CHOPIN BIOGRAPHY CHOPIN BIOGRAPHY

Year 1840 Year 1840

Spends the whole year in Paris with Sand and in her circle of friends.

January. Sand to Delacroix: ‘We are counting on Your willingness to eat dinner with us at a restaurant, where there will be Chopin, Calamata, Bignot and Grzymała. In the evening, we will go to Chopin’s, and anyone having a bad time will be thrown through the window’. In this year, Delacroix draws a famous caricature of Chopin wearing a bitter smile. In the first few weeks of the year, Chopin composes the Waltz in A flat major Op. 42.

2 January. Together with Sand and François de Lamennais sees the famous tragic actress Rachel, in Racine’s Bajazet, at the Théâtre Français.

4 January. Stephen Heller to Schumann: ‘I do not see Chopin at all. He is wallowing in the aristocratic mire up to his ears. he is refined to the highest degree. […] He prefers high salons to high mountains, the stifling fumes of gaslight to the clean mountain air, but he composes – which is simply incomprehensible – completely the opposite, that is extremely beautifully and profoundly’.

2 February. Sand to H. Chatiron: ‘Chopin is coughing a little, as usual. He is ever the kindest, humblest, most secretive of geniuses’.

8 March. The Marquis de Custine, in the presence of Chopin, Hugo and Lamartine, reads out fragment of his Journey to Russia.

24 March. Elsner asks for his oratorio Passio Domini Nostri Jesu Christi to be recommended to Schlésinger. ‘One may confidently guarantee […] that the publisher will enter into a most profitable deal with this work’. Chopin’s efforts are unsuccessful. Schlésinger replies thus: ‘The oratorio of Mr Elsner, Your master, is undoubtedly a masterpiece, but You know the French… […] I brought in 6 cop. of Mendelssohn’s oratorio Paulus: they have not left the shelves’.

25 March. Witwicki appears on the Parisian horizon. He commends to Chopin one of his former pupils, and requests for someone an album entry. Chopin dedicates his new mazurkas (Op. 41) to him.

End of March. Promenading in the Bois de Boulogne with Sand, Solange and Sainte-Beuve.

1 April. With Sand, Dorval, Marliani and Grzymała attends a rehearsal of the new Flotow opera La Duchesse de Guise, produced under the patronage of Duke Adam Czartoryski in aid of Polish refugees.

7 April. Chopin falls ill. New physicians are called: P. Gaubert and G. Papet.

29 April. The Théâtre Français premieres Sand’s play Cosima, starring Dorval.

3 May. Sends to Gaszyński a page from the manuscript of Spiridion; an exclamation mark is placed by the date (cf. note ix).

4 May. Sand: ‘Little Chopino is keeping quite well, and living in his usual fashion, giving lessons to heavenly misses’. According to Emilia Borzęcka-Hofmanowa, ‘it was fashionable among the Mesdames and Mesdemoiselles of Parisian society to call oneself a pupil of Chopin’s.

Maj. Publication of editions of the Impromptu in F sharp minor Op. 36 and Sonata in B flat minor Op. 35, works composed the previous year at Nohant; both without dedication.

June. Further publications: the Nocturnes Op. 37 and Waltz in A flat major Op. 42.

27 June. Plays and improvises at Saint-Gratien, at the home of the Marquis de Custine, during one of the numerous excursions in the surroundings of Paris that were intended to compensate for the lack of a summer holiday in the countryside.

2 July. One of the further trips to Saint-Gratien, together with Sand, her children, Marliani, Delacroix and Grzymała. Sand sketches a doubles portrait of Chopin and Delacroix.

20 July. Date written on the autograph of the Sostenuto in E flat major (WN 53), presented to his pupil Émile Gaillard, for whom Chopin would also write a Mazurka in A minor.

26 July. With Sand at a rehearsal of Berlioz’s Symphonie militaire, composed for the mournful celebrations in honour of the victims of the July Revolution of 1830.

30 July. Communicates to Elsner the failure of his efforts to have his Passion published by Schlésinger, providing an expansive and credible justification: ‘the Conservatoire lives on old symphonies that it knows by heart – and the public is fortunate if a fragment of Handel or Bach can sometimes be heard. The taste for Handel is only in its second year, and is only in quotations, not whole works. […] The guiding spirit here is not very keen on executing great works, except for those by the dead […] and if Cherubini were not in charge, then they would not play him, either’.

31 August. At the home of Paulina and Louis Viardot with Sand; the start of an enduring friendship.

4 September. Sand (to her son Maurice), as a side-note to street incidents in Paris and brutal action taken against labourers by the police: ‘Chopin, who had faith in nothing, has finally gained some certainty and proof’.

9 September. Delacroix shows Chopin and Sand works by Michelangelo and Ingres in the Palais des Beaux Arts.

12 October. Sand (to Maurice): ‘Chopin is giving five lessons daily, and I am writing 8 to 10 pages each night’.

October. Publication of editions of the Ballade in F major Op. 38 and Scherzo in C sharp minor Op. 39, sketched on Majorca and completed at Nohant. Schumann in his private diary: ‘A new ballade by Chopin has been published, dedicated to me, which gives me greater joy than if I had received an order from some ruler’. Wilhelm von Lenz, recalling one of Chopin’s favourite pupils, Adolf Gutmann: ‘To him was dedicated the C sharp minor Scherzo; created for his giant paws was a chord in the bass which no other hand could take in. Only Gutmann, who smashed tables with his hands, could play it. I heard him playing it at Chopin’s. In my opinion, he played like a porter. But geniuses also err’.

November. Moscheles and Fétis’s Méthode des Méthodes de piano, published by Schlésinger, contains studies by the most outstanding pianists of the day: Liszt, Thalberg, Moscheles, Mendelssohn, Henselt, Relier and others, including Trois nouvelles études by Chopin.

December. Together with Sand, attends the lectures of Adam Mickiewicz at the College de France. Published this month are editions of the Polonaises Op. 40 and Mazurkas Op. 41.

12 December. Together with Sand at a rehearsal of Mozart’s Requiem; among the soloists is Paulina Viardot. ‘For two days, Chopin has been busy assuring for himself and for me the possibility of listening to You’.

20 December. At a private musical soirée, Chopin’s pupil Friederike Müller-Streicher performs the Sonata in B flat minor ‘with the funeral march’.


Gallery of photographs »
 
mini mini