Book Studies

Free Music Studies: Frederic François Chopin

Free Music Studies: Frederic François Chopin

Chopin: The Story of a the Boy Who Made Beautiful Melodies

Frederic François Chopin was one of the greatest Polish composers and pianist who lived during the Romantic period.

 

Free eBook

 

Suggestions
  • Map the following (you’ll find mapping resources below):
    • Poland
    • Żelazowa Wola, Poland (where Chopin was born)
    • The river Vistula (the longest and largest river in Poland)
    • France
    • Paris, France (where Chopin spent the remainder of his life)
  • View a photo of the house where Chopin was born.
  • Learn more about the history of house where Chopin was born.
  • We will cover Mendelssohn later in our study, but you can read a brief biography of him at ClassicsForKids.com.
  • Listen to a small portion of the two concertos Chopin wrote before moving to Paris: Concerto in F minor op. 21 and Concerto in E minor op. 11.
  • Learn more about Chopin’s contemporaries in Paris and add them to your composer timeline (we’ll cover Liszt in a later study).
    • Franz Liszt (October 22, 1811 – July 31, 1886)
    • Hector Berlioz (December 11, 1803 – March 8, 1869)
    • Giacomo Meyerbeer (September 5, 1791 – May 2, 1864)
    • Christian Johann Heinrich Heine (December 13, 1797 – February 17, 1856)
  • Describe Chopin’s music as the author has characterized it.
  • We will cover Robert Schumann later, but you can read a brief biography at ClassicsForKids.com.
  • Listen to and read more about Variations in B flat major on La ci darem la mano from Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni.
  • Listen to and read more about “Mazurka in C# Minor, Op. 30, No. 4,” also known as “Chopin Dreams.”
  • Create a character sketch of Chopin.
  • Read a poem by Milton.
  • Review Beethoven.
  • Read A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson.
  • We will study Edvard Grieg next, but you can read a biography at ClassicsForKids.com.
  • Make a flip book with Milton, Beethoven, Stevenson, Grieg, and Chopin. On each page include a picture and the difficulties they overcame to create their works. (To use the images from Gutenberg, right-click on the image and click “Save As.”)
  • After reading the selection from The Book of Knowledge below, compare/contrast the mazurka and the polonaise, two Polish national dances and favorite forms of Chopin.
  • Add Chopin to your composer timeline.
  • You can write or narrate your story on Chopin notebooking pages below.
  • Use the “Some Questions” section as oral or written narration prompts.
  • Learn more about Chopin from the Book of Knowledge:

    Frederic Chopin was born near Warsaw, Poland. Although his father was French his mother was Polish, and from her he inherited the strong feeling for his native country and its music that showed in many of his compositions. Most of his works are short and all of them include the piano, which was his instrument.

    Two of the Polish national dances were favorite forms of his. The mazurka, of which he wrote many, is a folk dance in 3/4 time, moderately fast, and easily recognized by its rhythm. Music usually has a strong first beat, but in the mazurka the accent is often on the second or third. Dotted eighth and sixteenth patterns are often mixed with triplets of eights, a rhythm that is difficult to feel until it is heard.

    The polonaise, the other national dance so near to Chopin’s heart, is not a folk dance. It is stately and dignified and belonged in the courts. It, too, is in 3/4 time. Its character is less easy to recognize than the mazurka. Most usual is the ending of the phrases, not on the first count of the measure but on the second.  This kind of ending is often called the weak, or feminine, ending. Many polonaises have a pattern of an eighth and two sixteenths in the accompanying bass.

    Chopin spent much of his life in Paris, teaching and composing. His early death was brought on by tuberculosis, which doctors did not know how to treat at that time.

    Chopin wrote with the greatest care, trying for perfection in everything. His twenty-four preludes cover all of the possible keys as those in Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavichord did a hundred years earlier. His Etudes are difficult technical studies but at the same time compositions of utmost beauty.

    “Three Great Centuries in Music” from The Book of Knowledge

Further Investigation

Frederic Chopin
Simple biography at KidsMusicCorner.co.uk.

The Life and Music of Frederic Chopin
More extensive biography at NPR.

 

Selected Works

Chopin: Greatest Hits
Free Music Studies: Frederic François Chopin
Our favorite series.

“Fantaisie-Impromptu Op 66”

“Polonaise No.6 As-Dur op.53 ‘Heroique'”

“Nocturne In E Flat Op.9 No.2”

“Waltz in D-flat major ‘Minute Waltz,’ Op. 64, No. 1”

“Funeral March, B-flat minor” from Sonata no. 2

 

Activities

Frederic Chopin
Biography, selected works, and activity sheet at ClassicsForKids.com.

Chopin: Mazurkas and Polonaises
Learn more about the differences between these two dances in this BBC clip.

Timeline
Use this interactive at ReadWriteThink.org to create a composer’s timeline.

 

Books

Free Music Studies: Frederic François ChopinFrederic Chopin, Son of Poland, Early Years by Opal Wheeler
Some really enjoy these music biographies by Opal Wheeler.

Frederic Chopin, Son of Poland, Later Years by Opal Wheeler
This one has a part 2.

“Frederick Chopin: A Polish Lad Who Became Famous”
Chapter from Stories of Great Musicians by Katherine Lois Scobey.

“Frederic Chopin”
Chapter from The World’s Greatest Men of Music by Harriette Brower. Subtitled Story-Lives of Master Musicians, this public domain title tracks nicely with our free music studies.

“Frederic François Chopin”
Chapter from First Studies in Music Biography also by Thomas Tapper.

“Frederic Chopin”
Chapter from Essentials in Music History also by Thomas Tapper.

Free Music Studies: Introduction & Free eBookChild’s Own Book of Great Musicians: The Complete Collection from Bach to Wagner
Complete collection on Kindle (can be read on any device with the Kindle app).

Music Unit Study {Free}The Gift of Music: Great Composers and Their Influence by Jane Stuart Smith & Betty Carlson
Our favorite overall music appreciation reference book. Over 300 pages long covering 43 composers along with Christmas carols. Not only covers the influence of the composer but also how his faith influenced his works. Recommended reading and listening guides at the end of each section. Highly recommended!

 

Unit Studies & Lesson Plans

Move to Music!
Lesson plan from The Art Institute of Chicago for younger students that compares the music of Chopin with that of Stephen Foster.

 

Printables & Notebooking Pages

World Map
At EduPlace.com for locating Poland and France.

Poland Map
PAT map for locating Żelazowa Wola and the river Vistula.

France Map
PAT map for locating Paris.

Colouring
Eleven different informative coloring pages at Chopin for Kids.

Free 18-Page Composer Notebooking SetFree 18-Page Composer Notebooking Set {Time Limited}
This free set of generic pages from HomeschoolNotebooking.com goes perfectly with our studies.

Chopin: The Story of a the Boy Who Made Beautiful Melodies Notebooking Pages
Simple pages for copywork, narrations, or wrapping up.

 

Enjoy the entire series:

Free Music Studies: Introduction & Free eBook