Advance Praise for Chasing Chopin

"A singular work combining historical research and personal and musical passion...A seamless blend of the musical and literary verve, with just enough research to ground and elucidate....In addition to her engaging history, LaFarge energetically pursues Chopin's continued influence on musicians today—especially jazz musicians, who have relished his liberating style, best described by [George] Sand as a unique combination of 'severity and grace, melancholy and magnificence.' Indeed, it’s apparent that Chopin endures today, 'as fresh, inspiring, and inventive as ever.’”  Kirkus Reviews (starred)

“Engaging…probing…Well recommended...This slender but wide-ranging volume is impeccably researched with copious notes and a bibliography, but never seems overly scholarly and will appeal to a variety of general readers.” 

Library Journal

"A luminous book, rich with reporting and reflection and marvelously animated by LaFarge's passion for the subject. Whether you love Chopin doesn't matter: This is an irresistible journey into history and the nature of genius."

— Susan Orlean, author of The Library Book 

"Annik LaFarge's wonderful Chasing Chopin, like the music that inspired it, is a tour-de-force and journey of the soul. Attempting to unpack the awe she experienced hearing Chopin's Funeral March Sonata at a concert years ago, LaFarge does much more than recount the story of the music and its composer. She tells us why they matter, now, deeply and in all sorts of ways, to her and us. Traveling with a backpack from New York to Paris to Majorca, interrogating musicians, scholars, software developers, piano makers — going where the music and inspiration take her -- she produces a diary of discovery that's a joy to read."

— Michael Kimmelman, author of The Accidental Masterpiece: On the Art of Life and Vice Versa and architecture critic for 

the New York Times

"Annik LaFarge brilliantly traces the footsteps of Chopin’s life in a way that is thoroughly engrossing for the layman and professional musician alike.  My only regret is that there is not an Annik LaFarge book on the life of every important composer in the classical canon.  Her virtuosic linguistic talent is put to good use in this fascinating book."   

— Scott Yoo, host of Now Hear This on PBS

"Come for the finely drawn portrait of a musical genius, stay for the evocative recreation of the world he knew. By immersing herself in the creative context that nurtured Chopin’s famous sonata, Annik LaFarge makes him live again. Chasing Chopin is infused with a roving curiosity and passion worthy of its subject.” 

— Benjamin Wallace, author of The Billionaire's Vinegar: The Mystery of the World's Most Expensive Bottle of Wine

"Like everyone else, you have heard Chopin’s funeral march, whether in a symphony hall or in a cartoon. Annik LaFarge heard it in both places and got to thinking. The result of those thoughts was her drive to make sense of the cultural journey of a single melody. The result of that drive is not just the fascinating story of a single musical composition, and not even just a thoughtful and satisfying meditation on the way a culture creates itself. LaFarge has documented a story that is itself, as she notes, 'an antidote to the culture of virtuosity, celebrity, and noise that today envelops us.’"

— Scott Huler, author of Defining the Wind: How a 19th Century Admiral Turned Science into Poetry 

“[Chasing Chopin is] more than an exploration of a famous piece of music. It’s a wonderfully smart, fascinating look at Chopin’s life and times…[it] stands out because it’s a hybrid work — biography and journalism — with utterly lovely, vivid descriptions of Chopin’s music. It’s all the more compelling because LaFarge looks carefully at the circumstances that made the composition of Opus 35 possible...Chopin emerges in these pages a fiercely independent artist, a virtuoso with a "playful, roguish sense of humor", an ingenious musical trailblazer who "coaxed large meanings from the smallest forms" as he created a new musical language. If only all the great composers could be reintroduced to us in this fashion.”

— Adrienne Davich, PopMatters


"[An] entertaining dual music history and memoir...The Chopin that emerges from LaFarge’s portrait is an independent spirit who shunned the limelight, was a generous teacher and friend, and encouraged his students to develop their own voices. LaFarge’s affectionate fan’s notes flow as melodiously as a Chopin opus. LaFarge’s affectionate fan’s notes flow as melodiously as a Chopin opus.”

Publishers Weekly