How to penetrate the mind of a remarkable artist, not to do it either in an excessively popularizing, trivializing or saintly manner? That is a feat. Ryszard Przybylski treated the letters of our worldwide renowned artist as a starting point for reflections on the issues battering the self of a brilliant composer. Owing to the craftsmanship of the author, the book resembles an analytical laboratory dealing with precise analysis of the aspects of Chopin’s personality.
One should bear in mind that Chopin’s letters, which have not been reissued in Poland for a long time, are a remarkable chapter in the history of our epistolography. Full of self-mockery, grotesque characters and metaphors, are capable of eliciting the reader’s spontaneous laughter, even after two centuries after the time the letters were written. The artist did not spare himself in them, getting his melancholic temperament and sometimes quick-temperedness of his chest – the letters were not written with the intention to publish them and are full of strong language, although often charmingly elegant.
Owing to the thorough and somewhat visionary work of Ryszard Przybylski, who unraveled the hidden meaning of the words, we are able to imagine, e.g., what were either the reasons why Chopin chose an extremely elegant and dignified dress code, or how he was able to furnish the space surrounding his spirit while furnishing his apartments. The book will guide us through the maze of changing emotional states of the composer, and it will say a lot about who he was and how he felt up to the end – also when passing away.
Translated and edited by John Comber.
Warsaw, Fryderyk Chopin Institute 2011