in his 30s starts to decline with his health. The last public concert he gave was during, at the end of a tour in great Britain in 1848. And in London that November, he gave a charity concert for Polish refugees and he ended up being sick most of that winter, mostly bedridden before he would then pass in June of the following year at age 39. It seems according to the American Journal of Medicine in 2017, they observed his heart, which I guess is in a jar.

Bill Bukowski: Yeah, that's another thing too, when he was buried and Chopin rests at Père Lachaise, but he wanted his heart buried in Poland, which at the time was difficult to do. But eventually his heart did wind up back in Poland.

John Banther : That's pretty beautiful. His heart is back in Poland, but the American Journal of Medicine said that he probably died of what would be a rare case of pericarditis because of chronic tuberculosis.

Bill Bukowski: Right, that's what did him in, a heart infection.

John Banther : His funeral just two weeks later and required tickets to attend, assumingly because to ensure that there was enough seating, I think 3000 people showed up and trying to get in or just to see or pay their respects. Of course, they could not get inside, but definitely loved in his time. So he left us with over 200 works that survived almost all for the piano. They all have the piano in them, but only a few have extra instruments. And he elevated the piano to a level that I think we still feel today. He totally changed everything. You think of Beethoven being instrumental and making the piano bigger and the things he was doing with the whole range of the keyboard. Chopin is, I mean, he's in a race car.

Bill Bukowski: He wrote only for the piano and he wrote better for the piano than anybody before or since. Nobody wrote so distinctively for the piano. It's understandable why his works don't really transpose to other instruments very well.

John Banther : No, I almost never hear of it at all.

Bill Bukowski: No. I mean, there was the ballet La Sylphide arranged for orchestra, but of course that was for a ballet. But no, it was written expressly and purposely and lovingly for the piano and that's how they're best heard.

John Banther : And Chopin lived a life that I don't want to say unremarkable, but it seemed there wasn't a level of drama and things that he lived or dealt with compared to some other composers. Sometimes, unfortunately, he lived a mostly normal life within the confines of being this celebrity, of course.

Bill Bukowski: Yeah, and also in very interesting times, that's something to say, and I want to take this opportunity to point people who are curious about the life of Chopin. It's a movie that I've always liked, it's got mixed reviews, but I've seen it a couple of times and I really like it, it's called Impromptu, came out in 1992, starring Hugh Grant as Chopin, Judy Davis as George Sand, Julian Sands as Franz Liszt, and Bernadette Peters is Franz Liszt's lover, the countess d'Agoult and there's other actors that are in it. And it showcases Chopin's life with these different people around him. And doesn't sensationalize it all that much, but it's actually kind of an interesting film to watch.

John Banther : I think I might have to watch... I've not seen that.

Bill Bukowski: Yeah.

John Banther : Impromptu.

Bill Bukowski: It's kind of appeared and disappeared very quickly, but I found it really very charming and the principal actors that I just mentioned, I mean, it's worth to see it just for them alone and I thought they did a really good job. The director's name escapes me at the moment.

John Banther : Okay. Well, we'll have... I'll put something on the show notes page for that. And that's all I have for the life and music of Chopin. Bill, I'm going to put more performances on the show notes page, but do you have anything else for us for Chopin?

Bill Bukowski: Well, there are a lot of performers over the years who have played Chopin's music. I think probably the one recording that a lot of people think of when they think of Chopin where the recordings made by Arthur Rubinstein, he sort of set the gold standard. One of my personal favorites was Vladimir Ashkenazy who recorded all of Chopin's music, and I think got that guns buried in rose's concept down pretty good. Murray Perahia made wonderful recordings of the four ballades and some of Chopin's other works too. Krystian Zimerman is another one. Maria João Pires, most recently, Nelson Freire and Stephen Hough both recorded the nocturnes, and they're two completely different looks at the nocturnes and both really worth checking out.

John Banther : I mean, it sounds like Chopin was really a pianist composer.

Bill Bukowski: He was. He was for sure.

John Banther : Thanks for listening to Classical Breakdown. You'll find more information about this episode on the show notes page at classicalbreakdown. org. You can send any comments, questions or episode ideas to classicalbreakdown@ weta. org. And if you enjoy this episode, please share it with a friend and leave a review in your podcast app. I'm John Banther. Thanks for listening to Classical Breakdown from WETA Classical.