The Well-Tempered Ear

UW Pianists to Mark Chopin Year in March | August 24, 2009

By Jacob Stockinger

Mark your calendars: The University of Wisconsin School of Music plans to mark the Chopin Year this spring when Piano Partners, a UW support organization, will host a Chopin Extravaganza weekend on March 12 and 13, 2010.

Say “piano,” and you might as well say Chopin (a photo taken late in his life can be seen at right).Chopinphoto

And 2010 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of the Polish “poet of the piano” who spent most of his short life (he was born on March 1, 1810 in Warsaw and died on Oct. 11, 1849 at 39) in exile in Paris.

Chopin rarely gave public concerts, but he taught many students and composed his unique and deeply appealing and popular fusion

Chopin_manuscrof classical and romantic styles (he adored Bach and Mozart) in a way that altered forever how the piano is played and appreciated. He was a meticulous crafter, as the marked up manuscript pictured at left shows.

UW virtuoso and Van Cliburn Competition bronze medalist Christopher Taylor (pictured below) will perform an all-Chopin program on Friday, March 12, at 8 p.m. in Mills Hall. (There are no details yet on the program, but it seems likely it will include at least one or two big pieces like a ballade, a scherzo or a sonata. Several seasons ago, Taylor, a wizard at technique, performed both the Op. 10 and Op. 25 etudes in one concert.)

kit taylor

On Saturday, March 13, the UW will host a Chopin marathon that will feature UW undergraduate and graduate students performing the complete mazurkas, which many see, along with the etudes and preludes, as Chopin’s most radical and modern compositions.

There will also be workshops and master classes given by the UW keyboard faculty on March 13.

A similar celebration of Robert Schumann, who was also born in 1810, is planned for the fall of 2010.

And, one suspects, some kind of Liszt celebration will be in the offing during 2011, which is the bicentennial of his birth.

Stay tuned for more details on all fronts.

In related news,  all three of Jeffrey Siegel’s Keyboard Conversations this season will also focus on Chopin: “Chopin for Lovers” on Nov. 10, “Chopin the Patriot” on March 16; and “Chopin and the Future” on April. All concerts are on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall. They are free for UW student, $32 and $35 for others. For information about tickets, call the Wisconsin Union Theater box office 262-2201 or visit the WUT homepage.

What do you think of the planned Chopin celebration by UW faculty and students?

Do you expect to attend one or more of the events?

What’s your favorite Chopin piece to play? To Listen to?

Who is your favorite Chopin pianist? What is your favorite Chopin recording?

The Ear wants to hear.

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