Chinese pianist opens Chopin bicentenary

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The Independent Culture

Chinese pianist Lang Lang gave a gala concert in Warsaw on Thursday to officially launch a year of celebrations marking the 200th anniversary of the birth of composer Frederic Chopin.

Lang, 27, performed some of the Franco-Polish master's most celebrated pieces in a concert at the Warsaw Philharmonic that was broadcast live on Polish television.

One of the biggest classical music stars involved in the Chopin bicentenary, Lang has previously performed at the opening of the 2008 Beijing Olympics and at US President Barack Obama's Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony.

Some 2,000 Chopin-related events are planned for the coming year, from concerts and exhibitions to films and theatrical performances - with 1,200 of them taking place in Poland itself.

The actual anniversary of his birth, March 1, will see a live broadcast performance by other virtuoso pianists in Warsaw.

Chopin was born in 1810 in the town of Zelazowa Wola, about 50 kilometres (30 miles) west of Warsaw, to a French father and Polish mother. His birthplace has been refurbished for the bicentennial.

Chopin left his motherland in November 1830, during a period of upheaval across Europe, just before a failed Polish revolt against the country's then ruler Russia.

He moved first to Vienna and then Paris, where he died aged 39 on October 17, 1849.

His body was buried in France, but his heart was brought back to Poland where it lies in a crystal urn inside a pillar in a Warsaw church.

Bicentenary organisers have listed the host of events on a dedicated website: www.chopin2010.pl.

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