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The Warsaw Voice » Other » October 28, 2009
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Adored in the Far East
October 28, 2009   
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When Frederic Chopin left Warsaw for Paris, his first love, the singer Konstancja Gładkowska, wrote him a poem that finished with the words "Others may better reward and appraise you, but they can never love you more dearly than we do." After a few years of living in France, the composer wrote "They might." And he was right. The Poles are not Chopin's greatest admirers-the Japanese are.

The Japanese get out of Chopin pretty much what Europeans get out of pop music. This is even evident in the computer game Eternal Sonata (2007) which puts anime to Chopin's music. The game's hero is none other than the composer himself. Three hours before his death, Chopin sets out for a fairyland with his friends in search of a cure for his illness.

But Chopin is enormously popular outside the Land of the Rising Sun. In fact, there are organizations promoting his work all over the world. The International Federation of Chopin Societies was created at his birthplace in Żelazowa Wola, outside Warsaw, in 1985 to bring the largest and most important of them under a single umbrella. The federation has so far affiliated 38 Chopin societies from Albania, Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, the Czech Republic, Finland, France (4), Spain, Israel, Japan (2), Canada, South Korea, Germany (4), Poland (3), Russia, the United States (4), Switzerland (3), Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine and Uruguay. The federation has been publishing its yearbook entitled Chopin in the World since 1986, and has been a member of UNESCO's International Music Council since 1989.

Practically every association affiliated with the federation promotes the work of Chopin by organizing competitions, like the competition for young pianists held by the Chopin Society of Finland, and festivals, like the Chopin Festival that was held in Vienna in August. A festival entitled Chopin and His Friends which will be held in Geneva Nov. 15-22 is the next Chopin-related event to take place outside Poland.
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