CHOPIN`S LIFE CHOPIN`S LIFE

Year The 1840s

Nohant, dwór George SandNohant. The first summer at Nohant and the subsequent year spent working together in Paris inclined the composer and his companion to organise their time according to a fixed rhythm: the warm months in the country, where Chopin composed intensively, and the rest of the year in Paris, where he enjoyed unwaning success: he gave numerous piano lessons, gave concerts, took part in the city’s artistic life, remained in close contact with the Polish exile community and tended to his publishing affairs. Nohant became a home from home, in which he was surrounded by warmth and solicitude. The six successive summers spent in the country were undoubtedly the happiest moments in the composer’s life since his departure from Poland – moments that he devoted to intense and particularly fruitful work, moments that brought us masterworks of the piano literature. During his second summer in Nohant (1841), he wrote the Ballade in A flat major, the mature Nocturnes, Op. 48 and the Fantasy in F minor. In the summer months of 1842 and 1843, he composed the Impromptu in G flat major, Ballade in F minor, Polonaise in A flat major, Scherzo in E major, Nocturnes, Op. 52 and Mazurkas, Op. 56. A year later, the Berceuse and the Sonata in B minor. In 1845, he worked on his most elaborate compositions: the Barcarolle, Polonaise-Fantasy and Nocturnes, Op. 62. Finally, in 1846, he completed the Nocturnes, Op. 62 and worked on the Cello Sonata – his last work with opus number. That time, however, his stay in the country was not as idyllic as before. The growing conflict, probably ignited by antipathy towards Chopin on the part of George Sand’s son, gradually deepened, and the situation became hard to bear. It was increasingly difficult to concentrate on composing. Finally, Chopin left for Paris, never to return to Nohant. Despite good intentions, at least on the composer’s side, the conflict spiralled out of control. In a situation of general tension, unaware of the quarrel between George Sand and her daughter, Solange, in July 1847, Chopin offered assistance to the latter. In that way, not only did he unwittingly take sides against George Sand, but he also fuelled the mother’s growing jealousy over the composer’s friendship with her daughter, ultimately leading to the liaison between the writer and the composer coming to an end. For Chopin, that was a devastating blow. For all his outward calm, in his thoughts and his correspondence, he continually returned to the subject of ‘Madame S.’ He practically ceased composing, only completing a few character pieces without opus number before his death and leaving several sketches.

 

Śmierć Fryderyka Chopina

Illness and death. After separating from George Sand, Chopin tried to find his bearings in the world. He gave lessons, was a permanent guest of the Czartoryskis’ at the Hôtel Lambert and would meet with his close friends. Yet he could not concentrate on composing and could not forget about George Sand. In 1848, he wrote to his family: ‘I’m still out of sorts’. That year, he also gave his last concert in Paris, enthusiastically received, and at the urging of his pupil Jane Stirling embarked on a long and ill-fated journey around Great Britain. Although he was treated with the utmost solicitude and enjoyed a number of artistic successes, he reacted very badly to the exhausting travelling. The damp climate of England and Scotland accelerated the deterioration of his health, and equally dangerous proved to be the worsening of his mental condition. Far from his loved ones, wearied by numerous visits to aristocratic residences, he gradually lost his life force, and he was lacking the conditions in which to compose. Despite his dreadful health, fever and exhaustion, on 16 November 1848 he gave his last ever concert – at the Guildhall in London, in aid of Polish emigrants.

On returning to Paris, he struggled with illness and tried to write. He still taught, but he was increasingly weak. Lonely, now meeting with just a few close friends, he maintained correspondence with Solange and never ceased to think and speak about George Sand. In the summer of 1849, he asked his sister Ludwika to come, and she took great care of her younger brother. But it was already too late. Chopin was dying. Paradoxically, although just a few months previously he had been virtually abandoned, he departed the world before the eyes of almost the entire city. According to an account by the famous singer Pauline Viardot, ‘all the grandes dames of Paris considered it their duty to faint in his room’. He passed away on 17 October 1849, at two o’clock in the morning.

dr Artur Szklener


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