Gottschalk was considered to be the first widely recognized American composer in Europe (George, M.R., 1987, Starr, S., 2000)
Chopin and Gottschalk both composed and played Romantic period music though their music is quite different. The musical works of Beethoven, Mozart, and Hadyn educated Chopin. Much of Chopin's music was considered to resemble Bach and Mozart. An obvious example of this being Chopin's 24 preludes in which all 24 of the keys mirror Bach's 48 preludes and fugues. The song-like melodies of his Nocturnes, which feature a gentle and flowing bass, are very much written in the style of Italian bel canto opera (Kennedy, M., 2004).
Those that came before him also influenced Gottschalk, but he was not inspired by what today are considered classical composers. His time spent in South America and the Caribbean. His early days in New Orleans influenced much of his music in that he utilized much of the rhythmic variations that are characteristic of South American and Afro-American music. His works The Banjo, Grotesque Fantasie and Souvenir de Porto Rico were non-traditional pieces based on traditional Caribbean and South American pieces from unknown composers. He was very forth coming on any of his "quotations" and always acknowledged any borrowing from unknown work. He also did compose traditional, salon music. These pieces particularly The Dying Poet were very popular but ultimately considered inferior to his more ethnic pieces (Lowens, I., 2008).
As Gottschalk's music was mainly untraditional and nationalistic, Chopin's was based more on tradition. However Chopin's polonaises were written to celebrate Polish culture and tradition and in this sense his music was nationalistic. He produced compositions of his nationality (George, M.R. 1987). Some of Gottschalk's early pieces La Bananier and Bamboula were based from music Gottschalk experienced in his youth in New Orleans (Starr, S., 2000). But the purpose of this nationalistic music is quite different. Chopin's polonaises were written to celebrate Polish culture and Gottschalk's pieces have an American influence but were not written to celebrate American culture. Gottschalk did eventually write some pieces during the Civil war celebrating the patriotic spirit (he supported the north), entitled The Union, and he was considered a patriot but his music did not inspire the nationalistic pride that Chopin's evoked.
Both composers mainly wrote music for the piano. Gottschalk's pieces were written for two and four hands thought he did compose a few works for orchestra, opera, ballet and a programmatic symphony, A Night in the Tropics. Chopin frowned upon programmatic music and any musical scene painting. He maintained a classical purity and discretion in his music that resembles much of the music written before his lifetime. He also wrote primarily for the piano whether as a solo instrument or as an accompiament. His works include sonatas, interludes, nocturnes, preludes and etudes (Lowens, I., 2008, Michalowski, K., 2008).
One of the largest differences between these two composers is not their compositions but their playing styles. Chopin required strict attendance on rhythm and the legato style or connection of two notes. He was very attentive to technique and playing a piece as it was written. All of his melodies are written out with no room for improvisation. Pianists can find Chopin's music challenging to play as he documented the all-rhythmic