Frederic Chopin will be chopped into small pieces and set alongside a series of animations about a flying piano and the young girl who travels on board it in search of her father in Magic Piano & The Chopin Shorts on Friday and Saturday as part of the 42nd Hong Kong Arts Festival. Chopin, who had been a child prodigy, left his native Poland at the age of 20 and spent the rest of his life in France, where he had a decade-long affair with the novelist George Sand …

Sand was a pseudonym; the author never wrote under her real name, Lucile Aurore Dupin. She was married at the age of 18 but left her husband nine years later, at which time she embarked on a series of love affairs and intimate relationships with celebrities of the time, including writer Gustave Flaubert and actress Marie Dorval. Sand’s Consuelo, which tells of the adventures of a gypsy singer, was the favourite novel of American poet and essayist Walt Whitman …

Whitman, born in New York in 1819, was a literary realist, a humanist and a strong opponent of slavery. He wrote about death, love and prostitution and was a religious sceptic with a fluid sexuality who lived a vagabond lifestyle. The post-second world war generation of Beat poets were inspired by Whitman, especially the American Jean-Louis Kerouac, better known as Jack …

Kerouac, born to French-Canadian parents, spoke French as his native tongue. He learnt English at the age of six but was not confident using the language until his late teenage years. He went on to have a short but impressive career in which he wrote novels and poems that are considered essential to the Beat Generation. He also wrote and narrated a Beat movie, Pull My Daisy, which starred close friend and fellow Beat poet Allen Ginsberg …

Ginsberg was an advocate of psychedelic drugs and decided to become a poet after a hallucination in which he heard the voice of William Blake reciting the poem Ah! Sunflower. Born into a Jewish family, he converted to Buddhism in his 30s after several trips to India, where he discovered yoga and meditation. He helped his old friend Kerouac found the School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. A big fan of the Bard, Ginsberg taught a course at Naropa on a queer reading of the sonnets of William Shakespeare …

Shakespeare and Ginsberg had more in common than one might think. Ginsberg was a heavy drinker and Shakespeare grew up in a household where alcohol was part of the every day. Shakespeare’s father was the borough’s official “ale taster”, which meant he was responsible for inspecting and tasting liquors produced locally. No one has thus far suggested Shakespeare’s brilliance was inspired by mindaltering substances – as was Ginsberg’s – but rumour has it that a performance of Shakespeare’s Hamlet was the inspiration for the famous Nocturne in G minor, Op. 15, No 3, by Frederic Chopin.