India will interpret Chopin for itself, says the Polish envoy Piotr Klodkowski

Mapping the astonishing impact of the iconic Polish composer and pianist Fryderyk Chopin exactly 200 years since his birth, Ambassador of the Republic of Poland to India, Piotr Klodkowski finds that the maestro has struck a chord in countries as geographically removed and culturally different from Poland as China and Japan.

Music lovers in different countries have interpreted for themselves the 19th century icon's compositions that are emotional, delicate and powerful all at once. The émigré artist's music was considered so politically-loaded in his time, that it was treated with great suspicion by the Tsarist occupiers of Poland and later, banned by Nazi Germany, says Klodkowski. The Polish envoy was in Bangalore to launch ‘Chopin 2010 India,' a year-long series of events – exhibition, films, ballet – to celebrate Chopin's 200th birth anniversary.

If in Japan the gentleness of his music evokes a certain form of traditional painting, China has the largest Chopin following in Asia. It was no coincidence that Chinese pianist Lang Lang launched the Chopin Year in January with a concert at the Warsaw Philharmonic. “Chopin is slowly but surely gaining popularity in India – and I'm sure India will discover aspects of his music that strikes a unique chord,” says Klodkowski who is also the president of the celebration committee for Chopin 2010 India. He was surprised that so many music lovers turned up for the inaugural concert in Pune.

At the end of this year, says Klodkowski, Indian audiences can expect an unlikely fusion piece: “We are talking to artists here about the possibility of a Bharatanatyam or Kathak piece performed to Chopin's compositions.” Klodowski has travelled to Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Kolkata and Chennai over the last few weeks to announce the year-long event. “It has been mostly pleasure,” he says. As for Poland, there is no doubt that the Chopin Year is going to attract thousands of visitors and Warsaw is sprucing up its historical buildings in preparation.

Chopin has a special appeal in Poland – as a patriot who expressed his outrage at Tsarist Russia's occupation of Poland, choosing to live in Paris following the Russo-Polish war in the 1830s. At this time it was only culture that unified the Poles - then, as now, “Hamari samskriti hamari shakti,” Klodkowski says.