Periodically we encounter the question of whether so-and-so was a genius, as if that distinction has some bearing on the life and work of the person in question. Really it only shapes how we view them. Still, the question of genius is a handy excuse to build an appreciation for an artist’s work, which may be what S.F.-based author and pianist Firinn Taisdeal has in mind when he presents a lecture, with music, called “Chopin and the Nature of Genius.” Certainly on paper Polish composer Frédéric Chopin looks every bit the genius: He witnessed a homeland revolution from afar. He was sickly, and funny, and a polymath. His woman troubles involved beautiful child-aristocrats and wily writers. He died young and pale of a consumptive disease in Paris. Per his request, his sister had his heart removed and pickled so she could smuggle it back to Poland, where it was buried in a church that the Nazis destroyed. (Even his disembodied organs had more thrills than most of us.) And he evidently played piano pretty well from early on. Which is where Taisdeal begins his exploration — discussing where genius comes from, the difference between a prodigy and a genius, and whether you, with your unmoved and unmoving fool’s heart, could ever become a thing worthy of an evening lecture, with music.
Wed., Jan. 16, 6 p.m., 2013