Frédéric Chopin was one of the most consequential composers of the early [Romantic period](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/romantic-period-music-guide). Born outside of Warsaw, Poland but based in Paris for much of his career, Chopin was a master pianist who wrote more than 230 works for the instrument, including nocturnes, etudes, scherzos, waltzes, mazurkas, ballades, polonaises, and piano concertos.\n\nAlthough he rarely performed for large audiences during his own lifetime, Chopin was nonetheless known as a music celebrity. His piano lessons were in high demand, and he was well acquainted with many of the leading musicians of his era, including Franz Liszt, Robert Schumann, Clara Wieck Schumann, Felix Mendelssohn, Hector Berlioz, Pauline Viardot, and Eugène Delacroix. His works stand alongside those of his Romantic peers as some of the most important piano literature in all of [classical music](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/classical-music-eras).\nFryderyk Franciszek Chopin was born in Żelazowa Wola, Poland and grew up in Warsaw, where he was recognized as a musical prodigy from a young age. As an adult, Chopin made a respectable living as a piano teacher, but rarely gave concerts in large public theaters.\n\n- __Early works__: Chopin’s first teacher was the famed Czech pianist Wojciech Żywny. By the age of 7, he had completed his first public compositions, a pair of polonaises in G minor and B-flat major.\n- __Star student__: Chopin studied at the Warsaw Lyceum with Wilhelm Würfel and at the Warsaw Conservatory of Music with Józef Elsner. Considered a star of the institution, Chopin was selected to perform before the Russian czar. Following his time at the conservatory, Chopin sought to experience the musical capitals of Europe, beginning in Vienna before settling in Paris.\n- __Prolific in Paris__: Inspired by classical music icons Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert, Chopin wrote prolifically. He embraced an emotional, boundary-pushing style that challenged many nineteenth-century Europeans' conception of piano music.\n- __Famous friends__: His closest friend in music was Franz Liszt, but Chopin often kept the company of non-musicians, including the author George Sand, a romantic companion who was also known by her birth name Aurore Dudevant. Another companion was his friend and financial benefactor Jane Stirling, who looked after Chopin's health, which was often poor, and took him on a memorable trip to Scotland near the end of his life. \n- __Life as a piano teacher__: Beyond Stirling's financial assistance, Chopin made a respectable living as a piano teacher, but he only rarely gave concerts in large public theaters.\n\nChopin died in 1849 at the age of 39 (possibly from tuberculosis) and is interred at Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. During the funeral procession, he was serenaded by his own funeral march from his *Piano Sonata no. 2 in B-flat minor, Opus 35*.\nChopin's music is characterized by several core elements.\n\n1. __Evidence of Polish heritage__: Although he lived in Paris and used French spelling for his name, Chopin proudly embraced his Polish heritage. Many of his most renowned pieces are Polish dances, particularly mazurkas and polonaises.\n2. __Piano-centric__: All of Chopin's compositions feature piano, and most feature only solo piano.\n3. __Experimental for his era__: Compared to early Romantic era contemporaries, such as Johannes Brahms and Felix Mendelssohn, Chopin was relatively progressive in his compositional style. Picking up where his idol Beethoven left off, Chopin composed pieces with shifting tonal centers and a sense of improvisation that defied fixed meter or tempo. Decades later, French composer Claude Debussy would continue the tradition in a style that critics called "impressionism."\n4. __Virtuosic piano abilities__: Much like his close friend Liszt, Chopin was a piano prodigy. His music is still central in the classical music canon for pianists and is performed at recitals and large concerts the world over, often by a featured piano soloist.\nChopin composed over 230 works in his lifetime. Among the highlights are:\n\n- __*Nocturne in C-sharp minor, Op. 27, no. 1*__: An 1836 nocturne Chopin dedicated to Countess d'Apponyi.\n- __*Ballade No. 2, Op. 38*__: This piece was written during a trying time in Chopin's life when he and George Sand were living in Majorca, an island in Spain.\n- __*Fantaisie-Impromptu in C-sharp minor*__: Composed in 1834 but not published until after Chopin's death, this fantaisie has become one of Chopin's most performed works.\n- __*Polonaise in A-flat major, Op. 53*__: A showcase of piano virtuosity that Chopin composed during a productive stay in Nohant, George Sand's summer estate.\n- __*Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor, Op. 21*__: While Chopin is known for solo piano music, he did compose some works where the piano is accompanied by an orchestra. *Piano Concerto no. 2* is an example of such ensemble writing.\nBecome a better musician with the [MasterClass Annual Membership](https://www.masterclass.com). Gain access to exclusive video lessons taught by the world’s best, including Itzhak Perlman, St. Vincent, Sheila E., Timbaland, Herbie Hancock, Tom Morello, and more.\n\nFrédéric Chopin was a Polish composer and piano virtuoso who wrote some of the defining piano music of the Romantic Era.