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A series of themed essays rather than a traditional biography, this profile was written by a legendary conductor and performer. In addition to the composer's works and concert performances, the book explores Chopin's roles as teacher, Polish nationalist, friend to Liszt and Delacroix, and lover of George Sand as well his chronic illness and his tormented, sensitive nature.
Swiss pianist and conductor Alfred Cortot (1877–1962) taught at the Paris Conservatory of Music, co-founded the École Normale de Musique de Paris, and produced printed versions of the complete works of Chopin, Schumann, and Debussy.