The man who was called "the poet of the piano" was born in Poland, in Żelazowa Wola, in 1810, of a French father and Polish mother. He spent the first 20 years of his life in Poland. His name is the "French" version of Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin.
At age 20 the young composer moved to France and after the November Uprising (1830-31) against the Russian occupation failed, he never returned to his native country. Chopin quickly became famous among high society in Paris; he had a stormy relationship with George Sand.
After a brief stay in England, his illness overcame him and died of tuberculosis in 1849. With the exclusion of two concertos for piano and orchestra and a marginal corpus of chamber music, Chopin composed almost exclusively for piano solo. In his Mazurkas and Polonaise, the aching and intimate relationship with Polish musical folklore is apparent. In his Etudes (op. 10 and op.25), Chopin was able to transform a genre that was for the most part a didactical tool to an unconditionally accepted art form. His Preludes were a kind of musical aphorism depicting an atmosphere, a feeling. His famous Nocturnes build on a genre created by the Englishman John Field, carrying it to the heights of perfection (at least the Nocturne op. 9 n.2 in E-flat major or op. 9 n.3 B major should be mentioned). His waltzes, conceived of as music only, are highly refined and sophisticated in style. The scherzos, the variations and the impromptus are more complex compositions. His four Ballades represent a genre that Chopin invented for himself, almost as if to create a pliable form that would lend itself to his need for expression (such as for example, the Ballade op. 23 in G minor).
Lastly, in his two Sonatas, the composer was almost forced to deal with the restrictions of a formal codified structure (Sonata n.2 in B-flat minor with its famous funeral march).
The secret to Chopin's musical style and signature, absolutely unique and unmistakable in the history of music, could perhaps be found in his extreme care for formality, his classic, inborn sense of balance in his compositions and in his rare ability to be expressive, balanced between dreams, lightness, restlessness and the darkness of the soul.