2010 marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of Frédéric François Chopin (22nd February or 1st March 1810 – 17th October 1849) - a Polish composer, virtuoso pianist, and music teacher, of French–Polish parentage. He was one of the great masters of Romantic music. He is also known as "the poet of the piano“. Chopin was born in Żelazowa Wola, a village in the Duchy of Warsaw. A renowned child-prodigy pianist and composer, he grew up in Warsaw and completed his musical education there. Following the Russian suppression of the Polish November 1830 Uprising, he settled in Paris as part of the Great Polish Emigration. He supported himself as a composer and piano teacher, giving few public performances. For most of his life, Chopin suffered from poor health; he died in Paris in 1849 at the age of 39. (The mystery of Chopin's death)
Most of Chopin's works involve the piano. They are technically demanding but emphasize nuance and expressive depth. Chopin invented the musical form known as the instrumental ballade and made major innovations to the piano sonata, mazurka, waltz, nocturne, polonaise, étude, impromptu and prélude.
My photo album of a memorable visit to Poland in May 2008 (mouse over to pause)