WARSAW, Poland — Like a religious relic, the heart of composer Frederic Chopin rests in a Warsaw church, untouched since it was preserved in alcohol after his death in 1849 at age 39.
And that’s how the Polish government wants to keep it.
Scientists want to remove the heart for DNA tests to see if Chopin actually died from cystic fibrosis and not tuberculosis as his death certificate states.
A couple interesting notes on Chopin – He had monstrous hands. I remember reading where he could stretch an octave and a sixth (an “18th” comfortably). My hands are fairly large and I can only play a tenth at the same time with one hand comfortably. You can find casts of his hand online that were taken at his death. I have also read he was very slow and meticulous in his composing – which is understandable given his monstrous musical runs for both hands.
Someone had asked me recently if I had played much Chopin – I’ve played many of the nocturnes but only a few of the Etudes. The Etudes are easy to bull your way through, but to play them note for note correctly in a concert setting is very challenging I think. I remember learning the Revolutionary Etude and the Butterfly (Black Key) Etudes when I was younger.