frederic-chopin-photoCF in the 1800s

Whilst searching around for content for the Creative Space I stumbled upon an interesting mystery involving one of the most celebrated classical pianists of all time.

You see Frédéric Chopin was sick as a child and unable to tolerate fatty foods and because back in the 1800s there was no such thing as pancreatic enzymes. He was forced to alter his diet to avoid the cramping and diarrhoea that would result if he consumed these foods.

As anyone with CF would know, keeping weight on can be very difficult, even these days with the benefit of high calorie drinks etc. You can imagine how difficult it would have been back in Chopin’s day how arduous this would be.

It is thought he weighed just 45kg. With his height being approximately 170cm, his BMI was only 15.5; very underweight!chopin-popart

Cystic Fibrosis was first described as its own illness in the 1930s. Up until then it was commonly misdiagnosed as whooping cough, bronchitis or pneumonia. The disease itself was known about since the 1700s. There was an old German saying ‘A child whose forehead tastes like salt when kissed will soon die.’

Throughout his life, Chopin suffered from haemoptysis, and it is said that he regularly had coughing fits in the morning where he would bring up lots of mucus. When socialising with friends, he would suffer from inhaling his friends tobacco smoke.

Inchopin-death-mask-and-hand-cast his later life, Chopin was so frail he needed a servant to carry him to bed. He never had the muscle or strength to be able to ride a horse, only travelling in horse drawn carriages.

Despite the health issues he suffered throughout his life, Chopin is acknowledged today as one of the superstars of his generation, along with legends like Beethoven, Bach and Mozart.

Nothing says creative like being compared to those huge names of the Romantic era!

Sources:

History of CF

What Killed Chopin

Frédéric Chopin

How did Chopin die? It matters.

Frédéric Chopin – the man, his music and his illness.

Was Frédéric Chopin’s illness actually cystic fibrosis?

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