CHOPIN BIOGRAPHY CHOPIN BIOGRAPHY

Year 1835 Year 1835

10 January. In Warsaw, I. Klukowski publishes the Mazurka in B flat major Op. 7 No. 1, as the Ulubiony Mazur Fr. Szopena grany w Teatrze Rozmaitości i na wieczorach tańcujących [favourite mazur of Fr. Chopin played in the Théâtre des Variétés and at evening dances].

9 February. Ludwika Chopin from Warsaw: ‘Your Mazurka, the one whose third movement goes Bam boom boom […] was played the whole evening at the Zamoyskis’. […] What do You say to that, that they profane You so?’ She informs him of the ‘lovely reviews’ and the success in Warsaw of the ‘Leipzig editions of music’. Mikołaj Chopin: ‘You complain about Your publishers; I know You, […] You are not firm enough to be able to haggle. […] Remember my old tune: a penny for a rainy day’. He reminds his son of a ‘melody from former times [Malbourgh s’en va t’en guerre]. I played it to You on the flute, and You broke it when I gave it to You to play with’.

February. Schlésinger publishes the Viennese (?) Scherzo in B minor Op. 20, dedicated to Th. Albrecht. In a review by Robert Schumann: ‘How will gravity arraign itself, if wit is already cloaked so darkly?’

22 February. At a concert given by Hiller in the Salle Erard, Chopin performs with the composer his Grand Duo for two pianos Op. 135. Their unshakeable friendship is immortalised on a medal. Hiller, a pupil of Hummel’s, a great admirer of the music of Bach: ‘I could say that Chopin loved me, but in truth it was I who was in love with him’.

28 February. Teresa Wodzińska, in Geneva, recalls herself to Chopin’s memory: ‘Forgive me […] that I will ask You for a collection of autographs of the famous people among whom (comme de raison) You live. A Pole, Frenchman, German, etc. it matters not, even a bearded Jew like we have here, if he is worth it…’.

4 March. Astolphe, Marquis de Custine to Chopin: ‘I am to read to Victor Hugo and Alphonse Lamartine a little something from my travels; several more people will also be present, some 10 or 12 in all, and if You would deign to listen to me – on the condition that towards the end of the evening I will, in turn, be able to listen to You – I will be very happy’.

5 March. In ‘Le Pianiste’ a review of the Hiller concert: ‘Chopin was too weakly heard […] he ought to play alone in order to be properly appreciated’. Hiller himself in his memoirs (1877): ‘One felt the charm of his sound through the absence of that weight that was imposed by Liszt. Thalberg and others’.

15 March. A concert by Stammati, a pupil of Kalkbrenner, in the Salle Pleyel. Chopin takes part in the concert together with Hiller, Herz, Kalkbrenner and Osborne. Numerous reviews.

4 April. Chopin is co-organiser and patron of a concert at the Théâtre des Italiens, given ‘for the benefit of Polish orphans’; he performs jointly with Liszt, H. Ernst, M.-C. Falcon and Nourrit. He plays the Concerto in E minor; the orchestra is conducted by F. A. Habeneck. Some five thousand francs are collected. Jules Janin in the ‘Journal des Débats’: ‘Nourrit and Miss Falcon sang; she a grand aria from Rossini, he exquisite melodies by Schubert, his favourite composer, whom he was first to introduce to the stage. […] The Erard pianos sounded marvellous under the fingers of Mr Liszt and Mr Chopin, a son of Poland’.

11 April. Mikołaj Chopin: ‘A propos, our plan of travelling [to the waters] is still on. […] What are You intending to do at that time, in which direction will You turn?’

12 April. The ‘Gazette Musicale’ prints a review of the concert on 4 April: it emphasises the ‘originality and freshness’, but reproaches a ‘monotony’. In the ‘Kronika Emigracji Polskiej’ [Chronicle of Expatriate Poles] (from 29 April), conventional phrases: ‘The foremost talents were dazzling, and among them shone that most dear to us, our national […] our Chopin’. Several years later, comments appeared on the subject of this failure, which would proved decisive for Chopin’s future: Fétis (1861): ‘The crowd filled every seat. Chopin was expecting a splendid success; in fact, he garnered barely a few bravos from his most devoted friends. It was for him a source of considerable distress, which developed into rancour’; Wojciech Sowiński (1874): ‘Whether it be that he was not understood or that the piano concerto is not greatly impressive in the theatre, the Parisian public received him coldly, although the hall was filled with connoisseurs. This occurrence so disheartened Szopen that it was a long time before he performed again in public’.

21 April. The Boléro in a minor published in London by Wessel bears the title Souvenir d’Andalousie...

22 April. In the Teatr Wielki [Grand Theatre] in Warsaw, Edward Wolff, a fellow student under Elsner, gives a successful performance of both his own Piano Concerto and also a concerto by Chopin.

26 April. Benefit concert for Habeneck in the auditorium of the Conservatoire. Chopin plays with orchestra the Polonaise in E flat major Op. 22, preceded by the recently-composed Andante Spianato. The programme also includes Beethoven’s ‘Pastoral’ Symphony and Schubert’s Erlkönig, performed by Nourrit. Chopin carries off a great success in what proves to be his final genuinely public concert (prior to the concerts given in England, in 1848, which were dictated by material necessity). Incidentally to this concert and to a performance ten days before by Liszt, Gustave Chouquet presents a comparison of the two pianists: ‘In 1835, Liszt represented the amazing type of the virtuoso, whilst Chopin, for me, was the personification of poetry. The former played in pursuit of effect […] Chopin, by contrast, did not appear to be aware of the audience, but rather to be following an internal voice’ (remarks noted down by F. Niecks). If Liszt is to be believed (1852), Chopin apparently said to him ‘I am not suited to public appearances – the auditorium saps my courage, I suffocate in the exhalation of the crowd, I am paralysed by curious glances, and the sight of strange faces compels me to silence; but You, You were born to it’.

29 May. B. Jański records a meeting between Chopin and Mickiewicz.

30 June. Chopin proposes to the Leipzig firm of Breitkopf & Härtel the publication of the Polonaise in E flat major Op. 22, the Études Op. 25, the 2 Polonaises Op. 26, which he himself termed ‘mélancholiques’, the Nocturnes Op. 27 and a mysterious ‘Sonata for four hands Op. 28’, for 300 francs.

Summer. Spent in Enghien, a well-known spa resort not far from Paris. From there, excursions to Saint-Gratien, to the estate of the Marquis de Custine, a traveller, writer, music-lover and great admirer of Chopin. According to Liszt (1852), Chopin, ‘although so closely associated with many of the most outstanding personalities of the contemporary literary and musical scene that he appeared to be at one with them, nevertheless always remained a stranger amidst them all’.

The Years of Maturity and Plenitude, 1835–1840

15 August. Meeting with his parents in Karlsbad (Karlovy Vary).

16 August. Mikołaj Chopin to his family in Warsaw: ‘having learned from my letters that I was to travel to Karlsbad, he wished to give us the most pleasant of surprises; he abandoned his activities in Paris and travelled for several nights in order to arrive here before us. He has not changed a bit. […] We shed tears of joy’. Fryderyk: ‘Indescribable our joy! […] that I always had only hoped for, and today the realisation of this happiness and happiness and happiness…’

August – September. Inscribes into the albums of acquaintances from Warsaw encountered n Karlsbad: for Adelina (?) Hoffman the Mazurka in C major (WN 47) and for Anna Młokosiewicz the Mazurka in G major (WN 26).

2 September. For Konstanty Młokosiewicz (?) he inscribes the melody, harmonised by himself in B flat major, of the eight-bar refrain of ‘Dąbrowski’s Mazurka’ (cf. note iv), with the mysterious and amusing dedication ‘to a dunce – from a dunce’.

6 September. Leaves Karlsbad with his parents for Dieczyn, where they stay with Count and Countess Thun-Hohenstein, the parents of Anna, Juża and Bedfich, his Parisian pupils.

14 September. Separation from his parents, who return to Poland after a month spent together.

15 September. Writes into the album of Lady Juża (Józefina) Thun-Hohenstein the first version of the Waltz in A flat major Op. 34 No. 1.

19 September. Leaves Dieczyn. In Dresden, meeting with the family of Wincenty Wodziński of Służewo in Kujawy; their sons lived in Warsaw in the boarding house of Mikołaj Chopin. A contemporary diarist, Count Józef Krasiński, noted thus: Chopin ‘did not give a concert in Dresden, but at an evening for invited guests held at their residence, he played for us his compositions, improvised and played variations – including Jeszcze Polska nie zginęła [Poland Has Not Yet Perished], in other words Dąbrowski’s Mazur, and exquisite variations he had composed from this work. […] He delighted us for the entire evening – and for that the next morning I was summoned to the Russian Embassy and asked: How could I be in a home where patriotic, revolutionary songs were being sung? I replied that they were not at all revolutionary, but old songs, that they were not at all sung, but that Chopin played variations on a theme from an old Mazur. That I did not know what he was going to play, and finally that how could I dictate to a musician in someone else’s home what and how to improvise. – I shall never forget Richter’s [the ambassador’s secretary] reply: If, Good Sir, You wish to be a loyal subject of the Monarchy […] You should have pushed such a demagogue as Chopin out the door!!!’ Krasiński’s residence permit was not renewed, and the Wodzińskis were ‘ordered to leave Dresden’.

22 September. In the album of Maria Wodzińska, Chopin inscribes the first three bars of the Nocturne in E flat major from Op. 9; on the reverse side of the sheet he traces the words ‘soyez heureuse’.

24 September. Dedicates to Maria a manuscript of the Waltz in A flat major (WN 48). Also dating from these days is the autograph of the Mazurka in A flat major Op. 24 No. 3, dedicated to Luiza Linde, wife of Samuel Linde.

26 September. Leaves Dresden in the direction of Leipzig. Maria Wodzińska: ‘On Saturday, when you left us, we all walked in sadness, with our eyes filled with tears, around the salon where a few minutes before You still belonged to our company. […] Every now and then, my mother would remind us of some detail of the stay of her “fourth son, Fryderyk”, etc. […] In recent days I received “Gdybym ja była słoneczkiem na niebie” [“If I were a little sun up in the sky”] and “nie świeciłabym jak tylko dla ciebie” [Save for You alone would I refuse to shine”], but I have no courage to sing it, since I fear that, since it is Yours, it might come out entirely altered, just like, e.g., Wojak. We unceasingly regret that Your surname is not Chopiński or that there is no other sign that You are a Pole. […] In God (simply). A childhood friend demands no platitudes’.

27 September. In Leipzig, in the Hôtel de Saxe. From 28 September a series of meetings with Robert Schumann, Felix Mendelssohn, Friedrich Wieck and his daughter Clara. Chopin plays nocturnes and études, they play together, he admires the playing of Clara Wieck: ‘The only woman in Germany who can play my works’.

6 October. Schumann in the ‘Neue Zeitschrift für Musik: ‘Chopin was here [...] He plays just like he composes, in other words in his own unique way’. Mendelssohn to his sister Fanny Hensel: ‘Chopin was here; he did not want to stay longer than one day, so we spent it together, not parting company and playing music: even though our styles are poles apart, I can communicate with him perfectly. […] At a lightning tempo he played to the bemused Leipzigers his new études and his new concerto [Allegro de concert Op. 46?], and after that I played my Paulus, it was as if an Iroquois and a Kaffir had met and carried on a conversation’. Reflection: ‘It was a pleasure for me to rub shoulders once again with a real musician, not with such half-virtuosos, half-classicists who would bring together in music the dignity of virtue and the rapture of sin’.

Beginning of October. On the way back from Leipzig to Paris he passes Frankfurt-am-Main, then, suffering health problems, stays for a longer time in Heidelberg, with the family of his pupil Adolf Gutmann. Returns to Paris via Strasbourg.

Around 20 October. In Paris, as is reported by the ‘Gazette Musicale de Paris’ of 25 October. Also in this month, Antoni Wodziński, Maria’s brother, to his mother: ‘We see each other every day. […] the very first evening I was with Fryderyk at the opera. […] Fryderyk gets up from the piano and says: Tell them there that I love them all terribly, but terribly’.

Autumn. In Paris, Aleksander Jełowicki publishes a tome of insurrectionary poetry by Wincenty Pol entitled Pieśni Janusza [Songs of Janusz]. According to Sowiński and Fontana, Chopin improvised music to a dozen or so. ‘These songs he never wrote down, he sang them at the piano from the book or rather declaimed them to his own accompaniment’. Liszt recalled (1852): ‘Chopin always most willingly spent time among his compatriots. Through them, not only was he aware of everything that was happening in his country, but he also maintained a sort of permanent musical contact with his homeland. He liked to listen to new poetry which was brought to Paris by travelling Poles, and if the words of these poems appealed to him, he would not infrequently put melodies to them, which spread across the country at an incredible pace, sometimes as the works of an unknown composer. […] During my sojourn in Poland [1843] I heard a couple of melodies attributed to Chopin, and indeed worthy of his talent’.

2 November. Aleksander Jełowicki notes that on Monday evenings a group of music-making Poles would meet at his home, with Karol Lipiński and Chopin among them.

13 December. Schlésinger publishes the four Mazurkas Op. 24 in a Parisian edition; a Leipzig edition would appear in January, and a London edition in April of the following year, as Souvenir de la Pologne.

15 December. Mikołaj Chopin to his son: ‘As I see from Your letters, the stay in Dresden was a pleasant one for You, seeing as You intend to travel there next year’. Ludwika Chopin makes an allusion, based on accounts by Luiza Linde (‘Oh, Maria has captured Your dear heart’).

24 December. In the ‘Journal des Débats’, information that Chopin was to improvise that day during a bazaar in aid of Polish refugees.

28 December. Kalkbrenner to Chopin: ‘Lately we have not seen You at all; You are forgetting about Your friends’.

Winter 1835–1836. Seriously ill, under the care of Jan Matuszyński. Draws up a kind of will.


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