Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin was born in 1810 in Poland. A well-known Romantic era composer, he lived a relatively short life, dying at the age of 39 in Paris. Let’s take a look at that life over the next couple of weeks.
His father was Nicolas Chopin. Nicolas was born in the province of Lorraine, France. His father, Francois, was the village administrator of Marainville and a wheelwright, much like Mathias Haydn (https://mtochambermusic.wordpress.com/2014/04/24/mathias-haydn/). Francois married Marguerite Deflin, a respected teacher. Nicolas studied to become a teacher as well. Through connections of his father, Francois, Nicolas was introduced to Weydlich, an estate administrator for a Polish count. When Weydlich returned to Poland, Nicolas had the chance to go with him and his family. At the age of 16, Nicolas started out on his new life in a new country.
Initially Nicolas worked in a tobacco factory where Weydlich was the supervisor. Most likely he worked in the accounting department and as Weydlich’s personal assistant and probably tutored Weydlich’s children. When the factory closed down 1792, Nicolas had to reconsider his options. While returning to France was a possibility, he chose to stay in Poland. He spent some time with the militia and eventually found himself employed as a tutor with the Laczynski family. Through these connections he met and eventually married Justyna Krzyżanowska – twenty years after coming to Poland.
In 1810, a few months after the birth of Federic, the Chopin family moved to Warsaw to live in the Saxon Palace where Nicolas taught at the Warsaw Lyceum.
Nicolas and Justyna were both musical. Nicolas played the violin and flute and Justyna played and taught the piano. Both Frédéric and his sister, Ludwika, learned to play the piano and did sometimes play duets together. Next week we’ll look at the adventures of Frédéric as he grows up and begins his life of music.