CHOPIN BIOGRAPHY CHOPIN BIOGRAPHY

Year 1842 Year 1842

9 January. With Sand in the Théâtre des Italiens at a performance of Rossini’s Stabat Mater.

1 February. The ‘Revue Indépendante’ begins to print Sand’s new novel, Consuelo, a belletristic life of Paulina Viardot. According to Oskar Kolberg, it is ‘a work devoted to music and virtue’.

7 February. Heine synthesises the carnival mood of Paris: ‘We dance here like on a volcano, but we dance’. Beginning of the fashion for the cancan, danced ‘in its own specific cynical way, familiar to the dancers, expressed through ironic steps and overstated gestures’.

Mid February. Sand to Chatiron: ‘Chopin is giving a huge concert with Mrs Viardot, which will be wonderful, and we need some applauders. It would be a lovely opportunity for You to visit for a couple of weeks’

20 February. At a concert given by Paulina Viardot at the Conservatoire, together with Sand; on the programme are arias by Gluck, Marcello and Rossini. Among the audience are Witwicki and Delacroix.

21 February. In the Salle Pleyel, the customary ‘annual’ Chopin concert, with guest performances by Viardot and Franchomme. He plays the Ballade in A flat major, Prelude in D sharp major Op. 28 No. 15, Andante spianato from Op. 22, 3 mazurkas (including from Op. 41), 3 nocturnes (from Op. 27 and 48) and 3 études (from Op. 25). The same day, in Warsaw, Wojciech Żywny dies.

27 February. L. Escudier in ‘La France Musicale’: ‘His inspiration is of a poetical nature, tender and naive, without any breakneck hand movements or diabolic variations; he wishes to speak to one’s heart, not to one’s eyes; he wants to love, and not to astound. See how the audience falls into ecstasy and wonder; Chopin is at his peak’. The same day, in the ‘Revue et Gazette Musicale de Paris’, M. Bourges writes thus: ‘Order allied to opulence is always excellent. And that is a characteristic feature of the works of Mr Chopin.. […] The genius of the melody is so clear, so tender, so refined, and the style of his harmony is so rich that at once the very first impressions, to which one simply has to succumb, disarm all criticism […] The applause is directed not only at the composer, for he is also a virtuoso, a dazzling pianist, who is capable of imparting to his fingers a magical expressivity, so that in a truly perfect performance the whole of his zealous soul is made bare. The keyboard is transformed into a completely new instrument, obedient to the inflamed inspiration of this genius, tender and passionate’. There follows a comparison that is repeatedly intoned in critical texts: ‘Liszt and Thalberg, as we know, make an enormous impression. Chopin does the same, yet in a less impetuous, less boisterous way, and that because he moves heartstrings more intimate, more delicate. Whilst they arouse exaltation in a decisive manner through the intensity of gestures and sounds, he penetrates deeper into the soul; the emotions that he stirs are more concentrated, more muted, less tumultuous, but not less entrancing. Ask this of anyone who succeeded in getting into the Salle Pleyel last Monday’. The review ends with a detailed discussion of the programme; the greatest admiration was aroused by the Ballade in A flat major, its ‘lofty imagination’ and ‘fervent animation’; ‘it is poetry masterfully transferred into sound’. In addition, reviews appear in ‘Le Temps’, ‘Le Courrier Français’, ‘La Presse’ and the ‘Journal des Débâts’ (Berlioz); there is no lack among them of critical, and even cutting, voices.

1 March. A critic signed with the initials P. M. in ‘Le Temps’: ‘A gathering more splendid in its quality than its quantity […] assembled to witness a semi-charitable concert by Mr Chopin. Present were the protégés, pupils and friends of the pianist’.

4 March. Sand (to Chatiron): ‘The great Chopin’s concert was equally as beautiful, dazzling and lucrative as last year’s (over 5000 fr. in takings, something utterly exceptional for Paris, which proves how the public longs to hear the most excellent and most splendid of musicians). Paulina [Viardot] was wonderful.

8 March. Improvisation by Chopin in Sand’s salon, related by J. Filtsch.

7 March. The ‘Tygodnik Literacki’ carries a survey of Chopin’s most recent works (opuses 43-49) by M. A. Szulc, which ends (14 March) with a general reflection: ‘Just as […] there is not a Pole who could not sing a few historical songs by heart, the time will come when the works of Chopin will enter the nation, for they are native, immaculate, purely Polish’.

11 March. Sand, together with Chopin, receives to dinner Mickiewicz and Caroline Olivier. Olivier: ‘we shall be there today […] to listen to Chopin’.

14 March. In ‘Le Courrier Français’, another biting review, not signed: ‘Mr Chopin performed in petto; he was unable to send into rapture the coterie which, after all, has always proved to be most ardent in its contacts with his talent’.

20 March. Plays and improvises at a musical soirée at the residence of the Duke and Duchess Czartoryski.

21 March. Ludwika Chopin from Warsaw on a concert given by the violinist A. J. Artôt: ‘he caused a furore with your mazurka; what a to-do in the theatre! Father was moved to tears!’ She also communicates news of the death of Wojciech Żywny.

21–27 March. Chopin is ill, with a virulent attack of rheumatism.

12 April. At a concert by Thalberg, with the participation of P. Viardot.

17 April. In the ‘ Revue et Gazette Musicale de Paris’, Bourges reviews the Nocturnes Op. 48: ‘The physical aspect is subordinated here to the spiritual side, since the music of Mr Chopin demands of the performer, if not his soul, at least imagination, and also that naive finesse in close kindred to the soul’.

20 April. Jan Matuszyński, the friend from Warsaw with whom he lived for some time in Paris (1834–1836), dies of consumption before Chopin’s eyes, at the age of thirty-three. Sand: ‘He felt this death almost like his own.

7 May. In the ‘Dziennik Narodowy’ [National Daily], Witwicki remembers Matuszyński; Chopin is subscribed to this periodical.

7 May – 27 September. (Third) summer at Nohant. Among the guests, in order of their arrival, are Delacroix (4 June–2 July), Witwicki (20 July–10 August), P. Viardot (12–27 September) and Marie de Rozières, Chopin’s pupil and assistant. At Chopin’s initiative a domestic theatre is created, with his enthusiastic participation. Over the course of this summer he works on the Mazurkas Op. 50, Impromptu in G flat major Op. 51, Ballade in F minor Op. 52, Polonaise in A flat major Op. 53 and Scherzo in E major Op. 54, Sand on the second part of the ‘romance’ Consuelo, among other things.

28 May. Sand (to Delacroix): ‘Chopin has composed two exquisite mazurkas [from Op. 50], which are worth more than forty romances and express more than the literature of the entire century’.

7 June. Delacroix (to J. B. Pierret) from Nohant: ‘The locality is charming and it would be difficult to find kinder hosts. When we are not together at the table or at billiards or not out on a walk, I spend time in my room or lie on the sofa. From time to time, through the open window on the garden, there enters a waft of the music of Chopin, mingled with the song of the nightingales and the scent of the roses, since he never ceases to work here’.

22 June. Delacroix: ‘We carry on interminable conversations with Chopin. […] He is the truest of artists that I have had occasion to meet in my life. He is one of those rare individuals whom one can worship and admire at the same time’. De Rozières: ‘I walked at length with Chopin, talking of Poland and repeatedly traversing the longest avenue of the wood’.

Beginning of July. Chopin is ill for over a week.

18 July. Thanks C. Pleyel for sending him an appropriate instrument on which to work: ‘it arrived in tune, completely in concert pitch. For the time being, I am playing it infrequently, as the weather is so lovely that I am almost constantly out of doors’.

30 July. Spends ten days in Paris with Sand, choosing a new apartment. They decide on a complex of houses on the Square d’Orléans: Sand would live at no. 5, Chopin at no. 9, and at no. 7 Charlotte Marliani.

10 August. Back at Nohant. There is a lack of detailed information concerning the progress of compositional work over this summer; Fontana leaves to seek work in Bordeaux, Franchomme is giving concerts in Spain, there is no-one to confide in.

12 September. Solange’s fourteenth birthday celebrated in style. Sand on her daughter: ‘she eats like a wolf, swears like a carter and lies like a trooper’. At Nohant, she is given piano lessons by Chopin, in Paris by de Rozières.

28 September. Return to Paris. Chopin’s arrival is awaited by new pupils: Elizabeth and Anna Sheremetev and Vera Kologrivoff, all come from Russia specially to study under Chopin, with recommendations from all sides. Artôt, recommending Kologrivoff: ‘Do You know that I am fiendishly envious of You? Everywhere one turns, everything that goes under the name of ‘woman’ says about Chopin: Do you know Chopin? God, how I would like to meet him!’

In September, Schlésinger publishes the Mazurkas Op. 50, composed at Nohant. By the 10 October, one could already read an enthusiastic review of the new works in the ‘Tygodnik Literacki’, written by Szulc.

10 October. Move from rue Pigalle to Square d’Orléans. Chopin occupies a room in Sand’s apartment, and also has a two-room music studio, in which he give lessons and composes, with entrance from rue St Lazare.

11 October. At Rossini’s Semiramide in the Théâtre des Italiens, with Paulina Viardot among the cast.

16 October. Unverified rumours circulate in Warsaw. Ludwika Chopin: ‘Various people ask me if You are not getting married; others say that You are certainly writing something big with Adam [Mickiewicz]’.

7 November. Sand gives a musical soirée, at which Karl Filtsch plays and Paulina Viardot sings. Among the guests in Sand’s salon at various times were Balzac, Heine, Mickiewicz, Witwicki, Grzymała, Leroux, Arago, L. Blanc, Berlioz, Liszt, Meyerbeer, Franchomme, Gutmann, P. Viardot, d’Agoult, Delacroix, Calamata and many others.

9 November. At a soirée in the home of his new pupil, Lady Elizabeth Sheremetev, he performs the Sonata in A flat major Op. 26 by Beethoven; his pupils also include Marie de Krudner and Wilhelm von Lenz, a diarist of these times.

8 November. Informs Elsner that his protégés, the dancers Konstancja and Roman Turczynowicz, whose ‘coming out’ he was working to achieve, ‘have succeeded here – many have taken a liking to them – they should be happy with this’.

28 November. He arranges at his home a presentation of the talent of his twelve-year-old pupil Karl Filtsch, who performs the Concerto in E minor. Chopin accompanies him on the other piano. The audience includes Meyerbeer and the Rothschilds. Lenz recalls: ‘He understood Chopin, he played his works! Liszt said of him in my presence at a soirée chez Count Agoult: when this youngster begins to travel, I shall shut up shop. Chopin had his eyes on him alone. […] He claimed that the youngster performs his E minor Concerto better than he does himself’.

8 December. In the album of Lady E. Sheremetev he inscribes a fragment of the first version of the Nocturne in F minor Op. 55 No. 1. Two days later, he sends to a pianist friend – Anna C. de Belleville-Oury – the manuscript of a Waltz in F minor (WN 55), with a characteristic request: ‘I beg of You to keep it only for Yourself. I would not wish it to see the light of day. Although I shall listen to it with pleasure in Your rendition’.

15 December. Finishes work on this year’s compositions sufficiently to be able to propose their publication to the firm of Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig: the Ballade in F minor (for 600 fr.), Scherzo in E major (600 fr.) and Polonaise in A flat major (500 fr.); at the same time, he informs them of the existence of a new impromptu (in G flat major Op. 51). However, it will prove impossible for him to decide on the final versions of these works for many months. The earliest given to print is the impromptu. Another work appears on the horizon: a Nocturne in F minor (from Op. 55).