Frederic Chopin and Other Composers Tuberculotics - Pathography

By Breitenfeld, Darko; Kust, Davor et al. | Alcoholism, May 1, 2010 | Go to article overview

Frederic Chopin and Other Composers Tuberculotics - Pathography


Breitenfeld, Darko, Kust, Davor, Turuk, Vesna, Vucak, Ivica, Buljan, Danijel, Zupanic, Mara, Lucijanic, Marko, Alcoholism


Abstract -

In this article we pathographically elaborated the destiny and illnesses of the great Polish - French composer and virtuoso pianist Frederick Chopin on the occasion of his 200th birth anniversary, as well as other famous composers who had tuberculosis and died relatively early. We also discussed dilemmas about the cause of Chopin's death.

Keywords: Frederic Chopin; tuberculotic composers

INTRODUCTION

From a basis of 1500 composers we elaborated about 200 composers who were pulmonary patients and tuberculotics. On the occasion of the 200th anniversary of Frederic Chopin's birth we present his destiny and illnesses, with a short view on other most important composers tuberculotics. Because of the disease and their lifestyle tuberculotics lived relatively shortly, with the average life duration in the group of composers mentioned here of 48 years.1-38

Destiny of Frederic Chopin

Frédéric François Chopin, in Polish Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin, was born on 22nd February 1810 in the village Zelazowa Wola near Warsaw, to a family of a French immigrant from Lotharingia Nicolas and impoverished Polish noblewoman Justyne. That famous Polish composer and virtuoso pianist was considered a part of the contemporary French intellectual elite so many pieces of information about his life and death were imprinted in history. He was one of the great masters of Romantic music. Following the Russian suppression of the Polish November Uprising of 1830, he settled in France, where he used the French versions of his given names, and traveled with a French passport. He had three sisters and was very connected to his mother, so later George Sand bitterly said for him that his mother was his only true love.1-3

The great majority of Chopin's compositions were written for the piano as a solo instrument. Chopin is especially important for inventing new musical forms, such as the instrumental ballade and also for introducing innovations in the piano sonata, mazurka, waltz, nocturne, polonaise, etude, impromptu and prelude. He was a very fruitful composer, and over 230 of his works survived to this day (3 piano sonatas, 5 rondos, 4 scherzos, 4 ballades, 17 polonaises, 58 mazurkas, 20 waltzes, 3 ecossaises, 26 preludes, 4 sets of variations, 4 impromptus, 21 nocturnes, 27 etudes and 2 concerti for piano and orchestra. Some works which he had composed in early childhood were lost.4

Chopin had a happy childhood and was surrounded with love, but he was often ill because of his constitutionally weak health and sensitive nature, so he was less resistant to diseases, and especially his respiratory system. He often complained about thorax symptoms, hemoptysis, fever, headache, bronchitis, laryngitis, cough, recidiving diarrhea and body weight loss. When he was only 16 he got severely ill for the first time, his neck glands swelled with significant headache and respiratory symptoms. He was ill for about six months and we could say that he was in life danger. After recovery, his sister Emily got tuberculosis in the same year, so she was sent to treatment in Bad Reinerz with Frederic as an escort. Frederic felt well there, but his sister's health severely deteriorated, so they returned to Warsaw, where she died in 1 827. Probably she had infected him with tuberculosis agents. However, at first he did not show signs of the disease because he was in good general and immunological condition at the time. Later he was suffering of chronic dyspnea. His health problems continued on the way to and in France. He experienced exacerbation of nasal infection with very troublesome blockage of air passage (possibility of polyps), pulmonary infections with productive cough, hemoptysis and recurrent fevers. He presented also symptoms of delayed puberty. In 1831 he lived in Paris with his Polish friend physician Jan Matuszynsky, who died also from tuberculosis ten years later, which again could be a new source of tuberculosis infection for Chopin. …

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