CHOPIN BIOGRAPHY CHOPIN BIOGRAPHY

Year 1846 Year 1846

January. Insurrectionary movements in Wielkopolska [Great Poland] and Galicia.

29 January. At a ball in the Hôtel Lambert organised by Duke Adam Czartoryski in aid of Polish emigrants.

Beginning of February. He is ill. Sand: ‘The doctor has allowed Chopin to drink water coloured with wine’. She asks Delacroix for a bottle of Bordeaux…

20 February. Another ball at the Hôtel Lambert. Sand: ‘It was a real feria’. Some 3500 people attended, ‘it brought in 60000 francs clear profit’.

5 March. Zaleski sends his wishes: ‘I do not wish to interrupt Your lessons – but I would like to offer You my warmest wishes on Your name-day. Heaven grant it! that in future I may offer them in a free and independent Poland. Things are going splendidly in Cracow’. The previous day, about which he could not yet have known, the Cracow insurrection was suppressed.

14–22 April. Seriously ill. Convalesces at the home of Franchomme’s family near Tours.

27 (?) April. Sand (to Maurice): ‘Chopin left for Tours with a cold and returned in good health. Only more quarrelsome and picking more holes than usual. I find it funny, Miss de Rozières is driven to tears. Solange gives it back with interest…’ Sand strikes up a fleeting friendship with Charles Poncy, a mason and poet in one.

1 May. Sand (to Maurice): ‘Yesterday Chopin invited us to music, flowers and a junket. Present were the Duke and Duchess Czartoryski, Duchess Sapieha, Delacroix, Louis Blanc... There were also d’Arpentigny, Duvernet and wife, d’Aure, etc. and also Paulina and [Louis] Viardot’.

27 May – 12 November. (VII!) summer and autumn at Nohant. A long, tempestuous sojourn – and the last. Among the guests are Laura Czosnowska, P. Viardot, Delacroix, Arago and Grzymała. Working hard to complete the Nocturnes Op. 62 and Sonata in G minor Op. 65. ‘Somehow I cannot get on with it, but I shall have to reconcile myself. I am coughing enough. There was blood once again, but it is nothing’.

31 May. Whit Sunday. Asks de Rozières to send him some music: ‘my little score of Mozart’s Requiem’ […] it is lying together with the Stabat Mater [Rossini]’.

25 June. The ‘Courier Français’ begins to print Sand’s novel Lucretia Floriani, read in the evenings by the fireside by the author. The character of the negative hero is generally associated with Chopin. Delacroix [to C. Jaubert]: ‘I lived through torture while she was reading. The tormentor and the victim surprised me equally. Mrs Sand did not feel embarrassed, and Chopin was constantly going into raptures over the tale’. H. Allart (to Sainte-Beuve): ‘How terribly Lucretia disgusted me! […] Mrs Sand […] gives us Chopin on a platter with all the distasteful culinary details, in cold blood, which nothing can excuse’.

8 July. To Franchomme: ‘I am doing everything in my power to work – but somehow I am not getting on – and if it continues like this, my works will not resemble a bee-eater’s chirrup, nor even the sound of broken china. I must reconcile myself to it’.

9 July. One of the musical soirées at Nohant – a memorable evening, as it was described in detail by Élise Fournier, of La Rochelle: ‘The singing of P. Viardot, and then Chopin, he sat down to play and almost till midnight without a break he led us at will from buoyant moods to sadness, from mirth to solemnity. […] Wonderful simplicity, sweetness, goodness and wit. Of this last variety, he played us a parody of a Bellini opera, at which we laughed immeasurably’. In his improvisation there arose ‘a prayer of the Polish in misfortune, which brought tears to the eyes; then an étude with the motif of an alarm bell, which made us all tremble; then a funeral march, so solemn, so sombre, so painful’. The switch to a lighter repertoire was initiated by the singing of Sand, which was followed by folk dance and song, of the Berry region, imitating musical snuff-boxes, e.g. a Tyrolean melody in which ‘one note is missing, and each time it should sound the mechanism jams’.

July. Guests at Nohant are Grzymała and Countess Laura Czosnowska. Sand: ‘Between You and me, she is not a person who would particularly be to my liking. She has too many trifles on her dresses, and her musk-scented billets give me a migraine. I do not see that she is so simple and holy as Chopin believes. But meeting her and talking about his country and family evidently gives him such pleasure that I show her the most far-reaching consideration’. Chopin: ‘Although they were polite to her here, after she left [19 July] little jokes, from little jokes to coarseness’. He dedicates to her the next opus of mazurkas, the first of which, in B major, was composed that summer.

21 July. Sand to de Rozières: ‘One day I mustered the courage to tell the truth to his face, and threaten that I could finally have enough of it’.

16 August. Another guest at Nohant – Delacroix, who stays until the thirtieth.

19 August. Delacroix (to F. Villot): ‘Chopin played me Beethoven divinely; it is worth more than any theories’.

29 August. Sand to P. Viardot: ‘We spent the summer quite isolated, in the family circle. We were happy at the heat-wave and splashed about in the river. […] Afterwards, déjeuner sur l’herbe in Vavray Forest.

30 August. Sends to Auguste Franchomme, through Delacroix, three manuscripts (Barcarolle Op. 60, Polonaise-fantaisie Op. 61 and Nocturnes Op. 62) for the Paris and Leipzig editions. Incidentally writes about Delacroix: ‘He is the most wonderful artist – I spent some enchanting moments with him. He adores Mozart, knows all his operas by heart’. This day a new guest arrives at Nohant: Emmanuel Arago, who stays for a month.

13 September. Sends Franchomme further instructions how to proceed in the complicated situation regarding publishers: ‘and do not give them my manuscripts until You receive the agreed cash, and send me five hundred francs’. He is probably in a difficult financial situation: ‘A thousand thanks, dear friend, for Your good heart and loyal propositions. Keep Your millions for another occasion’.

3 October. Sand to Marliani: ‘Chopin is probably leaving soon for his lessons. Thus far, the year has not been bad for me, although he constantly moans, and I think that he actually suffers from an eternal and indefinable ill disposition. But he eats and sleeps like everyone else and has not lain in bed a single day since we have been here’. Chopin would return to Paris in mid November, Sand remaining at Nohant until February.

11 October. A long letter to his family contains dozens of items of current news: on acquaintances from Nohant and Paris, on scientific discoveries and inventions in various fields, on the latest events in operatic life and on family life at Nohant: ‘in hand’ – as he puts it – are two marriages: Solange (17) and Maurice (24). He complains: due to the necessity of parting with his Polish servant (Jan), ‘since Lorka [Laura Czosnowska] left I have not said a word in Polish’. As for composition: ‘With my sonata for cello [I am] now content, now not. I discard it, only to take it up once again. I have three new mazurkas [Op. 63], I think without any old holes, but I need time to consider it well. When it is being done, it seems good, as otherwise nothing would get written. Only after the reflection arrives and either rejects or accepts. Time is the best censor, and patience the most perfect of teachers’. ‘The summer was more gorgeous here than they remember it being for a long time’.

The Years of Solitude, 1846–1849

Mid November. Returns from Nohant to Paris. Lessons with old and new pupils; among the latter is Kazimierz Wernik, from Warsaw. Publication of works finally completed that summer: Barcarolle in F sharp major Op. 60, Polonaise-fantaisie in A flat major Op. 61 and Nocturnes in B major and E major Op. 62.

28 November. Chopin is witness at the wedding of his pupil Zofia Rosengardt and Bohdan Zaleski, in the church of St Roch. Apparently performed on this occasion (song and organ?) was Veni Creator, dedicated to the newly-weds (not known, lost).

9 December. Sand to Emmanuel Arago: ‘I like that boy [J. P. Hetzel] very much. I do not say this in front of C[hopin], as he immediately sees love in everything. In fact, love and I, as You know, have long since gone our separate ways’. Invites the journalist Victor Borie to Nohant for the winter.

19 December. Chopin attends a soirée at the Czartoryski residence in the Hôtel Lambert; related in the private diary of Leonard Niedźwiecki.

24 December. Again takes part in singing for the name-day of Duke Adam Czartoryski.

30 December. Visit to the Czartoryskis, together with Grzymała.