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Tales from the Stave - Chopin: Barcarolle

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Frances Fyfield tracks down the stories behind the scores of well-known pieces of music. Frances is joined by Chopin expert Adam Zamoyski and pianist Stephen Hough at the British Library to look at the autographed score of Chopin's Barcarolle. The library is holding a major exhibition in 2010 to mark the 200th anniversary of his birth. The greater part of Chopin's professional career was spent outside his native Poland - most of it in Paris, where he established himself as a fashionable teacher and performer in the houses of the wealthy. With a background of Venetian gondoliers' songs combined with Polish references, the Barcarolle for solo piano was completed in 1846 and meant so much to Chopin that he included it in the programme of a concert he gave in Paris in February 1848. It was to be his last public appearance in his beloved adopted city. His body succumbed to lifelong ill health a year later at the age of 39.