Poland launches Chopin bicentenary celebrations

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The Independent Culture

Poland launched a year of celebrations Friday to mark the 200th anniversary of the celebrated composer Frederic Chopin, which will include events both at home and abroad.

Culture Minister Bogdan Zdrojewski officially launched Chopin Year at the house where Chopin was born, in Zelazowa Wola, 80 kilometres (50 miles) west of the capital Warsaw.

Later Friday, the Warsaw Philharmonic was set to give its first concert as part of the year's events, and on Thursday the Chinese pianist Lang Lan will play some of the composer's most celebrated pieces at a concert in Warsaw.

Chopin Year will include around 2,000 separate events, from concerts and exhibitions to films and theatrical performances - with only 1,200 of them taking place in Poland itself.

"The bicentenary events are not to popularise the music of Chopin. He doesn't really need to be popularised." said former culture minister Waldemar Dabrowski, who is overseeing the year's celebrations.

"Chopin year is aiming presenting an image of Poland today to the world, through the music of Chopin," he added.

Chopin spent the first 20 years of his life in Poland before leaving in November 1830, just before the Polish uprising against Russia.

In the following years he spent time in Vienna and then Paris, where he died aged only 39, on October 17, 1849.