Chopin in his twenties

As mentioned last week, Chopin continued to compose and perform while completing his studies in his late teens. A few weeks after finishing his formal studies, Chopin gave his first concerts in Vienna. The two concerts included a premiere of one of his own pieces. They were successful concerts with favourable reviews. His combined successes in Warsaw and Vienna gave him more opportunities in Europe and at the age of twenty, he left Poland intending to travel to Italy via Austria.

Shortly after he left, war broke out in Poland. His friend and travelling companion decided to return home to enlist. Staying in Vienna on his own, the following year found Chopin on his way to France instead of Italy. He ended up in Paris at the age of 21, stayed, and became a French citizen at the age of 25. He never returned to Poland but did communicate frequently by letter to his family.

He established himself as a musician and became part of the artistic community in Paris. During his years there, he gained the respect of his artistic peers and the favour of the public. Chopin was able to support himself by publishing his compositions and by providing piano lessons. His public performances lessened as he preferred the more intimate salon settings and private house concerts for playing. Chopin led what I think of as an artist’s life – involved in his art form entirely. Next week we’ll take a look at the impact that had on his personal life.

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