CHOPIN BIOGRAPHY CHOPIN BIOGRAPHY

Year 1826 Year 1826

Beginning of the Year. According to some hypotheses, composes the Funeral March in C minor (WN 11).

12 February. In a letter to Białobłocki he relates the demonstrative funeral of Stanisław Staszic: 'I shall only mention to You that the academicians bore him from the Holy Cross all the way to Bielany, where he wished to be buried; that Skarbek spoke at the grave, that his coffin was bestowed with love and enthusiasm, and that I, too, have by way of a souvenir a piece of the pall with which the bier was covered, that his body brought as many as 20 thousand people to the place'. He writes this letter in bed, suffering from a 'catarrhal affection'. 'They placed leeches on my throat, because my glands had swollen'.

15 May. He chooses music for Białobłocki: 'a collection of arias and other pieces by Rossini very well arranged for piano solo', a Polonaise by Kaczkowski, 'very good, beautiful, in a word to be listened to and savoured', and waltzes by Aleksander Rembieliński ('You should like them').

Around 20 June. To Białobłocki: 'The word is all around that in two or three weeks’ time they will give a performance of Freischütz; I think that Freischütz will cause a great stir in Warsaw [...] Since it is already quite something that our opera is capable of staging a famous work by Weber. However, considering the aims Weber set out in Freischütz, its German theme, that strange romanticism, the exceptionally refined harmony, particularly appealing to German tastes, one may conclude that the Warsaw public, accustomed to the light songs of Rossini [...] will praise the work not so much from conviction as led by the voice of the experts, because Weber is universally praised'. A nostalgic postscript: 'If You see Szafarnia, Płonne, Gulbiny, Radomin and Ornówek, mention my name...'

27 July. Ends his studies at the Warsaw Liceum with a commendation. Yet, not without a certain disappointment, since new formal regulations stipulate that as a 'single-year' sixth-former he is not admitted to the expected 'maturitas' that is a prerequisite for university studies but not demanded by the Szkoła Główna Muzyki [Central School of Music]. As he writes to Białobłocki: 'I do not attend Liceum, as it would be stupid to sit through an obligatory 6 hours a day [...] and listen to as much again, when during the same time other things can be learned over that year'. During his three years at the Liceum he became friendly with Dominik Dziewanowski, Jan Matuszyński, Wilhelm Kolberg, Tytus Woyciechowski, Dominik Magnuszewski and Julian Fontana; he was also in more or less close contact with Konstanty Gaszyński, Stanisław Koźmian, Konstanty Pruszak, Alfons Brandt and Józef Reinschmidt. In addition, other pupils contemporary to Chopin were Franciszek Wężyk, Edward Stolpe and Mieczysław Potocki.

End of July. At a performance of Rossini's La Gazza ladra. Based on a theme from the opera was the Trio of the Polonaise in B flat minor (WN 12), dedicated 'in farewell’ to W. Kolberg ('Wilusiowi' ['to Willie']).

28 July. Departure for Duszniki, together with his mother and sisters – Ludwika and Emilia. The stage-coach passes through Błonie, Sochaczew, Łowicz, Kutno, Kłodawa, Koło, Turek, Kalisz, Ostrów, Międzybórz, Oleśnica, Wrocław, Niemcza, Ząbkowice and Kłodzko.

2 August. Taking a cure at Duszniki, which lasts until 11 September: drinks 'local whey and waters', walks tentatively 'over the mountains surrounding Reinertz [Duszniki], often in wonder at the view over the valleys here', listens to 'poor wind music’, which 'accompanies the slowly perambulating Kurgästen'.

11 (12?) and 16 August. Charitable concert performances. The 'Kurier Warszawski' of 22 August relates thus: 'When several children orphaned by the death of their fathers arrived at the waters for treatment, Mr Chopin, emboldened by persons acquainted with his talent, gave 2 concerts for the benefit of the same, which brought much praise to him and some support to those unfortunate children'.

29 August. To Elsner: 'The fresh air and the whey that I gulp down have put me back on my feet with such élan that I am utterly different than in Warsaw. The fabulous views afforded by Silesia enchant and delight me, yet in spite of everything I am missing one item, which all the beauty of Duszniki cannot replace, that is a good instrument'.

13–15 September. On the homeward journey stops in Wrocław. Makes the acquaintance of the chapel-master Józef Ignacy Schnabel and the organist F. Wilhelm Berner; joint music-making.

The Years of Composition Studies, 1826–1829

1826 September. Enrols in composition on the first year of the Szkoła Główna Muzyki, directed by the rector Józef Elsner, which – as a faculty of the Fine Arts – is part of Warsaw University. His colleagues include Ignacy Feliks Dobrzyński, Józef Nowakowski, Napoleon Tomasz Nidecki, Józef Stefani and Józef Linowski. At the same time, under the care of doctors F. Roemer and W. Malcz, he undergoes supplementary treatment after Duszniki. 'I go to bed at 9. All the teas, soirées and balls have gone by the board. I drink emetic water under Malcz’s orders and feed on oat gruel almost like a horse'. Together with Tytus Woyciechowski he begins to attend private lessons in Italian, given by Rinaldi, a teacher at the Szkoła Aktorska [School of Acting].

2 October. To Białobłocki: 'In short, I have counterpoint with Elsner precisely 6 hours a week; I attend the lectures of Brodziński, Bentkowski and of other subjects that have any kind of link with music'. He probably also attends lectures in rhetoric and declamation given by Ludwik Osiński and lessons of 'higher singing' led by Walenty Kratzer. In the eyes of his older colleague, Aleksander Jełowicki, this was a time when 'Warsaw University had over 1200 students [...] and many good teachers. The lectures in Polish literature were the most splendid, and were conducted by two teachers: the pompous Osiński and the cordial Brodziński; the former was an example of mouldy decrepitude, the latter an exponent of increasing progress. Brodziński was still making a name for himself, soft-spoken, quiet, warm, a soldier and poet; Osiński arrogant, puffed up, a wit and writer of verse, and so trumpeted his renown through exaggerated speed reading that one entered a lecture of his for the first time as if to an oracle, as if to listen to the ruler of all minds. To a lecture by Brodziński one went as if to a trusted friend, and one always came out with the heart stirred and tears in one's eyes'. At this time, Brodziński publishes the essay O pieśniach ludu [On the Songs of the People]. In Warsaw, arrests are made among the members of the Narodowe Towarzystwo Patriotyczne.

16 December. The 'Gazeta Polska' [Polish Gazette] reports improvisation by Chopin on the 'choralion', an instrument invented by Brunner: 'All those present listened with delight to the captivating, heart-felt tones and admired both the mastery of the virtuoso and the excellence of the invention'. At the end of the year is written the Rondo à la Mazur in F major Op. 5, one of the first works composed during studies under Elsner; Chopin reproduces in this work a stylistic formula introduced by his teacher.


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