Frédéric Chopin

The life of Frédéric Chopin through his letters

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Robert Mc Ferrin

Daniel Barenboim — Conductor

Martha Argerich

Vladimir Ashkenazy

Charles Rosen

Program notes

Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849) was born in Żelazowa Wola, near Warsaw, in a setting far from the limelight of the great musical tradition, but at the same time he absorbs the winds that blow in from that same tradition. His education is the fruit of Polish culture and cannot be separated from that, but he also feels the influence of the three main cultures of the time: Italian, Austro-German and French.

This documentary describes the places that provided the basis for the young composer's imagination, from the capital Warsaw to rural Poland, where Chopin spends part of his childhood and is formed as a man and a musician, on to Paris, theatre of the second half of the musician's life. The film evokes the almost Gogolian atmosphere of the Polish countryside: Żelazowa Wola, Szafarnia, Torun are described through documentary footage that restores the suggestiveness, which is still alive today, of the folklore Chopin was so attached to. Without forgetting, naturally, Warsaw, with the world's most important piano competition, preserves the memory of one of the most important characters of European culture.

The letters are interpreted by Fabrizio Bentivoglio and Margherita Buy (who provides the voice for George Sand, the French writer with whom Chopin had a relationship). Moreover, the contributions of illustrious musicians provide a musicological approach to the figure of the composer: the interviews with Charles Rosen, Daniel Barenboim, Alexander Lonquich, Martha Argerich, Vladimir Ashkenazy and many other well-known names constitute a real narrative path that enters the tapestry of Chopin's composition like filigree.

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