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Chopin in Context: The Women Before and After | Music for the Soul

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Clipper Erickson presents the second concert in his Music for the Soul Series, "Chopin in Context: The Women Before and After."

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Clipper Erickson presents the second concert in his Music for the Soul Series, "Chopin in Context: The Women Before and After."

Chopin is often known as the "poet of the piano" and considered one of the most original composers in history. It's not well known that he was strongly influenced by many predecessors, one of the most important of whom was Maria Szymanowska.

Renowned and admired for her delicate, singing touch and commanding dexterity, Szymanowska was one of the first female touring piano virtuosi, court pianist to Russian aristocracy, and creator of a renowned musical salon that attracted luminaries throughout Europe, including Goethe, who was said to be in love with her. This program begins with her Nocturne, featuring an operatic singing line, compelling dramatic structure, and mastery of pianistic color. It was also written well before any of Chopin's own Nocturnes.

It's also well known that Chopin had many followers, but very few who could match his uncanny ability to express conflicting emotions simultaneously. French composer Cécile Chaminade was his equal a full century afterwards in many of her works, including her Nocturne and Valse d'Automne, which she wrote in her 70s. An extremely prolific artist and transcendent performer, Chaminade was the first female composer to be made a Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur - France's highest honor - in 1913.

This program reveals this context in two of Chopin's early works, Nocturne in Eb and Ballade No. 1; and in two late works, Waltz in C# minor and Sonata in B minor.

The instrument for the performance is a Steinway Centennial instrument, built for the 1876 World's Fair in Philadelphia, beautifully restored and made available by Philadelphia's own Cunningham Piano.


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