CHOPIN BIOGRAPHY CHOPIN BIOGRAPHY

Year 1844 Year 1844

5 January. Zofia Rosengardt relates the course of a lesson: ‘at the end he spoke with fervour about all the dark deeds of Nicholas and of his desire to revive Poland’.

Mid January. Chopin falls ill, ‘he has terrible catarrh and has been coughing dreadfully for two days’. Sand calls Dr Molin.

19 January. Sand (to K. Duvernet): ‘Chopin scared us with his illness, but recovers just as quickly as he falls ill’.

23 (?) January. Sand (to François): ‘he is once more in his usual state of ill-health, he has most probably also forgotten about his access of jealousy towards You. […] If it did not cause him pain, it would make me laugh, especially now, when I feel so far from all emotional storms’.

2 February. Dedicates to Bohdan Zaleski – on the latter’s name-day – a short recital: he plays a prelude, a mazurka, a polonaise and a Lullaby (‘about which Mrs Hoffman said that this is how the angels must have sung in Bethlehem’) and improvises. The poet notes in his diary: ‘he evoked all the voices pleasant and painful from the past, he led us into tearful dumkas and finally ended with Jeszcze Polska nie zginęła! (cf. note iv) in all styles, from military to [the style] of children and angels’.

February. The seventeen-year-old Ignacy Krzyżanowski takes a few lessons.

20 February. Sand (to Duvernet): ‘My poor Chopin has just had another awful attack. […] His health is lamentable, and my heart in sadness’. Between 20 and 29 February Dr Molin is called several times.

3 March. ‘La France Musicale’ reports on Chopin’s serious illness; his poor state of health lasts from the winter through the entire spring.

18 March. Concert by his pupil Adolf Gutmann.

23 March. Musical soirée organised by Chopin with Berrichon and Polish folk music on the programme.

21 April. Lady Élise Peruzzi, an outstanding pupil, performs a Chopin concerto at a musical matinee, with the composer on the other piano. Published in the same year is Traité de l’Instrumentation, in which Berlioz cites the concert’s Larghetto as an example of a specific instrumentation.

25 April. In a review of the ‘season of music in Paris’ Heine writes thus: ‘And still must I return to this, that there are only three pianists who are worthy of profound attention: Chopin, a lofty composer, who unfortunately was extremely ill this winter and was little to be seen, then Thalberg, a musical gentleman […] and finally our Liszt, who despite all his perfidy remains our dear Liszt’. There follows a well-observed description of the phenomenon of ‘Lisztomania’.

28 April. Together with Sand at a concert by Alkan; among those present are Liszt and A. Dumas (father).

3 May. Death, in Warsaw, of Mikołaj Chopin.

17 May. Fryderyk continually suffering. The doctor is called many times over the course of these few weeks.

25 May. Together with Sand at Sophocles’ Antigone, with music by Mendelssohn and Bocage among the performers. After the show, Sand has the courage to inform him of his father’s death: ‘He is distraught […] he wants to see no-one’. A few days later, to Justyna Chopin: ‘You know how deep is his pain, but thanks to God he is not ill. I devote my days to Your son; I consider him as my own son’.

29 May – 28 November. (Fifth) summer and autumn at Nohant, ‘climactic’, crowned with the composition of the Berceuse Op. 57 and Sonata in B minor Op. 58.

7 June. Sand (to de Rozières): ‘Chopin is still not sufficiently conscious to say what he desires’. Besides this, ‘he has been horribly tormented by toothache. […] Sol[ange] has not yet been able to have lessons with him; […] she likes to play on the beautiful piano which she has in her room, but she does not work. I hope that she will apply herself more when Chopin takes her in hand’.

13 June. Justyna Chopin to Sand: ‘Fryderyk’s mother thanks You sincerely and entrusts her beloved child to her maternal solicitude’.

13 July – 3 September. In order to raise Chopin’s spirits, his sister Ludwika visits Paris and Nohant, together with her husband, Kalasanty Jędrzejewicz. Chopin travels to Paris to collect them and shows them the city, ‘which, however, tired him greatly’.

16 July. Signs a contract with Breitkopf & Härtel for the two Nocturnes Op. 55 and three Mazurkas Op. 56.

26 July. Back at Nohant, having left his family for another week in Paris. Sand: ‘I cannot hold it against him that he loves me so much that he cannot get by without me for longer’. Joint letter to Grzymała, who is perturbed by an accidental fall; Chopin: ‘Your salto mortale from those steps…’, Sand: ‘So You hurt Your bottom?’

1 August. First in a series of letters to Auguste Franchomme, who has taken upon himself contacts with publishers. Chopin communicates a host of brief instructions relating to everyday matters to his assistant, Marie de Rozières.

9 August. Ludwika and husband at Nohant, where they stay until 28 August.

30 August. In Paris at the theatre with his guests from Warsaw for a performance by Rachel.

2 September. Farewell musical soirée in Paris prior to the return of Ludwika and her husband to Poland, with Franchomme among those performing. The date ‘3 September, half past two after midnight’ is borne by the piano version of the song Wiosna, to words by Witwicki.

3 September. To de Rozières: ‘So we dreamt that we saw Ludwika. You were as kind as can be. God will bless You’.

8 September. Sand (to Marliani): ‘As for Chopin’s sister, she is an utterly exceptional woman for her times and her country, and her nature is angelic. […] Chopin, thanks to his sister, who is more progressive than he, has abandoned, so it seems, all his prejudices. It is a marvellous conversion, which he himself did not notice’.

18 September. Sends to Ludwika in Warsaw the manuscript of the song Śliczny chłopiec [Handsome Lad], his first song composed to words by Zaleski, and the music of songs sung at Nohant. Signs the letter: ‘Your old Ch.’. Many letters of this same year – to Grzymała, Franchomme – are signed in a similar way. A letter to Sand (of 2 December) closes with the words ‘Votre toujours vieux que jamais et beaucoup, extrêmement, incroyablement vieux’; another (of 5 December): ‘votre momiquement vieux Chopin’.

22–27 September. Spends a few days in Paris to take care of his own and Sand’s publishing affairs. Meetings with Franchomme, Léo and Schlésinger (?) over business matters; with Grzymała visits Duke Adam Czartoryski; plays music with Franchomme (cello sonatas) ; a long conversation with the ailing Delacroix: ‘on music, painting, and above all on You’ (Chopin to Sand).

3 November. Mendelssohn requests ‘a few bars of Chopin’ for his wife, Cécile, apologizing for the intrusion.

12 November. Sand to Delacroix: ‘Chopin is preparing his baggage of new compositions, maintaining, as is his custom, that he is only capable of doing things that are poor and worthy of disdain. The funniest thing is that he says it with the utmost conviction’.

29 November. Return to Paris for the winter, Sand staying on at Nohant. Among his pupils are two future publishers of his collected works: the Norwegian Thomas Tellefsen, who had been attempting to get access to Chopin for a couple of years, and the Armenian Karol Mikuli, who had come to Paris specially to take lessons from him. He recalls thus: ‘Of course, he set his pupils high standards, with regard to both ability and industry, hence those frequent leçons orageuses – as we called them – after which some left the high altar at the Cité d’Orléans or the rue St Lazare with tears in their eyes, although always without a hint of rancour or antipathy towards the beloved master’. Two opuses published in August this year are dedicated to his pupils: the Nocturnes Op. 55, to Jane Stirling, and the Mazurkas Op. 56, to Catherine Maberly.

1 December. Renewal of frequent contacts with Franchomme.

2 December. Chopin buys for Sand material for a dress ‘from the black Levant, of the best quality; very beautiful, modest, but in good taste’.

5 December. To Sand: ‘I picture You in the morning, in Your dressing-gown, surrounded by Your dear children […] I am too lazy to check for spelling mistakes in Boiste.

12 December. Sand arrives in Paris, at the Quai d’Orléans.

21 December. Presents Schlésinger with the Berceuse Op. 57 and Sonata Op. 58.

End of the Year. Delacroix: ‘It saddens me that life passes by and we do not see one another. […] I consider you to be one of those who bring glory to our wretched species’.