CHOPIN BIOGRAPHY CHOPIN BIOGRAPHY

Year 1847 Year 1847

Around 18 January. Musical soirée at the home of Delfina Potocka. Chopin plays in the presence of Polish friends; an account in the correspondence between Potocka and Krasiński.

28 January. Death of his friend, Izydor Sobański, an insurgent, active in exile within the Czartoryski circle.

4 February. At a ball in the Hôtel Lambert.

7 February. Sand returns to Paris with Solange and Maurice; in a letter to Marliani: ‘Let us forgive others their eccentricities and childishness. […] I have taught myself to love people in spite of everything, without hoping or attempting to change them’ (11 February).

17 February. Chopin completes the Cello Sonata in G minor Op. 65, begun in 1845; its first ‘reading’. To Grzymała: ‘You must come. […] I will be playing in duet with Franchomme. […] Today, Wednesday, Ash Wednesday. Come if only to repent that You spent the carnival period so sadly’.

21 February. Together with Sand and Delacroix at a concert of chamber music. Delacroix: ‘Angelic music. One of the last quartets of Haydn. Chopin said to me that the excellence that we so admired gave the artist experience. Mozart – he added – did not need experience: his knowledge and inspiration were on the same plane’. Besides the Haydn, works by Mozart and Beethoven were also played.

7 March. Together with his pupil Camille O’Méara plays at a soirée given by the Comte de Courbonne.

12 March. Soirée at Sand’s; the guests include Delacroix and the sculptor Auguste Clésinger. Delacroix: ‘Chopin treated us to a little music’.

23 March. Musical evening at Chopin’s in honour of Delfina Potocka, ‘who You know how I love’. He plays the Sonata in G minor with Franchomme, in the presence of Anna and Adam Czartoryski, Duchess Maria of Wirtemberg, Adam’s sister, and Sand.

28 March. In a long letter to his family, written over three weeks (to 19 April), he thanks them for sending editions of Polish music: Józef Stefani’s Śpiewy religijne [Hymns] and Oskar Kolberg’s Pieśni Ludu Polskiego [Songs of the Polish People] (1842 version, for voice and piano). He is critical of the arrangements of authentic folk music: ‘good intentions, too narrow shoulders. Often when I see such things I think that better nothing, since this toil only distorts and hinders the work of the genius who will at some point unravel the truth in it. And until that time all these beauties will remain with corrected noses, rouged, with clipped feet or on stilts, and will be the ridicule of those who look on them lightly. […] If You meet Stefani there, tell him thank you, and Kolberg, too, for the laborious work’.

April. Through Chopin’s good offices, the Piano Studies of Józef Nowakowski are printed in Paris, dedicated to him. ‘Kind-hearted, but God knows what an awful booby. […] In any case, I like him, as he is an old acquaintance […] I helped him here as I could, but often knocked on his soul, but no-one was there’.

1 April. Delacroix shows Sand and Chopin their likenesses – as Dante and Aspasia – immortalised on the dome of the Palais de Luxembourg.

6 April. Sand returns to Nohant with Solange.

13 April. Clésinger asks for the hand of Solange and is accepted. After an initial period of bliss, a series of family quarrels takes place at Nohant.

14 April. Visit of Henri Vieuxtemps, and joint music-making.

15 April. ‘I passed the evening at home in playing, and humming, songs from the banks of the Vistula’.

Mid April. Sand begins to write Histoire de ma vie; this same year she would sign a contract for its publication. Chopin poses for a series of portraits: 16 April for Ary Scheffer, 19 April for Ch. Henri Lehmann, and 2 May for Franz X. Winterhalter.

16 April. Sand to her son over Solange’s engagement: ‘Not a word to Chopin. It is not his affair; when the Rubicon has been crossed, all the ifs and buts only cause harm’. Chopin to his family: ‘her new romance entitled (thus far) Piccinino (which means: little). The action takes place on Sicily. Many lovely things; I do not doubt that it will be more to Ludwika’s liking than Lucretia, which also aroused less enthusiasm among others here. […] A great deal of naturalness, of poetry, I remember what a pleasure it was to listen to her reading it’.

17 April. Together with Alkan at the Duvert comedy Ce que femme veaut. ‘Not a single indecent word, but everyone understands and huge fun’.

19 April. To his family: ‘I must give a lesson to Mrs Rothschild junior, then to a lady from Marseilles, another from England, one from Sweden, and then receive a family from New Orleans recommended by Pleyel. Then to dinner with Léo, a soirée at the Perthuis’s and to sleep, if that will be possible’.

1 May. Sand informs Chopin of the marriage between Solange and Clésinger; Chopin was most opposed to the candidate from the very beginning.

5 May. Sand to Delacroix: ‘Burn this letter. […] Chopin, that good, exceptional Chopin, understands nothing of what is happening here’.

Beginning of May. Seriously ill.

12 May. Sand to Pierre Hetzel: ‘I am no longer so down, once more Chopin has successfully been saved; but every attack worsens his state of health, and from that perspective my future looks bleak. […] I will die […] when I have fulfilled all my obligations. I am approaching that point. I must still close his eyes and marry my two daughters!’ (the second was the recently adopted Augustine Brault). The same day to Grzymała: ‘For seven years I have lived with him like a virgin. […] I know that many people accuse me, some that I ruined him with my tempestuous sensuality, others that […] with my whims […] As for him, he complains that I have ruined him with my lack of tenderness’.

15 May. Chopin to Sand, in reaction to the announcement of the wedding: ‘None of Your friends more sincerely than I wish for the happiness of Your daughter. Please tell her this from me’. A few days later to Solange: ‘You are at the pinnacle of happiness – and that is now I would like to see You always. With all my soul I wish You unchanging prosperity’.

19 May. At Nohant, the wedding of Solange Dudevant and Auguste Clésinger.

21 May. Chopin leaves to convalesce at Ville d’Avray, the estate near Paris of T. Albrecht, whose daughter Louise is Chopin’s goddaughter: ‘a big girl already and very pretty’.

8 June. To his family: ‘As regards So’s marriage, it took place in the village during my weakness – to be honest, I am not angry about it, as I do not know what countenance i would have shown at it all. – He, the groom, from the devil knows what family. […] Mrs S. wrote to me about him from the countryside: il est hardi, lettre, actif et ambiteux – and those are supposed to be his virtues! It was a moment of madness that did not last a month – there was no-one to pour cold water on it all’.

9 June. For friends from Tours, the Forest family, duets at home with Franchomme in the Sonata in G minor.

22 June. Sand expresses her indignation in a letter to Hortense Allart over the autobiographical content discerned in her novel Lucretia Floriani: ‘Evidently we know one another less than people know us. […] How could it come to the point where I wrote this novel in front of his eyes, reading it to him chapter after chapter […] and he recognised neither himself nor me in the two lovers on Lake Iseo?’ In the eyes of the world, the matter appeared unequivocal. Heine: ‘That advocate of women’s rights treated my friend Chopin insultingly in a hideous novel, divinely written’. Liszt: ‘Her talent was insufficient cover for the vulgarity of this confession’.

30 June. Chopin cedes to Breitkopf & Härtel the publishing rights for all times and all countries, with the exception of France and Great Britain, to the three new opuses on which he is working: the Mazurkas Op. 63, Waltzes Op. 64 and Sonata in G minor Op. 65.

1 July. Intimate soirée at Chopin’s in his circle of friends, including Grzymała and Delacroix; together with Franchomme and an unknown violinist he performs the Trio in G minor Op. 8. The news reaches him of the death of Stefan Witwicki.

11 July. At Nohant, bitter conflict between Sand and Maurice, on the one side, and Solange and Auguste Clésinger, on the other; the couple leave Nohant abruptly.

14 July. Chopin gives help to Solange, unaware that in doing so he is entering into conflict with Sand. The years 1847-1849 saw an abundant exchange of letters with Solange; Chopin felt as a guardian towards her. Arago to Sand: ‘I have long observed and fully comprehended the power over his nervous nature that is held by Solange. […] For many years he was captivated by her charms and willingly drew from her everything. […] His feelings for her were profound, initially similar to a fatherly love, which changed its character […] when the child became a girl, and the girl a woman’.

16 July. Sand (to Marliani): ‘The scenes which forced me to not so much invite them to leave as to throw them out of the door were quite unbelievable. […] That diabolic couple left yesterday evening, intoxicated with their own effrontery’.

18–26 July. Sand to Arago: ‘Chopin, who was to come here and suddenly does not […] has become completely different in his attitude towards me, he no longer dies from mortal love, which I could not requite, as his friends accused me, and he declares to me that I am a bad mother. […] What a relief for me! What burdensome ties have been broken. For ten years my unceasing resistance to his narrow-minded and despotic way of thinking […] In all my life I have never seen anything equally as offensive as his absurd jealousy. […] Thank God that it is not I who will kill him, and I can finally begin a new life’.

20 July. Delacroix in his private journal, after Chopin had read him an unknown letter from Sand: ‘It overwhelmed me that letter, with which I was acquainted almost entirely. One has to say that it is inhuman. One sees in it fierce passions, a long-restrained antipathy’.

24 July. Chopin to Sand: ‘My mind assimilated the name of Mr Cl[ésinger] only at the moment when You gave him Your daughter. […] Your destiny is to love her always – since these are the only sentiments that do not alter. […] It will take time. I will be waiting – ever the same’.

28 July. Sand: ‘I would prefer that You transfer your allegiance to the enemy than I should have to defend myself against the enemy that I brought into the world and fed at my own breast. Take care of her, since, in Your opinion, it is she to whom You should devote yourself. […] Farewell, My Friend. […] I shall thank God for this peculiar conclusion to nine years of devoted friendship. Please write to me occasionally’.

Summer. First for seven years spent in Paris. He completes work on opus 64, with its three Waltzes: in D flat major – dedicated to D. Potocka (probably written in 1840), C sharp minor – to Nathaniel Rothschild, and A flat major – to Katarzyna Branicka. They would be published in October, together with the Mazurkas Op. 63 and Sonata Op. 65, which constitute Chopin’s final opuses, the last works destined for print.

2 October. Leaves for a few days’ rest in Perrière, near Paris, the estate of James Rothschild.

18 October. Musical soirée at Chopin’s; among the guests are Countess Émilie de Perthuis and Auguste Léo.

18 November. Plays to dancing at a social evening at the Czartoryski residence; according to Niedźwiecki, ‘he went at it with a vengeance, and kept it up for a long time’.

20 November. Again at a soirée at the Czartoryskis’, together with the Marquis de Custine.

22 November. Sand to de Rozières: ‘I foresaw that his friendship for me would turn to aversion, since he does nothing by halves’.

28 November. Date placed on the autograph of a Mazurka in A minor (WN 59), presented to Mrs Rothschild junior. Late autumn brings a few new pupils to Chopin. The fourteen-year-old Maria Alexandrovna Harder from St Petersburg was accepted through a recommendation by Meyerbeer, after an initial refusal (‘I do not give lessons to children’); according to contemporaries, ‘her talent blossomed with an astonishing urgency. Maria Roubaud, also from St Petersburg, took 18 lessons from Chopin: ‘he was concerned, above all, with the quality of sound and legato’. Joseph Schiffmacher, from Alsace, transferred to Chopin from Thalberg; his own future pupils would include André Gide. The eighteen-year-old F.-Henry Péru was to become Chopin’s last pupil. Finally, Maria Kalergis, about whom he would say: ‘indeed, she plays very well and has great success in Parisian society’.

1 December. Sand to Paulina Viardot: ‘The feelings of Chopin, to whom I was a nurse for 9 years, should have withstood every ordeal. Even if I had committed some errors or crimes, Chopin should not […] have paid heed to them. […] Solange’s skilful influence got the upper hand over my honesty’. Viardot to Sand: ‘It is most utterly false, I swear to You. […] He is equally good, equally as devoted and equally adores You, he is happy at Your joy and pained by Your pains’.

22 December. Sand to Marliani: ‘and Grzymała and the Hôtel Lambert are spreading slander. That is how history is written’.

24–26 December. To his family: ‘Christmas Eve, the day before yesterday, I spent most prosaically, but was thinking of You. The most warm-hearted greetings to You as every year’. And then interpretations and regrets: ‘A strange creature for all her intelligence! Assailed by some madness: it furrows her life, furrows the life of her daughter; her son will also finish in a bad way, so I predict and undersign. […] I do not regret helping her bear the most delicate eight years of her life, when her daughter was growing up and her son was developing by his mother’s side; I do not regret anything that I experienced, but I regret that her daughter, that well-tended plant, preserved from those gales, in her mother’s hand, she broke through a rashness and levity that might become a woman of 20, but not of 40. What was and is no more is not written in the registers. Mrs S. cannot have for me but good memories in her soul when she eventually looks over her shoulder’. The song ‘Z gór, gdzie dźwigali’ [‘From the mountains, where they bore’], offered to D. Potocka in 1847, he signs with Dante’s words ‘nella miseria’.


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