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In Poland, Chopin’s heart may hold secret of his death AFP –

“Leading Polish medical experts are betting that DNA tests on his heart — perfectly preserved in what appears to be cognac — could prove he suffered from cystic fibrosis.” But will they be successful in opening up to prove it?

Their request to Poland’s culture ministry for tissue samples to check for the CFTR gene marking cystic fibrosis sufferers has, however, sparked mixed feelings over the prospect of picking over a national icon.

There, inside a crystal urn filled with alcohol lies Chopin’s heart, brought home in 1849 — as he had wished — by his elder sister Ludwika from Paris, where the rest of his remains lie in the Pere Lachaise cemetery.

Leading Polish cystic fibrosis specialist Wojciech Cichy said the symptoms Chopin suffered throughout his life were typical of cystic fibrosis, a genetic illness which clogs the lungs with excess thick and sticky mucus.

“From early childhood he was weak, prone to chest infections, wheezing, coughing,” Cichy said.

Records show that as an adult weighing 40 kilograms (about 88 pounds) at a height of 1.70 metres (five foot seven inches), Chopin was chronically underweight — another telltale symptom of cystic fibrosis.

Cichy also pointed out that despite a passionate romance with flamboyant French writer George Sand, Chopin had no known children, suggesting infertility — another telling clue. And few cystic fibrosis sufferers live past 40.

“If we can prove Chopin suffered from cystic fibrosis, it would be a huge inspiration for our patients, especially children, to know they can accomplish a great deal like he did,” Cichy told AFP.

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Promising pianists
The Union of Grass Valley – Grass Valley,CA,USA

Panning for the next generation of gold-medal pianists in an old mining town. Is there any connection between Chopin’s death and the California Gold Rush happening the same year (1849?)

Komendera is a Polish student attending the annual piano workshop offered by the Gold Country Piano Institute, a Nevada City non-profit.

“It’s great,” Komendera said about the workshop. “It’s another culture, another climate, beautiful instruments and great teachers.”

She also likes the charm of historic Nevada City.

For the past nine years, the Piano Institute’s workshop at the Miners Foundry has attracted piano students and instructors from across the globe.

This is Komendera’s second visit to Nevada City. She’s a third-year student at The Fryderyk Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw.

A $1,600 full-scholarship from Susan Costello, a patron of the Piano Institute, helped Komendera attend the workshop this year. A music group from Warsaw paid her airplane fare.

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Gwilym Simcock: The prodigious pianist reveals the music that gets
Independent – London,England,UK

27-year-old genre-busting pianist Simcock submits to a free-association session with UK paper: “The New Review has decided to challenge him to take us to the heart of That Simcock Thing: to name, and discuss while listening, six favourite pieces of piano music that have served to shape the multi-talented renaissance musician that he is today.” In the Pick Six Mix: Grieg, John Taylor, (English jazz pianist, not the former Duran Duran bassist) Keith Jarrett, Herbie Hancock, Take 6, and our man Chopin….

Chopin: “Fantasie Impromptu”

“A few months ago I got asked to do a concert entirely based on the music of Chopin, and for once I said no, because I didn’t know what to do with the music. It is so complete in itself as piano music. There’s nowhere you can take it. In the past, I’ve worked on Shostakovich and Ravel projects because the elements of the music can be separated – you can remove the harmony or the melody or the ostinato [repeated musical motif] from a piece and do something else with it.

Chopin and Rachmaninov are the guys who wrote completely idiomatically for the instrument. All of Chopin is fantastic. I listened to it in the car when I was little, on a cassette, and before I knew anything about music I loved it. A year or so ago I went somewhere with my parents and I found all these old cassettes of music I used to listen to when I was nine or 10, and we listened to them again. I hear them in a completely different way now… There is beauty in Chopin, but there is also something else. It is profoundly impressive.”

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