CHOPIN BIOGRAPHY CHOPIN BIOGRAPHY

Year 1832 Year 1832

Beginning of the Year. The Berlin music critic Ludwig Rellstab publishes, in the periodical ‘Iris im Gebiete der Tonkunst’, of which he is the editor, a crushing review of the Variations on ‘Là ci darem la mano’. He speaks of the ‘vandalism with which Mr Chopin treated the Mozartian melody […] throttled with a chain of trills’. Until 1836, Rellstab would review Chopin’s compositions extremely unfavourably.

15 January. The concert arranged for this day fails to be realised, due to a constant stream of difficulties that arise in assembling the programme and its performers. This may possibly be the period referred to in a piece of unverified and quite improbable information from the circle of people close to Chopin, set down by J. Kleczyński (1879): ‘It is known that in his disillusionment he wanted to leave for America, when one seemingly minor incident, one simple encounter on the street kept him in Paris and in Europe forever. Duke Walenty Radziwiłł requested his company, prior to his departure, at a soirée chez Rothschild. Chopin could not refuse, and went along – he played there a lot, and improvised, he was inspired. Immediately lavished with adoration by the ladies present, he was engaged to give a great many lessons in affluent homes, and assured of a brighter future – he stayed’.

31 January. Wedding of Konstancja Gładkowska and Józef Grabowski.

26 February. His first own concert in Paris, in the Salle Pleyel, with the participation of thirteen performers, including two young female Italian singers. Chopin plays the Concerto in E minor (originally intended to be the F minor) and Variations on ‘Là ci darem la mano’, also taking part in a rendition of Kalkbrenner’s Grande Polonaise for six pianos, together with the composer, Hiller, Osborne, Sowiński and C. Stammati. Among the audience the musical élite of Paris, led by Liszt.

3 March. Fétis in the ‘Revue Musicale’: ‘Here is a young man who gives himself up to his innate impulses and, taking no-one as a model, has discovered, if not an utter renewal of piano music, at least a fragment of that which for so long has been sought in vain, namely an abundance of original ideas, the origins of which can nowhere be indicated. By this, we do not wish to maintain that Mr Chopin is endowed with the powerful organisation of some Beethoven, […] I speak here of the music of pianists. […] Mr Chopin performed […] a concerto which astounded and pleasantly surprised the auditorium both with its freshness of melody and type of passages, and also with its modulations and the overall arrangement of the movements. There is spirit in these melodies, there is fantasy in these passages, and everywhere there is originality. […] This young artist also deserves praise as a virtuoso. His playing is elegant, light, full of grace, and marked with brightness and purity’. Apart from the enthusiasm, a measure of grievance, with regard to ‘excessive exuberance and a certain disorder in the modulations’ and that the playing fails to carry sufficiently; studies under Kalkbrenner should ‘facilitate his assimilation of this important virtue’.

9 March. Antoni Orłowski to his family back in Poland: ‘Our dear Fryderyk gave a concert, which brought him a great reputation and a little money. He annihilated all the local pianists, the whole of Paris went crazy’. The publisher Aristide Farrenc to Kistner in Leipzig: ‘His success was enormous, and remember that it takes something utterly exceptional to make an impression after those splendid pianists that Paris has possessed for several years, such as Moscheles, Hummel and Kalkbrenner’.

March. Begins to work in earnest as a private piano teacher. Usually named among his first pupils (sometimes several lessons were involved) is Lady Pauline Platerówna, as well as Natalia and Ludmila Komarówna, the younger sisters of Delfina Potocka.

For some time, during the years 1832–1833, Julian Fontana resided in Paris prior to his departure for a couple of years to London. Chopin in an undated letter to Fontana: ‘I send You yesterday’s billet from Nat[alii] Komar. If You like, I shall be waiting at my place around 8:30 in the evening, […] I will be with Jeł[owicki] (most probably) and Potocka – and You can have some fun’.

13 March. Approaches the Komitet Stowarzyszenia Koncertowego with a proposition of a concert performance; the request remains unanswered.

25 March. Heinrich Heine, who would shortly become Chopin’s ‘soul brother’, writes about the atmosphere in the environment in which Chopin moves: ‘People dance for their influence and the more mediocre they are, the more ardently they dance, and fat, moralistically-aware bankers dance in time to the waltz of the monks from the celebrated opera Robert le diable. Meyerbeer has achieved something unheard of: he has succeeded in captivating the attention of the light-headed Parisian public over the course of the entire long winter; one can still see the hordes being drawn to the Académie de Musique to watch Robert le diable”.

15 April. Chopin to Józef Nowakowski: ‘For it is difficult to get lessons here, and giving a concert is even harder […] This is because the people here are discouraged and are all weary for various reasons, but most of all because of political events, which have paralysed the whole country here, with great numbers of asses and charlatans – more prevalent here than anywhere else – not allowing genuine talent to emerge so easily’. He cools all excessive hopes, and advises Nowakowski to visit at a later date, when the Parisian opera has returned from London (where it is performing Robert le diable) and there will at least be something to see. ‘I shall introduce You to the foremost talents of Europe; You will become closely acquainted with those divas, who appear smaller and smaller the closer they get’.

April. Impressed by Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, and also by one of his quartets in a monumental rendition (‘violins as big as a castle, a viola the size of a bank, and cellos like a Lutheran church’) by an ensemble of fifty strings playing as if ‘only four instruments were playing’.

20 May. Participation in a grand charity concert organised by the Prince de la Moscova (J. N. Ney). He plays the first movement of the Concerto in E minor, with orchestra. Flatly received: the ‘Revue Musicale’ carried a critical assessment by Fétis, who, recalling the recent succès brillant, charges the instrumentation with a ‘lack of lightness’, and the performers with a ‘faint tone’.

24 June. Date placed on an autograph of the Mazurka in B flat major (WN 41), written into the album of Aleksandra Wołowska-Faucher, one of Chopin’s first pupils, an active member of the Charitable Society of Polish Ladies in Paris.

28 June. Mikołaj Chopin, in a letter to his son, gives vent to his loyalist convictions: ‘What joy that the healthy part of the nation came out on top, and that peace has been restored’. A somewhat vague statement (‘for who would be so mad as to share the subversive opinions’) betrays the anxiety that Fryderyk should not become involved in Paris on – as he considered it – the wrong side.

July. Change of apartment. New address: 4, rue Cité Bergère. In winter, he would take in an acquaintance from Warsaw, the physician Aleksander Hofman. The latter’s recollections of his period of cohabitation would be written down many years later by his second wife, Emilia (nee Borzęcka).

31 July. Among the wave of Polish immigrants into Paris are Mickiewicz and Zaleski. Also arriving in the French capital in the same year would be Juliusz Słowacki.

2 August. To Ferdinand Hiller (‘a boy with immense talent’, ‘a man full of poetry, fire and spirit’), after seeing a new opera: ‘La tentation, an opera-ballet by Halévy and Gide, tempted no-one with any good taste, since it is as dull as Your German parliament is out of keeping with the spirit of our century’. Chopin adds chamber works by Hiller to his repertoire.

6 August. Date placed on the autograph of the Étude in C sharp minor which will become No. 4 in opus 10; also dated with the same month (25 August) is the autograph of the Étude in E major (No. 3).

7 August. Juliusz Słowacki gives his mother an account of two Polish soirées, at which Mickiewicz improvised (‘but quite poorly’) and Chopin (‘the famous pianist’) played. At the second, long and deadly boring, ‘towards the end, however, Szopen got drunk and improvised some exquisite pieces on the piano’.

8 August. Date featuring on the autograph of the Waltz in G flat major (WN 42).

Summer. Sojourn in Tours, as a guest of the family of the cellist Franchomme; it is possible that they worked on the joint composition Grand Duo Concertant on a theme from Robert le diable.

September. Mikołaj Chopin to his son: ‘I do not doubt that You will take advantage of the favour of Your admirers to give a concert, which may be splendid and at the same time provide a certain income; one must strike whilst the iron is hot’.

7 November. Hector Berlioz returns to Paris from Italy. Start of social contacts, including a trip with Berlioz, Liszt and Alfred de Vigny to Montmartre.

13 November. Elsner to Chopin: ‘You are constantly before my eyes, and I talk to You about music, about its general progress and about what may one day be its destiny as the language of feelings, etc. […] My work on the Metres and Rhythm of the Polish language in three volumes (in which is included my treatise, partly familiar to You, on Melody) is now finished; but for the present it cannot be published, as the most interesting role in the work, besides the musical strand, is played by nationalism (which is entirely understandable). […] The third volume treats of the close links between poetry and music’. He returns to attempts at convincing Chopin to compose an opera. ‘It is a pity that I cannot talk with You and others of Your ilk or with Mickiewicz and others like him – nor confer with You all!’

22 November. The wedding, in Brochów, of Ludwika Chopin and Józef Kalasanty Jędrzejewicz. Chopin sends them ‘a polonaise and a mazur, that You may dance and truly make merry, for Your souls can rejoice’..

29 November. Antoni Orłowski, in a letter to his family, gives a humorous account of Chopin’s increasing pianistic and pedagogic success: ‘Healthy and strong, turning the head of all the French, and arousing the envy of the menfolk. He is currently in fashion, and soon the world will see gloves à la Chopin. Only a longing for Poland sometimes consumes him’.

November – December. Listens to the playing of John Field at his two Paris concerts. Gives works by Field to his pupils to play.

9 December. Concert of compositions by Berlioz: preview of the monodrama Lélio, repeat performance of the Symphonie fantastique.

December. In Leipzig, Kistner publishes the Mazurkas Op. 6 and 7, Trio in G minor Op. 8 and Nocturnes Op. 9. Paris and London editions are published somewhat later, in 1833.