Although Chopin lived in the 19th century, he was educated in the tradition of Beethoven, Haydn, Mozart and Clementi; he used Clementi’s piano method with his own students. He was also influenced by Hummel’s development of virtuoso, yet Mozartian, piano technique. Chopin cited Bach and Mozart as the two most important composers in shaping his musical outlook.

The series of seven Polonaises published in his lifetime (another nine were published posthumously), beginning with the Op. 26 pair, set a new standard for music in the form, and were rooted in Chopin’s desire to write something to celebrate Polish culture after the country had fallen into Russian control. The Polonaise in A major, Op. 40, No. 1, the “Military,” and the Polonaise in A-flat major, Op. 53, the “Heroic,” are among Chopin’s best-loved and most-often-played works.

Chopin also wrote 24 different preludes as a tribute to J. S. Bach’s “The Well Tempered Clavier.” Chopin’s preludes move up the circle-of-fifths, whereas Bach uses the chromatic scale to create a prelude in every major and minor tonality achievable on the clavier.