“I would like to make an assertion that I cannot prove but am certain is true. Within a fifty-kilometer radius of where I am writing this Prologue, someone somewhere is either playing or listening to Chopin’s music . . . Whatever the time zone, the sun never sets on Chopin’s music.”
Thus beings Alan Walker’s monumental book, Fryderyk Chopin, the most comprehensive biography of the Polish composer to appear in English in more than a century. This intimate portrait follows the composer from his birth in Warsaw to his death in Paris at the young age of thirty-nine due to tuberculosis, looking at how his experiences intersected with the hundreds of works he composed. Walker’s ten years of painstaking research into countless documents and archives seeks to dispel the myths that surround Chopin, illuminating a truly legendary artist.
In the following video teaser for the book, Walker describes Chopin’s three-month trip to Majorca in 1838 with his romantic partner George Sand, which quickly shifted from an “adventure of the heart” to a fiasco overshadowed by illness. This trip would indelibly shape the composition of his 24 Preludes, and despite his weakened state he was struck by sublime music that he finished writing in a matter of weeks. As Walker asserts, “Chopin’s compositions are woven so closely into the fabric of his personality that the one becomes a seamless extension of the other.”
Alan Walker’s definitive three-volume biography of Liszt, Franz Liszt, received the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in Biography and the Royal Philharmonic Society Book Award, among others. His writing has appeared in journals such as The Musical Quarterly, The Times Literary Supplement, and Times Educational Supplement. A professor emeritus at McMaster University, Walker was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1986 and was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary in 2012.