Honoring some of classical music's most distinguished creators, The Smith Opera House's “Great Composers Birthday Celebration” continues on Sunday, Feb. 22, with pianist Klara Min honoring Frederic Chopin on the 194th anniversary of his birth.
Min will perform Chopin's Nocturne in G Major, Mazurkas in F Minor and C# Minor, Etude in F Major and Andante Spianato & Grande Polonaise Brillante. Also on the program are Alexander Scriabin's Sonata No. 4 and Maurice Ravel's Gaspard de la nuit.
Called a “musical genius” when he was a teenager, Frederic Chopin (1810 — 1849) composed a remarkable variety of brilliant pieces: warlike polonaises, elegant waltzes, romantic nocturnes, and poetic ballades and etudes. His father, Nicholas, was a Frenchman who had lived in Poland for many years. His Polish mother was of noble birth. Even as a small child, Chopin loved piano music. He began to take piano lessons when he was 6 years old. He started to compose music even before he knew how to write down his ideas. At the age of 8 he performed in a public charity concert. Chopin's first published musical work, a rondo, appeared when he was 15 years old. When Chopin graduated from the lyceum, at 17, he was recognized as the leading pianist of Warsaw and a talented composer.
After Chopin gave two successful concerts in Vienna when he was 19, he began writing works designed for his original piano style. At the same time as his return to Vienna in 1830, Poland revolted against its Russian rulers. The uprising failed, and as a result the Russian czar put Warsaw under harsh military rule. Chopin decided to go to Paris, which was the center of the Romantic Movement in the arts. Except for occasional trips, Chopin spent the rest of his life in Paris. He gave lessons and concerts, and publishers paid well for his compositions. The French loved him for his genius and his charm. Poets, musicians, wealthy Parisians, and Polish exiles were his friends. An important influence was a romantic friendship with Baroness Dudevant, better known as the novelist George Sand.
Chopin is admired above all for his great originality in exploiting the piano. While his own playing style was famous for its subtlety and restraint, its exquisite delicacy in contrast with the spectacular feats of pianism then reigning in Paris, most of his works have a simple texture of accompanied melody. From this he derived endless variety, using wide-compass broken chords, the sustaining pedal and a combination of highly expressive melodies, some in inner voices. Similarly, though most of his works are basically ternary in form, they show great resource in the way the return is varied, delayed, foreshortened or extended, often with a brilliant coda added.
He died of tuberculosis, at age 39.
Pianist Klara Min, a native of South Korea, started her musical education at the age of four with her composer mother, who was a pupil of the eminent Korean songwriter, WoonYung Na. She entered Yewon and Seoul Arts High School in Korea, and came to the United States for further studies. Since her solo Korean debut at Chopin Hall in Seoul at the age of sixteen, she has given solo and chamber music performances in the U.S., Spain, France, Italy, and her native South Korea. She recently gave her debut recital at Carnegie's Weill Recital Hall as winner of the International Competition, in which she performed and premiered compositions by living American and Korean composers and which led to a standing ovation. She has performed with numerous orchestras including the Seoul Symphony Orchestra, Korean Symphony Orchestra, and New York Sinfonietta. Her performance of Chopin's first piano concerto was broadcast nationwide in Korea at SBS channel network. She is currently a piano faculty member at Wesleyan University in Connecticut.
The performance begins at 3 p.m. Doors open at 2 p.m. Tickets to Klara Min's recital are $15 general admission and $7 for students and senior citizens. Call 315-781-LIVE (5483) or toll-free 866-355-LIVE (5483) for more information or to purchase tickets. The Smith accepts MasterCard, Visa and Discover.
The final concert in the “Great Composers Birthday Celebration” is Francis Heilbut playing Brahms on May 7.
The Smith Opera House is located at 82 Seneca Street in Geneva. The Smith and the “Great Composers Birthday Celebration” are generously supported with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, the City of Geneva, the Town of Geneva and by individual contributing members.