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Frédéric Chopin:
The Polonaise

The polonaise is a dance that was fashionable in the Polish court. Since Polish nobility used to like to speak French, the name "polonaise" is French. Eventually, the polonaise caught on all over Europe, and even migrated to America. Lots of operas contain polonaises, and after a while, composers began to use the polonaise as a form for non-dancing, instrumental pieces.

Music heard in this episode:
Chopin: Polonaise in B flat
Chabrier: Fete Polonaise
Sousa: Presidential Polonaise
Mussorgsky: Boris Gudonov
Tchaikovsky: Eugene Onegin
Schubert: Polonaise
Dvorak: Polonaise
Liadov: Polonaise
Chopin: Polonaise No. 1 G minor
Chopin: Military Polonaise

Other shows about Frédéric Chopin:
About Frédéric Chopin
Military Music
Famous Pianist-Composers

Download this month's activity sheet

About Frédéric Chopin
3/1/1810 - 10/17/1849
Born in Poland

Frédéric Chopin was one of the greatest pianists of his day. Chopin was born in a town just outside of Warsaw, Poland. His mother introduced him to the piano; by the time he was six, Chopin played extremely well and was starting to compose. He gave his first concert at the age of eight.

When Chopin was 20, he left Poland to seek fame and fortune in other European cities. When Chopin got to Paris, he decided to stay.

There's a story that when Chopin left his native country, his friends gave him some Polish soil, which he carried around with him for the rest of his life. That's probably not true, but Chopin did continue to be passionatly patriotic about Poland, even though he never went back there.

Chopin was never healthy, and he was only thirty-nine when he died of tuberculosis. When he was buried -- in France -- a special box of earth was brought from Poland to sprinkle on his grave. But Chopin's heart is in Poland -- literally. His heart was put in an urn and taken to the Church of the Holy Cross in Warsaw.

See other composers born in Poland


This Week's Quiz:

1. A polonaise is a dignified dance.



2.A polonaise is often used to open fancy balls.



3. The first pieces that Chopin wrote were polonaises.




Frédéric Chopin
Military Polonaise

Composed in 1838
Performed by
Idel Biret, piano

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