Episode 200: 'Till the End of Time

Polonaise in A-flat, Op. 53

rc-end-200So it has come to this: 200 years, 200 stories, and now our year of Chopin celebrations is out of time. And just what have we learned?

To tell this last Chopin story, we’ve recruited Perry Como, who in 1945 scored his first No. 1 hit by crooning "Till the End of Time," an effective reworking of Chopin’s “Heroic” Polonaise. A song so popular it sold more than two million copies, and inspired two Hollywood films: both the eponymous Till the End of Time, as well as the Chopin biopic A Song to Remember.

And a funny thing happened around that time…the world began to remember, or more accurately, discover Fryderyk Chopin. Besides it being the Bicentennial years of both Chopin and Robert Schumann, we’ll also remember 2010 as a “tipping point” for the digitization of information. You can now actually quantify how many times the name “Chopin” has appeared in print – in piano roll – in a photo – or in a blog or a video – over the past two centuries.

When do you, you’ll discover that Chopin, the prototypical 100-pound weakling in his own lifetime, has emerged as a true Heavyweight Champ of the Romantic Generation. Go ahead, Google him: 14.7 million results, compared to 8.8 million for Brahms, 8.2 million for Schumann, and 7.6 million for Liszt. It’s a crude – but telling – measure: Fryderyk Chopin is more popular today than at any point in the past 200 years.

The question is, why? Well, we found 199 clues, but here’s one more: The inspiration, borne from isolation, of Chopin’s music has wound up producing a near-universal appeal. Chopin’s Polish forebear Copernicus famously – and controversially – upended accepted wisdom by proving the Earth’s rotation around the Sun. And we are grateful to Chopin for discovering that the connection between man and keyboard was more powerful, resonant, and lasting than a hundred-strong symphony…producing laughter, and tears… until the well runs dry…’til the end of time. - Benjamin K. Roe



Radio Chopin Episode 200: 'Till the End of Time

Polonaise in A-flat, Op. 53