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We investigate the properties of the Heisenberg S = 1 chain with bilinear and biquadratic interactions in a magnetic field using the density-matrix renormalization-group, Bethe ansatz, and field-theoretical considerations. In a large region of the parameter space, we identify a magnetized ferroquadrupolar Luttinger liquid consisting of a quasicondensate of bound magnon pairs. This liquid undergoes a continuous pair-unbinding transition to a more conventional Luttinger liquid region obtained by polarizing the system above the Haldane gap region. This pair-unbinding transition is shown to be in the Ising universality class on top of a Luttinger liquid, leading to an effective central charge 3/2. We also revisit the nature of the partially polarized Luttinger liquid around and above the Uimin-Lai-Sutherland point. Our results confirm that this is a two-component liquid and rule out the formation of a single-component vector-chiral phase.