09/11/2013 12:54 pm ET Updated Sep 11, 2013

'Set Chopin Free' Kickstarter Aims To Liberate Classical Composer's Music


A new online fundraising campaign has a singular, noble goal: to set free the music of 19th-century Romantic composer Frederic Chopin from its copyright-shaped shackles.

But isn't Chopin's music already in the public domain, you ask? Yes, but only the sheet music. The recordings of Chopin's concertos, chamber pieces, sonatas, waltzes, etc., are copyrighted. This is not without good reason: The musicians who recorded the pieces need to make a living, too. But having the classical music copyrighted means you can't download, share, remix or use the music as a soundtrack in a home video you want to upload to YouTube -- not without paying for the privilege, that is.

Three years after what would have been Chopin's 200th birthday, San Francisco nonprofit aims to change that. "This is a belated birthday gift we think he would appreciate," writes founder Aaron Dunn, who started the "Set Chopin Free" Kickstarter campaign.

Dunn is one of many who think important cultural works like Chopin's should belong to the public, especially so many years after the artist's death. If his Kickstarter campaign reaches $75,000 by Oct. 20, Musopen will hire professional musicians to record all of Chopin's works (yes, all of them) and make them freely available to the public for downloading.

Musopen has successfully done something similar before. A Kickstarter campaign it led in 2010 raised more than six times the amount it asked for, resulting in lots of free classical music, which is available on its website.

Since being created Sept. 5, "Set Chopin Free" has raised nearly $50,000, so we're guessing it won't have much trouble meeting its mark.

(Hat tip, Daily Dot)



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