CHOPIN BIOGRAPHY CHOPIN BIOGRAPHY

Year 1845 Year 1845

4 January. At the theatre with Sand for the premiere of Ernest Legouvé’s play Guerrero.

6 January. Probably at Shakespeare’s Macbeth, with Macready in the leading role.

10 February. Sand to Bocage: ‘That I loved You is one of the sweetest and dearest memories of my life. I would hide it from no-one if we were both without family and not impeded by ties which must be respected. […] I do not induce You to visit me. I was punished […] the same day that I confessed the truth about You and myself to that tender heart which was too weak to accept the truth’. She is currently in close contact with Louis Blanc.

February. Słowacki (to his mother): ‘Did You ever see someone who the day after being greatly moved by the music of Chopin became better, more beautiful, more compassionate, who grew into a hero?’.

26 February. Chopin is ill for several days. Dr Molin is called.

5 March. Breaks off giving lessons due to ‘asthma’.

21 March. Together with Sand listens to Mozart’s Requiem at the Conservatoire, where two days later he attends Haydn’s Creation with Sand and Delacroix. The same day, the tenor Stefan Grotkowski sings, at Chopin’s home, songs to words by Witwicki.

22 March. Sand in reply to a letter from Witwicki: ‘You are a steadfast Christian, and those teachings carry so much great and beautiful substance that I am prepared to forgive You their form. In spite of this, You will not convert me. […] I hope to be redeemed, like everyone else, although, like everyone else, I have done wrong, since there is more mercy there, up above, than vice here, on earth. […] About Mickiewicz I can tell You nothing, I have not seen him, this year there are no lectures, and I have not had his book. I consider him a great, but sick, soul and believe that he is treading the path of truth. […] The Lord God will not desert him, either’.

23 March. Easter. Chopin to Witwicki: ‘I missed You a great deal here this summer. With You I could have shed many tears’. He listens to his own songs to words by the poet performed by Grotkowski. He worries about the situation of that part of the Polish exile community which has been attracted to the idea of Tovianism (cf. note x): ‘They say they have written their apologies to His Majesty [the tsar]. But it is a sad thing that 2 of them […] made a document before a notary whereby they give themselves up in subjection, as objects, as slaves to Towiański. […] What greater lunacy could there be!’ He is concerned about Mickiewicz, who ‘is not doing a course this year’ and since ‘many of his supporters are deserting him. […] Zaleski I have seen once, so worthy as to visit me. I would gladly see him more often’.

11 May. Death, in Vienna, of his most talented pupil, Karl Filtsch, at the age of fourteen, who was universally considered a brilliant pianist and the nearest in the style of his playing to Chopin.

20 May. Writes into the album of Anna and Elizabeth Sheremetev the Prelude in C minor from opus 28.

26 May. Polish soirée at the residence of the Duke and Duchess Czartoryski. Music is performed by Chopin and Antoni Kątski, a pupil of Field. Chopin has limited success in his attempts to assist Kątski in assuring an audience for his concert.

29 May. Together with Sand at a performance given by the group Les Indiens Joways, brought over from America; Sand reacts to this encounter with ‘savages’ with the article Une visite chez les sauvages de Paris.

June. Publication of the Berceuse Op. 57 and Sonata in B minor Op. 58.

9 June. Sand: ‘The maestro has bought a carriage…’, in order to facilitate trips to Nohant.

13 June – 28 November. (Sixth) summer and autumn at Nohant. The guests once again include Paulina Viardot with her Spanish repertoire, which Chopin listens to ‘in great exaltation’. He continues to teach Solange; he plays with her four-handed and also – at chess. As Sand observes, she is ‘a big and beautiful girl’. At Nohant, Sand writes two new romances: Le Péché de Monsieur Antoine and La Mare au Diable. The first more serious misunderstandings erupt between Chopin, on the one side, and Maurice and George Sand, on the other.

8 July. To Grzymała: ‘And the countryside is so beautiful now, not like a few weeks ago. There were great storms and downpours here. The rivers, and even little streams, were exceptionally flooded. – The oldest villagers cannot remember anything like it. Mills were destroyed, bridges washed away’. To Auguste Léo: ‘The countryside is so beautiful that I would commiserate with You greatly being confined to the city were it not Paris’.

18–20 July. To his family: ‘I was not made for the countryside, yet I am making the most of the fresh air. – I am not playing much, as my piano has gone out of tune, I am writing even less. […] I always have one foot at home with You – the other foot in the next room, where the Lady of the house is working – and not in myself at all at this moment – just, as usual, in some strange space. – These are doubtless those espaces imaginaires – but I am not ashamed of it; why, it is at Your end that the saying has caught on that “out of imagination he went to the coronation”, and I am a truly blind Mazovian. – hence, not seeing very far I have written 3 new mazurkas [Op. 59] – which will doubtless come out in Berlin’. He also composes two songs to words by Zaleski: Dwojaki koniec [The Double End] and Nie ma czego trzeba [I Want What I Have Not], a balladic and reflective elegy respectively. He writes that a volume of verse by Zaleski (recently published in Poznań) is lying on the table alongside a history book by Thiers, Cherubini’s counterpoint and some new manuscripts. He puts forward the idea of his mother coming for the winter to Paris, thanks to the kindness of Duchess Obreskov, the mother of one of his pupils, who is to return from Russia via Warsaw. The plan is turned down: ‘I would have to stay with You the whole winter, and what would You do with me, You poor thing?’

26 July. At Nohant, a church fair on St Anne’s Day; dancing to the music of ‘cornemuses’ on the lawn in front of the church.

August. He learns that J. Nowakowski is playing his Berceuse in Warsaw: ‘I have the impression that I can hear him from afar…’ Another long letter to his family, as the previous one, with a thousand pieces of information, news, items of interest and rumours. He confides in a state of crisis: ‘I do not know how it happens, but I am incapable of doing anything useful, and yet I am not idling, I do not slope from corner to corner like with You, but sit for hours and evenings on end in my room. I must, however, finish some of the manuscripts before leaving here, as in winter I cannot compose. After Your departure I wrote only that Sonata [in B minor Op. 58]. Now, apart from the new mazurkas [Op. 59], I have nothing prepared for print, and I must’. Among the manuscripts on which he is working are most probably the sketches for the Barcarolle Op. 60, Polonaise-fantaisie Op. 61 and Nocturnes Op. 62, and possibly also for the Sonata in G minor op. 65.

4 September. The now traditional group expedition to Boussac and the Jomâtres rocks. Chopin goes along on his donkey, Solange on horseback, Sand and the others on foot; they look around ‘an extremely old village, a castle on the Creuse with ancient souvenirs […] stones of the druids; an area known for its attractions’.

Autumn. To de Rozières: ‘We are doing quite well here, with the exception of the pianos, of which one [Solange] is doing absolutely nothing and the other very little. That very little is, of course, mine’. Sand: ‘Solange dresses and undresses, mounts her horse and dismounts, scratches herself, yawns, opens a book and closes it, combs her hair’. She seems to be flirting with Chopin.

19–25 September. In Paris, Chopin takes care of his own and Sand’s publishing affairs.

8 October. Sends Mendelssohn the manuscript of the Mazurka in A flat major from opus 59, for his wife, Cécile.

28 October. In four days, Sand begins and completes the novel La Mare au Diable. It would be dedicated ‘à mon ami F. Chopin’. The autograph would be sent to Ludwika Jędrzejewiczowa.

28 November. Chopin’s return to Paris: ‘I am already back to the mill’. He is forced to part with his servant, Jan, found for him by Witwicki, to whom he had become very attached – he had become the source of domestic disputes. The new servant – ‘A Frenchman, Pierre – a very orderly, adroit and I expect faithful man, who for 7 years served the parents of my Waltz in E flat major [the Horsfords]’ – is found for him by T. Albrecht.

12 December. Begins a letter to his family, which he would be writing for two weeks, gathering information apt to be of interest in Warsaw, important and minor matters. ‘Today I gave only one lesson, to Mrs Rothschild, and postponed two, as I had something else to be done’. He continues work on compositions: ‘Now I would like to complete the sonata with cello [he did not finish it until 1847], the Barcarolle and something else which I do not know how to name [Polonaise-fantaisie], but I doubt whether I shall have time, as the commotion is already beginning. I have been asked a great many times if I would not give a concert’. In this season, he would not bring himself to give a concert, nor in the next. He frequents the theatre and opera with Sand; this evening at the ballet Le diable à quatre, danced ‘in our [Polish?] costumes’.

15 December. Sends Ludwika and Izabella a bibliophilic edition of the Beautée de la Saint Bible, the Old and New Testament, with English engravings, and his own dedication. ‘These engravings are considered here to be extremely beautiful; they are pictures by the most illustrious masters of the old and new schools: Raphael, Rubens, Poussin, many of the pictures are here in the Louvre, perhaps Ludwika will recall’.

16 December. Together with Sand, Solange and Maurice at the theatre ‘de la Porte-St-Martin’ for Dennery’s play Marie-Jeanne, with Marie Dorval in the title role. ‘An exceptionally successful play. Everyone weeps; one hears only the wiping of noses in the auditorium’.

17 December. At the opera for M. W. Balfe’s L’Etoile de Seville, after Calderon: ‘not bad at all’. In Meyerbeer’s box.

Around 20 December. Liszt visits Chopin whilst giving concerts in Paris. ‘He spoke at length about Mrs Calergis, but from my questions I see that more was said between them than took place’. He is also visited by the pianist A. Klengel, an acquaintance from Dresden.

24 December. To his family: ‘Today Christmas Eve, our Holy Christmas Eve. They do not know it here. As usual, dinner is eaten at 6, 7 or 8, and only some Protestant homes preserve these customs. […] All the Protestant homes preserve Christmas Eve, but the ordinary Parisian feels no difference between today and yesterday. Here, the Eve is a sad one, as they are ill and do not want a doctor. […] The fact that I am coughing unbearably is nothing unusual, but the Lady of the house has caught such a cold and sore throat that she has to remain in her room, which makes her very impatient. The better the health one usually has, the less patience with physical suffering. […] I often wonder how impatient people would be able to live under a sky even fouler than they have here. Sometimes for a few hours of sunshine I would give a few years of life’.

End of the Year. Sand to François: ‘I would run to You at once, were it not for that wretched and fervent jealousy of which You know’.


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