For a biographer, there’s a lot to untangle [with Chopin]. Alan Walker does so brilliantly in Fryderyk Chopin: A Life and Times, a magisterial portrait of a composer who fascinated and puzzled contemporaries and whose music came to define the Romantic piano ... Drawing on a wealth of letters and fresh scholarship, Walker creates a polyphonic work that elegantly interweaves multiple strands. He sketches key events in the history of Poland and portrays the burgeoning society of Polish exiles in Paris in a way that lends depth to Chopin’s oft-cited patriotism ... Walker offers insightful comments on some of his most important compositions with their pianistic innovations and expressive elegance.
[A] literary feast ... Walker’s MRI-thorough biography leaves no letter unopened, no salacious love story un-debunked, no scathing musical criticism untranslated ... Walker’s narrative style reflects the very music of his subject: He has a light, delicate touch when making apt inferences, and a soft and rather ornate style when providing descriptions of the artist ... already qualifies as one of the best biographies of the year.
The most comprehensive biography and musical analysis to date [on Chopin] ... This highly readable and engaging biography by an authority on 19th century Romantic music is suitable for professional musicians as well as music lovers and piano aficionados. It brings to life one of the 19th century's and Poland's most beloved, legendary, and celebrated artists. It deserves a place of merit at every university, music, and school library.