My favorite adult beverage for about the last ten years has been sparkling wine and champagne. I have probably written over a dozen emails about my bubbles. Here are some more bubbly insights.
From Winespeed: Well isn’t this brilliant. Just when flutes increasingly find themselves the object of Champagne-lovers’ dismay (even disdain), it’s beer to the rescue. The German Beer company Beck’s has just released beer in a can shaped like a flute. It’s not that far-fetched really. Historically, many traditional beer glasses were shaped like Champagne flutes, and both beverages derive some of their pleasure from bubbles. Curiously, one of the reasons the flute is in disfavor for Champagne is that it isn’t ideal for appreciating the wine’s aroma. (Because you can’t easily swirl the wine in a flute, volatile aromatic compounds aren’t easily released and the wine is rendered less “smellable.”) Leading us to wonder: are beer lovers less aromatically inclined?
Some rules exist to determine how my favorite Limouxs are made: Viognier is a major grape of the Languedoc region, but cannot be used to make Limoux’s famous sparkling. By law, Blanquette de Limoux is made with at least 90% mauzac, with chenin blanc and chardonnay added if desired. It is made by the traditional (Champagne) method and aged sur lie for a minimum of nine months. Interestingly, blanquette is the Occitan word for the mauzac grape and also refers to the dusty, white, powdery appearance of the leaves on mauzac vines. (Occitan is the historic language of southern France).
Here is an interesting story about wine glasses from Winespeed: Limiting yourself to just one glass of wine isn’t always an easy task. And it turns out it may be even harder depending on the size of that glass. The Behavior and Health Research Unit at the University of Cambridge recently studied patrons at a local pub in hopes of finding out if changing the size of the wine glass has any effect on drinking behavior. (And no, we aren’t talking Betty White-sized glasses.) It turns out, decreasing the size of the glass has no noticeable effect, but increasing the glass size does. In the experiment, the same amount of wine was poured in varying glasses. Nonetheless, people felt there to be less wine in the larger glasses. That led them to drink faster and drink more–10% more. So it seems like the question isn’t: is the glass half full or half empty? But: how big is the glass?
Actually, I prefer a medium sized glass. I don’t want my champagne to get warm, but I don’t want to keep refilling my glass.
When was the last time you stayed in a youth hostel, or even a senior hostel?
On my last trip to Dublin about 5 years ago, I stayed in a hostel. While I had a private room and bath, most of the rooms consisted of numerous bunks, crazy loud music, and the smell of a certain weed. Breakfast was a rather haphazard affair, with guests grabbing food, and plopping down anywhere in the dining area and lobby. I was shocked, upon seeing each day’s guests waiting for the bus outside. I would say the average age was definitely over 30!! But the place was clean, and safe, with a great location, walking distance to the Templebar area.
Prior to that, Mike and I stayed in some rather spartan hotels and motels on our journey through Chile. We could certainly afford better lodging, but when we arrived late at night, we just took what we could find. And yes, I had to prop a chair against the doorknob to “lock” my room at night!!! This happened several times on our trip, in the Atacama Desert (San Pedro), as well as in Ushuaia (southernmost city in the world). When it is so darn cold outside, we were just happy to have a warm place to sleep!
The most fun I ever had in a hostel was in Amsterdam, back in the 70s. Upon returning from the famous Milky Way kasbah, we all had the munchies. What did we buy? Grapes, of course.
Picture each of us on the top bunk in a room with about 10 bunks. We tried spitting the seeds into a trash can that we placed in the center of the room. And as you can guess, the laughter and noise erupted whenever we hit the basket. Our poor roomies!
Regarding sex in hostels, it was quite prevalent back in the day. Not sure about now.
In my skiing days, I often bunked in unusual places. My buddy and I found a ski hostel not far from Sugar Bowl in the Sierras. We had a room with about six or eight cots, a large communal shower, with group meals at dinner and breakfast. I eventually took other groups up there, both friends and family. Alas, it burned down a few years later.
But my latest trip to Athens resulted in a two-star hotel, about a half step above a youth hostel. It was clean, quiet, and safe. But the stairs had not railings, and I had only one electrical outlet in my room for computer, phone, and anything else needing a charge. Breakfast was served in a cardboard box that had to be taken back to my room. The elevator had an accordion door that was quite cute, but also quite old. And it talked to me in both Greek and English! But really, who can complain at about $350 for the week, with air conditioning?
So, in my view of the world, one can never be too told for a hostel. Just be ready to see sex, drugs, rock n roll!!!!
Northeast of Croatia’s famous walled city of Dubrovnik is the 98-feet-long Ombla River, which emerges from a cave inside a huge massif. The Ombla may be short, but its drainage basin is an impressive 230 square miles. It flows from the massif and then over a weir, or low dam, into Rijeka Dubrovačka, an embayment formed by the Adriatic Sea. Its drainage basin includes groundwater used to supply drinking water to the residents of Dubrovnik. The source of the river, Vilina Špilja (or Fairy Cave), is one of the largest and most biologically diverse caves in the Dinaric Alps region.
How about a tiny airport? The Luang Prabang, Laos airport is charmingly small with just one runway and terminal, with a handful of interesting little shops and spectacular mountain views from its windows. Handily, it’s just a short hop from Luang Prabang, with tuk-tuk drivers waiting to whisk passengers on the 15-minute drive into the center. We drove to this city, but left via this tiny airport. But at least the runway is paved. The airport in Xiang Quan was gravel!!
Or how about this one? Less an airport and more an airstrip, this is where passengers arrive after a 45-minute flight from Dar es Salaam International Airport to explore Tanzania’s Selous Game Reserve, the largest game reserve in Africa. Unperturbed by the planes, local wildlife often has to be chased off the runway by rangers, and pilots do a flyby before landing, to check no furry friends are lurking in the way. Animals, such as this lion, also often frequent the hut looking for shade.
But the topper is the tiny airport in Katmandu, Nepal on Buddha Air. We took Buddha to see Mount Everest. Please refer to my previous emails about Everest.
When we were in Costa Rica, we decided to fly back to San Jose, Costa Rica. Rule one? They needed to send our baggage ahead, since it would weigh too much for our flight the next day!!!! I began to worry. Then when I saw the guy at the airport, jack of all trades, did everything but fly the plane!
I am sure each of you have a story or two about tiny airports.
From Elaine Woo of the LA Times: Harry Kubo organized the Nisei Farmers League in 1971 and was its outspoken leader for 25 years. At its height, the league had 1,500 members of various ethnicities and played a prominent role in farm labor conflicts in Central California and statewide. Several farms (including ours) owned by Japanese Americans were vandalized and targeted for unionizing and picketing. Kubo responded by mobilizing some of his fellow Nisei — second-generation Japanese Americans — into the Nisei Farmers League. It had 100 members the first year; by 1976, according to the book “Japanese American History: An A-to-Z Reference from 1868 to the Present,” it had grown to 1,500 members, of whom only 40% were of Japanese descent. Most of the farmers owned no more than about 50 acres of land.
During the 1970s, the league organized picket patrols to support growers whose farms were being picketed by the union and night patrols to guard against vandalism. Vandalism was rampant. Fruit trees and vines were broken, sawed, or set on fire. Ladders, tractors, and other machinery were fed with a mixture of sand and sugar. The nails in the photo above were thrown in areas where farmer’s vehicle and equipment were parked.
I recall both my Uncle Sus and my brother Bob helping the Nisei farmers with night patrols, and making sure the farms were safe for workers who wanted to work. The yellow banner above was used to distinguish the Nisei Farmers from all others. I thank Mr. Manuel Cunha of the Nisei Farmers League for these historic items.
I often wonder what my dear Grandfather would have thought about this. He passed away in 1965, but came to the US in 1896, at the age of 16. He did not receive welfare, food stamps, ESL lessons, or special legislation to help him. Instead, he suffered through the Asian Exclusion Act. Then he and his entire family were sent to Relocation camps in the swamps of Arkansas, and the desert of Arizona.
Unknown to most people who were sympathetic to the striking workers was a special motto of Chavez. His favorite was, “Break the Japanese farmer”, and his second favorite was, “The Japanese farmer is weak.” I guess when he encountered Harry Kubo and the Nisei Farmers League, he found a most worthy adversary. I am proud that my family stood with Mr. Kubo and the League.
Before almonds and other crops began to replace the grape and raisin farms, upwards of 50,000 to 60,000 migrant workers came from Mexico. For a period of roughly six weeks, they picked our grapes here in the Valley. Then they returned home with enough money to live comfortably in Mexico, and tend to their own farms and businesses. Today, the UFW number around 3500.
2021 is the 50th Anniversary of the formation of the Nisei Farmers League. A big celebration dinner is planned for November.
By I have a bigger question. What happens to the farms once owned by proud Nisei returning from Relocation camps? And how will we preserve the legacy of the Nisei Farmers League?
The sunsets in Oia are described as showstoppers. Oia is on the northernmost tip of the island of Santorini. It was once a center of trade in antiquity. The big earthquake of 1956 changed everything here. Restoration work has restored the beauty of the town and area.
The downside to Oia is the cruise ships, which hopefully will not show up until I am back home. They say the sunsets draw people to Oia like a magnet. But I also hear the village is cute, and the food is superb.
Buses leave my hotel area, Fira, twice every hour for the 15 minute drive to Oia. But it is a three hour walk if anyone chooses. Not me!
The 5 minute drive to Fira village is free on the hotel bus, but 10 Euro in a cab. Ten Euros would take me all over Athens!!!
I am not the type to sit around and watch a sunset, but I hear this is an exception to the rule.
So, I rented a little car to drive around the island. I went to Red Beach, Santo Wines, and all the way, might I add, the long way to Oia.
After my first two stops, I headed to Oia, taking the long, volcanic cliff road sitting precipitously on the hillside. Did I tell you I do not like heights?
But as I am slowly meandering on the cliffside road, the car starts beeping at me!!! Yes!!! It is telling me, I assume, that I am out of petrol, since the little gas pump light shows orange on the dash.
The car rental guy said the car has only a quarter tank of gas, and I must return it at least a quarter full. Well, WTH, crap! I am in the middle of nowhere, clinging to the cliff side, cars are buzzing by me, and I have no earthly idea where I am or where I am going!!!
I pull over, look at a map, and decide to head into Oia town. I am literally holding my breath, as well as some body parts, hoping I have enough gas to get there.
I reach Oia, a crowded little town with heavy traffic, where two cars cannot pass each other, looking for petrol. There are none!!!
I stop to urinate on the roadside and find a moto guy and ask him. He said there are no gas stations in Oia!!!!!! Double crap!!!
I turn around, and as he suggested, headed back over the cliff to the previous little town for some gas. I am praying I have enough gas, or that I can coast downhill. But then again, I may lose my power brakes and power steering if the engine dies.
Cars and motos are buzzing by me, and I look like Elmer Fudd, or Mr. Greenjeans as I proceed down the hill. Alas, I find a petrol station, and must have blurted out a big sigh of relief. The kid next to me getting gas said that a quarter tank should carry me 100 kilometers. And the light warns the driver that he has at least 30 kilometers of gas remaining. Wow!
I guess if a foreigner like me cannot read the dash board info, then he or she may panic like I did!!!
After the petrol station, I crawled along the narrow road, rarely wide enough for two cars, until I reach Fira, and my favorite watering hole. Apostolis gave me 4 beers, and some lamb ribs to calm me down.
I was swearing at the car rental guy for not explaining the petrol situation a bit more clearly.
Other than that, it was a fine day’s drive in paradise.
Before taking this trip, it seems almost everyone is an expert on Santorini. After all, it is a small island in the Aegean, though inhabited by less than 16,000 residents.
Traveler 365 has an interesting list:
Santorini receives over 2.2 million tourists a year, though the last year was hardly negligible.
There are more churches than houses here, though many of the churches are small and private.
Wine is more plentiful than water here, due to the dry climate.
Santorini is the only inhabited caldera in the world.
I like this, over 100 varietals of grapes are grown here.
Until 1960, they had no electricity, just donkeys and fishermen.
Santorini is the southernmost of the Cyclades.
The unique architectural style is “white cubes” though many were destroyed in the 1956 earthquake.
Some people think this is the lost island of mythological Atlantis.
The entire island is volcanic rock (reminds me of the Big Island).
Santorini has some secret hot springs. And no cliff jumping for me either!
I also hear there are secret nude beaches! Did you know that, Webb?
Santorini has 16 wineries, and some of the finest wines in Greece. Wine has been made here for over 3000 years.
Santo Wines has an 18 wine flight! But only about 10,000 bottles of wine are made annually.
Most beaches are black sand, or just off white, but one is RED! There is even a Virgin Beach.
Don’t ride the donkeys!
The eggplant is white here, not purple.
The movie theater is an open air cinema.
The island is 35 square miles, or 91 square kilometers.
Fava is the most famous dish here, actually a yellow split pea puree.
Greek yogurt is real here.
My Santorini insider says Domaine Sigales is the winery to visit.
No doubt, the food and wine are big attractions here, along with the view.
My first trip to Greece was scheduled for 1971. I was planning to meet a friend there, but something really life changing happened along the way. Now, 50 years later, here I am. So now you know, when I say go, please go!!! Let me just say this island is simply unique, beautiful, relaxing, and a tinge touristy. But they welcome us with open arms, they love Americans, and our $$!!
I ate a big breakfast when I arrived at the hotel, aptly named Volcano View. So, on my first venture into Fira town, I finally stopped for a glass of white wine, as Santorini is famous for their white wines. After the first glass, the manager gave me another to try. And he said if I brought my friends here, we would get a free bottle of their famous Assyrtiko wine!
But this is a small island, and I hope not to catch the dreaded “island fever” so prevalent in places like Hawaii, Bora Bora, and Tahiti.
Yes, I was in a college fraternity, and was often called a “Greek” even though I am not of Greek origin. We were known as a professional fraternity, but had the best parties on campus. But let’s take a rather irreverent look at the Greeks, as we know them today.
Greeks have the most sex in the world (and have held the title for ten years).
Greeks were the first to go “full Monty” with the 1931 film, Daphnis and Chloe.
Greeks stick together, as they have the lowest divorce rate in Europe, but have the highest abortion rate
A Greek physician, Soranus, believed that sneezing was a form of contraception. .
Hippocrates considered the human body to be just a bag of fluid.
Before the invention of toilet paper, the Greeks tied sea sponges to a stick.
The original Santa Claus was born a Greek.
In ancient Greece, athletes performed naked. This might be okay if the athlete is Caroline Wozniacki or Paige Spiranac. Leprosy was grounds for a divorce in Greece until 1983.
Ancient Greeks considered drinking undiluted wine a barbaric habit.
Ancient Greece held the Olympic Games to honor the Greek god, Zeus.
Greek was the most common language, thousands of years ago.
Never leaves shoes lying on their side, it is considered bad luck!
Greeks always enter and leave a house by the same door.
Never leave a wallet or a purse empty.
Don’t take a boat unless it is seaworthy.
Greece is the leading producer of sea sponges.
Even Grandma never moves out.
Greece began the first community dump around 500 BC.
The official name of Greece is the Hellenic Republic.
Greece is the third leading producer of olives in the world.
Greeks are very superstitious.
All Greeks over the age of 18 are required to vote.
Do not, I repeat, do not EVER ask a Greek for Turkish coffee.
Greece has 8498 miles of coastline.
Not all feta is the same. They must have a dozen different ones.
The national drink is ouzo.
Food delivery scooters and motos are prevalent.
Cab drivers try to hustle us on trips to far away tourist sites like Poseidon.
Greeks do not treat people of color very well. However, I am doing okay.
The food is impressive.
Did I bore you? I am ready for coffee soon, strong, Greek coffee.
PS: The idea of drunk Sinatra is quite vivid. He drank while performing on stage toward the end of his illustrious career.
From April 19, travelers from across the European Union and five other countries, including the UK, US, Israel, Serbia and the United Arab Emirates will no longer have to quarantine upon arrival in Greece if they can show proof that they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 vaccine, or present a negative result from a test taken no more than 72 hours before travel. The move comes as Greece prepares to open its tourism sector on May 14, according to Reuters.
I have been waiting for this news, since my week of cycling in Croatia was postponed to 2022. More from Reuters: Welcoming visitors back is important to the country, as its tourism sector accounts for about a fifth of Greece’s economy. It has a population of 11 million, and Germany is its biggest market for visitors followed by the UK. GK: Since their economy has not been very strong for the past few years, perhaps they need a jump start on other tourism focused countries?
Again from Reuters: Greece is a great destination for foodies as it was named Best Food Destination in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2021. It has been promoting locally-sourced ingredients for centuries thanks to its age-old habit of growing vegetables, harvesting olives for oil and utilizing every type of produce imaginable. Over the last decade, it has increased organic food production by 51%. And today, organic markets and island seafood make it an unintentional leader of the world’s most sustainable food.
I look forward to the plentiful seafood, and the underrated Greek wines. I am somewhat familiar with the cuisine, since one of my all-time favorite restaurants was Lola in Seattle. It was a very focused Mediterranean menu, with lots of Greek dishes. I look forward to many gyros, souvlaki, saganaki, mousakka, and tzatziki. Oh, and Barry the V’s favorite, Greek salad. I also learned about the Greek dessert wine, Mavrodaphne. The Greek doughnut, or loukoumades, covered with powdered sugar or honey are a great finish to a big Greek dinner.
And the nightlife: Athenian nights are filled with music, dancing and dining. Rustic and authentic, Perivoli tou Ouranou is a rembetika club with almost palpable atmosphere. Filled with the sounds of bouzouki, pelting out traditional blues-like music, it’s at once haunting and lively. Drunk Sinatra is a lively, always busy focal point for the partying crowds, Clumsies and Baba Au Rum are consistently included in various ‘best bars of the world’ lists, and Jazz in Jazz in Kolonaki, is the best bar in Athens, but only if you’re a fan of the genre. Another one of interest is Minnie the Moocher, a 30s style hot spot, perhaps more my style.
My previous experience with Ouzo and Retsina have mixed results. Perhaps what I drank was not of sufficient quality. Also, the famous red wines, Agiorgitikio and whites, Assyrtiko interest me as well. I have tasted many Armenian versions of Raki, also with mixed results. Perhaps I will stick with beer and Greek coffee?
Having been to Warsaw, and visiting Old Town several times, I am surprised to find out Old Town is not really old town. It is fake, and apparently, full of secrets.
According to Anthony Paletta of the Daily Beast: Weathering is mild, features are sometimes a little too regular, masonry is in surprisingly strong shape. Contrast with Praga across the Vistula, a 19th century neighborhood that is full of crumbling buildings, and you’ll soon apprehend that something is up.
If the Old Town is very nice, it’s a simulacra from the early 1950s, when most buildings were rebuilt from skeletal or absent remains. Some were scrupulously reconstructed. Others were dreamt up as pastiches of the era. There is an element of Disneyland to the place, but with the bleakest possible prehistory of the obliteration of much of Warsaw in the Second World War. The reconstruction of the city’s Old Town, adjacent New Town (new as in the 18th century), and portions of the principal avenue Royal Route (a kingly route between palaces, whose reconstructed portions consist of Krakowskie Przedmieście and Ulica Nowy Świat) was an undertaking of grave importance to the postwar Polish state, a country whose capital had been turned into rubble.
It’s a fascinating and very appealing place, which tells two stories at once. It’s not fully a reconstruction as many buildings are entirely new aside from their facades and basements and some never existed at all, but most of it is about as faithful a reconstruction as documentation and resources could provide. Its aim was not to delude but to restore the cruelly-extinguished essence of a vanished place and today offers a vision of the Polish Commonwealth pre-1795 through the frame of the 1950s, a much better fate than just having a pure vintage vision of the 1950s.
Just amazing, since 25,000 buildings were destroyed in WW2, with less than 1000 remaining today. Warsaw was home to three large movements or battles. So massive was the destruction that Poles thought of moving the capital elsewhere. The postwar in the Eastern bloc was hardly a great time for rebuilding. Little did they realize the prewar city looked great compared to what would soon follow.
Again, Paletta: Warsaw’s historic reconstruction projects were an odd priority from a state generally eager to construct new socialist cities. Functional older buildings across Poland were being torn down for “rational” construction and decadent capitalist ornament was stripped from buildings not far away in the city. Communists wouldn’t generally dedicate substantial resources to the reconstruction of a past they would surely have thought reactionary, full of prosperous merchants’ homes and churches from the age of Polish kings (historic reconstruction in East Germany took some time longer to gather any steam). Yet the wrenching past rendered the weaving of a stronger link with Poland’s history a priority even to the Polish People’s Republic.
The Warsaw Old Town was a unique addition to the UNESCO World Heritage List in the 1980, for a body that generally looked askance on reconstructions, especially on those that took such occasional liberties as the Warsaw one. The listing acknowledged the process of the rebuilding itself, finding the project representative of “the inner strength and determination of the nation, which brought about the reconstruction of the heritage on a unique scale in the history of the world.”
For a tourist like me, I really enjoyed visiting Old Town. It is charming, with street side cafes, bars, and coffee houses. A short walk away is Madame Curie’s former home, now museum. The cobbled streets, old churches, and “new” buildings create a welcoming atmosphere for tourists. I am more than overjoyed they did this! Perhaps this time, I will find a local to show me around? It should be great fun!
I may go to a Chopin concert, complete with an adult beverage. From 2017 visit:
Long before Lech Walesa and Madame Curie, the only Polish person I had ever heard of was Frederic Chopin. Born near Warsaw in 1810, he died in Paris in 1849, at a very early age. But fortunately for us, his great music and composition lives on. He was perhaps, best known as both a pianist, and his solo pieces for piano and piano concerti. In fact, he wrote little else.
His father was an immigrant from France and was employed as a tutor to wealthy families in Poland. His father became a French teacher at the Warsaw lyceum. Chopin himself attended from 1823 to 1826. He became fascinated by his mother and his older sister playing the piano. By the age of six, he was trying to emulate their sound, and at seven, started piano lessons. He quickly surpassed his instructor, Zwyny, and discovered his own approach to the piano, free of academic rules and discipline.
Soon, he was playing at private events, and by the age of eight, played in a charity event. A mere three years later, he played for Russian tsar Nicholas I, who was in Warsaw to open Parliament. At seven, he wrote his first piece, Polonaise in G Minor, which was published. He followed that with a march that was favored by a Russian duke. “Other polonaises, mazurkas, variations, ecossaises, and a rondo followed, with the result that, when he was 16, his family enrolled him at the newly formed Warsaw Conservatory of Music. This school was directed by the Polish composer Joseph Elsner, with whom Chopin already had been studying musical theory.”
Fortunately for us, Elsner realized that Chopin’s talent must never be limited by academics, though he stressed traditional training. Chopin himself showed strong interest in Polish countryside music, which permeates his later work. His training at the Conservatory provided instruction in harmony and composition. His piano playing continued to develop with high individuality.
In an effort to broaden his musical horizons, his parents sent him to Vienna. He made his performance debut there in 1829. And after a second successful concert, he returned to Warsaw and wrote “Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Minor (1829) and his Piano Concerto No. 1 in E Minor (1830), as well as other works for piano and orchestra designed to exploit his brilliantly original piano style. His first études were also written at this time (1829–32) to enable him and others to master the technical difficulties in his new style of piano playing.”
He left Poland, heading to Italy and Germany, when the Polish revolution against Russia began, leaving him in Vienna, then ultimately Paris. Here, he flourished, established ties with other young composers Liszt, Berlioz, Mendelssohn, and Bellini. His talent allowed him to write and teach, earning substantial income while freeing him from the stress of concert giving.
“Chopin realized that his extreme delicacy at the keyboard was not to everyone’s taste in larger concert spaces. But an introduction to the wealthy Rothschild banking family later that year suddenly opened up new horizons. With his elegant manners, fastidious dress, and innate sensitivity, Chopin found himself a favorite in the great houses of Paris, both as a recitalist and as a teacher. His new piano works at this time included two startlingly poetic books of études (1829–36), the Ballade in G Minor (1831–35), the Fantaisie-Impromptu (1835), and many smaller pieces, among them mazurkas and polonaises inspired by Chopin’s strong nationalist feeling.”
After two youthful love affairs, he met novelist Aurore Dudevant (Sand) in 1838. They wintered in a Majorca villa, hereupon Chopin became ill, and was forced to stay in a monastery. Rumors of tuberculosis caused the villa owner to evict him. The cold and wet conditions, malnutrition, and lack of a concert piano impeded both is work and his health. They left for Marseilles in 1839, where a local physician brought him back to health in mere months. But the tuberculosis would ultimately take his life ten years later.
The period after Majorca was the best of his life, happy and productive, resulting in several masterpieces. He returned to private teaching for income, living elegantly while developing unconventional fingering and agility. The result was beautiful music that was shrewdly and profitably published.
Despite continued concerns for his health, he continued to produce “soul searching” music through the early 1840s, while now living in Nohant. In the country, he found peace and was able to indulge his quest for perfection. “He seemed particularly anxious to develop his ideas into longer and more-complex arguments, and he even sent to Paris for treatises by musicologists to strengthen his counterpoint. His harmonic vocabulary at this period also grew much more daring, though never at the cost of sensuous beauty. He valued that quality throughout life as much as he abhorred descriptive titles or any hint of an underlying “program.”
By 1848, his relationship with Sand ended, and his health likewise further eroded. After a strenuous tour through England, where he was unable to socialize or compose, he returned to Paris, where he died in 1849. He was buried in a Paris cemetery, but his heart was interred in Warsaw.
During his lifetime, he gave few more than 30 public performances. His lasting legacy to music: “His original and sensitive approach to the keyboard allowed him to exploit all the resources of the piano of his day. He was inexhaustible in discovering colorful new passage work and technical figures; he understood as no one before him the true nature of the piano as an expressive instrument, and he was able to write music that is bound up with the instrument for which it was conceived and which cannot be imagined apart from it. His innovations in fingering, his use of the pedals, and his general treatment of the keyboard form a milestone in the history of the piano, and his works set a standard for the instrument that is recognized as unsurpassable.”
His works: Chopin’s works for solo piano include about 61 mazurkas, 16 polonaises, 26 preludes, 27 études, 21 nocturnes, 20 waltzes, 3 sonatas, 4 ballades, 4 scherzos, 4 impromptus, and many individual pieces—such as the Barcarolle, Opus 60 (1846); the Fantasia, Opus 49 (1841); and the Berceuse, Opus 57 (1845)—as well as 17 Polish songs.
His style: He had the rare gift of a very personal melody, expressive of heartfelt emotion, and his music is penetrated by a poetic feeling that has an almost universal appeal. Although “romantic” in its essence, Chopin’s music has a classic purity and discretion, without a sign of exhibitionism. He found within himself and in the tragic story of Poland the chief sources of his inspiration. The theme of Poland’s glories and sufferings was constantly before him, and he transmuted the primitive rhythms and melodies of his youth into enduring art forms. At the same time, he subtly differentiated, for example, the intimate poetic inspiration of the mazurka from the more outward-looking, ceremonial aspect of the polonaise, which in works like the Polonaise-Fantaisie (1846) he expanded to the proportions of symphonic poems for the piano. The waltz, meanwhile, offered him a courtly dance medium on a smaller scale, and he responded not by expanding it but by bringing it to unprecedented levels of polish and grace. From the great Italian singers of the age, he learned the art of “singing” on the piano, and his nocturnes reveal the perfection of his cantabile style and delicate charm of ornamentation. His ballades and scherzos, on the other hand, have a dramatic turbulence and passion that effectively dispel the notion that Chopin was merely a drawing-room composer.
Listen: Chopin, Frédéric: Ballade No. 3 in A-flat MajorFrédéric Chopin’s Ballade No. 3 in A-flat Major, Opus …
Chopin’s small output was mostly confined to solo piano; yet within its limited framework its range is seen to be vast, comprehending every variety of musical expression. Though Chopin squandered too much time on the drawing-room Parisian aristocracy and disappointed critics who valued artistic worth only in terms of large-scale achievement, he was immediately recognized at his true worth by more-discerning contemporaries, who were astounded by the startling originality he reconciled with exquisite craftsmanship. Present-day evaluation places him among the immortals of music by reason of his insight into the secret places of the heart and because of his awareness of the magical new sonorities to be drawn from the piano.Arthur HedleyLeon PlantingaThe Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica
The quotes are from Britannica, I am hardly a music expert, but I do like Chopin. I will find a concert, even if it is on you tube!!