CHOPIN BIOGRAPHY CHOPIN BIOGRAPHY

Year 1830 Year 1830

7 February. Surrounded by only his family and friends he performs the Concerto in F minor, with the accompaniment of a small orchestra.

12 February. The 'Gazeta Polska': 'One hears that Mr Chopin is leaving for Italy, but will doubtless not undertake this journey without giving a public concert in the capital of Poland…'. The 'Kurier Warszawski': 'His first stop will be in Kalisz, whence he will travel to Berlin, Dresden and Vienna; after that he will visit Italy and France'.

3 March. In the Chopin family salon, a rehearsal of the F minor Concerto and the Grand Fantasy in A major. the 'Powszechny Dziennik Krajowy' [Universal National Daily] of the following day: 'Among the listeners of both sexes were experts and amateurs and artists, there was also Kurpiński and Elsner. [...] His old piano teacher [Żywny] sat moved to tears. Elsner beamed all over with joy [...] Kurpiński in the end even directed the orchestra for the young artist himself'. One day later, the 'Kurier Warszawski': 'The young virtuoso played his concerto and a potpourri on various themes, particularly to music from the national song Już miesiąc zeszedł and from a Krakowiak [Dumka] by Kurpiński, etc. To reiterate the opinion of the most illustrious individuals: "The young Szopen surpasses all the pianists that we have heard here. He is the Paganini of the pianoforte…"'.

16 March. Information from the 'Kurier Warszawski': 'For tomorrow's concert by Mr Chopin esquire, all the boxes are already taken'.

17 March. In the Teatr Narodowy, Chopin’s first own public concert in Warsaw. He plays the Concerto in F minor and the Grand Fantasy on Polish Airs. The orchestra is conducted by Kurpiński; in his 'Private diary of certain theatrical deeds', the director of the opera notes the following: 'From the morning there was a rehearsal of the piano concert of Mr Chopin. In the evening, a large audience (they even filled the place for the orchestra) greeted the compositions and the playing of the young artist with grand applause. Only the instrument was not appropriate for such a vast place'.

18 March. Maurycy Mochnacki in the 'Kurier Polski': 'the adagio in the concerto of Mr Chopin is an original work of an exceptional musical genius. [...] Veritably! anyone who thus begins at an early age will spread his name far and wide'. A reviewer from the 'Iksy' group wrote in the 'Gazeta Korespondenta Warszawskiego' [Gazette of the Warsaw Correspondent]: 'his modesty is equal to the enormity of his talent'. The composer himself to Woyciechowski: 'So my first concert, although it was full and three days before neither box nor seat was to be had, did not create the impression on the masses that I had apprehended. The opening Allegro, accessible to only a small number, received an ovation, but it seems to be because they had to wonder what it was! – and seemingly pretend to be connoisseurs! The Adagio and Rondo evoked the greatest effect, here one could hear sincere cries – but the Potpury on Polish themes utterly failed, to my mind, to achieve its aim. [...] Elsner rued that my pantaleon was muted and that the left-hand passages could not be heard. That evening, whilst the gallery and those who stood in the orchestra were content, the parterre complained about soft playing – and I would like to be at 'Kopciuszek', to hear the debate that must have been carried on over my person'.

22 March. Second concert in the Teatr Narodowy. Having learned from the experience of the first, he changes the piano. After the first concert, even Mochnacki, 'having praised me to the heavens, and especially the Adagio, ended by advising more energy. I realised where that energy lay and [...] played not on my own but on a Viennese instrument. Diakov, the Russian general, was kind enough to give me his instrument – better than that of Hummel – and only then […] applause, praises that each note was struck like a pearl, and that in the second I played better than in the first'. Besides the F minor Concerto, he also played the Rondo à la Krakowiak and improvised.

23 March The 'Kurier Warszawski' relates: 'yesterday again 900 people turned up. The virtuoso was greeted with showers of applause, which was constantly repeated, especially after the rendition of the Cracovian Rondo. To end with, the artist improvised; he interspersed the favourite national songs Świat srogi [A World That's Harsh] and W mieście dziwne obyczaje with the pleasantest changes and chords'.

24 March In the 'Kurier Polski' Maurycy Mochnacki writes: 'his Concerto could be compared to the life of an honest man' no ambiguity, falsity, exaggeration […] the whole is subordinated to the genius of music, which it breathes and exhales […] It always is new, fresh, in a word inspired'.

25 March. J.C. in the 'Powszechny Dziennik Krajowy' concludes: 'Fate has gifted Poles with Mr Chopin as Germans with Mozart'. The use of this phrase evokes a polemic among journalists, which Chopin finds none too pleasant. He informs Woyciechowski that 'after my concerts, a great many reviews poured forth, particularly in the 'Kurier Polski' – although these were already infused with overblown praise, they were still bearable. The 'Dziennik Urzędowy' also devoted several pages to panegyrics on my subject, but in one edition, in spite of their best intentions, such inanities were written that I have been in despair since the moment when I read a response in the 'Gazeta Polska', which most justifiably pared me of that which the other [Q.C.] had exaggeratedly bestowed'.

26 March. Dinner at the residence of Count de Moriolles and an evening at the home of the great music-lover General Diakov, where he performs with Kaczyński works including Hummel's La Rubinelle.

27 March. He gives an account to Woyciechowski of his second concert in the Teatr Narodowy: 'I expect You have all the newspapers, or at lest the main ones, from which You can judge that they were content. Miss de Moriolles sent me a laurel wreath, and today I received a poem from someone. Orłowski made up some mazurkas and waltzes out of themes from the Concerto, Sennewald, Brzezina's companion, asked be for my portrait, but I could not permit him, since it would be too much at once, and I have no wish that butter be wrapped in me, as happened with the portrait of Lelewel'. Coaxed into giving a third concert before the Easter holidays, he also refuses: 'You would not believe what torment it is three days before an appearance'. Above all, however, 'before the holidays I shall complete the first Allegro of the Second Concerto [in E minor]'.

10 April. He writes to Woyciechowski: 'You should know that our world has gone terribly musical, with not even Easter Week being spared […] Yesterday was Good Friday, the whole of Warsaw went to the graves; and together with Kostuś [Pruszak], who returned from Sanniki the day before yesterday, I rode from one end of Warsaw to the other. […] I am invited to Easter breakfast the day after tomorrow to Minasowicz's, Kurpiński will be there; I wonder what he will say to me, for you would not believe how warmly he always greets me'. The whole of Warsaw is discussing Chopin. This is added to in the press by unpleasant scheming between supporters of Elsner and Kurpiński. Work continues on the E minor Concerto. He rejects a third performance – anticipated by the public – at the Teatr Narodowy: 'I shall not give [a concert] so soon before my departure' and 'I would play the new work, the new one, yet to be finished'.

17 April. In these few days the 'Pamiętnik dla Płci Pięknej' and 'Kurier Warszawski' publish the panegyric sonnet by Leon Ulrich ‘Do Fryderyka Chopina grającego koncert na fortepianie' ['To Fryderyk Chopin playing a concerto on the pianoforte']. Chopin to Woyciechowski: 'I cannot read any more of what people are writing about me, nor listen to what they are saying'. He vainly asks Orłowski to refrain from the publication of variations on themes from the Concerto in F minor. 'With regard to the Mazurkas from my themes, a mercantile desire for profit prevailed…' Further work on the E minor Concerto and ever newer plans for his departure, delayed by the approaching season of grand concerts connected with the ceremonial assembly of parliament. From time to time he performs, e.g. at a planned soirée at the Lewicki home he was to participate in a rendition of the Polonaise in C major for piano and cello Op. 3 (to which he added 'an Adagio, an introduction specially for Kaczyński') and Hummel's Sentinelli.

18 April. Doubtless present at the revival of Mozart's Die Zauberflöte.

Beginning of May. Enters a phase of increased fascination with song and with female singers, in particular Konstancja Gładkowska. He reveals an interest in the appearance planned by Carlo Soliva of his pupil from vocal class at the Conservatory, i.e. Konstancja, in Agnese, by Paer.

14 May. Present at a soirée at Soliva's. 'G. sang an aria specially added to the opera for her by Soliva, which is to be her show-stopping number; it is, indeed, pretty in places, and occasionally suited to her voice. In [Rossini's] Turco, W[ołków, a female friend of Gładkowska] is also to sing an aria, to showcase her talents, tailored to her voice'. He awaits the arrival of Henrietta Sontag. Continually delays and postpones his departure for Vienna.

15 May. To Woyciechowski: 'As for my journey, I no longer know what will happen. I think that instead of travelling abroad this year, I shall end up in a fever, and that will be that. I shall stay through June, through July, I shall not even want to leave for, I expect You already know, that for nothing, save for the heat; the Italian opera does not begin until September, so there is no need to hurry, all the more so since the Rondo for the new concerto is not finished – and for that I need inspiration; I am not even rushing with it, since I have the first Allegro I do not worry about the rest'. There follows a famous inside interpretation of the Romance from the E minor Concerto: 'The Adagio for the new concerto is in E major. It is not intended to be powerful, it is more romance-like, calm, melancholic, it should give the impression of a pleasant glance at a place where a thousand fond memories come to one's mind. – It is a kind of meditation on the beautiful springtime, yet to moonlight. That is why I accompany it with sordini, that is violins muffled by a sort of comb, which spans the strings and imparts to them a new, silvery tone. Perhaps it is poor, but why be ashamed of writing poorly in spite of one's knowledge – only the result will reveal the error. – In this You will doubtless uncover my tendency to do ill involuntarily. Just like when something involuntarily pops into my head and I like to cherish it, perhaps most erringly'. At the same time he also employs – for reasons unknown – a game of appearances: a kind of flirting with Alexandrine de Moriolles; 'I am going to visit, as she has sent [for me]; You know, these are my romances, to which I quite willingly admit, and therefore one must be obedient and respect the mantle of sentiments concealed'.

Beginning of June. Enchanted by Henrietta Sontag, her singing and her person. Another letter to Woyciechowski: 'You will not believe how much pleasure I derived from making her closer acquaintance, that is in the living room on the sofa, since You know that further we shall not go, that messenger of the gods'. Introduced by Duke Radziwiłł, whom he had helped to arrange for voice 'variations on a Ukrainian dumka', he is present at all eight of her concerts. 'Miss Sontag is not beautiful, but pretty to the highest degree. She bewitches everyone with her voice, which is not very great, as we usually only hear from but it is exceptionally well-trained; her diminuendo are non plus ultra, her portamento is exquisite, and her scales, especially chromatic, rising are sumptuous'. There follows a description of what she sang (Mercadante, Rode, Rossini, Weber) and how. He is present at her audition of Gładkowska and Wołków, and hears the opinion that 'their voices are over-shouted'. He hears other artists who have travelled to Warsaw in order to bring added splendour to the parliamentary session and the sojourn of the tsar: Sigismund Worlitzer, the young pianist to the King of Prussia ('between You and me, he is greatly lacking for the title he bears'), and the pianist Anna Caroline de Belleville ('French, plays very well, most elegantly, 10 times better than Worlitzer'); it turns out that she has already played Chopin's Variations Op. 2, in Vienna, where they were published ('one she even knows by heart...'). Surprise in Warsaw that Chopin was not asked to perform before the tsar; Chopin: 'but I was not surprised'.

8 July. At a benefit concert for the singer Barbara Majerowa in the Teatr Narodowy he performs the Variations on 'Là ci darem la mano'. In mid July, copies of the Variations printed by Haslinger arrive from Vienna.

10 July. On sale at Klukowski’s is Potpuri czyli Wariacje na Śpiewy Polskie ułożone dla Panny H. Sontag [Potpourri, or Variations on Polish Songs arranged for Miss H. Sontag], by Kurpiński.

Between 10 and 20 July (?) trip to Poturzyn, in the Lublin region, to the family of Woyciechowski. The route leads through Piaseczno, Czersk, Kozienice, Puławy (here makes the acquaintance of Wojciech Słomczyński), Końskowolę, Lublin, Krasnystaw and Zamość. He comes into contact with the folklore of the Hrubieszów region and of the Ukraine. A reflection from his stay: 'some kind of longing was left inside me by Your fields – that birch under the window is now planted in my memory'. He returns for the stage debut of Konstancja Gładkowska.

24 July. In the Teatr Narodowy a performance of Agnese by Ferdinand Paer, with Gładkowska in the title role. To Woyciechowski: 'Little is wanting from Gładkowską's singing. She is better on stage than in a hall. I shall say nothing of her excellent tragic acting, as nothing need be said, whilst as for her singing, were it not for the F sharp and G, sometimes too high, we should need nothing better in this genre. To hear her phrasing You would delight, her shading is splendid, and though at the beginning her voice trembled on entering, she later sang most boldly'. Chopin's recognition and enthusiasm are not shared by the critics ('I should have told You that Agnese has a great many antagonists'); a merciless criticism was written by Mochnacki.

21 August. To Woyciechowski: 'Me, what am I doing? Next month, on the Xth,, I depart, though I must first try out my Concerto [in E minor], as the Rondo is already complete. […] Hamlet today, I shall be going'.

22 August. Rehearsal with the cellist Kaczyński and the violinist Bielawski – 'in front of Elsner, Erneman, Żywny and Linowski' – of the Polonaise Op. 3 and Trio Op. 8, 'quite pleased with myself'.

28 August. At a performance of Rossini's opera Il Turco in Italia, with Anna Wołków in the leading female role: 'with her coquetterie, her fine acting and her very lovely eyes and teeth she enchanted all the box seats and the parterre. […] As for her singing, Gładkowska is incomparable higher. […] Gładkowska is shortly to appear in La Gazza, this 'shortly' will doubtless occur when I am already over the trenches. […] Her third role is to be in La Vestale'.

29 August. At the invitation of General Piotr Szembek, an amateur violinist and 'inveterate Paganinist', he plays and improvises at a military camp in Sochaczew. He listens in wonder to the military band play cavatinas from Auber's Masaniello.

August (?). Józef Reinschmidt recalls a social soirée of poetry and music at his home, with the participation of Gaszyński and Magnuszewski. Chopin improvises on themes from national songs. Apparently, it was then that he composed Hulanka [Merrymaking], to words by Witwicki, 'which everyone later sang a couple of times in chorus'. Hulanka was shortly to become one of the songs of the November Rising.

4 September. To Woyciechowski: 'Fits of madness befall me now stronger than usually. – I am still sitting here – I do not have the strength to decide on the day, I think that I am leaving to forget about home for ever; I think that I am leaving to die. […] I have not yet rehearsed the Concerto; whatever happens, by St Michael’s Day I shall abandon all my treasures and shall be in Vienna, condemned to eternal sighing'. Ever-changing variants of his plans for departure: 'My thoughts with regard to the winter are thus: 2 months in Vienna, and then on to Italy, to spend at least the winter in Milan'. A social life full of pretence and continued flirting with Alexandrine: 'I sit and write undressed, whilst Moriolka is waiting for me, then to Celiński for dinner, later I have promised to be at Magnuszewski's. […] Moriolka would not see me today, and I also like to give pleasure to other good people, if I am convinced of their goodwill. I have still not returned, and I admit to You that I sometimes lay the reason for my sadness on her, and thus I have the impression that people believe me and I am calm on the surface. Father laughs, when he might rather have cried, and I laugh, too, yet also on the surface'.

5 September. Dedication by Stefan Witwicki on a copy of his Piosnki sielskie [Idyllic Songs]: 'To Fryderyk Chopin – with adoration of his talent'. Ten songs to words by the poet come from this collection; Chopin must have been familiar with some of the texts earlier.

15 September. Rehearsal of the E minor Concerto with quartet accompaniment. 'I was content, but not greatly – people are saying that the last finale is the most appealing (as it is the most comprehensible)'. The next day – a repeat rehearsal.

17 September. On name-day celebrations at the residence of Count Józef Cichocki he takes part in a performance of the Wind Quintet with piano Op. 52, by Ludwig Spohr. 'Exquisite. But terrible for the fingers'. He stays until three in the morning, as 'such a fair maid was there, who closely resembled my ideal'.

18 September. Another exalted letter to Woyciechowski, the confidant of his intimate feelings and creative activities: 'I shall leave, but where to, when somehow nothing draws me anywhere. Yet, I do not intend to stay here in Warsaw, and should You have any suspicions of love, as do many people in Warsaw, discard them, and rest assured that I would be capable of remaining above everything where my self is concerned, and were I in love, I would still be able for a couple more years of concealing the miserable and pernicious fervour'. In spite of the inertia that sometimes engulfs him (‘a couple of times I have wondered if I, too, am essentially lazy'), he gathers himself to new composition: 'I have started a Polonaise [in E flat major Op. 22] with orchestra, but no sooner does it gin, is there a ginning, than there is no beginning'. Reflections on foreign reviews published in Vienna of his Variations Op. 2. On a Viennese review: 'brief, yet so florid, so lofty, profound and at the same time philosophical, that one cannot comprehend it. […] However, there is nothing exaggerated, and that is how I wish it, as that affords me independence'.

19 September. On leaving church, he almost falls under a horse: 'somehow consciousness often escapes me. If I have something before my eyes that interests me, even horses could run me down and I would not know it, and I barely avoided such an accident on the street the day before yesterday; on Sunday, struck by a single unexpected glance in church, just at the moment when some pleasant apathy had come over me, I immediately dashed out, and for a quarter of an hour knew not what had befallen me'.

22 September. Rehearsal of the E minor Concerto – 'with complete orchestra, except trumpets and kettle drums'. Present are Elsner and Kurpiński, Soliva, and all the musical élite: Czapek, Kessler, Dobrzyński, Molsdorf, Kaczyński, Sołtyk, Le Doux. In the eyes of Chopin: the Adagio (Romance) cannot count on a particularly great success (without the mutes 'it would fall flat'), although the 'Rondo effective, Allegro strong'. In another letter to Woyciechowski he explains why he 'still stays': the problem concerns the 'disturbances that are taking place across the whole of Germany'. Discounting the Rhineland provinces, the Saxons, who already have a different king, Brunswick, Kassel, Darmstadt, etc., it was said that in Vienna, too, a couple of thousand people had begun to revolt because of torture. […] In the Tyrol they have also protested. Italy is simply seething. […] I have not yet applied for a passport, but people are maintaining that I would not receive one, only for Austria and Prussia, and forget about Italy and France'. He therefore intends to set off ‘doubtless within the next few weeks via Cracow to Vienna', all the more so since there they have 'once more refreshed their memories' about him. He observes the progress in the career of Konstancja Gładkowska: on Sunday (26) she was to sing Ninette in La Gazza ladra, under the direction of Kurpiński.

24 September. The 'Krajowy Dziennik Powszechny' writes about the new work and its composer: 'It is the work of a genius. […] He is to travel abroad. […] Let us hope that no foreign capital will detain him for ever.

29 September. In the Teatr Narodowy, Kurpiński commences rehearsals for Auber's Masaniello; the authorities do not agree to its production. A period when patriotic forces heighten their activities; a significant role among the conspirators is played by Maurycy Mochnacki.

5 October. 'After an orchestral rehearsal of the Second Concerto, the decision was taken to perform it in public, and next Monday […] I shall play it. […] The Rondo – I think that it will impress everyone, as Soliva told me il vous fait beaucoup d'honneur, whilst Kurpiński talked of originality, and Elsner of rhythm. Let us just hope (as I can put together what they call a beautiful evening) that there will be none of those blessed clarinets or bassoons between the piano movements, since Gładkowska, in one part, and Wołków, in another, will be singing. As an overture, I shall give neither Leszek [Elsner] nor Lodoïska [Cherubini], as are usually played, but Guillaume Tell [Rossini]. What troubles I had before the young ladies received permission to sing You would not believe. […] What they will be singing I still do not know’. He also sends Tytus his impressions of Gładkowska's debut in La Gazza ladra: 'on her first appearance she was a little afraid, and did not sing the cavatina as she did on the second occasion. Admirable is the moment when she sings. She does not do it briefly, as does Mayerowa, but does it at length. In such a way that it is not a rapid grupetto, but a well-sung eight-note phrase. Added, or rather stuck, in the final act, after the funeral march, is the prayer from Rossini's Mahometo, which is very good for her voice – since that which was in La Gazza was too high. That, and now accounts from the opera. Wołków is now learning Il barbiere…' Among the amusingly described news from his social life is the familiar refrain 'One week at most after the concert I shall no longer be in Warsaw. The chest for the journey is already bought, the whole expedition is ready, scores are bound, handkerchiefs hemmed, trousers done. – Only the farewells remain, and that is most grievous'.

11 October. Chopin's 'farewell' concert in the Teatr Narodowy. 'A full house. [...] resounding ovations. Soliva content'. Besides the Concerto in E minor, he also plays the Grand Fantasy on Polish Airs. Between the Allegro and the Romance of the Concerto sang Anna Wołków ('dressed like an angel'), whilst in the second part of the programme, after the William Tell Overture – Konstancja Gładkowska. To Woyciechowski: 'White, with roses in her hair, her attire exquisitely suiting her face […] she sang cavatinas from La donna del lago [Rossini] with recitative as she had never sung anything, except for the aria in Agnese [Paer], before. You know that oh quante lagrime per te versai. She uttered tutto desto to the lower B in such a way that Zieliński maintained that single B to be worth a thousand ducats. […] After leading Miss Gładkowska from the stage, we got down to the Potpuri on Księżyca, co zeszedł, etc. This time I knew what I was doing, and the orchestra knew what it was doing, and the parterre appreciated. […] They called out to me – not once did anyone hiss.'

12 October The 'Kurier Warszawski' reports: 'an audience of around 700. The new Concerto […] is considered by experts as one of the foremost works of music'.

25 October. Konstancja Gładkowska inscribes two quatrains in Chopin’s album: 'Przykre losu spełniasz zmiany, / Ulegać musisz potrzebie. / Pamiętej, niezapomniany, / Że w Polsce kochają Ciebie...' ['Meet You fate objectionable, / To what is needed yield You must. / Remember, unforgettable, / That here in Poland are You loved…'] and: 'Ażeby wieniec sławy w niezwiędły zamienić, / Rzucasz lubych przyjaciół i rodzinę drogą; / Mogą cię obcy lepiej nagrodzić, ocenić, / Lecz od nas kochać mocniej pewno Cię nie mogą' ['That the laurels of renown might never come to wilt, / Leave you now Your closest friends and dearest family; / Strangers may esteem You more, reward you to the hilt, / But they surely cannot love You stronger than do we']. Chopin later adds 'they can'.

End of October. 'In the avenue leading up to the palace of the G. Duke found on a tree was piece of paper with the inscription "Belweder do najęcia od nowego roku" ["Belvedere to let from the new year"]' – thus recalls Maurycy Mochnacki, in Paris, in 1834.

2 November. Four weeks before the outbreak of the November Rising, Chopin leaves Warsaw, heading for Vienna. He is bade farewell by friends, professors and loved ones in the tollhouse in the Wola district of the city – with a cantata composed by Elsner for male voices and guitar. The text, by Dmuszewski, beginning with the words 'Zrodzony w polskiej krainie' ['Born into the land of Poland'], appears the next day in the ‘'urier Warszawski'. That same day, before his departure, he places the date on the manuscript of his first two Études from the future opus 10: in C major and A minor.

4 November. In Kalisz meets up with Woyciechowski, with whom he continues his journey.

6–9 November. In Wrocław: 'We installed ourselves in the Golden Goose. Immediately we set off to the theatre, where [Raimund's] Król alpejski [The King of the Alps] was being played, which in Warsaw is only now being planned. […] The day before yesterday they gave here the [Auber] opera Le Maçon – badly. Today [Winter's] Das unterbrochene Opferfest; I am curious how it will go. Their singers are not particularly good'.

8 November. He gives a concert at the Resursa, playing the Romance and Rondo from the E minor Concerto, and 'for the connoisseurs' improvises on a theme from Masaniello. Makes the acquaintance of the leading local musicians J. I. Schnabel, E. Köhler and A. Hesse.

12–19 November. In Dresden: 'a week has passed before I even noticed'. Listens once more to the playing of the pianist Antoinetta Pechwell. In the cathedral, attends a rehearsal of Morlacchi's Vespers, the performers including 'the celebrated Neapolitan sopranos by the names of Sassarolli and Tarquinio'. At the opera he sees Auber's Masaniello and Rossini's Tancredi. Renewed contacts and music-making with the pianist Klengel. Plays and improvises on the social occasion of a 'Polish dinner'. It is thought that at the Komar residence he may have met Delfina Potocka for the first time; in the salon of Salomea Dobrzycka he is applauded by Saxon princesses, and at the Pruszaks' – by General K. Kniaziewicz. He receives a letter from Italy. A vivid resonance is stirred by a return visit to the Dresden picture gallery: 'If I lived here, I would go there every week, as there are some paintings at the sight of which I imagine I hear music'.

20–21 November. Stop in Prague. Spends the night in the 'Black Steed' Inn.

23 November. In Vienna. Stays there for eight months, to 20 July 1831. Stays at the inns Zur Stadt London and Zur Goldenen Lamm, and then in a house at 9, Kohlmarkt. He begins with visits to the theatre: 'This week I have already heard three completely new operas. Yesterday they gave Fra Diavola [Auber], and Masaniello – better; before that Mozart's Titus, today Guillaume Tell [Rossini]'. Plans, propositions and exertions around his own concert: ‘Questia? which Concerto to play: F or E?

24 November. To Jan Matuszyński: 'I also love You more here today than in Warsaw. But do they love me? […] Radom be damned!' [Radom was the home town of Konstancja Gładkowska]. 'Oh, You rascal! – You were at the theatre! – You were staring through Your opera glasses – You were ogling people! – You were firing glances over the gems… If so, may You be damned'. And suddenly: 'Yesterday Miss Heinefetter was lovely in Otello and sang beautifully'.

29 November. Insurrection breaks out in Warsaw. Chopin wishes to return to Poland. Woyciechowski dissuades him, although he himself returns. According to diarists, Chopin wrote a letter to his parents 'with a burning desire to return to Poland' (E. Skrodzki). This wrench would leave its mark to the end of his life. All his colleagues and friends participate in the rising: Matuszyński, Woyciechowski, Magnuszewski, Mochnacki, W. Kolberg, Koźmian, Gaszyński and many others. In December he writes home: 'Mama is content that I am away, but I am discontented. It has happened'.

December. Immerses himself in the musical life of Vienna, initially unaware what is happening in Warsaw. He makes new acquaintances: the pianist and publisher Antonio Diabelli, the violinist Józef Slavik, the cellist Joseph Merk, the composers and music theorists Maximilian Stadler and R. G. Kiesewetter and the eminent music-lover and court physician Johann Malfatti. He also renews old friendships, including with Czerny ('he has again arranged some overture for 8 pianos and 16 people and is content') and Hummel, whose son sketches a portrait of Chopin ('such a likeness as could not be bettered'). He makes himself at home among Polish families: he spends most time at the home of Konstancja Bayerowa ('I enjoy being there for reminiscence's sake: all the music, handkerchiefs and sweaters are marked with her name…'). He listens to outstanding virtuosi with enthusiasm, yet also with a critical ear. On Sigismond Thalberg: 'He can play, but he is not for me. He is popular with the ladies, renders the piano with the pedal, not his hand, takes tenths like octaves, and has diamond buttons to his shirts'. On Slavik, with whom he planned to write variations on themes from Beethoven: 'Since Paganini, I have heard nothing like it – 96 notes staccato on a single string, etc., incredible'. On Sabina Heinefetter: 'A voice, the like of which I shall not hear for quite some time – everything sung well, every note precisely held, purity, a nimble portamento – but it is so cold that I almost froze my nose'.

24–25 December. Solitary Christmas in Vienna. Gloomy mood during a later visit to St Stephen's cathedral, communicated in a letter to Matuszyński, his confidant at this time, and intermediary between Vienna and Warsaw: 'It was quiet – only occasionally did the footsteps of the sacristan lighting lamps in the depths of the church interrupt my lethargy. Behind me a tomb, under me a tomb… Only above me was no tomb to be found. A gloomy harmony ran around my head… More that ever did I feel my desolation'. Festive dinner in the home of Malfatti, husband of a Polish woman.

26 December. To Matuszyński: 'if I could, I would move all the tones that my blind, furious, unfettered feelings would incite, that I may at least in part make out those songs whose broken echoes still wander on the banks of the Danube, which Jan's army sang. […] My God, both she and my sisters can at least be of service with lints, and I… […] I curse the moment I left […] All the dinners, soirées, concerts and dances, which I have had up to my ears, bore me; I am so miserable, dull and gloomy here. I do like it, but not in such a cruel way […] In the salon I pretend to be calm, and on returning I fulminate the piano. […] Konst… (I cannot even write the name, my hand is not worthy). Oh! I tear out my hair when I think that they might forget about me. […] Othello is me today'.

Turn of the Year. According to tradition, not supported in evidence, this winter saw the composition in Vienna of the first outlines of the Scherzo in B minor Op. 20 and Ballade in G minor Op. 23 – works completed and published in the mid 1830s, in Paris.


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