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[Lee In-hyun] Chopin’s fearless love story

Around six years ago, many people interested in classical music received shocking news: a winner of the Chopin International Piano Competition was an unfamiliar pianist named Seong-jin Cho. He was the first Korean to be awarded first prize since the competition was established. The Chopin International Piano Competition is one of the most prestigious piano competitions in the world and was made to honor Chopin in 1927. Thanks to this competition, Seong-jin Cho became one of the world’s most well-recognized pianists and gained fans from all around the globe.

If you enjoy classical music, you likely have watched this year’s competition live via the YouTube livestream. The news media has highlighted Hyuk Lee, one of the finalists this year and the only Korean in the final round. Thanks to Hyuk Lee, people have started to pay attention again. Despite playing beautifully, he did not win any awards, but he showed his passion and potential.

The moderator asked the finalists about Chopin’s music. They all agreed that Chopin music is romantic and lyrical. I was curious as to why his music was particularly beautiful compared to Liszt, Beethoven and Mozart. I tried to look into his life.

Chopin was the only boy in his family. Because he had three sisters, his personality was delicate and sensitive compared to a typical boy his age. He was introverted, but not timid in love. He was not afraid of new love and was a devoted lover. When Chopin was 26 years old, he met Maria who was younger sister of his friend.

They fell in love and secretly engaged. However, Maria’s friends were not fond of their relationship because of his sickness.

Due to the opposition of people around her, Maria had a change of heart. Eventually, she ended her relationship with Chopin. After this happened, he decided not to meet any woman again. However, his life did not go the way he pictured.

In Paris, he met George Sand. When he first saw her, he was not attracted to her. She had a personality that was the opposite of Chopin’s. She was free-spirited, active and had many men around her. Because Chopin had experienced a major heartbreak, he could not imagine a new love in his life.

After watching him perform, George Sand became romantically attracted to Chopin and she actively expressed her feelings for him. Moved by her efforts, he opened his heart, and they quickly fell in love.

Although Sand had kids, it was not big deal for Chopin. Because he really loved her, he accepted her kids like his own. Chopin supported her and her children economically as well. He was not their birth father, but he tried to take care of the children as if he was. Also, he tried very hard to understand Sand’s personality and her lifestyle. He was devoted and made sacrifices for love.

As a result, his music was getting more delicate and sorrowful. He was afraid of love in the beginning. However, after falling in love, he became totally a different guy.

He was very responsible man and did his best to keep up the good work. His love dominated his life and melted into his music. Although it originally carried his detailed and dedicate personality, the love made him more special. These were all reflected in his music, and maybe that is why his music is more beautiful, romantic, and lyrical than the music of other composers.

If you want to meet the real Chopin, I highly recommend to listen to Chopin’s Piano Concerto No.1 2nd movement. If you have plenty of time, please listen to the entirety of Chopin’s Piano Concerto No.1. This piece is one of the most famous Chopin pieces and it was performed by Seong-jin Cho in the final round of the Chopin competition. The piece is very organized and shows all sorts of human emotions; joy, anger, sorrow, and happiness. The 2nd movement, which I highly recommend, is extremely sad, but amazing. Whenever I hear and play this movement, my heart is broken and I am moved to tears. If you have recently broken up with your lover or want to remember a past love, close your eyes and listen to this music.


Lee In-hyun
Lee In-hyun is a classical pianist and author of award-winning book, The Classic Class published in January 2021. She works both in Korea and the United States. She currently resides in Los Angeles, California. (inhyun@bu.edu) -- Ed.

By Korea Herald (khnews@heraldcorp.com)
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