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The Warsaw Voice » Other » January 13, 2010
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Celebrating Chopin
January 13, 2010 By Dominik Skurzak   
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The government has launched a year of international celebrations to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Romantic composer Frédéric Chopin.

The Year of Chopin will include around 2,000 separate events, from concerts and exhibitions to films and theatrical performances, officials said.

Chopin Year highlights include the Chopin and His Europe International Festival in Warsaw Aug. 2-31 and the 16th International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw Oct. 2-23.

As part of the celebrations, young Chinese pianist Lang Lang performed some of the composer's most celebrated pieces at Warsaw's National Philharmonic Jan. 7-8.

A new museum will open in March in the Polish capital as part of a Chopin Route that will include places of significance in the composer's life, officials said. The museum will feature Chopin-related exhibits.

A Chopin Center near the museum is set to open in February. It will include a library, conference room and offices.

Chopin's birthplace at ¯elazowa Wola will be turned into a cultural and education center, while a nearby church where Chopin was baptized will be restored to host concerts. The price tag for the projects is zl.147 million, officials said.

Chopin concerts and projects will be staged across Europe and Asia as part of the Year of Chopin. Special events will also take place in Paris, where the composer lived after leaving Warsaw.

Preparations for this year's celebrations began in 2005 after the 15th International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw, which ended with the victory of Poland's Rafa³ Blechacz.

At a press conference at the Wielki Theater/Polish National Opera in Warsaw Dec. 16, culture minister Bogdan Zdrojewski said, "The Year of Chopin will be a year of Polish culture in the best sense of the word. We want it to be not just a one-off spectacular event… but a project that will leave a lasting mark on our culture."

Waldemar D±browski, head of the Chopin 2010 Celebrations Committee, said, "2010 will be a special time for Poland and Poles… because Chopin is one of the greatest national assets, and we need to manage this asset well."

He added that while Chopin does not need a promotional campaign, "we desperately need Chopin" because his work is part of Poland's national heritage.

On March 1, a 1,300-square-meter multimedia museum dedicated to Chopin will open at Ostrogski Palace in Warsaw. The museum, designed by Italian architects Migliore & Servetto, will be home to many priceless manuscripts and memorabilia making up the world's largest collection of items related to the great composer. There will also be a Chopin Center next to the museum, with a tourist information desk, a store, a library, a record collection, a conference room, a café as well as the Fryderyk Chopin Institute (NIFC). The center will open to the public Feb. 22.

Frédéric (Fryderyk in Polish) Chopin was born March 1, 1810 in ¯elazowa Wola, where his father was a tutor to a local aristocratic family. The composer's birth certificate is displayed in the parish church in the nearby village of Brochów, where he was baptized.

The ¯elazowa Wola house where Chopin was born and the Brochów church are being remodeled. The Chopin manor will be turned into a culture and education center. The Brochów church is a unique example of fortified religious architecture in Europe, according to experts. The interiors have been restored to look exactly the way they did in Chopin's times and the acoustics have been improved so that concerts can be held there. These two facilities will open April 23 on the anniversary of the composer's baptism.

The Year of Chopin will feature the 16th International Frédéric Chopin Competition in October and the 6th Chopin and His Europe International Festival in August. The latter will last twice as long as usual and feature four times as many events. The Fryderyk Chopin Institute is organizing special birthday concerts from Feb. 22 to March 1, culminating with a Gala Concert at the Wielki Theater/Polish National Opera. The concerts will feature performers including Evgeny Kissin, Daniel Barenboim, Leif Ove Andsnes, Garrick Ohlsson, Piotr Anderszewski, Rafa³ Blechacz and Martha Argerich.

Prominent politicians and artists will lend their names to Chopin projects around the world. Honorary organizing committees have been set up in many countries, their members including figures such as Frédéric Mitterrand, René Martin, Bernardo Bertolucci, Umberto Eco, Krzysztof Penderecki, Seamus Heaney, Frank Gehry, Placido Domingo, Krystian Zimerman, Daniel Barenboim, Li Yundi, Jose Manuel Barroso, and Prince Abdullah bin Faisal bin Turki.

Chopin concerts and other projects will be staged at major concert venues in Europe, Asia and the Americas, including Vienna, Berlin and Rome. Events of special note include the Asia-Pacific Chopin Competition in South Korea and Year of Chopin celebrations in China. Many music festivals will be dedicated to Chopin this year, including the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival in Germany, the White Nights Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia, and the La Folle Journée de Nantes music festival in France. In Paris, Chopin concerts will be organized by Cité de la Musique, Théâtre des Champs Elysées and the Royal Opera in Versailles. Exhibitions held in Paris, St. Petersburg and Vienna will be another part of Chopin Year celebrations.
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