Chopin by Delacroix and BissonComing in 2014: NEC piano season concludes with a concert of Chopin Mazurkas!

fashioned in Paris

When Frédéric Chopin (1810–1849) left his native Poland to establish himself in Paris in 1831 at the age of 21, he found himself in one of Europe’s centers of culture and fashion at the height of its reputation. Music was an important activitiy for the leisured class, and it took all day to get dressed to go out. In Chopin's two decades there, his own reputation as a musician matured. In Paris, he could make a living as a fashionable teacher of the daughters of the wealthy and powerful, befriend such influential artists and writers as Delacroix and Sand, and dominate concert stages.

Paris fashions 1832What to wear, 1832But this was a time before the “concert” as we now know it had been born. These motley afternoon affairs would be as unfamiliar to the habitués of today’s 8:00 p.m. regimen as the wasp waists and gas lamps of that earlier era. Chopin’s major Paris concerts of 1832 and 1848, which bracketed the final stage of his short life, also embraced an era that saw the invention of the incandescent light bulb, the safety match, and the saxophone. Early in Chopin’s life in Paris, Delacroix executed his portrait in oils. Fifteen years later, at the end of his life, photography was the fashionable new invention, and we have a late photographic portrait by Bisson as evidence.

Paris fashions 1846What to wear, 1848On two evenings in January 2010, NEC celebrated the Chopin bicentennial by taking audiences back in time with re-enactments of Chopin’s great Paris concerts of 1832 and 1848. These were not piano recitals, but there were pianists aplenty, representing the strength of NEC's piano department. Plus an oboe solo, a cello sonata, and a piano concerto. Chopin didn’t just program his own music at these displays of musical couture: beloved works by Mozart, Donizetti, and Beethoven were also paraded down the runway, and included performances by singers and a string quartet. All this, too, was re-enacted in NEC’s Jordan Hall.

Chopin's Paris concerts re-enacted at NEC

2010-01-25 Chopin's 1832 Paris concert
Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 2 and works by Beethoven, Kalkbrenner, Mozart.

2010-01-27 Chopin's 1848 Paris concert
Chopin's Cello Sonata and piano works, and vocal works by Bellini, Donizetti, Meyerbeer.

“The finest flower of feminine aristocracy in the most elegant attire filled the Salle Pleyel.”
—La Revue et Gazette Musicale, 1848

Other 2010 Chopin events at NEC

2010-01-24 Chopin Bicentennial Salute
Ron Della Chiesa and Boston Ballet dancers join NEC musicians in a program of old favorites and surprises.

2010-02-10 Chopin Piano Concerto No. 1
Boston Symphony Orchestra Assistant Conductor Julian Kuerti conducts the NEC Philharmonia.

2010-03-11 Alexander Korsantia celebrates Chopin
NEC piano faculty member performs the complete Preludes, plus Rachmaninoff's Variations on a Theme of Chopin.

2010-03-19 Chopin Cello Sonata in G Minor, Op. 65 and Polonaise Brillante, Op. 3
NEC Preparatory School cello faculty Sam Ou performs Cello Sonata in G Minor, Op. 65 and Polonaise Brillante, Op. 3.