In Tuesday’s (3/2) Independent (London), Gulliver Cragg writes from Warsaw, “Piano music has lured walkers on Warsaw’s royal tract into a special event over the past week: a Chopin concert, day and night, free of charge. Inside, a packed hall could be found cheering jazz star Grazyna Auguscik as she improvised over Chopin melodies, or an unknown young pianist playing nocturnes at 3am to curled-up couples and solitary night-owls. Nearly 300 musicians signed up to play at ‘The Longest Birthday’, the idea for which came from the doubt surrounding the composer’s actual date of birth. Church records put it at 22 February, but Fryderyk Chopin and his family always said it was 1 March. In any case, it was 200 years ago, and Poles are determined to celebrate. … Born near Warsaw, the composer spent most of his adult life in France, but was well-established as a piano talent by the time he left Poland in 1830. … A series of ‘birthday concerts’ with big-name draws including conductor and pianist Daniel Barenboim attracted visitors to the Warsaw Philharmonic Hall this week. These culminated in a gala concert last night featuring the Chinese virtuoso pianist Li Yundi and an orchestra of period instruments.”

Posted March 2, 2010