Chopin, By Adam Zamoyski

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The Independent Culture

Adam Zamoyski's biography brings the Polish angel of the keyboard down to earth without quite banishing all his fey allure. As ever, the historian writes with absolute assurance about the culture of his ancestral homeland. Zamoyski's narrative reveals an ambitious prodigy.

Young Chopin fast absorbed Poland's "new national idiom", a blend of folk customs and chivalric idealism. Soon he channelled this Polish sound into a trademark piano style.

It seduced Europe. Exiled in Paris from 1831, he composed and performed in "the kitchen of the Romantic movement", and conducted his fortissimo affair with muse George Sand. Zamoyski recounts the private life, and public events, with verve and resonance – and sends you back to the music.