The Life and Music of Chopin

1 day, 9:30 am - 4:30 pm

Portrait of Chopin by Delacroix

Chopin’s music has delighted music lovers for nearly two centuries. Perhaps no other composer is so closely associated with the piano, newly finding its voice in Chopin’s time. His too-short life had its own drama and turmoil, with his exile from Poland, his battle with illness, and his relationship with French author George Sand. This one-day music course explores the life and music of Chopin, delving into the story of his life, and listening to some of his greatest works, including some lesser-known and under-appreciated ones. No prior musical knowledge is necessary.

Course Outline

Session 1

  • Introduction
  • What do we think of when we think of Chopin?
  • Chopin’s Place in History
  • Chopin’s Musical Style: what makes Chopin sound like Chopin
  • The Romantic Period: social and historical background

Session 2

  • Chopin’s early years in Poland
  • Trips to Berlin and Vienna
  • Early love: Constantia Gladkowska

Session 3

  • Making a name in Paris
  • Engagement to Maria Wodzinski
  • Chopin and Liszt

Session 4

  • Relationship with George Sand
  • Chopin’s illness
  • Chopin’s last years

Music we will listen to includes:

  • Piano Concertos Nos. 1 and 2
  • Preludes, Op. 28
  • Prelude No. 15, "Raindrop"
  • Etude in C minor, "Revolutionary"
  • Etude in A flat major
  • Waltz No. 9, "Farewell"
  • Waltz No. 6, "Minute Waltz"
  • Nocturne No. 2 in E flat major
  • Fantasie-Impromptu in C# minor
  • Polonaise No. 3, "Military"
  • Polonaise No. 6, "Heroic"
  • Berceuse in D flat major
  • Mazurka No. 23 in D major
  • Ballade No. 4 in F minor
  • (and many others)
Book cover, The Life and Music of Chopin

Buy the course notes for this class

In hard copy book form, through Lulu Press
$18 + postage


“Great course! Good structure and range of subject matter. Lovely presentation style from Susan - knowledgeable and humorous. Enjoyed the selection of music, art and videos. Llike he way they were seamlessly intertwined. Helped me understand Chopin much more. Helpful to see the wider musical context of the period” - Keith, Balmain

“Enjoyed the mix of letters, readings, illustrations and using the piano for examples. Freedom and relaxed atmosphere to ask ‘stupid’ questions.” - Chris, Balmain

“Background of Chopin very interesting. Love the descriptive outlines on screen to follow music listening. Level appropriate and pace good” - Bronwyn, Randwick

“Valuable exposure to breadth of compositions” - David, Bellevue Hill

“Friendly, knowledgeable present who provided a rich array of resources to help students gain an increased appreciation of the work of Chopin. Information placed in historical context seamlessly. A relaxed yet stimulating day of learning – absolutely worth the course fee! Recommended to those with varying knowledge/understanding of music” - Vanessa, Sydney

“Excellent, very well prepared with good and interesting examples, good analysis of music and much valuable information. Such a tragic life, so well covered today” - John, Summer Hill

About Susan Deas

Susan Deas is a professional musician, lecturer and teacher. She has been teaching music appreciation courses for more than twenty years, through Sydney University's Centre for Continuing Education, WEA Sydney and at other venues. Her training includes a Bachelor of Music with a major in Performance (Piano) and Musicology, a Master of Music Studies (Studio Pedagogy), a Bachelor of Arts (Communications), and an A.Mus.A in Musicianship. Susan teaches piano and music theory to adults and children, and plays piano and organ at various venues around Sydney. Susan is an accredited piano teacher and musicianship teacher, and is on the Council of the Music Teachers’ Association of NSW.

More about Susan’s qualifications

Read what people have said about Susan’s other courses

Susan’s other music courses