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Title: Frederick Chopin, as a Man and Musician — Complete
Author: Niecks, Frederick, 1845-1924
Language: English
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By Frederick Niecks

Third Edition (1902)





While the novelist has absolute freedom to follow his artistic instinct
and intelligence, the biographer is fettered by the subject-matter with
which he proposes to deal. The former may hopefully pursue an ideal, the
latter must rest satisfied with a compromise between the desirable and
the necessary. No doubt, it is possible to thoroughly digest all the
requisite material, and then present it in a perfect, beautiful form.
But this can only be done at a terrible loss, at a sacrifice of truth
and trustworthiness. My guiding principle has been to place before the
reader the facts collected by me as well as the conclusions at which I
arrived. This will enable him to see the subject in all its bearings,
with all its pros and cons, and to draw his own conclusions, should
mine not obtain his approval. Unless an author proceeds in this way,
the reader never knows how far he may trust him, how far the evidence
justifies his judgment. For--not to speak of cheats and fools--the
best informed are apt to make assertions unsupported or insufficiently
supported by facts, and the wisest cannot help seeing things through the
coloured spectacles of their individuality. The foregoing remarks are
intended to explain my method, not to excuse carelessness of literary
workmanship. Whatever the defects of the present volumes may be--and, no
doubt, they are both great and many--I have laboured to the full extent
of my humble abilities to group and present my material perspicuously,
and to avoid diffuseness and rhapsody, those besetting sins of writers
on music.

The first work of some length having Chopin for its subject was Liszt's
"Frederic Chopin," which, after appearing in 1851 in the Paris journal
"La France musicale," came out in book-form, still in French, in 1852
(Leipzig: Breitkopf and Hartel.--Translated into English by M. W. Cook,
and published by William Reeves, London, 1877). George Sand describes
it as "un peu exuberant de style, mais rempli de bonnes choses et de
tres-belles pages." These words, however, do in no way justice to the
book: for, on the one hand, the style is excessively, and not merely
a little, exuberant; and, on the other hand, the "good things" and
"beautiful pages" amount to a psychological study of Chopin, and an
aesthetical study of his works, which it is impossible to over-estimate.
Still, the book is no biography. It records few dates and events, and
these few are for the most part incorrect. When, in 1878, the second
edition of F. Chopin was passing through the press, Liszt remarked to

"I have been told that there are wrong dates and other mistakes in my
book, and that the dates and facts are correctly given in Karasowski's
biography of Chopin [which had in the meantime been published]. But,
though I often thought of reading it, I have not yet done so. I got my
information from Paris friends on whom I believed I might depend. The
Princess Wittgenstein [who then lived in Rome, but in 1850 at Weimar,
and is said to have had a share in the production of the book] wished me
to make some alterations in the new edition. I tried to please her, but,
when she was still dissatisfied, I told her to add and alter whatever
she liked."

From this statement it is clear that Liszt had not the stuff of a
biographer in him. And, whatever value we may put on the Princess
Wittgenstein's additions and alterations, they did not touch the vital
faults of the work, which, as a French critic remarked, was a symphonie
funebre rather than a biography. The next book we have to notice, M. A.
Szulc's Polish Fryderyk Chopin i Utwory jego Muzyczne (Posen, 1873), is
little more than a chaotic, unsifted collection of notices, criticisms,
anecdotes, &c., from Polish, German, and French books and magazines. In
1877 Moritz Karasowski, a native of Warsaw, and since 1864 a member of
the Dresden orchestra, published his Friedrich Chopin: sein Leben, seine
Werke und seine Briefe (Dresden: F. Ries.--Translated into English by
E. Hill, under the title Frederick Chopin: "His Life, Letters, and Work,"
and published by William Reeves, London, in 1879). This was the first
serious attempt at a biography of Chopin. The author reproduced in
the book what had been brought to light in Polish magazines and other
publications regarding Chopin's life by various countrymen of the
composer, among whom he himself was not the least notable. But the most
valuable ingredients are, no doubt, the Chopin letters which the author
obtained from the composer's relatives, with whom he was acquainted.
While gratefully acknowledging his achievements, I must not omit to
indicate his shortcomings--his unchecked partiality for, and boundless
admiration of his hero; his uncritical acceptance and fanciful
embellishments of anecdotes and hearsays; and the extreme paucity of his
information concerning the period of Chopin's life which begins with
his settlement in Paris. In 1878 appeared a second edition of the work,
distinguished from the first by a few additions and many judicious
omissions, the original two volumes being reduced to one. But of more
importance than the second German edition is the first Polish edition,
"Fryderyk Chopin: Zycie, Listy, Dziela," two volumes (Warsaw: Gebethner
and Wolff, 1882), which contains a series of, till then, unpublished
letters from Chopin to Fontana. Of Madame A. Audley's short and readable
"Frederic Chopin, sa vie et ses oeuvres" (Paris: E. Plon et Cie., 1880),
I need only say that for the most part it follows Karasowski, and where
it does not is not always correct. Count Wodzinski's "Les trois Romans
de Frederic Chopin" (Paris: Calmann Levy, 1886)--according to the title
treating only of the composer's love for Constantia Gladkowska, Maria
Wodzinska, and George Sand, but in reality having a wider scope--cannot
be altogether ignored, though it is more of the nature of a novel than
of a biography. Mr. Joseph Bennett, who based his "Frederic Chopin" (one
of Novello's Primers of Musical Biography) on Liszt's and Karasowski's
works, had in the parts dealing with Great Britain the advantage of
notes by Mr. A.J. Hipkins, who inspired also, to some extent at least,
Mr. Hueffer in his essay Chopin ("Fortnightly Review," September, 1877;
and reprinted in "Musical Studies"--Edinburgh: A. & C. Black, 1880).
This ends the list of biographies with any claims to originality. There
are, however, many interesting contributions to a biography of Chopin
to be found in works of various kinds. These shall be mentioned in
the course of my narrative; here I will point out only the two most
important ones--namely, George Sand's "Histoire de ma Vie," first
published in the Paris newspaper "La Presse" (1854) and subsequently in
book-form; and her six volumes of "Correspondance," 1812-1876 (Paris:
Calmann Levy, 1882-1884).

My researches had for their object the whole life of Chopin, and his
historical, political, artistical, social, and personal surroundings,
but they were chiefly directed to the least known and most interesting
period of his career--his life in France, and his visits to Germany and
Great Britain. My chief sources of information are divisible into two
classes--newspapers, magazines, pamphlets, correspondences, and books;
and conversations I held with, and letters I received from, Chopin's
pupils, friends, and acquaintances. Of his pupils, my warmest thanks are
due to Madame Dubois (nee Camille O'Meara), Madame Rubio (nee Vera de
Kologrivof), Mdlle. Gavard, Madame Streicher (nee Friederike Muller),
Adolph Gutmann, M. Georges Mathias, Brinley Richards, and Lindsay
Sloper; of friends and acquaintances, to Liszt, Ferdinand Hiller,
Franchomme, Charles Valentin Alkan, Stephen Heller, Edouard Wolff, Mr.
Charles Halle, Mr. G. A. Osborne, T. Kwiatkowski, Prof. A. Chodzko, M.
Leonard Niedzwiecki (gallice, Nedvetsky), Madame Jenny Lind-Goldschmidt,
Mr. A. J. Hipkins, and Dr. and Mrs. Lyschinski. I am likewise greatly
indebted to Messrs. Breitkopf and Hartel, Karl Gurckhaus (the late
proprietor of the firm of Friedrich Kistner), Julius Schuberth,
Friedrich Hofmeister, Edwin Ashdown, Richault & Cie, and others, for
information in connection with the publication of Chopin's works. It is
impossible to enumerate all my obligations--many of my informants and
many furtherers of my labours will be mentioned in the body of the book;
many, however, and by no means the least helpful, will remain unnamed.
To all of them I offer the assurance of my deep-felt gratitude. Not a
few of my kind helpers, alas! are no longer among the living; more than
ten years have gone by since I began my researches, and during that time
Death has been reaping a rich harvest.

The Chopin letters will, no doubt, be regarded as a special feature
of the present biography. They may, I think, be called numerous, if we
consider the master's dislike to letter-writing. Ferdinand Hiller--whose
almost unique collection of letters addressed to him by his famous
friends in art and literature is now, and will be for years to come,
under lock and key among the municipal archives at Cologne--allowed
me to copy two letters by Chopin, one of them written conjointly with
Liszt. Franchomme, too, granted me the privilege of copying his friend's
epistolary communications. Besides a number of letters that have here
and there been published, I include, further, a translation of Chopin's
letters to Fontana, which in Karasowski's book (i.e., the Polish
edition) lose much of their value, owing to his inability to assign
approximately correct dates to them.

The space which I give to George Sand is, I think, justified by the part
she plays in the life of Chopin. To meet the objections of those who
may regard my opinion of her as too harsh, I will confess that I
entered upon the study of her character with the impression that she had
suffered much undeserved abuse, and that it would be incumbent upon a
Chopin biographer to defend her against his predecessors and the friends
of the composer. How entirely I changed my mind, the sequel will show.

In conclusion, a few hints as to the pronunciation of Polish words,
which otherwise might puzzle the reader uninitiated in the mysteries
of that rarely-learned language. Aiming more at simplicity than at
accuracy, one may say that the vowels are pronounced somewhat like this:
a as in "arm," aL like the nasal French "on," e as in "tell," e/ with
an approach to the French "e/" (or to the German "u [umlaut]" and "o
[umlaut]"), eL like the nasal French "in," i as in "pick," o as in
"not," o/ with an approach to the French "ou," u like the French ou, and
y with an approach to the German "i" and "u." The following consonants
are pronounced as in English: b, d, f, g (always hard), h, k, I, m, n,
p, s, t, and z. The following single and double consonants differ from
the English pronunciation: c like "ts," c/ softer than c, j like "y,"
l/ like "ll" with the tongue pressed against the upper row of teeth,
n/ like "ny" (i.e., n softened by i), r sharper than in English, w like
"v," z/ softer than z, z. and rz like the French "j," ch like the German
guttural "ch" in "lachen" (similar to "ch" in the Scotch "loch"), cz
like "ch" in "cherry," and sz like "sh" in "sharp." Mr. W. R. Morfill
("A Simplified Grammar of the Polish Language") elucidates the
combination szcz, frequently to be met with, by the English expression
"smasht china," where the italicised letters give the pronunciation.
Lastly, family names terminating in take a instead of i when applied to

April, 1888.


The second edition differs from the first by little more than the
correction of some misprints and a few additions. These latter are to
be found among the Appendices. The principal addition consists of
interesting communications from Madame Peruzzi, a friend of Chopin's
still living at Florence. Next in importance come Madame Schumann's
diary notes bearing on Chopin's first visit to Leipzig. The remaining
additions concern early Polish music, the first performances of Chopin's
works at the Leipzig Gewandhaus, his visit to Marienbad (remarks by
Rebecca Dirichlet), the tempo rubato, and his portraits. To the names
of Chopin's friends and acquaintances to whom I am indebted for valuable
assistance, those of Madame Peruzzi and Madame Schumann have, therefore,
to be added. My apologies as well as my thanks are due to Mr. Felix
Moscheles, who kindly permitted a fac-simile to be made from a
manuscript, in his possession, a kindness that ought to have been
acknowledged in the first edition. I am glad that a second edition
affords me an opportunity to repair this much regretted omission. The
manuscript in question is an "Etude" which Chopin wrote for the "Methode
des Methodes de Piano," by F. J. Fetis and I. Moscheles, the father of
Mr. Felix Moscheles. This concludes what I have to say about the second
edition, but I cannot lay down the pen without expressing my gratitude
to critics and public for the exceedingly favourable reception they have
given to my book.

October, 1890.


BESIDES minor corrections, the present edition contains the correction
of the day and year of Frederick Francis Chopin's birth, which have been
discovered since the publication of the second edition of this work.
According to the baptismal entry in the register of the Brochow parish
church, he who became the great pianist and immortal composer was born
on February 22, 1810. This date has been generally accepted in
Poland, and is to be found on the medal struck on the occasion of the
semi-centenary celebration of the master's death. Owing to a misreading
of musicus for magnificus in the published copy of the document, its
trustworthiness has been doubted elsewhere, but, I believe, without
sufficient cause. The strongest argument that could be urged against
the acceptance of the date would be the long interval between birth and
baptism, which did not take place till late in April, and the consequent
possibility of an error in the registration. This, however, could only
affect the day, and perhaps the month, not the year. It is certainly
a very curious circumstance that Fontana, a friend of Chopin's in his
youth and manhood, Karasowski, at least an acquaintance, if not an
intimate friend, of the family (from whom he derived much information),
Fetis, a contemporary lexicographer, and apparently Chopin's family, and
even Chopin himself, did not know the date of the latter's birth.

Where the character of persons and works of art are concerned, nothing
is more natural than differences of opinion. Bias and inequality of
knowledge sufficiently account for them. For my reading of the character
of George Sand, I have been held up as a monster of moral depravity; for
my daring to question the exactitude of Liszt's biographical facts, I
have been severely sermonised; for my inability to regard Chopin as one
of the great composers of songs, and continue uninterruptedly in a state
of ecstatic admiration, I have been told that the publication of my
biography of the master is a much to be deplored calamity. Of course,
the moral monster and author of the calamity cannot pretend to be an
unbiassed judge in the case; but it seems to him that there may be some
exaggeration and perhaps even some misconception in these accusations.

As to George Sand, I have not merely made assertions, but have earnestly
laboured to prove the conclusions at which I reluctantly arrived. Are
George Sand's pretentions to self-sacrificing saintliness, and to purely
maternal feelings for Musset, Chopin, and others to be accepted in spite
of the fairy-tale nature of her "Histoire," and the misrepresentations
of her "Lettres d'un Voyageur" and her novels "Elle et lui" and
"Lucrezia Floriani"; in spite of the adverse indirect testimony of
some of her other novels, and the adverse direct testimony of her
"Correspondance"; and in spite of the experiences and firm beliefs of
her friends, Liszt included? Let us not overlook that charitableness
towards George Sand implies uncharitableness towards Chopin, place. Need
I say anything on the extraordinary charge made against me--namely, that
in some cases I have preferred the testimony of less famous men to
that of Liszt? Are genius, greatness, and fame the measures of

As to Chopin, the composer of songs, the case is very simple. His
pianoforte pieces are original tone-poems of exquisite beauty; his
songs, though always acceptable, and sometimes charming, are not. We
should know nothing of them and the composer, if of his works they alone
had been published. In not publishing them himself, Chopin gave us his
own opinion, an opinion confirmed by the singers in rarely performing
them and by the public in little caring for them. In short, Chopin's
songs add nothing to his fame. To mention them in one breath with those
of Schubert and Schumann, or even with those of Robert Franz and
Adolf Jensen, is the act of an hero-worshipping enthusiast, not of a
discriminating critic.

On two points, often commented upon by critics, I feel regret, although
not repentance--namely, on any "anecdotic iconoclasm" where fact
refuted fancy, and on my abstention from pronouncing judgments where the
evidence was inconclusive. But how can a conscientious biographer help
this ungraciousness and inaccommodativeness? Is it not his duty to tell
the truth, and nothing but the truth, in order that his subject may
stand out unobstructed and shine forth unclouded?

In conclusion, two instances of careless reading. One critic, after
attributing a remark of Chopin's to me, exclaims: "The author is fond
of such violent jumps to conclusions." And an author, most benevolently
inclined towards me, enjoyed the humour of my first "literally ratting"
George Sand, and then saying that I "abstained from pronouncing judgment
because the complete evidence did not warrant my doing so." The former
(in vol. i.) had to do with George Sand's character; the latter (in vol.
ii.) with the moral aspect of her connection with Chopin.

An enumeration of the more notable books dealing with Chopin, published
after the issue of the earlier editions of the present book will form an
appropriate coda to this preface--"Frederic Francois Chopin," by Charles
Willeby; "Chopin, and Other Musical Essays," by Henry T. Finck; "Studies
in Modern Music" (containing an essay on Chopin), by W. H. Hadow;
"Chopin's Greater Works," by Jean Kleczynski, translated by Natalie
Janotha; and "Chopin: the Man and his Music," by James Huneker.

Edinburgh, February, 1902.



THE works of no composer of equal importance bear so striking a national
impress as those of Chopin. It would, however, be an error to attribute
this simply and solely to the superior force of the Polish musician's
patriotism. The same force of patriotism in an Italian, Frenchman,
German, or Englishman would not have produced a similar result.
Characteristics such as distinguish Chopin's music presuppose a nation
as peculiarly endowed, constituted, situated, and conditioned, as the
Polish--a nation with a history as brilliant and dark, as fair and
hideous, as romantic and tragic. The peculiarities of the peoples
of western Europe have been considerably modified, if not entirely
levelled, by centuries of international intercourse; the peoples of the
eastern part of the Continent, on the other hand, have, until recent
times, kept theirs almost intact, foreign influences penetrating to no
depth, affecting indeed no more than the aristocratic few, and them only
superficially. At any rate, the Slavonic races have not been moulded by
the Germanic and Romanic races as these latter have moulded each other:
east and west remain still apart--strangers, if not enemies. Seeing how
deeply rooted Chopin's music is in the national soil, and considering
how little is generally known about Poland and the Poles, the necessity
of paying in this case more attention to the land of the artist's birth
and the people to which he belongs than is usually done in biographies
of artists, will be admitted by all who wish to understand fully and
appreciate rightly the poet-musician and his works. But while taking
note of what is of national origin in Chopin's music, we must be careful
not to ascribe to this origin too much. Indeed, the fact that the
personal individuality of Chopin is as markedly differentiated, as
exclusively self-contained, as the national individuality of Poland,
is oftener overlooked than the master's national descent and its
significance with regard to his artistic production. And now, having
made the reader acquainted with the raison d'etre of this proem, I shall
plunge without further preliminaries in medias res.

The palmy days of Poland came to an end soon after the extinction of
the dynasty of the Jagellons in 1572. So early as 1661 King John Casimir
warned the nobles, whose insubordination and want of solidity, whose
love of outside glitter and tumult, he deplored, that, unless they
remedied the existing evils, reformed their pretended free elections,
and renounced their personal privileges, the noble kingdom would become
the prey of other nations. Nor was this the first warning. The Jesuit
Peter Skarga (1536--1612), an indefatigable denunciator of the vices of
the ruling classes, told them in 1605 that their dissensions would bring
them under the yoke of those who hated them, deprive them of king and
country, drive them into exile, and make them despised by those
who formerly feared and respected them. But these warnings remained
unheeded, and the prophecies were fulfilled to the letter. Elective
kingship, pacta conventa, [Footnote: Terms which a candidate for the
throne had to subscribe on his election. They were of course dictated by
the electors--i.e., by the selfish interest of one class, the szlachta
(nobility), or rather the most powerful of them.] liberum veto,
[Footnote: The right of any member to stop the proceedings of the Diet
by pronouncing the words "Nie pozwalam" (I do not permit), or others of
the same import.] degradation of the burgher class, enslavement of
the peasantry, and other devices of an ever-encroaching nobility,
transformed the once powerful and flourishing commonwealth into one
"lying as if broken-backed on the public highway; a nation anarchic
every fibre of it, and under the feet and hoofs of travelling
neighbours." [Footnote: Thomas Carlyle, Frederick the Great, vol.
viii., p. 105.] In the rottenness of the social organism, venality,
unprincipled ambition, and religious intolerance found a congenial soil;
and favoured by and favouring foreign intrigues and interferences, they
bore deadly fruit--confederations, civil wars, Russian occupation of the
country and dominion over king, council, and diet, and the beginning of
the end, the first partition (1772) by which Poland lost a third of her
territory with five millions of inhabitants. Even worse, however, was
to come. For the partitioning powers--Russia, Prussia, and Austria--knew
how by bribes and threats to induce the Diet not only to sanction the
spoliation, but also so to alter the constitution as to enable them to
have a permanent influence over the internal affairs of the Republic.

The Pole Francis Grzymala remarks truly that if instead of some thousand
individuals swaying the destinies of Poland, the whole nation had
enjoyed equal rights, and, instead of being plunged in darkness and
ignorance, the people had been free and consequently capable of feeling
and thinking, the national cause, imperilled by the indolence and
perversity of one part of the citizens, would have been saved by those
who now looked on without giving a sign of life. The "some thousands"
here spoken of are of course the nobles, who had grasped all the
political power and almost all the wealth of the nation, and, imitating
the proud language of Louis XIV, could, without exaggeration, have said:
"L'etat c'est nous." As for the king and the commonalty, the one had
been deprived of almost all his prerogatives, and the other had become
a rightless rabble of wretched peasants, impoverished burghers, and
chaffering Jews. Rousseau, in his Considerations sur le gouvernement
de Pologne, says pithily that the three orders of which the Republic
of Poland was composed were not, as had been so often and illogically
stated, the equestrian order, the senate, and the king, but the nobles
who were everything, the burghers who were nothing, and the peasants
who were less than nothing. The nobility of Poland differed from that of
Other countries not only in its supreme political and social position,
but also in its numerousness, character, and internal constitution.

[Footnote: The statistics concerning old Poland are provokingly
contradictory. One authority calculates that the nobility comprised
120,000 families, or one fourteenth of the population (which, before
the first partition, is variously estimated at from fifteen to twenty
millions); another counts only 100,000 families; and a third states
that between 1788 and 1792 (i.e., after the first partition) there were
38,314 families of nobles.]

All nobles were equal in rank, and as every French soldier was said to
carry a marshal's staff in his knapsack, so every Polish noble was born
a candidate for the throne. This equality, however, was rather de jure
than de facto; legal decrees could not fill the chasm which separated
families distinguished by wealth and fame--such as the Sapiehas,
Radziwills, Czartoryskis, Zamoyskis, Potockis, and Branickis--from
obscure noblemen whose possessions amount to no more than "a few acres
of land, a sword, and a pair of moustaches that extend from one ear to
the other," or perhaps amounted only to the last two items. With some
insignificant exceptions, the land not belonging to the state or the
church was in the hands of the nobles, a few of whom had estates of
the extent of principalities. Many of the poorer amongst the nobility
attached themselves to their better-situated brethren, becoming their
dependents and willing tools. The relation of the nobility to the
peasantry is well characterised in a passage of Mickiewicz's epic poem
Pan Tadeusz, where a peasant, on humbly suggesting that the nobility
suffered less from the measures of their foreign rulers than his own
class, is told by one of his betters that this is a silly remark, seeing
that peasants, like eels, are accustomed to being skinned, whereas the
well-born are accustomed to live in liberty.

Nothing illustrates so well the condition of a people as the way in
which justice is administered. In Poland a nobleman was on his
estate prosecutor as well as judge, and could be arrested only after
conviction, or, in the case of high-treason, murder, and robbery, if
taken in the act. And whilst the nobleman enjoyed these high privileges,
the peasant had, as the law terms it, no facultatem standi in judicio,
and his testimony went for nothing in the courts of justice. More than
a hundred laws in the statutes of Poland are said to have been
unfavourable to these poor wretches. In short, the peasant was quite
at the mercy of the privileged class, and his master could do with him
pretty much as he liked, whipping and selling not excepted, nor did
killing cost more than a fine of a few shillings. The peasants on the
state domains and of the clergy were, however, somewhat better off; and
the burghers, too, enjoyed some shreds of their old privileges with more
or less security. If we look for a true and striking description of
the comparative position of the principal classes of the population of
Poland, we find it in these words of a writer of the eighteenth century:
"Polonia coelum nobilium, paradisus clericorum, infernus rusticorum."

The vast plain of Poland, although in many places boggy and sandy, is on
the whole fertile, especially in the flat river valleys, and in the east
at the sources of the Dnieper; indeed, it is so much so that it has been
called the granary of Europe. But as the pleasure-loving gentlemen had
nobler pursuits to attend to, and the miserable peasants, with whom it
was a saying that only what they spent in drink was their own, were not
very anxious to work more and better than they could help, agriculture
was in a very neglected condition. With manufacture and commerce it
stood not a whit better. What little there was, was in the hands of the
Jews and foreigners, the nobles not being allowed to meddle with such
base matters, and the degraded descendants of the industrious and
enterprising ancient burghers having neither the means nor the spirit to
undertake anything of the sort. Hence the strong contrast of wealth and
poverty, luxury and distress, that in every part of Poland, in town and
country, struck so forcibly and painfully all foreign travellers. Of the
Polish provinces that in 1773 came under Prussian rule we read that--

   the country people hardly knew such a thing as bread, many
   had never in their life tasted such a delicacy; few villages
   had an oven. A weaving-loom was rare; the spinning-wheel
   unknown. The main article of furniture, in this bare scene of
   squalor, was the crucifix and vessel of holy-water under
   it....It was a desolate land without discipline, without law,
   without a master. On 9,000 English square miles lived 500,000
   souls: not 55 to the square mile. [Footnote: Carlyle.
   Frederick the Great, vol. x., p. 40.]

And this poverty and squalor were not to be found only in one part of
Poland, they seem to have been general. Abbe de Mably when seeing, in
1771, the misery of the country (campagne) and the bad condition of the
roads, imagined himself in Tartary. William Coxe, the English historian
and writer of travels, who visited Poland after the first partition,
relates, in speaking of the district called Podlachia, that he visited
between Bjelsk and Woyszki villages in which there was nothing but the
bare walls, and he was told at the table of the ------ that knives,
forks, and spoons were conveniences unknown to the peasants. He says he
never saw--

   a road so barren of interesting scenes as that from Cracow to
   Warsaw--for the most part level, with little variation of
   surface; chiefly overspread with tracts of thick forest;
   where open, the distant horizon was always skirted with wood
   (chiefly pines and firs, intermixed with beech, birch, and
   small oaks). The occasional breaks presented some pasture-
   ground, with here and there a few meagre crops of corn. The
   natives were poorer, humbler, and more miserable than any
   people we had yet observed in the course of our travels:
   whenever we stopped they flocked around us in crowds; and,
   asking for charity, used the most abject gestures....The
   Polish peasants are cringing and servile in their expressions
   of respect; they bowed down to the ground; took off their
   hats or caps and held them in their hands till we were out of
   sight; stopped their carts on the first glimpse of our
   carriage; in short, their whole behaviour gave evident
   symptoms of the abject servitude under which they groaned.
   [FOOTNOTE: William Coxe, Travels in Poland, Russia, Sweden,
   and Denmark (1784--90).]

The Jews, to whom I have already more than once alluded, are too
important an element in the population of Poland not to be particularly
noticed. They are a people within a people, differing in dress as well
as in language, which is a jargon of German-Hebrew. Their number before
the first partition has been variously estimated at from less than
two millions to fully two millions and a half in a population of from
fifteen to twenty millions, and in 1860 there were in Russian Poland
612,098 Jews in a population of 4,867,124.

[FOOTNOTE: According to Charles Forster (in Pologne, a volume of the
historical series entitled L'univers pittoresque, published by Firmin
Didot freres of Paris), who follows Stanislas Plater, the population of
Poland within the boundaries of 1772 amounted to 20,220,000 inhabitants,
and was composed of 6,770,000 Poles, 7,520,000 Russians (i.e., White and
Red Russians), 2,110,000 Jews, 1,900,000 Lithuanians, 1,640,000 Germans,
180,000 Muscovites (i.e., Great Russians), and 100,000 Wallachians.]

   They monopolise [says Mr. Coxe] the commerce and trade of the
   country, keep inns and taverns, are stewards to the nobility,
   and seem to have so much influence that nothing can be bought
   or sold without the intervention of a Jew.

Our never-failing informant was particularly struck with the number and
usefulness of the Jews in Lithuania when he visited that part of the
Polish Republic in 1781--

   If you ask for an interpreter, they bring you a Jew; if you
   want post-horses, a Jew procures them and a Jew drives them;
   if you wish to purchase, a Jew is your agent; and this
   perhaps is the only country in Europe where Jews cultivate
   the ground; in passing through Lithuania, we frequently saw
   them engaged in sowing, reaping, mowing, and other works of

Having considered the condition of the lower classes, we will now turn
our attention to that of the nobility. The very unequal distribution of
wealth among them has already been mentioned. Some idea of their mode of
life may be formed from the account of the Starost Krasinski's court in
the diary (year 1759) of his daughter, Frances Krasinska. [FOOTNOTE: A
starost (starosta) is the possessor of a starosty (starostwo)--i.e., a
castle and domains conferred on a nobleman for life by the crown.] Her
description of the household seems to justify her belief that there
were not many houses in Poland that surpassed theirs in magnificence.
In introducing to the reader the various ornaments and appendages of the
magnate's court, I shall mention first, giving precedence to the fair
sex, that there lived under the supervision of a French governess six
young ladies of noble families. The noblemen attached to the lord of the
castle were divided into three classes. In the first class were to be
found sons of wealthy, or, at least, well-to-do families who served
for honour, and came to the court to acquire good manners and as an
introduction to a civil or military career. The starost provided the
keep of their horses, and also paid weekly wages of two florins to their
grooms. Each of these noble-men had besides a groom another servant who
waited on his master at table, standing behind his chair and dining on
what he left on his plate. Those of the second class were paid for their
services and had fixed duties to perform. Their pay amounted to from
300 to 1,000 florins (a florin being about the value of sixpence), in
addition to which gratuities and presents were often given. Excepting
the chaplain, doctor, and secretary, they did not, like the preceding
class, have the honour of sitting with their master at table. With
regard to this privilege it is, however, worth noticing that those
courtiers who enjoyed it derived materially hardly any advantage from
it, for on week-days wine was served only to the family and their
guests, and the dishes of roast meat were arranged pyramidally, so
that fowl and venison went to those at the head of the table, and those
sitting farther down had to content themselves with the coarser kinds of
meat--with beef, pork, &c. The duties of the third class of followers,
a dozen young men from fifteen to twenty years of age, consisted
in accompanying the family on foot or on horseback, and doing their
messages, such as carrying presents and letters of invitation.
The second and third classes were under the jurisdiction of the
house-steward, who, in the case of the young gentlemen, was not sparing
in the application of the cat. A strict injunction was laid on all to
appear in good clothes. As to the other servants of the castle, the
authoress thought she would find it difficult to specify them; indeed,
did not know even the number of their musicians, cooks, Heyducs,
Cossacks, and serving maids and men. She knew, however, that every day
five tables were served, and that from morning to night two persons
were occupied in distributing the things necessary for the kitchen.
More impressive even than a circumstantial account like this are
briefly-stated facts such as the following: that the Palatine Stanislas
Jablonowski kept a retinue of 2,300 soldiers and 4,000 courtiers,
valets, armed attendants, huntsmen, falconers, fishers, musicians, and
actors; and that Janusz, Prince of Ostrog, left at his death a majorat
of eighty towns and boroughs, and 2,760 villages, without counting the
towns and villages of his starosties. The magnates who distinguished
themselves during the reign of Stanislas Augustus (1764--1795) by the
brilliance and magnificence of their courts were the Princes Czartoryski
and Radziwill, Count Potocki, and Bishop Soltyk of Cracovia. Our
often-quoted English traveller informs us that the revenue of Prince
Czartoryski amounted to nearly 100,000 pounds per annum, and that his
style of living corresponded with this income. The Prince kept an open
table at which there rarely sat down less than from twenty to thirty
persons. [FOOTNOTE: Another authority informs us that on great occasions
the Czartoryskis received at their table more than twenty thousand
persons.] The same informant has much to say about the elegance and
luxury of the Polish nobility in their houses and villas, in the
decoration and furniture of which he found the French and English styles
happily blended. He gives a glowing account of the fetes at which he
was present, and says that they were exquisitely refined and got up
regardless of expense.

Whatever changes the national character of the Poles has undergone in
the course of time, certain traits of it have remained unaltered, and
among these stands forth predominantly their chivalry. Polish bravery is
so universally recognised and admired that it is unnecessary to enlarge
upon it. For who has not heard at least of the victorious battle of
Czotzim, of the delivery of Vienna, of the no less glorious defeats of
Maciejowice and Ostrolenka, and of the brilliant deeds of Napoleon's
Polish Legion? And are not the names of Poland's most popular heroes,
Sobieski and Kosciuszko, household words all the world over? Moreover,
the Poles have proved their chivalry not only by their valour on the
battle-field, but also by their devotion to the fair sex. At banquets
in the good olden time it was no uncommon occurrence to see a Pole kneel
down before his lady, take off one of her shoes, and drink out of it.
But the women of Poland seem to be endowed with a peculiar power. Their
beauty, grace, and bewitching manner inflame the heart and imagination
of all that set their eyes on them. How often have they not conquered
the conquerors of their country? [FOOTNOTE: The Emperor Nicholas is
credited with the saying: "Je pourrais en finir des Polonais si je
venais a bout des Polonaises."] They remind Heine of the tenderest and
loveliest flowers that grow on the banks of the Ganges, and he calls for
the brush of Raphael, the melodies of Mozart, the language of Calderon,
so that he may conjure up before his readers an Aphrodite of the
Vistula. Liszt, bolder than Heine, makes the attempt to portray them,
and writes like an inspired poet. No Pole can speak on this subject
without being transported into a transcendental rapture that illumines
his countenance with a blissful radiance, and inspires him with a
glowing eloquence which, he thinks, is nevertheless beggared by the
matchless reality.

The French of the North--for thus the Poles have been called--are of a
very excitable nature; easily moved to anger, and easily appeased; soon
warmed into boundless enthusiasm, and soon also manifesting lack of
perseverance. They feel happiest in the turmoil of life and in the
bustle of society. Retirement and the study of books are little to
their taste. Yet, knowing how to make the most of their limited stock
of knowledge, they acquit themselves well in conversation. Indeed, they
have a natural aptitude for the social arts which insures their success
in society, where they move with ease and elegance. Their oriental
mellifluousness, hyperbolism, and obsequious politeness of speech have,
as well as the Asiatic appearance of their features and dress, been
noticed by all travellers in Poland. Love of show is another very
striking trait in the character of the Poles. It struggles to manifest
itself among the poor, causes the curious mixture of splendour and
shabbiness among the better-situated people, and gives rise to the
greatest extravagances among the wealthy. If we may believe the
chroniclers and poets, the entertainments of the Polish magnates must
have often vied with the marvellous feasts of imperial Rome. Of the
vastness of the households with which these grands seigneurs surrounded
themselves, enough has already been said. Perhaps the chief channel
through which this love of show vented itself was the decoration of man
and horse. The entrance of Polish ambassadors with their numerous
suites has more than once astonished the Parisians, who were certainly
accustomed to exhibitions of this kind. The mere description of some of
them is enough to dazzle one--the superb horses with their bridles and
stirrups of massive silver, and their caparisons and saddles embroidered
with golden flowers; and the not less superb men with their rich
garments of satin or gold cloth, adorned with rare furs, their bonnets
surmounted by bright plumes, and their weapons of artistic workmanship,
the silver scabbards inlaid with rubies. We hear also of ambassadors
riding through towns on horses loosely shod with gold or silver, so that
the horse-shoes lost on their passage might testify to their wealth
and grandeur. I shall quote some lines from a Polish poem in which the
author describes in detail the costume of an eminent nobleman in the
early part of this century:--

   He was clad in the uniform of the palatinate: a doublet
   embroidered with gold, an overcoat of Tours silk ornamented
   with fringes, a belt of brocade from which hung a sword with
   a hilt of morocco. At his neck glittered a clasp with
   diamonds. His square white cap was surmounted by a
   magnificent plume, composed of tufts of herons' feathers. It
   is only on festive occasions that such a rich bouquet, of
   which each feather costs a ducat, is put on.

The belt above mentioned was one of the most essential parts and the
chief ornament of the old Polish national dress, and those manufactured
at Sluck had especially a high reputation. A description of a belt of
Sluck, "with thick fringes like tufts," glows on another page of the
poem from which I took my last quotation:--

   On one side it is of gold with purple flowers; on the other
   it is of black silk with silver checks. Such a belt can be
   worn on either side: the part woven with gold for festive
   days; the reverse for days of mourning.

A vivid picture of the Polish character is to be found in Mickiewicz's
epic poem, Pan Tadeusz, from which the above quotations are taken.

[FOOTNOTE: I may mention here another interesting book illustrative
of Polish character and life, especially in the second half of the
eighteenth century, which has been of much use to me--namely, Count
Henry Rzewuski's Memoirs of Pan Severin Soplica, translated into German,
and furnished with an instructive preface by Philipp Lubenstein.]

He handles his pencil lovingly; proclaiming with just pride the virtues
of his countrymen, and revealing with a kindly smile their weaknesses.
In this truest, perhaps, of all the portraits that have ever been drawn
of the Poles, we see the gallantry and devotion, the generosity and
hospitality, the grace and liveliness in social intercourse, but also
the excitability and changefulness, the quickly inflamed enthusiasm and
sudden depression, the restlessness and turbulence, the love of outward
show and of the pleasures of society, the pompous pride, boastfulness,
and other little vanities, in short, all the qualities, good and
bad, that distinguish his countrymen. Heinrich Heine, not always a
trustworthy witness, but in this case so unusually serious that we
will take advantage of his acuteness and conciseness, characterises
the Polish nobleman by the following precious mosaic of adjectives:
"hospitable, proud, courageous, supple, false (this little yellow
stone must not be lacking), irritable, enthusiastic, given to gambling,
pleasure-loving, generous, and overbearing." Whether Heine was not
mistaken as to the presence of the little yellow stone is a question
that may have to be discussed in another part of this work. The observer
who, in enumerating the most striking qualities of the Polish character,
added "MISTRUSTFULNESS and SUSPICIOUSNESS engendered by many misfortunes
and often-disappointed hopes," came probably nearer the truth. And this
reminds me of a point which ought never to be left out of sight when
contemplating any one of these portraits--namely, the time at which it
was taken. This, of course, is always an important consideration; but it
is so in a higher degree in the case of a nation whose character, like
the Polish, has at different epochs of its existence assumed such varied
aspects. The first great change came over the national character on
the introduction of elective kingship: it was, at least so far as
the nobility was concerned, a change for the worse--from simplicity,
frugality, and patriotism, to pride, luxury, and selfishness; the second
great change was owing to the disasters that befell the nation in the
latter half of the last century: it was on the whole a change for the
better, purifying and ennobling, calling forth qualities that till then
had lain dormant. At the time the events I have to relate take us to
Poland, the nation is just at this last turning-point, but it has not
yet rounded it. To what an extent the bad qualities had overgrown
the good ones, corrupting and deadening them, may be gathered from
contemporary witnesses. George Forster, who was appointed professor
of natural history at Wilna in 1784, and remained in that position for
several years, says that he found in Poland "a medley of fanatical
and almost New Zealand barbarity and French super-refinement; a people
wholly ignorant and without taste, and nevertheless given to luxury,
gambling, fashion, and outward glitter."

Frederick II describes the Poles in language still more harsh; in his
opinion they are vain in fortune, cringing in misfortune, capable
of anything for the sake of money, spendthrifts, frivolous, without
judgment, always ready to join or abandon a party without cause. No
doubt there is much exaggeration in these statements; but that there
is also much truth in them, is proved by the accounts of many writers,
native and foreign, who cannot be accused of being prejudiced against
Poland. Rulhiere, and other more or less voluminous authorities, might
be quoted; but, not to try the patience of the reader too much, I shall
confine myself to transcribing a clenching remark of a Polish nobleman,
who told our old friend, the English traveller, that although the name
of Poland still remained, the nation no longer existed. "An universal
corruption and venality pervades all ranks of the people. Many of the
first nobility do not blush to receive pensions from foreign courts: one
professes himself publicly an Austrian, a second a Prussian, a third a
Frenchman, and a fourth a Russian."



GOETHE playfully describes himself as indebted to his father for
his frame and steady guidance of life, to his mother for his happy
disposition and love of story-telling, to his grandfather for his
devotion to the fair sex, to his grandmother for his love of finery.
Schopenhauer reduces the law of heredity to the simple formula that man
has his moral nature, his character, his inclinations, and his heart
from his father, and the quality and tendency of his intellect from his
mother. Buckle, on the other hand, questions hereditary transmission of
mental qualities altogether. Though little disposed to doubt with the
English historian, yet we may hesitate to assent to the proposition of
the German philosopher; the adoption of a more scientific doctrine,
one that recognises a process of compensation, neutralisation, and
accentuation, would probably bring us nearer the truth. But whatever the
complicated working of the law of heredity may be, there can be no doubt
that the tracing of a remarkable man's pedigree is always an interesting
and rarely an entirely idle occupation. Pursuing such an inquiry with
regard to Frederick Chopin, we find ourselves, however, soon at the end
of our tether. This is the more annoying, as there are circumstances
that particularly incite our curiosity. The "Journal de Rouen" of
December 1, 1849, contains an article, probably by Amedee de Mereaux, in
which it is stated that Frederick Chopin was descended from the French
family Chopin d'Arnouville, of which one member, a victim of the
revocation of the Edict of Nantes, had taken refuge in Poland.
[Footnote: In scanning the Moniteur of 1835, I came across several
prefects and sous-prefects of the name of Choppin d'Arnouville. (There
are two communes of the name of Arnouville, both are in the departement
of the Seine et Oise--the one in the arrondissement Mantes,
the other in the arrondissement Pontoise. This latter is called
Arnouville-les-Gonesse.) I noticed also a number of intimations
concerning plain Chopins and Choppins who served their country as maires
and army officers. Indeed, the name of Chopin is by no means uncommon in
France, and more than one individual of that name has illustrated it
by his achievements--to wit: The jurist Rene Chopin or Choppin
(1537--1606), the litterateur Chopin (born about 1800), and the poet
Charles-Auguste Chopin (1811--1844).] Although this confidently-advanced
statement is supported by the inscription on the composer's tombstone in
Pere Lachaise, which describes his father as a French refugee, both the
Catholicism of the latter and contradictory accounts of his extraction
caution us not to put too much faith in its authenticity. M. A. Szulc,
the author of a Polish book on Chopin and his works, has been told
that Nicholas Chopin, the father of Frederick, was the natural son of
a Polish nobleman, who, having come with King Stanislas Leszczynski to
Lorraine, adopted there the name of Chopin. From Karasowski we learn
nothing of Nicholas Chopin's parentage. But as he was a friend of the
Chopin family, and from them got much of his information, this silence
might with equal force be adduced for and against the correctness of
Szulc's story, which in itself is nowise improbable. The only point that
could strike one as strange is the change of name. But would not the
death of the Polish ruler and the consequent lapse of Lorraine to France
afford some inducement for the discarding of an unpronounceable foreign
name? It must, however, not be overlooked that this story is but a
hearsay, relegated to a modest foot-note, and put forward without
mention of the source whence it is derived. [FOOTNOTE: Count Wodzinski,
who leaves Nicholas Chopin's descent an open question, mentions a
variant of Szulc's story, saying that some biographers pretended that
Nicholas Chopin was descended from one of the name of Szop, a soldier,
valet, or heyduc (reitre, valet, ou heiduque) in the service of
Stanislas Leszczinski, whom he followed to Lorraine.] Indeed, until we
get possession of indisputable proofs, it will be advisable to disregard
these more or less fabulous reports altogether, and begin with the first
well-ascertained fact--namely, Nicholas Chopin's birth, which took place
at Nancy, in Lorraine, on the 17th of August, 1770. Of his youth nothing
is known except that, like other young men of his country, he conceived
a desire to visit Poland. Polish descent would furnish a satisfactory
explanation of Nicholas' sentiments in regard to Poland at this time
and subsequently, but an equally satisfactory explanation can be found
without having recourse to such a hazardous assumption.

In 1735 Stanislas Leszczynski, who had been King of Poland from 1704 to
1709, became Duke of Lorraine and Bar, and reigned over the Duchies till
1766, when an accident--some part of his dress taking fire--put an end
to his existence. As Stanislas was a wise, kind-hearted, and benevolent
prince, his subjects not only loved him as long as he lived, but also
cherished his memory after his death, when their country had been united
to France. The young, we may be sure, would often hear their elders
speak of the good times of Duke Stanislas, of the Duke (the philosophe
bienfaisant) himself, and of the strange land and people he came from.
But Stanislas, besides being an excellent prince, was also an amiable,
generous gentleman, who, whilst paying due attention to the well-being
of his new subjects, remained to the end of his days a true Pole. From
this circumstance it may be easily inferred that the Court of Stanislas
proved a great attraction to his countrymen, and that Nancy became a
chief halting-place of Polish travellers on their way to and from Paris.
Of course, not all the Poles that had settled in the Duchies during the
Duke's reign left the country after his demise, nor did their friends
from the fatherland altogether cease to visit them in their new home.
Thus a connection between the two countries was kept up, and the
interest taken by the people of the west in the fortunes of the people
in the east was not allowed to die. Moreover, were not the Academie de
Stanislas founded by the Duke, the monument erected to his memory, and
the square named after him, perpetual reminders to the inhabitants of
Nancy and the visitors to that town?

Nicholas Chopin came to Warsaw in or about the year 1787. Karasowski
relates in the first and the second German edition of his biography of
Frederick Chopin that the Staroscina [FOOTNOTE: The wife of a starosta
(vide p. 7.)] Laczynska made the acquaintance of the latter's father,
and engaged him as tutor to her children; but in the later Polish
edition he abandons this account in favour of one given by Count
Frederick Skarbek in his Pamietniki (Memoirs). According to this most
trustworthy of procurable witnesses (why he is the most trustworthy will
be seen presently), Nicholas Chopin's migration to Poland came about
in this way. A Frenchman had established in Warsaw a manufactory of
tobacco, which, as the taking of snuff was then becoming more and more
the fashion, began to flourish in so high a degree that he felt the
need of assistance. He proposed, therefore, to his countryman, Nicholas
Chopin, to come to him and take in hand the book-keeping, a proposal
which was readily accepted.

The first impression of the young Lorrainer on entering the land of
his dreams cannot have been altogether of a pleasant nature. For in the
summer of 1812, when, we are told, the condition of the people had been
infinitely ameliorated by the Prussian and Russian governments, M.
de Pradt, Napoleon's ambassador, found the nation in a state of
semi-barbarity, agriculture in its infancy, the soil parched like a
desert, the animals stunted, the people, although of good stature, in
a state of extreme poverty, the towns built of wood, the houses filled
with vermin, and the food revolting. This picture will not escape
the suspicion of being overdrawn. But J.G. Seume, who was by no means
over-squeamish, and whom experience had taught the meaning of "to rough
it," asserts, in speaking of Poland in 1805, that, Warsaw and a few
other places excepted, the dunghill was in most houses literally and
without exaggeration the cleanest spot, and the only one where one could
stand without loathing. But if the general aspect of things left much
to be desired from a utilitarian point of view, its strangeness and
picturesqueness would not fail to compensate an imaginative youth
for the want of order and comfort. The strong contrast of wealth and
poverty, of luxury and distress, that gave to the whole country so
melancholy an appearance, was, as it were, focussed in its capital.
Mr. Coxe, who visited Warsaw not long before Nicholas Chopin's arrival
there, says:--

   The streets are spacious, but ill-paved; the churches and
   public buildings large and magnificent, the palaces of the
   nobility are numerous and splendid; but the greatest part of
   the houses, especially the suburbs, are mean and ill-
   constructed wooden hovels.

What, however, struck a stranger most, was the throngs of humanity that
enlivened the streets and squares of Warsaw, the capital of a nation
composed of a medley of Poles, Lithuanians, Red and White Russians,
Germans, Muscovites, Jews, and Wallachians, and the residence of a
numerous temporary and permanent foreign population. How our friend from
quiet Nancy--which long ago had been deserted by royalty and its train,
and where literary luminaries, such as Voltaire, Madame du Chatelet,
Saint Lambert, &c., had ceased to make their fitful appearances--must
have opened his eyes when this varied spectacle unfolded itself before

   The streets of stately breadth, formed of palaces in the
   finest Italian taste and wooden huts which at every moment
   threatened to tumble down on the heads of the inmates; in
   these buildings Asiatic pomp and Greenland dirtin strange
   union, an ever-bustling population,      forming, like a
   masked procession, the most striking contrasts. Long-bearded
   Jews, and monks in all kinds of habits; nuns of the strictest
   discipline, entirely veiled and wrapped in meditation; and in
   the large squares troops of young Polesses in light-coloured
   silk mantles engaged in conversation; venerable old Polish
   gentlemen with moustaches, caftan, girdle, sword, and yellow
   and red boots; and the new generation in the most incroyable
   Parisian fashion. Turks, Greeks, Russians, Italians, and
   French in an ever-changing throng; moreover, an exceedingly
   tolerant police that interfered nowise with the popular
   amusements, so that in squares and streets there moved about
   incessantly Pulchinella theatres, dancing bears, camels, and
   monkeys, before which the most elegant carriages as well as
   porters stopped and stood gaping.

Thus pictures J. E. Hitzig, the biographer of E. Th. A. Hoffmann, and
himself a sojourner in Warsaw, the life of the Polish capital in 1807.
When Nicholas Chopin saw it first the spectacle in the streets was even
more stirring, varied, and brilliant; for then Warsaw was still the
capital of an independent state, and the pending and impending political
affairs brought to it magnates from all the principal courts of Europe,
who vied with each other in the splendour of their carriages and horses,
and in the number and equipment of their attendants.

In the introductory part of this work I have spoken of the misfortunes
that befel Poland and culminated in the first partition. But the
buoyancy of the Polish character helped the nation to recover sooner
from this severe blow than could have been expected. Before long
patriots began to hope that the national disaster might be turned into
a blessing. Many circumstances favoured the realisation of these hopes.
Prussia, on discovering that her interests no longer coincided with
those of her partners of 1772, changed sides, and by-and-by even went
the length of concluding a defensive and offensive alliance with the
Polish Republic. She, with England and other governments, backed Poland
against Russia and Austria. Russia, moreover, had to turn her attention
elsewhere. At the time of Nicholas Chopin's arrival, Poland was dreaming
of a renascence of her former greatness, and everyone was looking
forward with impatience to the assembly of the Diet which was to meet
the following year. Predisposed by sympathy, he was soon drawn into
the current of excitement and enthusiasm that was surging around him.
Indeed, what young soul possessed of any nobleness could look with
indifference on a nation struggling for liberty and independence. As he
took a great interest in the debates and transactions of the Diet, he
became more and more acquainted with the history, character, condition,
and needs of the country, and this stimulated him to apply himself
assiduously to the study of the national language, in order to increase,
by means of this faithful mirror and interpreter of a people's heart and
mind, his knowledge of these things. And now I must ask the reader to
bear patiently the infliction of a brief historical summary, which
I would most willingly spare him, were I not prevented by two strong
reasons. In the first place, the vicissitudes of Nicholas Chopin's
early life in Poland are so closely bound up with, or rather so much
influenced by, the political events, that an intelligible account of
the former cannot be given without referring to the latter; and in the
second place, those same political events are such important factors in
the moulding of the national character, that, if we wish to understand
it, they ought not to be overlooked.

The Diet which assembled at the end of 1788, in order to prevent the
use or rather abuse of the liberum veto, soon formed itself into a
confederation, abolished in 1789 the obnoxious Permanent Council,
and decreed in 1791, after much patriotic oratory and unpatriotic
obstruction, the famous constitution of the 3rd of May, regarded by the
Poles up to this day with loving pride, and admired and praised at the
time by sovereigns and statesmen, Fox and Burke among them. Although
confirming most of the privileges of the nobles, the constitution
nevertheless bore in it seeds of good promise. Thus, for instance, the
crown was to pass after the death of the reigning king to the Elector
of Saxony, and become thenceforth hereditary; greater power was given
to the king and ministers, confederations and the liberum veto were
declared illegal, the administration of justice was ameliorated, and
some attention was paid to the rights and wrongs of the third estate and
peasantry. But the patriots who already rejoiced in the prospect of a
renewal of Polish greatness and prosperity had counted without the proud
selfish aristocrats, without Russia, always ready to sow and nurture
discord. Hence new troubles--the confederation of Targowica, Russian
demands for the repeal of the constitution and unconditional submission
to the Empress Catharine II, betrayal by Prussia, invasion, war,
desertion of the national cause by their own king and his joining the
conspirators of Targowica, and then the second partition of Poland
(October 14, 1793), implying a further loss of territory and population.
Now, indeed, the events were hastening towards the end of the sad drama,
the finis poloniae. After much hypocritical verbiage and cruel coercion
and oppression by Russia and Prussia, more especially by the former,
outraged Poland rose to free itself from the galling yoke, and fought
under the noble Kosciuszko and other gallant generals with a bravery
that will for ever live in the memory of men. But however glorious the
attempt, it was vain. Having three such powers as Russia, Prussia,
and Austria against her, Poland, unsupported by allies and otherwise
hampered, was too weak to hold her own. Without inquiring into the
causes and the faults committed by her commanders, without dwelling on
or even enumerating the vicissitudes of the struggle, I shall pass on
to the terrible closing scene of the drama--the siege and fall of Praga,
the suburb of Warsaw, and the subsequent massacre. The third partition
(October 24, 1795), in which each of the three powers took her share,
followed as a natural consequence, and Poland ceased to exist as an
independent state. Not, however, for ever; for when in 1807 Napoleon,
after crushing Prussia and defeating Russia, recast at Tilsit to a great
extent the political conformation of Europe, bullying King Frederick
William III and flattering the Emperor Alexander, he created the Grand
Duchy of Warsaw, over which he placed as ruler the then King of Saxony.

Now let us see how Nicholas Chopin fared while these whirlwinds passed
over Poland. The threatening political situation and the consequent
general insecurity made themselves at once felt in trade, indeed soon
paralysed it. What more particularly told on the business in which the
young Lorrainer was engaged was the King's desertion of the national
cause, which induced the great and wealthy to leave Warsaw and betake
themselves for shelter to more retired and safer places. Indeed, so
disastrous was the effect of these occurrences on the Frenchman's
tobacco manufactory that it had to be closed. In these circumstances
Nicholas Chopin naturally thought of returning home, but sickness
detained him. When he had recovered his health, Poland was rising under
Kosciuszko. He then joined the national guard, in which he was before
long promoted to the rank of captain. On the 5th of November, 1794, he
was on duty at Praga, and had not his company been relieved a few hours
before the fall of the suburb, he would certainly have met there his
death. Seeing that all was lost he again turned his thoughts homewards,
when once more sickness prevented him from executing his intention.
For a time he tried to make a living by teaching French, but ere long
accepted an engagement as tutor in the family--then living in the
country--of the Staroscina Laczynska, who meeting him by chance had been
favourably impressed by his manners and accomplishments. In passing we
may note that among his four pupils (two girls and two boys) was one,
Mary, who afterwards became notorious by her connection with Napoleon
I., and by the son that sprang from this connection, Count Walewski,
the minister of Napoleon III. At the beginning of this century we find
Nicholas Chopin at Zelazowa Wola, near Sochaczew, in the house of the
Countess Skarbek, as tutor to her son Frederick. It was there that he
made the acquaintance of Justina Krzyzanowska, a young lady of noble but
poor family, whom he married in the year 1806, and who became the mother
of four children, three daughters and one son, the latter being no other
than Frederick Chopin, the subject of this biography. The position of
Nicholas Chopin in the house of the Countess must have been a pleasant
one, for ever after there seems to have existed a friendly relation
between the two families. His pupil, Count Frederick Skarbek, who
prosecuted his studies at Warsaw and Paris, distinguished himself
subsequently as a poet, man of science, professor at the University
of Warsaw, state official, philanthropist, and many-sided author--more
especially as a politico--economical writer. When in his Memoirs the
Count looks back on his youth, he remembers gratefully and with respect
his tutor, speaking of him in highly appreciative terms. In teaching,
Nicholas Chopin's chief aim was to form his pupils into useful,
patriotic citizens; nothing was farther from his mind than the desire or
unconscious tendency to turn them into Frenchmen. And now approaches the
time when the principal personage makes his appearance on the stage.

Frederick Chopin, the only son and the third of the four children of
Nicholas and Justina Chopin, was born on February 22, 1810,

[FOOTNOTE: See Preface, p. xii. In the earlier editions the date given
was March 1,1809, as in the biography by Karasowski, with whom agree
the earlier J. Fontana (Preface to Chopin's posthumous works.--1855),
C. Sowinski (Les musiciens polonais et slaves.--1857), and the writer
of the Chopin article in Mendel's Musikalisches Conversations-Lexikon
(1872). According to M. A. Szulc (Fryderyk Chopin.--1873) and the
inscription on the memorial (erected in 1880) in the Holy Cross Church
at Warsaw, the composer was born on March 2, 1809. The monument in Pere
Lachaise, at Paris, bears the date of Chopin's death, but not that of
his birth. Felis, in his Biographie universelle des musiciens, differs
widely from these authorities. The first edition (1835--1844) has
only the year--1810; the second edition (1861--1865) adds month and
day--February 8.]

in a mean little house at Zelazowa Wola, a village about twenty-eight
English miles from Warsaw belonging to the Countess Skarbek.

[FOOTNOTE: Count Wodzinski, after indicating the general features of
Polish villages--the dwor (manor-house) surrounded by a "bouquet of
trees"; the barns and stables forming a square with a well in the
centre; the roads planted with poplars and bordered with thatched huts;
the rye, wheat, rape, and clover fields, &c.--describes the birthplace
of Frederick Chopin as follows: "I have seen there the same dwor
embosomed in trees, the same outhouses, the same huts, the same plains
where here and there a wild pear-tree throws its shadow. Some steps from
the mansion I stopped before a little cot with a slated roof, flanked
by a little wooden perron. Nothing has been changed for nearly a hundred
years. A dark passage traverses it. On the left, in a room illuminated
by the reddish flame of slowly-consumed logs, or by the uncertain
light of two candles placed at each extremity of the long table,
the maid-servants spin as in olden times, and relate to each other a
thousand marvellous legends. On the right, in a lodging of three rooms,
so low that one can touch the ceiling, a man of some thirty years,
brown, with vivacious eyes, the face closely shaven." This man was
of course Nicholas Chopin. I need hardly say that Count Wodzinski's
description is novelistically tricked out. His accuracy may be judged
by the fact that a few pages after the above passage he speaks of the
discoloured tiles of the roof which he told his readers before was of

The son of the latter, Count Frederick Skarbek, Nicholas Chopin's pupil,
a young man of seventeen, stood godfather and gave his name to the
new-born offspring of his tutor. Little Frederick's residence at the
village cannot have been of long duration.

The establishment of the Grand Duchy of Warsaw in 1807 had ushered in a
time big with chances for a capable man, and we may be sure that a
young husband and father, no doubt already on the look-out for some more
lucrative and independent employment, was determined not to miss them.
Few peaceful revolutions, if any, can compare in thoroughness with the
one that then took place in Poland; a new sovereign ascended the throne,
two differently-constituted representative bodies superseded the old
Senate and Diet, the French code of laws was introduced, the army and
civil service underwent a complete re-organisation, public instruction
obtained a long-needed attention, and so forth. To give an idea of the
extent of the improvement effected in matters of education, it is enough
to mention that the number of schools rose from 140 to 634, and that
a commission was formed for the publication of suitable books of
instruction in the Polish language. Nicholas Chopin's hopes were not
frustrated; for on October 1, 1810, he was appointed professor of the
French language at the newly-founded Lyceum in Warsaw, and a little more
than a year after, on January 1, 1812, to a similar post at the School
of Artillery and Engineering.

The exact date when Nicholas Chopin and his family settled in Warsaw is
not known, nor is it of any consequence. We may, however, safely assume
that about this time little Frederick was an inhabitant of the Polish
metropolis. During the first years of his life the parents may
have lived in somewhat straitened circumstances. The salary of the
professorship, even if regularly paid, would hardly suffice for a family
to live comfortably, and the time was unfavourable for gaining much by
private tuition. M. de Pradt, describing Poland in 1812, says:--

   Nothing could exceed the misery of all classes. The army was
   not paid, the officers were in rags, the best houses were in
   ruins, the greatest lords were compelled to leave Warsaw from
   want of money to provide for their tables. No pleasures, no
   society, no invitations as in Paris and in London. I even saw
   princesses quit Warsaw from the most extreme distress. The
   Princess Radziwill had brought two women from England and
   France, she wished to send them back, but had to keep them
   because she was unable to pay their salaries and travelling
   expenses. I saw in Warsaw two French physicians who informed
   me that they could not procure their fees even from the
   greatest lords.

But whatever straits the parents may have been put to, the weak,
helpless infant would lack none of the necessaries of life, and enjoy
all the reasonable comforts of his age.

When in 1815 peace was restored and a period of quiet followed, the
family must have lived in easy circumstances; for besides holding
appointments as professor at some public schools (under the Russian
government he became also one of the staff of teachers at the Military
Preparatory School), Nicholas Chopin kept for a number of years a
boarding-school, which was patronised by the best families of the
country. The supposed poverty of Chopin's parents has given rise to all
sorts of misconceptions and misstatements. A writer in Larousse's
"Grand dictionnaire universel du XIXe siecle" even builds on it a
theory explanatory of the character of Chopin and his music: "Sa famille
d'origine francaise," he writes, "jouissait d'une mediocre fortune; de
la, peut-etre, certains froissements dans l'organisation nerveuse et
la vive sensibilite de l'enfant, sentiments qui devaient plus tard
se refleter dans ses oeuvres, empreintes generalement d'une profonde
melancolie." If the writer of the article in question had gone a little
farther back, he might have found a sounder basis for his theory in the
extremely delicate physical organisation of the man, whose sensitiveness
was so acute that in early infancy he could not hear music without
crying, and resisted almost all attempts at appeasing him.

The last-mentioned fact, curious and really noteworthy in itself,
acquires a certain preciousness by its being the only one transmitted
to us of that period of Chopin's existence. But this scantiness of
information need not cause us much regret. During the first years of a
man's life biography is chiefly concerned with his surroundings, with
the agencies that train his faculties and mould his character. A
man's acts and opinions are interesting in proportion to the degree of
consolidation attained by his individuality. Fortunately our material is
abundant enough to enable us to reconstruct in some measure the milieu
into which Chopin was born and in which he grew up. We will begin with
that first circle which surrounds the child--his family. The negative
advantages which our Frederick found there--the absence of the
privations and hardships of poverty, with their depressing and often
demoralising influence--have already been adverted to; now I must say a
few words about the positive advantages with which he was favoured.
And it may be at once stated that they cannot be estimated too highly.
Frederick enjoyed the greatest of blessings that can be bestowed upon
mortal man--viz., that of being born into a virtuous and well-educated
family united by the ties of love. I call it the greatest of blessings,
because neither catechism and sermons nor schools and colleges can take
the place,, or compensate for the want, of this education that does not
stop at the outside, but by its subtle, continuous action penetrates to
the very heart's core and pervades the whole being. The atmosphere in
which Frederick lived was not only moral and social, but also distinctly

The father, Nicholas Chopin, seems to have been a man of worth and
culture, honest of purpose, charitable in judgment, attentive to duty,
and endowed with a good share of prudence and commonsense. In support of
this characterisation may be advanced that among his friends he counted
many men of distinction in literature, science, and art; that between
him and the parents of his pupils as well as the pupils themselves there
existed a friendly relation; that he was on intimate terms with several
of his colleagues; and that his children not only loved, but also
respected him. No one who reads his son's letters, which indeed give us
some striking glimpses of the man, can fail to notice this last point.
On one occasion, when confessing that he had gone to a certain dinner
two hours later than he had been asked, Frederick foresees his father's
anger at the disregard for what is owing to others, and especially
to one's elders; and on another occasion he makes excuses for his
indifference to non-musical matters, which, he thinks, his father will
blame. And mark, these letters were written after Chopin had attained
manhood. What testifies to Nicholas Chopin's, abilities as a teacher and
steadiness as a man, is the unshaken confidence of the government: he
continued in his position at the Lyceumtill after the revolution in
1831, when this institution, like many others, was closed; he was then
appointed a member of the board for the examination of candidates for
situations as schoolmasters, and somewhat later he became professor of
the French language at the Academy of the Roman Catholic Clergy.

It is more difficult, or rather it is impossible, to form anything like
a clear picture of his wife, Justina Chopin. None of those of her son's
letters that are preserved is addressed to her, and in those addressed
to the members of the family conjointly, or to friends, nothing occurs
that brings her nearer to us, or gives a clue to her character. George
Sand said that she was Chopin's only passion. Karasowski describes
her as "particularly tender-hearted and rich in all the truly womanly
virtues.....For her quietness and homeliness were the greatest
happiness." K. W. Wojcicki, in "Cmentarz Powazkowski" (Powazki
Cemetery), expresses, himself in the same strain. A Scotch lady, who had
seen Justina Chopin in her old age, and conversed with her in French,
told me that she was then "a neat, quiet, intelligent old lady, whose
activeness contrasted strongly with the languor of her son, who had
not a shadow of energy in him." With regard to the latter part of this
account, we must not overlook the fact that my informant knew Chopin
only in the last year of his life--i.e., when he was in a very suffering
state of mind and body. This is all the information I have been able to
collect regarding the character of Chopin's mother. Moreover, Karasowski
is not an altogether trustworthy informant; as a friend of the Chopin
family he sees in its members so many paragons of intellectual and moral
perfection. He proceeds on the de mortuis nil nisi bonum principle,
which I venture to suggest is a very bad principle. Let us apply this
loving tenderness to our living neighbours, and judge the dead according
to their merits. Thus the living will be doubly benefited, and no harm
be done to the dead. Still, the evidence before us--including that
exclamation about his "best of mothers" in one of Chopin's letters,
written from Vienna, soon after the outbreak of the Polish
insurrection in 1830: "How glad my mamma will be that I did not come
back!"--justifies us, I think, in inferring that Justina Chopin was a
woman of the most lovable type, one in whom the central principle of
existence was the maternal instinct, that bright ray of light which,
dispersed in its action, displays itself in the most varied and lovely
colours. That this principle, although often all-absorbing, is not
incompatible with the wider and higher social and intellectual interests
is a proposition that does not stand in need of proof. But who could
describe that wondrous blending of loving strength and lovable weakness
of a true woman's character? You feel its beauty and sublimity, and if
you attempt to give words to your feeling you produce a caricature.

The three sisters of Frederick all manifested more or less a taste
for literature. The two elder sisters, Louisa (who married Professor
Jedrzejewicz, and died in 1855) and Isabella (who married Anton
Barcinski--first inspector of schools, and subsequently director of
steam navigation on the Vistula--and died in 1881), wrote together for
the improvement of the working classes. The former contributed now and
then, also after her marriage, articles to periodicals on the education
of the young. Emilia, the youngest sister, who died at the early age of
fourteen (in 1827), translated, conjointly with her sister Isabella,
the educational tales of the German author Salzmann, and her poetical
efforts held out much promise for the future.



OUR little friend, who, as we have seen, at first took up a hostile
attitude towards music--for his passionate utterances, albeit
inarticulate, cannot well be interpreted as expressions of satisfaction
or approval--came before long under her mighty sway. The pianoforte
threw a spell over him, and, attracting him more and more, inspired
him with such a fondness as to induce his parents to provide him,
notwithstanding his tender age, with an instructor. To lessen the
awfulness of the proceeding, it was arranged that one of the elder
sisters should join him in his lessons. The first and only pianoforte
teacher of him who in the course of time became one of the greatest and
most original masters of this instrument, deserves some attention from
us. Adalbert Zywny [FOOTNOTE: This is the usual spelling of the name,
which, as the reader will see further on, its possessor wrote Ziwny.
Liszt calls him Zywna.], a native of Bohemia, born in 1756, came to
Poland, according to Albert Sowinski (Les musiciens polonais et slaves),
during the reign of Stanislas Augustus Poniatowski (1764--1795), and
after staying for some time as pianist at the court of Prince Casimir
Sapieha, settled in Warsaw as a teacher of music, and soon got into good
practice, "giving his lessons at three florins (eighteen pence) per hour
very regularly, and making a fortune." And thus teaching and composing
(he is said to have composed much for the pianoforte, but he never
published anything), he lived a long and useful life, dying in 1842 at
the age of 86 (Karasowski says in 1840). The punctual and, no doubt,
also somewhat pedantic music-master who acquired the esteem and goodwill
of his patrons, the best families of Warsaw, and a fortune at the same
time, is a pleasant figure to contemplate. The honest orderliness and
dignified calmness of his life, as I read it, are quite refreshing in
this time of rush and gush. Having seen a letter of his, I can imagine
the heaps of original MSS., clearly and neatly penned with a firm
hand, lying carefully packed up in spacious drawers, or piled up on
well-dusted shelves. Of the man Zywny and his relation to the Chopin
family we get some glimpses in Frederick's letters. In one of the year
1828, addressed to his friend Titus Woyciechowski, he writes: "With us
things are as they used to be; the honest Zywny is the soul of all our
amusements." Sowinski informs us that Zywny taught his pupil according
to the classical German method--whatever that may mean--at that time in
use in Poland. Liszt, who calls him "an enthusiastic student of Bach,"
speaks likewise of "les errements d'une ecole entierement classique."
Now imagine my astonishment when on asking the well-known pianoforte
player and composer Edouard Wolff, a native of Warsaw, [Fooynote: He
died at Paris on October 16, 1880.] what kind of pianist Zywny was,
I received the answer that he was a violinist and not a pianist.
That Wolff and Zywny knew each other is proved beyond doubt by the
above-mentioned letter of Zywny's, introducing the former to Chopin,
then resident in Paris. The solution of the riddle is probably this.
Zywny, whether violinist or not, was not a pianoforte virtuoso--at
least, was not heard in public in his old age. The mention of a single
name, that of Wenzel W. Wurfel, certainly shows that he was not the best
pianist in Warsaw. But against any such depreciatory remarks we have
to set Chopin's high opinion of Zywny's teaching capability. Zywny's
letter, already twice alluded to, is worth quoting. It still further
illustrates the relation in which master and pupil stood to each other,
and by bringing us in close contact with the former makes us better
acquainted with his character. A particularly curious fact about the
letter--considering the nationality of the persons concerned--is its
being written in German. Only a fac-simile of the original, with its
clear, firm, though (owing to the writer's old age) cramped penmanship,
and its quaint spelling and capricious use of capital and small
initials, could fully reveal the expressiveness of this document.
However, even in the translation there may be found some of the man's
characteristic old-fashioned formality, grave benevolence, and quiet
homeliness. The outside of the sheet on which the letter is written
bears the words, "From the old music-master Adalbert Ziwny [at least
this I take to be the meaning of the seven letters followed by dots],
kindly to be transmitted to my best friend, Mr. Frederick Chopin, in
Paris." The letter itself runs as follows:--

   DEAREST MR. F. CHOPIN,--Wishing you perfect health I have the
   honour to write to you through Mr. Eduard Wolf. [FOOTNOTE:
   The language of the first sentence is neither logical nor
   otherwise precise. I shall keep throughout as close as
   possible to the original, and also retain the peculiar
   spelling of proper names.] I recommend him to your esteemed
   friendship. Your whole family and I had also the pleasure of
   hearing at his concert the Adagio and Rondo from your
   Concerto, which called up in our minds the most agreeable
   remembrance of you. May God give you every prosperity! We are
   all well, and wish so much to see you again. Meanwhile I send
   you through Mr. Wolf my heartiest kiss, and recommending
   myself to your esteemed friendship, I remain your faithful


   Warsaw, the 12th of June, 1835.

   N.B.--Mr. Kirkow, the merchant, and his son George, who was
   at Mr. Reinschmid's at your farewell party, recommend
   themselves to you, and wish you good health. Adieu.

Julius Fontana, the friend and companion of Frederick, after stating (in
his preface to Chopin's posthumous works) that Chopin had never another
pianoforte teacher than Zywny, observes that the latter taught his
pupil only the first principles. "The progress of the child was so
extraordinary that his parents and his professor thought they could do
no better than abandon him at the age of 12 to his own instincts, and
follow instead of directing him." The progress of Frederick must indeed
have been considerable, for in Clementina Tanska-Hofmanowa's Pamiatka po
dobrej matce (Memorial of a good Mother) [FOOTNOTE: Published in 1819.]
the writer relates that she was at a soiree at Gr----'s, where she found
a numerous party assembled, and heard in the course of the evening young
Chopin play the piano--"a child not yet eight years old, who, in the
opinion of the connoisseurs of the art, promises to replace Mozart."
Before the boy had completed his ninth year his talents were already so
favourably known that he was invited to take part in a concert which was
got up by several persons of high rank for the benefit of the poor. The
bearer of the invitation was no less a person than Ursin Niemcewicz, the
publicist, poet, dramatist, and statesman, one of the most remarkable
and influential men of the Poland of that day. At this concert, which
took place on February 24, 1818, the young virtuoso played a concerto
by Adalbert Gyrowetz, a composer once celebrated, but now ignominiously
shelved--sic transit gloria mundi--and one of Riehl's "divine
Philistines." An anecdote shows that at that time Frederick was neither
an intellectual prodigy nor a conceited puppy, but a naive, modest child
that played the pianoforte, as birds sing, with unconscious art. When
he came home after the concert, for which of course he had been arrayed
most splendidly and to his own great satisfaction, his mother said to
him: "Well, Fred, what did the public like best?"--"Oh, mamma," replied
the little innocent, "everybody was looking at my collar."

The debut was a complete success, and our Frederick--Chopinek
(diminutive of Chopin) they called him--became more than ever the pet of
the aristocracy of Warsaw. He was invited to the houses of the Princes
Czartoryski, Sapieha, Czetwertynski, Lubecki, Radziwill, the Counts
Skarbek, Wolicki, Pruszak, Hussarzewski, Lempicki, and others. By the
Princess Czetwertynska, who, says Liszt, cultivated music with a true
feeling of its beauties, and whose salon was one of the most brilliant
and select of Warsaw, Frederick was introduced to the Princess Lowicka,
the beautiful Polish wife of the Grand Duke Constantine, who, as
Countess Johanna Antonia Grudzinska, had so charmed the latter that,
in order to obtain the Emperor's consent to his marriage with her, he
abdicated his right of succession to the throne. The way in which
she exerted her influence over her brutal, eccentric, if not insane,
husband, who at once loved and maltreated the Poles, gained her the
title of "guardian angel of Poland." In her salon Frederick came of
course also in contact with the dreaded Grand Duke, the Napoleon of
Belvedere (thus he was nicknamed by Niemcewicz, from the palace where
he resided in Warsaw), who on one occasion when the boy was improvising
with his eyes turned to the ceiling, as was his wont, asked him why he
looked in that direction, if he saw notes up there. With the exalted
occupants of Belvedere Frederick had a good deal of intercourse, for
little Paul, a boy of his own age, a son or adopted son of the Grand
Duke, enjoyed his company, and sometimes came with his tutor, Count de
Moriolles, to his house to take him for a drive. On these occasions
the neighbours of the Chopin family wondered not a little what business
brought the Grand Duke's carriage, drawn by four splendid horses, yoked
in the Russian fashion--i.e., all abreast--to their quarter.

Chopin's early introduction into aristocratic society and constant
intercourse with the aristocracy is an item of his education which must
not be considered as of subordinate importance. More than almost any
other of his early disciplines, it formed his tastes, or at least
strongly assisted in developing certain inborn traits of his nature, and
in doing this influenced his entire moral and artistic character. In the
proem I mentioned an English traveller's encomiums on the elegance in
the houses, and the exquisite refinement in the entertainments, of the
wealthy nobles in the last quarter of the eighteenth century. We may be
sure that in these respects the present century was not eclipsed by
its predecessors, at least not in the third decade, when the salons of
Warsaw shone at their brightest. The influence of French thought and
manners, for the importation and spreading of which King Stanislas
Leszczinski was so solicitous that he sent at his own expense many young
gentlemen to Paris for their education, was subsequently strengthened by
literary taste, national sympathies, and the political connection during
the first Empire. But although foreign notions and customs caused
much of the old barbarous extravagance and also much of the old
homely simplicity to disappear, they did not annihilate the national
distinctiveness of the class that was affected by them. Suffused with
the Slavonic spirit and its tincture of Orientalism, the importation
assumed a character of its own. Liszt, who did not speak merely from
hearsay, emphasises, in giving expression to his admiration of the
elegant and refined manners of the Polish aristocracy, the absence of
formalism and stiff artificiality:--

   In these salons [he writes] the rigorously observed
   proprieties were not a kind of ingeniously-constructed
   corsets that served to hide deformed hearts; they only
   necessitated the spiritualisation of all contacts, the
   elevation of all rapports, the aristocratisation of all

But enough of this for the present.

A surer proof of Frederick's ability than the applause and favour of the
aristocracy was the impression he made on the celebrated Catalani, who,
in January, 1820, gave four concerts in the town-hall of Warsaw, the
charge for admission to each of which was, as we may note in passing, no
less than thirty Polish florins (fifteen shillings). Hearing much of the
musically-gifted boy, she expressed the wish to have him presented to
her. On this being done, she was so pleased with him and his playing
that she made him a present of a watch, on which were engraved the
words: "Donne par Madame Catalani a Frederic Chopin, age de dix ans."

As yet I have said nothing of the boy's first attempts at composition.
Little Frederick began to compose soon after the commencement of his
pianoforte lessons and before he could handle the pen. His master had
to write down what the pupil played, after which the youthful maestro,
often dissatisfied with his first conception, would set to work with the
critical file, and try to improve it. He composed mazurkas, polonaises,
waltzes, &c. At the age of ten he dedicated a march to the Grand Duke
Constantine, who had it scored for a military band and played on parade
(subsequently it was also published, but without the composer's name),
and these productions gave such evident proof of talent that his father
deemed it desirable to get his friend Elsner to instruct him in
harmony and counterpoint. At this time, however, it was not as yet in
contemplation that Frederick should become a professional musician; on
the contrary, he was made to understand that his musical studies must
not interfere with his other studies, as he was then preparing for his
entrance into the Warsaw Lyceum. As we know that this event took place
in 1824, we know also the approximate time of the commencement of
Elsner's lessons. Fontana says that Chopin began these studies when he
was already remarkable as a pianist. Seeing how very little is known
concerning the nature and extent of Chopin's studies in composition, it
may be as well to exhaust the subject at once. But before I do so I must
make the reader acquainted with the musician who, as Zyvny was Chopin's
only pianoforte teacher, was his only teacher of composition.

Joseph Elsner, the son of a cabinet and musical instrument maker at
Grottkau, in Silesia, was born on June 1, 1769. As his father intended
him for the medical profession, he was sent in 1781 to the Latin school
at Breslau, and some years later to the University at Vienna. Having
already been encouraged by the rector in Grottkau to cultivate his
beautiful voice, he became in Breslau a chorister in one of the
churches, and after some time was often employed as violinist and singer
at the theatre. Here, where he got, if not regular instruction, at least
some hints regarding harmony and kindred matters (the authorities are
hopelessly at variance on this and on many other points), he made his
first attempts at composition, writing dances, songs, duets, trios, nay,
venturing even on larger works for chorus and orchestra. The musical
studies commenced in Breslau were continued in Vienna; preferring
musical scores to medical books, the conversations of musicians to
the lectures of professors, he first neglected and at last altogether
abandoned the study of the healing art. A. Boguslawski, who wrote a
biography of Elsner, tells the story differently and more poetically.
When, after a long illness during his sojourn in Breslau, thus runs his
version, Elsner went, on the day of the Holy Trinity in the year 1789,
for the first time to church, he was so deeply moved by the sounds of
the organ that he fainted. On recovering he felt his whole being filled
with such ineffable comfort and happiness that he thought he saw in this
occurrence the hand of destiny. He, therefore, set out for Vienna,
in order that he might draw as it were at the fountain-head the great
principles of his art. Be this as it may, in 1791 we hear of Elsner
as violinist in Brunn, in 1792 as musical conductor at a theatre in
Lemberg--where he is busy composing dramatic and other works--and near
the end of the last century as occupant of the same post at the National
Theatre in Warsaw, which town became his home for the rest of his life.
There was the principal field of his labours; there he died, after a
sojourn of sixty-two years in Poland, on April 18, 1854, leaving
behind him one of the most honoured names in the history of his adopted
country. Of the journeys he undertook, the longest and most important
was, no doubt, that to Paris in 1805. On the occasion of this visit
some of his compositions were performed, and when Chopin arrived there
twenty-five years afterwards, Elsner was still remembered by Lesueur,
who said: "Et que fait notre bon Elsner? Racontez-moi de ses nouvelles."
Elsner was a very productive composer: besides symphonies, quartets,
cantatas, masses, an oratorio, &c., he composed twenty-seven Polish
operas. Many of these works were published, some in Warsaw, some in
various German towns, some even in Paris. But his activity as a teacher,
conductor, and organiser was perhaps even more beneficial to the
development of the musical art in Poland than that as a composer. After
founding and conducting several musical societies, he became in 1821
director of the then opened Conservatorium, at the head of which he
continued to the end of its existence in 1830. To complete the idea of
the man, we must not omit to mention his essay In how far is the Polish
language suitable for music? As few of his compositions have been heard
outside of Poland, and these few long ago, rarely, and in few places, it
is difficult to form a satisfactory opinion with regard to his position
as a composer. Most accounts, however, agree in stating that he wrote in
the style of the modern Italians, that is to say, what were called the
modern Italians in the later part of the last and the earlier part of
this century. Elsner tried his strength and ability in all genres, from
oratorio, opera, and symphony, down to pianoforte variations, rondos,
and dances, and in none of them did he fail to be pleasing and
intelligible, not even where, as especially in his sacred music, he
made use--a sparing use--of contrapuntal devices, imitations, and fugal
treatment. The naturalness, fluency, effectiveness, and practicableness
which distinguish his writing for voices and instruments show that he
possessed a thorough knowledge of their nature and capability. It was,
therefore, not an empty rhetorical phrase to speak of him initiating
his pupils "a la science du contre-point et aux effets d'une savante

[FOOTNOTE: "The productions of Elsner," says Fetis, "are in the style of
Paer and Mayer's music. In his church music there is a little too much
of modern and dramatic forms; one finds in them facility and a natural
manner of making the parts sing, but little originality and variety in
his ideas. Elsner writes with sufficient purity, although he shows in
his fugues that his studies have not been severe."]

For the pupils of the Conservatorium he wrote vocal pieces in from one
to ten parts, and he composed also a number of canons in four and five
parts, which fact seems to demonstrate that he had no ill-will against
the scholastic forms. And now I shall quote a passage from an apparently
well-informed writer [FOOTNOTE: The writer of the article Elsner in
Schilling's Universal-Lexikon der Tonkunst] (to whom I am, moreover,
otherwise indebted in this sketch), wherein Elsner is blamed for certain
shortcomings with which Chopin has been often reproached in a less
charitable spirit. The italics, which are mine, will point out the words
in question:--

   One forgives him readily [in consideration of the general
   excellence of his style] THE OFFENCES AGAINST THE LAW OF
   OF STRICT PART-WRITING, especially in the dramatic works,
   where he makes effect apparently the ultimate aim of his
   indefatigable endeavours.

The wealth of melody and technical mastery displayed in "The Passion
of our Lord Jesus Christ" incline Karasowski to think that it is the
composer's best work. When the people at Breslau praised Elsner's
"Echo Variations" for orchestra, Chopin exclaimed: "You must hear his
Coronation Mass, then only can you judge of him as a composer." To
characterise Elsner in a few words, he was a man of considerable musical
aptitude and capacity, full of nobleness of purpose, learning, industry,
perseverance, in short, possessing all qualities implied by talent, but
lacking those implied by genius.

A musician travelling in 1841 in Poland sent at the time to the Neue
Zeitschrift fur Musik a series of "Reiseblatter" (Notes of Travel),
which contain so charming and vivid a description of this interesting
personality that I cannot resist the temptation to translate and insert
it here almost without any abridgment. Two noteworthy opinions of the
writer may be fitly prefixed to this quotation--namely, that Elsner was
a Pole with all his heart and soul, indeed, a better one than thousands
that are natives of the country, and that, like Haydn, he possessed the
quality of writing better the older he grew:--

   The first musical person of the town [Warsaw] is still the
   old, youthful Joseph Elsner, a veteran master of our art, who
   is as amiable as he is truly estimable. In our day one hardly
   meets with a notable Polish musician who has not studied
   composition under Pan [i.e., Mr.] Elsner; and he loves all
   his pupils, and all speak of him with enthusiasm, and,
   according to the Polish fashion, kiss the old master's
   shoulder, whereupon he never forgets to kiss them heartily on
   both cheeks. Even Charles Kurpinski, the pensioned
   Capelhneister of the Polish National Theatre, whose hair is
   already grey, is, if I am not very much misinformed, also a
   pupil of Joseph Elsner's. One is often mistaken with regard
   to the outward appearance of a celebrated man; I mean, one
   forms often a false idea of him before one has seen him and
   knows a portrait of him. I found Elsner almost exactly as I
   had imagined him. Wisocki, the pianist, also a pupil of his,
   took me to him. Pan Elsner lives in the Dom Pyarow [House of
   Piarists]. One has to start early if one wishes to find him
   at home; for soon after breakfast he goes out, and rarely
   returns to his cell before evening. He inhabits, like a
   genuine church composer, two cells of the old Piarist
   Monastery in Jesuit Street, and in the dark passages which
   lead to his rooms one sees here and there faded laid-aside
   pictures of saints lying about, and old church banners
   hanging down. The old gentleman was still in bed when we
   arrived, and sent his servant to ask us to wait a little in
   the anteroom, promising to be with us immediately. All the
   walls of this room, or rather cell, were hung to the ceiling
   with portraits of musicians, among them some very rare names
   and faces. Mr. Elsner has continued this collection down to
   the present time; also the portraits of Liszt, Thalberg,
   Chopin, and Clara Wieck shine down from the old monastic
   walls. I had scarcely looked about me in this large company
   for a few minutes, when the door of the adjoining room
   opened, and a man of medium height (not to say little),
   somewhat stout, with a round, friendly countenance, grey
   hair, but very lively eyes, enveloped in a warm fur dressing-
   gown, stepped up to us, comfortably but quickly, and bade us
   welcome. Wisocki kissed him, according to the Polish fashion,
   as a token of respect, on the right shoulder, and introduced
   me to him, whereupon the old friendly gentleman shook hands
   with me and said some kindly words.

   This, then, was Pan Joseph Elsner, the ancestor of modern
   Polish music, the teacher of Chopin, the fine connoisseur and
   cautious guide of original talents. For he does not do as is
   done only too often by other teachers in the arts, who insist
   on screwing all pupils to the same turning-lathe on which
   they themselves were formed, who always do their utmost to
   ingraft their own I on the pupil, so that he may become as
   excellent a man as they imagine themselves to be. Joseph
   Elsner did not proceed thus. When all the people of Warsaw
   thought Frederick Chopin was entering on a wrong path, that
   his was not music at all, that he must keep to Himmel and
   Hummel, otherwise he would never do anything decent--the
   clever Pan Elsner had already very clearly perceived what a
   poetic kernel there was in the pale young dreamer, had long
   before felt very clearly that he had before him the founder
   of a new epoch of pianoforte-playing, and was far from laying
   upon him a cavesson, knowing well that such a noble
   thoroughbred may indeed be cautiously led, but must not be
   trained and fettered in the usual way if he is to conquer.

Of Chopin's studies under this master we do not know much more than
of his studies under Zywny. Both Fontana and Sowinski say that he went
through a complete course of counterpoint and composition. Elsner, in a
letter written to Chopin in 1834, speaks of himself as "your teacher
of harmony and counterpoint, of little merit, but fortunate." Liszt

   Joseph Elsner taught Chopin those things that are most
   difficult to learn and most rarely known: to be exacting
   to one's self, and to value the advantages that are only
   obtained by dint of patience and labour.

What other accounts of the matter under discussion I have got from books
and conversations are as general and vague as the foregoing. I therefore
shall not weary the reader with them. What Elsner's view of teaching was
may be gathered from one of his letters to his pupil. The gist of his
remarks lies in this sentence:--

   That with which the artist (who learns continually from his
   surroundings) astonishes his contemporaries, he can only
   attain by himself and through himself.

Elsner had insight and self-negation (a rare quality with teachers)
enough to act up to his theory, and give free play to the natural
tendencies of his pupil's powers. That this was really the case is seen
from his reply to one who blamed Frederick's disregard of rules and

   Leave him in peace [he said], his is an uncommon way because
   his gifts are uncommon. He does not strictly adhere to the
   customary method, but he has one of his own, and he will
   reveal in his works an originality which in such a degree has
   not been found in anyone.

The letters of master and pupil testify to their unceasing mutual esteem
and love. Those of the master are full of fatherly affection and advice,
those of the pupil full of filial devotion and reverence. Allusions to
and messages for Elsner are very frequent in Chopin's letters. He seems
always anxious that his old master should know how he fared, especially
hear of his success. His sentiments regarding Elsner reveal themselves
perhaps nowhere more strikingly than in an incidental remark which
escapes him when writing to his friend Woyciechowski. Speaking of a new
acquaintance he has made, he says, "He is a great friend of Elsner's,
which in my estimation means much." No doubt Chopin looked up with more
respect and thought himself more indebted to Elsner than to Zywny; but
that he had a good opinion of both his masters is evident from his pithy
reply to the Viennese gentleman who told him that people were astonished
at his having learned all he knew at Warsaw: "From Messrs. Zywny and
Elsner even the greatest ass must learn something."



FREDERICK, who up to the age of fifteen was taught at home along with
his father's boarders, became in 1824 a pupil of the Warsaw Lyceum, a
kind of high-school, the curriculum of which comprised Latin, Greek,
modern languages, mathematics, history, &c. His education was so
far advanced that he could at once enter the fourth class, and the
liveliness of his parts, combined with application to work, enabled him
to distinguish himself in the following years as a student and to carry
off twice a prize. Polish history and literature are said to have been
his favourite studies.

Liszt relates that Chopin was placed at an early age in one of the first
colleges of Warsaw, "thanks to the generous and intelligent protection
which Prince Anton Radziwill always bestowed upon the arts and upon
young men of talent." This statement, however, has met with a direct
denial on the part of the Chopin family, and may, therefore, be
considered as disposed of. But even without such a denial the statement
would appear suspicious to all but those unacquainted with Nicholas
Chopin's position. Surely he must have been able to pay for his son's
schooling! Moreover, one would think that, as a professor at the Lyceum,
he might even have got it gratis. As to Frederick's musical education
in Warsaw, it cannot have cost much. And then, how improbable that the
Prince should have paid the comparatively trifling school-fees and left
the young man when he went abroad dependent upon the support of his
parents! The letters from Vienna (1831) show unmistakably that Chopin
applied to his father repeatedly for money, and regretted being such a
burden to him. Further, Chopin's correspondence, which throws much light
on his relation to Prince Radziwili, contains nothing which would lead
one to infer any such indebtedness as Liszt mentions. But in order that
the reader may be in possession of the whole evidence and able to judge
for himself, I shall place before him Liszt's curiously circumstantial
account in its entirety:--

   The Prince bestowed upon him the inappreciable gift of a good
   education, no part of which remained neglected. His elevated
   mind enabling him to understand the exigencies of an artist's
   career, he, from the time of his protege's entering the
   college to the entire completion of his studies, paid the
   pension through the agency of a friend, M. Antoine
   Korzuchowski, [FOOTNOTE: Liszt should have called this
   gentleman Adam Kozuchowski.] who always maintained cordial
   relations and a constant friendship with Chopin.

Liszt's informant was no doubt Chopin's Paris friend Albert Grzymala,
[FOOTNOTE: M. Karasowski calls this Grzymala erroneously Francis. More
information about this gentleman will be given in a subsequent chapter.]
who seems to have had no connection with the Chopin family in Poland.
Karasowski thinks that the only foundation of the story is a letter and
present from Prince Radziwill--acknowledgments of the dedication to him
of the Trio, Op. 8--which Adam Kozuchowski brought to Chopin in 1833.
[FOOTNOTE: M. Karasowski, Fryderyk Chopin, vol. i., p. 65.]

Frederick was much liked by his school-fellows, which, as his manners
and disposition were of a nature thoroughly appreciated by boys, is
not at all to be wondered at. One of the most striking features in
the character of young Chopin was his sprightliness, a sparkling
effervescence that manifested itself by all sorts of fun and mischief.
He was never weary of playing pranks on his sisters, his comrades,
and even on older people, and indulged to the utmost his fondness for
caricaturing by pictorial and personal imitations. In the course of a
lecture the worthy rector of the Lyceum discovered the scapegrace making
free with the face and figure of no less a person than his own rectorial
self. Nevertheless the irreverent pupil got off easily, for the master,
with as much magnanimity as wisdom, abstained from punishing the
culprit, and, in a subscript which he added to the caricature, even
praised the execution of it. A German Protestant pastor at Warsaw, who
made always sad havoc of the Polish language, in which he had every
Sunday to preach one of his sermons, was the prototype of one of the
imitations with which Frederick frequently amused his friends. Our
hero's talent for changing the expression of his face, of which
George Sand, Liszt, Balzac, Hiller, Moscheles, and other personal
acquaintances, speak with admiration, seems already at this time to have
been extraordinary. Of the theatricals which the young folks were wont
to get up at the paternal house, especially on the name-days of their
parents and friends, Frederick was the soul and mainstay. With a good
delivery he combined a presence of mind that enabled him to be always
ready with an improvisation when another player forgot his part. A
clever Polish actor, Albert Piasecki, who was stage-manager on these
occasions, gave it as his opinion that the lad was born to be a great
actor. In after years two distinguished members of the profession in
France, M. Bocage and Mdme. Dorval, expressed similar opinions. For
their father's name-day in 1824, Frederick and his sister Emilia wrote
conjointly a one-act comedy in verse, entitled THE MISTAKE; OR, THE
PRETENDED ROGUE, which was acted by a juvenile company. According to
Karasowski, the play showed that the authors had a not inconsiderable
command of language, but in other respects could not be called a very
brilliant achievement. Seeing that fine comedies are not often written
at the ages of fifteen and eleven, nobody will be in the least surprised
at the result.

These domestic amusements naturally lead us to inquire who were the
visitors that frequented the house. Among them there was Dr. Samuel
Bogumil Linde, rector of the Lyceum and first librarian of the National
Library, a distinguished philologist, who, assisted by the best Slavonic
scholars, wrote a valuable and voluminous "Dictionary of the Polish
Language," and published many other works on the Slavonic languages.
After this oldest of Nicholas Chopin's friends I shall mention Waclaw
Alexander Maciejowski, who, like Linde, received his university
education in Germany, taught then for a short time at the Lyceum,
and became in 1819 a professor at the University of Warsaw. His
contributions to various branches of Slavonic history (law, literature,
&c.) are very numerous. However, one of the most widely known of those
who were occasionally seen at Chopin's home was Casimir Brodzinski, the
poet, critic, and champion of romanticism, a prominent figure in Polish
literary history, who lived in Warsaw from about 1815 to 1822, in which
year he went as professor of literature to the University of Cracow.
Nicholas Chopin's pupil, Count Frederick Skarbek, must not be forgotten;
he had now become a man of note, being professor of political economy at
the university, and author of several books that treat of that science.
Besides Elsner and Zywny, who have already been noticed at some
length, a third musician has to be numbered among friends of the Chopin
family--namely, Joseph Javurek, the esteemed composer and professor at
the Conservatorium; further, I must yet make mention of Anton Barcinski,
professor at the Polytechnic School, teacher at Nicholas Chopin's
institution, and by-and-by his son-in-law; Dr. Jarocki, the zoologist;
Julius Kolberg, the engineer; and Brodowski, the painter. These and
others, although to us only names, or little more, are nevertheless not
without their significance. We may liken them to the supernumeraries on
the stage, who, dumb as they are, help to set off and show the position
of the principal figure or figures.

The love of literature which we have noticed in the young Chopins, more
particularly in the sisters, implanted by an excellent education and
fostered by the taste, habits, and encouragement of their father, cannot
but have been greatly influenced and strengthened by the characters and
conversation of such visitors. And let it not be overlooked that
this was the time of Poland's intellectual renascence--a time when the
influence of man over man is greater than at other times, he being, as
it were, charged with a kind of vivifying electricity. The
misfortunes that had passed over Poland had purified and fortified the
nation--breathed into it a new and healthier life. The change which the
country underwent from the middle of the eighteenth to the earlier
part of the nineteenth century was indeed immense. Then Poland, to
use Carlyle's drastic phraseology, had ripened into a condition
of "beautifully phosphorescent rot-heap"; now, with an improved
agriculture, reviving commerce, and rising industry, it was more
prosperous than it had been for centuries. As regards intellectual
matters, the comparison with the past was even more favourable to
the present. The government that took the helm in 1815 followed the
direction taken by its predecessors, and schools and universities
flourished; but a most hopeful sign was this, that whilst the epoch of
Stanislas Augustus was, as Mickiewicz remarked (in Les Slaves), little
Slavonic and not even national, now the national spirit pervaded the
whole intellectual atmosphere, and incited workers in all branches of
science and art to unprecedented efforts. To confine ourselves to one
department, we find that the study of the history and literature of
Poland had received a vigorous impulse, folk-songs were zealously
collected, and a new school of poetry, romanticism, rose victoriously
over the fading splendour of an effete classicism. The literature of
the time of Stanislas was a court and salon literature, and under the
influence of France and ancient Rome. The literature that began to
bud about 1815, and whose germs are to be sought for in the preceding
revolutionary time, was more of a people's literature, and under the
influence of Germany, England, and Russia. The one was a hot-house
plant, the other a garden flower, or even a wild flower. The classics
swore by the precepts of Horace and Boileau, and held that among
the works of Shakespeare there was not one veritable tragedy. The
romanticists, on the other hand, showed by their criticisms and works
that their sympathies were with Schiller, Goethe, Burger, Byron,
Shukovski, &c. Wilna was the chief centre from which this movement
issued, and Brodziriski one of the foremost defenders of the new
principles and the precursor of Mickiewicz, the appearance of whose
ballads, romances, "Dziady" and "Grazyna" (1822), decided the war in
favour of romanticism. The names of Anton Malczewski, Bogdan Zaleski,
Severyn Goszczynski, and others, ought to be cited along with that of
the more illustrious Mickiewicz, but I will not weary the reader either
with a long disquisition or with a dry enumeration. I have said above
that Polish poetry had become more of a people's poetry. This, however,
must not be understood in the sense of democratic poetry.

The Polish poets [says C. Courriere, to whose "Histoire de la
litterature chez les Slaves" I am much indebted] ransacked with avidity
the past of their country, which appeared to them so much the more
brilliant because it presented a unique spectacle in the history of
nations. Instead of breaking with the historic traditions they respected
them, and gave them a new lustre, a new life, by representing them under
a more beautiful, more animated, and more striking form. In short, if
Polish romanticism was an evolution of poetry in the national sense, it
did not depart from the tendencies of its elder sister, for it saw
in the past only the nobility; it was and remained, except in a few
instances, aristocratic.

Now let us keep in mind that this contest of classicism and romanticism,
this turning away from a dead formalism to living ideals, was taking
place at that period of Frederick Chopin's life when the human mind is
most open to new impressions, and most disposed to entertain bold and
noble ideas. And, further, let us not undervalue the circumstance that
he must have come in close contact with one of the chief actors in this
unbloody revolution.

Frederick spent his first school holidays at Szafarnia, in Mazovia, the
property of the Dziewanowski family. In a letter written on August
19, 1824, he gives his friend and school-fellow William Kolberg, some
account of his doings there--of his strolls and runs in the garden, his
walks and drives to the forest, and above all of his horsemanship. He
tells his dear Willie that he manages to keep his seat, but would
not like to be asked how. Indeed, he confesses that, his equestrian
accomplishments amount to no more than to letting the horse go slowly
where it lists, and sitting on it, like a monkey, with fear. If he had
not yet met with an accident, it was because the horse had so far not
felt any inclination to throw him off. In connection with his drives--in
britzka and in coach--he does not forget to mention that he is always
honoured with a back-seat. Still, life at Szafarnia was not unmixed
happiness, although our hero bore the ills with admirable stoicism:--

   Very often [he writes] the flies sit on my prominent nose--
   this, however, is of no consequence, it is the habit of these
   little animals. The mosquitoes bite me--this too, however, is
   of no consequence, for they don't bite me in the nose.

The reader sees from this specimen of epistolary writing that Frederick
is still a boy, and if I had given the letter in extenso, the boyishness
would have been even more apparent, in the loose and careless style as
well as in the frolicsome matter.

His letters to his people at home took on this occasion the form of a
manuscript newspaper, called, in imitation of the "Kuryer Warszawski"
("Warsaw Courier"), "Kuryer Szafarski" ("Szafarnia Courier"), which the
editor, in imitation of the then obtaining press regulation, did not
send off until it had been seen and approved of by the censor, Miss
Dziewanowska. One of the numbers of the paper contains among other news
the report of a musical gathering of "some persons and demi-persons"
at which, on July 15, 1824, Mr. Pichon (anagram of Chopin) played a
Concerto of Kalkbrenner's and a little song, the latter being received
by the youthful audience with more applause than the former.

Two anecdotes that relate to this stay at Szafarnia further exemplify
what has already been said of Frederick's love of fun and mischief.
Having on one of his visits to the village of Oberow met some Jews
who had come to buy grain, he invited them to his room, and there
entertained them with music, playing to them "Majufes."

[FOOTNOTE: Karasowski describes "Majufes" as a kind of Jewish wedding
march. Ph. Lobenstein says that it means "the beautiful, the pleasing
one." With this word opened a Hebrew song which dates from the time of
the sojourn of the Jews in Spain, and which the orthodox Polish Jews
sing on Saturdays after dinner, and whose often-heard melody the Poles
imitate as a parody of Jewish singing.]

His guests were delighted--they began to dance, told him that he played
like a born Jew, and urged him to come to the next Jewish wedding and
play to them there. The other anecdote would be a very ugly story were
it not for the redeeming conclusion. Again we meet with one of the
numerous, but by no means well-loved, class of Polish citizens.
Frederick, having heard that a certain Jew had bought grain from
Mr. Romecki, the proprietor of Oberow, sent this gentleman a letter
purporting to be written by the grain-dealer in question, in which he
informed him that after reconsidering the matter he would rather not
take the grain. The imitation of the jargon in use among the Polish Jews
was so good, and the spelling and writing so bad, that Mr. Romecki was
taken in. Indeed, he flew at once into such a passion that he sent for
the Jew with the intention of administering to him a sound thrashing.
Only Frederick's timely confession saved the poor fellow from his
undeserved punishment. But enough of Szafarnia, where the young
scapegrace paid so long a holiday visit (from his letter to William
Kolberg we learn that he would not see his friend for four weeks more),
and where, judging from what has already been told, and also from a
remark in the same letter, he must have "enjoyed himself pretty well."
And now we will return to Warsaw, to Nicholas Chopin's boarding-school.

To take away any bad impression that may be left by the last anecdote, I
shall tell another of a more pleasing character, which, indeed, has had
the honour of being made the subject of a picture. It was often told,
says Karasowski, by Casimir Wodzinski, a boarder of Nicholas Chopin's.
One day when the latter was out, Barcinski, the assistant master,
could not manage the noisy boys. Seeing this, Frederick, who just then
happened to come into the room, said to them that he would improvise a
pretty story if they would sit down and be quiet. This quickly restored
silence. He thereupon had the lights extinguished, took his seat at the
piano, and began as follows:--

    Robbers set out to plunder a house. They come nearer and
    nearer. Then they halt, and put up the ladders they have
    brought with them. But just when they are about to enter
    through the windows, they hear a noise within. This gives
    them a fright. They run away to the woods. There, amidst the
    stillness and darkness of the night, they lie down and
    before long fall fast asleep.

When Frederick had got to this part of the story he began to play softer
and softer, and ever softer, till his auditors, like the robbers, were
fast asleep. Noticing this he stole out of the room, called in the other
inmates of the house, who came carrying lights with them, and then
with a tremendous, crashing chord disturbed the sweet slumbers of the

Here we have an instance of "la richesse de son improvisation," by
which, as Fontana tells us, Chopin, from his earliest youth, astonished
all who had the good fortune to hear him. Those who think that there
is no salvation outside the pale of absolute music, will no doubt be
horror-stricken at the heretical tendency manifested on this occasion by
an otherwise so promising musician. Nay, even the less orthodox, those
who do not altogether deny the admissibility of programme-music if it
conforms to certain conditions and keeps within certain limits, will
shake their heads sadly. The duty of an enthusiastic biographer, it
would seem, is unmistakable; he ought to justify, or, at least, excuse
his hero--if nothing else availed, plead his youth and inexperience.
My leaving the poor suspected heretic in the lurch under these
circumstances will draw upon me the reproach of remissness; but, as
I have what I consider more important business on hand, I must not be
deterred from proceeding to it by the fear of censure.

The year 1825 was, in many respects, a memorable one in the life of
Chopin. On May 27 and June 10 Joseph Javurek, whom I mentioned a few
pages back among the friends of the Chopin family, gave two concerts for
charitable purposes in the large hall of the Conservatorium. At one of
these Frederick appeared again in public. A Warsaw correspondent of the
"Leipzig Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung" says in the course of one of
his letters:--

   The Academist Chopin performed the first Allegro of
   Moscheles' Pianoforte Concerto in F [G?] minor, and an
   improvisation on the aeolopantaleon. This instrument,
   invented by the cabinet-maker Dlugosz, of this town, combines
   the aeolomelodicon [FOOTNOTE: An instrument of the organ
   species, invented by Professor Hoffmann, and constructed by
   the mechanician Brunner, of Warsaw.] with the piano-
   forte....Young Chopin distinguished himself in his
   improvisation by wealth of musical ideas, and under his hands
   this instrument, of which he is a thorough master, made a
   great impression.

Unfortunately we learn nothing of Chopin's rendering of the movement
from Moscheles' Concerto. Still, this meagre notice, written by a
contemporary--an ear-witness, who wrote down his impressions soon after
the performance--is very precious, indeed more precious than the
most complete and elaborate criticism written fifty years after the
occurrence would be. I cannot help thinking that Karasowski somewhat
exaggerates when he says that Chopin's pianoforte playing transported
the audience into a state of enthusiasm, and that no concert had a
brilliant success unless he took part in it. The biographer seems either
to trust too much to the fancy-coloured recollections of his informants,
or to allow himself to be carried away by his zeal for the exaltation of
his hero. At any rate, the tenor of the above-quoted notice, laudatory
as it is, and the absence of Chopin's name from other Warsaw letters,
do not remove the doubts which such eulogistic superlatives raise in the
mind of an unbiassed inquirer. But that Chopin, as a pianist and as
a musician generally, had attained a proficiency far beyond his years
becomes evident if we examine his compositions of that time, to which I
shall presently advert. And that he had risen into notoriety and saw his
talents appreciated cannot be doubted for a moment after what has been
said. Were further proof needed, we should find it in the fact that he
was selected to display the excellences of the aeolomelodicon when the
Emperor Alexander I, during his sojourn in Warsaw in 1825, [FOOTNOTE:
The Emperor Alexander opened the Diet at Warsaw on May 13, 1825, and
closed it on June 13.] expressed the wish to hear this instrument.
Chopin's performance is said to have pleased the august auditor, who, at
all events, rewarded the young musician with a diamond ring.

A greater event than either the concert or the performance before the
Emperor, in fact, THE event of the year 1825, was the publication of
Chopin's Opus 1. Only he who has experienced the delicious sensation of
seeing himself for the first time in print can realise what our young
author felt on this occasion. Before we examine this work, we will
give a passing glance at some less important early compositions of the
maestro which were published posthumously.

There is first of all a Polonaise in G sharp minor, said to be of
the year 1822, [FOOTNOTE: See No. 15 of the Posthumous Works in the
Breitkopf and Hartel edition.] but which, on account of the savoir-faire
and invention exhibited in it, I hold to be of a considerably later
time. Chopin's individuality, it is true, is here still in a rudimentary
state, chiefly manifested in the light-winged figuration; the thoughts
and the expression, however, are natural and even graceful, bearing
thus the divine impress. The echoes of Weber should be noted. Of
two mazurkas, in G and B flat major, of the year 1825, the first is,
especially in its last part, rather commonplace; the second is more
interesting, because more suggestive of better things, which the first
is only to an inconsiderable extent. In No. 2 we meet already with
harmonic piquancies which charmed musicians and lovers of music so
much in the later mazurkas. Critics and students will not overlook the
octaves between, treble and bass in the second bar of part two in No.
1. A. Polonaise in B flat minor, superscribed "Farewell to William
Kolberg," of the year 1826, has not less naturalness and grace than the
Polonaise of 1822, but in addition to these qualities, it has also at
least one thought (part 1) which contains something of the sweet ring of
Chopinian melancholy. The trio of the Polonaise is headed by the words:
"Au revoir! after an aria from 'Gazza ladra'." Two foot-notes accompany
this composition in the Breitkopf and Hartel edition (No. 16 of the
Posthumous Works). The first says that the Polonaise was composed "at
Chopin's departure from [should be 'for'] Reinerz"; and the second, in
connection with the trio, that "some days before Chopin's departure the
two friends had been present at a performance of Rossini's opera."
There is one other early posthumously-published work of Chopin's, whose
status, however, differs from the above-mentioned ones in this, that
the composer seems to have intended to publish it. The composition in
question is the Variations sur un air national allemand.

Szulc says that Oskar Kolberg related that he had still in his
possession these Variations on the theme of Der Schweizerbub, which
Chopin composed between his twelfth and seventeenth years at the house
of General Sowinski's wife in the course of "a few quarter-hours."
The Variations sur un air national allemand were published after the
composer's death along with his Sonata, Op. 4, by Haslinger, of Vienna,
in 1851. They are, no doubt, the identical composition of which Chopin
in a letter from Vienna (December 1, 1830) writes: "Haslinger received
me very kindly, but nevertheless would publish neither the Sonata nor
the Second Variations." The First Variations were those on La ci darem,
Op. 2, the first of his compositions that was published in Germany.
Without inquiring too curiously into the exact time of its production
and into the exact meaning of "a few quarter-hours," also leaving it
an open question whether the composer did or did not revise his first
conception of the Variations before sending them to Vienna, I shall
regard this unnumbered work--which, by the way, in the Breitkopf and
Hartel edition is dated 1824--on account of its greater simplicity and
inferior interest, as an earlier composition than the Premier Rondeau
(C minor), Op. 1, dedicated to Mdme. de Linde (the wife of his father's
friend and colleague, the rector Dr. Linde), a lady with whom Frederick
often played duets. What strikes one at once in both of them is
the almost total absence of awkwardness and the presence of a
rarely-disturbed ease. They have a natural air which is alike free from
affected profundity and insipid childishness. And the hand that wrote
them betrays so little inexperience in the treatment of the instrument
that they can hold their ground without difficulty and honourably among
the better class of light drawing-room pieces. Of course, there are
weak points: the introduction to the Variations with those interminable
sequences of dominant and tonic chords accompanying a stereotyped run,
and the want of cohesiveness in the Rondo, the different subjects of
which are too loosely strung together, may be instanced. But, although
these two compositions leave behind them a pleasurable impression,
they can lay only a small claim to originality. Still, there are slight
indications of it in the tempo di valse, the concluding portion of the
Variations, and more distinct ones in the Rondo, in which it is
possible to discover the embryos of forms--chromatic and serpentining
progressions, &c.--which subequently develop most exuberantly. But if on
the one hand we must admit that the composer's individuality is as yet
weak, on the other hand we cannot accuse him of being the imitator of
any one master--such a dominant influence is not perceptible.

[FOOTNOTE: Schumann, who in 1831 became acquainted with Chopin's Op.
2, and conceived an enthusiastic admiration for the composer, must have
made inquiries after his Op. 1, and succeeded in getting it. For on
January 1832, he wrote to Frederick Wieck: "Chopin's first work (I
believe firmly that it is his tenth) is in my hands: a lady would
say that it was very pretty, very piquant, almost Moschelesque. But
I believe you will make Clara [Wieck's daughter, afterwards Mdme.
Schumann] study it; for there is plenty of Geist in it and few
difficulties. But I humbly venture to assert that there are between this
composition and Op. 2 two years and twenty works"]

All this, however, is changed in another composition, the Rondeau a
la Mazur, Op. 5, dedicated to the Comtesse Alexandrine de Moriolles (a
daughter of the Comte de Moriolles mentioned in Chapter II), which, like
the Rondo, Op. 1, was first published in Warsaw, and made its appearance
in Germany some years later. I do not know the exact time of its
composition, but I presume it was a year or two after that of the
previously mentioned works. Schumann, who reviewed it in 1836, thought
it had perhaps been written in the eighteenth year of the composer, but
he found in it, some confused passages excepted, no indications of the
author's youth. In this Rondeau a la Mazur the individuality of Chopin
and with it his nationality begin to reveal themselves unmistakably. Who
could fail to recognise him in the peculiar sweet and persuasive flows
of sound, and the serpent-like winding of the melodic outline, the
wide-spread chords, the chromatic progressions, the dissolving of the
harmonies and the linking of their constituent parts! And, as I have
said elsewhere in speaking of this work: "The harmonies are often novel,
and the matter is more homogeneous and better welded into oneness."

Chopin's pianoforte lessons, as has already been stated, came to an end
when he was twelve years old, and thenceforth he was left to his own

   The school of that time [remarks Fontana] could no longer
   suffice him, he aimed higher, and felt himself impelled
   towards an ideal which, at first vague, before long grew into
   greater distinctness. It was then that, in trying his
   strength, he acquired that touch and style, so different from
   those of his predecessors, and that he succeeded in creating
   at last that execution which since then has been the
   admiration of the artistic world.

The first stages of the development of his peculiar style may be traced
in the compositions we have just now discussed. In the variations and
first Rondo which Chopin wrote at or before the age of fifteen, the
treatment of the instrument not only proves that he was already as much
in his element on the pianoforte as a fish in the water, but also shows
that an as yet vaguely-perceived ideal began to beckon him onward.
Karasowski, informed by witnesses of the boy's studies in pianoforte
playing, relates that Frederick, being struck with the fine effect of
a chord in extended harmony, and unable, on account of the smallness of
his hands, to strike the notes simultaneously, set about thinking how
this physical obstacle could be overcome. The result of his cogitations
was the invention of a contrivance which he put between his fingers and
kept there even during the night, by this means endeavouring to increase
the extensibility and flexibility of his hands. Who, in reading of this
incident in Chopin's life, is not reminded of Schumann and his attempt
to strengthen his fingers, an attempt that ended so fatally for his
prospects as a virtuoso! And the question, an idle one I admit, suggests
itself: Had Chopin been less fortunate than he was, and lost, like
Schumann, the command of one of his hands before he had formed his
pianoforte style, would he, as a composer, have risen to a higher
position than we know him to have attained, or would he have achieved
less than he actually did? From the place and wording of Karasowski's
account it would appear that this experiment of Chopin's took place at
or near the age of ten. Of course it does not matter much whether we
know or do not know the year or day of the adoption of the practice,
what is really interesting is the fact itself. I may, however, remark
that Chopin's love of wide-spread chords and skips, if marked at all,
is not strongly marked in the Variations on the German air and the first
Rondo. Let the curious examine with regard to this matter the Tempo di
Valse of the former work, and bars 38-43 of the Piu lento of the latter.
In the Rondeau a la Mazur, the next work in chronological order, this
peculiarity begins to show itself distinctly, and it continues to grow
in the works that follow. It is not my intention to weary the reader
with microscopical criticism, but I thought the first manifestations of
Chopin's individuality ought not to be passed over in silence. As to his
style, it will be more fully discussed in a subsequent chapter, where
also the seeds from which it sprang will be pointed out.



THE art which had attracted the child took every day a stronger hold of
the youth. Frederick was not always in that sportive humour in which
we have seen him repeatedly. At times he would wander about silent and
solitary, wrapped in his musical meditations. He would sit up late, busy
with his beloved music, and often, after lying down, rise from his bed
in the middle of the night in order, to strike a few chords or try a
short phrase--to the horror of the servants, whose first thought was of
ghosts, the second that their dear young master was not quite right in
his mind. Indeed, what with his school-work and his musical studies,
our young friend exerted himself more than was good for him. When,
therefore, in the holidays of 1826 his youngest sister, Emilia, was
ordered by the physicians to go to Reinerz, a watering-place in
Prussian Silesia, the parents thought it advisable that the too diligent
Frederick should accompany her, and drink whey for the benefit of his
health. The travelling party consisted of the mother, two sisters,
and himself. A letter which he wrote on August 28, 1826, to his friend
William Kolberg, furnishes some information about his doings there. It
contains, as letters from watering-places usually do, criticisms of the
society and accounts of promenadings, excursions, regular meals, and
early hours in going to bed and in rising. As the greater part of the
contents can be of no interest to us, I shall confine myself to picking
up what seems to me worth preserving. He had been drinking whey and the
waters for a fortnight and found he was getting somewhat stouter and at
the same time lazy. People said he began to look better. He enjoyed
the sight of the valleys from the hills which surround Reinerz, but
the climbing fatigued him, and he had sometimes to drag himself down
on all-fours. One mountain, the rocky Heuscheuer, he and other delicate
persons were forbidden to ascend, as the doctor was afraid that the
sharp air at the top would do his patients harm. Of course, Frederick
tried to make fun of everything and everyone--for instance, of the
wretched wind-band, which consisted of about a dozen "caricatures,"
among whom a lean bassoon-player with a snuffy hook-nose was the most
notable. To the manners of the country, which in some respects seem to
have displeased him, he got gradually accustomed.

   At first I was astonished that in Silesia the women work
   generally more than the men, but as I am doing nothing myself
   just now I have no difficulty in falling in with this

During his stay at Reinerz he gave also a concert on behalf of two
orphans who had come with their sick mother to this watering-place, and
at her death were left so poor as to be unable even to pay the funeral
expenses and to return home with the servant who took care of them.

From Reinerz Frederick went to Strzyzewo, the property of Madame
Wiesiolowska, his godmother, and sister of his godfather, Count
Frederick Skarbek. While he was spending here the rest of his holidays,
he took advantage of an invitation he had received from Prince Radziwill
(governor of the grand duchy of Posen, and, through his wife, a daughter
of Prince Ferdinand, related to the royal family of Prussia) to visit
him at his country-seat Antonin, which was not very far from Strzyzewo.
The Prince, who had many relations in Poland, and paid frequent visits
to that country, must on these occasions have heard of and met with the
musical prodigy that was the pet of the aristocracy. Moreover, it is
on record that he was present at the concert at Warsaw in 1825 at
which Frederick played. We have already considered and disposed of the
question whether the Prince, as has been averred by Liszt, paid for
young Chopin's education. As a dilettante Prince Radziwill occupied a
no less exalted position in art and science than as a citizen and
functionary in the body politic. To confine ourselves to music, he was
not only a good singer and violoncellist, but also a composer; and in
composition he did not confine himself to songs, duets, part-songs, and
the like, but undertook the ambitious and arduous task of writing music
to the first part of Goethe's Faust. By desire of the Court the Berlin
Singakademie used to bring this work to a hearing once every year, and
they gave a performance of it even as late as 1879. An enthusiastic
critic once pronounced it to be among modern works one of those that
evince most genius. The vox populi seems to have repealed this judgment,
or rather never to have taken cognisance of the case, for outside Berlin
the work has not often been heard. Dr. Langhans wrote to me after the
Berlin performance in 1879:--

   I heard yesterday Radziwill's Faust for the first time, and,
   I may add, with much satisfaction; for the old-fashioned
   things to be found in it (for instance, the utilisation of
   Mozart's C minor Quartet fugue as overture, the strictly
   polyphonous treatment of the choruses, &c.) are abundantly
   compensated for by numerous traits of genius, and by the
   thorough knowledge and the earnest intention with which the
   work is conceived and executed. He dares incredible things in
   the way of combining speech and song. That this combination
   is an inartistic one, on that point we are no doubt at one,
   but what he has effected by this means is nevertheless in the
   highest degree remarkable....

By-and-by Chopin will pay the Prince a longer visit, and then we shall
learn what he thought of Faust, and how he enjoyed himself at this
nobleman's house.

Chopin's studies at the Lyceum terminated in the year 1827. Through his
final examination, however, he did not pass so brilliantly as through
his previous ones; this time he carried off no prize. The cause of this
falling-off is not far to seek; indeed, has already been hinted at.
Frederick's inclination and his successes as a pianist and composer,
and the persuasions of Elsner and other musical friends, could not
but lessen and at last altogether dispel any doubts and misgivings the
parents may at first have harboured. And whilst in consequence of this
change of attitude they became less exacting with their son in the
matter of school-work, the latter, feeling the slackening of the reins,
would more and more follow his natural bent. The final examination was
to him, no doubt, a kind of manumission which freed him from the last
remnant of an oppressive bondage. Henceforth, then, Chopin could,
unhindered by disagreeable tasks or other obstacles, devote his whole
time and strength to the cultivation of his chosen art. First, however,
he spent now, as in the preceding year, some weeks with his friends
in Strzyzewo, and afterwards travelled to Danzig, where he visited
Superintendent von Linde, a brother of the rector of the Warsaw Lyceum.

Chopin was fond of listening to the singing and fiddling of the country
people; and everyone acquainted with the national music of Poland as
well as with the composer's works knows that he is indebted to it
for some of the most piquant rhythmic, melodic, and even harmonic
peculiarities of his style. These longer stays in the country would
offer him better opportunities for the enjoyment and study of this land
of music than the short excursions which he occasionally made with his
father into the neighbourhood of Warsaw. His wonder always was who
could have composed the quaint and beautiful strains of those mazurkas,
polonaises, and krakowiaks, and who had taught these simple men and
women to play and sing so truly in tune. The conditions then existing
in Poland were very favourable to the study of folk-lore of any kind.
Art-music had not yet corrupted folk-music; indeed, it could hardly be
said that civilisation had affected the lower strata of society at
all. Notwithstanding the emancipation of the peasants in 1807, and the
confirmation of this law in 1815--a law which seems to have remained
for a long time and in a great measure a dead letter--the writer of an
anonymous book, published at Boston in 1834, found that the freedom of
the wretched serfs in Russian Poland was much the same as that of their
cattle, they being brought up with as little of human cultivation; nay,
that the Polish peasant, poor in every part of the country, was of all
the living creatures he had met with in this world or seen described
in books, the most wretched. From another publication we learn that the
improvements in public instruction, however much it may have benefited
the upper classes, did not affect the lowest ones: the parish schools
were insufficient, and the village schools not numerous enough. But the
peasants, although steeped in superstition and ignorance, and too much
addicted to brandy-drinking with its consequences--quarrelsomeness and
revengefulness--had not altogether lost the happier features of their
original character--hospitality, patriotism, good-naturedness, and,
above all, cheerfulness and love of song and dance. It has been said
that a simple Slavonic peasant can be enticed by his national songs
from one end of the world to the other. The delight which the Slavonic
nations take in dancing seems to be equally great. No other nation,
it has been asserted, can compare with them in ardent devotion to
this amusement. Moreover, it is noteworthy that song and dance were in
Poland--as they were of course originally everywhere--intimately
united. Heine gives a pretty description of the character of the Polish

   It cannot be denied [he writes] that the Polish peasant has
   often more head and heart than the German peasant in some
   districts. Not infrequently did I find in the meanest Pole
   that original wit (not Gemuthswitz, humour) which on every
   occasion bubbles forth with wonderful iridescence, and that
   dreamy sentimental trait, that brilliant flashing of an
   Ossianic feeling for nature whose sudden outbreaks on
   passionate occasions are as involuntary as the rising of the
   blood into the face.

The student of human nature and its reflex in art will not call these
remarks a digression; at least, not one deserving of censure.

We may suppose that Chopin, after his return to Warsaw and during the
following winter, and the spring and summer of 1828, continued his
studies with undiminished and, had this been possible, with redoubled
ardour. Some of his compositions that came into existence at this time
were published after his death by his friend Julius Fontana, who was a
daily visitor at his parents' house. We have a Polonaise (D minor) and a
Nocturne (E minor) of 1827, and another Polonaise (B flat) and the Rondo
for two pianos of 1828. The Sonata, Op. 4, and La ci darem la mano,
varie for pianoforte, with orchestral accompaniments, belong also to
this time. The Trio (Op. 8), although not finished till 1829, was begun
and considerably advanced in 1828. Several of the above compositions are
referred to in a letter written by him on September 9, 1828, to one
of his most intimate friends, Titus Woyciechowski. The Rondo in C had
originally a different form and was recast by him for two pianos at
Strzyzewo, where he passed the whole summer of 1828. He tried it
with Ernemann, a musician living in Warsaw, at the warehouse of the
pianoforte-manufacturer Buchholtz, and was pretty well pleased with his

   We intend to play it some day at the Ressource. As to my new
   compositions, I have nothing to show except the as yet
   unfinished Trio (G minor), which I began after your
   departure. The first Allegro I have already tried with
   accompaniment. It appears to me that this trio will have the
   same fate as my sonata and the variations. Both works are now
   in Vienna; the first I have, as a pupil of Elsner's,
   dedicated to him, and on the second I have placed (perhaps
   too boldly) your name. I followed in this the impulse of my
   heart and you will not take it unkindly.

The opportunities which Warsaw offered being considered insufficient for
the completion of his artistic education, ways and means were discussed
as to how his wants could be best provided for. The upshot of the
discussions was the project of excursions to Berlin and Vienna. As,
however, this plan was not realised till the autumn of 1828, and
no noteworthy incidents or interesting particulars concerning the
intervening period of his life have become known, I shall utilise this
break in the narrative by trying my hand at a slight sketch of that
terra incognita, the history of music in Poland, more particularly the
history of the musical life in Warsaw, shortly before and in Chopin's
time. I am induced to undertake this task by the consideration that a
knowledge of the means of culture within the reach of Chopin during his
residence in the Polish capital is indispensable if we wish to form a
clear and complete idea of the artist's development, and that such
a knowledge will at the same time help us to understand better the
contents of some of the subsequent portions of this work. Before,
however, I begin a new chapter and with it the above-mentioned sketch, I
should like to advert to a few other matters.

The reader may perhaps already have asked the question--What was Chopin
like in his outward appearance? As I have seen a daguerreotype from a
picture painted when he was seventeen, I can give some sort of answer to
this question. Chopin's face was clearly and finely cut, especially
the nose with its wide nostrils; the forehead was high, the eyebrows
delicate, the lips thin, and the lower one somewhat protruding. For
those who know A. Bovy's medallion I may add that the early portrait is
very like it; only, in the latter, the line formed by the lower jawbone
that runs from the chin towards the ear is more rounded, and the whole
has a more youthful appearance. As to the expression, it is not only
meditative but even melancholy. This last point leads me naturally to
another question. The delicate build of Chopin's body, his early death
preceded by many years of ill-health, and the character of his music,
have led people into the belief that from childhood he was always sickly
in body, and for the most part also melancholy in disposition. But as
the poverty and melancholy, so also disappears on closer investigation
the sickliness of the child and youth. To jump, however, from this to
the other extreme, and assert that he enjoyed vigorous health, would be
as great a mistake. Karasowski, in his eagerness to controvert Liszt,
although not going quite this length, nevertheless overshoots the mark.
Besides it is a misrepresentation of Liszt not to say that the passage
excerpted from his book, and condemned as not being in accordance with
the facts of the case, is a quotation from G. Sand's novel Lucrezia
Floriani (of which more will be said by-and-by), in which the authoress
is supposed, although this was denied by her, to have portrayed Chopin.
Liszt is a poet, not a chronicler; he must be read as such, and not
be taken au pied de la lettre. However, even Karasowski, in whom one
notices a perhaps unconscious anxiety to keep out of sight anything
which might throw doubt on the health and strength of his hero, is
obliged to admit that Chopin was "delicate," although he hastens to
add, "but nevertheless healthy and pretty strong." It seems to me
that Karasowski makes too much of the statement of a friend of
Chopin's--namely, that the latter was, up to manhood, only once ill, and
then with nothing worse than a cold. Indeed, in Karasowski's narrative
there are not wanting indications that the health of Chopin cannot have
been very vigorous; nor his strength have amounted to much; for in one
place we read that the youth was no friend of long excursions on foot,
and preferred to lie down and dream under beautiful trees; in another
place, that his parents sent him to Reinerz and some years afterwards
to Vienna, because they thought his studies had affected his health,
and that rest and change of air and scene would restore his strength.
Further, we are told that his mother and sisters never tired of
recommending him to wrap up carefully in cold and wet weather, and
that, like a good son and brother, he followed their advice. Lastly,
he objected to smoking. Some of the items of this evidence are very
trivial, but taken collectively they have considerable force. Of greater
significance are the following additional items. Chopin's sister Emilia
was carried off at the age of fourteen by pulmonary disease, and his
father, as a physician informed me, died of a heart and chest complaint.
Stephen Heller, who saw Chopin in 1830 in Warsaw, told me that the
latter was then in delicate health, thin and with sunken cheeks, and
that the people of Warsaw said that he could not live long, but would,
like so many geniuses, die young. The real state of the matter seems
to me to have been this. Although Chopin in his youth was at no time
troubled with any serious illness, he enjoyed but fragile health, and if
his frame did not alreadv contain the seeds of the disease to which he
later fell a prey, it was a favourable soil for their reception.
How easily was an organisation so delicately framed over-excited and
disarranged! Indeed, being vivacious, active, and hard-working, as he
was, he lived on his capital. The fire of youth overcame much, not,
however, without a dangerous waste of strength, the lamentable results
of which we shall see before we have gone much farther. This statement
of the case we find, I think, confirmed by Chopin's correspondence--the
letter written at Reinerz is in this respect noteworthy.



THE golden age of Polish music, which coincides with that of Polish
literature, is the sixteenth century, the century of the Sigismonds. The
most remarkable musician of that time, and probably the greatest that
Poland produced previous to the present century, was Nicolas Gomolka,
who studied music in Italy, perhaps under Palestrina, in whose style
he wrote. Born in or about the beginning of the second half of the
sixteenth century, he died on March 5, 1609. During the reigns of the
kings of the house of Saxony (1697-1763) instrumental music is said
to have made much progress. Be this as it may, there was no lack of
opportunities to study good examples. Augustus the Strong (I. of
Saxony and II of Poland) established a special Polish band, called,
in contradistinction to the Grosse Kammermusik (Great Chamber-band) in
Dresden, Kleine Kammermusik (Little Chamber-band), whose business it was
to be in attendance when his majesty went to Poland. These visits took
place usually once a year, and lasted from, August to December, but
sometimes were more frequent, and shorter or longer, just as occasion
might call for. Among the members of the Polish band--which consisted
of a leader (Premier), four violins, one oboe, two French horns, three
bassoons, and one double bass--we meet with such well-known men as
Johann Joachim Quanz and Franz Benda. Their conductor was Alberto
Ristori, who at the same time held the post of composer to the Italian
actors, a company that, besides plays, performed also little operas,
serenades, intermezzi, &c. The usual retinue of the King on his visits
to Poland included also a part of the French ballet and comedy. These
travels of the artistic forces must have been rich in tragic, comic, and
tragi-comic incidents, and would furnish splendid material for the pen
of a novelist. But such a journey from the Saxon capital to Warsaw,
which took about eight days, and cost on an average from 3,000 to
3,500 thalers (450 to 525 pounds), was a mere nothing compared with the
migration of a Parisian operatic company in May, 1700. The ninety-three
members of which it was composed set out in carriages and drove by
Strasburg to Ulm, there they embarked and sailed to Cracow, whence the
journey was continued on rafts. [FOOTNOTE: M. Furstenau, Zur Geschichte
der Music und des Theaters am Hofe zu Dresden.] So much for artistic
tours at the beginning of the eighteenth century. Frederick Augustus (II
of Saxony and III of Poland, 1733-1763) dissolved the Polish band, and
organised a similar body which was destined solely for Poland, and was
to be resident there. It consisted in 1753 of an organist, two singers,
twenty instrumentalists (almost all Germans), and a band-servant, their
salary amounting to 5,383 thalers, 10 groschen (a little more than 805
pounds). Notwithstanding this new arrangement, the great Dresden band
sometimes accompanied the King to Poland, and when it did not, some of
its members at least had to be in attendance for the performance of the
solos at the chamber concerts and in the operas. Also such singers, male
and female, as were required for the operas proposed for representation
had to take to the road. Hasse and his wife Faustina came several times
to Poland. That the constellation of the Dresden musical establishment,
in its vocal as well as instrumental department, was one of the most
brilliant imaginable is sufficiently proved by a glance at the names
which we meet with in 1719: Lotti, Heinichen, Veracini, Volumier,
Senesino, Tesi, Santa Stella Lotti, Durastanti, &c. Rousseau, writing in
1754, calls the Dresden orchestra the first in Europe. And Burney says
in 1772 that the instrumental performers had been some time previously
of the first class. No wonder, then, if the visits of such artists
improved the instrumental music of Poland.

From Sowinski's Les Musiciens Polonais we learn that on great occasions
the King's band was reinforced by those of Prince Czartoryski and Count
Wielhorski, thus forming a body of 100 executants. This shows that
outside the King's band good musicians were to be found in Poland.
Indeed, to keep in their service private bands of native and foreign
singers and players was an ancient custom among the Polish magnates; it
obtained for a long time, and had not yet died out at the beginning of
this century. From this circumstance, however, we must not too rashly
conclude that these wealthy noblemen were all animated by artistic
enthusiasm. Ostentatiousness had, I am afraid, more to do with it than
love of art for art's sake. Music was simply one of the indispensable
departments of their establishments, in the splendour and vastness of
which they tried to outdo each other and vie with sovereign rulers. The
promiscuous enumeration of musicians, cooks, footmen, &c., in the lady's
description of a nobleman's court which I referred to in the proem,
is in this respect very characteristic. Towards the middle of the last
century Prince Sanguszko, who lived at Dubno, in Volhynia, had in his
service no less than two bands, to which was sometimes joined a third
belonging to Prince Lubomirski. But, it will be asked, what music did
they play? An author of Memoirs of the reign of Augustus III tells us
that, according to the Polish fashion, they had during meal-times
to play national airs, polonaises, mazurkas, &c., arranged for
wind-instruments, with or without violins. For special occasions the
Prince got a new kind of music, then much in favour--viz., a band of
mountaineers playing on flutes and drums. And while the guests were
sitting at the banquet, horns, trumpets, and fifes sounded fanfares.
Besides the ordinary and extraordinary bands, this exalted personage
had among his musical retainers a drummer who performed solos on his
instrument. One is glad to learn that when the Prince was alone or had
little company, he took delight in listening to trios for two violins
and bass, it being then the fashion to play such ensemble pieces. Count
Ilinski, the father of the composer John Stanislas Ilinski, engaged for
his private theatre two companies, one from Germany and one from Italy.
The persons employed in the musical department of his household numbered
124. The principal band, conducted by Dobrzyrnski pere, a good violinist
and conductor, consisted of four violins, one viola, one violoncello,
one double bass, one flute, one oboe, one clarinet, and one bassoon.
Villagers were trained by these players to assist them. Then there
was yet another band, one of wind instruments, under the direction of
Karelli, a pupil of the Russian composer Bartnianski [Footnote: The
Russian Palestrina, whose name is oftener met with in the forms of
Bortnianski and Bortniansky]. The chorus was composed of twenty four
voices, picked from the young people on Count Ilinski's estates. However
questionable the taste of many of these noble art patrons may have been,
there were not wanting some who cultivated music with a purer spirit.
Some of the best bands were those of the Princes D. Radziwill, Adam
Czartoryski, F. Sulkowski, Michael Lubomirski, Counts Ilinski, Oginski,
and Wielhorski. Our inquiry into the cultivation of music at the courts
of the Polish magnates has carried us beyond the point we had reached in
our historical survey. Let us now retrace our steps.

The progress of music above spoken of was arrested by the anarchy and
the civil and other wars that began to rage in Poland with such fury in
the middle of the last century. King Stanislas Poniatowski (1764-1795)
is credited with having exercised great influence on the music of
Poland; at any rate, he patronised the arts and sciences right royally.
The Italian opera at Warsaw cannot have been of mean standing, seeing
that artists such as the composers Paisiello and Cimarosa, and the great
violinist, composer, and conductor Pugnani, with his pupil Viotti (the
latter playing second violin in the orchestra), were members of the
company. And the King's band of foreign and native players has been
called one of the best in Europe. Still, all this was but the hothouse
bloom of exotics. To bring about a natural harvest of home produce
something else was wanted than royal patronage, and this something
sprang from the series of disasters that befell the nation in the latter
half of the last century, and by shaking it to its very heart's core
stirred up its nobler self. As in literature, so in music, the national
element came now more and more into action and prominence.

Up to 1778 there had been heard in Poland only Italian and French
operas; in this year, for the first time, a Polish opera was put on
the stage. It is true the beginning was very modest. The early attempts
contained few ensemble pieces, no choruses, and no complex finales. But
a new art does not rise from the mind of a nation as Minerva is said to
have risen from the head of Jupiter. Nay, even the fact that the first
three composers of Polish operas (Kamienski, Weynert, and Kajetani) were
not Poles, but foreigners endeavouring to write in the Polish style,
does not destroy the significance of the movement. The following
statistics will, no doubt, take the reader by surprise:--From the
foundation of the national Polish opera in 1778 till April 20, 1859,
5,917 performances of 285 different operas with Polish words took place
in Poland. Of these 92 were national Polish operas, the remaining 193 by
Italian, French, and German composers; 1,075 representations being given
of the former, 4,842 of the latter. The libretti of 41 of the 92 Polish
operas were originals, the other 51 were translations. And, lastly, the
majority of the 16 musicians who composed the 92 Polish operas were not
native Poles, but Czechs, Hungarians, and Germans [FOOTNOTE: Ladislas
von Trocki, Die Entwickelung der Oper in Polen. (Leipzig, 1867.)]

A step hardly less important than the foundation of a national opera was
the formation, in 1805, of a Musical Society, which had for its object
the improvement as well as the amusement of its members. The idea, which
originated in the head of one of the Prussian officials then in Warsaw,
finding approval, and the pecuniary supplies flowing in abundantly, the
Oginski Palace was rented and fitted up, two masters were engaged for
the teaching of solo and choral singing, and a number of successful
concerts were given. The chief promoters seem to have been Count
Krasinski and the two Prussian officials Mosqua and E. Th. A. Hoffmann.
In the last named the reader will recognise the famous author of
fantastic tales and of no less fantastic musical criticisms, the
conductor and composer of operas and other works, &c. According to his
biographer, J. E. Hitzig, Hoffmann did not take much interest in the
proceedings of the Musical Ressource (that was the name of the society)
till it bought the Mniszech Palace, a large building, which, having been
damaged by fire, had to undergo extensive repairs. Then, indeed, he
set to work with a will, planned the arrangement and fitting-up of the
rooms, designed and partly painted the decorations--not without freely
indulging his disposition for caricature--and when all was ready, on
August 3, 1806 (the King of Prussia's birthday), conducted the first
concert in the splendid new hall. The activity of the society was great,
and must have been beneficial; for we read that they had every Sunday
performances of quartets and other kinds of chamber music, that ladies
frequently came forward with pianoforte sonatas, and that when the
celebrated violinist Moser, of Berlin, visited Warsaw, he made them
acquainted with the finest quartets of Mozart and Haydn. Still, I should
not have dwelt so long on the doings of the Musical Ressource were it
not that it was the germ of, or at least gave the impulse to, even more
influential associations and institutions that were subsequently founded
with a view to the wider diffusion and better cultivation of the musical
art in Poland. After the battle of Jena the French were not long in
making their appearance in Warsaw, whereby an end was put to Prussia's
rule there, and her officials were sent about, or rather sent out of,
their business. Thus the Musical Ressource lost many of its members,
Hoffmann and Mosqua among others. Still, it survived, and was
reconstructed with more national elements. In Frederick Augustus of
Saxony's reign it is said to have been transformed into a school of

The year 1815 brought into existence two musical institutions that
deserve to be noticed--society for the cultivation of church music,
which met at the College of the Pianists, and had at its head Count
Zabiello as president and Elsner as conductor; and an association,
organised by the last-named musician, and presided over by the Princess
Sophia Zamoyska, which aimed at the advancement of the musical art in
Poland, and provided for the education of music teachers for schools,
organists for churches, and singers for the stage. Although I try to
do my best with the unsatisfactory and often contradictory newspaper
reports and dictionary articles from which I have to draw my data, I
cannot vouch for the literal correctness of my notes. In making use of
Sowinski's work I am constantly reminded of Voltaire's definition of
dictionaries: "Immenses archives de mensonges et d'un peu de verite."
Happy he who need not consult them! In 1816 Elsner was entrusted by the
minister Staszyc with the direction of a school of dramatic singing and
recitation; and in 1821, to crown all previous efforts, a conservatorium
was opened, the programme of which might almost have satisfied a
Berlioz. The department of instrumental music not only comprised
sections for the usual keyed, stringed, and wind instruments, but also
one for instruments of percussion. Solo and choral singing were to be
taught with special regard to dramatic expression. Besides these and the
theoretical branches of music, the curriculum included dancing, Polish
literature, French, and Italian. After reading the programme it is
superfluous to be informed that the institution was chiefly intended for
the training of dramatic artists. Elsner, who was appointed director,
selected the teaching staff, with one exception, however, that of the
first singing-master, for which post the Government engaged the composer
Carlo Evasio Soliva, a pupil of Asioli and Frederici.

The musical taste and culture prevailing in Poland about 1819 is pretty
accurately described by a German resident at Cracow. So far as music was
concerned Poland had hitherto been ignored by the rest of Europe, and
indeed could lay no claim to universal notice in this respect. But the
improved culture and greater insight which some had acquired in foreign
lands were good seeds that began to bear fruit. As yet, however, the
greater part of the public took little or no interest in the better
class of music, and was easily pleased and satisfied with polonaises,
mazurkas, and other trivial things. In fact, the music in Cracow,
notwithstanding the many professional musicians and amateurs living
there, was decidedly bad, and not comparable to the music in many a
small German town. In Warsaw, where the resources were more plentiful,
the state of music was of course also more prosperous. Still, as late
as 1815 we meet with the complaint that what was chiefly aimed at in
concerts was the display of virtuosity, and that grand, serious works
were neglected, and complete symphonies rarely performed. To remedy this
evil, therefore, 150 amateurs combined and organised in 1818 a concert
institution. Their concerts took place once a week, and at every meeting
a new and entire symphony, an overture, a concerto, an aria, and
a finale, were performed. The names of Beethoven, Haydn, Mozart,
Cherubini, Spohr, Mehul, Romberg, &c., were to be found on their
programmes. Strange to say, there were no less than seven conductors:
Lessel, Lentz, Wurfel, Haase, Javurek, Stolpe, and Peschke, all good
musicians. The orchestra consisted in part of amateurs, who were
most numerous among the violins, tenors, and violoncellos. The solo
department seems to have been well stocked. To confine ourselves to one
instrument, they could pride themselves on having four excellent
lady pianists, one of whom distinguished herself particularly by
the wonderful dexterity with which she played the most difficult
compositions of Beethoven, Field, Ries, and Dussek. Another good sign
of the improving taste was a series of twenty-four matinees given
on Sundays from twelve to two during the winter of 1818-1819 by Carl
Arnold, and much patronised by the highest nobility. The concert-giver,
a clever pianist and composer, who enjoyed in his day a good reputation
in Germany, Russia, and Poland, produced at every matinee a new
pianoforte concerto by one of the best composers--sometimes one of
his own--and was assisted by the quartet party of Bielawski, a good
violinist, leader in the orchestra, and professor at the Conservatorium.
Although Arnold's stay was not of long duration, his departure did not
leave the town without good pianists. Indeed, it is a mistake to suppose
that Warsaw was badly off with regard to musicians. This will be evident
to the reader as soon as I have named some of those living there in
the time of Chopin. Wenzel W. Wurfel, one of the professors at the
Conservatorium, who stayed in Warsaw from 1815 to 1824, and afterwards
went to Vienna, where he became conductor at the Karnthnerthor Theater,
was an esteemed pianist and composer, and frequently gave concerts, at
one of which he played Field's Concerto in C.

[FOOTNOTE: Wenzel Wilhelm Wurfel, in most dictionaries called Wilhelm
Wurfel (exceptions are: E. Bernsdorf's "Neues Universal-Lexikon
der Tonkunst", and Dr. Hugo Riemann's "Opern-Handbuch"). A Warsaw
correspondent of a German musical paper called him Waclaw Wurfel. In
Whistling's "Handbuch der musikalischen Literatur" his Christian names
are only indicated by initials--W. W.]

If we scan the list of professors at the Conservatorium we find other
musicians whose reputation was not confined to the narrow limits of
Warsaw or even Poland. There was, for instance, the pianist and
composer Franz Lessel, the favourite pupil of Haydn; and, further, that
interesting character Heinrich Gerhard Lentz, who, born and educated at
Cologne, went in 1784 to Paris, played with success his first concerto
at the Concert Spirituel, published some of his compositions and taught
in the best families, arrived in London in 1791, lived in friendly
intercourse with Clementi and Haydn, and had compositions of his
performed at Solomon's concerts, returned to Germany in 1795, stayed
with Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia till Dussek supplanted him, and
so, wandering about, reached Warsaw, where he gave lessons, founded
a pianoforte manufactory, became professor of the organ at the
Conservatorium, married twice, and died in 1839. The only other
professor at the Conservatorium about whom I shall say a few words is C.
E. Soliva, whose name and masters I have already mentioned. Of his works
the opera "La testa di bronzo" is the best known. I should have said
"was," for nobody now knows anything of his. That loud, shallow talker
Count Stendhal, or, to give him his real name, Marie Henry Beyle, heard
it at Milan in 1816, when it was first produced. He had at first some
difficulty in deciding whether Soliva showed himself in that opera a
plagiarist of Mozart or a genius. Finally he came to the conclusion

   there is in it a warmth, a dramatic life, and a strength in
   all its effects, which are decidedly not in the style of
   Mozart. But Soliva, who is a young man and full of the
   warmest admiration for Mozart, has imbibed certain tints of
   his colouring.
The rest is too outrageously ridiculous to be quoted. Whatever Beyle's
purely literary merits and his achievements in fiction may be, I quite
agree with Berlioz, who remarks, a propos of this gentleman's Vie de
Rossini, that he writes "les plus irritantes stupidites sur la musique,
dont il croyait avoir le secret." To which cutting dictum may be added
a no less cutting one of M. Lavoix fils, who, although calling Beyle
an "ecrivain d'esprit," applies to him the appellation of "fanfaron
d'ignorance en musique." I would go a step farther than either of these
writers. Beyle is an ignorant braggart, not only in music, but in art
generally, and such esprit as his art criticisms exhibit would be even
more common than it unfortunately now is, if he were oftener equalled
in conceit and arrogance. The pillorying of a humbug is so laudable an
object that the reader will excuse the digression, which, moreover, may
show what miserable instruments a poor biographer has sometimes to
make use of. Another informant, unknown to fame, but apparently more
trustworthy, furnishes us with an account of Soliva in Warsaw. The
writer in question disapproves of the Italian master's drill-method in
teaching singing, and says that as a composer his power of invention
was inferior to his power of construction; and, further, that he was
acquainted with the scores of the best musicians of all times, and an
expert in accompanying on the pianoforte. As Elsner, Zywny, and the
pianist and composer Javurek have already been introduced to the reader,
I shall advert only to one other of the older Warsaw musicians--namely,
Charles Kurpinski, the most talented and influential native composer
then living in Poland. To him and Elsner is chiefly due the progress
which Polish music made in the first thirty years of this century.
Kurpinski came to Warsaw in 1810, was appointed second conductor at
the National Opera-house, afterwards rose to the position of first
conductor, was nominated maitre de chapelle de la cour de Varsovie, was
made a Knight of the St. Stanislas Order, &c. He is said to have learnt
composition by diligently studying Mozart's scores, and in 1811 began to
supply the theatre with dramatic works. Besides masses, symphonies,
&c., he composed twenty-four operas, and published also some theoretical
works and a sketch of the history of the Polish opera. Kurpinski was
by nature endowed with fine musical qualities, uniting sensibility and
energy with easy productivity. Chopin did homage to his distinguished
countryman in introducing into his Grande Fantaisie sur des airs
polonais, Op. 13, a theme of Kurpinski's. Two younger men, both born in
1800, must yet be mentioned to compete the picture. One of them, Moritz
Ernemann, a pupil of Mendelssohn's pianoforte-master, L. Berger,
played with success in Poland and Germany, and has been described by
contemporaries as a finished and expressive, but not brilliant, pianist.
His pleasing compositions are of an instructive and mildly-entertaining
character. The other of the two was Joseph Christoph Kessler, a musician
of very different mettle. After studying philosophy in Vienna, and
composing at the house of Count Potocki in Lemberg his celebrated
Etudes, Op. 20 (published at Vienna, reprinted at Paris, recommended
by Kalkbrenner in his Methode, quoted by Fetis and Moscheles in their
Methode des Methodes, and played in part by Liszt at his concerts),
he tried in 1829 his luck in Warsaw. Schumann thought (in 1835) that
Kessler had the stuff in him to do something great, and always looked
forward with expectation to what he would yet accomplish. Kessler's
studies might be dry, but he was assuredly a "Mann von Geist und sogar
poetischem Geist." He dedicated his twenty-four Preludes, Op. 31, to
Chopin, and Chopin his twenty-four Preludes, Op. 28, to him--that is to
say, the German edition.

By this time the reader must have found out that Warsaw was not such a
musical desert as he may at first have imagined. Perfect renderings
of great orchestral works, it is true, seem to have been as yet
unattainable, and the performances of operas failed likewise to satisfy
a pure and trained taste. Nay, in 1822 it was even said that the opera
was getting worse. But when the fruits of the Conservatorium had had
time to ripen and could be gathered in, things would assume a more
promising aspect. Church music, which like other things had much
deteriorated, received a share of the attention which in this century
was given to the art. The best singing was in the Piarist and University
churches. In the former the bulk of the performers consisted of
amateurs, who, however, were assisted by members of the opera. They sang
Haydn's masses best and oftenest. In the other church the executants
were students and professors, Elsner being the conductor. Besides these
choirs there existed a number of musical associations in connection with
different churches in Warsaw. Indeed, it cannot be doubted that great
progress was made in the first thirty years of this century, and had
it not been for the unfortunate insurrection of 1830, Poland would
have succeeded in producing a national art and taking up an honourable
position among the great musical powers of Europe, whereas now it can
boast only of individual artists of more or less skill and originality.
The musical events to which the death of the Emperor Alexander I.
gave occasion in 1826, show to some extent the musical capabilities
of Warsaw. On one day a Requiem by Kozlowski (a Polish composer, then
living in St. Petersburg; b. 1757, d. 1831), with interpolations of
pieces by other composers, was performed in the Cathedral by two hundred
singers and players under Soliva. On another day Mozart's Requiem,
with additional accompaniments by Kurpinski (piccolos, flutes, oboes,
clarinets, and horns to the Dies irae and Sanctus; harps to the Hostias
and Benedictus; and a military brass-band to the closing chorus!!!), was
given in the same place by two hundred and fifty executants under
the last-mentioned musician. And in the Lutheran church took place a
performance of Elsner's Requiem for male voices, violoncellos, bassoons,
horns, trumpets, trombones, and drums.

Having made the reader acquainted with the musical sphere in which
Chopin moved, I shall take up the thread of the narrative where I left
it, and the reader may follow without fear of being again detained by so
long an interruption.


Fourteen days in Berlin (From September 14 to 28, 1828).--Return by
Posen (Prince Radziwill) and Zullichau (anecdotes) to Warsaw.--Chopin's
doings there in the following winter and spring.--his home-life,
companions, and preparations for a journey to Vienna.

Chopin, leaving his apprenticeship behind him, was now entering on that
period of his life which we may call his Wanderjahre (years of travel).
This change in his position and circumstances demands a simultaneous
change in the manner of the biographical treatment. Hitherto we have
been much occupied with the agencies that made and moulded the man,
henceforth we shall fix our main attention on his experiences, actions,
and utterances. The materials at our disposal become now more abundant
and more trustworthy. Foremost in importance among them, up to Chopin's
arrival in Paris, are the letters he wrote at that time, the publication
of which we owe to Karasowski. As they are, however, valuable only
as chronicles of the writer's doings and feelings, and not, like
Mendelssohn's and Berlioz's, also as literary productions, I shall,
whilst fully availing myself of the information they contain, confine my
quotations from them to the characteristic passages.

Chopin's long-projected and much-desired visit to Berlin came about in
this way. In 1828 Frederick William III of Prussia requested the Berlin
University to invite the most eminent natural philosophers to take part
in a congress to be held in that city under the presidency of Alexander
von Humboldt. Nicholas Chopin's friend Dr. Jarocki, the zoologist and
professor at the Warsaw University, who had studied and obtained his
degree at Berlin, was one of those who were honoured with an invitation.
The favourable opportunity which thus presented itself to the
young musician of visiting in good company one of the centres of
civilisation--for the professor intended to comply with the invitation,
and was willing to take his friend's son under his wing--was not allowed
to slip by, on the contrary, was seized eagerly. With what feelings,
with what an infinitude of youthful hopes and expectations, Chopin
looked forward to this journey may be gathered from some expressions in
a letter of his (September 9, 1828) addressed to Titus Woyciechowski,
where he describes himself as being at the time of writing "like a
madman," and accounts for his madness by the announcement: "For I am
going to-day to Berlin." To appear in public as a pianist or composer
was not one of the objects he had in view. His dearest wishes were to
make the acquaintance of the musical celebrities of Berlin, and to
hear some really good music. From a promised performance of Spontini's
Ferdinand Cortez he anticipated great things.

Professor Jarocki and Chopin left Warsaw on the 9th of September, 1828,
and after five days' posting arrived in Berlin, where they put up at
the Kronprinz. Among the conveniences of this hotel our friend had the
pleasant surprise of finding a good grand piano. He played on it every
day, and was rewarded for his pains not only by the pleasure it gave
him, but also by the admiration of the landlord. Through his travelling
companion's friend and teacher, M. H. K. Lichtenstein, professor of
zoology and director of the Zoological Museum, who was a member of
the Singakademie and on good terms with Zelter, the conductor of that
society, he hoped to be made acquainted with the most distinguished
musicians of the Prussian capital, and looked to Prince Radziwill for
an introduction to the musical autocrat Spontini, with whom Lichtenstein
was not on a friendly footing. In these hopes, however, Chopin was
disappointed, and had to content himself with looking at the stars from
afar. Speaking of a performance of the Singakademie at which he was
present, he says:--

   Spontini, Zelter, and Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy were also
   there; but I spoke to none of these gentlemen, as I did not
   think it becoming to introduce myself.

It is not difficult to discover the circumstances that in this respect
caused matters to turn out so little in accordance with the young man's
wishes. Prince Radziwill was not in Berlin when Chopin arrived, and,
although he was expected, perhaps never came, or came too late to be
of any use. As to Lichtenstein, his time was too much taken up by his
duties as secretary to the congress. Had this not been so, the professor
could not only have brought the young artist in contact with many of
the musical celebrities in Berlin, but also have told him much about his
intimate friend Carl Maria von Weber, who had died little more than
two years before. Lichtenstein's connection with Weber was probably
the cause of his disagreement with Spontini, alluded to by Chopin.
The latter relates in an off-hand way that he was introduced to and
exchanged a few words with the editor of the Berliner Musikzeitung,
without mentioning that this was Marx. The great theorist had of course
then still to make his reputation.

One cannot help wondering at the absence from Chopin's Berlin letters
of the name of Ludwig Berger, who, no doubt, like Bernhard Klein,
Rungenhagen, the brothers Ganz, and many another composer and virtuoso
in Berlin, was included in the collective expression "distinguished
musicians." But one would have thought that the personality of the pupil
of Clementi, the companion of A. Klengel, the friend of Steibelt, Field,
and Crotch, and the teacher of Mendelssohn and Taubert, would have
particularly interested a young pianist. Berger's compositions cannot
have been unknown to Chopin, who, moreover, must have heard of him from
his Warsaw acquaintance Ernemann. However, be this as it may, our friend
was more fortunate as regards hearing good music, which certainly was a
more important business than interviewing celebrities, often, alas,
so refrigerating in its effect on enthusiastic natures. Before his
departure from Warsaw Chopin wrote:--"It is much to hear a really good
opera, were it only once; it enables one to form an idea of what a
perfect performance is like." Although the most famous singers were
on leave of absence, he greatly enjoyed the performances of Spontini's
"Ferdinand Cortez", Cimarosa's "Die heimliche Eke" ("Il Matrimonio
segreto"), Onslow's "Der Hausirer" ("Le colporteur"), and Winter's "Das
unterbrochene Opferfest." Still, they gave rise to some "buts," which
he thought would be wholly silenced only in Paris; nay, one of the two
singers he liked best, Fraulein von Schatzel (Signora Tibaldi was
the other), reminded him by her omissions of chromatic scales even of
Warsaw. What, however, affected him more than anything else was Handel's
"Ode on St. Cecilia's Day," which he heard at the Singakademie; it came
nearest, he said, to the ideal of sublime music which he harboured in
his soul. A propos of another musical event he writes:--

   To-morrow the "Freischutz" will be performed; this is the
   fulfilment of my most ardent wish. When I hear it I shall be
   able to make a comparison between the singers here and our

The "Freischutz" made its first appearance on the Warsaw stage in 1826,
and therefore was known to Chopin; whereas the other operas were either
unknown to him or were not considered decisive tests.

Music and things connected with music, such as music-shops and
pianoforte-manufactories, took up Chopin's attention almost exclusively.
He declines with thanks the offer of a ticket for the meetings of the

   I should gain little or nothing for my mind from these
   discussions, because I am too little of a savant; and,
   moreover, the professional gentlemen might perhaps look at
   me, the layman, and think: "How comes Saul among the

Of the Royal Library, to which he went with Professor Jarocki, he has
no more to say than that "it is very large, but contains few musical
works"; and when he visits the Zoological Museum, he thinks all the time
what a bore it is, and how he would rather be at Schlesinger's, the best
music-shop in the town, and an enterprising publishing house. That
he neglects many things which educated men generally prize, he feels
himself, and expresses the fear that his father will reproach him with
one-sidedness. In his excuse he says:--

   I have come to Berlin for my musical education, and the
   library of Schlesinger, consisting of the most interesting
   works of the composers of all countries and times, must
   interest me more than any other collections.

The words, he adds, add nothing to the strength of his argument.

   It is a comfort to think that I, too, shall yet come to
   Schlesinger's, and that it is always good for a young man to
   see much, as from everything something may be learnt.

According to Karasowski, who reports, no doubt faithfully, what he has
heard, Chopin was so well versed in all the branches of science, which
he cultivated at the Lyceum, that all who knew him were astonished at
his attainments, and prognosticated for him a brilliant future. I am
afraid the only authorities for this statement were the parents, the
sisters, and other equally indiscriminately-admiring connections, who
often discover genius where it is hidden from the cold, unfeeling world
outside this sympathetic circle. Not that I would blame an amiable
weakness without which love, friendship, in short, happiness were
well-nigh impossible. Only a biographer who wishes to represent a man as
he really was, and not as he appeared to be to one or more individuals,
has to be on his guard against it. Let us grant at once that Chopin made
a good figure at the Lyceum--indeed, a quick-witted boy who found
help and encouragement at home (the secret of almost all successful
education) could hardly do otherwise. But from this to a master of all
the arts, to an admirable Crichton, is a great step. Where there is
genius there is inclination. Now, however well Chopin acquitted himself
of his school-tasks--and even therein you will remember a falling-off
was noticeable when outward pressure ceased--science and kindred
subjects were subsequently treated by him with indifference. The
thorough training which he received in general knowledge entirely failed
to implant in him the dispositions of a scholar or thinker. His nature
was perhaps a soil unfavourable to such growths, and certainly already
preoccupied by a vegetation the luxuriance of which excluded, dwarfed,
or crushed everything else. The truth of these remarks is proved
by Chopin's letters and his friends' accounts of his tastes and
conversation. In connection with this I may quote a passage from a
letter which Chopin wrote immediately before starting on his Berlin
trip. Jedrzejewicz, a gentleman who by-and-by became Chopin's
brother-in-law, and was just then staying in Paris, made there the
acquaintance of the Polish musician Sowinski. The latter hearing thus of
his talented countryman in Warsaw, and being co-editor with Fetis of the
"Revue musicale" (so at least we read in the letter in question, but
it is more likely that Sowinski was simply a contributor to the paper),
applied to him for a description of the state of music in Poland, and
biographical notes on the most celebrated executants and composers. Now
let us see what Chopin says in reference to this request.

   All these are things with which I have no intention to
   meddle. I shall write to him from Berlin that this affair is
   not in my line, and that, moreover, I cannot yet form a
   judgment such as would be worthy of a Parisian journal, which
   must contain only mature and competent opinions, &c.

How much of this is self-knowledge, modesty, or disinclination, I leave
the reader to decide, who, no doubt, will smile at the young man's
innocence in imagining that Parisian, or, indeed, any journals
distinguish themselves generally by maturity and competence of judgment.

At the time of the Berlin visit Chopin was a lively, well-educated, and
well-mannered youth, who walked through life pleased and amused with
its motley garb, but as yet unconscious of the deeper truths, and the
immensities of joy and sadness, of love and hate, that lie beneath.
Although the extreme youthfulness, nay boyishness, of the letters
written by him at that time, and for some time after, makes him appear
younger than he really was, the criticisms and witticisms on what is
going on around which they contain, show incontestably that he had
more than the usual share of clear and quick-sightedness. His power of
observation, however, was directed rather to dress, manners, and the
peculiarities and eccentricities of outward appearance generally, than
to the essentials which are not always indicated and are often hidden
by them. As to his wit, it had a decided tendency towards satire and
caricature. He notices the pleasing orderliness and cleanliness of the
otherwise not well-favoured surroundings of Berlin as he approaches,
considers the city itself too much extended for the number of its
inhabitants, of whom it could hold twice as many, is favourably
impressed by the fine large palace, the spacious well-built streets,
the picturesque bridges, and congratulates himself that he and his
fellow-traveller did not take lodgings in the broad but rather too
quiet Franzosische Strasse. Yes, our friend is fond of life and society.
Whether he thought man the proper study of mankind or not, as Pope
held, he certainly found it the most attractive. The passengers in the
stage-coach were to him so many personages of a comedy. There was an
advocate who tried to shine with his dull jokes, an agriculturist to
whom travelling had given a certain varnish of civilisation, and a
German Sappho who poured forth a stream of pretentious and at the same
time ludicrous complaints. The play unwittingly performed by these
unpaid actors was enjoyed by our friend with all the zest the feeling
of superiority can give. What a tragi-comical arrangement it is that
in this world of ours everybody is laughing at everybody else! The
scientists of the congress afforded Chopin an almost unlimited scope for
the exercise of his wit. Among them he found so many curious and various
specimens that he was induced not only to draw but also to classify
them. Having already previously sent home some sketches, he concludes
one of his letters with the words "the number of caricatures is
increasing." Indeed, there seems to have been only one among these
learned gentlemen who impressed him with a feeling of respect and
admiration--namely, Alexander von Humboldt. As Chopin's remarks on him
are the best part of his three Berlin letters, I shall quote them in
full. On seeing Von Humboldt at Lichtenstein's he writes:--

   He is not above middle height, and his countenance cannot be
   called beautiful; but the somewhat protruding, broad, and
   well-moulded forehead, and the deep inquiring eye, announce
   the all-embracing mind which animates this humane as well as
   much-travelled savant. Humboldt spoke French, and as well as
   his mother-tongue.

One of the chief events of Chopin's visit to Berlin was, according to
his own account, his second dinner with the natural philosophers, which
took place the day before the close of the congress, and was very lively
and entertaining:--

Many appropriate songs were sung in which every one joined with more
or less energy. Zelter conducted; he had standing before him on a red
pedestal as a sign of his exalted musical dignity a large gilt goblet,
which seemed to give him much pleasure. On this day the food was much
better than usual. People say the natural philosophers had at their
meetings been specially occupied with the amelioration of roasts,
sauces, soups, and the like.

"The Berliners are such an impertinent race," says Goethe, "that to keep
one's self above water one must have Haare auf den Zahnen, and at times
be rude." Such a judgment prepares one for much, but not for what Chopin
dares to say:--

   Marylski [one of his Warsaw friends] has not the faintest
   shadow of taste if he asserts that the ladies of Berlin dress
   prettily. They deck themselves out, it is true; but it is a
   pity for the fine stuffs which are cut up for such puppets!

What blasphemy!

After a fortnight's stay in the Prussian capital Professor Jarocki and
Chopin turned homeward on September 28, 1828. They did not, however,
go straight to Warsaw, but broke their journey at Posen, where they
remained two days "in gratiam of an invitation from Archbishop Wolicki."
A great part of the time he was at Posen he spent at the house of Prince
Radziwill, improvising and playing sonatas of Mozart, Beethoven, and
Hummel, either alone or with Capellmeister Klingohr. On October 6 the
travellers arrived in Warsaw, which Chopin was so impatient to reach
that the professor was prevailed upon to take post-horses from Lowicz.
Before I have done with this trip to Berlin I must relate an incident
which occurred at a stage between Frankfort on the Oder and Posen.

On arriving at Zullichau our travellers were informed by the postmaster
that they would have to wait an hour for horses. This announcement
opened up an anything but pleasing prospect. The professor and
his companion did the best that could be done in these distressing
circumstances--namely, took a stroll through the small town, although
the latter had no amenities to boast of, and the fact of a battle having
been fought there between the Russians and Prussians in 1759 would
hardly fire their enthusiasm. Matters, however, became desperate when
on their return there was still neither sign nor sound of horses. Dr.
Jarocki comforted himself with meat and drink, but Chopin began to look
uneasily about him for something to while away the weariness of waiting.
His search was not in vain, for in an adjoining room he discovered an
old piano of unpromising appearance, which, on being opened and tried,
not only turned out to be better than it looked, but even in tune. Of
course our artist did not bethink himself long, but sat down at once,
and launched out into an improvisation on a Polish air. One of his
fellow-passengers, a German, and an inveterate smoker, attracted by the
music, stepped in, and was soon so wrapped up in it that he forgot even
his pipe. The other passengers, the postmaster, his buxom wife, and
their pretty daughters, came dropping in, one after the other. But when
this peaceful conventicle had for some time been listening silently,
devoutly, and admiringly, lo, they were startled by a stentorian voice
bawling into the room the words:--"Gentlemen, the horses are put in."
The postmaster, who was indignant at this untimely interruption, begged
the musician to continue. But Chopin said that they had already
waited too long, it was time to depart. Upon this there was a general
commotion; the mistress of the house solicited and cajoled, the young
ladies bashfully entreated with their eyes, and all pressed around the
artist and supported the request, the postmaster even offering extra
horses if Chopin would go on with his playing. Who could resist? Chopin
sat down again, and resumed his fantasia. When he had ended, a servant
brought in wine, the postmaster proposed as a toast "the favourite of
Polyhymnia," and one of the audience, an old musician, gave voice to his
feelings by telling the hero that, "if Mozart had heard you, he would
have shaken hands with you and exclaimed 'Bravo!' An insignificant
man like me dare not do that." After Chopin had played a mazurka as a
wind-up, the tall postmaster took him in his arms, carried him to the
coach--the pockets of which the ladies had already filled with wine and
eatables--and, bidding him farewell, said that as long as he lived he
would think with enthusiasm of Frederick Chopin.

We can have no difficulty in believing the statement that in after-life
our artist recalled with pleasure this incident at the post-house of
Zullichau, and that his success among these unsophisticated people was
dearer to him than many a more brilliant one in the great world of art
and fashion. But, it may be asked, did all this happen in exactly the
same way in which it is told here? Gentle reader, let us not inquire too
curiously into this matter. Of course you have heard of myth-making and
legend-making. Well, anecdote-making is a process of a similar nature, a
process of accumulation and development. The only difference between the
process in the first two cases and that in the third is, that the former
is carried on by races, the latter by individuals. A seed-corn of fact
falls on the generous soil of the poetic imagination, and forthwith it
begins to expand, to sprout, and to grow into flower, shrub, or tree.
But there are well and ill-shapen plants, and monstrosities too. The
above anecdote is a specimen of the first kind. As a specimen of the
last kind may be instanced an undated anecdote told by Sikorski and
others. It is likewise illustrative of Chopin's power and love of
improvisation. The seed-corn of fact in the case seems to be that
one Sunday, when playing during divine service in the Wizytek Church,
Chopin, taking for his subjects some motives of the part of the Mass
that had just been performed, got so absorbed in his improvisation that
he entirely forgot all his surroundings, and turned a deaf ear to the
priest at the altar, who had already for the second time chanted 'Per
omnia saecula saeculurum.' This is a characteristic as well as a pretty
artist-story, which, however, is marred, I think, by the additions of a
choir that gathers round the organist and without exception forgets like
him time and place, and of a mother superior who sends the sacristan to
remind those music-enthusiasts in the organ-gallery of the impatiently
waiting priest and acolyte, &c. Men willingly allow themselves to
be deceived, but care has to be taken that their credulity be not
overtaxed. For if the intention is perceived, it fails in its object; as
the German poet says:--"So fuehrt man Absicht und man ist verstimmt."

On the 6th of October, as has already been said, Chopin returned to
Warsaw. Judging from a letter written by him at the end of the year
(December 27, 1828) to his friend Titus Woyciechowski, he was busy
composing and going to parties. The "Rondeau a la Krakowiak," Op. 14,
was now finished, and the Trio, Op. 8, was nearly so. A day on which he
had not been musically productive seems to have been regarded by him as
a lost day. The opening phrase of the following quotation reminds one of
the famous exclamation of the Emperor Titus:--

   During the last week I have composed nothing worthy either of
   God or of man. I run from Ananias to Caiaphas; to-night I
   shall be at Madame Wizegerod's, from there I shall drive to a
   musical soiree at Miss Kicka's. You know how pleasant it is
   to be forced to improvise when one is tired! I have not often
   such happy thoughts as come sometimes under my fingers when I
   am with you. And then the miserable instruments!

In the same letter he relates that his parents are preparing a small
room for him:--

   A staircase leads from the entrance directly into it; there I
   shall have an old writing-desk, and this nook will be my

This remark calls up a passage in a letter written two years later from
Vienna to his friend John Matuszynski:--

   When your former colleagues, for instance, Rostkowski,
   Schuch, Freyer, Kyjewski, Hube, &c., are holding merry
   converse in my room, then think that I am laughing and
   enjoying myself with you.

A charming little genre picture of Chopin's home-life is to be found in
one of his letters from Vienna (December 1, 1830) Having received news
from Warsaw, he writes:--

   The joy was general, for Titus also had letters from home. I
   thank Celinski lor the enclosed note; it brought vividly back
   to me the time when I was still amongst you: it seemed to me
   as if I were sitting at the piano and Celinski standing
   opposite me looking at Mr. Zywny, who just then treated
   Linowski to a pinch of snuff. Only Matuszynski was wanting to
   make the group complete.

Several names in the above extract remind me that I ought to say a few
words about the young men with whom Chopin at that time associated. Many
of them were no doubt companions in the noblest sense of the word.
Of this class may have been Celinski, Hube, Eustachius Marylski, and
Francis Maciejowski (a nephew of the previously-mentioned Professor
Waclaw Maciejowski), who are more or less frequently mentioned in
Chopin's correspondence, but concerning whom I have no information to
give. I am as badly informed about Dziewanowski, whom a letter quoted
by Karasowski shows to have been a friend of Chopin's. Of two other
friends, Stanislas Kozmian and William Kolberg, we know at least that
the one was a few years ago still living at Posen and occupied the post
of President of the Society of the Friends of Science, and that the
other, to whom the earliest letters of Chopin that have come down to
us are addressed, became, not to mention lesser offices and titles, a
Councillor of State, and died on June 4,1877. Whatever the influence of
the friends I have thus far named may have been on the man Chopin, one
cannot but feel inclined to think that Stephen Witwicki and Dominic
Magnuszewski, especially the former, must have had a greater influence
on the artist. At any rate, these two poets, who made their mark in
Polish literature, brought the musician in closest contact with the
strivings of the literary romanticism of those days. In later years
Chopin set several of Witwicki's songs to music. Both Magnuszewski and
Witwicki lived afterwards, like Chopin, in Paris, where they continued
to associate with him. Of the musical acquaintances we have to notice
first and foremost Julius Fontana, who himself said that he was a daily
visitor at Chopin's house. The latter writes in the above-mentioned
letter (December 27, 1828) to Titus Woyciechowski:--

   The Rondo for two pianos, this orphan child, has found a step-
   father in Fontana (you may perhaps have seen him at our
   house, he attends the university); he studied it for more
   than a month, but then he did learn it, and not long ago we
   tried how it would sound at Buchholtz's.

Alexander Rembielinski, described as a brilliant pianist and a composer
in the style of Fesca, who returned from Paris to Warsaw and died
young, is said to have been a friend of Chopin's. Better musicians than
Fontana, although less generally known in the western part of Europe,
are Joseph Nowakowski and Thomas Nidecki. Chopin, by some years their
junior, had intercourse with them during his residence in Poland as
well as afterwards abroad. It does not appear that Chopin had what can
rightly be called intimate friends among the young Polish musicians. If
we may believe the writer of an article in Sowinski's Dictionary, there
was one exception. He tells us that the talented Ignaz Felix Dobrzynski
was a fellow-pupil of Chopin's, taking like him private lessons from
Elsner. Dobrzynski came to Warsaw in 1825, and took altogether thirty

   Working together under the same master, having the same
   manner of seeing and feeling, Frederick Chopin and I.F.
   Dobrzynski became united in a close friendship. The same
   aims, the same artistic tendency to seek the UNKNOWN,
   characterised their efforts. They communicated to each other
   their ideas and impressions, followed different routes to
   arrive at the same goal.

This unison of kindred minds is so beautiful that one cannot but wish
it to have been a fact. Still, I must not hide the circumstance that
neither Liszt nor Karasowski mentions Dobrzynski as one of Chopin's
friends, and the even more significant circumstance that he is only
mentioned twice and en passant in Chopin's letters. All this, however,
does not necessarily nullify the lexicographer's statements, and until
contradictory evidence is forthcoming we may hold fast by so pleasing
and ennobling a creed.

The most intimate of Chopin's early friends, indeed, of all
his friends--perhaps the only ones that can be called his bosom
friends--have still to be named, Titus Woyciechowski and John
Matuszynski. It was to them that Chopin wrote his most interesting and
self-revealing letters. We shall meet them and hear of them often in
the course of this narrative, for their friendship with the musician was
severed only by death. It will therefore suffice to say here that Titus
Woyciechowski, who had been Chopin's school-fellow, lived, at the period
of the latter's life we have now reached, on his family estates, and
that John Matuszynski was then studying medicine in Warsaw.

In his letter of December 27, 1828, Chopin makes some allusions to the
Warsaw theatres. The French company had played Rataplan, and at the
National Theatre they had performed a comedy of Fredro's, Weber's
Preciosa, and Auber's Macon. A musical event whichmust have interested
Chopin much more than the performances of the two last-mentioned
works took place in the first half of the year 1829--namely, Hummel's
appearance in Warsaw. He and Field were, no doubt, those pianists who
through the style of their compositions most influenced Chopin. For
Hummel's works Chopin had indeed a life-long admiration and love. It is
therefore to be regretted that he left in his letters no record of
the impression which Hummel, one of the four most distinguished
representatives of pianoforte-playing of that time, made upon him. It
is hardly necessary to say that the other three representatives--of
different generations and schools let it be understood--were Field,
Kalkbrenner, and Moscheles. The only thing we learn about this visit of
Hummel's to Warsaw is that he and the young Polish pianist made a good
impression upon each other. As far as the latter is concerned this is a
mere surmise, or rather an inference from indirect proofs, for, strange
to say, although Chopin mentions Hummel frequently in his letters, he
does not write a syllable that gives a clue to his sentiments regarding
him. The older master, on the other hand, shows by his inquiries after
his younger brother in art and the visits he pays him that he had a real
regard and affection for him.

It is also to be regretted that Chopin says in his letters nothing of
Paganini's appearance in Warsaw. The great Italian violinist, who made
so deep an impression on, and exercised so great an influence over,
Liszt, cannot have passed by without producing some effect on Chopin.
That the latter had a high opinion of Paganini may be gathered from
later utterances, but what one would like is a description of his
feelings and thoughts when he first heard him. Paganini came to Warsaw
in 1829, after his visit to Berlin. In the Polish capital he was
worshipped with the same ardour as elsewhere, and also received the
customary tributes of applause, gold, and gifts. From Oreste Bruni's
Niccolo Paganini, celebre violinista Genovese, we learn that his
Warsaw worshippers presented him with a gold snuff-box, which bore the
following inscription:--Al Cav. Niccolo Paganini. Gli ammiratori del suo
talento. Varsovia 19 Luglio 1829.

Some months after this break in what he, no doubt, considered the
monotonous routine of Warsaw life, our friend made another excursion,
one of far greater importance in more than one respect than that to
Berlin. Vienna had long attracted him like a powerful magnet, the
obstacles to his going thither were now removed, and he was to see that
glorious art-city in which Gluck, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert,
and many lesser but still illustrious men had lived and worked.



IT was about the middle of July, 1829, that Chopin, accompanied by his
friends Celinski, Hube, and Francis Maciejowski, set out on his journey
to Vienna. They made a week's halt at the ancient capital of the Polish
Republic, the many-towered Cracow, which rises picturesquely in a
landscape of great loveliness. There they explored the town and its
neighbourhood, both of which are rich in secular and ecclesiastical
buildings, venerable by age and historical associations, not a few of
them remarkable also as fine specimens of architecture. Although we have
no detailed account of Chopin's proceedings, we may be sure that
our patriotic friend did not neglect to look for and contemplate the
vestiges of his nation's past power and greatness: the noble royal
palace, degraded, alas, into barracks for the Austrian soldiery; the
grand, impressive cathedral, in which the tombs of the kings present
an epitome of Polish history; the town-hall, a building of the 14th
century; the turreted St. Florian's gate; and the monumental hillock,
erected on the mountain Bronislawa in memory of Kosciuszko by the
hands of his grateful countrymen, of which a Frenchman said:--"Void une
eloquence touts nouvelle: un peuple qui ne peut s'exprimer par la
parole ou par les livres, et qui parle par des montagnes." On a Sunday
afternoon, probably on the 24th of July, the friends left Cracow, and in
a rustic vehicle drove briskly to Ojcow. They were going to put up not
in the place itself, but at a house much patronised by tourists, lying
some miles distant from it and the highway. This circumstance led to
something like a romantic incident, for as the driver was unacquainted
with the bye-roads, they got into a small brook, "as clear and silvery
bright as brooks in fairytales," and having walls of rock on the
right and left, they were unable to extricate themselves "from this
labyrinth." Fortunately they met towards nine o'clock in the evening two
peasants who conducted them to their destination, the inn of Mr. Indyk,
in which also the Polish authoress Clementina Tanska, who has described
this district in one of her works, had lodged--a fact duly reported by
Chopin to his sister Isabella and friend Titus. Arriving not only tired
but also wet to above the knees, his first business was to guard against
taking a cold. He bought a Cracow double-woven woollen night-cap, which
he cut in two pieces and wrapped round his feet. Then he sat down by the
fire, drank a glass of red wine, and, after talking for a little while
longer, betook himself to bed, and slept the sleep of the just. Thus
ended the adventure of that day, and, to all appearance, without the
dreaded consequences of a cold. The natural beauties of the part of
the country where Chopin now was have gained for it the name of Polish
Switzerland. The principal sights are the Black Cave, in which during
the bloody wars with the Turks and Tartars the women and children used
to hide themselves; the Royal Cave, in which, about the year 1300,
King Wladyslaw Lokietek sought refuge when he was hardly pressed by
the usurper Wenceslas of Bohemia; and the beautifully-situated ruins
of Ojcow Castle, once embowered in thick forests. Having enjoyed to the
full the beauties of Polish Switzerland, Chopin continued his journey
merrily and in favourable weather through the picturesque countries of
Galicia, Upper Silesia, and Moravia, arriving in Vienna on July 31.

Chopin's letters tell us very little of his sight-seeing in the Austrian
capital, but a great deal of matters that interest us far more deeply.
He brought, of course, a number of letters of introduction with him.
Among the first which he delivered was one from Elsner to the publisher
Hashnger, to whom Chopin had sent a considerable time before some of his
compositions, which, however, still remained in manuscript. Haslinger
treated Elsner's pupil with an almost embarrassing politeness, and,
without being reminded of the MSS. in question, informed his visitor
that one of them, the variations on La ci darem la mano, would before
long appear in the Odeon series. "A great honour for me, is it not?"
writes the happy composer to his friend Titus. The amiable publisher,
however, thought that Chopin would do well to show the people of Vienna
what his difficult and by no means easily comprehensible composition was
like. But the composer was not readily persuaded. The thought of playing
in the city where Mozart and Beethoven had been heard frightened him,
and then he had not touched a piano for a whole fortnight. Not even
when Count Gallenberg entered and Haslinger presented Chopin to him as
a coward who dare not play in public was the young virtuoso put on his
mettle. In fact, he even declined with thanks the theatre which was
placed at his disposal by Count Gallenberg, who was then lessee of the
Karnthnerthor Theatre, and in whom the reader has no doubt recognised
the once celebrated composer of ballets, or at least the husband of
Beethoven's passionately-loved Countess Giulia Guicciardi. Haslinger and
Gallenberg were not the only persons who urged him to give the Viennese
an opportunity to hear him. Dining at the house of Count Hussarzewski,
a worthy old gentleman who admired his young countryman's playing very
much, Chopin was advised by everybody present--and the guests belonged
to the best society of Vienna--to give a concert. The journalist
Blahetka, best known as the father of his daughter, was not sparing in
words of encouragement; and Capellmeister Wurfel, who had been kind
to Chopin in Warsaw, told him plainly that it would be a disgrace to
himself, his parents, and his teachers not to make a public appearance,
which, he added, was, moreover, a politic move for this reason, that
no one who has composed anything new and wishes to make a noise in the
world can do so unless he performs his works himself. In fact, everybody
with whom he got acquainted was of the same opinion, and assured him
that the newspapers would say nothing but what was flattering. At last
Chopin allowed himself to be persuaded, Wurfel took upon him the care
of making the necessary arrangements, and already the next morning the
bills announced the coming event to the public of Vienna. In a long
postscript of a long and confused letter to his people he writes: "I
have made up my mind. Blahetka asserts that I shall create a furore,
'being,' as he expressed it, 'an artist of the first rank, and occupying
an honourable place by the side of Moscheles, Herz, and Kalkbrenner.'"
To all appearance our friend was not disposed to question the
correctness of this opinion; indeed, we shall see that although he had
his moments of doubting, he was perfectly conscious of his worth.
No blame, however, attaches to him on this account; self-respect
and self-confidence are not only irreprehensible but even
indispensable--that is, indispensable for the successful exercise of any
talent. That our friend had his little weaknesses shall not be denied
nor concealed. I am afraid he cannot escape the suspicion of having
possessed a considerable share of harmless vanity. "All journalists," he
writes to his parents and sisters, "open their eyes wide at me, and the
members of the orchestra greet me deferentially because I
walk with the director of the Italian opera arm-in-arm." Two
pianoforte-manufacturers--in one place Chopin says three--offered to
send him instruments, but he declined, partly because he had not room
enough, partly because he did not think it worth while to begin to
practise two days before the concert. Both Stein and Graff were very
obliging; as, however, he preferred the latter's instruments, he chose
one of this maker's for the concert, and tried to prevent the other from
taking offence by speaking him fair.

Chopin made his first public appearance in Vienna at the Karnthnerthor
Theatre on August 11, 1829. The programme comprised the following items:
Beethoven's Overture to Prometheus; arias of Rossini's and Vaccaj's,
sung by Mdlle. Veltheim, singer to the Saxon Court; Chopin's variations
on La ci darem la mano and Krakowiak, rondeau de concert (both for
pianoforte and orchestra), for the latter of which the composer
substituted an improvisation; and a short ballet. Chopin, in a letter to
his people dated August 12, 1829, describes the proceedings thus:--

   Yesterday--i.e., Tuesday, at 7 p.m., I made my debut in the
   Imperial Opera-house before the public of Vienna. These
   evening concerts in the theatre are called here "musical
   academies." As I claimed no honorarium, Count Gallenberg
   hastened on my appearance.

In a letter to Titus Woyciechowski, dated September 12, 1829, he says:--

   The sight of the Viennese public did not at all excite me,
   and I sat down, pale as I was, at a wonderful instrument of
   Graff's, at the time perhaps the best in Vienna. Beside me I
   had a painted young man, who turned the leaves for me in the
   Variations, and who prided himself on having rendered the
   same service to Moscheles, Hummel, and Herz. Believe me when
   I say that I played in a desperate mood; nevertheless, the
   Variations produced so much effect that I was called back
   several times. Mdlle. Veltheim sang very beautifully. Of my
   improvisation I know only that it was followed by stormy
   applause and many recalls.

To the cause of the paleness and the desperate mood I shall advert anon.
Chopin was satisfied, nay, delighted with his success; he had a friendly
greeting of "Bravo!" on entering, and this "pleasant word" the audience
repeated after each Variation so impetuously that he could not hear
the tuttis of the orchestra. At the end of the piece he was called back
twice. The improvisation on a theme from La Dame blanche and the Polish
tune Chmiel, which he substituted for the Krakowiak, although it did
not satisfy himself, pleased, or as Chopin has it, "electrified"
the audience. Count Gallenberg commended his compositions, and Count
Dietrichstein, who was much with the Emperor, came to him on the stage,
conversed with him a long time in French, complimented him on his
performance, and asked him to prolong his stay in Vienna. The only
adverse criticism which his friends, who had posted themselves in
different parts of the theatre, heard, was that of a lady who remarked,
"Pity the lad has not a better tournure." However, the affair did not
pass off altogether without unpleasant incidents:--

   The members of the orchestra [Chopin writes to his friend
   Titus Woyciechowski] showed me sour faces at the rehearsal;
   what vexed them most was that I wished to make my debut with
   a new composition. I began with the Variations which are
   dedicated to you; they were to be followed by the Rondo
   Krakowiak. We got through the Variations well, the Rondo, on
   the other hand, went so badly that we had to begin twice from
   the beginning; the cause of this was said to be the bad
   writing. I ought to have placed the figures above and not
   below the rests (that being the way to which the Viennese
   musicians are accustomed). Enough, these gentlemen made such
   faces that I already felt inclined to send word in the
   evening that I was ill. Demar, the manager, noticed the bad
   disposition of the members of the orchestra, who also don't
   like Wurfel. The latter wished to conduct himself, but the
   orchestra refused (I don't know for what reason) to play
   under his direction. Mr. Demar advised me to improvise, at
   which proposal the orchestra looked surprised. I was so
   irritated by what had happened that in my desperation I
   agreed to it; and who knows if my bad humour and strange mood
   were not the causes of the great success which my playing

Although Chopin passes off lightly the grumbling and grimacing of the
members of the orchestra respecting the bad writing of his music, they
seem to have had more serious reasons for complaint than he alleges
in the above quotation. Indeed, he relates himself that after the
occurrence his countryman Nidecki, who was very friendly to him and
rejoiced at his success, looked over the orchestral parts of the Rondo
and corrected them. The correction of MSS. was at no time of his life
a strong point of Chopin's. That the orchestra was not hostile to him
appears from another allusion of his to this affair:--

   The orchestra cursed my badly-written music, and was not at
   all favourably inclined towards me until I began the
   improvisation; but then it joined in the applause of the
   public. From this I saw that it had a good opinion of me.
   Whether the other artists had so too I did not know as yet;
   but why should they be against me? They must see that I do
   not play for the sake of material advantages.

After such a success nothing was more natural than that Chopin should
allow himself to be easily persuaded to play again--il n'y a que le
premier pas qui coute--but he said he would not play a third time.
Accordingly, on August 18, he appeared once more on the stage of the
Karnthnerthor Theatre. Also this time he received no payment, but played
to oblige Count Gallenberg, who, indeed, was in anything but flourishing
circumstances. On this occasion Chopin succeeded in producing the
Krakowiak, and repeated, by desire of the ladies, the Variations.
Two other items of the programme were Lindpaintner's Overture to Der
Bergkonig and a polonaise of Mayseder's played by the violinist Joseph
Khayl, a very young pupil of Jansa's.

   The rendering of the Rondo especially [Chopin writes] gave me
   pleasure, because Gyrowetz, Lachner, and other masters, nay,
   even the orchestra, were so charmed--excuse the expression--
   that they called me back twice.

In another letter he is more loquacious on the subject:--

   If the public received me kindly on my first appearance, it
   was yesterday still more hearty. When I appeared on the stage
   I was greeted with a twice-repeated, long-sustained "Bravo!"
   The public had gathered in greater numbers than at the first
   concert. The financier of the theatre, Baron--I do not
   remember his name--thanked me for the recette and said that
   if the attendance was great, it was not on account of the
   ballet, which had already been often performed. With my Rondo
   I have won the good opinion of all professional musicians--
   from Capellmeister Lachner to the pianoforte-tuner, all
   praise my composition.

The press showed itself not less favourable than the public. The fullest
account of our artist's playing and compositions, and the impression
they produced on this occasion, I found on looking over the pages of the
Wiener Theaterzeitung. Chopin refers to it prospectively in a letter to
his parents, written on August 19. He had called on Bauerle, the editor
of the paper, and had been told that a critique of the concert would
soon appear. To satisfy his own curiosity and to show his people that he
had said no more than what was the truth in speaking of his success,
he became a subscriber to the Wiener Theaterzeitung, and had it sent to
Warsaw. The criticism is somewhat long, but as this first step into the
great world of art was an event of superlative importance to Chopin,
and is one of more than ordinary interest to us, I do not hesitate to
transcribe it in full so far as it relates to our artist. Well, what we
read in the Wiener Theaterzeitung of August 20, 1829, is this:--

   [Chopin] surprised people, because they discovered in him not
   only a fine, but a really very eminent talent; on account of
   the originality of his playing and compositions one might
   almost attribute to him already some genius, at least, in so
   far as unconventional forms and pronounced individuality are
   concerned. His playing, like his compositions--of which we
   heard on this occasion only variations--has a certain
   character of modesty which seems to indicate that to shine is
   not the aim of this young man, although his execution
   conquered difficulties the overcoming of which even here, in
   the home of pianoforte virtuosos, could not fail to cause
   astonishment; nay, with almost ironical naivete he takes it
   into his head to entertain a large audience with music as
   music. And lo, he succeeded in this. The unprejudiced public
   rewarded him with lavish applause. His touch, although neat
   and sure, has little of that brilliance by which our
   virtuosos announce themselves as such in the first bars; he
   emphasised but little, like one conversing in a company of
   clever people, not with that rhetorical aplomb which is
   considered by virtuosos as indispensable. He plays very
   quietly, without the daring elan which generally at once
   distinguishes the artist from the amateur. Nevertheless, our
   fine-feeling and acute-judging public recognised at once in
   this youth, who is a stranger and as yet unknown to fame, a
   true artist; and this evening afforded the unprejudiced
   observer the pleasing spectacle of a public which, considered
   as a moral person, showed itself a true connoisseur and a
   virtuoso in the comprehension and appreciation of an artistic
   performance which, in no wise grandiose, was nevertheless

   There were defects noticeable in the young man's playing,
   among which are perhaps especially to be mentioned the non-
   observance of the indication by accent of the commencement of
   musical phrases. Nevertheless, he was recognised as an artist
   of whom the best may be expected as soon as he has heard
   more....As in his playing he was like a beautiful young tree
   that stands free and full of fragrant blossoms and ripening
   fruits, so he manifested as much estimable individuality in
   his compositions, where new figures, new passages, new forms
   unfolded themselves in the introduction, in the first,
   second, and fourth Variations, and in the concluding
   metamorphosis of Mozart's theme into a polacca.

   Such is the ingenuousness of the young virtuoso that he
   undertook to come forward at the close of the concert with a
   free fantasia before a public in whose eyes few improvisers,
   with the exception of Beethoven and Hummel, have as yet found
   favour. If the young man by a manifold change of his themes
   aimed especially at amusement, the calm flow of his thoughts
   and their firm connection and chaste development were
   nevertheless a sufficient proof of his capability as regards
   this rare gift. Mr. Chopin gave to-day so much pleasure to a
   small audience that one cannot help wishing he may at another
   performance play before a larger one....

Although the critic of the Wiener Theaterzeitung is more succinct in
his report (September 1, 1829) of the second concert, he is not less
complimentary. Chopin as a composer as well as an executant justified on
this occasion the opinion previously expressed about him.

   He is a young man who goes his own way, and knows how to
   please in this way, although his style of playing and writing
   differs greatly from that of other virtuosos; and, indeed
   chiefly in this, that the desire to make good music
   predominates noticeably in his case over the desire to
   please. Also to-day Mr. Chopin gave general satisfaction.

These expressions of praise are so enthusiastic that a suspicion might
possibly arise as to their trustworthiness. But this is not the only
laudatory account to be found in the Vienna papers. Der Sammler, for
instance, remarked: "In Mr. Chopin we made the acquaintance of one of
the most excellent pianists, full of delicacy and deepest feeling."
The Wiener Zeitschrift fur Kunst, Literatur, Theater und Mode, too, had
appreciative notices of the concerts.

   He executes the greatest difficulties with accuracy and
   precision, and renders all passages with neatness. The
   tribute of applause which the public paid to this clever
   artist was very great; the concert-piece with orchestra (the
   Variations) especially pleased.

This was written after the first concert, and printed on August 22,
1829. From the criticism on the second concert, which appeared in the
same paper a week later (August 29), I cull the following sentences:--

   Chopin performed a new Rondo for pianoforte and orchestra of
   his own composition. This piece is written throughout in the
   chromatic style, rarely rises to geniality, but has passages
   which are distinguished by depth and thoughtful working-out.
   On the whole, however, he seems to be somewhat lacking in
   variety. The master showed in it his dexterity as a pianist
   to perfection, and conquered the greatest difficulties with
   felicity. A longer stay in Vienna might be to the advantage
   of his touch as well as of his ensemble playing with the
   orchestra. He received much applause, and was repeatedly
   called back....At the close Mr. Chopin played to-day the
   Variations on a theme of Mozart's, which he had already
   performed with so much bravura and felicity at his first
   concert. The pleasing and yet substantial variety of this
   composition as well as the fine, successful playing obtained
   also to-day loud applause for the pianist. Connoisseurs and
   amateurs manifested joyously and loudly their recognition of
   his clever playing. This young man...shows in his
   compositions a serious striving to interweave by interesting
   combinations the orchestra with the pianoforte.

In conclusion, let me quote one other journal, this time a purely
musical one--namely, the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung (No. 46,
November 18, 1829). The notice, probably written by that debauched
genius F.A. Kanne, runs thus:--

   Mr. Chopin, a pianist from Warsaw, according to report a
   pupil of Wurfel's [which report was of course baseless], came
   before us a master of the first rank. The exquisite delicacy
   of his touch, his indescribable mechanical dexterity, his
   finished shading and portamento, which reflect the deepest
   feeling; the lucidity of his interpretation, and his
   compositions, which bear the stamp of great genius--
   variazioni di bravura, rondo, free fantasia--reveal a
   virtuoso most liberally endowed by nature, who, without
   previous blasts of trumpets, appears on the horizon like one
   of the most brilliant meteors.

Still, the sweets of success were not altogether without some admixture
of bitterness, as we may perceive from the following remarks of

   I know that I have pleased the ladies and the musicians.
   Gyrowetz, who sat beside Celinski, made a terrible noise, and
   shouted "Bravo." Only the out-and-out Germans seem not to
   have been quite satisfied.

And this, after having a few days before attributed the applause to
the Germans, who "could appreciate improvisations." Tantae animis
coelestibus irae? But what was the reason of this indignation?
Simply this: a gentleman, who after the second concert came into the
coffee-room of the hotel where Chopin was staying, on being asked by
some of the guests how he liked the performance, answered laconically,
"the ballet was very pretty"; and, although they put some further
questions, he would say no more, having no doubt noticed a certain
person. And hinc illae lacrimae. Our sensitive friend was indeed so much
ruffled at this that he left the room in a pet and went to bed, so
as not to hinder, as he explains, the outpouring of the gentleman's
feelings. The principal stricture passed on the virtuoso was that he
played too softly, or, rather, too delicately. Chopin himself says that
on that point all were unanimous. But the touchy artist, in true artist
fashion-- or shall we be quite just and say "in true human fashion"?

   They are accustomed to the drumming of the native pianoforte
   virtuosos. I fear that the newspapers will reproach me with
   the same thing, especially as the daughter of an editor is
   said to drum frightfully. However, it does not matter; as
   this cannot be helped, I would rather that people say I play
   too delicately than too roughly.

When Count Moritz Lichnowski, to whom Chopin was introduced by Wurfel,
learned after the first concert that the young virtuoso was going to
play again, he offered to lend him his own piano for the occasion, for
he thought Chopin's feebleness of tone was owing to the instrument he
had used. But Chopin knew perfectly the real state of the matter: "This
is my manner of playing, which pleases the ladies so very much." Chopin
was already then, and remained all his life, nay, even became more and
more, the ladies' pianist par excellence. By which, however, I do not
mean that he did not please the men, but only that no other pianist was
equally successful in touching the most tender and intimate chords of
the female heart. Indeed, a high degree of refinement in thought and
feeling combined with a poetic disposition are indispensable requisites
for an adequate appreciation of Chopin's compositions and style of
playing. His remark, therefore, that he had captivated the learned and
the poetic natures, was no doubt strictly correct with regard to
his success in Vienna; but at the same time it may be accepted as a
significant foreshadowing of his whole artistic career. Enough has now
been said of these performances, and, indeed, too much, were it not that
to ascertain the stage of development reached by an original master,
and the effect which his efforts produced on his artistically-cultivated
contemporaries, are objects not undeserving a few pages of discussion.

During the twenty days which Chopin spent in Vienna he displayed great
activity. He was always busy, and had not a moment to spare. His own
public performances did not make him neglect those of others. He heard
the violinist Mayseder twice, and went to representations of Boieldieu's
"La Dame blanche," Rossini's "Cenerentola," Meyerbeer's "Crociato in
Egitto," and other operas. He also visited the picture gallery and
the museum of antiquities, delivered letters of introduction, made
acquaintances, dined and drank tea with counts and countesses, &c.
Wherever Chopin goes we are sure to see him soon in aristocratic and in
Polish society.

   Everybody says that I have pleased the nobility here
   exceedingly The Schwarzenbergs, Wrbnas, &c., were quite
   enraptured by the delicacy and elegance of my playing. As a
   further proof I may mention the visit which Count
   Dietrichstein paid me on the stage.

Chopin called repeatedly on the "worthy old gentleman" Count
Hussarzewski and his "worthy lady," with whom he dined once, and who
wished him to stay for dinner when he made his farewell call. With the
Countess Lichnowska and her daughter he took tea two days after the
first concert. They were inexpressibly delighted to hear that he was
going to give a second, asked him to visit them on his way through
Vienna to Paris, and promised him a letter of introduction to a sister
of the Count's. This Count Lichnowski was Count Moritz Lichnowski, the
friend of Beethoven, to whom the great master dedicated the Variations,
Op. 35, and the Sonata, Op. 90, in which are depicted the woes and
joys of the Count's love for the singer Mdlle. Strammer, who afterwards
became his wife, and, in fact, was the Countess Lichnowska with whom
Chopin became acquainted.

[Footnote: Count Moritz Lichnowski must not be confounded with his elder
brother Prince Carl Lichnowski, the pupil and friend of Mozart, and the
friend and patron of Beethoven, to whom the latter dedicated his Op. 1,
and who died in 1814.]

Among the letters of introduction which Chopin brought with him
there was also one for Schuppanzigh, whose name is in musical history
indissolubly connected with those of Beethoven and Lichnowski. The
eminent quartet leader, although his quartet evenings were over, held
out to Chopin hopes of getting up another during his visitor's stay in
Vienna--he would do so, he said, if possible. To no one, however, either
professional or amateur, was Chopin so much indebted for guidance and
furtherance as to his old obliging friend Wurfel, who introduced him not
only to Count Gallenberg, Count Lichnowski, and Capellmeister Seyfried,
but to every one of his acquaintances who either was a man of influence
or took an interest in musical matters. Musicians whose personal
acquaintance Chopin said he was glad to make were: Gyrowetz, the author
of the concerto with which little Frederick made his debut in Warsaw at
the age of nine, an estimable artist, as already stated, who had the sad
misfortune to outlive his popularity; Capellmeister Seyfried, a prolific
but qualitatively poor composer, best known to our generation as the
editor of Albrechtsberger's theoretical works and Beethoven's studies;
Conradin Kreutzer, who had already distinguished himself as a virtuoso
on the clarinet and pianoforte, and as a conductor and composer, but had
not yet produced his "Nachtlager"; Franz Lachner, the friend of Franz
Schubert, then a young active conductor and rising composer, now one
of the most honoured veterans of his art. With Schuppanzigh's pupil
Mayseder, the prince of the Viennese violinists of that day, and indeed
one of the neatest, most graceful, and elegant, although somewhat cold,
players of his instrument, Chopin had a long conversation. The only
critical comments to be found in Chopin's letters on the musicians he
came in contact with in the Austrian capital refer to Czerny, with whom
he got well acquainted and often played duets for two pianos. Of him the
young Polish musician said, "He is a good man, but nothing more." And
after having bidden him farewell, he says, "Czerny was warmer than
all his compositions." However, it must not be supposed that Chopin's
musical acquaintances were confined to the male sex; among them there
was at least one belonging to the better and fairer half of humanity--a
pianist-composer, a maiden still in her teens, and clever and pretty
to boot, who reciprocated the interest he took in her. According to our
friend's rather conceited statement I ought to have said--but it would
have been very ungallant to do so--he reciprocated the interest she took
in him. The reader has no doubt already guessed that I am speaking of
Leopoldine Blahetka.

On the whole, Chopin passed his time in Vienna both pleasantly and
profitably, as is well shown by his exclamation on the last day of his
stay: "It goes crescendo with my popularity here, and this gives me much
pleasure." The preceding day Schuppanzigh had said to him that as he
left so soon he ought not to be long in coming back. And when Chopin
replied that he would like to return to perfect himself, the by-standers
told him he need not come for that purpose as he had no longer
anything to learn. Although the young musician remarks that these were
compliments, he cannot help confessing that he likes to hear them; and
of course one who likes to hear them does not wholly disbelieve them,
but considers them something more than a mere flatus vocis. "Nobody
here," Chopin writes exultingly, "will regard me as a pupil." Indeed,
such was the reception he met with that it took him by surprise. "People
wonder at me," he remarked soon after his arrival in Vienna, "and I
wonder at them for wondering at me." It was incomprehensible to him that
the artists and amateurs of the famous musical city should consider it a
loss if he departed without giving a concert. The unexpected compliments
and applause that everywhere fell upon his ear, together with the many
events, experiences, and thoughts that came crowding upon him, would
have caused giddiness in any young artist; Chopin they made drunk with
excitement and pleasure. The day after the second concert he writes
home: "I really intended to have written about something else, but I
can't get yesterday out of my head." His head was indeed brimful, or
rather full to overflowing, of whirling memories and expectations which
he poured into the news--budgets destined for his parents, regardless
of logical sequence, just as they came uppermost. The clear, succinct
accounts of his visit which he gives to his friend Titus after his
return to Warsaw contrast curiously with the confused interminable
letters of shreds and patches he writes from Vienna. These latter,
however, have a value of their own; they present one with a striking
picture of the state of his mind at that time. The reader may consider
this part of the biography as an annotated digest of Chopin's letters,
of those addressed to his parents as well as of those to his friend

At last came the 19th of August, the day of our travelling-party's
departure. Chopin passed the whole forenoon in making valedictory
visits, and when in the afternoon he had done packing and writing, he
called once more on Haslinger--who promised to publish the Variations in
about five weeks--and then went to the cafe opposite the theatre, where
he was to meet Gyrowetz, Lachner, Kreutzer, and others. The rest shall
be told in Chopin's own words:--

   After a touching parting--it was really a touching parting
   when Miss Blahetka gave me as a souvenir her compositions
   bearing her own signature, and her father sent his
   compliments to you [Chopin's father] and dear mother,
   congratulating you on having such a son; when young Stein
   [one of the well-known family of pianoforte-manufacturers and
   musicians] wept, and Schuppanzigh, Gyrowetz, in one word, all
   the other artists, were much moved--well then, after this
   touching parting and having promised to return soon, I
   stepped into the stage-coach.

This was at nine o'clock in the evening, and Chopin and his
fellow-travellers, accompanied for half-an-hour by Nidecki and some
other Poles, leaving behind Vienna and Vienna friends, proceeded on
their way to Bohemia.

Prague was reached by our travellers on August 21. The interesting old
town did not display its beauties in vain, for Chopin writes admiringly
of the fine views from the castle hill, of the castle itself, of "the
majestic cathedral with a silver statue of St. John, the beautiful
chapel of St. Wenceslas, inlaid with amethysts and other precious
stones," and promises to give a fuller and more detailed description of
what he has seen by word of mouth. His friend Maciejowski had a
letter of introduction to Waclaw Hanka, the celebrated philologist and
librarian of the National Museum, to whom Chopin introduced himself as
the godson of Count Skarbek. On visiting the museum they were asked,
like all on whom the librarian bestowed his special attention, to write
their names in the visitors' book. Maciejowski wrote also four mazurka
strophes eulogising Hanka's scientific achievements, and Chopin set
them to music. The latter brought with him from Vienna six letters
of introduction--one from Blahetka and five from Wurfel--which were
respectively addressed to Pixis, to the manager of the theatre, and to
other musical big-wigs. The distinguished violin-virtuoso, professor
at the Conservatorium, and conductor at the theatre, Frederick Pixis
(1786--1842), received Chopin very kindly, gave up some lessons that he
might keep him longer and talk with him, and invited him to come again
in the afternoon, when he would meet August Alexander Klengel, of
Dresden, whose card Chopin had noticed on the table. For this esteemed
pianist and famous contrapuntist he had also a letter of introduction,
and he was glad to meet him in Prague, as he otherwise would have missed
seeing him, Klengel being on his way to Vienna and Italy. They made each
other's acquaintance on the stairs leading to Pixis' apartments.

   I heard him play his fugues for two hours; I did not play, as
   they did not ask me to do so. Klengel's rendering pleased me,
   but I must confess I had expected something better (but I beg
   of you not to mention this remark of mine to others).

Elsewhere he writes:--

   Of all the artists whose acquaintance I have made, Klengel
   pleased me most. He played me his fugues (one may say that
   they are a continuation of those of Bach. There are forty-
   eight of them, and the same number of canons). What a
   difference between him and Czerny!

Klengel's opus magnum, the "Canons et Fugues dans tons les tons majeurs
et mineurs pour le piano, en deux parties," did not appear till 1854,
two years after his death, although it had been completed some decades
previously. He carried it about with him on all his travels, unceasingly
improving and perfecting it, and may be said to have worked at it for
the space of half his life. The two artists who met at Pixis' house
got on well together, unlike as they were in their characters and aims.
Chopin called on Klengel before the latter's departure from Prague, and
spent two hours with him in conversation, neither of them being for
a moment at a loss for material to talk about. Klengel gave Chopin
a letter of introduction to Morlacchi, the address of which ran: Al
ornatissimo Signore Cavaliere Morlacchi, primo maestro della capella
Reale, and in which he asked this gentleman to make the bearer
acquainted with the musical life of Dresden. How favourably Klengel
had impressed his younger brother in art may be gathered from the
above-quoted and the following remarks: "He was to me a very agreeable
acquaintance, whom I esteem more highly than Czerny, but of this also
don't speak, my beloved ones."

[FOOTNOTE: Their disparity of character would have revealed itself
unpleasantly to both parties if the grand seigneur Chopin had,
like Moritz Hauptmann, been the travelling-companion of the meanly
parsimonious Klengel, who to save a few bajocchi left the hotels with
uncleaned boots, and calculated the worth of the few things he cared
for by scudi.--See Moritz Hauptmann's account of his "canonic"
travelling-companion's ways and procedures in the letters to Franz
Hauser, vol. i., p. 64, and passim.]

The reader will no doubt notice and admire the caution of our young
friend. Remembering that not even Paganini had escaped being censured in
Prague, Chopin felt no inclination to give a concert, as he was advised
to do. A letter in which he describes his Prague experiences reveals to
us one of his weaknesses--one, however, which he has in common with many
men of genius. A propos of his bursting into a wrong bedroom he says: "I
am absent-minded, you know."

After three pleasant days at Prague the quatrefoil of friends betook
themselves again to the road, and wended their way to Teplitz, where
they arrived the same evening, and stopped two nights and one day. Here
they fell in with many Poles, by one of whom, Louis Lempicki, Chopin was
introduced to Prince Clary and his family, in whose castle he spent an
evening in very aristocratic society. Among the guests were an Austrian
prince, an Austrian and a Saxon general, a captain of the English navy,
and several dandies whom Chopin suspected to be Austrian princes or
counts. After tea he was asked by the mother of the Princess Clary,
Countess Chotek, to play something. Chopin at once went to the piano,
and invited those present to give him a theme to improvise upon.

   Hereupon [he relates] I heard the ladies, who had taken seats
   near a table, whisper to each other: "Un theme, un theme."
   Three young princesses consulted together and at last turned
   to Mr. Fritsche, the tutor of Prince Clary's only son, who,
   with the approbation of all present, said to me: "The
   principal theme of Rossini's 'Moses'." I improvised, and, it
   appears, very successfully, for General Leiser [this was the
   Saxon general] afterwards conversed with me for a long time,
   and when he heard that I intended to go to Dresden he wrote
   at once to Baron von Friesen as follows: "Monsieur Frederic
   Chopin est recommande de la part du General Leiser a Monsieur
   le Baron de Friesen, Maitre de Ceremonie de S.M. le Roi de
   Saxe, pour lui etre utile pendant son sejour a Dresde et de
   lui procurer la connaissance de plusieurs de nos artistes."
   And he added, in German: "Herr Chopin is himself one of the
   most excellent pianists whom I know."

In short, Chopin was made much of; had to play four times, received an
invitation to dine at the castle the following day, &c., &c. That our
friend, in spite of all these charming prospects, leaving behind
him three lovely princesses, and who knows what other aristocratic
amenities, rolled off the very next morning at five o'clock in a vehicle
hired at the low price of two thalers--i.e., six shillings--must be
called either a feat of superhuman heroism or an instance of barbarous
insensibility--let the reader decide which. Chopin's visit to Teplitz
was not part of his original plan, but the state of his finances was
so good that he could allow himself some extravagances. Everything
delighted him at Teplitz, and, short as his stay was, he did the
sight-seeing thoroughly--we have his own word for it that he saw
everything worth seeing, among the rest Dux, the castle of the
Waldsteins, with relics of their ancestor Albrecht Waldstein, or

Leaving Teplitz on the morning of August 26, he arrived in the evening
of the same day in Dresden in good health and good humour. About this
visit to Dresden little is to be said. Chopin had no intention of
playing in public, and did nothing but look about him, admiring nature
in Saxon Switzerland, and art in the "magnificent" gallery. He went to
the theatre where Goethe's Faust (the first part), adapted by Tieck, was
for the first time produced on the stage, Carl Devrient impersonating
the principal part. "An awful but grand imagination! In the entr'actes
portions from Spohr's opera "Faust" were performed. They celebrated
today Goethe's eightieth birthday." It must be admitted that the
master-work is dealt with rather laconically, but Chopin never indulges
in long aesthetical discussions. On the following Saturday Meyerbeer's
"Il Crociato" was to be performed by the Italian Opera--for at that time
there was still an Italian Opera in Dresden. Chopin, however, did not
stay long enough to hear it, nor did he very much regret missing it,
having heard the work already in Vienna. Although Baron von Friesen
received our friend most politely, he seems to have been of no
assistance to him. Chopin fared better with his letter of introduction
to Capellmeister Morlacchi, who returned the visit paid him and made
himself serviceable. And now mark this touch of boyish vanity: "Tomorrow
morning I expect Morlacchi, and I shall go with him to Miss Pechwell's.
That is to say, I do not go to him, but he comes to me. Yes, yes,
yes!" Miss Pechwell was a pupil of Klengel's, and the latter had asked
Morlacchi to introduce Chopin to her. She seems to have been not only a
technically skilful, fine-feeling, and thoughtful musician, but also in
other respects a highly-cultivated person. Klengel called her the best
pianist in Dresden. She died young, at the age of 35, having some time
previously changed her maiden name for that of Madame Pesadori. We shall
meet her again in the course of this biography.

Of the rest of Chopin's journey nothing is known except that it led him
to Breslau, but when he reached and left it, and what he did there,
are open questions, and not worth troubling about. So much, however, is
certain, that on September 12, 1829, he was settled again in his native
city, as is proved by a letter bearing that date.



The only works of Chopin we have as yet discussed are--if we leave out
of account the compositions which the master neither published himself
nor wished to be published by anybody else--the "Premier Rondeau," Op.
1, the "Rondeau a la Mazur," Op. 5, and "Variations sur un air allemand"
(see Chapter III). We must retrace our steps as far back as 1827, and
briefly survey the composer's achievements up to the spring of 1829,
when a new element enters into his life and influences his artistic
work. It will be best to begin with a chronological enumeration of those
of Chopin's compositions of the time indicated that have come down to
us. In 1827 came into existence or were finished: a Mazurka (Op. 68, No.
2), a Polonaise (Op. 71, No. 1), and a Nocturne (Op. 72); in 1828, "La
ci darem la mano, varie" for piano and orchestra (Op. 2), a Polonaise
(Op. 71, No. 2), a Rondo for two pianos (Op. 73), a Sonata (Op. 4), a
Fantasia on Polish airs for piano and orchestra (Op. 13), a Krakowiak,
"Grand Rondeau de Concert," likewise for piano and orchestra (Op.
14), and a Trio for piano, violin, and violoncello (Op. 8); in 1829, a
Polonaise (Op. 71, No. 3), a Waltz (Op. 69, No. 2), another Waltz (in E
major, without opus number), and a Funeral March (Op. 726). I will
not too confidently assert that every one of the last four works was
composed in the spring or early summer of 1829; but whether they were or
were not, they may be properly ranged with those previously mentioned
of 1827 and 1828. The works that bear a higher opus number than 65 were
published after the composer's death by Fontana. The Waltz without opus
number and the Sonata, Op. 4, are likewise posthumous publications.

The works enumerated above may be divided into three groups, the first
of which comprises the Sonata, the Trio, and the Rondo for two pianos.

The Sonata (in C minor) for piano, Op. 4, of which Chopin wrote as early
as September 9, 1828, that it had been for some time in the hands of
Haslinger at Vienna, was kept by this publisher in manuscript till after
the composer's death, being published only in July, 1851. "As a pupil
of his I dedicated it to Elsner," says Chopin. It is indeed a pupil's
work--an exercise, and not a very successful one. The exigencies of the
form overburdened the composer and crushed all individuality out of him.
Nowhere is Chopin so little himself, we may even say so unlike himself.
The distribution of keys and the character of the themes show that the
importance of contrast in the construction of larger works was
still unsuspected by him. The two middle movements, a Menuetto and a
Larghetto--although in the latter the self-imposed fetters of the 5-4
time prevent the composer from feeling quite at his ease--are more
attractive than the rest. In them are discernible an approach to freedom
and something like a breath of life, whereas in the first and the last
movement there is almost nothing but painful labour and dull monotony.
The most curious thing, however, about this work is the lumbering
passage-writing of our graceful, light-winged Chopin.

Infinitely superior to the Sonata is the Trio for piano, violin, and
violoncello, Op. 8, dedicated to Prince Anton Radziwill, which was
published in March, 1833. It was begun early in 1828, was "not yet
finished" on September 9, and "not yet quite finished" on December 27 of
that year. Chopin tried the first movement in the summer of 1828, and we
may assume that, a few details and improvements excepted, the whole
was completed at the beginning of 1829. A considerable time, however,
elapsed before the composer declared it ready for the press. On August
31, 1830, he writes:--

   I tried the Trio last Sunday and was satisfied with it,
   perhaps because I had not heard it for a long time. I suppose
   you will say, "What a happy man!" Something occurred to me on
   hearing it--namely, that it would be better to employ a viola
   instead of the violin, for with the violin the E string
   dominates most, whilst in my Trio it is hardly ever used. The
   viola would stand in a more proper relation to the
   violoncello. Then the Trio will be ready for the press.

The composer did not make the intended alteration, and in this he was
well advised. For his remarks betray little insight; what preciousness
they possess they owe for the most part to the scarcity of similar
discussions of craftsmanship in his letters. From the above dates we see
that the composer bestowed much time, care, and thought upon the work.
Indeed, there can be no doubt that as regards conventional handling of
the sonata-form Chopin has in no instance been more successful. Were we
to look upon this work as an exercise, we should have to pronounce it a
most excellent one. But the ideal content, which is always estimable
and often truly beautiful as well as original, raises it high above the
status of an exercise. The fundamental fault of the Trio lies in this,
that the composer tried to fill a given form with ideas, and to some
extent failed to do so--the working-out sections especially testify to
the correctness of this opinion. That the notion of regarding form as
a vessel--a notion oftener acted upon than openly professed--is a
mischievous one will hardly be denied, and if it were denied, we could
not here discuss so wide a question as that of "What is form?" The
comparatively ineffective treatment of the violin and violoncello also
lays the composer open to censure. Notwithstanding its weaknesses
the work was received with favour by the critics, the most pronounced
conservatives not excepted. That the latter gave more praise to it than
to Chopin's previously-published compositions is a significant fact, and
may be easily accounted for by the less vigorous originality and less
exclusive individuality of the Trio, which, although superior in these
respects to the Sonata, Op. 4, does not equal the composer's works
written in simpler forms. Even the most hostile of Chopin's critics,
Rellstab, the editor of the Berlin musical journal Iris, admits--after
censuring the composer's excessive striving after originality, and the
unnecessarily difficult pianoforte passages with their progressions of
intervals alike repellent to hand and ear--that this is "on the whole
a praiseworthy work, which, in spite of some excursions into deviating
bye-paths, strikes out in a better direction than the usual productions
of the modern composers" (1833, No. 21). The editor of the Leipzig
"Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung," a journal which Schumann
characterises as "a sleepy place," is as eulogistic as the most rabid
Chopin admirer could wish. Having spoken of the "talented young man"
as being on the one hand under the influence of Field, and on the other
under that of Beethoven, he remarks:--

   In the Trio everything is new: the school, which is the neo-
   romantic; the art of pianoforte-playing, the individuality,
   the originality, or rather the genius--which, in the
   expression of a passion, unites, mingles, and alternates so
   strangely with that amiable tenderness [Innigkeit] that the
   shifting image of the passion hardly leaves the draughtsman
   time to seize it firmly and securely, as he would fain do;
   even the position of the phrases is unusual. All this,
   however, would be ambiguous praise did not the spirit, which
   is both old and new, breathe through the new form and give it
   a soul.

I place these criticisms before the reader as historical documents, not
as final decisions and examples of judicial wisdom. In fact, I accept
neither the strictures of the one nor the sublimifications of the other,
although the confident self-assertion of the former and the mystic
vagueness of the latter ought, according to use and wont, to carry
the weight of authority with them. Schumann, the Chopin champion par
excellence, saw clearer, and, writing three years later (1836), said
that the Trio belonged to Chopin's earlier period when the composer
still allowed the virtuoso some privileges. Although I cannot go so far
as this too admiring and too indulgent critic, and describe the work as
being "as noble as possible, more full of enthusiasm than the work
of any other poet [so schwarmerisch wie noch kein Dichter gesungen],
original in its smallest details, and, as a whole, every note music and
life," I think that it has enough of nobility, enthusiasm, originality,
music, and life, to deserve more attention than it has hitherto

Few classifications can at one and the same time lay claim to
the highest possible degree of convenience--the raison d'etre of
classifications--and strict accuracy. The third item of my first group,
for instance, might more properly be said to stand somewhere between
this and the second group, partaking somewhat of the nature of both. The
Rondo, Op. 73, was not originally written for two pianos. Chopin wrote
on September 9, 1828, that he had thus rearranged it during a stay at
Strzyzewo in the summer of that year. At that time he was pretty well
pleased with the piece, and a month afterwards talked of playing it with
his friend Fontana at the Ressource. Subsequently he must have changed
his opinion, for the Rondo did not become known to the world at large
till it was published posthumously. Granting certain prettinesses, an
unusual dash and vigour, and some points of interest in the working-out,
there remains the fact that the stunted melodies signify little and the
too luxuriant passage-work signifies less, neither the former nor the
latter possessing much of the charm that distinguishes them in the
composer's later works. The original in this piece is confined to the
passage-work, and has not yet got out of the rudimentary stage. Hence,
although the Rondo may not be unworthy of finding occasionally a place
in a programme of a social gathering with musical accompaniments and
even of a non-classical concert, it will disappoint those who come to it
with their expectations raised by Chopin's chefs-d'oeuvre, where all is
poetry and exquisiteness of style.

The second group contains Chopin's concert-pieces, all of which have
orchestral accompaniments. They are: (1) "La ci darem la mano, varie
pour le piano," Op. 2; (2) "Grande Fantaisie sur des airs polonais," Op.
13; (3) "Krakowiak, Grande Rondeau de Concert," Op. 14. Of these three
the first, which is dedicated to Titus Woyciechowski, has become the
most famous, not, however, on account of its greater intrinsic value,
but partly because the orchestral accompaniments can be most easily
dispensed with, and more especially because Schumann has immortalised
it by--what shall I call it?--a poetic prose rhapsody. As previously
stated, the work had already in September, 1828, been for some time at
Vienna in the hands of Haslinger; it was probably commenced as far
back as 1827, but it did not appear in print till 1830. [FOOTNOTE: It
appeared in a serial publication entitled Odeon, which was described
on the title-page as: Ausgewahlte grosse Concertstucke fur verschiedene
Instrumente (Selected Grand Concert-Pieces for different instruments).]
On April 10 of that year Chopin writes that he expects it impatiently.
The appearance of these Variations, the first work of Chopin published
outside his own country, created a sensation. Of the impression which
he produced with it on the Viennese in 1829 enough has been said in the
preceding chapter. The Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung received no less
than three reviews of it, two of them--that of Schumann and one by "an
old musician"--were accepted and inserted in the same number of the
paper (1831, Vol. xxxiii., No. 49); the third, by Friedrich Wieck,
which was rejected, found its way in the following year into the musical
journal Caecilia. Schumann's enthusiastic effusion was a prophecy rather
than a criticism. But although we may fail to distinguish in Chopin's
composition the flirting of the grandee Don Juan with the peasant-girl
Zerlina, the curses of the duped lover Masetto, and the jeers and
laughter of the knavish attendant Leporello, which Schumann thought
he recognised, we all obey most readily and reverently his injunction,
"Hats off, gentlemen: a genius!" In these words lies, indeed, the merit
of Schumann's review as a criticism. Wieck felt and expressed nearly
the same, only he felt it less passionately and expressed it in the
customary critical style. The "old musician," on the other hand, is
pedantically censorious, and the redoubtable Rellstab (in the Iris)
mercilessly condemnatory. Still, these two conservative critics, blinded
as they were by the force of habit to the excellences of the rising
star, saw what their progressive brethren overlooked in the ardour
of their admiration--namely, the super-abundance of ornament and
figuration. There is a grain of truth in the rather strong statement
of Rellstab that the composer "runs down the theme with roulades, and
throttles and hangs it with chains of shakes." What, however, Rellstab
and the "old musician"--for he, too, exclaims, "nothing but bravura and
figuration!"--did not see, but what must be patent to every candid and
unprejudiced observer, are the originality, piquancy, and grace of these
fioriture, roulades, &c., which, indeed, are unlike anything that
was ever heard or seen before Chopin's time. I say "seen," for the
configurations in the notation of this piece are so different from those
of the works of any other composer that even an unmusical person could
distinguish them from all the rest; and there is none of the timid
groping, the awkward stumbling of the tyro. On the contrary, the
composer presents himself with an ease and boldness which cannot but
command admiration. The reader will remember what the Viennese critic
said about Chopin's "aim"; that it was not to dazzle by the superficial
means of the virtuoso, but to impress by the more legitimate ones of the
genuine musician. This is true if we compare the Chopin of that day with
his fellow-virtuosos Kalkbrenner, Herz, &c.; but if we compare him with
his later self, or with Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Schumann, &c.,
the case is different. Indeed, there can be no doubt but that in
this and the other pieces of this group, Chopin's aim was that of the
virtuoso, only his nature was too rich, too noble, to sink into the
inanity of an insipid, conventional brilliancy. Moreover, whilst
maintaining that in the works specified language outruns in youthful
exuberance thought and emotion, I hasten to add that there are
premonitory signs--for instance, in the Op. 2 under discussion, more
especially in the introduction, the fifth variation, and the Finale--of
what as yet lies latent in the master's undeveloped creative power.

The Grande Fantaisie sur des airs polonais (A major) for the pianoforte
and orchestra, Op. 13, dedicated to J. P. Pixis, and published in April,
1834, and the Krakowiak, Grand Rondeau de Concert (F major) for the
pianoforte and orchestra, Op. 14, dedicated to the Princesse Adam
Czartoryska, and published in June, 1834, are the most overtly Polish
works of Chopin. Of the composition of the former, which, according
to Karasowski, was sketched in 1828, the composer's letters give no
information; but they contain some remarks concerning the latter. We
learn that the score of the Krakowiak was finished by December 27, 1828,
and find the introduction described as having "as funny an appearance
as himself in his pilot-cloth overcoat." In the Fantasia the composer
introduces and variates a Polish popular song (Juz miesiac zaszedl), and
an air by the Polish composer Kurpinski, and concludes with a Kujawiak,
a dance of the mazurka species, in 3-4 time, which derives its name from
the district called Kujawia. In connection with this composition I must
not omit to mention that the first variation on the Polish popular song
contains the germ of the charming Berceuse (Op. 57). The Rondo, Op. 14,
has the character of a Krakowiak, a dance in 2-4 time which originated
in Cracovia. In no other compositions of the master do the national
elements show themselves in the same degree of crudity; indeed, after
this he never incorporates national airs and imitates so closely
national dances. Chopin remains a true Pole to the end of his days, and
his love of and attachment to everything Polish increase with the
time of absence from his native country. But as the composer grows
in maturity, he subjects the raw material to a more and more thorough
process of refinement and development before he considers it fit for
artistic purposes; the popular dances are spiritualised, the national
characteristics and their corresponding musical idioms are subtilised
and individualised. I do not agree with those critics who think it is
owing to the strongly-marked, exclusive Polish national character that
these two works have gained so little sympathy in the musical world;
there are artistic reasons that account for the neglect, which is indeed
so great that I do not remember having heard or read of any virtuoso
performing either of these pieces in public till a few years ago, when
Chopin's talented countrywoman Mdlle. Janotha ventured on a revival
of the Fantasia, without, however, receiving, in spite of her finished
rendering, much encouragement. The works, as wholes, are not altogether
satisfactory in the matter of form, and appear somewhat patchy. This is
especially the case in the Fantasia, where the connection of parts is
anything but masterly. Then the arabesk-element predominates again quite
unduly. Rellstab discusses the Fantasia with his usual obtuseness, but
points out correctly that Chopin gives only here and there a few bars of
melody, and never a longer melodic strain. The best parts of the works,
those that contain the greatest amount of music, are certainly the
exceedingly spirited Kujawiak and Krakowiak. The unrestrained merriment
that reigns in the latter justifies, or, if it does not justify,
disposes us to forgive much. Indeed, the Rondo may be said to overflow
with joyousness; now the notes run at random hither and thither, now
tumble about head over heels, now surge in bold arpeggios, now skip
from octave to octave, now trip along in chromatics, now vent their
gamesomeness in the most extravagant capers.

The orchestral accompaniments, which in the Variations, Op. 2, are of
very little account, show in every one of the three works of this group
an inaptitude in writing for any other instrument than the piano that is
quite surprising considering the great musical endowments of Chopin in
other respects. I shall not dwell on this subject now, as we shall have
to consider it when we come to the composer's concertos.

The fundamental characteristics of Chopin's style--the loose-textured,
wide-meshed chords and arpeggios, the serpentine movements, the
bold leaps--are exaggerated in the works of this group, and in their
exaggeration become grotesque, and not unfrequently ineffective. These
works show us, indeed, the composer's style in a state of fermentation;
it has still to pass through a clearing process, in which some of its
elements will be secreted and others undergo a greater or less
change. We, who judge Chopin by his best works, are apt to condemn too
precipitately the adverse critics of his early compositions. But the
consideration of the luxuriance and extravagance of the passage-work
which distinguish them from the master's maturer creations ought to
caution us and moderate our wrath. Nay more, it may even lead us to
acknowledge, however reluctantly, that amidst the loud braying of
Rellstab there occurred occasionally utterances that were by no means
devoid of articulation and sense. Take, for instance, this--I do
not remember just now a propos of which composition, but it is very
appropriate to those we are now discussing:--"The whole striving of the
composer must be regarded as an aberration, based on decided talent,
we admit, but nevertheless an aberration." You see the most hostile of
Chopin's critics does not deny his talent; indeed, Rellstab sometimes,
especially subsequently, speaks quite patronisingly about him. I shall
take this opportunity to contradict the current notion that Chopin had
just cause to complain of backwardness in the recognition of his genius,
and even of malicious attacks on his rising reputation. The truth of
this is already partly disproved by the foregoing, and it will be fully
so by the sequel.

The pieces which I have formed into a third group show us the composer
free from the fetters that ambition and other preoccupations impose.
Besides Chopin's peculiar handling we find in them more of his
peculiar sentiment. If the works of the first group were interesting as
illustrating the development of the student, those of the second group
that of the virtuoso, and those of both that of the craftsman, the works
of the third group furnish us most valuable documents for the history of
the man and poet. The foremost in importance of the pieces comprised in
this group are no doubt the three polonaises, composed respectively
in the years 1827, 1828, and 1829. The bravura character is still
prominent, but, instead of ruling supreme, it becomes in every
successive work more and more subordinate to thought and emotion. These
polonaises, although thoroughly Chopinesque, nevertheless differ
very much from his later ones, those published by himself, which are
generally more compact and fuller of poetry. Moreover, I imagine I can
see in several passages the influence of Weber, whose Polonaise in E
flat minor, Polacca in E major, Sonata in A flat major, and Invitation
a la Valse (to mention a few apposite instances), respectively published
in 1810, 1819, 1816, and 1821, may be supposed to have been known to
Chopin. These reminiscences, if such they are, do not detract much from
the originality of the compositions; indeed, that a youth of eighteen
should have attained such a strongly-developed individuality as the D
minor Polonaise exhibits, is truly wonderful.

The Nocturne of the year 1827 (Op. 72, No. 1, E minor) is probably the
poorest of the early compositions, but excites one's curiosity as the
first specimen of the kind by the incomparable composer of nocturnes. Do
not misunderstand me, however, and imagine that I wish to exalt Chopin
at the expense of another great musician. Field has the glory not only
of having originated the genre, but also of having produced examples
that have as yet lost nothing, or very little, of their vitality. His
nocturnes are, indeed, a rich treasure, which, undeservedly neglected
by the present generation, cannot be superseded by those of his
illustrious, and now favoured successor. On the other hand, although
Field's priority and influence on Chopin must be admitted, the
unprejudiced cannot but perceive that the latter is no imitator. Even
where, as for instance in Op. 9, Nos. 1 and 2, the mejody or the form
of the accompaniment shows a distinct reminiscence of Field, such is
the case only for a few notes, and the next moment Chopin is what nobody
else could be. To watch a great man's growth, to trace a master's noble
achievements from their humble beginnings, has a charm for most minds.
I, therefore, need not fear the reader's displeasure if I direct his
attention to some points, notable on this account--in this case to
the wide-meshed chords and light-winged flights of notes, and the
foreshadowing of the Coda of Op. 9.

Of 1827 we have also a Mazurka in A minor, Op. 68, No. 2. It is simple
and rustic, and at the same time graceful. The trio (poco piu mosso),
the more original portion of the Mazurka, reappears in a slightly
altered form in later mazurkas. It is these foreshadowings of
future beauties, that make these early works so interesting. The
above-mentioned three polonaises are full of phrases, harmonic,
progressions, &c., which are subsequently reutilised in a. purer, more
emphatic, more developed, more epigrammatic, or otherwise more perfect
form. We notice the same in the waltzes which remain yet to be discussed

Whether these Waltzes (in B minor, Op. 69, No. 2; and in E major,
without opus number) were really written in the early part of 1829, or
later on in the year, need not be too curiously inquired into. As I
have already remarked, they may certainly be classed along with the
above-discussed works. The first is the more interesting of them. In
both we meet with passages that point to more perfect specimens of the
kind--for instance, certain rhythmical motives, melodic inflections, and
harmonic progressions, to the familiar Waltzes in E flat major (Op.
18) and in A flat major (Op. 34, No. 1); and the D major portion of the
Waltz in B minor, to the C major part of the Waltz in A minor (Op. 34,
No. 2). This concludes our survey of the compositions of Chopin's first

In the legacy of a less rich man, the Funeral March in C minor, Op. 72b,
composed (according to Fontana) in 1829, [FOOTNOTE: In Breitkopf and
Hartel's Gesammtausgabe of Chopin's works will be found 1826 instead of
1829. This, however, is a misprint, not a correction.]would be a notable
item; in that of Chopin it counts for little. Whatever the shortcomings
of this composition are, the quiet simplicity and sweet melancholy which
pervade it must touch the hearer. But the master stands in his own.
light; the famous Funeral March in B flat minor, from the Sonata in B
flat minor, Op. 35, composed about ten years later, eclipses the more
modest one in C minor. Beside the former, with its sublime force and
fervency of passion and imposing mastery of the resources of the art,
the latter sinks into weak insignificance, indeed, appears a mere
puerility. Let us note in the earlier work the anticipation, (bar 12) of
a motive of the chef-d'ceuvre (bar 7), and reminiscences of the Funeral
March from Beethoven's. Sonata in A flat major, Op. 26.



IN the preceding chapter I alluded to a new element that entered into
the life of Chopin and influenced his artistic work. The following
words, addressed by the young composer on October 3, 1829, to his friend
Titus Woyciechowski, will explain what kind of element it was and when
it began to make itself felt:--

   Do not imagine that [when I speak of the advantages and
   desirability of a stay in Vienua] I am thinking of Miss
   Blahetka, of whom I have written to you; I have--perhaps to
   my misfortune--already found my ideal, which I worship
   faithfully and sincerely. Six months have elapsed, and I have
   not yet exchanged a syllable with her of whom I dream every
   night. Whilst my thoughts were with her I composed the Adagio
   of my Concerto, and early this morning she inspired the Waltz
   which I send along with this letter.

The influence of the tender passion on the development of heart and
mind cannot be rated too highly; it is in nine out of ten, if not in
ninety-nine out of a hundred cases that which transforms the rhymer into
a poet, the artificer into an artist. Chopin confesses his indebtedness
to Constantia, Schumann his to Clara. But who could recount all the
happy and hapless loves that have made poets? Countless is the number of
those recorded in histories, biographies, and anecdotes; greater still
the number of those buried in literature and art, the graves whence they
rise again as flowers, matchless in beauty, unfading, and of sweetest
perfume. Love is indeed the sun that by its warmth unfolds the
multitudinous possibilities that lie hidden, often unsuspected, in
the depths of the human soul. It was, then, according to Chopin, about
April, 1829, that the mighty power began to stir within him; and the
correspondence of the following two years shows us most strikingly how
it takes hold of him with an ever-increasing firmness of grasp, and
shakes the whole fabric of his delicate organisation with fearful
violence. The object of Chopin's passion, the being whom he worshipped
and in whom he saw the realisation of his ideal of womanhood, was
Constantia Gladkowska, a pupil at the Warsaw Conservatorium, of whom the
reader will learn more in the course of this and the next chapter.

What reveals perhaps more distinctly than anything else Chopin's
idiosyncrasy is his friendship for Titus Woyciechowski. At any rate, it
is no exaggeration to say that a knowledge of the nature of Chopin's two
passions, his love and his friendship--for this, too, was a passion
with him--gives into our hands a key that unlocks all the secrets of
his character, of his life, and of their outcome--his artistic work. Nay
more, with a full comprehension of, and insight into, these passions
we can foresee the sufferings and disappointments which he is fated to
endure. Chopin's friendship was not a common one; it was truly and in
the highest degree romantic. To the sturdy Briton and gay Frenchman it
must be incomprehensible, and the German of four or five generations ago
would have understood it better than his descendant of to-day is likely
to do. If we look for examples of such friendship in literature, we
find the type nowhere so perfect as in the works of Jean Paul Richter.
Indeed, there are many passages in the letters of the Polish composer
that read like extracts from the German author: they remind us of the
sentimental and other transcendentalisms of Siebenkas, Leibgeber, Walt,
Vult, and others. There was somethine in Chopin's warm, tender, effusive
friendship that may be best characterised by the word "feminine."
Moreover, it was so exacting, or rather so covetous and jealous, that
he had often occasion to chide, gently of course, the less caressing and
enthusiastic Titus. Let me give some instances.

   December 27th, 1828.--If I scribble to-day again so much
   nonsense, I do so only in order to remind you that you are as
   much locked in my heart as ever, and that I am the same Fred
   I was. You do not like to be kissed; but to-day you must
   permit me to do so.

The question of kissing is frequently brought up.

   September 12th, 1829.--I embrace you heartily, and kiss you
   on your lips if you will permit me.

   October 20th, 1829.--I embrace you heartily--many a one
   writes this at the end ol his letter, but most people do so
   with little thought of what they are writing. But you may
   believe me, my dearest friend, that I do so sincerely, as
   truly as my name is Fred.

   September 4th, 1830.--Time passes, I must wash myself...do
   not kiss me now...but you would not kiss me in any case--even
   if I anointed myself with Byzantine oils--unless I forced you
   to do so by magnetic means.

Did we not know the writer and the person addressed, one might imagine
that the two next extracts were written by a lover to his mistress or
vice versa.

   November 14th, 1829.--You, my dearest one, do not require my
   portrait. Believe me I am always with you, and shall not
   forget you till the end of my life.

   May 15th, 1830.--You have no idea how much I love you! If I
   only could prove it to you! What would I not give if I could
   once again right heartily embrace you!

One day he expresses the wish that he and his friend should travel
together. But this was too commonplace a sentiment not to be refined
upon. Accordingly we read in a subsequent letter as follows:--

   September 18th, 1830.--I should not like to travel with you,
   for I look forward with the greatest delight to the moment
   when we shall meet abroad and embrace each other; it will be
   worth more than a thousand monotonous days passed with you on
   the journey.
From another passage in one of these letters we get a good idea of the
influence Titus Woyciechowski exercised on his friend.

   April 10, 1830.--Your advice is good. I have already refused
   some invitations for the evening, as if I had had a
   presentiment of it--for I think of you in almost everything I
   undertake. I do not know whether it comes from my having
   learned from you how to feel and perceive; but when I compose
   anything I should much like to know whether it pleases you;
   and I believe that my second Concerto (E minor) will have no
   value for me until you have heard it and approved of it.

I quoted the above passage to show how Chopin felt that this friendship
had been a kind of education to him, and how he valued his friend's
opinion of his compositions--he is always anxious to make Titus
acquainted with anything new he may have composed. But in this passage
there is another very characteristic touch, and it may easily be
overlooked, or at least may not receive the attention which it
deserves--I allude to what Chopin says of having had "a presentiment."
In superstitiousness he is a true child of his country, and all the
enlightenment of France did not succeed in weaning him from his belief
in dreams, presentiments, good and evil days, lucky and unlucky numbers,
&c. This is another romantic feature in the character of the composer;
a dangerous one in the pursuit of science, but advantageous rather than
otherwise in the pursuit of art. Later on I shall have to return to
this subject and relate some anecdotes, here I shall confine myself to
quoting a short passage from one of his early letters.

   April 17, 1830.--If you are in Warsaw during the sitting of
   the Diet, you will come to my concert--I have something like
   a presentiment, and when I also dream it, I shall firmly
   believe it.

And now, after these introductory explanations, we will begin the
chapter in right earnest by taking up the thread of the story where we
left it. On his return to Warsaw Chopin was kept in a state of mental
excitement by the criticisms on his Vienna performances that appeared
in German papers. He does not weary of telling his friend about them,
transcribing portions of them, and complaining of Polish papers which
had misrepresented the drift and mistranslated the words of them. I do
not wonder at the incorrectness of the Polish reports, for some of these
criticisms are written in as uncouth, confused, and vague German as I
ever had the misfortune to turn into English. One cannot help thinking,
in reading what Chopin says with regard to these matters, that he showed
far too much concern about the utterances of the press, and far too much
sensitiveness under the infliction of even the slightest strictures.
That, however, the young composer was soon engaged on new works may be
gathered from the passage (Oct. 3, 1829), quoted at the commencement
of this chapter, in which he speaks of the Adagio of a concerto, and
a waltz, written whilst his thoughts were with his ideal. These
compositions were the second movement of the F minor Concerto and the
Waltz, Op. 70, No. 3. But more of this when we come to discuss the works
which Chopin produced in the years 1829 and 1830.

One of the most important of the items which made up our friend's
musical life at this time was the weekly musical meetings at the house
of Kessler, the pianist-composer characterised in Chapter X. There all
the best artists of Warsaw assembled, and the executants had to play
prima vista whatever was placed before them. Of works performed at
two of these Friday evening meetings, we find mentioned Spohr's Octet,
described by Chopin as "a wonderful work"; Ries's Concerto in C sharp
minor (played with quartet accompaniment), Hummel's Trio in E major,
Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia's Quartet, and Beethoven's last Trio,
which, Chopin says, he could not but admire for its magnificence and
grandeur. To Brzezina's music-shop he paid a visit every day, without
finding there, however, anything new, except a Concerto by Pixis, which
made no great impression upon him. That Chopin was little satisfied with
his situation may be gathered from the following remarks of his:--

   You cannot imagine how sad Warsaw is to me; if I did not feel
   happy in my home circle I should not like to live here. Oh,
   how bitter it is to have no one with whom one can share joy
   and sorrow; oh, how dreadful to feel one's heart oppressed
   and to be unable to express one's complaints to any human
   soul! You know full well what I mean. How often do I tell my
   piano all that I should like to impart to you!

Of course the reader, who is in the secret, knows as well as Titus knew,
to whom the letter was addressed, that Chopin alludes to his love. Let
us mark the words in the concluding sentence about the conversations
with his piano. Chopin was continually occupied with plans for going
abroad. In October, 1829, he writes that, wherever fate may lead him, he
is determined not to spend the winter in Warsaw. Nevertheless, more
than a year passed away before he said farewell to his native city. He
himself wished to go to Vienna, his father seems to have been in favour
of Berlin. Prince Radziwill and his wife had kindly invited him to come
to the Prussian capital, and offered him apartments in their palais. But
Chopin was unable to see what advantages he could derive from a stay in
Berlin. Moreover, unlike his father, he believed that this invitation
was no more than "de belles paroles." By the way, these remarks of
Chopin's furnish a strong proof that the Prince was not his patron and
benefactor, as Liszt and others have maintained. While speaking of his
fixed intention to go somewhere, and of the Prince's invitation,
Chopin suddenly exclaims with truly Chopinesque indecision and

   But what is the good of it all? Seeing that I have begun so
   many new works, perhaps the wisest thing I can do is to stay

Leaving this question undecided, he undertook in October, 1829, a
journey to Posen, starting on the 20th of that month. An invitation from
Prince Radziwill was the inducement that led him to quit the paternal
roof so soon after his return to it. His intention was to remain only a
fortnight from home, and to visit his friends, the Wiesiolowskis, on the
way to Antonin. Chopin enjoyed himself greatly at the latter place. The
wife of the Prince, a courteous and kindly lady, who did not gauge a
man's merits by his descent, found the way to the heart of the composer
by wishing to hear every day and to possess as soon as possible
his Polonaise in F minor (Op. 71, No. 3). The young Princesses, her
daughters, had charms besides those of their beauty. One of them played
the piano with genuine musical feeling.

   I have written [reports Chopin to his friend Titus on
   November 14, 1829] during my visit at Prince Radziwill's an
   Alla Polacca with violoncello. It is nothing more than a
   brilliant salon piece, such as pleases ladies. I would like
   Princess Wanda to practise it, so that it might be said that
   I had taught her. She is only seventeen years old and
   beautiful; it would be delightful to have the privilege of
   placing her pretty fingers on the keys. But, joking apart,
   her soul is endowed with true musical feeling, and one does
   not need to tell her whether she is to play crescendo, piano,
   or pianissimo.

According to Liszt, Chopin fondly remembered his visits to Antonin, and
told many an anecdote in connection with them.

   The Princess Elisa, one of the daughters of Prince Radziwill,
   who died in the first bloom of her life, left him [Chopin]
   the sweet image of an angel exiled for a short period here

A passage in the letter of Chopin from which I last quoted throws also a
little light on his relation to her.

   You wished one of my portraits; if I could only have pilfered
   one of Princess Elisa's, I should certainly have sent it; for
   she has two portraits of me in her album, and I am told that
   these drawings are very good likenesses.

The musical Prince would naturally be attracted by, and take an interest
in, the rising genius. What the latter's opinion of his noble friend as
a composer was, he tells Titus Woyciechowski at some length. I may here
say, once for all, that all the letters from which extracts are given in
this chapter are addressed to this latter.

   You know how the Prince loves music; he showed me his "Faust"
   and I found in it some things that are really beautiful,
   indeed, in part even grandly conceived. In confidence, I
   should not at all have credited the Namiestnik [governor,
   lord-lieutenant] with such music! Among other things I was
   struck by a scene in which Mephistopheles allures Margaret to
   the window by his singing and guitar-playing, while at the
   same time a chorale is heard from the neighbouring church.
   This is sure to produce a great effect at a performance. I
   mention this only that you may form an idea of his musical
   conceptions. He is a great admirer of Gluck. Theatrical music
   has, in his opinion, significance only in so far as it
   illustrates the situation and emotion; the overture,
   therefore, has no close, and leads at once into the
   introduction. The orchestra is placed behind the stage and is
   always invisible, in order that the attention of the audience
   may not be diverted by external, such as the movements of the
   conductor and executants.

Chopin enjoyed himself so much at Antonin that if he had consulted only
his pleasure he would have stayed till turned out by his host. But,
although he was asked to prolong his visit, he left this "Paradise" and
the "two Eves" after a sojourn of eight days. It was his occupations,
more especially the F minor Concerto, "impatiently waiting for its
Finale," that induced him to practise this self-denial. When Chopin
had again taken possession of his study, he no doubt made it his first
business, or at least one of the first, to compose the wanting movement,
the Rondo, of his Concerto; as, however, there is an interval of more
than four months in his extant letters, we hear no more about it till
he plays it in public. Before his visit to Antonin (October 20, 1829) he
writes to his friend that he has composed "a study in his own manner,"
and after the visit he mentions having composed "some studies."

Chopin seems to have occasionally played at the Ressource. The reader
will remember the composer's intention of playing there with Fontana his
Rondo for two pianos. On November 14, 1829, Chopin informs his friend
Titus that on the preceding Saturday Kessler performed Hummel's E major
Concerto at the Ressource, and that on the following Saturday he himself
would perhaps play there, and in the case of his doing so choose for his
piece his Variations, Op. 2. Thus composing, playing, and all the time
suffering from a certain loneliness--"You cannot imagine how everywhere
in Warsaw I now find something wanting! I have nobody with whom I can
speak, were it only two words, nobody whom I can really trust"--the day
came when he gave his first concert in his native city. This great event
took place on March 17, 1830, and the programme contained the following


   1. Overture to the Opera "Leszek Bialy," by Elsner.

   2. Allegro from the Concerto in F minor, composed and played
   by F. Chopin.

   3. Divertissement for the French horn, composed and played by

   4. Adagio and Rondo from the Concerto in F minor, composed
   and played by Chopin.


   1. Overture to the Opera "Cecylja Piaseczynska," by

   2. Variations by Paer, sung by Madame Meier.

   3. Pot-pourri on national airs, composed and played by

Three days before the concert, which took place in the theatre, neither
box nor reserved seat was to be had. But Chopin complains that on the
whole it did not make the impression he expected. Only the Adagio
and Rondo of his Concerto had a decided success. But let us see the
concert-giver's own account of the proceedings.

   The first Allegro of the F minor Concerto (not intelligible
   to all) received indeed the reward of a "Bravo," but I
   believe this was given because the public wished to show that
   it understands and knows how to appreciate serious music.
   There are people enough in all countries who like to assume
   the air of connoisseurs! The Adagio and Rondo produced a very
   great effect. After these the applause and the "Bravos" came
   really from the heart; but the Pot-pourri on Polish airs
   missed its object entirely. There was indeed some applause,
   but evidently only to show the player that the audience had
   not been bored.

We now hear again the old complaint that Chopin's playing was too
delicate. The opinion of the pit was that he had not played loud enough,
whilst those who sat in the gallery or stood in the orchestra seem to
have been better satisfied. In one paper, where he got high praise, he
was advised to put forth more energy and power in the future; but Chopin
thought he knew where this power was to be found, and for the next
concert got a Vienna instrument instead of his own Warsaw one. Elsner,
too, attributed the indistinctness of the bass passages and the weakness
of tone generally to the instrument. The approval of some of the
musicians compensated Chopin to some extent for the want of appreciation
and intelligence shown by the public at large "Kurpinski thought he
discovered that evening new beauties in my Concerto, and Ernemann was
fully satisfied with it." Edouard Wolff told me that they had no idea in
Warsaw of the real greatness of Chopin. Indeed, how could they? He
was too original to be at once fully understood. There are people who
imagine that the difficulties of Chopin's music arise from its Polish
national characteristics, and that to the Poles themselves it is as
easy as their mother-tongue; this, however, is a mistake. In fact,
other countries had to teach Poland what is due to Chopin. That the
aristocracy of Paris, Polish and native, did not comprehend the whole
Chopin, although it may have appreciated and admired his sweetness,
elegance, and exquisiteness, has been remarked by Liszt, an eye and
ear-witness and an excellent judge. But his testimony is not needed to
convince one of the fact. A subtle poet, be he ever so national, has
thoughts and corresponding language beyond the ken of the vulgar, who
are to be found in all ranks, high and low. Chopin, imbued as he
was with the national spirit, did nevertheless not manifest it in
a popularly intelligible form, for in passing through his mind it
underwent a process of idealisation and individualisation. It has been
repeatedly said that the national predominates over the universal in
Chopin's music; it is a still less disputable truth that the individual
predominates therein over the national. There are artist-natures whose
tendency is to expand and to absorb; others again whose tendency is to
contract and to exclude. Chopin is one of the most typical instances of
the latter; hence, no wonder that he was not at once fully understood by
his countrymen. The great success which Chopin's subsequent concerts in
Warsaw obtained does not invalidate E. Wolff's statement, which indeed
is confirmed by the composer's own remarks on the taste of the public
and its reception of his compositions. Moreover, we shall see that those
pieces pleased most in which, as in the Fantasia and Krakowiak, the
national raw material was merely more or less artistically dressed up,
but not yet digested and assimilated; if the Fantasia left the audience
cold at the first concert, this was no doubt owing to the inadequacy of
the performance.

No sooner was the first concert over than, with his head still full of
it, Chopin set about making preparations for a second, which took place
within a week after the first. The programme was as follows:--


1. Symphony by Nowakowski.

2. Allegro from the Concerto in F minor, composed and played by Chopin.

3. Air Varie by De Beriot, played by Bielawski.

4. Adagio and Rondo from the Concerto in F minor, composed and played by


1. Rondo Krakowiak, composed and played by Chopin.

2. Aria from "Elena e Malvina" by Soliva, sung by Madame Meier.

3. Improvisation on national airs.

This time the audience, which Chopin describes as having been more
numerous than at any other concert, was satisfied. There was no end to
the applause, and when he came forward to bow his acknowledgments there
were calls of "Give another concert!" The Krakowiak produced an immense
effect, and was followed by four volleys of applause. His improvisation
on the Polish national air "W miescie dziwne obyczaje" pleased only the
people in the dress-circle, although he did not improvise in the way he
had intended to do, which would not have been suitable for the audience
that was present. From this and another remark, that few of the haute
volee had as yet heard him, it appears that the aristocracy, for the
most part living on their estates, was not largely represented at the
concert. Thinking as he did of the public, he was surprised that the
Adagio had found such general favour, and that he heard everywhere the
most flattering remarks. He was also told that "every note sounded like
a bell," and that he had "played much better on the second than on the
first instrument." But although Elsner held that Chopin could only be
judged after the second concert, and Kurpinski and others expressed
their regret that he did not play on the Viennese instrument at the
first one, he confesses that he would have preferred playing on his
own piano. The success of the concerts may be measured by the
following facts: A travelling virtuoso and former pupil of the Paris
Conservatoire, Dunst by name, offered in his enthusiasm to treat Chopin
with champagne; the day after the second concert a bouquet with a poem
was sent to him; his fellow-student Orlowski wrote mazurkas and waltzes
on the principal theme of the Concerto, and published them in spite of
the horrified composer's request that he should not do so; Brzezina, the
musicseller, asked him for his portrait, but, frightened at the prospect
of seeing his counterfeit used as a wrapper for butter and cheese,
Chopin declined to give it to him; the editor of the "Courier" inserted
in his paper a sonnet addressed to Chopin. Pecuniarily the concerts
were likewise a success, although the concert-giver was of a different
opinion. But then he seems to have had quite prima donna notions about
receipts, for he writes very coolly: "From the two concerts I had,
after deduction of all expenses, not as much as 5,000 florins (about 125
pounds)." Indeed, he treats this part of the business very cavalierly,
and declares that money was no object with him. On the utterances of the
papers, which, of course, had their say, Chopin makes some sensible and
modest comments.

   After my concerts there appeared many criticisms; if in them
   (especially in the "Kuryer Polski") abundant praise was
   awarded to me, it was nevertheless not too extravagant. The
   "Official Journal" has also devoted some columns to my
   praise; one of its numbers contained, among other things,
   such stupidities--well meant, no doubt--that I was quite
   desperate till I had read the answer in the "Gazeta Polska,"
   which justly takes away what the other papers had in their
   exaggeration attributed to me. In this article it is said
   that the Poles will one day be as proud of me as the Germans
   are of Mozart, which is palpable nonsense. But that is not
   all, the critic says further: "That if I had fallen into the
   hands of a pedant or a Rossinist (what a stupid expression!)
   I could not have become what I am." Now, although I am as yet
   nothing, he is right in so far that my performance would be
   still less than it actually is if I had not studied under

Gratifying as the praise of the press no doubt was to Chopin, it became
a matter of small account when he thought of his friend's approving
sympathy. "One look from you after the concert would have been worth
more to me than all the laudations of the critics here." The concerts,
however, brought with them annoyances as well as pleasures. While one
paper pointed out Chopin's strongly-marked originality, another advised
him to hear Rossini, but not to imitate him. Dobrzynski, who expected
that his Symphony would be placed on one of the programmes, was angry
with Chopin for not doing so; a lady acquaintance took it amiss that a
box had not been reserved for her, and so on. What troubled our friend
most of all, and put him quite out of spirits, was the publication of
the sonnet and of the mazurkas; he was afraid that his enemies would
not let this opportunity pass, and attack and ridicule him. "I will no
longer read what people may now write about me," he bursts out in a fit
of lachrymose querulousness. Although pressed from many sides to give
a third concert, Chopin decided to postpone it till shortly before
his departure, which, however, was farther off than he imagined.
Nevertheless, he had already made up his mind what to play--namely,
the new Concerto (some parts of which had yet to be composed) and, by
desire, the Fantasia and the Variations.




After the turmoil and agitation of the concerts, Chopin resumed the even
tenor of his Warsaw life, that is to say, played, composed, and went
to parties. Of the latter we get some glimpses in his letters, and they
raise in us the suspicion that the salons of Warsaw were not overzealous
in the cultivation of the classics. First we have a grand musical
soiree at the house of General Filipeus, [F-ootnote: Or Philippeus] the
intendant of the Court of the Grand Duke Constantine. There the Swan
of Pesaro was evidently in the ascendant, at any rate, a duet from
"Semiramide" and a buffo duet from "Il Turco in Italia" (in this Soliva
took a part and Chopin accompanied) were the only items of the musical
menu thought worth mentioning by the reporter. A soiree at Lewicki's
offers matter of more interest. Chopin, who had drawn up the programme,
played Hummel's "La Sentinelle" and his Op. 3, the Polonaise for
piano and violoncello composed at Antonin with a subsequently-added
introduction; and Prince Galitzin was one of the executants of a quartet
of Rode's. Occasionally, however, better works were performed. Some
months later, for instance, at the celebration of a gentleman's
name-day, Spohr's Quintet for piano, flute, clarinet, horn, and bassoon
was played. Chopin's criticism on this work is as usual short:--

   Wonderfully beautiful, but not quite suitable for the piano.
   Everything Spohr has written for the piano is very difficult,
   indeed, sometimes it is impossible to find any fingering for
   his passages.

On Easter-day, the great feasting day of the Poles, Chopin was invited
to breakfast by the poet Minasowicz. On this occasion he expected to
meet Kurpinski; and as in the articles which had appeared in the papers
a propos of his concerts the latter and Elsner had been pitted against
each other, he wondered what would be the demeanour of his elder
fellow-countryman and fellow-composer towards him. Remembering Chopin's
repeated injunctions to his parents not to mention to others his remarks
on musicians, we may be sure that in this as in every other case
Chopin proceeded warily. Here is another striking example of this
characteristic and highly-developed cautiousness. After hearing the
young pianist Leskiewicz play at a concert he writes:--

   It seems to me that he will become a better player than
   Krogulski; but I have not yet dared to express this opinion,
   although I have been often asked to do so.

In the first half of April, 1830, Chopin was so intent on finishing the
compositions he had begun that, greatly as he wished to pay his friend
Titus Woyciechowski a visit at his country-seat Poturzyn, he determined
to stick to his work. The Diet, which had not been convoked for five
years, was to meet on the 28th of May. That there would be a great
concourse of lords and lordlings and their families and retinues
followed as a matter of course. Here, then, was an excellent opportunity
for giving a concert. Chopin, who remembered that the haute voice had
not yet heard him, did not overlook it. But be it that the Concerto was
not finished in time, or that the circumstances proved less favourable
than he had expected, he did not carry out his plan. Perhaps the
virtuosos poured in too plentifully. In those days the age of artistic
vagrancy had not yet come to an end, and virtuosity concerts were still
flourishing most vigorously. Blahetka of Vienna, too, had a notion of
coming with his daughter to Warsaw and giving some concerts there during
the sitting of the Diet. He wrote to Chopin to this effect, and asked
his advice. The latter told him that many musicians and amateurs had
indeed often expressed a desire to hear Miss Blahetka, but that the
expenses of a concert and the many distinguished artists who had arrived
or were about to arrive made the enterprise rather hazardous.

   Now [says Chopin, the cautious, to his friend] he [Blahetka]
   cannot say that I have not sufficiently informed him of the
   state of things here! It is not unlikely that he will come. I
   should be glad to see them, and would do what I could to
   procure a full house for his daughter. I should most
   willingly play with her on two pianos, for you cannot imagine
   how kindly an interest this German [Mr. Blahetka] took in me
   at Vienna.

Among the artists who came to Warsaw were: the youthful Worlitzer, who,
although only sixteen years of age, was already pianist to the King of
Prussia; the clever pianist Mdlle. de Belleville, who afterwards became
Madame Oury; the great violinist Lipinski, the Polish Paganini; and the
celebrated Henrietta Sontag, one of the brightest stars of the time.
Chopin's intercourse with these artists and his remarks on them are
worth noting: they throw light on his character as a musician and man
as well as on theirs. He relates that Worlitzer, a youth of Jewish
extraction, and consequently by nature very talented, had called on him
and played to him several things famously, especially Moscheles'
"Marche d'Alexandre variée." Notwithstanding the admitted excellence of
Worlitzer's playing, Chopin adds--not, however, without a "this remains
between us two"--that he as yet lacks much to deserve the title of
Kammer-Virtuos. Chopin thought more highly of Mdlle. de Belleville, who,
he says, "plays the piano beautifully; very airily, very elegantly,
and ten times better than Worlitzer." What, we may be sure, in no wise
diminished his good opinion of the lady was that she had performed his
Variations in Vienna, and could play one of them by heart. To picture
the object of Chopin's artistic admiration a little more clearly, let me
recall to the reader's memory Schumann's characterisation of Mdlle. de
Belleville and Clara Wieck.

   They should not be compared. They are different mistresses of
   different schools. The playing of the Belleville is
   technically the finer of the two; Clara's is more
   impassioned. The tone of the Belleville caresses, but does
   not penetrate beyond the ear; that of Clara reaches the
   heart. The one is a poetess; the other is poetry itself.

Chopin's warmest admiration and longest comments were, however, reserved
for Mdlle. Sontag. Having a little more than a year before her visit
to Warsaw secretly married Count Rossi, she made at the time we are
speaking of her last artistic tour before retiring, at the zenith of her
fame and power, into private life. At least, she thought then it was her
last tour; but pecuniary losses and tempting offers induced her in 1849
to reappear in public. In Warsaw she gave a first series of five or six
concerts in the course of a week, went then by invitation of the King
of Prussia to Fischbach, and from there returned to Warsaw. Her concerts
were remarkable for their brevity. She usually sang at them four times,
and between her performances the orchestra played some pieces. She
dispensed altogether with the assistance of other virtuosos. But Chopin
remarks that so great was the impression she made as a vocalist and the
interest she inspired as an artist that one required some rest after her
singing. Here is what the composer writes to his friend about her (June
5, 1830):--

   ...It is impossible for me to describe to you how great a pleasure the
   acquaintance with this "God-sent one" (as some
   enthusiasts justly call her) has given me. Prince Radziwitt
   introduced me to her, for which I feel greatly obliged to
   him. Unfortunately, I profited little by her eight days' stay
   with us, and I saw how she was bored by dull visits from
   senators, woyewods, castellans, ministers, generals, and
   adjutants, who only sat and stared at her while they were
   talking about quite indifferent things. She receives them all
   very kindly, for she is so very good-natured that she cannot
   be unamiable to anyone. Yesterday, when she was going to put
   on her bonnet previously to going to the rehearsal, she was
   obliged to lock the door of her room, because the servant in
   the ante-room could not keep back the large number of
   callers. I should not have one to her if she had not sent for
   me, Radziwill having asked me to write out a song which he
   has arranged for her. This is an Ukraine popular song
   ("Dumka") with variations. The theme and finale are
   beautiful, but the middle section does not please me (and it
   pleases Mdlle. Sontag even less than me). I have indeed made
   some alterations, but it is still good for nothing. I am glad
   she leaves after to-day's concert, because I shall pet rid of
   this business, and when Radziwill comes at the close of the
   Diet he may perhaps relinquish his variations.

   Mdlle. Sontag is not beautiful, but in the highest degree
   captivating; she enchants all with her voice, which indeed is
   not very powerful, but magnificently cultivated. Her
   diminuendo is the non plus ultra that can be heard; her
   portamento wonderfully fine; her chromatic scales, especially
   toward the upper part of her voice, unrivalled. She sang us
   an aria by Mercadante, very, very beautifully; the variations
   by Rode, especially the last roulades, more than excellently.
   The variations on the Swiss theme pleased so much that, after
   having several times bowed her acknowledgments for the
   applause, she had to sing them da capo. The same thing
   happened to her yesterday with the last of Rode's variations.
   She has, moreover, performed the cavatina from "Il Barbiere",
   as well as several arias from "La Gazza ladra" and from "Der
   Freischutz". Well, you will hear for yourself what a
   difference there is between her erformances and those we have
   hitherto heard here. On one occasion was with her when Soliva
   came with the Misses Gladkowska [the idea!] and Wolkaw, who
   had to sing to her his duet which concludes with the words
   "barbara sorte"--you may perhaps remember it. Miss Sontag
   remarked to me, in confidence, that both voices were really
   beautiful, but already somewhat worn, and that these ladies
   must change their method of singing entirely if they did not
   wish to run the risk of losing their voices within two years.
   She said, in my presence, to Miss Wolkow that she possessed
   much facility and taste, but had une voix trop aigue. She
   invited both ladies in the most friendly manner to visit her
   more frequently, promising to do all in her power to show and
   teach them her own manner of singing. Is this not a quite
   unusual politeness? Nay, I even believe it is coquetry so
   great that it made upon me the impression of naturalness and
   a certain naivete; for it is hardly to be believed that a
   human being can be so natural unless it knows all the
   resources of coquetry. In her neglige Miss Sontag is a
   hundred times more beautiful and pleasing than in full
   evening-dress. Nevertheless, those who have not seen her in
   the morning are charmed with her appearance at the concert.
   On her return she will give concerts up to the 22nd of the
   month; then, as she herself told me, she intends to go to St.
   Petersburg. Therefore, be quick, dear friend, and come at
   once, so that you may not miss more than the five concerts
   she has already given.

From the concluding sentence it would appear that Chopin had talked
himself out on the subject; this, however, is not the case, for after
imparting some other news he resumes thus:--

   But I have not yet told you all about Miss Sontag. She has in
   her rendering some entirely new broderies, with which she
   produces great effect, but not in the same way as Paganini.
   Perhaps the cause lies in this, that hers is a smaller genre.
   She seems to exhale the perfume of a fresh bouquet of flowers
   over the parterre, and, now caresses, now plays with her
   voice; but she rarely moves to tears. Radziwill, on the other
   hand, thinks that she sings and acts the last scene of
   Desdemona in Othello in such a manner that nobody can refrain
   from weeping. To-day I asked her if she would sing us
   sometime this scene in costume (she is said to be an
   excellent actress); she answered me that it was true that she
   had often seen tears in the eyes of the audience, but that
   acting excited her too much, and she had resolved to appear
   as rarely as possible on the stage. You have but to come here
   if you wish to rest from your rustic cares. Miss Sontag will
   sing you something, and you will awake to life again and will
   gather new strength for your labours.

Mdlle. Sontag was indeed a unique artist. In power and fulness of voice,
in impassioned expression, in dazzling virtuosity, and in grandeur of
style, she might be inferior to Malibran, Catalani, and Pasta; but in
clearness and sweetness of voice, in purity of intonation, in airiness,
neatness, and elegance of execution, and in exquisiteness of taste, she
was unsurpassed. Now, these were qualities particularly congenial to
Chopin; he admired them enthusiastically in the eminent vocalist,
and appreciated similar qualities in the pleasing pianist Mdlle. de
Belleville. Indeed, we shall see in the sequel that unless an artist
possessed these qualities Chopin had but little sympathy to bestow upon
him. He was, however, not slow to discover in these distinguished lady
artists a shortcoming in a direction where he himself was exceedingly
strong--namely, in subtlety and intensity of feeling. Chopin's
opinion of Mdlle. Sontag coincides on the whole with those of other
contemporaries; nevertheless, his account contributes some details which
add a page to her biography, and a few touches to her portraiture. It
is to be regretted that the arrival of Titus Woyciechowski in Warsaw
put for a time an end to Chopin's correspondence with him, otherwise we
should, no doubt, have got some more information about Mdlle. Sontag and
other artists.

While so many stars were shining, Chopin's light seems to have been
under an eclipse. Not only did he not give a concert, but he was even
passed over on the occasion of a soiree musicale at court to which
all the most distinguished artists then assembled at Warsaw were
invited--Mdlle. Sontag, Mdlle. de Belleville, Worlitzer, Kurpinski, &c.
"Many were astonished," writes Chopin, "that I was not invited to play,
but _I_ was not astonished." When the sittings of the Diet and the
entertainments that accompanied them came to a close Chopin paid a visit
to his friend Titus at Poturzyn, and on his return thence proceeded
with his parents to Zelazowa Wola to stay for some time at the Count
of Skarbek's. After leaving Poturzyn the picture of his friend's quiet
rural life continually rose up in Chopin's mind. A passage in one of his
letters which refers to his sojourn there seems to me characteristic of
the writer, suggestive of moods consonant with his nocturnes and many
cantilene in his other works:--

   I must confess that I look back to it with great pleasure; I
   feel always a certain longing for your beautiful country-
   seat. The weeping-willow is always present to my mind; that
   arbaleta! oh, I remember it so fondly! Well, you have teased
   me so much about it that I am punished thereby for all my

And has he forgotten his ideal? Oh, no! On the contrary, his passion
grows stronger every day. This is proved by his frequent allusions to
her whom he never names, and by those words of restless yearning and
heart-rending despair that cannot be read without exciting a pitiful
sympathy. As before long we shall get better acquainted with the lady
and hear more of her--she being on the point of leaving the comparative
privacy of the Conservatorium for the boards that represent the
world--it may be as well to study the symptoms of our friend's
interesting malady.

The first mention of the ideal we find in the letter dated October 3,
1829, wherein he says that he has been dreaming of her every night for
the past six months, and nevertheless has not yet spoken to her. In
these circumstances he stood in need of one to whom he might confide his
joys and sorrows, and as no friend of flesh and blood was at hand, he
often addressed himself to the piano. And now let us proceed with our

   March 27, 1830.--At no time have I missed you so much as now.
   I have nobody to whom I can open my heart.

   April 17, 1830.--In my unbearable longing I feel better as
   soon as I receive a letter from you. To-day this comfort was
   more necessary than ever. I should like to chase away the
   thoughts that poison my joyousness; but, in spite of all, it
   is pleasant to play with them. I don't know myself what I
   want; perhaps I shall be calmer after writing this letter.

Farther on in the same letter he says:--

   How often do I take the night for the day, and the day for
   the night! How often do I live in a dream and sleep during
   the day, worse than if I slept, for I feel always the same;
   and instead of finding refreshment in this stupor, as in
   sleep, I vex and torment myself so that I cannot gain

It may be easily imagined with what interest one so far gone in love
watched the debut of Miss Gladkowska as Agnese in Paer's opera of the
same name. Of course he sends a full account of the event to his friend.
She looked better on the stage than in the salon; left nothing to be
desired in her tragic acting; managed her voice excellently up to the
high j sharp and g; shaded in a wonderful manner, and charmed her slave
when she sang an aria with harp accompaniment. The success of the lady,
however, was not merely in her lover's imagination, it was real; for at
the close of the opera the audience overwhelmed her with never-ending
applause. Another pupil of the Conservatorium, Miss Wolkow, made her
debut about the same time, discussions of the comparative merits of
the two ladies, on the choice of the parts in which they were going to
appear next, on the intrigues which had been set on foot for or against
them, &c., were the order of the day. Chopin discusses all these matters
with great earnestness and at considerable length; and, while not at
all stingy in his praise of Miss Wolkow, he takes good care that Miss
Gladkowska does not come off a loser:--

   Ernemann is of our opinion [writes Chopin] that no singer can
   easily be compared to Miss Gladkowska, especially as regards
   just intonation and genuine warmth of feeling, which
   manifests itself fully only on the stage, and carries away
   the audience. Miss Wolkow made several times slight mistakes,
   whereas Miss Gladkowska, although she has only been heard
   twice in Agnese, did not allow the least doubtful note to
   pass her lips.

The warmer applause given to Miss Wolkow did not disturb so staunch a
partisan; he put it to the account of Rossini's music which she sang.

When Chopin comes to the end of his account of Miss Gladkowska's first
appearance on the stage, he abruptly asks the question: "And what shall
I do now?" and answers forthwith: "I will leave next month; first,
however, I must rehearse my Concerto, for the Rondo is now finished."
But this resolve is a mere flash of energy, and before we have proceeded
far we shall come on words which contrast strangely with what we have
read just now. Chopin has been talking about his going abroad ever
so long, more especially since his return from Vienna, and will go on
talking about it for a long time yet. First he intends to leave Warsaw
in the winter of 1829-1830; next he makes up his mind to start in the
summer of 1830, the question being only whether he shall go to Berlin or
Vienna; then in May, 1830, Berlin is already given up, but the time of
his departure remains still to be fixed. After this he is induced by
the consideration that the Italian Opera season at Vienna does not begin
till September to stay at home during the hot summer months. How he
continues to put off the evil day of parting from home and friends we
shall see as we go on. I called Chopin's vigorously-expressed resolve a
flash of energy. Here is what he wrote not much more than a week after
(on August 31, 1830):--

   I am still here; indeed, I do not feel inclined to go abroad.
   Next month, however, I shall certainly go. Of course, only to
   follow my vocation and reason, which latter would be in a
   sorry plight if it were not strong enough to master every
   other thing in my head.

But that his reason was in a sorry plight may be gathered from a letter
dated September 4, 1830, which, moreover, is noteworthy, as in the
confessions which it contains are discoverable the key-notes of the
principal parts that make up the symphony of his character.

   I tell you my ideas become madder and madder every day. I am
   still sitting here, and cannot make up my mind to fix
   definitively the day of my departure. I have always a
   presentiment that I shall leave Warsaw never to return to it;
   I am convinced that I shall say farewell to my home for ever.
   Oh, how sad it must be to die in any other place but where
   one was born! What a great trial it would be to me to see
   beside my death-bed an unconcerned physician and paid servant
   instead of the dear faces of my relatives! Believe me, Titus,
   I many a time should like to go to you and seek rest for my
   oppressed heart; but as this is not possible, I often hurry,
   without knowing why, into the street. But there also nothing
   allays or diverts my longing. I return home to... long again
   indescribably... I have not yet rehearsed my Concerto; in any
   case I shall leave all my treasures behind me by Michaelmas.
   In Vienna I shall be condemned to sigh and groan! This is the
   consequence of having no longer a free heart! You who know
   this indescribable power so well, explain to me the strange
   feeling which makes men always expect from the following day
   something better than the preceding day has bestowed upon
   them? "Do not be so foolish!" That is all the answer I can
   give myself; if you know a better, tell me, pray, pray....

After saying that his plan for the winter is to stay two months in
Vienna and pass the rest of the season in Milan, "if it cannot be
helped," he makes some remarks of no particular interest, and then comes
back to the old and ever new subject, the cud that humanity has been
chewing from the time of Adam and Eve, and will have to chew till the
extinction of the race, whether pessimism or optimism be the favoured

   Since my return I have not yet visited her, and must tell you
   openly that I often attribute the cause of my distress to
   her; it seems to me as if people shared this view, and that
   affords me a certain satisfaction. My father smiles at it;
   but if he knew all, he would perhaps weep. Indeed, I am
   seemingly quite contented, whilst my heart....

This is one of the occasions, which occur so frequently in Chopin's
letters, where he breaks suddenly off in the course of his emotional
outpourings, and subsides into effective silence. On such occasions one
would like to see him go to the piano and hear him finish the sentence
there. "All I can write to you now is indeed stupid stuff; only the
thought of leaving Warsaw..." Another musical opportunity! Where words
fail, there music begins.

   Only wait, the day will come when you will not fare any
   better. Man is not always happy; sometimes only a few moments
   of happiness are granted to him in this life; therefore why
   should we shun this rapture which cannot last long?

After this the darkness of sadness shades gradually into brighter

   As on the one hand I consider intercourse with the outer
   world a sacred duty, so, on the other hand, I regard it as a
   devilish invention, and it would be better if men... but I
   have said enough!...

The reader knows already the rest of the letter; it is the passage in
which Chopin's love of fun gets the better of his melancholy, his joyous
spirits of his sad heart, and where he warns his friend, as it were with
a bright twinkle in his tearful eyes and a smile on his face, not to
kiss him at that moment, as he must wash himself. This joking about
his friend's dislike to osculation is not without an undercurrent of
seriousness; indeed, it is virtually a reproach, but a reproach cast in
the most delicate form and attired in feminine coquetry.

On September 18, 1830, Chopin is still in Warsaw. Why he is still there
he does not know; but he feels unspeakably happy where he is, and his
parents make no objections to this procrastination.

   To-morrow I shall hold a rehearsal [of the E minor Concerto]
   with quartet, and then drive to--whither? Indeed, I do not
   feel inclined to go anywhere; but I shall on no account stay
   in Warsaw. If you have, perhaps, a suspicion that something
   dear to me retains me here, you are mistaken, like many
   others. I assure you I should be ready to make any sacrifice
   if only my own self were concerned, and I--although I am in
   love--had yet to keep my unfortunate feelings concealed in my
   bosom for some years to come.

Is it possible to imagine anything more inconsistent and self-delusive
than these ravings of our friend? Farther on in this very lengthy
epistle we come first of all once more to the pending question.

   I was to start with the Cracow post for Vienna as early as
   this day week, but finally I have given up that idea--you
   will understand why. You may be quite sure that I am no
   egoist, but, as I love you, am also willing to sacrifice
   anything for the sake of others. For the sake of others, I
   say, but not for the sake of outward appearance. For public
   opinion, which is in high esteem among us, but which, you may
   be sure, does not influence me, goes even so far as to call
   it a misfortune if one wears a torn coat, a shabby hat, and
   the like. If I should fail in my career, and have some day
   nothing to eat, you must appoint me as clerk at Poturzyn.
   There, in a room above the stables, I shall be as happy as I
   was last summer in your castle. As long as I am in vigour and
   health I shall willingly continue to work all my life. I have
   often considered the question, whether I am really lazy or
   whether I could work more without overexerting my strength.
   Joking apart, I have convinced myself that I am not the worst
   idler, and that I am able to work twice as much if necessity
   demands it.

   It often happens that he who wishes to better the opinion
   which others have formed of him makes it worse; but, I think,
   as regards you, I can make it neither better nor worse, even
   if I occasionally praise myself. The sympathy which I have
   for you forces your heart to have the same sympathetic
   feelings for me. You are not master of your thoughts, but I
   command mine; when I have once taken one into my head I do
   not let it be taken from me, just as the trees do not let
   themselves be robbed of their green garment which gives them
   the charm of youth. With me it will be green in winter also,
   that is, only in the head, but--God help me--in the heart the
   greatest ardour, therefore, no one need wonder that the
   vegetation is so luxuriant. Enough...yours for ever...Only
   now I notice that I have talked too much nonsense. You see
   yesterday's impression [he refers to the name-day festivity
   already mentioned] has not yet quite passed away, I am still
   sleepy and tired, because I danced too many mazurkas.

   Around your letters I twine a little ribbon which my ideal
   once gave me. I am glad the two lifeless things, the letters
   and the ribbon, agree so well together, probably because,
   although they do not know each other, they yet feel that they
   both come from a hand dear to me.

Even the most courteous of mortals, unless he be wholly destitute of
veracity, will hesitate to deny the truth of Chopin's confession that
he has been talking nonsense. But apart from the vagueness and
illogicalness of several of the statements, the foregoing effusion is
curious as a whole: the thoughts turn up one does not know where, how,
or why--their course is quite unaccountable; and if they passed through
his mind in an unbroken connection, he fails to give the slightest
indication of it. Still, although Chopin's philosophy of life, poetical
rhapsodies, and meditations on love and friendship, may not afford us
much light, edification, or pleasure, they help us substantially to
realise their author's character, and particularly his temporary mood.

Great as was the magnetic power of the ideal over Chopin, great as was
the irresolution of the latter, the long delay of his departure must
not be attributed solely to these causes. The disturbed state of Europe
after the outbreak of the July revolution in Paris had also something to
do with this interminable procrastination. Passports could only be had
for Prussia and Austria, and even for these countries not by everyone.
In France the excitement had not yet subsided, in Italy it was nearing
the boiling point. Nor were Vienna, whither Chopin intended to go first,
and the Tyrol, through which he would have to pass on his way to Milan,
altogether quiet. Chopin's father himself, therefore, wished the journey
to be postponed for a short time. Nevertheless, our friend writes
on September 22 that he will start in a few weeks: his first goal is
Vienna, where, he says, they still remember him, and where he will forge
the iron as long as it is hot. But now to the climax of Chopin's amorous

   I regret very much [he writes on September 22, 1830] that I
   must write to you when, as to-day, I am unable to collect my
   thoughts. When I reflect on myself I get into a sad mood, and
   am in danger of losing my reason. When I am lost in my
   thoughts--which is often the case with me--horses could
   trample upon me, and yesterday this nearly happened in the
   street without my noticing it. Struck in the church by a
   glance of my ideal, I ran in a moment of pleasant stupor into
   the street, and it was not till about a quarter of an hour
   afterwards that I regained my full consciousness; I am
   sometimes so mad that I am frightened at myself.

The melancholy cast of the letters cited in this chapter must not lead
us to think that despondence was the invariable state of Chopin's mind.
It is more probable that when his heart was saddest he was most disposed
to write to his friend his confessions and complaints, as by this means
he was enabled to relieve himself to some extent of the burden that
oppressed him. At any rate, the agitations of love did not prevent him
from cultivating his art, for even at the time when he felt the
tyranny of the passion most potently, he mentions having composed "some
insignificant pieces," as he modestly expresses himself, meaning, no
doubt, "short pieces." Meanwhile Chopin had also finished a
composition which by no means belongs to the category of "insignificant
pieces"--namely, the Concerto in E minor, the completion of which he
announces on August 21, 1830. A critical examination of this and other
works will be found in a special chapter, at present I shall speak only
of its performance and the circumstances connected with it.

On September 18, 1830, Chopin writes that a few days previously he
rehearsed the Concerto with quartet accompaniment, but that it does not
quite satisfy him:--

   Those who were present at the rehearsal say that the Finale
   is the most successful movement (probably because it is
   easily intelligible). How it will sound with the orchestra I
   cannot tell you till next Wednesday, when I shall play the
   Concerto for the first time in this guise. To-morrow I shall
   have another rehearsal with quartet.

To a rehearsal with full orchestra, except trumpets and drums (on
September 22, 1830), he invited Kurpinski, Soliva, and the select
musical world of Warsaw, in whose judgment, however, he professes to
have little confidence. Still, he is curious to know how--

   the Capellmeister [Kurpinski] will look at the Italian
   [Soliva], Czapek at Kessler, Filipeus at Dobrzynski, Molsdorf
   at Kaczynski, Ledoux at Count Sohyk, and Mr. P. at us all. It
   has never before occurred that all these gentlemen have been
   assembled in one place; I alone shall succeed in this, and I
   do it only out of curiosity!

The musicians in this company, among whom are Poles, Czechs, Germans,
Italians, &c., give us a good idea of the mixed character of the musical
world of Warsaw, which was not unlike what the musical world of London
is still in our day. From the above remark we see that Chopin had
neither much respect nor affection for his fellow-musicians; indeed,
there is not the slightest sign in his letters that an intimacy existed
between him and any one of them. The rehearsals of the Concerto keep
Chopin pretty busy, and his head is full of the composition. In the same
letter from which I quoted last we find the following passage:--

   I heartily beg your pardon for my hasty letter of to-day; I
   have still to run quickly to Elsner in order to make sure
   that he will come to the rehearsal. Then I have also to
   provide the desks and mutes, which I had yesterday totally
   forgotten; without the latter the Adagio would be wholly
   insignificant, and its success doubtful. The Rondo is
   effective, the first Allegro vigorous. Cursed self-love! And
   if it is anyone's fault that I am conceited it is yours,
   egoist; he who associates with such a person becomes like
   him. But in one point I am as yet unlike you. I can never
   make up my mind quickly. But I have the firm will and the
   secret intention actually to depart on Saturday week, without
   pardon, and in spite of lamentations, tears, and complaints.
   My music in the trunk, a certain ribbon on my heart, my soul
   full of anxiety: thus into the post-chaise. To be sure,
   everywhere in the town tears will flow in streams: from
   Copernicus to the fountain, from the bank to the column of
   King Sigismund; but I shall be cold and unfeeling as a stone,
   and laugh at all those who wish to take such a heart-rending
   farewell of me!

After the rehearsal of the Concerto with orchestra, which evidently made
a good impression upon the much-despised musical world of Warsaw, Chopin
resolved to give, or rather his friends resolved for him that he should
give, a concert in the theatre on October 11, 1830. Although he is
anxious to know what effect his Concerto will produce on the public,
he seems little disposed to play at any concert, which may be easily
understood if we remember the state of mind he is in.

   You can hardly imagine [he writes] how everything here makes
   me impatient, and bores me, in consequence of the commotion
   within me against which I cannot struggle.

The third and last of his Warsaw concerts was to be of a more perfect
type than the two preceding ones; it was to be one "without those
unlucky clarinet and bassoon solos," at that time still so much in
vogue. To make up for this quantitative loss Chopin requested the Misses
Gladkowska and Wolkow to sing some arias, and obtained, not without much
trouble, the requisite permission for them from their master, Soliva,
and the Minister of Public Instruction, Mostowski. It was necessary to
ask the latter's permission, because the two young ladies were educated
as singers at the expense of the State.

The programme of the concert was as follows:--


   1. Symphony by Gorner.

   2. First Allegro from the Concerto in E minor, composed and
   played by Chopin.

   3. Aria with Chorus by Soliva, sung by Miss Wolkow.

   4. Adagio and Rondo from the Concerto in E minor, composed
   and played by Chopin.


   1. Overture to "Guillaume Tell" by Rossini.

   2. Cavatina from "La Donna del lago" by Rossini, sung by Miss

   3. Fantasia on Polish airs, composed and played by Chopin.

The success of the concert made Chopin forget his sorrows. There is not
one complaint in the letter in which he gives an account of it; in fact,
he seems to have been enjoying real halcyon days. He had a full house,
but played with as little nervousness as if he had been playing at home.
The first Allegro of the Concerto went very smoothly, and the audience
rewarded him with thundering applause. Of the reception of the Adagio
and Rondo we learn nothing except that in the pause between the first
and second parts the connoisseurs and amateurs came on the stage, and
complimented him in the most flattering terms on his playing. The great
success, however, of the evening was his performance of the Fantasia on
Polish airs. "This time I understood myself, the orchestra understood
me, and the audience understood us." This is quite in the bulletin style
of conquerors; it has a ring of "veni, vidi, vici" about it. Especially
the mazurka at the end of the piece produced a great effect, and Chopin
was called back so enthusiastically that he was obliged to bow his
acknowledgments four times. Respecting the bowing he says: "I believe I
did it yesterday with a certain grace, for Brandt had taught me how to
do it properly." In short, the concert-giver was in the best of
spirits, one is every moment expecting him to exclaim: "Seid umschlungen
Millionen, diesen Kuss der ganzen Welt." He is pleased with himself and
Streicher's piano on which he had played; pleased with Soliva, who
kept both soloist and orchestra splendidly in order; pleased with
the impression the execution of the overture made; pleased with
the blue-robed, fay-like Miss Wolkow; pleased most of all with Miss
Gladkowska, who "wore a white dress and roses in her hair, and was
charmingly beautiful." He tells his friend that:

   she never sang so well as on that evening (except the aria in
   "Agnese"). You know "O! quante lagrime per te versai." The
   tutto detesto down to the lower b came out so magnificently
   that Zielinski declared this b alone was worth a thousand

In Vienna the score and parts of the Krakowiak had been found to be full
of mistakes, it was the same with the Concerto in Warsaw. Chopin himself
says that if Soliva had not taken the score with him in order to correct
it, he (Chopin) did not know what might have become of the Concerto
on the evening of the concert. Carl Mikuli, who, as well as his
fellow-pupil Tellefsen, copied many of Chopin's MSS., says that they
were full of slips of the pen, such as wrong notes and signatures,
omissions of accidentals, dots, and intervals of chords, and incorrect
markings of slurs and 8va's.

Although Chopin wrote on October 5, 1830, that eight days after the
concert he would certainly be no longer in Warsaw, that his trunk
was bought, his whole outfit ready, the scores corrected, the
pocket-handkerchiefs hemmed, the new trousers and the new dress-coat
tried on, &c., that, in fact, nothing remained to be done but the worst
of all, the leave-taking, yet it was not till the 1st of November, 1830,
that he actually did take his departure. Elsner and a number of friends
accompanied him to Wola, the first village beyond Warsaw. There the
pupils of the Conservatorium awaited them, and sang a cantata composed
by Elsner for the occasion. After this the friends once more sat down
together to a banquet which had been prepared for them. In the course
of the repast a silver goblet filled with Polish earth was presented to
Chopin in the name of all.

   May you never forget your country [said the speaker,
   according to Karasowski], wherever you may wander or sojourn,
   may you never cease to love it with a warm, faithful heart!
   Remember Poland, remember your friends, who call you with
   pride their fellow-countryman, who expect great things of
   you, whose wishes and prayers accompany you!

How fully Chopin realised their wishes and expectations the sequel will
show: how much such loving words must have affected him the reader
of this chapter can have no difficulty in understanding. But now came
pitilessly the dread hour of parting. A last farewell is taken, the
carriage rolls away, and the traveller has left behind him all that
is dearest to him--parents, sisters, sweetheart, and friends. "I have
always a presentiment that I am leaving Warsaw never to return to it; I
am convinced that I shall say an eternal farewell to my native country."
Thus, indeed, destiny willed it. Chopin was never to tread again the
beloved soil of Poland, never to set eyes again on Warsaw and its
Conservatorium, the column of King Sigismund opposite, the neighbouring
church of the Bernardines (Constantia's place of worship), and all those
things and places associated in his mind with the sweet memories of his
youth and early manhood.



Thanks to Chopin's extant letters to his family and friends it is not
difficult to give, with the help of some knowledge of the contemporary
artists and of the state of music in the towns he visited, a pretty
clear account of his experiences and mode of life during the nine or ten
months which intervene between his departure from Warsaw and his arrival
in Paris. Without the letters this would have been impossible, and for
two reasons: one of them is that, although already a notable man, Chopin
was not yet a noted man; and the other, that those with whom he then
associated have, like himself, passed away from among us.

Chopin, who, as the reader will remember, left Warsaw on November
1, 1830, was joined at Kalisz by Titus Woyciechowski. Thence the two
friends travelled together to Vienna. They made their first halt at
Breslau, which they reached on November 6. No sooner had Chopin put
up at the hotel Zur goldenen Gans, changed his dress, and taken some
refreshments, than he rushed off to the theatre. During his stay in
Breslau he was present at three performances--at Raimund's fantastical
comedy "Der Alpenkonig und der Menschenfeind", Auber's "Maurer und
Schlosser (Le Macon)," and Winter's "Das unterbrochene Opferfest", a now
superannuated but then still popular opera. The players succeeded better
than the singers in gaining the approval of their fastidious auditor,
which indeed might have been expected. As both Chopin and Woyciechowski
were provided with letters of introduction, and the gentlemen to whom
they were addressed did all in their power to make their visitors'
sojourn as pleasant as possible, the friends spent in Breslau four happy
days. It is characteristic of the German musical life in those days that
in the Ressource, a society of that town, they had three weekly
concerts at which the greater number of the performers were amateurs.
Capellmeister Schnabel, an old acquaintance of Chopin's, had invited the
latter to come to a morning rehearsal. When Chopin entered, an amateur,
a young barrister, was going to rehearse Moscheles' E flat major
Concerto. Schnabel, on seeing the newcomer, asked him to try the
piano. Chopin sat down and played some variations which astonished and
delighted the Capellmeister, who had not heard him for four years, so
much that he overwhelmed him with expressions of admiration. As the poor
amateur began to feel nervous, Chopin was pressed on all sides to take
that gentleman's place in the evening. Although he had not practised
for some weeks he consented, drove to the hotel, fetched the requisite
music, rehearsed, and in the evening performed the Romanza and Rondo of
his E minor Concerto and an improvisation on a theme from Auber's "La
Muette" ("Masaniello"). At the rehearsal the "Germans" admired his
playing; some of them he heard whispering "What a light touch he has!"
but not a word was said about the composition. The amateurs did not know
whether it was good or bad. Titus Woyciechowski heard one of them say
"No doubt he can play, but he can't compose." There was, however, one
gentleman who praised the novelty of the form, and the composer naively
declares that this was the person who understood him best. Speaking of
the professional musicians, Chopin remarks that, with the exception of
Schnabel, "the Germans" were at a loss what to think of him. The Polish
peasants use the word "German" as an invective, believe that the devil
speaks German and dresses in the German fashion, and refuse to take
medicine because they hold it to be an invention of the Germans and,
consequently, unfit for Christians. Although Chopin does not go so
far, he is by no means free from this national antipathy. Let his
susceptibility be ruffled by Germans, and you may be sure he will
remember their nationality. Besides old Schnabel there was among the
persons whose acquaintance Chopin made at Breslau only one other who
interests us, and interests us more than that respectable composer
of church music; and this one was the organist and composer Adolph
Frederick Hesse, then a young man of Chopin's age. Before long the
latter became better acquainted with him. In his account of his stay and
playing in the Silesian capital, he says of him only that "the second
local connoisseur, Hesse, who has travelled through the whole of
Germany, paid me also compliments."

Chopin continued his journey on November 10, and on November 12 had
already plunged into Dresden life. Two features of this, in some
respects quite unique, life cannot but have been particularly attractive
to our traveller--namely, its Polish colony and the Italian opera. The
former owed its origin to the connection of the house of Saxony with
the crown of Poland; and the latter, which had been patronised by the
Electors and Kings for hundreds of years, was not disbanded till 1832.
In 1817, it is true, Weber, who had received a call for that purpose,
founded a German opera at Dresden, but the Italian opera retained the
favour of the Court and of a great part of the public, in fact, was the
spoiled child that looked down upon her younger sister, poor Cinderella.
Even a Weber had to fight hard to keep his own, indeed, sometimes
failed to do so, in the rivalry with the ornatissimo Signore Cavaliere
Morlacchi, primo maestro della capella Reale.

Chopin's first visit was to Miss Pechwell, through whom he got admission
to a soiree at the house of Dr. Kreyssig, where she was going to play
and the prima donna of the Italian opera to sing. Having carefully
dressed, Chopin made his way to Dr. Kreyssig's in a sedan-chair. Being
unaccustomed to this kind of conveyance he had a desire to kick out
the bottom of the "curious but comfortable box," a temptation which he,
however--to his honour be it recorded--resisted. On entering the salon
he found there a great number of ladies sitting round eight large

   No sparkling of diamonds met my eye, but the more modest
   glitter of a host of steel knitting-needles, which moved
   ceaselessly in the busy hands of these ladies. The number of
   ladies and knitting-needles was so large that if the ladies
   had planned an attack upon the gentlemen that were present,
   the latter would have been in a sorry plight. Nothing would
   have been left to them but to make use of their spectacles as
   weapons, for there was as little lack of eye-glasses as of
   bald heads.

The clicking of knitting-needles and the rattling of teacups were
suddenly interrupted by the overture to the opera "Fra Diavolo," which
was being played in an adjoining room. After the overture Signora
Palazzesi sang "with a bell-like, magnificent voice, and great bravura."
Chopin asked to be introduced to her. He made likewise the acquaintance
of the old composer and conductor Vincent Rastrelli, who introduced him
to a brother of the celebrated tenor Rubini.

At the Roman Catholic church, the Court Church, Chopin met Morlacchi,
and heard a mass by that excellent artist. The Neapolitan sopranists
Sassaroli and Tarquinio sang, and the "incomparable Rolla" played the
solo violin. On another occasion he heard a clever but dry mass by Baron
von Miltitz, which was performed under the direction of Morlacchi, and
in which the celebrated violoncello virtuosos Dotzauer and Kummer
played their solos beautifully, and the voices of Sassaroli, Muschetti,
Babnigg, and Zezi were heard to advantage. The theatre was, as usual,
assiduously frequented by Chopin. After the above-mentioned soiree
he hastened to hear at least the last act of "Die Stumme von Portici"
("Masaniello"). Of the performance of Rossini's "Tancredi," which he
witnessed on another evening, he praised only the wonderful violin
playing of Rolla and the singing of Mdlle. Hahnel, a lady from the
Vienna Court Theatre. Rossini's "La Donna del lago," in Italian,
is mentioned among the operas about to be performed. What a strange
anomaly, that in the year 1830 a state of matters such as is indicated
by these names and facts could still obtain in Dresden, one of the
capitals of musical Germany! It is emphatically a curiosity of history.

Chopin, who came to Rolla with a letter of introduction from Soliva,
was received by the Italian violinist with great friendliness. Indeed,
kindness was showered upon him from all sides. Rubini promised him
a letter of introduction to his brother in Milan, Rolla one to the
director of the opera there, and Princess Augusta, the daughter of the
late king, and Princess Maximiliana, the sister-in-law of the reigning
king, provided him with letters for the Queen of Naples, the Duchess of
Lucca, the Vice-Queen of Milan, and Princess Ulasino in Rome. He had
met the princesses and played to them at the house of the Countess
Dobrzycka, Oberhofmeisterin of the Princess Augusta, daughter of the
late king, Frederick Augustus.

The name of the Oberhofmeisterin brings us to the Polish society of
Dresden, into which Chopin seems to have found his way at once. Already
two days after his arrival he writes of a party of Poles with whom he
had dined. At the house of Mdme. Pruszak he made the acquaintance of no
less a person than General Kniaziewicz, who took part in the defence of
Warsaw, commanded the left wing in the battle of Maciejowice (1794),
and joined Napoleon's Polish legion in 1796. Chopin wrote home: "I have
pleased him very much; he said that no pianist had made so agreeable an
impression on him."

To judge from the tone of Chopin's letters, none of all the people he
came in contact with gained his affection in so high a degree as did
Klengel, whom he calls "my dear Klengel," and of whom he says that he
esteems him very highly, and loves him as if he had known him from his
earliest youth. "I like to converse with him, for from him something is
to be learned." The great contrapuntist seems to have reciprocated this
affection, at any rate he took a great interest in his young friend,
wished to see the scores of his concertos, went without Chopin's
knowledge to Morlacchi and to the intendant of the theatre to try if
a concert could not be arranged within four days, told him that his
playing reminded him of Field's, that his touch was of a peculiar kind,
and that he had not expected to find him such a virtuoso. Although
Chopin replied, when Klengel advised him to give a concert, that his
stay in Dresden was too short to admit of his doing so, and thought
himself that he could earn there neither much fame nor much money, he
nevertheless was not a little pleased that this excellent artist had
taken some trouble in attempting to smooth the way for a concert, and to
hear from him that this had been done not for Chopin's but for Dresden's
sake; our friend, be it noted, was by no means callous to flattery.
Klengel took him also to a soiree at the house of Madame Niesiolawska,
a Polish lady, and at supper proposed his health, which was drunk in

There is a passage in one of Chopin's letters which I must quote; it
tells us something of his artistic taste outside his own art:--

   The Green Vault I saw last time I was here, and once is
   enough for me; but I revisited with great interest the
   picture gallery. If I lived here I would go to it every week,
   for there are pictures in it at the sight of which I imagine
   I hear music.

Thus our friend spent a week right pleasantly and not altogether
unprofitably in the Saxon Athens, and spent it so busily that what with
visits, dinners, soirees, operas, and other amusements, he leaving his
hotel early in the morning and returning late at night, it passed away
he did not know how.

Chopin, who made also a short stay in Prague--of which visit, however,
we have no account--arrived in Vienna in the latter part of November,
1830. His intention was to give some concerts, and to proceed in a month
or two to Italy. How the execution of this plan was prevented by various
circumstances we shall see presently. Chopin flattered himself with the
belief that managers, publishers, artists, and the public in general
were impatiently awaiting his coming, and ready to receive him with
open arms. This, however, was an illusion. He overrated his success.
His playing at the two "Academies" in the dead season must have remained
unnoticed by many, and was probably forgotten by not a few who did
notice it. To talk, therefore, about forging the iron while it was hot
proved a misconception of the actual state of matters. It is true his
playing and compositions had made a certain impression, especially upon
some of the musicians who had heard him. But artists, even when
free from hostile jealousy, are far too much occupied with their own
interests to be helpful in pushing on their younger brethren. As to
publishers and managers, they care only for marketable articles, and
until an article has got a reputation its marketable value is very
small. Nine hundred and ninety-nine out of a thousand judge by names and
not by intrinsic worth. Suppose a hitherto unknown statue of Phidias,
a painting of Raphael, a symphony of Beethoven, were discovered and
introduced to the public as the works of unknown living artists, do
you think they would receive the same universal admiration as the known
works of the immortal masters? Not at all! By a very large majority of
the connoisseurs and pretended connoisseurs they would be criticised,
depreciated, or ignored. Let, however, the real names of the authors
become known, and the whole world will forthwith be thrown into ecstasy,
and see in them even more beauties than they really possess. Well, the
first business of an artist, then, is to make himself a reputation, and
a reputation is not made by one or two successes. A first success, be it
ever so great, and achieved under ever so favourable circumstances, is
at best but the thin end of the wedge which has been got in, but which
has to be driven home with much vigour and perseverance before the work
is done. "Art is a fight, not a pleasure-trip," said the French
painter Millet, one who had learnt the lesson in the severe school of
experience. Unfortunately for Chopin, he had neither the stuff nor
the stomach for fighting. He shrank back at the slightest touch like a
sensitive plant. He could only thrive in the sunshine of prosperity and
protected against all those inimical influences and obstacles that cause
hardier natures to put forth their strength, and indeed are necessary
for the full unfolding of all their capabilities. Chopin and Titus
Woyciechowski put up at the hotel Stadt London, but, finding the charges
too high, they decamped and stayed at the hotel Goldenes Lamm till the
lodgings which they had taken were evacuated by the English admiral then
in possession of them. From Chopin's first letter after his arrival in
the Austrian capital his parents had the satisfaction of learning that
their son was in excellent spirits, and that his appetite left nothing
to be desired, especially when sharpened by good news from home. In his
perambulations he took particular note of the charming Viennese girls,
and at the Wilde Mann, where he was in the habit of dining, he enjoyed
immensely a dish of Strudeln. The only drawback to the blissfulness of
his then existence was a swollen nose, caused by the change of air, a
circumstance which interfered somewhat with his visiting operations. He
was generally well received by those on whom he called with letters
of introduction. In one of the two exceptional cases he let it be
understood that, having a letter of introduction from the Grand Duke
Constantine to the Russian Ambassador, he was not so insignificant a
person as to require the patronage of a banker; and in the other case
he comforted himself with the thought that a time would come when things
would be changed.

In the letter above alluded to (December 1, 1830) Chopin speaks of one
of the projected concerts as if it were to take place shortly; that is
to say, he is confident that, such being his pleasure, this will be
the natural course of events. His Warsaw acquaintance Orlowski, the
perpetrator of mazurkas on his concerto themes, was accompanying
the violinist Lafont on a concert-tour. Chopin does not envy him the

   Will the time come [he writes] when Lafont will accompany me?
   Does this question sound arrogant? But, God willing, this may
   come to pass some day.

Wurfel has conversations with him about the arrangements for a
concert, and Graff, the pianoforte-maker, advises him to give it in
the Landstandische Saal, the finest and most convenient hall in Vienna.
Chopin even asks his people which of his Concertos he should play, the
one in F or the one in E minor. But disappointments were not long in
coming. One of his first visits was to Haslinger, the publisher of the
Variations on "La ci darem la mano," to whom he had sent also a sonata
and another set of variations. Haslinger received him very kindly, but
would print neither the one nor the other work. No wonder the composer
thought the cunning publisher wished to induce him in a polite and
artful way to let him have his compositions gratis. For had not Wurfel
told him that his Concerto in F minor was better than Hummel's in A
flat, which Haslinger had just published, and had not Klengel at
Dresden been surprised to hear that he had received no payment for the
Variations? But Chopin will make Haslinger repent of it. "Perhaps he
thinks that if he treats my compositions somewhat en bagatelle, I shall
be glad if only he prints them; but henceforth nothing will be got from
me gratis; my motto will be 'Pay, animal!'" But evidently the animal
wouldn't pay, and in fact did not print the compositions till after
Chopin's death. So, unless the firm of Haslinger mentioned that he will
call on him as soon as he has a room wherein he can receive a visit in
return, the name of Lachner does not reappear in the correspondence.

In the management of the Karnthnerthor Theatre, Louis Duport had
succeeded, on September 1, 1830, Count Gallenberg, whom severe losses
obliged to relinquish a ten years' contract after the lapse of less than
two years. Chopin was introduced to the new manager by Hummel.

   He (Duport) [writes Chopin on December 21 to his parents] was
   formerly a celebrated dancer, and is said to be very
   niggardly; however, he received me in an extremely polite
   manner, for perhaps he thinks I shall play for him gratis. He
   is mistaken there! We entered into a kind of negotiation, but
   nothing definite was settled. If Mr. Duport offers me too
   little, I shall give my concert in the large Redoutensaal.

But the niggardly manager offered him nothing at all, and Chopin did not
give a concert either in the Redoutensaal or elsewhere, at least not for
a long time. Chopin's last-quoted remark is difficult to reconcile with
what he tells his friend Matuszyriski four days later: "I have no longer
any thought of giving a concert." In a letter to Elsner, dated January
26, 1831, he writes:--

   I meet now with obstacles on all sides. Not only does a
   series of the most miserable pianoforte concerts totally ruin
   all true music and make the public suspicious, but the
   occurrences in Poland have also acted unfavourably upon my
   position. Nevertheless, I intend to have during the carnival
   a performance of my first Concerto, which has met with
   Wurfel's full approval.

It would, however, be a great mistake to ascribe the failure of Chopin's
projects solely to the adverse circumstances pointed out by him.
The chief causes lay in himself. They were his want of energy and of
decision, constitutional defects which were of course intensified by the
disappointment of finding indifference and obstruction where he expected
enthusiasm and furtherance, and by the outbreak of the revolution in
Poland (November 30, 1830), which made him tremble for the safety of his
beloved ones and the future of his country. In the letter from which I
have last quoted Chopin, after remarking that he had postponed writing
till he should be able to report some definite arrangement, proceeds to

   But from the day that I heard of the dreadful occurrences in
   our fatherland, my thoughts have been occupied only with
   anxiety and longing for it and my dear ones. Malfatti gives
   himself useless trouble in trying to convince me that the
   artist is, or ought to be, a cosmopolitan. And, supposing
   this were really the case, as an artist I am still in the
   cradle, but as a Pole already a man. I hope, therefore, that
   you will not be offended with me for not yet having seriously
   thought of making arrangements for a concert.

What affected Chopin most and made him feel lonely was the departure
of his friend Woyciechowski, who on the first news of the insurrection
returned to Poland and joined the insurgents. Chopin wished to do the
same, but his parents advised him to stay where he was, telling him
that he was not strong enough to bear the fatigues and hardships of
a soldier's life. Nevertheless, when Woyciechowski was gone an
irresistible home-sickness seized him, and, taking post-horses, he tried
to overtake his friend and go with him. But after following him for
some stages without making up to him, his resolution broke down, and he
returned to Vienna. Chopin's characteristic irresolution shows itself
again at this time very strikingly, indeed, his letters are full of
expressions indicating and even confessing it. On December 21, 1830, he
writes to his parents:--

   I do not know whether I ought to go soon to Italy or wait a
   little longer? Please, dearest papa, let me know your and the
   best mother's will in this matter.

And four days afterwards he writes to Matuszynski:--

   You know, of course, that 1 have letters from the Royal Court
   of Saxony to the Vice-Queen in Milan, but what shall I do? My
   parents leave me to choose; I wish they would give me
   instructions. Shall I go to Paris? My acquaintances here
   advise me to wait a little longer. Shall I return home? Shall
   I stay here? Shall I kill myself? Shall I not write to you
   any more?

Chopin's dearest wish was to be at home again. "How I should like to be
in Warsaw!" he writes. But the fulfilment of this wish was out of the
question, being against the desire of his parents, of whom especially
the mother seems to have been glad that he did not execute his project
of coming home.

   I would not like to be a burden to my father; were it not for
   this fear I should return home at once. I am often in such a
   mood that I curse the moment of my departure from my sweet
   home! You will understand my situation, and that since the
   departure of Titus too much has fallen upon me all at once.

The question whether he should go to Italy or to France was soon decided
for him, for the suppressed but constantly-increasing commotion which
had agitated the former country ever since the July revolution at last
vented itself in a series of insurrections. Modena began on February
3,1831, Bologna, Ancona, Parma, and Rome followed. While the "where to
go" was thus settled, the "when to go" remained an open question for
many months to come. Meanwhile let us try to look a little deeper into
the inner and outer life which Chopin lived at Vienna.

The biographical details of this period of Chopin's life have to
be drawn almost wholly from his letters. These, however, must be
judiciously used. Those addressed to his parents, important as they are,
are only valuable with regard to the composer's outward life, and even
as vehicles of such facts they are not altogether trustworthy, for it
is always his endeavour to make his parents believe that he is well and
cheery. Thus he writes, for instance, to his friend Matuszyriski, after
pouring forth complaint after complaint:--"Tell my parents that I am
very happy, that I am in want of nothing, that I amuse myself famously,
and never feel lonely." Indeed, the Spectator's opinion that nothing
discovers the true temper of a person so much as his letters, requires
a good deal of limitation and qualification. Johnson's ideas on the same
subject may be recommended as a corrective. He held that there was
no transaction which offered stronger temptations to fallacy and
sophistication than epistolary intercourse:--

   In the eagerness of conversation the first emotions of the
   mind burst out before they are considered. In the tumult of
   business, interest and passion have their genuine effect; but
   a friendly letter is a calm and deliberate performance in the
   cool of leisure, in the stillness of solitude, and surely no
   man sits down by design to depreciate his own character.
   Friendship has no tendency to secure veracity; for by whom
   can a man so much wish to be thought better than he is, as by
   him whose kindness he desires to gain or keep?

These one-sided statements are open to much criticism, and would make an
excellent theme for an essay. Here, however, we must content ourselves
with simply pointing out that letters are not always calm and deliberate
performances, but exhibit often the eagerness of conversation and the
impulsiveness of passion. In Chopin's correspondence we find this not
unfrequently exemplified. But to see it we must not turn to the letters
addressed to his parents, to his master, and to his acquaintances--there
we find little of the real man and his deeper feelings--but to those
addressed to his bosom-friends, and among them there are none in which
he shows himself more openly than in the two which he wrote on December
25, 1830, and January 1, 1831, to John Matuszynski. These letters are,
indeed, such wonderful revelations of their writer's character that
I should fail in my duty as his biographer were I to neglect to place
before the reader copious extracts from them, in short, all those
passages which throw light on the inner working of this interesting

   Dec. 25, 1830.--I longed indescribably for your letter; you
   know why. How happy news of my angel of peace always makes
   me! How I should like to touch all the strings which not only
   call up stormy feelings, but also awaken again the songs
   whose half-dying echo is still flitting on the banks of the
   Danube-songs which the warriors of King John Sobieski sang!

   You advised me to choose a poet. But you know I am an
   undecided being, and succeeded only once in my life in making
   a good choice.

   The many dinners, soirees, concerts, and balls which I have
   to go to only bore me. I am sad, and feel so lonely and
   forsaken here. But I cannot live as I would! I must dress,
   appear with a cheerful countenance in the salons; but when I
   am again in my room I give vent to my feelings on the piano,
   to which, as my best friend in Vienna, I disclose all my
   sufferings. I have not a soul to whom I can fully unbosom
   myself, and yet I must meet everyone like a friend. There
   are, indeed, people here who seem to love me, take my
   portrait, seek my society; but they do not make up for the
   want of you [his friends and relations]. I lack inward peace,
   I am at rest only when I read your [his friends' and
   relations'] letters, and picture to myself the statue of King
   Sigismund, or gaze at the ring [Constantia's], that dear
   jewel. Forgive me, dear Johnnie, for complaining so much to
   you; but my heart grows lighter when I speak to you thus. To
   you I have indeed always told all that affected me. Did you
   receive my little note the day before yesterday? Perhaps you
   don't care much for my scribbling, for you are at home; but I
   read and read your letters again and again.

   Dr. Freyer has called on me several times; he had learned
   from Schuch that I was in Vienna. He told me a great deal of
   interesting news, and enjoyed your letter, which I read to
   him up to a certain passage. This passage has made me very
   sad. Is she really so much changed in appearance? Perhaps she
   was ill? One could easily fancy her being so, as she has a
   very sensitive disposition. Perhaps she only appeared so to
   you, or was she afraid of anything? God forbid that she
   should suffer in any way on my account. Set her mind at rest,
   and tell her that as long as my heart beats I shall not cease
   to adore her. Tell her that even after my death my ashes
   shall be strewn under her feet. Still, all this is yet too
   little, and you might tell her a great deal more.

   I shall write to her myself; indeed, I would have done so
   long ago to free myself from my torments; but if my letter
   should fall into strange hands, might this not hurt her
   reputation? Therefore, dear friend, be you the interpreter
   of my feelings; speak for me, "et j'en conviendrai." These
   French words of yours flashed through me like lightning. A
   Viennese gentleman who walked beside me in the street when I
   was reading your letter, seized me by the arm, and was hardly
   able to hold me. He did not know what had happened to me. I
   should have liked to embrace and kiss all the passers-by, and
   I felt happier than I had done for a long time, for I had
   received the first letter from you. Perhaps I weary you,
   Johnnie, with my passionateness; but it is difficult for me
   to conceal from you anything that moves my heart.

   The day before yesterday I dined at Madame Beyer's, her name
   is likewise Constantia. I like her society, her having that
   indescribably dear Christian name is sufficient to account
   for my partiality; it gives me even pleasure when one of her
   pocket-handkerchiefs or napkins marked "Constantia" comes
   into my hands.

   I walked alone, and slowly, into St. Stephen's. The church
   was as yet empty. To view the noble, magnificent edifice in a
   truly devout spirit I leant against a pillar in the darkest
   corner of this house of God. The grandeur of the arched roof
   cannot be described, one must see St. Stephen's with one's
   own eyes. Around me reigned the profoundest silence, which
   was interrupted only by the echoing footsteps of the
   sacristan who came to light the candles. Behind me was a
   grave, before me a grave, only above me I saw none. At that
   moment I felt my loneliness and isolation. When the lights
   were burning and the Cathedral began to fill with people, I
   wrapped myself up more closely in my cloak (you know the way
   in which I used to walk through the suburb of Cracow), and
   hastened to be present at the Mass in the Imperial Court
   Chapel. Now, however, I walked no longer alone, but passed
   through the beautiful streets of Vienna in merry company to
   the Hofburg, where I heard three movements of a mass
   performed by sleepy musicians. At one o'clock in the morning
   I reached my lodgings. I dreamt of you, of her, and of my
   dear children [his sisters].

   The first thing I did to-day was to indulge myself in
   melancholy fantasias on my piano.

   Advise me what to do. Please ask the person who has always
   exercised so powerful an influence over me in Warsaw, and let
   me know her opinion; according to that I shall act.

   Let me hear once more from you before you take the field.
   Vienna, poste restante. Go and see my parents and Constantia.
   Visit my sisters often, as long as you are still in Warsaw,
   so that they may think that you are coming to me, and that I
   am in the other room. Sit down beside them that they may
   imagine I am there too; in one word, be my substitute in the
   house of my parents.

   I shall conclude, dear Johnnie, for now it is really time.
   Embrace all my dear colleagues for me, and believe that I
   shall not cease to love you until I cease to love those that
   are dearest to me, my parents and her.

   My dearest friend, do write me soon a few lines. You may even
   show her this letter, if you think fit to do so.

   My parents don't know that I write to you. You may tell them
   of it, but must by no means show them the letter. I cannot
   yet take leave of my Johnnie; but I shall be off presently,
   you naughty one! If W...loves you as heartily as I love you,
   then would Con...No, I cannot complete the name, my hand is
   too unworthy. Ah! I could tear out my hair when I think that
   I could be forgotten by her!

   My portrait, of which only you and I are to know, is a very
   good likeness; if you think it would give her pleasure, I
   would send it to her through Schuch.

   January 1, 1831.--There you have what you wanted! Have you
   received the letter? Have you delivered any of the messages
   it contained? To-day I still regret what I have done. I was
   full of sweet hopes, and now am tormented by anxiety and
   doubts. Perhaps she mocks at me--laughs at me? Perhaps--ah!
   does she love me? This is what my passionate heart asks. You
   wicked AEsculapius, you were at the theatre, you eyed her
   incessantly with your opera-glass; if this is the case a
   thunderbolt shall...Do not forfeit my confidence; oh, you! if
   I write to you I do so only for my own sake, for you do not
   deserve it.

   Just now when I am writing I am in a strange state; I feel as
   if I were with you [with his dear ones], and were only
   dreaming what I see and hear here. The voices which I hear
   around me, and to which my ear is not accustomed, make upon
   me for the most part only an impression like the rattling of
   carriages or any other indifferent noise. Only your voice or
   that of Titus could to-day wake me out of my torpor. Life and
   death are perfectly alike to me. Tell, however, my parents
   that I am very happy, that I am in want of nothing, that I
   amuse myself famously, and never feel lonely.

   If she mocks at me, tell her the same; but if she inquires
   kindly for me, shows some concern about me, whisper to her
   that she may make her mind easy; but add also that away from
   her I feel everywhere lonely and unhappy. I am unwell, but
   this I do not write to my parents. Everybody asks what is the
   matter with me. I should like to answer that I have lost my
   good spirits. However, you know best what troubles me!
   Although there is no lack of entertainment and diversion
   here, I rarely feel inclined for amusement.

   To-day is the first of January. Oh, how sadly this year
   begins for me! I love you [his friends] above all things.
   Write as soon as possible. Is she at Radom? Have you thrown
   up redoubts? My poor parents! How are my friends faring?

   I could die for you, for you all! Why am I doomed to be here
   so lonely and forsaken? You can at least open your hearts to
   each other and comfort each other. Your flute will have
   enough to lament! How much more will my piano have to weep!

   You write that you and your regiment are going to take the
   field; how will you forward the note? Be sure you do not send
   it by a messenger; be cautious! The parents might perhaps--
   they might perhaps view the matter in a false light.

   I embrace you once more. You are going to the war; return as
   a colonel. May all pass off well! Why may I not at least be
   your drummer?

   Forgive the disorder in my letter, I write as if I were

The disorder of the letters is indeed very striking; it is great in
the foregoing extracts, and of course ten times greater with the
interspersed descriptions, bits of news, and criticisms on music and
musicians. I preferred separating the fundamental and always-recurring
thoughts, the all-absorbing and predominating feelings, from the more
superficial and passing fancies and affections, and all those
matters which were to him, if not of total indifference, at least of
comparatively little moment; because such a separation enables us to
gain a clearer and fuller view of the inner man and to judge henceforth
his actions and works with some degree of certainty, even where his own
accounts and comments and those of trustworthy witnesses fail us. The
psychological student need not be told to take note of the disorder in
these two letters and of their length (written to the same person within
less than a week, they fill nearly twelve printed pages in Karasowski's
book), he will not be found neglecting such important indications of the
temporary mood and the character of which it is a manifestation. And now
let us take a glance at Chopin's outward life in Vienna.

I have already stated that Chopin and Woyciechowski lived together.
Their lodgings, for which they had to pay their landlady, a baroness,
fifty florins, were on the third story of a house in the Kohlmarkt, and
consisted of three elegant rooms. When his friend left, Chopin thought
the rent too high for his purse, and as an English family was willing
to pay as much as eighty florins, he sublet the rooms and removed to
the fourth story, where he found in the Baroness von Lachmanowicz an
agreeable young landlady, and had equally roomy apartments which cost
him only twenty florins and pleased him quite well. The house was
favourably situated, Mechetti being on the right, Artaria on the left,
and the opera behind; and as people were not deterred by the high stairs
from visiting him, not even old Count Hussarzewski, and a good profit
would accrue to him from those eighty florins, he could afford to laugh
at theprobable dismay of his friends picturing him as "a poor devil
living in a garret," and could do so the more heartily as there was in
reality another story between him and the roof. He gives his people a
very pretty description of his lodgings and mode of life:--

   I live on the fourth story, in a fine street, but I have to
   strain my eyes in looking out of the window when I wish to
   see what is going on beneath. You will find my room in my new
   album when I am at home again. Young Hummel [a son of the
   composer] is so kind as to draw it for me. It is large and
   has five windows; the bed is opposite to them. My wonderful
   piano stands on the right, the sofa on the left; between the
   windows there is a mirror, in the middle of the room a fine,
   large, round mahogany table; the floor is polished. Hush!
   "The gentleman does not receive visitors in the afternoon"--
   hence I can be amongst you in my thoughts. Early in the
   morning the unbearably-stupid servant wakes me; I rise, get
   my coffee, and often drink it cold because I forget my
   breakfast over my playing. Punctually at nine o'clock appears
   my German master; then I generally write; and after that,
   Hummel comes to work at my portrait, while Nidecki studies my
   concerto. And all this time I remain in my comfortable
   dressing-gown, which I do not take off till twelve o'clock.
   At that hour a very worthy German makes his appearance, Herr
   Leibenfrost, who works in the law-courts here. If the weather
   is fine I take a walk with him on the Glacis, then we dine
   together at a restaurant, Zur bohmischen Kochin, which is
   frequented by all the university students; and finally we go
   (as is the custom here) to one of the best coffee-houses.
   After this I make calls, return home in the twilight, throw
   myself into evening-dress, and must be off to some soiree: to-
   day here, to-morrow there. About eleven or twelve (but never
   later) I return home, play, laugh, read, lie down, put out
   the light, sleep, and dream of you, my dear ones.

If is evident that there was no occasion to fear that Chopin would kill
himself with too hard work. Indeed, the number of friends, or, not to
misuse this sacred name, let us rather say acquaintances, he had, did
not allow him much time for study and composition. In his letters
from Vienna are mentioned more than forty names of families and single
individuals with whom he had personal intercourse. I need hardly add
that among them there was a considerable sprinkling of Poles. Indeed,
the majority of the houses where he was oftenest seen, and where he felt
most happy, were those of his countrymen, or those in which there was at
least some Polish member, or which had some Polish connection. Already
on December 1, 1830, he writes home that he had been several times at
Count Hussarzewski's, and purposes to pay a visit at Countess Rosalia
Rzewuska's, where he expects to meet Madame Cibbini, the daughter
of Leopold Kozeluch and a pupil of Clementi, known as a pianist and
composer, to whom Moscheles dedicated a sonata for four hands, and who
at that time was first lady-in-waiting to the Empress of Austria. Chopin
had likewise called twice at Madame Weyberheim's. This lady, who was a
sister of Madame Wolf and the wife of a rich banker, invited him to a
soiree "en petit cercle des amateurs," and some weeks later to a soiree
dansante, on which occasion he saw "many young people, beautiful, but
not antique [that is to say not of the Old Testament kind], "refused
to play, although the lady of the house and her beautiful daughters had
invited many musical personages, was forced to dance a cotillon, made
some rounds, and then went home. In the house of the family Beyer (where
the husband was a Pole of Odessa, and the wife, likewise Polish, bore
the fascinating Christian name Constantia--the reader will remember her)
Chopin felt soon at his ease. There he liked to dine, sup, lounge, chat,
play, dance mazurkas, &c. He often met there the violinist Slavik, and
the day before Christmas played with him all the morning and evening,
another day staying with him there till two o'clock in the morning. We
hear also of dinners at the house of his countrywoman Madame Elkan, and
at Madame Schaschek's, where (he writes in July, 1831) he usually met
several Polish ladies, who by their hearty hopeful words always cheered
him, and where he once made his appearance at four instead of the
appointed dinner hour, two o'clock. But one of his best friends was the
medical celebrity Dr. Malfatti, physician-in-ordinary to the Emperor
of Austria, better remembered by the musical reader as the friend of
Beethoven, whom he attended in his last illness, forgetting what causes
for complaint he might have against the too irritable master. Well,
this Dr. Malfatti received Chopin, of whom he had already heard from
Wladyslaw Ostrowski, "as heartily as if I had been a relation of his"
(Chopin uses here a very bold simile), running up to him and embracing
him as soon as he had got sight of his visiting-card. Chopin became a
frequent guest at the doctor's house; in his letters we come often on
the announcement that he has dined or is going to dine on such or such a
day at Dr. Malfatti's.

   December 1, 1830.--On the whole things are going well with
   me, and I hope with God's help, who sent Malfatti to my
   assistance--oh, excellent Malfatti!--that they will go better

   December 25, 1830.--I went to dine at Malfatti's. This
   excellent man thinks of everything; he is even so kind as to
   set before us dishes prepared in the Polish fashion.

   May 14, 1831.--I am very brisk, and feel that good health is
   the best comfort in misfortune. Perhaps Malfatti's soups have
   strengthened me so much that I feel better than I ever did.
   If this is really the case, I must doubly regret that
   Malfatti has gone with his family into the country. You have
   no idea how beautiful the villa is in which he lives; this
   day week I was there with Hummel. After this amiable
   physician had taken us over his house he showed us also his
   garden. When we stood at the top of the hill, from which we
   had a splendid view, we did not wish to go down again. The
   Court honours Malfatti every year with a visit. He has the
   Duchess of Anhalt-Cothen as a neighbour; I should not wonder
   if she envied him his garden. On one side one sees Vienna
   lying at one's feet, and in such a way that one might believe
   it was joined to Schoenbrunn; on the other side one sees high
   mountains picturesquely dotted with convents and villages.
   Gazing on this romantic panorama one entirely forgets the
   noisy bustle and proximity of the capital.

This is one of the few descriptive passages to be found in Chopin's
letters--men and their ways interested him more than natural scenery.
But to return from the villa to its owner, Chopin characterises
his relation to the doctor unequivocally in the following
statement:--"Malfatti really loves me, and I am not a little proud of
it." Indeed, the doctor seems to have been a true friend, ready with act
and counsel. He aided him with his influence in various ways; thus,
for instance, we read that he promised to introduce him to Madame
Tatyszczew, the wife of the Russian Ambassador, and to Baron Dunoi,
the president of the musical society, whom Chopin thought a very useful
personage to know. At Malfatti's he made also the acquaintance of some
artists whom he would, perhaps, have had no opportunity of meeting
elsewhere. One of these was the celebrated tenor Wild. He came to
Malfatti's in the afternoon of Christmas-day, and Chopin, who had been
dining there, says: "I accompanied by heart the aria from Othello, which
he sang in a masterly style. Wild and Miss Heinefetter are the ornaments
of the Court Opera." Of a celebration of Malfatti's name-day Chopin
gives the following graphic account in a letter to his parents, dated
June 25, 1831:-- Mechetti, who wished to surprise him [Malfatti],
persuaded   the Misses Emmering and Lutzer, and the Messrs. Wild,
   Cicimara, and your Frederick to perform some music at the
   honoured man's house; almost from beginning to end the
   performance was deserving of the predicate "parfait." I never
   heard the quartet from Moses better sung; but Miss Gladkowska
   sang "O quante lagrime" at my farewell concert at Warsaw with
   much more expression. Wild was in excellent voice, and I
   acted in a way as Capellmeister.

To this he adds the note:--

   Cicimara said there was nobody in Vienna who accompanied so
   well as I. And I thought, "Of that I have been long
   convinced." A considerable number of people stood on the
   terrace of the house and listened to our concert. The moon
   shone with wondrous beauty, the fountains rose like columns
   of pearls, the air was filled with the fragrance of the
   orangery; in short, it was an enchanting night, and the
   surroundings were magnificent! And now I will describe to you
   the drawing-room in which we were. High windows, open from
   top to bottom, look out upon the terrace, from which one has
   a splendid view of the whole of Vienna. The walls are hung
   with large mirrors; the lights were faint: but so much the
   greater was the effect of the moonlight which streamed
   through the windows. The cabinet to the left of the drawing-
   room and adjoining it gives, on account of its large
   dimensions, an imposing aspect to the whole apartment. The
   ingenuousness and courtesy of the host, the elegant and
   genial society, the generally-prevailing joviality, and the
   excellent supper, kept us long together.

Here Chopin is seen at his best as a letter writer; it would be
difficult to find other passages of equal excellence. For, although
we meet frequently enough with isolated pretty bits, there is not one
single letter which, from beginning to end, as a whole as well as in its
parts, has the perfection and charm of Mendelssohn's letters.



The allusions to music and musicians lead us naturally to inquire
further after Chopin's musical experiences in Vienna.

   January 26, 1831.--If I had not made [he writes] the
   exceedingly interesting acquaintance of the most talented
   artists of this place, such as Slavik, Merk, Bocklet, and so
   forth [this "so forth" is tantalising], I should be very
   little satisfied with my stay here. The Opera indeed is good:
   Wild and Miss Heinefetter fascinate the Viennese; only it is
   a pity that Duport brings forward so few new operas, and
   thinks more of his pocket than of art.

What Chopin says here and elsewhere about Duport's stinginess tallies
with the contemporary newspaper accounts. No sooner had the new manager
taken possession of his post than he began to economise in such a manner
that he drove away men like Conradin Kreutzer, Weigl, and Mayseder.
During the earlier part of his sojourn in Vienna Chopin remarked that
excepting Heinefetter and Wild, the singers were not so excellent as he
had expected to find them at the Imperial Opera. Afterwards he seems to
have somewhat extended his sympathies, for he writes in July, 1831:--

   Rossini's "Siege of Corinth" was lately very well performed
   here, and I am glad that I had the opportunity of hearing
   this opera. Miss Heinefetter and Messrs. Wild, Binder, and
   Forti, in short, all the good singers in Vienna, appeared in
   this opera and did their best.

Chopin's most considerable criticism of this time is one on Miss
Heinefetter in a letter written on December 25, 1830; it may serve as
a pendant to his criticism on Miss Sontag which I quoted in a preceding

   Miss Heinefetter has a voice such as one seldom hears; she
   sings always in tune; her coloratura is like so many pearls;
   in short, everything is faultless. She looks particularly
   well when dressed as a man. But she is cold: I got my nose
   almost frozen in the stalls. In "Othello" she delighted me
   more than in the "Barber of Seville," where she represents a
   finished coquette instead of a lively, witty girl. As Sextus
   in "Titus" she looks really quite splendid. In a few days she
   is to appear in the "Thieving Magpie" ["La Gazza ladra"]. I
   am anxious to hear it. Miss Woikow pleased me better as
   Rosina in the "Barber"; but, to be sure, she has not such a
   delicious voice as the Heinefetter. I wish I had heard Pasta!

The opera at the Karnthnerthor Theatre with all its shortcomings
was nevertheless the most important and most satisfactory musical
institution of the city. What else, indeed, had Vienna to offer to the
earnest musician? Lanner and Strauss were the heroes of the day, and the
majority of other concerts than those given by them were exhibitions
of virtuosos. Imagine what a pass the musical world of Vienna must have
come to when Stadler, Kiesewetter, Mosel, and Seyfried could be called,
as Chopin did call them, its elite! Abbe Stadler might well say to
the stranger from Poland that Vienna was no longer what it used to be.
Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert had shuffled off their mortal
coil, and compared with these suns their surviving contemporaries
and successors--Gyrowetz, Weigl, Stadler, Conradin Kreutzer, Lachner,
&c.--were but dim and uncertain lights.

With regard to choral and orchestral performances apart from the stage,
Vienna had till more recent times very little to boast of. In 1830-1831
the Spirituel-Concerte (Concerts Spirituels) were still in existence
under the conductorship of Lannoy; but since 1824 their number had
dwindled down from eighteen to four yearly concerts. The programmes were
made up of a symphony and some sacred choruses. Beethoven, Mozart,
and Haydn predominated among the symphonists; in the choral department
preference was given to the Austrian school of church music; but
Cherubim also was a great favourite, and choruses from Handel's
oratorios, with Mosel's additional accompaniments, were often performed.
The name of Beethoven was hardly ever absent from any of the programmes.
That the orchestra consisted chiefly of amateurs, and that the
performances took place without rehearsals (only difficult new works got
a rehearsal, and one only), are facts which speak for themselves.
Franz Lachner told Hanslick that the performances of new and in any way
difficult compositions were so bad that Schubert once left the hall
in the middle of one of his works, and he himself (Lachner) had felt
several times inclined to do the same. These are the concerts of which
Beethoven spoke as Winkelmusik, and the tickets of which he denominated
Abtrittskarten, a word which, as the expression of a man of genius, I do
not hesitate to quote, but which I could not venture to translate. Since
this damning criticism was uttered, matters had not improved, on the
contrary, had gone from bad to worse. Another society of note was the
still existing and flourishing Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde. It, too,
gave four, or perhaps five yearly concerts, in each of which a symphony,
an overture, an aria or duet, an instrumental solo, and a chorus
were performed. This society was afflicted with the same evil as the
first-named institution. It was a

   gladdening sight [we are told] to see counts and tradesmen,
   superiors and subalterns, professors and students, noble
   ladies and simple burghers' daughters side by side
   harmoniously exerting themselves for the love of art.

As far as choral singing is concerned the example deserves to be
followed, but the matter stands differently with regard to instrumental
music, a branch of the art which demands not only longer and more
careful, but also constant, training. Although the early custom of
drawing lots, in order to determine who were to sing the solos, what
places the players were to occupy in the orchestra, and which of the
four conductors was to wield the baton, had already disappeared before
1831, yet in 1841 the performances of the symphonies were still so
little "in the spirit of the composers" (a delicate way of stating an
ugly fact) that a critic advised the society to imitate the foreign
conservatoriums, and reinforce the band with the best musicians of the
capital, who, constantly exercising their art, and conversant with the
works of the great masters, were better able to do justice to them than
amateurs who met only four times a year. What a boon it would be
to humanity, what an increase of happiness, if amateurs would allow
themselves to be taught by George Eliot, who never spoke truer and wiser
words than when she said:--"A little private imitation of what is good
is a sort of private devotion to it, and most of us ought to practise
art only in the light of private study--preparation to understand and
enjoy what the few can do for us." In addition to the above I shall yet
mention a third society, the Tonkunstler-Societat, which, as the name
implies, was an association of musicians. Its object was the getting-up
and keeping-up of a pension fund, and its artistic activity displayed
itself in four yearly concerts. Haydn's "Creation" and "Seasons" were
the stock pieces of the society's repertoire, but in 1830 and 1831
Handel's "Messiah" and "Solomon" and Lachner's "Die vier Menschenalter"
were also performed.

These historical notes will give us an idea of what Chopin may have
heard in the way of choral and orchestral music. I say "may have heard,"
because not a word is to be found in his extant letters about the
concerts of these societies. Without exposing ourselves to the reproach
of rashness, we may, however, assume that he was present at the concert
of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde on March 20, 1831, when among the
items of the programme were Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony, and the first
movement of a concerto composed and played by Thalberg. On seeing the
name of one of the most famous pianists contemporary with Chopin, the
reader has, no doubt, at once guessed the reason why I assumed the
latter's presence at the concert. These two remarkable, but in their
characters and aims so dissimilar, men had some friendly intercourse in
Vienna. Chopin mentions Thalberg twice in his letters, first on December
25, 1830, and again on May 28, 1831. On the latter occasion he
relates that he went with him to an organ recital given by Hesse, the
previously-mentioned Adolf Hesse of Breslau, of whom Chopin now remarked
that he had talent and knew how to treat his instrument. Hesse and
Chopin must have had some personal intercourse, for we learn that
the former left with the latter an album leaf. A propos of this
circumstance, Chopin confesses in a letter to his people that he is at
a loss what to write, that he lacks the requisite wit. But let us
return to the brilliant pianist, who, of course, was a more interesting
acquaintance in Chopin's, eyes than the great organist. Born in 1812,
and consequently three years younger than Chopin, Sigismund Thalberg had
already in his fifteenth year played with success in public, and at the
age of sixteen published Op. 1, 2, and 3. However, when Chopin made his
acquaintance, he had not yet begun to play only his own compositions
(about that time he played, for instance, Beethoven's C minor Concerto
at one of the Spirituel-Concerte, where since 1830 instrumental solos
were occasionally heard), nor had he attained that in its way
unique perfection of beauty of tone and elegance of execution which
distinguished him afterwards. Indeed, the palmy days of his career
cannot be dated farther back than the year 1835, when he and Chopin met
again in Paris; but then his success was so enormous that his fame in a
short time became universal, and as a virtuoso only one rival was left
him--Liszt, the unconquered. That Chopin and Thalberg entertained very
high opinions of each other cannot be asserted. Let the reader judge
for himself after reading what Chopin says in his letter of December 25,

   Thalberg plays famously, but he is not my man. He is younger
   than I, pleases the ladies very much, makes pot-pourris on
   "La Muette" ["Masaniello"], plays the forte and piano with
   the pedal, but not with the hand, takes tenths as easily as I
   do octaves, and wears studs with diamonds. Moscheles does not
   at all astonish him; therefore it is no wonder that only the
   tuttis of my concerto have pleased him. He, too, writes

Chopin was endowed with a considerable power of sarcasm, and was fond of
cultivating and exercising it. This portraiture of his brother-artist is
not a bad specimen of its kind, although we shall meet with better ones.

Another, but as yet unfledged, celebrity was at that time living in
Vienna, prosecuting his studies under Czerny--namely, Theodor Dohler.
Chopin, who went to hear him play some compositions of his master's at
the theatre, does not allude to him again after the concert; but if
he foresaw what a position as a pianist and composer he himself was
destined to occupy, he could not suspect that this lad of seventeen
would some day be held up to the Parisian public by a hostile clique as
a rival equalling and even surpassing his peculiar excellences. By the
way, the notion of anyone playing compositions of Czerny's at a
concert cannot but strangely tickle the fancy of a musician who has the
privilege of living in the latter part of the nineteenth century.

Besides the young pianists with a great future before them Chopin came
also in contact with aging pianists with a great past behind them.
Hummel, accompanied by his son, called on him in the latter part of
December, 1830, and was extraordinarily polite. In April, 1831, the two
pianists, the setting and the rising star, were together at the villa
of Dr. Malfatti. Chopin informed his master, Elsner, for whose masses he
was in quest of a publisher, that Haslinger was publishing the last mass
of Hummel, and added:-- For he now lives only by and for Hummel.

   It is rumoured that
   the last compositions of Hummel do not sell well, and yet he
   is said to have paid a high price for them. Therefore he now
   lays all MSS. aside, and prints only Strauss's waltzes.

Unfortunately there is not a word which betrays Chopin's opinion of
Hummel's playing and compositions. We are more fortunate in the case of
another celebrity, one, however, of a much lower order. In one of the
prosaic intervals, of the sentimental rhapsody, indited on December 25,
1830, there occur the following remarks:--

   The pianist Aloys Schmitt of Frankfort-on-the-Main, famous
   for his excellent studies, is at present here; he is a man
   above forty. I have made his acquaintance; he promised to
   visit me. He intends to give a concert here, and one must
   admit that he is a clever musician. I think we shall
   understand each other with regard to music.

Having looked at this picture, let the reader look also at this other,
dashed off a month later in a letter to Elsner:--

   The pianist Aloys Schmitt has been flipped on the nose by the
   critics, although he is already over forty years old, and
   composes eighty-years-old music.

From the contemporary journals we learn that, at the concert mentioned
by Chopin, Schmitt afforded the public of Vienna an opportunity of
hearing a number of his own compositions--which were by no means short
drawing-room pieces, but a symphony, overture, concerto, concertino,
&c.--and that he concluded his concert with an improvisation. One
critic, at least, described his style of playing as sound and
brilliant. The misfortune of Schmitt was to have come too late into the
world--respectable mediocrities like him always do that--he never had
any youth. The pianist on whom Chopin called first on arriving in Vienna
was Charles Czerny, and he

   was, as he is always (and to everybody), very polite, and
   asked, "Hat fleissig studirt?" [Have you studied diligently?]
   He has again arranged an overture for eight pianos and
   sixteen performers, and seems to be very happy over it.

Only in the sense of belonging rather to the outgoing than to the
incoming generation can Czerny be reckoned among the aged pianists, for
in 1831 he was not above forty years of age and had still an enormous
capacity for work in him--hundreds and hundreds of original and
transcribed compositions, thousands and thousands of lessons. His name
appears in a passage of one of Chopin's letters which deserves to be
quoted for various reasons: it shows the writer's dislike to the Jews,
his love of Polish music, and his contempt for a kind of composition
much cultivated by Czerny. Speaking of the violinist Herz, "an
Israelite," who was almost hissed when he made his debut in Warsaw, and
whom Chopin was going to hear again in Vienna, he says:--

   At the close of the concert Herz will play his own Variations
   on Polish airs. Poor Polish airs! You do not in the least
   suspect how you will be interlarded with "majufes" [see page
   49, foot-note], and that the title of "Polish music" is only
   given you to entice the public. If one is so outspoken as to
   discuss the respective merits of genuine Polish music and
   this imitation of it, and to place the former above the
   latter, people declare one to be mad, and do this so much the
   more readily because Czerny, the oracle of Vienna, has
   hitherto in the fabrication of his musical dainties never
   produced Variations on a Polish air.

Chopin had not much sympathy with Czerny the musician, but seems to have
had some liking for the man, who indeed was gentle, kind, and courteous
in his disposition and deportment.

A much more congenial and intimate connection existed between Chopin,
Slavik, and Merk. [FOOTNOTE: Thus the name is spelt in Mendel's
Musikalisches Conversations-Lexikon and by E. A. Melis, the Bohemian
writer on music. Chopin spells it Slawik. The more usual spelling,
however, is Slawjk; and in C.F. Whistling's Handbuch der musikalischen
Literatur (Leipzig, 1828) it is Slavjk.] Joseph Slavik had come to
Vienna in 1825 and had at once excited a great sensation. He was then
a young man of nineteen, but technically already superior to all the
violinists that had been heard in the Austrian capital. The celebrated
Mayseder called him a second Lipinski. Pixis, his master at the
Conservatorium in Prague, on seeing some of this extraordinary pupil's
compositions--a concerto, variations, &c.--had wondered how anyone could
write down such mad, unplayable stuff. But Slavik before leaving Prague
proved at a farewell concert that there was at least one who could play
the mad stuff. All this, however, was merely the prelude to what was yet
to come. The appearance of Paganini in 1828 revealed to him the,
till then, dimly-perceived ideal of his dreams, and the great Italian
violinist, who took an interest in this ardent admirer and gave him some
hints, became henceforth his model. Having saved a little money, he went
for his further improvement to Paris, studying especially under Baillot,
but soon returned to accept an engagement in the Imperial Band. When
after two years of hard practising he reappeared before the public
of Vienna, his style was altogether changed; he mastered the same
difficulties as Paganini, or even greater ones, not, however, with the
same unfailing certainty, nor with an always irreproachable intonation.
Still, there can be no doubt that had not a premature death (in 1833, at
the age of twenty-seven) cut short his career, he would have spread his
fame all over the world. Chopin, who met him first at Wurfel's, at once
felt a liking for him, and when on the following day he heard him play
after dinner at Beyer's, he was more pleased with his performance than
with that of any other violinist except Paganini. As Chopin's playing
was equally sympathetic to Slavik, they formed the project of writing
a duet for violin and piano. In a letter to his friend Matuszynski
(December 25, 1830) Chopin writes:--

   I have just come from the excellent violinist Slavik. With
   the exception of Paganini, I never heard a violin-player like
   him. Ninety-six staccato notes in one bow! It is almost
   incredible! When I heard him I felt inclined to return to my
   lodgings and sketch variations on an Adagio [which they had
   previously agreed to take for their theme] of Beethoven's.

The sight of the post-office and a letter from his Polish friends
put the variations out of his mind, and they seem never to have been
written, at least nothing has been heard of them. Some remarks on
Slavik in a letter addressed to his parents (May 28, 1831) show Chopin's
admiration of and affection for his friend still more distinctly:--

   He is one of the Viennese artists with whom I keep up a
   really friendly and intimate intercourse. He plays like a
   second Paganini, but a rejuvenated one, who will perhaps in
   time surpass the first. I should not believe it myself if I
   had not heard him so often....Slavik fascinates the listener
   and brings tears into his eyes.

Shortly after falling in with Slavik, Chopin met Merk, probably at the
house of the publisher Mechetti, and on January 1, 1831, he announces
to his friend in Warsaw with unmistakable pride that "Merk, the first
violoncellist in Vienna," has promised him a visit. Chopin desired very
much to become acquainted with him because he thought that Merk,
Slavik, and himself would form a capital trio. The violoncellist was
considerably older than either pianist or violinist, being born in 1795.
Merk began his musical career as a violinist, but being badly bitten
in the arm by a big dog, and disabled thereby to hold the violin in its
proper position (this is what Fetis relates), he devoted himself to the
violoncello, and with such success as to become the first solo player in
Vienna. At the time we are speaking of he was a member of the Imperial
Orchestra and a professor at the Conservatorium. He often gave concerts
with Mayseder, and was called the Mayseder of the violoncello. Chopin,
on hearing him at a soiree of the well-known autograph collector Fuchs,
writes home:--

   Limmer, one of the better artists here in Vienna, produced
   some of his compositions for four violoncelli. Merk, by his
   expressive playing, made them, as usual, more beautiful than
   they really are. People stayed again till midnight, for Merk
   took a fancy to play with me his variations. He told me that
   he liked to play with me, and it is always a great treat to
   me to play with him. I think we look well together. He is the
   first violoncellist whom I really admire.

Of Chopin's intercourse with the third of the "exceedingly interesting
acquaintances" whom he mentions by name, we get no particulars in his
letters. Still, Carl Maria von Bocklet, for whom Beethoven wrote three
letters of recommendation, who was an intimate friend of Schubert's, and
whose interpretations of classical works and power of improvisation gave
him one of the foremost places among the pianists of the day, cannot
have been without influence on Chopin. Bocklet, better than any other
pianist then living in Vienna, could bring the young Pole into closer
communication with the German masters of the preceding generation; he
could, as it were, transmit to him some of the spirit that animated
Beethoven, Schubert, and Weber. The absence of allusions to Bocklet in
Chopin's letters does not, however, prove that he never made any, for
the extant letters are only a small portion of those he actually wrote,
many of them having in the perturbed state of Poland never reached their
destination, others having been burnt by his parents for fear of
the Russian police, and some, no doubt, having been lost through
carelessness or indifference.

The list of Chopin's acquaintances is as yet far from being exhausted.
He had conversations with old Abbe Stadler, the friend of Haydn and
Mozart, whose Psalms, which he saw in MS., he admired. He also speaks
of one of the performances of old, sacred, and secular music which took
place at Kiesewetter's house as if he were going to it. But a musician
of Chopin's nature would not take a very lively interest in the
historical aspect of the art; nor would the learned investigator of the
music of the Netherlanders, of the music of the Arabs, of the life and
works of Guido d'Arezzo, &c., readily perceive the preciousness of the
modern composer's originality. At any rate, Chopin had more intercourse
with the musico-literary Franz Kandler, who wrote favourable criticisms
on his performances as a composer and player, and with whom he went on
one occasion to the Imperial Library, where the discovery of a certain
MS. surprised him even more than the magnitude and order of the
collection, which he could not imagine to be inferior to that of
Bologna--the manuscript in question being no other than his Op. 2, which
Haslinger had presented to the library. Chopin found another MS. of his,
that of the Rondo for two pianos, in Aloys Fuchs's famous collection of
autographs, which then comprised 400 numbers, but about the year 1840
had increased to 650 numbers, most of them complete works. He must have
understood how to ingratiate himself with the collector, otherwise he
would hardly have had the good fortune to be presented with an autograph
of Beethoven.

Chopin became also acquainted with almost all the principal publishers
in Vienna. Of Haslinger enough has already been said. By Czerny Chopin
was introduced to Diabelli, who invited him to an evening party of
musicians. With Mechetti he seems to have been on a friendly footing.
He dined at his house, met him at Dr. Malfatti's, handed over to him
for publication his Polonaise for piano and violoncello (Op. 3), and
described him as enterprising and probably persuadable to publish
Elsner's masses. Joseph Czerny, no relation of Charles's, was a mere
business acquaintance of Chopin's. Being reminded of his promise to
publish a quartet of Elsner's, he said he could not undertake to do so
just then (about January 26, 1831), as he was publishing the works of
Schubert, of which many were still in the press.

   Therefore [writes Chopin to his master] I fear your MS. will
   have to wait. Czerny, I have found out now, is not one of the
   richest publishers here, and consequently cannot easily risk
   the publication of a work which is not performed at the Sped
   or at the Romische Kaiser. Waltzes are here called works; and
   Lanner and Strauss, who lead the performances, Capellmeister.
   In saying this, however, I do not mean that all people here
   are of this opinion; on the contrary, there are many who
   laugh at it. Still, it is almost only waltzes that are

It is hardly possible for us to conceive the enthusiasm and ecstasy into
which the waltzes of the two dance composers transported Vienna, which
was divided into two camps:--

   The Sperl and Volksgarten [says Hanslick] were on the Strauss
   and Lanner days the favourite and most frequented "concert
   localities." In the year 1839 Strauss and Lanner had already
   each of them published more than too works. The journals were
   thrown into ecstasy by every new set of waltzes; innumerable
   articles appeared on Strauss, and Lanner, enthusiastic,
   humorous, pathetic, and certainly longer than those that were
   devoted to Beethoven and Mozart.

These glimpses of the notabilities and manners of a by-gone generation,
caught, as it were, through the chinks of the wall which time is
building up between the past and the present, are instructive as well as
amusing. It would be a great mistake to regard these details, apparently
very loosely connected with the life of Chopin, as superfluous
appendages to his biography. A man's sympathies and antipathies are
revelations of his nature, and an artist's surroundings make evident his
position and merit, the degree of his originality being undeterminable
without a knowledge of the time in which he lived. Moreover, let the
impatient reader remember that, Chopin's life being somewhat poor in
incidents, the narrative cannot be an even-paced march, but must be a
series of leaps and pauses, with here and there an intervening amble,
and one or two brisk canters.

Having described the social and artistic sphere, or rather spheres,
in which Chopin moved, pointed out the persons with whom he most
associated, and noted his opinions regarding men and things, almost all
that is worth telling of his life in the imperial city is told--almost
all, but not all. Indeed, of the latter half of his sojourn there some
events have yet to be recorded which in importance, if not in interest,
surpass anything that is to be found in the preceding and the foregoing
part of the present chapter. I have already indicated that the
disappointment of Chopin's hopes and the failure of his plans cannot
altogether be laid to the charge of unfavourable circumstances. His
parents must have thought so too, and taken him to task about his
remissness in the matter of giving a concert, for on May 14, 1831,
Chopin writes to them:--"My most fervent wish is to be able to fulfil
your wishes; till now, however, I found it impossible to give a
concert." But although he had not himself given a concert he had had an
opportunity of presenting himself in the best company to the public of
Vienna. In the "Theaterzeitung" of April 2, 1831, Madame Garzia-Vestris
announced a concert to be held in the Redoutensaal during the morning
hours of April 4, in which she was to be assisted by the Misses
Sabine and Clara Heinefetter, Messrs. Wild, Chopin, Bohm (violinist),
Hellmesberger (violinist, pupil of the former), Merk, and the brothers
Lewy (two horn-players). Chopin was distinguished from all the rest, as
a homo ignotus et novus, by the parenthetical "pianoforte-player" after
his name, no such information being thought necessary in the case of
the other artists. The times are changed, now most readers require
parenthetical elucidation after each name except that of Chopin. "He has
put down the mighty from their seat and has exalted them of low degree!"
The above-mentioned exhortation of his parents seems to have had the
desired effect, and induced Chopin to make an effort, although now the
circumstances were less favourable to his giving a concert than at the
time of his arrival. The musical season was over, and many people
had left the capital for their summer haunts; the struggle in Poland
continued with increasing fierceness, which was not likely to lessen
the backwardness of Austrians in patronising a Pole; and in addition to
this, cholera had visited the country and put to flight all who were not
obliged to stay. I have not been able to ascertain the date and other
particulars of this concert. Through Karasowski we learn that it was
thinly attended, and that the receipts did not cover the expenses.
The "Theaterzeitung," which had given such full criticisms of Chopin's
performances in 1829, says not a word either of the matinee or of the
concert, not even the advertisement of the latter has come under my
notice. No doubt Chopin alludes to criticisms on this concert when he
writes in the month of July:--

    Louisa [his sister] informs me that Mr. Elsner was very much
   pleased with the criticism; I wonder what he will say of the
   others, he who was my teacher of composition?

Kandler, the Vienna correspondent of the "Allgemeine musikalische
Zeitung," after discussing in that paper (September 21, 1831) the
performances of several artists, among others that of the clever Polish
violin-virtuoso Serwaczynski, turns to "Chopin, also from the Sarmatian
capital, who already during his visit last year proved himself a pianist
of the first rank," and remarks:--

    The execution of his newest Concerto in E minor, a serious
   composition, gave no cause to revoke our former judgment. One
   who is so upright in his dealings with genuine art is
   deserving our genuine esteem.

All things considered, I do not hesitate to accept Liszt's statement
that the young artist did not produce such a sensation as he had a right
to expect. In fact, notwithstanding the many pleasant social connections
he had, Chopin must have afterwards looked back with regret, probably
with bitterness, on his eight months' sojourn in Vienna. Not only did he
add nothing to his fame as a pianist and composer by successful concerts
and new publications, but he seems even to have been sluggish in his
studies and in the production of new works. How he leisurely whiled away
the mornings at his lodgings, and passed the rest of the day abroad and
in society, he himself has explicitly described. That this was his
usual mode of life at Vienna, receives further support from the
self-satisfaction with which he on one occasion mentions that he had
practised from early morning till two o'clock in the afternoon. In his
letters we read only twice of his having finished some new compositions.
On December 21, 1830, he writes:--

   I wished to enclose my latest waltz, but the post is about to
   depart, and I have no longer time to copy it, therefore I
   shall send it another time. The mazurkas, too, I have first
   to get copied, but they are not intended for dancing.

And in the month of July, 1831, "I have written a polonaise, which
I must leave here for Wurfel." There are two more remarks about
compositions, but of compositions which were never finished, perhaps
never begun. One of these remarks refers to the variations on a theme
of Beethoven's, which he intended to compose conjointly with Slavik, and
has already been quoted; the other refers to a grander project. Speaking
of Nidecki, who came every morning to his lodgings and practised his
(Chopin's) concerto, he says (December 21, 1830):--

   If I succeed in writing a concerto for two pianos so as to
   satisfy myself, we intend to appear at once with it in
   public; first, however, I wish to play once alone.

What an interesting, but at the same time what a gigantic, subject to
write on the history of the unrealised plans of men of genius would be!
The above-mentioned waltz, polonaise, and mazurkas do not, of course,
represent the whole of Chopin's output as a composer during the time
of his stay in Vienna; but we may surmise with some degree of certainty
that few works of importance have to be added to it. Indeed, the
multiplicity of his social connections and engagements left him little
time for himself, and the condition of his fatherland kept him in a
constant state of restlessness. Poland and her struggle for independence
were always in his mind; now he laments in his letters the death of a
friend, now rejoices at a victory, now asks eagerly if such or such a
piece of good news that has reached him is true, now expresses the hope
that God will be propitious to their cause, now relates that he has
vented his patriotism by putting on the studs with the Polish eagles and
using the pocket-handkerchief with the Kosynier (scythe-man) depicted on

   What is going on at home? [he writes, on May 28, 1831.] I am
   always dreaming of you. Is there still no end to the
   bloodshed? I know your answer: "Patience!" I, too, always
   comfort myself with that.

But good health, he finds, is the best comfort in misfortune, and if his
bulletins to his parents could be trusted he was in full enjoyment of

   Zacharkiewicz of Warsaw called on me; and when his wife saw
   me at Szaszek's, she did not know how to sufficiently express
   her astonishment at my having become such a sturdy fellow. I
   have let my whiskers grow only on the right side, and they
   are growing very well; on the left side they are not needed
   at all, for one sits always with the right side turned to the

Although his "ideal" is not there to retain him, yet he cannot make up
his mind to leave Vienna. On May 28, he writes:--

   How quickly this dear time passes! It is already the end of
   May, and I am still in Vienna. June will come, and I shall
   probably be still here, for Kumelski fell ill and was obliged
   to take to bed again.

It was not only June but past the middle of July before Chopin left, and
I am afraid he would not always have so good an excuse for prolonging
his stay as the sickness of his travelling-companion. On June 25,
however, we hear of active preparations being made for departure.

   I am in good health, that is the only thing that cheers me,
   for it seems as if my departure would never take place. You
   all know how irresolute I am, and in addition to this I meet
   with obstacles at every step. Day after day I am promised my
   passport, and I run from Herod to Pontius Pilate, only to get
   back what I deposited at the police office. To-day I heard
   even more agreeable news--namely, that my passport has been
   mislaid, and that they cannot find it; I have even to send in
   an application for a new one. It is curious how now every
   imaginable misfortune befalls us poor Poles. Although I am
   ready to depart, I am unable to set out.

Chopin had been advised by Mr. Beyer to have London instead of Paris
put as a visa in his passport. The police complied with his request
that this should be done, but the Russian Ambassador, after keeping
the document for two days, gave him only permission to travel as far as
Munich. But Chopin did not care so long as he got the signature of the
French Ambassador. Although his passport contained the words "passant
par Paris a Londres," and he in after years in Paris sometimes remarked,
in allusion to these words, "I am here only in passing," he had no
intention of going to London. The fine sentiment, therefore, of which a
propos of this circumstance some writers have delivered themselves
was altogether misplaced. When the difficulty about the passport was
overcome, another arose: to enter Bavaria from cholera-stricken Austria
a passport of health was required. Thus Chopin had to begin another
series of applications, in fact, had to run about for half a day before
he obtained this additional document.

Chopin appears to have been rather short of money in the latter part of
his stay in Vienna--a state of matters with which the financial failure
of the concert may have had something to do. The preparations for his
departure brought the pecuniary question still more prominently forward.
On June 25, 1831, he writes to his parents:--

   I live as economically as possible, and take as much care of
   every kreuzer as of that ring in Warsaw [the one given him by
   the Emperor Alexander]. You may sell it, I have already cost
   you so much.

He must have talked about his shortness of money to some of his friends
in Vienna, for he mentions that the pianist-composer Czapek, who calls
on him every day and shows him much kindness, has offered him money
for the journey should he stand in need of it. One would hardly have
credited Chopin with proficiency in an art in which he nevertheless
greatly excelled--namely, in the art of writing begging letters. How
well he understood how to touch the springs of the parental feelings the
following application for funds will prove.

   July, 1831.--But I must not forget to mention that I shall
   probably be obliged to draw more money from the banker Peter
   than my dear father has allowed me. I am very economical;
   but, God knows, I cannot help it, for otherwise I should have
   to leave with an almost empty purse. God preserve me from
   sickness; were, however, anything to happen to me, you might
   perhaps reproach me for not having taken more. Pardon me, but
   consider that I have already lived on this money during May,
   June, and July, and that I have now to pay more for my dinner
   than I did in winter. I do not do this only because I myself
   feel I ought to do so, but also in consequence of the good
   advice of others. I am very sorry that I have to ask you for
   it; my papa has already spent more than three groschen for
   me; I know also very well how difficult it is to earn money.
   Believe me, my dearest ones, it is harder for me to ask than
   for you to give. God will not fail to assist us also in the
   future, punctum!

Chopin was at this time very subject to melancholy, and did not
altogether hide the fact even from his parents. He was perhaps thinking
of the "lengthening chain" which he would have to drag at this new
remove. He often runs into the street to seek Titus Woyciechowski or
John Matuszynski. One day he imagines he sees the former walking before
him, but on coming up to the supposed friend is disgusted to find "a
d---- Prussian."

   I lack nothing [he writes in July, 1831] except more life,
   more spirit! I often feel unstrung, but sometimes as merry as
   I used to be at home. When I am sad I go to Madame Szaszek's;
   there I generally meet several amiable Polish ladies who with
   their hearty, hopeful words always cheer me up, so that I
   begin at once to imitate the generals here. This is a fresh
   joke of mine; but those who saw it almost died with laughing.
   But alas, there are days when not two words can be got out of
   me, nor can anyone find out what is the matter with me; then,
   to divert myself, I generally take a thirty-kreuzer drive to
   Hietzing, or somewhere else in the neighbourhood of Vienna.

This is a valuable bit of autobiography; it sets forth clearly Chopin's
proneness to melancholy, which, however, easily gave way to his
sportiveness. That low spirits and scantiness of money did not prevent
Chopin from thoroughly enjoying himself may be gathered from many
indications in his letters; of these I shall select his descriptions of
two excursions in the neighbourhood of Vienna, which not only make
us better acquainted with the writer, but also are interesting in

   June 25, 1831.--The day before yesterday we were with
   Kumelski and Czapek...on the Kahlenberg and Leopoldsberg. It
   was a magnificent day; I have never had a finer walk. From
   the Leopoldsberg one sees all Vienna, Wagram, Aspern,
   Pressburg, even Kloster-Neuburg, the castle in which Richard
   the Lion-hearted lived for a long time as a prisoner. Also
   the whole of the upper part of the Danube lay before our
   eyes. After breakfast we ascended the Kahlenberg, where King
   John Sobieski pitched his camp and caused the rockets to be
   fired which announced to Count Starhemberg, the commandant of
   Vienna, the approach of the Polish army. There is the
   Camaldolese Monastery in which the King knighted his son
   James before the attack on the Turks and himself served as
   acolyte at the Mass. I enclose for Isabella a little leaf
   from that spot, which is now covered with plants. From there
   we went in the evening to the Krapfenwald, a beautiful
   valley, where we saw a comical boys' trick. The little
   fellows had enveloped themselves from head to foot in leaves
   and looked like walking bushes. In this costume they crept
   from one visitor to another. Such a boy covered with leaves
   and his head adorned with twigs is called a "Pfingstkonig"
   [Whitsuntide-King]. This drollery is customary here at

The second excursion is thus described:--

   July, 1831.--The day before yesterday honest Wurfel called on
   me; Czapek, Kumelski, and many others also came, and we drove
   together to St. Veil--a beautiful place; I could not say the
   same of Tivoli, where they have constructed a kind ol
   caroitsscl, or rather a track with a sledge, which is called
   Rutsch. It is a childish amusement, but a great number of
   grown-up people have themselves rolled down the hill in this
   carriage just for pastime. At first I did not feel inclined
   to try it, but as there were eight of us, all good friends,
   we began to vie with each other in sliding down. It was
   folly, and yet we all laughed heartily. I myself joined in
   the sport with much satisfaction until it struck me that
   healthy and strong men could do something better--now, when
   humanity calls to them for protection and defence. May the
   devil take this frivolity!

In the same letter Chopin expresses the hope that his use of various,
not quite unobjectionable, words beginning with a "d" may not give his
parents a bad opinion of the culture he has acquired in Vienna, and
removes any possible disquietude on their part by assuring them that he
has adopted nothing that is Viennese in its nature, that, in fact, he
has not even learnt to play a Tanzwalzer (a dancing waltz). This, then,
is the sad result of his sojourn in Vienna.

On July 20, 1831, Chopin, accompanied by his friend Kumelski, left
Vienna and travelled by Linz and Salzburg to Munich, where he had to
wait some weeks for supplies from home. His stay in the capital of
Bavaria, however, was not lost time, for he made there the acquaintance
of several clever musicians, and they, charmed by his playing and
compositions, induced him to give a concert. Karasowski tells us that
Chopin played his E minor Concerto at one of the Philharmonic Society's
concerts--which is not quite correct, as we shall see presently--and
adds that

   the audience, carried away by the beauty of the composition
   and his excellent, poetic rendering, overwhelmed the young
   virtuoso with loud applause and sincere admiration.

In writing this the biographer had probably in his mind the following
passage from Chopin's letter to Titus Woyciechowski, dated Paris,
December 16, 1831:--"I played [to Kalkbrenner, in Paris] the E minor
Concerto, which charmed the people of the Bavarian capital so much." The
two statements are not synonymous. What the biographer says may be true,
and if it is not, ought to be so; but I am afraid the existing documents
do not bear it out in its entirety. Among the many local and other
journals which I have consulted, I have found only one notice of
Chopin's appearance at Munich, and when I expectantly scanned a resume
of Munich musical life, from the spring to the end of the year 1831,
in the "Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung," I found mention made of
Mendelssohn and Lafont, but not of Chopin. Thus, unless we assume that
Karasowski--true to his mission as a eulogising biographer, and most
vigorous when unfettered by definite data--indulged in exaggeration, we
must seek for a reconciliation of the enthusiasm of the audience with
the silence of the reporter in certain characteristics of the Munich
public. Mendelssohn says of it:--

   The people here [in Munich] have an extraordinary receptivity
   for music, which is much cultivated. But it appears to me
   that everything makes an impression and that the impressions
   do not last.

Speaking of Mendelssohn, it is curious to note how he and Chopin were
again and again on the point of meeting, and again and again failed to
meet. In Berlin Chopin was too bashful and modest to address his already
famous young brother-artist, who in 1830 left Vienna shortly before
Chopin arrived, and in 1831 arrived in Munich shortly after Chopin had
left. The only notice of Chopin's public appearance in Munich I have
been able to discover, I found in No. 87 (August 30, 1831) of the
periodical "Flora", which contains, under the heading "news," a pretty
full account of the "concert of Mr. Chopin of Warsaw." From this account
we learn that Chopin was assisted by the singers Madame Pellegrini and
Messrs. Bayer, Lenz, and Harm, the clarinet-player Barmann, jun., and
Capellmeister Stunz. The singers performed a four-part song, and Barmann
took part in a cavatina (sung by Bayer, the first tenor at the opera)
with clarinet and pianoforte accompaniment by Schubert (?). What the
writer of the account says about Chopin shall be quoted in full:--

   On the 28th August, Mr. F. Chopin, of Warsaw, gave a morning
   concert [Mittags Concert] in the hall of the Philharmonic
   Society, which was attended by a very select audience. Mr.
   Chopin performed on the pianoforte a Concerto in E minor of
   his own composition, and showed an excellent virtuosity in
   the treatment of his instrument; besides a developed
   technique, one noticed especially a charming delicacy of
   execution, and a beautiful and characteristic rendering of
   the motives. The composition was, on the whole, brilliantly
   and well written, without surprising, however, by
   extraordinary novelty or a particular profundity, with the
   exception of the Rondo, whose principal thought as well as
   the florid middle sections, through an original combination
   of a melancholy trait with a capriccio, evolved a peculiar
   charm, on which account it particularly pleased. The concert-
   giver performed in conclusion a fantasia on Polish national
   songs. There is a something in the Slavonic songs which
   almost never fails in its effect, the cause of which,
   however, is difficult to trace and explain; for it is not
   only the rhythm and the quick change from minor to major
   which produce this charm. No one has probably understood
   better how to combine the national character of such folk-
   songs with a brilliant concert style than Bernhard Romberg
   [Footnote: The famous violoncellist], who by his compositions
   of this kind, put in a favourable light by his masterly
   playing, knew how to exercise a peculiar fascination. Quite
   of this style was the fantasia of Mr. Chopin, who gained
   unanimous applause.

From Munich Chopin proceeded to Stuttgart, and during his stay there
learnt the sad news of the taking of Warsaw by the Russians (September
8, 1831). It is said that this event inspired him to compose the C minor
study (No. 12 of Op. 10), with its passionate surging and impetuous
ejaculations. Writing from Paris on December 16, 1831, Chopin remarks,
in allusion to the traeic denouement of the Polish revolution: "All this
has caused me much pain. Who could have foreseen it!"

With his visits to Stuttgart Chopin's artist-life in Germany came to a
close, for, although he afterwards repeatedly visited the country, he
never played in public or made a lengthened stay there. Now that Chopin
is nearing Paris, where, occasional sojourns elsewhere (most of them
of short duration) excepted, he will pass the rest of his life, it may
interest the reader to learn that this change of country brought with
it also a change of name, at least as far as popular pronunciation and
spelling went. We may be sure that the Germans did not always give to
the final syllable the appropriate nasal sound. And what the Polish
pronunciation was is sufficiently indicated by the spelling "Szopen,"
frequently to be met with. I found it in the Polish illustrated journal
"Kiosy," and it is also to be seen in Joseph Sikorski's "Wspomnienie
Szopena" ("Reminiscences of Chopin"). Szulc and Karasowski call their
books and hero "Fryderyk Chopin."



Let us pause for a little in our biographical inquiries and critically
examine what Chopin had achieved as a composer since the spring of 1829.
At the very first glance it becomes evident that the works of the last
two years (1829-1831) are decidedly superior to those he wrote before
that time. And this advance was not due merely to the increased power
derived from practice; it was real growth, which a Greek philosopher
describes as penetration of nourishment into empty places, the
nourishment being in Chopin's case experience of life's joys and
sorrows. In most of the works of what I call his first period, the
composer luxuriates, as it were, in language. He does not regard it
solely or chiefly as the interpreter of thoughts and feelings, he loves
it for its own sake, just as children, small and tall, prattle for no
other reason than the pleasure of prattling. I closed the first period
when a new element entered Chopin's life and influenced his artistic
work. This element was his first love, his passion for Constantia
Gtadkowska. Thenceforth Chopin's compositions had in them more of
humanity and poetry, and the improved subject-matter naturally, indeed
necessarily, chastened, ennobled, and enriched the means and ways
of expression. Of course no hard line can be drawn between the two
periods--the distinctive quality of the one period appears sometimes
in the work of the other: a work of the earlier period foreshadows the
character of the later; one of the later re-echoes that of the earlier.

The compositions which we know to have been written by Chopin between
1829 and 1831 are few in number. This may be partly because Chopin was
rather idle from the autumn of 1830 to the end of 1831, partly because
no account of the production of other works has come down to us. In
fact, I have no doubt that other short pieces besides those mentioned by
Chopin in his letters were composed during those years, and subsequently
published by him. The compositions oftenest and most explicitly
mentioned in the letters are also the most important ones--namely, the
concertos. As I wish to discuss them at some length, we will keep them
to the last, and see first what allusions to other compositions we can
find, and what observations these latter give rise to.

On October 3, 1829, Chopin sends his friend Titus Woyciechowski a waltz
which, he says, was, like the Adagio of the F minor Concerto, inspired
by his ideal, Constantia Gladkowska:--

   Pay attention to the passage marked with a +; nobody, except
   you, knows of this. How happy would I be if I could play my
   newest compositions to you! In the fifth bar of the trio the
   bass melody up to E flat dominates, which, however, I need
   not tell you, as you are sure to feel it without being told.

The remark about the bass melody up to E flat in the trio gives us a
clue to which of Chopin's waltzes this is. It can be no other than the
one in D flat which Fontana published among his friend's posthumous
works as Op. 70, No. 3. Although by no means equal to any of the waltzes
published by Chopin himself, one may admit that it is pretty; but its
chief claim to our attention lies in the fact that it contains germs
which reappear as fully-developed flowers in other examples of this
class of the master's works--the first half of the first part reappears
in the opening (from the ninth bar onward) of Op. 42 (Waltz in A flat
major); and the third part, in the third part (without counting the
introductory bars) of Op. 34, No. 1 (Waltz in A flat major).

On October 20, 1829, Chopin writes:--"During my visit at Prince
Radziwill's [at Antonin] I wrote an Alla Polacca. It is nothing more
than a brilliant salon piece, such as pleases ladies"; and on April 10,

   I shall play [at a soiree at the house of Lewicki] Hummel's
   "La Sentinelle," and at the close my Polonaise with
   violoncello, for which I have composed an Adagio as an
   introduction. I have already rehearsed it, and it does not
   sound badly.

Prince Radziwill, the reader will remember, played the violoncello.
It was, however, not to him but to Merk that Chopin dedicated this
composition, which, before departing from Vienna to Paris, he left with
Mechetti, who eventually published it under the title of "Introduction
et Polonaise brillante pour piano et violoncelle," dediees a Mr. Joseph
Merk. On the whole we may accept Chopin's criticism of his Op. 3 as
correct. The Polonaise is nothing but a brilliant salon piece. Indeed,
there is very little in this composition--one or two pianoforte
passages, and a finesse here and there excepted--that distinguishes
it as Chopin's. The opening theme verges even dangerously to the
commonplace. More of the Chopinesque than in the Polonaise may be
discovered in the Introduction, which was less of a piece d'occasion.
What subdued the composer's individuality was no doubt the violoncello,
which, however, is well provided with grateful cantilene.

On two occasions Chopin writes of studies. On October 20, 1829: "I have
composed a study in my own manner"; and on November 14, 1829: "I have
written some studies; in your presence I would play them well." These
studies are probably among the twelve published in the summer of 1833,
they may, however, also be among those published in the autumn of 1837.
The twelfth of the first sheaf of studies (Op. 10) Chopin composed, as
already stated, at Stuttgart, when he was under the excitement caused by
the news of the taking of Warsaw by the Russians on September 8, 1831.

The words "I intend to write a Polonaise with orchestra," contained in a
letter dated September 18, 1830, give rise to the interesting question:
"Did Chopin realise his intention, and has the work come down to us?" I
think both questions can be answered in the affirmative. At any rate, I
hold that internal evidence seems to indicate that Op. 22, the "Grande
Polonaise brillante precedee d'un Andante spianato avec orchestre,"
which was published in the summer of 1836, is the work in question.
Whether the "Andante" was composed at the same time, and what, if any,
alterations were subsequently made in the Polonaise, I do not venture to
decide. But the Polonaise has so much of Chopin's early showy virtuosic
style and so little of his later noble emotional power that my
conjecture seems reasonable. Moreover, the fact that the orchestra is
employed speaks in favour of my theory, for after the works already
discussed in the tenth chapter, and the concertos with which we shall
concern ourselves presently, Chopin did not in any other composition
(i.e., after 1830) write for the orchestra. His experiences in Warsaw,
Vienna, and Paris convinced him, no doubt, that he was not made to
contend with masses, either as an executant or as a composer. Query: Is
the Polonaise, of which Chopin says in July, 1831, that he has to leave
it to Wurfel, Op. 22 or another work?

Two other projects of Chopin, however, seem to have remained
unrealised--a Concerto for two pianos which he intended to play in
public at Vienna with his countryman Nidecki (letter of December 21,
1830), and Variations for piano and violin on a theme of Beethoven's, to
be written conjointly by himself and Slavik (letters of December 21
and 25, 1830). Fragments of the former of these projected works may,
however, have been used in the "Allegro de Concert," Op. 46, published
in 1842.

In the letter of December 21, 1830, there is also an allusion to a waltz
and mazurkas just finished, but whether they are to be found among the
master's printed compositions is more than I can tell.

The three "Ecossaises" of the year 1830, which Fontana published as Op.
72, No. 3, are the least individual of Chopin's compositions, and almost
the only dances of his which may be described as dance music pure and
simple--rhythm and melody without poetry, matter with a minimum of soul.

The posthumous Mazurka (D major) of 1829-30 is unimportant. It contains
nothing notable, except perhaps the descending chromatic successions of
chords of the sixth. In fact, we can rejoice in its preservation only
because a comparison with a remodelling of 1832 allows us to trace a
step in Chopin's development.

And now we come to the concertos, the history of which, as far as it
is traceable in the composer's letters, I will here place before the
reader. If I repeat in this chapter passages already quoted in previous
chapters, it is for the sake of completeness and convenience.

   October 3, 1829.--I have--perhaps to my misfortune--already
   found my ideal, whom I worship faithfully and sincerely. Six
   months have elapsed and I have not yet exchanged a syllable
   with her of whom I dream every night. Whilst my thoughts were
   with her I composed the Adagio of my Concerto.

The Adagio here mentioned is that of the F minor Concerto, Op. 21,
which he composed before but published after the F. minor Concerto,
Op. 11--the former appearing in print in April, 1836, the latter in
September, 1833. [Footnote: The slow movements of Chopin's concertos
are marked Larglietto, the composer uses here the word Adagio
generically--i.e., in the sense of slow movement generally.] Karasowski
says mistakingly that the movement referred to is the Adagio of the E
minor Concerto. He was perhaps misled by a mistranslation of his own. In
the German version of his Chopin biography he gives the concluding words
of the above quotation as "of my new Concerto," but there is no new
in the Polish text (na ktorego pamiatke skomponowalem Adagio do mojego

   October 20, 1829.--Elsner has praised the Adagio of the
   Concerto. He says that there is something new in it. As to
   the Rondo I do not wish yet to hear a judgment, for I am not
   yet satisfied with it myself. I am curious whether I shall
   finish this work when I return [from a visit to Prince

   November 14, 1829.--I received your last letter at Antonin at
   Radziwill's. I was there a week; you cannot imagine how
   quickly and pleasantly the time passed to me. I left by the
   last coach, and had much trouble in getting away. As for me I
   should have stayed till they had turned me out; but my
   occupations and, above all things, my Concerto, which is
   impatiently waiting for its Finale, have compelled me to take
   leave of this Paradise.

On March 17, 1830, Chopin played the F minor Concerto at the first
concert he gave in Warsaw. How it was received by the public and the
critics on this occasion and on that of a second concert has been
related in the ninth chapter (p.131).

   March 27, 1830.--I hope yet to finish before the holidays the
   first Allegro of my second Concerto [i.e., the one in E
   minor], and therefore I should in any case wait till after
   the holidays [to give a third concert], although I am
   convinced that I should have this time a still larger
   audience than formerly; for the haute volee has not yet heard

On April 10, 1830, Chopin writes that his Concerto is not yet finished;
and on May 15, 1830:--

   The Rondo for my Concerto is not yet finished, because the
   right inspired mood has always beep wanting. If I have only
   the Allegro and the Adagio completely finished I shall be
   without anxiety about the Finale. The Adagio is in E major,
   and of a romantic, calm, and partly melancholy character. It
   is intended to convey the impression which one receives when
   the eye rests on a beloved landscape that calls up in one's
   soul beautiful memories--for instance, on a fine, moonlit
   spring night. I have written violins with mutes as an
   accompaniment to it. I wonder if that will have a good
   effect? Well, time will show.

   August 21, 1830.--Next month I leave here; first, however, I
   must rehearse my Concerto, for the Rondo is now finished.

For an account of the rehearsals of the Concerto and its first public
performance at Chopin's third Warsaw concert on October u, 1830, the
reader is referred to the tenth chapter (p. 150). [FOOTNOTE: In the
following remarks on the concertos I shall draw freely from the critical
commentary on the Pianoforte Works of Chopin, which I contributed some
years ago (1879) to the Monthly Musical Record.]

Chopin, says Liszt, wrote beautiful concertos and fine sonatas, but it
is not difficult to perceive in these productions "plus de volonte que
d'inspiration." As for his inspiration it was naturally "imperieuse,
fantasque, irreflechie; ses allures ne pouvaient etre que libres."
Indeed, Liszt believes that Chopin--

   did violence to his genius every time he sought to fetter it
   by rules, classifications, and an arrangement that was not
   his own, and could not accord with the exigencies of his
   spirit, which was one of those whose grace displays itself
   when they seem to drift along [alter a la derive]....The
   classical attempts of Chopin nevertheless shine by a rare
   refinement of style. They contain passages of great interest,
   parts of surprising grandeur.

With Chopin writing a concerto or a sonata was an effort, and the effort
was always inadequate for the attainment of the object--a perfect work
of its kind. He lacked the peculiar qualities, natural and acquired,
requisite for a successful cultivation of the larger forms. He could
not grasp and hold the threads of thought which he found flitting in his
mind, and weave them into a strong, complex web; he snatched them up one
by one, tied them together, and either knit them into light fabrics or
merely wound them into skeins. In short, Chopin was not a thinker, not
a logician--his propositions are generally good, but his arguments
are poor and the conclusions often wanting. Liszt speaks sometimes of
Chopin's science. In doing this, however, he misapplies the word. There
was nothing scientific in Chopin's mode of production, and there is
nothing scientific in his works. Substitute "ingenious" (in the sense
of quick-witted and possessed of genius, in the sense of the German
geistreich) for "scientific," and you come near to what Liszt really
meant. If the word is applicable at all to art, it can be applicable
only to works which manifest a sustained and dominating intellectual
power, such, for instance, as a fugue of Bach's, a symphony of
Beethoven's, that is, to works radically different from those of Chopin.
Strictly speaking, the word, however, is not applicable to art, for art
and science are not coextensive; nay, to some extent, are even
inimical to each other. Indeed, to call a work of art purely and simply
"scientific," is tantamount to saying that it is dry and uninspired by
the muse. In dwelling so long on this point my object was not so much to
elucidate Liszt's meaning as Chopin's character as a composer.

Notwithstanding their many shortcomings, the concertos may be said to be
the most satisfactory of Chopin's works in the larger forms, or at least
those that afford the greatest amount of enjoyment. In some respects the
concerto-form was more favourable than the sonata-form for the exercise
of Chopin's peculiar talent, in other respects it was less so. The
concerto-form admits of a far greater and freer display of the virtuosic
capabilities of the pianoforte than the sonata-form, and does not
necessitate the same strictness of logical structure, the same thorough
working-out of the subject-matter. But, on the other hand, it demands
aptitude in writing for the orchestra and appropriately solid material.
Now, Chopin lacked such aptitude entirely, and the nature of his
material accorded little with the size of the structure and the
orchestral frame. And, then, are not these confessions of intimate
experiences, these moonlight sentimentalities, these listless dreams,
&c., out of place in the gaslight glare of concert-rooms, crowded with
audiences brought together to a great extent rather by ennui, vanity,
and idle curiosity than by love of art?

The concerto is the least perfect species of the sonata genus;
practical, not ideal, reasons have determined its form, which owes its
distinctive features to the calculations of the virtuoso, not to the
inspiration of the creative artist. Romanticism does not take kindly to
it. Since Beethoven the form has been often modified, more especially
the long introductory tutti omitted or cut short. Chopin, however,
adhered to the orthodox form, taking unmistakably Hummel for his model.
Indeed, Hummel's concertos were Chopin's model not only as regards
structure, but also to a certain extent as regards the character of
the several movements. In the tutti's of the first movement, and in
the general complexion of the second (the slow) and the third (Rondo)
movement, this discipleship is most apparent. But while noting the
resemblance, let us not overlook the difference. If the bones are
Hummel's (which no doubt is an exaggeration of the fact), the flesh,
blood, and soul are Chopin's. In his case adherence to the orthodox
concerto-form was so much the more regrettable as writing for the
orchestra was one of his weakest points. Indeed, Chopin's originality
is gone as soon as he writes for another instrument than the pianoforte.
The commencement of the first solo is like the opening of a beautiful
vista after a long walk through dreary scenery, and every new entry
of the orchestra precipitates you from the delectable regions of
imagination to the joyless deserts of the actual. Chopin's inaptitude in
writing for the orchestra is, however, most conspicuous where he employs
it conjointly with the pianoforte. Carl Klindworth and Carl Tausig have
rescored the concertos: the former the one in F minor, the latter the
one in E minor. Klindworth wrote his arrangement of the F minor Concerto
in 1867-1868 in London, and published it ten years later at Moscow (P.
Jurgenson).[FOOTNOTE: The title runs: "Second Concerto de Chopin, Op.
21, avec un nouvel accompagnement d'orchestre d'apres la partition
originale par Karl Klindworth. Dedie a Franz Lizt." It is now the
property of the Berlin publishers Bote and Bock.] A short quotation from
the preface will charactise his work:--

   The principal pianoforte part has, notwithstanding the entire
   remodelling of the score, been retained almost unchanged.
   Only in some passages, which the orchestra, in consequence of
   a richer instrumentation, accompanies with greater fulness,
   the pianoforte part had, on that account, to be made more
   effective by an increase of brilliance. By these divergences
   from the original, from the so perfect and beautifully
   effectuating [effectuirenden] pianoforte style of Chopin,
   either the unnecessary doubling of the melody already
   pregnantly represented by the orchestra was avoided, or--in
   keeping with the now fuller harmonic support of the
   accompaniment--some figurations of the solo instrument
   received a more brilliant form.

Of Tausig's labour [FOOTNOTE: "Grosses Concert in E moll. Op. 11."
Bearberet von Carl Tausig. Score, pianoforte, and orchestral parts.
Berlin: Ries and Erler.] I shall only say that his cutting-down and
patching-up of the introductory tutti, to mention only one thing, are
not well enough done to excuse the liberty taken with a great composer's
work. Moreover, your emendations cannot reach the vital fault, which
lies in the conceptions. A musician may have mastered the mechanical
trick of instrumentation, and yet his works may not be at heart
orchestral. Instrumentation ought to be more than something that at will
can be added or withheld; it ought to be the appropriate expression of
something that appertains to the thought. The fact is, Chopin could
not think for the orchestra, his thoughts took always the form of the
pianoforte language; his thinking became paralysed when he made use of
another medium of expression. Still, there have been critics who
thought differently. The Polish composer Sowinski declared without
circumlocution that Chopin "wrote admirably for the orchestra." Other
countrymen of his dwelt at greater length, and with no less enthusiasm,
on what is generally considered a weak point in the master's equipment.
A Paris correspondent of the Neue Zeitschrift fur Musik (1834) remarked
a propos of the F minor Concerto that there was much delicacy in the
instrumentation. But what do the opinions of those critics, if they
deserve the name, amount to when weighed against that of the rest of the
world, nay, even against that of Berlioz alone, who held that "in the
compositions of Chopin all the interest is concentrated in the piano
part, the orchestra of his concertos is nothing but a cold and almost
useless accompaniment"?

All this and much more may be said against Chopin's concertos, yet such
is the charm, loveliness, delicacy, elegance, and brilliancy of
the details, that one again and again forgives and forgets their
shortcomings as wholes. But now let us look at these works a little more

The first-composed and last-published Concerto, the one in F minor,
Op. 21 (dedicated to Madame la Comtesse Delphine Potocka), opens with a
tutti of about seventy bars. When, after this, the pianoforte interrupts
the orchestra impatiently, and then takes up the first subject, it is
as if we were transported into another world and breathed a purer
atmosphere. First, there are some questions and expostulations, then the
composer unfolds a tale full of sweet melancholy in a strain of lovely,
tenderly-intertwined melody. With what inimitable grace he winds those
delicate garlands around the members of his melodic structure! How light
and airy the harmonic base on which it rests! But the contemplation of
his grief disturbs his equanimity more and more, and he begins to fret
and fume. In the second subject he seems to protest the truthfulness
and devotion of his heart, and concludes with a passage half upbraiding,
half beseeching, which is quite captivating, nay more, even bewitching
in its eloquent persuasiveness. Thus far, from the entrance of the
pianoforte, all was irreproachable. How charming if Chopin had allowed
himself to drift on the current of his fancy, and had left rules,
classifications, &c., to others! But no, he had resolved to write a
concerto, and must now put his hand to the rudder, and have done with
idle dreaming, at least for the present--unaware, alas, that the idle
dreamings of some people are worth more than their serious efforts.
Well, what is unpoetically called the working-out section--to call it
free fantasia in this instance would be mockery--reminds me of Goethe's
"Zauberlehrling," who said to himself in the absence of his master, "I
noted his words, works, and procedure, and, with strength of mind, I
also shall do wonders." How the apprentice conjured up the spirits, and
made them do his bidding; how, afterwards, he found he had forgotten the
formula with which to stop and banish them, and what were the consequent
sad results, the reader will, no doubt, remember. The customary
repetition of the first section of the movement calls for no remark.
Liszt cites the second movement (Larghetto, A flat major) of this work
as a specimen of the morceaux d'une surprenante grandeur to be found
in Chopin's concertos and sonatas, and mentions that the composer had
a marked predilection for it, delighting in frequently playing it. And
Schumann exclaims: "What are ten editorial crowns compared to one
such Adagio as that in the second concerto!" The beautiful deep-toned,
love-laden cantilena, which is profusely and exquisitely ornamented
in Chopin's characteristic style, is interrupted by a very impressive
recitative of some length, after which the cantilena is heard again.
But criticism had better be silent, and listen here attentively. And how
shall I describe the last movement (Allegro vivace F minor, 3-4)--its
feminine softness and rounded contours, its graceful, gyrating,
dance-like motions, its sprightliness and frolicsomeness? Unless I quote
every part and particle, I feel I cannot do justice to it. The exquisite
ease and grace, the subtle spirit that breathes through this movement,
defy description, and, more, defy the attempts of most performers to
reproduce the original. He who ventures to interpret Chopin ought to
have a soul strung with chords which the gentlest breath of feeling sets
in vibration, and a body of such a delicate and supple organisation as
to echo with equal readiness the music of the soul. As to the listener,
he is carried away in this movement from one lovely picture to another,
and no time is left him to reflect and make objections with reference to
the whole.

The Concerto in E minor, Op. 11, dedicated to Mr. Fred Kalkbrenner,
shows more of volonte and less of inspiration than the one in F minor.
One can almost read in it the words of the composer, "If I have only
the Allegro and the Adagio completely finished, I shall be in no
anxiety about the Finale." The elongated form of the first movement--the
introductory tutti alone extends to 138 bars--compares disadvantageously
with the greater compactness of the corresponding movement in the F
minor Concerto, and makes still more sensible the monotony resulting
from the key-relation of the constituent parts, the tonic being the same
in both subjects. The scheme is this:--First subject in E minor, second
subject in E major, working-out section in C major, leading through
various keys to the return of the first subject in E minor and of the
second subject in G major, followed by a close in E minor. The tonic
is not relieved till the commencement of the working-out section.
The re-entrance of the second subject brings, at last, something of a
contrast. How little Chopin understood the importance or the handling of
those powerful levers, key-relation and contrast, may also be observed
in the Sonata, Op. 4, where the last movement brings the first subject
in C minor and the second in G minor. Here the composer preserves the
same mode (minor), there the same tonic, the result being nearly the
same in both instances. But, it may be asked, was not this languid
monotony which results from the employment of these means just what
Chopin intended? The only reply that can be made to this otherwise
unanswerable objection is, so much the worse for the artist's art if
he had such intentions. Chopin's description of the Adagio quoted
above--remember the beloved landscape, the beautiful memories, the
moonlit spring night, and the muted violins--hits off its character
admirably. Although Chopin himself designates the first Allegro as
"vigorous"--which in some passages, at least from the composer's
standpoint, we may admit it to be--the fundamental mood of this movement
is one closely allied to that which he says he intended to express in
the Adagio. Look at the first movement, and judge whether there are not
in it more pale moonlight reveries than fresh morning thoughts. Indeed,
the latter, if not wholly absent, are confined to the introductory
bars of the first subject and some passage-work. Still, the movement
is certainly not without beauty, although the themes appear somewhat
bloodless, and the passages are less brilliant and piquant than those in
the F minor Concerto. Exquisite softness and tenderness distinguish
the melodious parts, and Chopin's peculiar coaxing tone is heard in the
semiquaver passage marked tranquillo of the first subject. The least
palatable portion of the movement is the working-out section. The
pianoforte part therein reminds one too much of a study, without having
the beauty of Chopin's compositions thus entitled; and the orchestra
amuses itself meanwhile with reminiscences of the principal motives.
Chopin's procedure in this and similar cases is pretty much the same (F
minor Concerto, Krakowiak, &c.), and recalls to my mind--may the manes
of the composer forgive me--a malicious remark of Rellstab's. Speaking
of the introduction to the Variations, Op. 2, he says: "The composer
pretends to be going to work out the theme." It is curious, and sad
at the same time, to behold with what distinction Chopin treats the
bassoon, and how he is repaid with mocking ingratitude. But enough of
the orchestral rabble. The Adagio is very fine in its way, but such is
its cloying sweetness that one longs for something bracing and active.
This desire the composer satisfies only partially in the last movement
(Rondo vivace, 2-4, E major). Nevertheless, he succeeds in putting us
in good humour by his gaiety, pretty ways, and tricksy surprises (for
instance, the modulations from E major to E flat major, and back again
to E major). We seem, however, rather to look on the play of fantoccini
than the doings of men; in short, we feel here what we have felt more or
less strongly throughout the whole work--there is less intensity of
life and consequently less of human interest in this than in the F minor

Almost all my remarks on the concertos run counter to those made by W.
von Lenz. The F minor Concerto he holds to be an uninteresting
work, immature and fragmentary in plan, and, excepting some delicate
ornamentation, without originality. Nay, he goes even so far as to say
that the passage-work is of the usual kind met with in the compositions
of Hummel and his successors, and that the cantilena in the larghetto
is in the jejune style of Hummel; the last movement also receives but
scanty and qualified praise. On the other hand, he raves about the E
minor Concerto, confining himself, however, to the first movement. The
second movement he calls a "tiresome nocturne," the Rondo "a Hummel."
A tincture of classical soberness and self-possession in the first
movement explains Lenz's admiration of this composition, but I fail to
understand the rest of his predilections and critical utterances.

In considering these concertos one cannot help exclaiming--What a pity
that Chopin should have set so many beautiful thoughts and fancies in
such a frame and thereby marred them! They contain passages which are
not surpassed in any of his most perfect compositions, yet among them
these concertos cannot be reckoned. It is difficult to determine their
rank in concerto literature. The loveliness, brilliancy, and piquancy
of the details bribe us to overlook, and by dazzling us even prevent
us from seeing, the formal shortcomings of the whole. But be their
shortcomings ever so great and many, who would dispense with these
works? Therefore, let us be thankful, and enjoy them without much

Schumann in writing of the concertos said that Chopin introduced
Beethoven spirit [Beethovenischen Geist] into the concert-room, dressing
the master's thoughts, as Hummel had done Mozart's, in brilliant,
flowing drapery; and also, that Chopin had instruction from the best,
from Beethoven, Schubert, and Field--that the first might be supposed to
have educated his mind to boldness, the second his heart to tenderness,
the third his fingers to dexterity. Although as a rule a wonderfully
acute observer, Schumann was not on this occasion very happy in the few
critical utterances which he vouchsafed in the course of the general
remarks of which his notice mainly consists. Without congeniality there
cannot be much influence, at least not in the case of so exclusive and
fastidious a nature as Chopin's. Now, what congeniality could there be
between the rugged German and the delicate Pole? All accounts agree
in that Chopin was far from being a thorough-going worshipper of
Beethoven--he objected to much in his matter and manner, and, moreover,
could not by any means boast an exhaustive acquaintance with his works.
That Chopin assimilated something of Beethoven is of course more likely
than not; but, if a fact, it is a latent one. As to Schubert, I think
Chopin knew too little of his music to be appreciably influenced by
him. At any rate, I fail to perceive how and where the influence reveals
itself. Of Field, on the other hand, traces are discoverable, and even
more distinct ones of Hummel. The idyllic serenity of the former and the
Mozartian sweetness of the latter were truly congenial to him; but no
less, if not more, so was Spohr's elegiac morbidezza. Chopin's affection
for Spohr is proved by several remarks in his letters: thus on one
occasion (October 3, 1829) he calls the master's Octet a wonderful work;
and on another occasion (September 18, 1830) he says that the Quintet
for pianoforte, flute, clarinet, bassoon, and horn (Op. 52) is a
wonderfully beautiful work, but not suitable for the pianoforte. How
the gliding cantilena in sixths and thirds of the minuet and
the serpentining chromatic passages in the last movement of the
last-mentioned work must have flattered his inmost soul! There can be no
doubt that Spohr was a composer who made a considerable impression
upon Chopin. In his music there is nothing to hurt the most fastidious
sensibility, and much to feed on for one who, like Jaques in "As you
like it", could "suck melancholy out of a song, as a weasel eggs."

Many other composers, notably the supremely-loved and
enthusiastically-admired Mozart and Bach, must have had a share in
Chopin's development; but it cannot be said that they left a striking
mark on his music, with regard to which, however, it has to be
remembered that the degree of external resemblance does not always
accurately indicate the degree of internal indebtedness. Bach's
influence on Mendelssohn, Schumann, Chopin, and others of their
contemporaries, and its various effects on their styles, is one of the
curiosities of nineteenth century musical history; a curiosity, however,
which is fully disclosed only by subtle analysis. Field and especially
Hummel are those musicians who--more, however, as pianists than as
composers (i.e., more by their pianoforte language than by their musical
thoughts)--set the most distinct impress on Chopin's early virtuosic
style, of which we see almost the last in the concertos, where it
appears in a chastened and spiritualised form very different from the
materialism of the Fantasia (Op. 13) and the Krakowiak (Op. 14). Indeed,
we may say of this style that the germ, and much more than the germ, of
almost every one of its peculiarities is to be found in the pianoforte
works of Hummel and Field; and this statement the concertos of these
masters, more especially those of the former, and their shorter pieces,
more especially the nocturnes of the latter, bear out in its entirety.
The wide-spread broken chords, great skips, wreaths of rhythmically
unmeasured ornamental notes, simultaneous combinations of unequal
numbers of notes (five or seven against four, for instance), &c.,
are all to be found in the compositions of the two above-named
pianist-composers. Chopin's style, then, was not original? Most
decidedly it was. But it is not so much new elements as the development
and the different commixture, in degree and kind, of known elements
which make an individual style--the absolutely new being, generally
speaking, insignificant compared with the acquired and evolved. The
opinion that individuality is a spontaneous generation is an error of
the same kind as that imagination has nothing to do with memory. Ex
nihilo nihil fit. Individuality should rather be regarded as a feminine
organisation which conceives and brings forth; or, better still, as
a growing thing which feeds on what is germane to it, a thing with
self-acting suctorial organs that operate whenever they come in contact
with suitable food. A nucleus is of course necessary for the development
of an individuality, and this nucleus is the physical and intellectual
constitution of the individual. Let us note in passing that the
development of the individuality of an artistic style presupposes the
development of the individuality of the man's character. But not only
natural dispositions, also acquired dexterities affect the development
of the individuality of an artistic style. Beethoven is orchestral
even in his pianoforte works. Weber rarely ceases to be operatic. Spohr
cannot help betraying the violinist, nor Schubert the song-composer. The
more Schumann got under his command the orchestral forces, the more he
impressed on them the style which he had formed previously by many years
of playing and writing for the pianoforte. Bach would have been another
Bach if he had not been an organist. Clementi was and remained all his
life a pianist. Like Clementi, so was also Chopin under the dominion
of his instrument. How the character of the man expressed itself in
the style of the artist will become evident when we examine Chopin's
masterpieces. Then will also be discussed the influence on his style of
the Polish national music.



Chopin's sensations on plunging, after his long stay in the stagnant
pool of Vienna, into the boiling sea of Paris might have been easily
imagined, even if he had not left us a record of them. What newcomer
from a place less populous and inhabited by a less vivacious race could
help wondering at and being entertained by the vastness, variety, and
bustle that surrounded him there?

   Paris offers anything you may wish [writes Chopin]. You can
   amuse yourself, mope, laugh, weep, in short, do whatever you
   like; no one notices it, because thousands do the same.
   Everybody goes his own way....The Parisians are a peculiar
   people. When evening sets in one hears nothing but the crying
   of titles of little new books, which consist of from three to
   four sheets of nonsense. The boys know so well how to
   recommend their wares that in the end--willing or not--one
   buys one for a sou. They bear titles such as these:--"L'art
   de faire, des amours, et de les conserver ensuite"; "Les
   amours des pretres"; "L'Archeveque de Paris avec Madame la
   duchesse de Berry"; and a thousand similar absurdities which,
   however, are often very wittily written. One cannot but be
   astonished at the means people here make use of to earn a few

All this and much more may be seen in Paris every day, but in 1831 Paris
life was not an everyday life. It was then and there, if at any time and
anywhere, that the "roaring loom of Time" might be heard: a new garment
was being woven for an age that longed to throw off the wornout,
tattered, and ill-fitting one inherited from its predecessors; and
discontent and hopefulness were the impulses that set the shuttle so
busily flying hither and thither. This movement, a reaction against
the conventional formalism and barren, superficial scepticism of the
preceding age, had ever since the beginning of the century been growing
in strength and breadth. It pervaded all the departments of human
knowledge and activity--politics, philosophy, religion, literature, and
the arts. The doctrinaire school in politics and the eclectic school
in philosophy were as characteristic products of the movement as
the romantic school in poetry and art. We recognise the movement in
Lamennais' attack on religious indifference, and in the gospel of a
"New Christianity" revealed by Saint Simon and preached and developed
by Bazard and Enfantin, as well as in the teaching of Cousin, Villemain,
and Guizot, and in the works of V. Hugo, Delacroix, and others. Indeed,
unless we keep in view as far as possible all the branches into which
the broad stream divides itself, we shall not be able to understand the
movement aright either as a whole or in its parts. V. Hugo defines
the militant--i.e., negative side of romanticism as liberalism in
literature. The positive side of the liberalism of the time might, on
the other hand, not inaptly be described as romanticism in speculation
and practice. This, however, is matter rather for a history of
civilisation than for a biography of an artist. Therefore, without
further enlarging on it, I shall let Chopin depict the political aspect
of Paris in 1831 as he saw it, and then attempt myself a slight outline
sketch of the literary and artistic aspect of the French capital, which
signifies France.

Louis Philippe had been more than a year on the throne, but the
agitation of the country was as yet far from being allayed:--

   There is now in Paris great want and little money in
   circulation. One meets many shabby individuals with wild
   physiognomies, and sometimes one hears an excited, menacing
   discussion on Louis Philippe, who, as well as his ministers,
   hangs only by a single hair. The populace is disgusted with
   the Government, and would like to overthrow it, in order to
   make an end of the misery; but the Government is too well on
   its guard, and the least concourse of people is at once
   dispersed by the mounted police.

Riots and attentats were still the order of the day, and no opportunity
for a demonstration was let slip by the parties hostile to the
Government. The return of General Ramorino from Poland, where he had
taken part in the insurrection, offered such an opportunity. This
adventurer, a natural son of Marshal Lannes, who began his military
career in the army of Napoleon, and, after fighting wherever fighting
was going on, ended it on the Piazza d'Armi at Turin, being condemned by
a Piedmontese court-martial to be shot for disobedience to orders, was
hardly a worthy recipient of the honours bestowed upon him during his
journey through Germany and France. But the personal merit of such
popular heroes of a day is a consideration of little moment; they are
mere counters, counters representative of ideas and transient whims.

   The enthusiasm of the populace for our general is of course
   known to you [writes Chopin to his friend Woyciechowski].
   Paris would not be behind in this respect. [Footnote: The
   Poles and everything Polish were at that time the rage in
   Paris; thus, for instance, at one of the theatres where
   dramas were generally played, they represented now the whole
   history of the last Polish insurrection, and the house was
   every night crammed with people who wished to see the combats
   and national costumes.] The Ecole de Medecine and the jeune
   France, who wear their beards and cravats according to a
   certain pattern, intend to honour him with a great
   demonstration. Every political party--I speak of course only
   of the ultras--has its peculiar badge: the Carlists have
   green waistcoats, the Republicans and Napoleonists (and these
   form the jeune France) [red], [Footnote: Chopin has omitted
   this word, which seems to be necessary to complete the
   sentence; at least, it is neither in the Polish nor German
   edition of Karasowski's book.] the Saint-Simonians who
   profess a new religion, wear blue, and so forth. Nearly a
   thousand of these young people marched with a tricolour
   through the town in order to give Ramorino an ovation.
   Although he was at home, and notwithstanding the shouting of
   "Vive les Polonais!" he did not show himself, not wishing to
   expose himself to any unpleasantness on the part of the
   Government. His adjutant came out and said that the general
   was sorry he could not receive them and begged them to return
   some other day. But the next day he took other lodgings. When
   some days afterwards an immense mass of people--not only young
   men, but also rabble that had congregated near the
   Pantheon--proceeded to the other side of the Seine to
   Ramorino's house, the crowd increased like an avalanche till
   it was dispersed by several charges of the mounted police who
   had stationed themselves at the Pont Neuf. Although many were
   wounded, new masses of people gathered on the Boulevards
   under my windows in order to join those who were expected
   from the other side of the Seine. The police was now
   helpless, the crowd increased more and more, till at last a
   body of infantry and a squadron of hussars advanced; the
   commandant ordered the municipal guard and the troops to
   clear the footpaths and street of the curious and riotous mob
   and to arrest the ringleaders. (This is the free nation!) The
   panic spread with the swiftness of lightning: the shops were
   closed, the populace flocked together at all the corners of
   the streets, and the orderlies who galloped through the
   streets were hissed. All windows were crowded by spectators,
   as on festive occasions with us at home, and the excitement
   lasted from eleven o'clock in the morning till eleven o'clock
   at night. I thought that the affair would have a bad end; but
   towards midnight they sang "Allons enfants de la patrie!" and
   went home. I am unable to describe to you the impression
   which the horrid voices of this riotous, discontented mob
   made upon me! Everyone was afraid that the riot would be
   continued next morning, but that was not the case. Only
   Grenoble has followed the example of Lyons; however, one
   cannot tell what may yet come to pass in the world!

The length and nature of Chopin's account show what a lively interest he
took in the occurrences of which he was in part an eye and ear-witness,
for he lived on the fourth story of a house (No. 27) on the Boulevard
Poissonniere, opposite the Cite Bergere, where General Ramorino lodged.
But some of his remarks show also that the interest he felt was by no
means a pleasurable one, and probably from this day dates his fear
and horror of the mob. And now we will turn from politics, a theme so
distasteful to Chopin that he did not like to hear it discussed and
could not easily be induced to take part in its discussion, to a theme
more congenial, I doubt not, to all of us.

Literary romanticism, of which Chateaubriand and Madame de Stael were
the harbingers, owed its existence to a longing for a greater fulness of
thought, a greater intenseness of feeling, a greater appropriateness and
adequateness of expression, and, above all, a greater truth to life and
nature. It was felt that the degenerated classicists were "barren of
imagination and invention," offered in their insipid artificialities
nothing but "rhetoric, bombast, fleurs de college, and Latin-verse
poetry," clothed "borrowed ideas in trumpery imagery," and presented
themselves with a "conventional elegance and noblesse than which
there was nothing more common." On the other hand, the works of the
master-minds of England, Germany, Spain, and Italy, which were more and
more translated and read, opened new, undreamt-of vistas. The Bible,
Homer, and Shakespeare began now to be considered of all books the most
worthy to be studied. And thus it came to pass that in a short time a
most complete revolution was accomplished in literature, from abject
slavery to unlimited freedom.

   There are neither rules nor models [says V. Hugo, the leader
   of the school, in the preface to his Cromwell (1827)], or
   rather there are no other rules than the general laws of
   nature which encompass the whole art, and the special laws
   which for every composition result from the conditions of
   existence peculiar to each subject. The former are eternal,
   internal, and remain; the latter variable, external, and
   serve only once.

Hence theories, poetics, and systems were to be broken up, and the old
plastering which covered the fagade of art was to be pulled down.
From rules and theories the romanticists appealed to nature and truth,
without forgetting, however, that nature and art are two different
things, and that the truth of art can never be absolute reality. The
drama, for instance, must be "a concentrating mirror which, so far from
enfeebling, collects and condenses the colouring rays and transforms
a glimmer into a light, a light into a flame." To pass from form
to matter, the attention given by the romanticists to history
is particularly to be noted. Pierre Dubois, the director of the
philosophical and literary journal "Le Globe," the organ of romanticism
(1824-1832), contrasts the poverty of invention in the works of the
classicists with the inexhaustible wealth of reality, "the scenes of
disorder, of passion, of fanaticism, of hypocrisy, and of intrigue,"
recorded in history. What the dramatist has to do is to perform the
miracle "of reanimating the personages who appear dead on the pages of
a chronicle, of discovering by analysis all the shades of the passions
which caused these hearts to beat, of recreating their language and
costume." It is a significant fact that Sainte-Beuve opened the campaign
of romanticism in "Le Globe" with a "Tableau de la poesie francaise
au seizieme siecle," the century of the "Pleiade," and of Rabelais and
Montaigne. It is a still more significant fact that the members of
the "Cenacle," the circle of kindred minds that gathered around Victor
Hugo--Alfred de Vigny, Emile Deschamps, Sainte-Beuve, David
d'Angers, and others--"studied and felt the real Middle Ages in their
architecture, in their chronicles, and in their picturesque vivacity."
Nor should we overlook in connection with romanticism Cousin's aesthetic
teaching, according to which, God being the source of all beauty as well
as of all truth, religion, and morality, "the highest aim of art is to
awaken in its own way the feeling of the infinite." Like all reformers
the romanticists were stronger in destruction than in construction.
Their fundamental doctrines will hardly be questioned by anyone in our
day, but the works of art which they reared on them only too often
give just cause for objection and even rejection. However, it is not
surprising that, with the physical and spiritual world, with time and
eternity at their arbitrary disposal, they made themselves sometimes
guilty of misrule. To "extract the invariable laws from the general
order of things, and the special from the subject under treatment," is
no easy matter. V. Hugo tells us that it is only for a man of genius to
undertake such a task, but he himself is an example that even a man so
gifted is fallible. In a letter written in the French capital on January
14, 1832, Mendelssohn says of the "so-called romantic school" that it
has infected all the Parisians, and that on the stage they think of
nothing but the plague, the gallows, the devil, childbeds, and the like.
Nor were the romances less extravagant than the dramas. The lyrical
poetry, too, had its defects and blemishes. But if it had laid itself
open to the blame of being "very unequal and very mixed," it also called
for the praise of being "rich, richer than any lyrical poetry France
had known up to that time." And if the romanticists, as one of them,
Sainte-Beuve, remarked, "abandoned themselves without control and
without restraint to all the instincts of their nature, and also to all
the pretensions of their pride, or even to the silly tricks of
their vanity," they had, nevertheless, the supreme merit of having
resuscitated what was extinct, and even of having created what never
existed in their language. Although a discussion of romanticism without
a characterisation of its specific and individual differences is
incomplete, I must bring this part of my remarks to a close with a few
names and dates illustrative of the literary aspect of Paris in 1831.
I may, however, inform the reader that the subject of romanticism will
give rise to further discussion in subsequent chapters.

The most notable literary events of the year 1831 were the publication
of Victor Hugo's "Notre Dame de Paris," "Feuilles d'automne," and
"Marion Delorme"; Dumas' "Charles VII"; Balzac's "La peau de chagrin";
Eugene Sue's "Ata Gull"; and George Sand's first novel, "Rose et
Blanche," written conjointly with Sandeau. Alfred de Musset and
Theophile Gautier made their literary debuts in 1830, the one with
"Contes d'Espagne et d'ltalie," the other with "Poesies." In the course
of the third decade of the century Lamartine had given to the world
"Meditations poetiques," "Nouvelles Meditations poetiques," and
"Harmonies poetiques et religieuses"; Victor Hugo, "Odes et Ballades,"
"Les Orientales," three novels, and the dramas "Cromwell" and "Hernani";
Dumas, "Henri III et sa Cour," and "Stockholm, Fontainebleau et Rome";
Alfred de Vigny, "Poemes antiques et modernes" and "Cinq-Mars"; Balzac,
"Scenes de la vie privee" and "Physiologie du Mariage." Besides the
authors just named there were at this time in full activity in one
or the other department of literature, Nodier, Beranger, Merimee,
Delavigne, Scribe, Sainte-Beuve, Villemain, Cousin, Michelet, Guizot,
Thiers, and many other men and women of distinction.

A glance at the Salon of 1831 will suffice to give us an idea of the
then state of the pictorial art in France. The pictures which attracted
the visitors most were: Delacroix's "Goddess of Liberty on the
barricades"; Delaroche's "Richelieu conveying Cinq-Mars and De Thou to
Lyons," "Mazarin on his death-bed," "The sons of Edward in the Tower,"
and "Cromwell beside the coffin of diaries I."; Ary Scheffer's "Faust
and Margaret," "Leonore," "Talleyrand," "Henri IV.," and "Louis
Philippe"; Robert's "Pifferari," "Burial," and "Mowers"; Horace Vernet's
"Judith," "Capture of the Princes Conde," "Conti, and Longueville,"
"Camille Desmoulins," and "Pius VIII" To enumerate only a few more of
the most important exhibitors I shall yet mention Decamps, Lessore,
Schnetz, Judin, and Isabey. The dry list will no doubt conjure up in
the minds of many of my readers vivid reproductions of the masterpieces
mentioned or suggested by the names of the artists.

Romanticism had not invaded music to the same extent as the literary and
pictorial arts. Berlioz is the only French composer who can be called in
the fullest sense of the word a romanticist, and whose genius entitles
him to a position in his art similar to those occupied by V. Hugo and
Delacroix in literature and painting. But in 1831 his works were as yet
few in number and little known. Having in the preceding year obtained
the prix de Rome, he was absent from Paris till the latter part of 1832,
when he began to draw upon himself the attention, if not the admiration,
of the public by the concerts in which he produced his startlingly
original works. Among the foreign musicians residing in the French
capital there were many who had adopted the principles of romanticism,
but none of them was so thoroughly imbued with its spirit as
Liszt--witness his subsequent publications. But although there were
few French composers who, strictly speaking, could be designated
romanticists, it would be difficult to find among the younger men one
who had not more or less been affected by the intellectual atmosphere.

An opera, "La Marquise de Brinvilliers," produced in 1831 at the
Opera-Comique, introduces to us no less than nine dramatic composers,
the libretto of Scribe and Castil-Blaze being set to music by Cherubini,
Auber, Batton, Berton, Boieldieu, Blangini, Carafa, Herold, and Paer.
[Footnote: Chopin makes a mistake, leaving out of account Boieldieu,
when he says in speaking of "La Marquise de Brinvilliers" that the opera
was composed by eight composers.] Cherubini, who towers above all of
them, was indeed the high-priest of the art, the grand-master of the
craft. Although the Nestor of composers, none equalled him in manly
vigour and perennial youth. When seventy-six years of age (in 1836) he
composed his fine Requiem in D minor for three-part male chorus, and
in the following year a string quartet and quintet. Of his younger
colleagues so favourable an account cannot be given. The youngest of
them, Batton, a grand prix, who wrote unsuccessful operas, then took to
the manufacturing of artificial flowers, and died as inspector at
the Conservatoire, need not detain us. Berton, Paer, Blangini, Carafa
(respectively born in 1767, 1771, 1781, and 1785), once composers who
enjoyed the public's favour, had lost or were losing their popularity at
the time we are speaking of; Rossini, Auber, and others having now
come into fashion. They present a saddening spectacle, these faded
reputations, these dethroned monarchs! What do we know of Blangini,
the "Musical Anacreon," and his twenty operas, one hundred and seventy
two-part "Notturni," thirty-four "Romances," &c.? Where are Paer's
oratorios, operas, and cantatas performed now? Attempts were made in
later years to revive some of Carafa's earlier works, but the result
was on each occasion a failure. And poor Berton? He could not bear the
public's neglect patiently, and vented his rage in two pamphlets, one of
them entitled "De la musique mecanique et de la musique philosophique,"
which neither converted nor harmed anyone. Boieldieu, too, had to
deplore the failure of his last opera, "Les deux nuits" (1829), but then
his "La Dame blanche," which had appeared in 1825, and his earlier "Jean
de Paris" were still as fresh as ever. Herold had only in this year
(1831) scored his greatest success with "Zampa." As to Auber, he was at
the zenith of his fame. Among the many operas he had already composed,
there were three of his best--"Le Macon," "La Muette," and "Fra
Diavolo"--and this inimitable master of the genre sautillant had still a
long series of charming works in petto. To exhaust the list of prominent
men in the dramatic department we have to add only a few names. Of the
younger masters I shall mention Halevy, whose most successful work,
"La Juive," did not come out till 1835, and Adam, whose best opera,
"Le postilion de Longjumeau," saw the foot-lights in 1836. Of the older
masters we must not overlook Lesueur, the composer of "Les Bardes,"
an opera which came out in 1812, and was admired by Napoleon. Lesueur,
distinguished as a composer of dramatic and sacred music, and a writer
on musical matters, had, however, given up all professional work with
the exception of teaching composition at the Conservatoire. In fact,
almost all the above-named old gentlemen, although out of fashion as
composers, occupied important positions in the musical commonwealth as
professors at that institution. Speaking of professors I must not
forget to mention old Reicha (born in 1770), the well-known theorist,
voluminous composer of instrumental music, and esteemed teacher of
counterpoint and composition.

But the young generation did not always look up to these venerable men
with the reverence due to their age and merit. Chopin, for instance,

   Reicha I know only by sight. You can imagine how curious I am
   to make his personal acquaintance. I have already seen some
   of his pupils, but from them I have not obtained a favourable
   opinion of their teacher. He does not love music, never
   frequents the concerts of the Conservatoire, will not speak
   with anyone about music, and, when he gives lessons, looks
   only at his watch. Cherubini behaves in a similar manner; he
   is always speaking of cholera and the revolution. These
   gentlemen are mummies; one must content one's self with
   respectfully lookingat them from afar, and studying their
   works for instruction.

In these remarks of Chopin the concerts of the Conservatoire are
made mention of; they were founded in 1828 by Habeneck and others
and intended for the cultivation of the symphonic works of the great
masters, more especially of Beethoven. Berlioz tells us in his Memoires,
with his usual vivacity and causticity, what impressions the works of
Beethoven made upon the old gentlemen above-named. Lesueur considered
instrumental music an inferior genre, and although the C minor Symphony
quite overwhelmed him, he gave it as his opinion that "one ought not to
write such music." Cherubini was profoundly irritated at the success of
a master who undermined his dearest theories, but he dared not discharge
the bile that was gathering within him. That, however, he had the
courage of his opinion may be gathered from what, according to
Mendelssohn, he said of Beethoven's later works: "Ca me fait eternuer."
Berton looked down with pity on the whole modern German school.
Boieldieu, who hardly knew what to think of the matter, manifested "a
childish surprise at the simplest harmonic combinations which departed
somewhat from the three chords which he had been using all his life."
Paer, a cunning Italian, was fond of letting people know that he had
known Beethoven, and of telling stories more or less unfavourable to the
great man, and flattering to the narrator. The critical young men of the
new generation were, however, not altogether fair in their judgments;
Cherubini, at least, and Boieldieu too, deserved better treatment at
their hands.

In 1830 Auber and Rossini (who, after his last opera "Guillaume Tell,"
was resting on his laurels) were the idols of the Parisians, and reigned
supreme on the operatic stage. But in 1831 Meyerbeer established himself
as a third power beside them, for it was in that year that "Robert le
Diable" was produced at the Academic Royale de Musique. Let us hear
what Chopin says of this event. Speaking of the difficulties with which
composers of operas have often to contend he remarks:--

   Even Meyerbeer, who for ten years had been favourably known
   in the musical world, waited, worked, and paid in Paris for
   three years in vain before he succeeded in bringing about the
   performance of his opera "Robert le Diable," which now causes
   such a furore. Auber had got the start of Meyerbeer with his
   works, which are very pleasing to the taste of the people,
   and he did not readily make room for the foreigner at the
   Grand Opera.

And again:--

   If there was ever a brilliant mise en scene at the Opera-
   Italien, I cannot believe that it equalled that of Robert le
   Diable, the new five-act opera of Meyerbeer, who has also
   written "Il Crociato." "Robert" is a masterpiece of the new
   school, where the devils sing through speaking-trumpets and
   the dead rise from their graves, but not as in "Szarlatan"
   [an opera of Kurpinski's], only from fifty to sixty persons
   all at once! The stage represents the interior of a convent
   ruin illuminated by the clear light of the full moon whose
   rays fall on the graves of the nuns. In the last act appear
   in brilliant candle-light monks with ancense, and from behind
   the scene are heard the solemn tones of the organ. Meyerbeer
   has made himself immortal by this work; but he had to wait
   more than three years before he could get it performed.
   People say that he has spent more than 20,000 francs for the
   organ and other things made use of in the opera.

   [Footnote: This was the current belief at the time, which
   Meyerbeer, however, declares to be false in a letter
   addressed to Veron, the director of the Opera:--"L'orgue a
   ete paye par vous, fourni par vous, comme toutes les choses
   que reclamait la mise en scene de Robert, et je dois declarer
   que loin de vous tenir au strict neccessaire, vous avez
   depasse de bcaucoup les obligations ordinaires d'un directeur
   envers les auteurs et le public."]

The creative musicians having received sufficient attention, let us now
turn for a moment to the executive ones. Of the pianists we shall hear
enough in the next chapter, and therefore will pass them by for the
present. Chopin thought that there were in no town more pianists than
in Paris, nor anywhere more asses and virtuosos. Of the many excellent
virtuosos on stringed and wind-instruments only a few of the most
distinguished shall be mentioned. Baillot, the veteran violinist;
Franchomme, the young violoncellist; Brod, the oboe-player; and Tulou,
the flutist. Beriot and Lafont, although not constant residents like
these, may yet be numbered among the Parisian artists. The French
capital could boast of at least three first-rate orchestras--that of
the Conservatoire, that of the Academic Royale, and that of the
Opera-Italien. Chopin, who probably had on December 14 not yet heard the
first of these, takes no notice of it, but calls the orchestra of the
theatre Feydeau (Opera-Comique) excellent. Cherubini seems to have
thought differently, for on being asked why he did not allow his operas
to be performed at that institution, he answered:--"Je ne fais pas
donner des operas sans choeur, sans orchestre, sans chanteurs, et
sans decorations." The Opera-Comique had indeed been suffering from
bankruptcy; still, whatever its shortcomings were, it was not altogether
without good singers, in proof of which assertion may be named the tenor
Chollet, Madame Casimir, and Mdlle. Prevost. But it was at the Italian
Opera that a constellation of vocal talent was to be found such as
has perhaps at no time been equalled: Malibran-Garcia, Pasta,
Schroder-Devrient, Rubini, Lablache, and Santini. Nor had the Academic,
with Nourrit, Levasseur, Derivis, Madame Damoreau-Cinti, and Madame
Dorus, to shrink from a comparison. Imagine the treat it must have been
to be present at the concert which took place at the Italian Opera on
December 25, 1831, and the performers at which comprised artists such
as Malibran, Rubini, Lablache, Santini, Madame Raimbaux, Madame
Schroder-Devrient, Madame Casadory, Herz, and De Beriot!

Chopin was so full of admiration for what he had heard at the three
operatic establishments that he wrote to his master Elsner:--

   It is only here that one can learn what singing is. I believe
   that not Pasta, but Malibran-Garcia is now the greatest
   singer in Europe. Prince Valentin Radziwill is quite
   enraptured by her, and we often wish you were here, for you
   would be charmed with her singing.

The following extracts from a letter to his friend Woyciechowski contain
some more of Chopin's criticism:--

   As regards the opera, I must tell you that I never heard so
   fine a performance as I did last week, when the "Barber of
   Seville" was given at the Italian Opera, with Lablache,
   Rubini, and Malibran-Garcia in the principal parts. Of
   "Othello" there is likewise an excellent rendering in
   prospect, further also of "L'Italiana in Algeri." Paris has
   in this respect never offered so much as now. You can have no
   idea of Lablache. People say that Pasta's voice has somewhat
   failed, but I never heard in all my life such heavenly
   singing as hers. Malibran embraces with her wonderful voice a
   compass of three octaves; her singing is quite unique in its
   way, enchanting! Rubini, an excellent tenor, makes endless
   roulades, often too many colorature, vibrates and trills
   continually, for which he is rewarded with the greatest
   applause. His mezza voce is incomparable. A Schroder-Devrient
   is now making her appearance, but she does not produce such a
   furore here as in Germany. Signora Malibran personated
   Othello, Schroder-Devrient Desdemona. Malibran is little, the
   German lady taller. One thought sometimes that Desdemona was
   going to strangle Othello. It was a very expensive
   performance; I paid twenty-four francs for my seat, and did
   so because I wished to see Malibran play the part of the
   Moor, which she did not do particularly well. The orchestra
   was excellent, but the mise en scene in the Italian Opera is
   nothing compared with that of the French Academie
   Royale...Madame Damoreau-Cinti sings also very beautifully; I
   prefer her singing to that of Malibran. The latter astonishes
   one, but Cinti charms. She sings the chromatic scales and
   colorature almost more perfectly than the famous flute-player
   Tulou plays them. It is hardly possible to find a more
   finished execution. In Nourrit, the first tenor of the Grand
   Opera, [Footnote: It may perhaps not be superfluous to point
   out that Academie Royale (Imperial, or Nationale, as the case
   may be) de Musique, or simply Academie de Musique, and Grand
   Opera, or simply Opera, are different names for one and the
   same thing--namely, the principal opera-house in France, the
   institution whose specialties are grand opera and ballet.]
   one admires the warmth of feeling which speaks out of his
   singing. Chollet, the first tenor of the Opera-Comique, the
   best performer of Fra Diavolo, and excellent in the operas
   "Zampa" and "Fiancee," has a manner of his own in conceiving
   the parts. He captivates all with his beautiful voice, and is
   the favourite of the public.




Chopin brought only a few letters of introduction with him to Paris:
one from Dr. Malfatti to Paer, and some from others to music-publishers.
Through Paer he was made acquainted with Cherubini, Rossini, Baillot,
and Kalkbrenner. Although Chopin in one of his early Paris letters calls
Cherubini a mummy, he seems to have subsequently been more favourably
impressed by him. At any rate, Ferdinand Hiller--who may have
accompanied the new-comer, if he did not, as he thinks he did, introduce
him, which is not reconcilable with his friend's statement that Paer
made him acquainted with Cherubini--told me that Chopin conceived a
liking for the burbero maestro, of whom Mendelssohn remarked that he
composed everything with his head without the help of his heart.

   The house of Cherubini [writes Veron in his "Memoires d'un
   Bourgeois de Paris"] was open to artists, amateurs, and
   people of good society; and every Monday a numerous assembly
   thronged his salons. All foreign artists wished to be
   presented to Cherubini. During these last years one met often
   at his house Hummel, Liszt, Chopin, Moscheles, Madame
   Grassini, and Mademoiselle Falcon, then young and brilliant
   in talent and beauty; Auber and Halevy, the favourite pupils
   of the master; and Meyerbeer and Rossini.

As evidence of the younger master's respect for the older one may
be adduced a copy made by Chopin of one of Cherubini's fugues. This
manuscript, which I saw in the possession of M. Franchomme, is a miracle
of penmanship, and surpasses in neatness and minuteness everything I
have seen of Chopin's writing, which is always microscopic.

From Dr. Hiller I learnt also that Chopin went frequently to Baillot's
house. It is very probable that he was present at the soirees which
Mendelssohn describes with his usual charming ease in his Paris letters.
Baillot, though a man of sixty, still knew how to win the admiration of
the best musicians by his fine, expressive violin-playing. Chopin writes
in a letter to Elsner that Baillot was very amiable towards him, and
had promised to take part with him in a quintet of Beethoven's at
his concert; and in another letter Chopin calls Baillot "the rival of

As far as I can learn there was not much intercourse between Chopin and
Rossini. Of Kalkbrenner I shall have presently to speak at some
length; first, however, I shall say a few words about some of the most
interesting young artists whose acquaintance Chopin made.

One of these young artists was the famous violoncellist Franchomme, who
told me that it was Hiller who first spoke to him of the young Pole and
his unique compositions and playing. Soon after this conversation, and
not long after the new-comer's arrival in Paris, Chopin, Liszt, Hiller,
and Franchomme dined together. When the party broke up, Chopin asked
Franchomme what he was going to do. Franchomme replied he had no
particular engagement. "Then," said Chopin, "come with me and spend an
hour or two at my lodgings." "Well," was the answer of Franchomme, "but
if I do you will have to play to me." Chopin had no objection, and the
two walked off together. Franchomme thought that Chopin was at that time
staying at an hotel in the Rue Bergere. Be this as it may, the young
Pole played as he had promised, and the young Frenchman understood him
at once. This first meeting was the beginning of a life-long friendship,
a friendship such as is rarely to be met with among the fashionable
musicians of populous cities.

Mendelssohn, who came to Paris early in December, 1831, and stayed there
till about the middle of April, 1832, associated a good deal with this
set of striving artists. The diminutive "Chopinetto," which he makes
use of in his letters to Hiller, indicates not only Chopin's delicate
constitution of body and mind and social amiability, but also
Mendelssohn's kindly feeling for him. [Footnote: Chopin is not mentioned
in any of Mendelssohn's Paris letters. But the following words may refer
to him; for although Mendelssohn did not play at Chopin's concert, there
may have been some talk of his doing so. January 14, 1832: "Next week
a Pole gives a concert; in it I have to play a piece for six performers
with Kalkbrenner, Hiller and Co." Osborne related in his "Reminiscences
of Frederick Chopin," a paper read before a meeting of the Musical
Association (April 5, 1880), that he, Chopin, Hiller, and Mendelssohn,
during the latter's stay in Paris, frequently dined together at a
restaurant. They ordered and paid the dinner in turn. One evening at
dessert they had a very animated conversation about authors and their
manuscripts. When they were ready to leave Osborne called the waiter,
but instead of asking for la note a payer, he said "Garcon, apportez-moi
votre manuscrit." This sally of the mercurial Irishman was received with
hearty laughter, Chopin especially being much tickled by the profanation
of the word so sacred to authors. From the same source we learn also
that Chopin took delight in repeating the criticisms on his performances
which he at one time or other had chanced to overhear.

Not the least interesting and significant incident in Chopin's life was
his first meeting and early connection with Kalkbrenner, who at that
time--when Liszt and Thalberg had not yet taken possession of the
commanding positions they afterwards occupied--enjoyed the most
brilliant reputation of all the pianists then living. On December 16,
1831, Chopin writes to his friend Woyciechowski:--

   You may easily imagine how curious I was to hear Herz and
   Hiller play; they are ciphers compared with Kalkbrenner.
   Honestly speaking, I play as well as Herz, but I wish I could
   play as well as Kalkbrenner. If Paganini is perfect, so also
   is he, but in quite another way. His repose, his enchanting
   touch, the smoothness of his playing, I cannot describe to
   you, one recognises the master in every note--he is a giant
   who throws all other artists into the shade. When I visited
   him, he begged me to play him something. What was I to do? As
   I had heard Herz, I took courage, seated myself at the
   instrument, and played my E minor Concerto, which charmed the
   people of the Bavarian capital so much. Kalkbrenner was
   astonished, and asked me if I were a pupil of Field's. He
   remarked that I had the style of Cramer, but the touch of
   Field. It amused me that Kalkbrenner, when he played to me,
   made a mistake and did not know how to go on; but it was
   wonderful to hear how he found his way again. Since this
   meeting we see each other daily, either he calls on me or I
   on him. He proposed to teach me for three years and make a
   great artist of me. I told him that I knew very well what I
   still lacked; but I will not imitate him, and three years are
   too much for me. He has convinced me that I play well only
   when I am in the right mood for it, but less well when this
   is not the case. This cannot be said of Kalkbrenner, his
   playing is always the same. When he had watched me for a long
   time, he came to the conclusion that I had no method; that I
   was indeed on a very good path, but might easily go astray;
   and that when he ceased to play, there would no longer be a
   representative of the grand pianoforte school left. I cannot
   create a new school, however much I may wish to do so,
   because I do not even know the old one; but I know that my
   tone-poems have some individuality in them, and that I always
   strive to advance.

   If you were here, you would say "Learn, young man, as long as
   you have an opportunity to do so!" But many dissuade me from
   taking lessons, are of opinion that I play as well as
   Kalkbrenner, and that it is only vanity that makes him wish
   to have me for his pupil. That is nonsense. Whoever knows
   anything of music must think highly of Kalkbrenner's talent,
   although he is disliked as a man because he will not
   associate with everybody. But I assure you there is in him
   something higher than in all the virtuosos whom I have as yet
   heard. I have said this in a letter to my parents, who quite
   understand it. Elsner, however, does not comprehend it, and
   regards it as jealousy on Kalkbrenner's part that he not only
   praises me, but also wishes that my playing were in some
   respects different from what it is. In spite of all this I
   may tell you confidentially that I have already a
   distinguished name among the artists here.

Elsner expressed his astonishment that Kalkbrenner should require three
years to reveal to Chopin the secrets of his art, and advised his
former pupil not to confine the exercise of his musical talent to
pianoforte-playing and the composition of pianoforte music. Chopin
replies to this in a letter written on December 14, 1831, as follows:--

   In the beginning of last year, although I knew what I yet
   lacked, and how very far I still was from equalling the model
   I have in you, I nevertheless ventured to think, "I will
   approach him, and if I cannot produce, a Lokietek ["the
   short," surname of a king of Poland; Elsner had composed an
   opera of that name], I may perhaps give to the world a
   Laskonogi ["the thin-legged," surname of another king of
   Poland]." To-day all such hopes are annihilated; I am forced
   to think of making my way in the world as a pianist. For some
   time I must keep in the background the higher artistic aim of
   which you wrote to me. In order to be a great composer one
   must possess, in addition to creative power, experience and
   the faculty of self-criticism, which, as you have taught me,
   one obtains not only by listening to the works of others, but
   still more by means of a careful critical examination of
   one's own.

After describing the difficulties which lie in the way of the opera
composer, he proceeds:--

   It is my conviction that he is the happier man who is able to
   execute his compositions himself. I am known here and there
   in Germany as a pianist; several musical journals have spoken
   highly of my concerts, and expressed the hope of seeing me
   soon take a prominent position among the first pianoforte-
   virtuosos. I had to-day anopportunity or fulfilling the
   promise I had made to myself. Why should I not embrace it?...
   I should not like to learn pianoforte-playing in Germany, for
   there no one could tell me precisely what it was that I
   lacked. I, too, have not seen the beam in my eye. Three
   years' study is far too much. Kalkbrenner, when he had heard
   me repeatedly, came to see that himself. From this you may
   see that a true meritorious virtuoso does not know the
   feeling of envy. I would certainly make up my mind to study
   for three years longer if I were certain that I should then
   reach the aim which I have kept in view. So much is clear to
   me, I shall never become a copy of Kalkbrenner; he will not
   be able to break my perhaps bold but noble resolve--TO CREATE
   A NEW ART-ERA. If I now continue my studies, I do so only in
   order to stand at some future time on my own feet. It was not
   difficult for Ries, who was then already recognised as a
   celebrated pianist, to win laurels at Berlin, Frankfort-on-
   the-Main, Dresden, &c., by his opera Die Rauberbraut. And how
   long was Spohr known as an excellent violinist before he had
   written Faust, Jessonda, and other works? I hope you will not
   deny me your blessing when you see on what grounds and with
   what intentions I struggle onwards.

This is one of the most important letters we have of Chopin; it brings
before us, not the sighing lover, the sentimental friend, but the
courageous artist. On no other occasion did he write so freely and fully
of his views and aims. What heroic self-confidence, noble resolves, vast
projects, flattering dreams! And how sad to think that most of them were
doomed to end in failure and disappointment! But few are the lives of
true artists that can really be called happy! Even the most successful
have, in view of the ideally conceived, to deplore the quantitative and
qualitative shortcomings of the actually accomplished. But to return to
Kalkbrenner. Of him Chopin said truly that he was not a popular man; at
any rate, he was not a popular man with the romanticists. Hiller tells
us in his "Recollections and Letters of Mendelssohn" how little grateful
he and his friends, Mendelssohn included, were for Kalkbrenner's
civilities, and what a wicked pleasure they took in worrying him.
Sitting one day in front of a cafe on the Boulevard des Italiens,
Hiller, Liszt, and Chopin saw the prim master advancing, and knowing
how disagreeable it would be to him to meet such a noisy company, they
surrounded him in the friendliest manner, and assailed him with such a
volley of talk that he was nearly driven to despair, which, adds
Hiller, "of course delighted us." It must be confessed that the great
Kalkbrenner, as M. Marmontel in his "Pianistes celebres" remarks, had
"certaines etroitesses de caractere," and these "narrownesses" were of
a kind that particularly provokes the ridicule of unconventional and
irreverent minds. Heine is never more biting than when he speaks of
Kalkbrenner. He calls him a mummy, and describes him as being dead long
ago and having lately also married. This, however, was some years after
the time we are speaking of. On another occasion Heine writes that
Kalkbrenner is envied

   for his elegant manners, for his polish and sweetishness, and
   for his whole marchpane-like appearance, in which, however,
   ihe calm observer discovers a shabby admixture of involuntary
   Berlinisms of the lowest class, so that Koreff could say of
   the man as wittily as correctly: "He looks like a bon-bon
   that has been in the mud."

A thorough belief in and an unlimited admiration of himself form the
centre of gravity upon which the other qualities of Kalkbrenner's
character balance themselves. He prided himself on being the pattern of
a fine gentleman, and took upon him to teach even his oldest friends
how to conduct themselves in society and at table. In his gait he was
dignified, in his manners ceremonious, and in his speech excessively
polite. He was addicted to boasting of honours offered him by the
King, and of his intimacy with the highest aristocracy. That he did not
despise popularity with the lower strata of society is evidenced by the
anecdote (which the virtuoso is credited with having told himself to his
guests) of the fish-wife who, on reading his card, timidly asks him to
accept as a homage to the great Kalkbrenner a splendid fish which he had
selected for his table. The artist was the counterpart of the man. He
considered every success as by right his due, and recognised merit only
in those who were formed on his method or at least acknowledged its
superiority. His artistic style was a chastened reflex of his social

It is difficult to understand how the Kalkbrenner-Chopin affair could
be so often misrepresented, especially since we are in possession of
Chopin's clear statements of the facts. [FOOTNOTE: Statements which
are by no means invalidated by the following statement of Lenz:--"On my
asking Chopin 'whether Kalkbrenner had understood much about it' [i.e.
the art of pianoforte-playing], followed the answer: 'It was at the
beginning of my stay in Paris.'"]. There are no grounds whatever to
justify the assumption that Kalkbrenner was actuated by jealousy,
artfulness, or the like, when he proposed that the wonderfully-gifted
and developed Chopin should become his pupil for three years. His
conceit of himself and his method account fully for the strangeness
of the proposal. Moreover, three years was the regulation time of
Kalkbrenner's course, and it was much that he was willing to shorten
it in the case of Chopin. Karasowski, speaking as if he had the gift
of reading the inmost thoughts of men, remarks: "Chopin did not suspect
what was passing in Kalkbrenner's mind when he was playing to him."
After all, I should like to ask, is there anything surprising in the
fact that the admired virtuoso and author of a "Methode pour apprendre
le Piano a l'aide du Guide-mains; contenant les principes de musique;
un systems complet de doigter; des regles sur l'expression," &c.,
found fault with Chopin's strange fingering and unconventional style?
Kalkbrenner could not imagine anything superior to his own method,
anything finer than his own style. And this inability to admit the
meritoriousness or even the legitimacy of anything that differed
from what he was accustomed to, was not at all peculiar to this great
pianist; we see it every day in men greatly his inferiors. Kalkbrenner's
lament that when he ceased to play there would be no representative left
of the grand pianoforte school ought to call forth our sympathy.
Surely we cannot blame him for wishing to perpetuate what he held to be
unsurpassable! According to Hiller, Chopin went a few times to the class
of advanced pupils which Kalkbrenner had advised him to attend, as he
wished to see what the thing was like. Mendelssohn, who had a great
opinion of Chopin and the reverse of Kalkbrenner, was furious when
he heard of this. But were Chopin's friends correct in saying that he
played better than Kalkbrenner, and could learn nothing from him? That
Chopin played better than Kalkbrenner was no doubt true, if we consider
the emotional and intellectual qualities of their playing. But I think
it was not correct to say that Chopin could learn nothing from the
older master. Chopin was not only a better judge of Kalkbrenner than his
friends, who had only sharp eyes for his short-comings, and overlooked
or undervalued his good qualities, but he was also a better judge of
himself and his own requirements. He had an ideal in his mind, and he
thought that Kalkbrenner's teaching would help him to realise it. Then
there is also this to be considered: unconnected with any school, at
no time guided by a great master of the instrument, and left to his own
devices at a very early age, Chopin found himself, as it were, floating
free in the air without a base to stand on, without a pillar to lean
against. The consequent feeling of isolation inspires at times even
the strongest and most independent self-taught man--and Chopin, as a
pianist, may almost be called one--with distrust in the adequacy of his
self-acquired attainments, and an exaggerated idea of the advantages of
a school education. "I cannot create a new school, because I do not even
know the old one." This may or may not be bad reasoning, but it shows
the attitude of Chopin's mind. It is also possible that he may have
felt the inadequacy and inappropriateness of his technique and style for
other than his own compositions. And many facts in the history of his
career as an executant would seem to confirm the correctness of such a
feeling. At any rate, after what we have read we cannot attribute his
intention of studying under Kalkbrenner to undue self-depreciation. For
did he not consider his own playing as good as that of Herz, and feel
that he had in him the stuff to found a new era in music? But what
was it then that attracted him to Kalkbrenner, and made him exalt this
pianist above all the pianists he had heard? If the reader will recall
to mind what I said in speaking of Mdlles. Sontag and Belleville of
Chopin's love of beauty of tone, elegance, and neatness, he cannot be
surprised at the young pianist's estimate of the virtuoso of whom
Riehl says: "The essence of his nature was what the philologists call
elegantia--he spoke the purest Ciceronian Latin on the piano." As a
knowledge of Kalkbrenner's artistic personality will help to further
our acquaintance with Chopin, and as our knowledge of it is for the
most part derived from the libels and caricatures of well-intentioned
critics, who in their zeal for a nobler and more glorious art overshoot
the mark of truth, it will be worth our while to make inquiries
regarding it.

Kalkbrenner may not inaptly be called the Delille of pianist-composers,
for his nature and fate remind us somewhat of the poet. As to his works,
although none of them possessed stamina enough to be long-lived, they
would have insured him a fairer reputation if he had not published so
many that were written merely for the market. Even Schumann confessed
to having in his younger days heard and played Kalkbrenner's music often
and with pleasure, and at a maturer age continued to acknowledge not
only the master's natural virtuoso amiability and clever manner of
writing effectively for fingers and hands, but also the genuinely
musical qualities of his better works, of which he held the Concerto in
D minor to be the "bloom," and remarks that it shows the "bright sides"
of Kalkbrenner's "pleasing talent." We are, however, here more concerned
with the pianist than with the composer. One of the best sketches of
Kalkbrenner as a pianist is to be found in a passage which I shall
presently quote from M. Marmontel's collection of "Silhouettes et
Medaillons" of "Les Pianistes celebres." The sketch is valuable on
account of its being written by one who is himself a master, one who
does not speak from mere hearsay, and who, whilst regarding Kalkbrenner
as an exceptional virtuoso, the continuator of Clementi, the
founder ("one of the founders" would be more correct) of modern
pianoforte-playing, and approving of the leading principle of his
method, which aims at the perfect independence of the fingers and their
preponderant action, does not hesitate to blame the exclusion of the
action of the wrist, forearm, and arm, of which the executant should
not deprive himself "dans les accents de legerete, d'expression et de
force." But here is what M. Marmontel says:--

   The pianoforte assumed under his fingers a marvellous and
   never harsh sonorousness, for he did not seek forced effects.
   His playing, smooth, sustained, harmonious, and of a perfect
   evenness, charmed even more than it astonished; moreover, a
   faultless neatness in the most difficult passages, and a left
   hand of unparalleled bravura, made Kalkbrenner an
   extraordinary virtuoso. Let us add that the perfect
   independence of the fingers, the absence of the in our day so
   frequent movements of the arms, the tranquillity of the hands
   and body, a perfect bearing--all these qualities combined,
   and many others which we forget, left the auditor free to
   enjoy the pleasure of listening without having his attention
   diverted by fatiguing gymnastics. Kalkbrenner's manner of
   phrasing was somewhat lacking in expression and communicative
   warmth, but the style was always noble, true, and of the
   grand school.

We now know what Chopin meant when he described Kalkbrenner as "perfect
and possessed of something that raised him above all other virtuosos";
we now know also that Chopin's admiration was characteristic and not
misplaced. Nevertheless, nobody will think for a moment of disagreeing
with those who advised Chopin not to become a pupil of this master, who
always exacted absolute submission to his precepts; for it was to
be feared that he would pay too dear for the gain of inferior
accomplishments with the loss of his invaluable originality. But, as
we have seen, the affair came to nothing, Chopin ceasing to attend the
classes after a few visits. What no doubt influenced his final decision
more than the advice of his friends was the success which his playing
and compositions met with at the concert of which I have now to tell the
history. Chopin's desertion as a pupil did not terminate the friendly
relation that existed between the two artists. When Chopin published
his E minor Concerto he dedicated it to Kalkbrenner, and the latter soon
after composed "Variations brillantes (Op. 120) pour le piano sur une
Mazourka de Chopin," and often improvised on his young brother-artist's
mazurkas. Chopin's friendship with Camille Pleyel helped no doubt to
keep up his intercourse with Kalkbrenner, who was a partner of the firm
of Pleyel & Co.

The arrangements for his concert gave Chopin much trouble, and had they
not been taken in hand by Paer, Kalkbrenner, and especially Norblin, he
would not have been able to do anything in Paris, where one required at
least two months to get up a concert. This is what Chopin tells Elsner
in the letter dated December 14, 1831. Notwithstanding such powerful
assistance he did not succeed in giving his concert on the 25th of
December, as he at first intended. The difficulty was to find a lady
vocalist. Rossini, the director of the Italian Opera, was willing to
help him, but Robert, the second director, refused to give permission
to any of the singers in his company to perform at the concert, fearing
that, if he did so once, there would be no end of applications. As
Veron, the director of the Academie Royale likewise refused Chopin's
request, the concert had to be put off till the 15th of January, 1832,
when, however, on account of Kalkbrenner's illness or for some other
reason, it had again to be postponed. At last it came off on February
26, 1832. Chopin writes on December 16, 1831, about the arrangements for
the concert:--

   Baillot, the rival of Paganini, and Brod, the celebrated oboe-
   player, will assist me with their talent. I intend to play my
   F minor Concerto and the Variations in B flat...I shall play
   not only the concerto and the variations, but also with
   Kalkbrenner his duet "Marche suivie d'une Polonaise" for two
   pianos, with the accompaniment of four others. Is this not an
   altogether mad idea? One of the grand pianos is very large,
   and is for Kalkbrenner; the other is small (a so-called mono-
   chord), and is for me. On the other large ones, which are as
   loud as an orchestra, Hiller, Osborne, Stamati, and Sowinski
   are to play. Besides these performers, Norblin, Vidal, and
   the celebrated viola-player Urban will take part in the

The singers of the evening were Mdlles. Isambert and Tomeoni, and
M. Boulanger. I have not been able to discover the programme of the
concert. Hiller says that Chopin played his E minor Concerto and some
of his mazurkas and nocturnes. Fetis, in the Revue musicale (March
3, 1832), mentions only in a general way that there were performed a
concerto by Chopin, a composition for six pianos by Kalkbrenner, some
vocal pieces, an oboe solo, and "a quintet for violin [sic], executed
with that energy of feeling and that variety of inspiration which
distinguish the talent of M. Baillot." The concert, which took place in
Pleyel's rooms, was financially a failure; the receipts did not cover
the expenses. The audience consisted chiefly of Poles, and most of
the French present had free tickets. Hiller says that all the musical
celebrities of Paris were there, and that Chopin's performances took
everybody by storm. "After this," he adds, "nothing more was heard
of want of technique, and Mendelssohn applauded triumphantly." Fetis
describes this soiree musicale as one of the most pleasant that had been
given that year. His criticism contains such interesting and, on the
whole, such excellent remarks that I cannot resist the temptation to
quote the more remarkable passages:--

   Here is a young man who, abandoning himself to his natural
   impressions and without taking a model, has found, if not a
   complete renewal of pianoforte music, at least a part of what
   has been sought in vain for a long time--namely, an abundance
   of original ideas of which the type is to be found nowhere.
   We do not mean by this that M. Chopin is endowed with a
   powerful organisation like that of Beethoven, nor that there
   are in his music such powerful conceptions as one remarks in
   that of this great man. Beethoven has composed pianoforte
   music, but I speak here of pianists' music, and it is by
   comparison with the latter that I find in M. Chopin's
   inspirations the indication of a renewal of forms which may
   exercise in time much influence over this department of the

Of Chopin's concerto Fetis remarks that it:--

   equally astonished and surprised his audience, as much by the
   novelty of the melodic ideas as by the figures, modulations,
   and general disposition of the movements. There is soul in
   these melodies, fancy in these figures, and originality in
   everything. Too much luxuriance in the modulations, disorder
   in the linking of the phrases, so that one seems sometimes to
   hear an improvisation rather than written music, these are
   the defects which are mixed with the qualities I have just
   now pointed out. But these defects belong to the age of the
   artist; they will disappear when experience comes. If the
   subsequent works of M. Chopin correspond to his debut, there
   can be no doubt but that he will acquire a brilliant and
   merited reputation.

   As an executant also the young artist deserves praise. His
   playing is elegant, easy, graceful, and possesses brilliance
   and neatness. He brings little tone out of the instrument,
   and resembles in this respect the majority of German
   pianists. But the study which he is making of this part of
   his art, under the direction of M. Kalkbrenner, cannot fail
   to give him an important quality on which the nerf of
   execution depends, and without which the accents of the
   instrument cannot be modified.

Of course dissentient voices made themselves heard who objected to this
and that; but an overwhelming majority, to which belonged the young
artists, pronounced in favour of Chopin. Liszt says that he remembers
his friend's debut:--

   The most vigorous applause seemed not to suffice to our
   enthusiasm in the presence of this talented musician, who
   revealed a new phase of poetic sentiment combined with such
   happy innovations in the form of his art.

The concluding remark of the above-quoted criticism furnishes an
additional proof that Chopin went for some time to Kalkbrenner's class.
As Fetis and Chopin were acquainted with each other, we may suppose that
the former was well informed on this point. In passing, we may take
note of Chopin's account of the famous historian and theorist's early

   Fetis [Chopin writes on December 14, 1831], whom I know, and
   from whom one can learn much, lives outside the town, and
   comes to Paris only to give his lessons. They say he is
   obliged to do this because his debts are greater than the
   profits from his "Revue musicale." He is sometimes in danger
   of making intimate acquaintance with the debtors' prison. You
   must know that according to the law of the country a debtor
   can only be arrested in his dwelling. Fetis has, therefore,
   left the town and lives in the neighbourhood of Paris, nobody
   knows where.

On May 20, 1832, less than three months after his first concert, Chopin
made his second public appearance in Paris, at a concert given by
the Prince de la Moskowa for the benefit of the poor. Among the works
performed was a mass composed by the Prince. Chopin played the first
movement of:--

   the concerto, which had already been heard at Pleyel's rooms,
   and had there obtained a brilliant success. On this occasion
   it was not so well received, a fact which, no doubt, must be
   attributed to the instrumentation, which is lacking in
   lightness, and to the small volume of tone which M. Chopin
   draws from the piano. However, it appears to us that the
   music of this artist will gain in the public opinion when it
   becomes better known. [FOOTNOTE: From the "Revue musicale."]

The great attraction of the evening was not Chopin, but Brod, who
"enraptured" the audience. Indeed, there were few virtuosos who were
as great favourites as this oboe-player; his name was absent from the
programme of hardly any concert of note.

In passing we will note some other musical events of interest which
occurred about the same time that Chopin made his debut. On March 18
Mendelssohn played Beethoven's G major Concerto with great success
at one of the Conservatoire concerts, [FOOTNOTE: It was the first
performance of this work in Paris.] the younger master's overture to the
"Midsummer Night's Dream" had been heard and well received at the same
institution in the preceding month, and somewhat later his "Reformation
Symphony" was rehearsed, but laid aside. In the middle of March
Paganini, who had lately arrived, gave the first of a series of
concerts, with what success it is unnecessary to say. Of Chopin's
intercourse with Zimmermann, the distinguished pianoforte-professor at
the Conservatoire, and his family we learn from M. Marmontel, who was
introduced to Chopin and Liszt, and heard them play in 1832 at one of
his master's brilliant musical fetes, and gives a charming description
of the more social and intimate parties at which Chopin seems to have
been occasionally present.

   Madame Zimmermann and her daughters did the honours to a
   great number of artists. Charades were acted; the forfeits
   that were given, and the rebuses that were not guessed, had
   to be redeemed by penances varying according to the nature of
   the guilty ones. Gautier, Dumas, and Musset were condemned to
   recite their last poem. Liszt or Chopin had to improvise on a
   given theme, Mesdames Viardot, Falcon, and Euggnie Garcia had
   also to discharge their melodic debts, and I myself remember
   having paid many a forfeit.

The preceding chapter and the foregoing part of this chapter set forth
the most important facts of Chopin's social and artistic life in his
early Paris days. The following extract from a letter of his to Titus
Woyciechowski, dated December 25, 1831, reveals to us something of his
inward life, the gloom of which contrasts violently with the outward

   Ah, how I should like to have you beside me!... You cannot
   imagine how sad it is to have nobody to whom I can open my
   troubled heart. You know how easily I make acquaintances, how
   I love human society--such acquaintances I make in great
   numbers--but with no one, no one can I sigh. My heart beats
   as it were always "in syncopes," therefore I torment myself
   and seek for a rest--for solitude, so that the whole day
   nobody may look at me and speak to me. It is too annoying to
   me when there is a pull at the bell, and a tedious visit is
   announced while I am writing to you. At the moment when I was
   going to describe to you the ball, at which a divine being
   with a rose in her black hair enchanted me, arrives your
   letter. All the romances of my brain disappear? my thoughts
   carry me to you, I take your hand and weep...When shall we
   see each other again?...Perhaps never, because, seriously, my
   health is very bad. I appear indeed merry, especially when I
   am among my fellow-countrymen; but inwardly something
   torments me--a gloomy presentiment, unrest, bad dreams,
   sleeplessness, yearning, indifference to everything, to the
   desire to live and the desire to die. It seems to me often as
   if my mind were benumbed, I feel a heavenly repose in my
   heart, in my thoughts I see images from which I cannot tear
   myself away, and this tortures me beyond all measure. In
   short, it is a combination of feelings that are difficult to
   describe...Pardon me, dear Titus, for telling you of all
   this; but now I have said enough...I will dress now and go,
   or rather drive, to the dinner which our countrymen give to-
   day to Ramorino and Langermann...Your letter contained much
   that was news to me; you have written me four pages and
   thirty-seven lines--in all my life you have never been so
   liberal to me, and I stood in need of something of the kind,
   I stood indeed very much in need of it.

   What you write about my artistic career is very true, and I
   myself am convinced of it.

   I drive in my own equipage, only the coachman is hired.

   I shall close, because otherwise I should be too late for the
   post, for I am everything in one person, master and servant.
   Take pity on me and write as often as possible!--Yours unto


In the postscript of this letter Chopin's light fancy gets the better of
his heavy heart; in it all is fun and gaiety. First he tells his friend
of a pretty neighbour whose husband is out all day and who often invites
him to visit and comfort her. But the blandishments of the fair one were
of no avail; he had no taste for adventures, and, moreover, was afraid
to be caught and beaten by the said husband. A second love-story is told
at greater length. The dramatis personae are Chopin, John Peter Pixis,
and Francilla Pixis, a beautiful girl of sixteen, a German orphan whom
the pianist-composer, then a man of about forty-three, had adopted, and
who afterwards became known as a much-admired singer. Chopin made their
acquaintance in Stuttgart, and remarks that Pixis said that he intended
to marry her. On his return to Paris Pixis invited Chopin to visit him;
the latter, who had by this time forgotten pretty Francilla, was in no
hurry to call. What follows must be given in Chopin's own words:--

   Eight days after the second invitation I went to his house,
   and accidentally met his pet on the stairs. She invited me to
   come in, assuring me it did not matter that Mr. Pixis was not
   at home; meanwhile I was to sit down, he would return soon,
   and so on. A strange embarrassment seized both of us. I made
   my excuses--for I knew the old man was very jealous--and said
   I would rather return another time. While we were talking
   familiarly and innocently on the staircase, Pixis came up,
   looking over his spectacles in order to see who was speaking
   above to his bella. He may not have recognised us at once,
   quickened his steps, stopped before us, and said to her
   harshly: "Qu'est-ce que vous faites ici?" and gave her a
   severe lecture for receiving young men in his absence, and so
   on. I addressed Pixis smilingly, and said to her that it was
   somewhat imprudent to leave the room in so thin a silk dress.
   At last the old man became calm--he took me by the arm and
   led me into the drawing-room. He was in such a state of
   excitement that he did not know what seat to offer me; for he
   was afraid that, if he had offended me, I would make better
   use of his absence another time. When I left he accompanied
   me down stairs, and seeing me smile (for I could not help
   doing so when I found I was thought capable of such a thing),
   he went to the concierge and asked how long it was since I
   had come. The concierge must have calmed his fears, for since
   that time Pixis does not know how to praise my talent
   sufficiently to all his acquaintances. What do you think of
   this? I, a dangerous seducteur!

The letters which Chopin wrote to his parents from Paris passed, after
his mother's death, into the hands of his sister, who preserved them
till September 19, 1863. On that day the house in which she lived in
Warsaw--a shot having been fired and some bombs thrown from an upper
story of it when General Berg and his escort were passing--was sacked by
Russian soldiers, who burned or otherwise destroyed all they could lay
hands on, among the rest Chopin's letters, his portrait by Ary Scheffer,
the Buchholtz piano on which he had made his first studies, and other
relics. We have now also exhausted, at least very nearly exhausted,
Chopin's extant correspondence with his most intimate Polish friends,
Matuszynski and Woyciechowski, only two unimportant letters written in
1849 and addressed to the latter remaining yet to be mentioned. That the
confidential correspondence begins to fail us at this period (the last
letter is of December 25, 1831) is particularly inopportune; a series of
letters like those he wrote from Vienna would have furnished us with
the materials for a thoroughly trustworthy history of his settlement
in Paris, over which now hangs a mythical haze. Karasowski, who saw the
lost letters, says they were tinged with melancholy.

Besides the thought of his unhappy country, a thought constantly kept
alive by the Polish refugees with whom Paris was swarming, Chopin
had another more prosaic but not less potent cause of disquietude and
sadness. His pecuniary circumstances were by no means brilliant. Economy
cannot fill a slender purse, still less can a badly-attended concert do
so, and Chopin was loath to be a burden on his parents who, although in
easy circumstances, were not wealthy, and whose income must have been
considerably lessened by some of the consequences of the insurrection,
such as the closing of schools, general scarcity of money, and so forth.
Nor was Paris in 1831, when people were so busy with politics, El Dorado
for musicians. Of the latter, Mendelssohn wrote at the time that they
did not, like other people, wrangle about politics, but lamented over
them. "One has lost his place, another his title, and a third his money,
and they say this all proceeds from the 'juste milieu.'" As Chopin saw
no prospect of success in Paris he began to think, like others of his
countrymen, of going to America. His parents, however, were against this
project, and advised him either to stay where he was and wait for better
things, or to return to Warsaw. Although he might fear annoyances from
the Russian government on account of his not renewing his passport
before the expiration of the time for which it was granted, he chose
the latter alternative. Destiny, however, had decided the matter
otherwise.[FOOTNOTE: Karasowski says that Liszt, Hiller, and Sowinski
dissuaded him from leaving Paris. Liszt and Hiller both told me, and
so did also Franchomme, that they knew nothing of Chopin having had any
such intention; and Sowinski does not mention the circumstance in his
Musiciens polonais.] One day, or, as some will have it, on the very day
when he was preparing for his departure, Chopin met in the street Prince
Valentine Radziwill, and, in the course of the conversation which the
latter opened, informed him of his intention of leaving Paris. The
Prince, thinking, no doubt, of the responsibility he would incur by
doing so, did not attempt to dissuade him, but engaged the artist to go
with him in the evening to Rothschild's. Chopin, who of course was asked
by the hostess to play something, charmed by his wonderful performance,
and no doubt also by his refined manners, the brilliant company
assembled there to such a degree that he carried off not only a
plentiful harvest of praise and compliments, but also some offers of
pupils. Supposing the story to be true, we could easily believe that
this soiree was the turning-point in Chopin's career, but nevertheless
might hesitate to assert that it changed his position "as if by
enchantment." I said "supposing the story to be true," because, although
it has been reported that Chopin was fond of alluding to this incident,
his best friends seem to know nothing of it: Liszt does not mention
it, Hiller and Franchomme told me they never heard of it, and
notwithstanding Karasowski's contrary statement there is nothing to be
found about it in Sowinski's Musiciens polonais. Still, the story may
have a substratum of truth, to arrive at which it has only to be shorn
of its poetical accessories and exaggerations, of which, however, there
is little in my version.

But to whatever extent, or whether to any extent at all, this or any
similar soiree may have served Chopin as a favourable introduction to
a wider circle of admirers and patrons, and as a stepping-stone to
success, his indebtedness to his countrymen, who from the very first
befriended and encouraged him, ought not to be forgotten or passed over
in silence for the sake of giving point to a pretty anecdote. The great
majority of the Polish refugees then living in Paris would of course
rather require than be able to afford help and furtherance, but there
was also a not inconsiderable minority of persons of noble birth and
great wealth whose patronage and influence could not but be of immense
advantage to a struggling artist. According to Liszt, Chopin was on
intimate terms with the inmates of the Hotel Lambert, where old Prince
Adam Czartoryski and his wife and daughter gathered around them "les
debris de la Pologne que la derniere guerre avait jetes au loin." Of the
family of Count Plater and other compatriots with whom the composer had
friendly intercourse we shall speak farther on. Chopin's friends were
not remiss in exerting themselves to procure him pupils and good fees at
the same time. They told all inquirers that he gave no lesson for less
than twenty francs, although he had expressed his willingness to be at
first satisfied with more modest terms. Chopin had neither to wait in
vain nor to wait long, for in about a year's time he could boast of a
goodly number of pupils.

The reader must have noticed with surprise the absence of any mention of
the "Ideal" from Chopin's letters to his friend Titus Woyciechowski,
to whom the love-sick artist was wont to write so voluminously on this
theme. How is this strange silence to be accounted for? Surely this
passionate lover could not have forgotten her beneath whose feet he
wished his ashes to be spread after his death? But perhaps in the end
of 1831 he had already learnt what was going to happen in the following
year. The sad fact has to be told: inconstant Constantia Gladkowska
married a merchant of the name of Joseph Grabowski, at Warsaw, in
1832; this at least is the information given in Sowinski's biographical
dictionary Les musiciens polonais et slaves.[FOOTNOTE: According to
Count Wodzinski she married a country gentleman, and subsequently became
blind.] As the circumstances of the case and the motives of the parties
are unknown to me, and as a biographer ought not to take the same
liberties as a novelist, I shall neither expatiate on the fickleness
and mercenariness of woman, nor attempt to describe the feelings of our
unfortunate hero robbed of his ideal, but leave the reader to make his
own reflections and draw his own moral.

On August 2, 1832, Chopin wrote a letter to Hiller, who had gone in
the spring of the year to Germany. What the young Pole thought of this
German brother-artist may be gathered from some remarks of his in the
letter to Titus Woyciechowski dated December 16, 1831:--

   The concert of the good Hiller, who is a pupil of Hummel and
   a youth of great talent, came off very successfully the day
   before yesterday. A symphony of his was received with much
   applause. He has taken Beethoven for his model, and his work
   is full of poesy and inspiration.

Since then the two had become more intimate, seeing each other almost
every day, Chopin, as Osborne relates, being always in good spirits when
Hiller was with him. The bearer of the said letter was Mr. Johns, to
whom the five Mazurkas, Op. 7, are dedicated, and whom Chopin introduced
to Hiller as "a distinguished amateur of New Orleans." After warmly
recommending this gentleman, he excuses himself for not having
acknowledged the receipt of his friend's letter, which procured him the
pleasure of Paul Mendelssohn's acquaintance, and then proceeds:--

   Your trios, my dear friend, have been finished for a long
   time, and, true to my character of a glutton, I have gulped
   down your manuscripts into my repertoire. Your concerto will
   be performed this month by Adam's pupils at the examination
   of the Conservatoire. Mdlle. Lyon plays it very well. La
   Tentation, an opera-ballet by Halevy and Gide, has not
   tempted any one of good taste, because it has just as little
   interest as your German Diet harmony with the spirit of the
   age. Maurice, who has returned from London, whither he had
   gone for the mise en scene of Robert (which has not had a
   very great success), has assured us that Moscheles and Field
   will come to Paris for the winter. This is all the news I
   have to give you. Osborne has been in London for the last two
   months. Pixis is at Boulogne. Kalkbrenner is at Meudon,
   Rossini at Bordeaux. All who know you await you with open
   arms. Liszt will add a few words below. Farewell, dear

   Yours most truly,


   Paris, 2/8/32




IN the season 1832-1833 Chopin took his place as one of the acknowledged
pianistic luminaries of the French capital, and began his activity as a
professor par excellence of the aristocracy. "His distinguished manners,
his exquisite politeness, his studied and somewhat affected refinement
in all things, made Chopin the model professor of the fashionable
nobility." Thus Chopin is described by a contemporary. Now he shall
describe himself. An undated letter addressed to his friend Dominic
Dziewanowski, which, judging from an allusion to the death of the
Princess Vaudemont, [FOOTNOTE: In a necrology contained in the Moniteur
of January 6, 1833, she is praised for the justesse de son esprit, and
described as naive et vraie comme une femme du peuple, genereuse comme
une grande dame. There we find it also recorded that she saved M.
de Vitrolles pendant les Cent-jours, et M. de Lavalette sous la
Restoration.] must have been written about the second week of January,
1833, gives much interesting information concerning the writer's tastes
and manners, the degree of success he had obtained, and the kind of life
he was leading. After some jocular remarks on his long silence--remarks
in which he alludes to recollections of Szafarnia and the sincerity of
their friendship, and which he concludes with the statement that he is
so much in demand on all sides as to betorn to pieces--Chopin proceeds

   I move in the highest society--among ambassadors, princes,
   and ministers; and I don't know how I got there, for I did
   not thrust myself forward at all. But for me this is at
   present an absolute necessity, for thence comes, as it were,
   good taste. You are at once credited with more talent if you
   are heard at a soiree of the English or Austrian
   Ambassador's. Your playing is finer if the Princess Vaudemont
   patronises you. "Patronises" I cannot properly say, for the
   good old woman died a week ago. She was a lady who reminded
   me of the late Kasztelanowa Polaniecka, received at her house
   the whole Court, was very charitable, and gave refuge to many
   aristocrats in the days of terror of the first revolution.
   She was the first who presented herself after the days of
   July at the Court of Louis Philippe, although she belonged to
   the Montmorency family (the elder branch), whose last
   descendant she was. She had always a number of black and
   white pet dogs, canaries, and parrots about her; and
   possessed also a very droll little monkey, which was
   permitted even to... bite countesses and princesses.

   Among the Paris artists I enjoy general esteem and
   friendship, although I have been here only a year. A proof of
   this is that men of great reputation dedicate their
   compositions to me, and do so even before I have paid them
   the same compliment--for instance, Pixis his last Variations
   for orchestra. He is now even composing variations on a theme
   of mine. Kalkbrenner improvises frequently on my mazurkas.
   Pupils of the Conservatoire, nay, even private pupils of
   Moscheles, Herz, and Kalkbrenner (consequently clever
   artists), still take lessons from me, and regard me as the
   equal of Field. Really, if I were somewhat more silly than I
   am, I might imagine myself already a finished artist;
   nevertheless, I feel daily how much I have still to learn,
   and become the more conscious of it through my intercourse
   with the first artists here, and my perception of what every
   one, even of them, is lacking in. But I am quite ashamed of
   myself for what I have written just now, having praised
   myself like a child. I would erase it, but I have no time to
   write another letter. Moreover, you will remember my
   character as it formerly was; indeed, I have remained quite
   the same, only with this one difference, that I have now
   whiskers on one side--unfortunately they won't grow at all on
   the other side. To-day I have to give five lessons; you will
   imagine that I must soon have made a fortune, but the
   cabriolet and the white gloves eat the earnings almost up,
   and without these things people would deny my bon ton. I love
   the Carlists, hate the Philippists, and am myself a
   revolutionist; therefore I don't care for money, but only for
   friendship, for the preservation of which I earnestly entreat

This letter, and still more the letters which I shall presently
transcribe, afford irrefragable evidence of the baselessness of the
often-heard statement that Chopin's intercourse was in the first years
of his settlement in Paris confined to the Polish salons. The simple
unexaggerated truth is that Chopin had always a predilection for, and
felt more at home among, his compatriots.

In the winter 1832-1833 Chopin was heard frequently in public. At a
concert of Killer's (December 15, 1832) he performed with Liszt and the
concert-giver a movement of Bach's Concerto for three pianos, the three
artists rendering the piece "avec une intelligence de son caractere et
une delicatesse parfaite." Soon after Chopin and Liszt played between
the acts of a dramatic performance got up for the benefit of Miss
Smithson, the English actress and bankrupt manager, Berlioz's flame,
heroine of his "Episode de la vie d'un artiste," and before long his
wife. On April 3, 1833, Chopin assisted at a concert given by the
brothers Herz, taking part along with them and Liszt in a quartet
for eight hands on two pianos. M. Marmontel, in his silhouette of the
pianist and critic Amedee de Mereaux, mentions that in 1832 this artist
twice played with Chopin a duo of his own on "Le Pre aux Clercs," but
leaves us in uncertainty as to whether they performed it at public
concerts or private parties. M. Franchomme told me that he remembered
something about a concert given by Chopin in 1833 at the house of one of
his aristocratic friends, perhaps at Madame la Marechale de Lannes's! In
summing up, as it were, Chopin's activity as a virtuoso, I may make use
of the words of the Paris correspondent of the "Allgemeine musikalische
Zeitung," who reports in April, 1833, that "Chopin and Osborne, as well
as the other celebrated masters, delight the public frequently." In
short, Chopin was becoming more and more of a favourite, not, however,
of the democracy of large concert-halls, but of the aristocracy of
select salons.

The following letter addressed to Hiller, written by Chopin and Liszt,
and signed by them and Franchomme, brings together Chopin's most
intimate artist friends, and spreads out before us a vivid picture of
their good fellowship and the society in which they moved. I have put
the portions written by Liszt within brackets [within parentheses in
this e-text]. Thus the reader will see what belongs to each of the
two writers, and how they took the pen out of each other's hand in the
middle of a phrase and even of a word. With regard to this letter I have
further to remark that Hiller, who was again in Germany, had lately lost
his father:--

   {This is at least the twentieth time that we have made
   arrangements to meet, sometimes at my house, sometimes here,
   [Footnote: At Chopin's lodgings mentioned farther on.] with
   the intention of writing to you, and some visit, or other
   unexpected hindrance, has always prevented us from doing
   so!...I don't know whether Chopin will be able to make any
   excuses to you; as regards myself it seems to me that we have
   been so excessively rude and impertinent that excuses are no
   longer either admissible or possible.

   We have sympathised deeply with you in your sorrow, and
   longed to be with you in order to alleviate as much as
   possible the pangs of your heart.}

   He has expressed himself so well that I have nothing to add
   in excuse of my negligence or idleness, influenza or
   distraction, or, or, or--you know I explain myself better in
   person; and when I escort you home to your mother's house
   this autumn, late at night along the boulevards, I shall try
   to obtain your pardon. I write to you without knowing what my
   pen is scribbling, because Liszt is at this moment playing my
   studies and transports me out of my proper senses. I should
   like to rob him of his way of rendering my own studies. As to
   your friends who are in Paris, I have seen the Leo family and
   their set [Footnote: Chopin's words are et qui s'en suit.' He
   refers, no doubt, to the Valentin family, relations of the
   Leos, who lived in the same house with them.] frequently this
   winter and spring. There have been some soirees at the houses
   of certain ambassadresses, and there was not one in which
   mention was not made of some one who is at Frankfort. Madame
   Eichthal sends you a thousand compliments. The whole Plater
   family were much grieved at your departure, and asked me to
   express to you their sympathy. (Madame d'Appony has quite a
   grudge against me for not having taken you to her house
   before your departure; she hopes that when you return you
   will remember the promise you made me. I may say as much from
   a certain lady who is not an ambassadress. [Footnote: This
   certain lady was the Countess d'Agoult.]

   Do you know Chopin's wonderful studies?) They are admirable--
   and yet they will only last till the moment yours appear (a
   little bit of authorial modesty!!!). A little bit of rudeness
   on the part of the tutor--for, to explain the matter better
   to you, he corrects my orthographical mistakes (after the
   fashion of M. Marlet.

   You will come back to us in the month of September, will you
   not? Try to let us know the day as we have resolved to give
   you a serenade (or charivari). The most distinguished artists
   of the capital--M. Franchomme (present), Madame Petzold, and
   the Abbe Bardin, the coryphees of the Rue d'Amboise (and my
   neighbours), Maurice Schlesinger, uncles, aunts, nephews,
   nieces, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, &c., &c.) en plan du
   troisieme, &c. [Footnote: I give the last words in the
   original French, because I am not sure of their meaning.
   Hiller, to whom I applied for an explanation, was unable to
   help me. Perhaps Chopin uses here the word plan in the
   pictorial sense (premier plan, foreground; second plan,
   middle distance).]

   The responsible editors,


   A Propos, I met Heine yesterday, who asked me to grussen you
   herzlich und herzlich. [Footnote: To greet you heartily and
   heartily.] A propos again, pardon me for all the "you's"--I
   beg you to forgive me them. If you have a moment to spare let
   us have news of you, which is very precious to us.

   Paris: Rue de la Chaussee d'Antin, No. 5.

   At present I occupy Franck's lodgings--he has set out for
   London and Berlin; I feel quite at home in the rooms which
   were so often our place of meeting. Berlioz embraces you. As
   to pere Baillot, he is in Switzerland, at Geneva, and so you
   will understand why I cannot send you Bach's Concerto.

   June 20, 1833.

Some of the names that appear in this letter will give occasion
for comment. Chopin, as Hiller informed me, went frequently to the
ambassadors Appony and Von Kilmannsegge, and still more frequently to
his compatriots, the Platers. At the house of the latter much good music
was performed, for the countess, the Pani Kasztelanowa (the wife of the
castellan), to whom Liszt devotes an eloquent encomium, "knew how to
welcome so as to encourage all the talents that then promised to take
their upward flight and form une lumineuse pleiade," being

   in turn fairy, nurse, godmother, guardian angel, delicate
   benefactress, knowing all that threatens, divining all that
   saves, she was to each of us an amiable protectress, equally
   beloved and respected, who enlightened, warmed, and elevated
   his [Chopin's] inspiration, and left a blank in his life when
   she was no more.

It was she who said one day to Chopin: "Si j'etais jeune et jolie, mon
petit Chopin, je te prendrais pour mari, Hiller pour ami, et Liszt
pour amant." And it was at her house that the interesting contention of
Chopin with Liszt and Hiller took place. The Hungarian and the German
having denied the assertion of the Pole that only he who was born and
bred in Poland, only he who had breathed the perfume of her fields and
woods, could fully comprehend with heart and mind Polish national music,
the three agreed to play in turn, by way of experiment, the mazurka
"Poland is not lost yet." Liszt began, Hiller followed, and Chopin came
last and carried off the palm, his rivals admitting that they had not
seized the true spirit of the music as he had done. Another anecdote,
told me by Hiller, shows how intimate the Polish artist was with this
family of compatriots, the Platers, and what strange whims he sometimes
gave way to. One day Chopin came into the salon acting the part of
Pierrot, and, after jumping and dancing about for an hour, left without
having spoken a single word.

Abbe Bardin was a great musical amateur, at whose weekly afternoon
gatherings the best artists might be seen and heard, Mendelssohn among
the rest when he was in Paris in 1832-1833. In one of the many obituary
notices of Chopin which appeared in French and other papers, and which
are in no wise distinguished by their trustworthiness, I found the
remark that the Abbe Bardin and M.M. Tilmant freres were the first to
recognise Chopin's genius. The notice in question is to be found in the
Chronique Musicale of November 3, 1849.

In Franck, whose lodgings Chopin had taken, the reader will recognise
the "clever [geistreiche], musical Dr. Hermann Franck," the friend of
many musical and other celebrities, the same with whom Mendelssohn used
to play at chess during his stay in Paris. From Hiller I learned
that Franck was very musical, and that his attainments in the natural
sciences were considerable; but that being well-to-do he was without
a profession. In the fifth decade of this century he edited for a year
Brockhaus's Deutsche allgemeine Zeitung.

In the following letter which Chopin wrote to Franchomme--the latter
thinks in the autumn of 1833--we meet with some new names. Dr. Hoffmann
was a good friend of the composer's, and was frequently found at his
rooms smoking. I take him to have been the well-known litterateur
Charles Alexander Hoffmann, [Footnote: This is the usual German, French,
and English spelling. The correct Polish spelling is Hofman. The forms
Hoffman and Hofmann occur likewise.] the husband of Clementina Tanska,
a Polish refugee who came to Paris in 1832 and continued to reside there
till 1848. Maurice is of course Schlesinger the publisher. Of Smitkowski
I know only that he was one of Chopin's Polish friends, whose list
is pretty long and comprised among others Prince Casimir Lubomirski,
Grzymala, Fontana, and Orda.

[Footnote: Of Grzymala and Fontana more will be heard in the sequel.
Prince Casimir Lubomirski was a passionate lover of music, and published
various compositions. Liszt writes that Orda, "who seemed to command a
future," was killed at the age of twenty in Algiers. Karasowski gives
the same information, omitting, however, the age. My inquiries about
Orda among French musicians and Poles have had no result. Although the
data do not tally with those of Liszt and Karasowski, one is tempted to
identify Chopin's friend with the Napoleon Orda mentioned in Sowinski's
Musiciens polonais et slaves--"A pianist-composer who had made himself
known since the events of 1831. One owes to him the publication of a
Polish Album devoted to the composers of this nation, published at Paris
in 1838. M. Orda is the author of several elegantly-written pianoforte
works." In a memoir prefixed to an edition of Chopin's mazurkas and
waltzes (Boosey & Co.), J.W. Davison mentions a M. Orda (the "M."
stands, I suppose, for Monsieur) and Charles Filtsch as pupils of

It was well for Chopin that he was so abundantly provided with friends,
for, as Hiller told me, he could not do without company. But here is
Chopin's letter to Franchomme:--

   Begun on Saturday, the 14th, and finished on Wednesday, the

   DEAR FRIEND,--It would be useless to excuse myself for my
   silence. If my thoughts could but go without paper to the
   post-office! However, you know me too well not to know that
   I, unfortunately, never do what I ought to do. I got here
   very comfortably (except for a little disagreeable episode,
   caused by an excessively odoriferous gentleman who went as
   far as Chartres--he surprised me in the night-time). I have
   found more occupation in Paris than I left behind me, which
   will, without doubt, hinder me from visiting you at Coteau.
   Coteau! oh Coteau! Say, my child, to the whole family at
   Coteau that I shall never forget my stay in Touraine--that so
   much kindness has made me for ever grateful. People think I
   am stouter and look very well, and I feel wonderfully well,
   thanks to the ladies that sat beside me at dinner, who
   bestowed truly maternal attentions upon me. When I think of
   all this the whole appears to me such an agreeable dream that
   I should like to sleep again. And the peasant-girls of
   Pormic! [FOOTNOTE: A village near the place where Chopin had
   been staying.] and the flour! or rather your graceful nose
   which you were obliged to plunge into it.

   [FOOTNOTE: The remark about the "flour" and Franchomme's "nez
   en forme gracieuse" is an allusion to some childish game in
   which Chopin, thanks to his aquiline nose, got the better of
   his friend, who as regards this feature was less liberally

   A very interesting visit has interrupted my letter, which was
   begun three days ago, and which I have not been able to
   finish till to-day.

   Hiller embraces you, Maurice, and everybody. I have delivered
   your note to his brother, whom I did not find at home.

   Paer, whom I saw a few days ago, spoke to me of your return.
   Come back to us stout and in good health like me. Again a
   thousand messages to the estimable Forest family. I have
   neither words nor powers to express all I feel for them.
   Excuse me. Shake hands with me--I pat you on the shoulder--I
   hug you--I embrace you. My friend--au revoir.

   Hoffmann, the stout Hoffmann, and the slim Smitkowski also,
   embrace you.

   [FOOTNOTE: The orthography of the French original is very
   careless. Thus one finds frequent omissions and misplacements
   of accents and numerous misspellings, such as trouvais
   instead of trouve, engresse instead of engraisse, plonge
   instead of plonger. Of course, these mistakes have to be
   ascribed to negligence not to ignorance. I must mention yet
   another point which the English translation does not bring
   out--namely, that in addressing Franchomme Chopin makes use
   of the familiar form of the second person singular.]

The last-quoted letter adds a few more touches to the portraiture
of Chopin which has been in progress in the preceding pages. The
insinuating affectionateness and winning playfulness had hitherto not
been brought out so distinctly. There was then, and there remained to
the end of his life, something of a woman and of a boy in this man. The
sentimental element is almost wholly absent from Chopin's letters to his
non-Polish friends. Even to Franchomme, the most intimate among these,
he shows not only less of his inmost feelings and thoughts than to Titus
Woyciechowski and John Matuszyriski, the friends of his youth, but also
less than to others of his countrymen whose acquaintance he made
later in life, and of whom Grzymala may be instanced. Ready to give
everything, says Liszt, Chopin did not give himself--

   his most intimate acquaintances did not penetrate into the
   sacred recess where, apart from the rest of his life, dwelt
   the secret spring of his soul: a recess so well concealed
   that one hardly suspected its existence.

Indeed, you could as little get hold of Chopin as, to use L. Enault's
expression, of the scaly back of a siren. Only after reading his letters
to the few confidants to whom he freely gave his whole self do we know
how little of himself he gave to the generality of his friends, whom he
pays off with affectionateness and playfulness, and who, perhaps, never
suspected, or only suspected, what lay beneath that smooth surface.
This kind of reserve is a feature of the Slavonic character, which in
Chopin's individuality was unusually developed.

   The Slavonians [says Enault pithily] lend themselves, they do
   not give themselves; and, as if Chopin had wished to make his
   country-men pardon him the French origin of his family, he
   showed himself more Polish than Poland.

Liszt makes some very interesting remarks on this point, and as they
throw much light on the character of the race, and on that of the
individual with whom we are especially concerned in this book, I shall
quote them:--

   With the Slavonians, the loyalty and frankness, the
   familiarity and captivating desinvoltura of their manners, do
   not in the least imply trust and effusiveness. Their feelings
   reveal and conceal themselves like the coils of a serpent
   convoluted upon itself; it is only by a very attentive
   examination that one discovers the connection of the rings.
   It would be naive to take their complimentary politeness,
   their pretended modesty literally. The forms of this
   politeness and this modesty belong to their manners, which
   bear distinct traces of their ancient relations with the
   East. Without being in the least infected by Mussulmanic
   taciturnity, the Slavonians have learned from it a defiant
   reserve on all subjects which touch the intimate chords of
   the heart. One may be almost certain that, in speaking of
   themselves, they maintain with regard to their interlocutor
   some reticence which assures them over him an advantage of
   intelligence or of feeling, leaving him in ignorance of some
   circumstance or some secret motive by which they would be the
   most admired or the least esteemed; they delight in hiding
   themselves behind a cunning interrogatory smile of
   imperceptible mockery. Having on every occasion a taste for
   the pleasure of mystification, from the most witty and droll
   to the most bitter and lugubrious kinds, one would say that
   they see in this mocking deceit a form of disdain for the
   superiority which they inwardly adjudge to themselves, but
   which they veil with the care and cunning of the oppressed.

And now we will turn our attention once more to musical matters. In the
letter to Hiller (August 2, 1832) Chopin mentioned the coming of Field
and Moscheles, to which, no doubt, he looked forward with curiosity.
They were the only eminent pianists whom he had not yet heard.
Moscheles, however, seems not to have gone this winter to Paris; at any
rate, his personal acquaintance with the Polish artist did not begin
till 1839. Chopin, whose playing had so often reminded people of
Field's, and who had again and again been called a pupil of his, would
naturally take a particular interest in this pianist. Moreover, he
esteemed him very highly as a composer. Mikuli tells us that Field's
A flat Concerto and nocturnes were among those compositions which he
delighted in playing (spielte mit Vorliebe). Kalkbrenner is reported
[FOOTNOTE: In the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung of April 3, 1833.] to
have characterised Field's performances as quite novel and incredible;
and Fetis, who speaks of them in the highest terms, relates that on
hearing the pianist play a concerto of his own composition, the public
manifested an indescribable enthusiasm, a real delirium. Not all
accounts, however, are equally favourable.

[FOOTNOTE: In the Revue musicale of December 29, 1832. The criticism is
worth reproducing:--"Quiconque n'a point entendu ce grand pianiste ne
peut se faire d'idee du mecanisme admirable de ses doigts, mecanisme tel
que les plus grandes difficultes semblent etre des choses fort simples,
et que sa main n'a point l'air de se mouvoir. Il n'est d'ailleurs pas
mains etonnant dans l'art d'attaquer la note et de varier a l'infini
les diverses nuances de force, de douceur et d'accent. Un enthousiasme
impossible a decrire, un veritable delire s'est manifeste dans le public
a l'audition de ce concerto plein de charme rendu avec une perfection de
fini, de precision, de nettete et d'expression qu'il serait impossible
de surpasser et que bien peu de pianistes pourraient egaler." Of a MS.
concerto played by Field at his second concert, given on February 3,
1833, Fetis says that it is "diffus, peu riche en motifs heureux, peu
digne, en un mot, de la renommee de son auteur," but "la delicieuse
execution de M. Field nous a tres-heureusement servi de compensation"]

Indeed, the contradictory criticisms to be met with in books and
newspapers leave on the reader the impression that Field disappointed
the expectations raised by his fame. The fact that the second concert
he gave was less well attended than the first cannot but confirm this
impression. He was probably no longer what he had been; and the reigning
pianoforte style and musical taste were certainly no longer what they
had been. "His elegant playing and beautiful manner of singing on the
piano made people admire his talent," wrote Fetis at a later period (in
his "Biographie universelle des Musiciens"), "although his execution had
not the power of the pianists of the modern school." It is not at
all surprising that the general public and the younger generation of
artists, more especially the romanticists, were not unanimously moved
to unbounded enthusiasm by "the clear limpid flow" and "almost somnolent
tranquillity" of Field's playing, "the placid tenderness, graceful
candour, and charming ingenuousness of his melodious reveries." This
characterisation of Field's style is taken from Liszt's preface to the
nocturnes. Moscheles, with whom Field dined in London shortly before
the latter's visit to Paris, gives in his diary a by no means flattering
account of him. Of the man, the diarist says that he is good-natured but
not educated and rather droll, and that there cannot be a more glaring
contrast than that between Field's nocturnes and Field's manners, which
were often cynical. Of the artist, Moscheles remarks that while his
touch was admirable and his legato entrancing, his playing lacked spirit
and accent, light and shadow, and depth of feeling. M. Marmontel was
not far wrong when, before having heard Field, he regarded him as the
forerunner of Chopin, as a Chopin without his passion, sombre reveries,
heart-throes, and morbidity. The opinions which the two artists had of
each other and the degree of their mutual sympathy and antipathy may be
easily guessed. We are, however, not put to the trouble of guessing all.
Whoever has read anything about Chopin knows of course Field's criticism
of him--namely, that he was "un talent de chambre de malade," which,
by the by, reminds one of a remark of Auber's, who said that Chopin was
dying all his life (il se meurt tonte sa vie). It is a pity that we
have not, as a pendant to Field's criticism on Chopin, one of Chopin on
Field. But whatever impression Chopin may have received from the artist,
he cannot but have been repelled by the man. And yet the older artist's
natural disposition was congenial to that of the younger one, only
intemperate habits had vitiated it. Spohr saw Field in 1802-1803, and
describes him as a pale, overgrown youth, whose dreamy, melancholy
playing made people forget his awkward bearing and badly-fitting
clothes. One who knew Field at the time of his first successes portrays
him as a young man with blonde hair, blue eyes, fair complexion, and
pleasing features, expressive of the mood of the moment--of child-like
ingenuousness, modest good-nature, gentle roguishness, and artistic
aspiration. M. Marmontel, who made his acquaintance in 1832, represents
him as a worn-out, vulgar-looking man of fifty, whose outward appearance
contrasted painfully with his artistic performances, and whose heavy,
thick-set form in conjunction with the delicacy and dreaminess of his
musical thoughts and execution called to mind Rossini's saying of a
celebrated singer, "Elle a l'air d'un elephant qui aurait avale un
rossignol." One can easily imagine the surprise and disillusion of
the four pupils of Zimmermann--MM. Marmontel, Prudent, A. Petit, and
Chollet--who, provided with a letter of introduction by their master,
called on Field soon after his arrival in Paris and beheld the great

   in a room filled with tobacco smoke, sitting in an easy
   chair, an enormous pipe in his mouth, surrounded by large and
   small bottles of all sorts [entoure de chopes et bouteilles
   de toutes provenances]. His rather large head, his highly-
   coloured cheeks, his heavy features gave a Falstaff-like
   appearance to his physiognomy.

Notwithstanding his tipsiness, he received the young gentlemen kindly,
and played to them two studies by Cramer and Clementi "with rare
perfection, admirable finish, marvellous agility, and exquisiteness
of touch." Many anecdotes might be told of Field's indolence and
nonchalance; for instance, how he often fell asleep while giving his
lessons, and on one occasion was asked whether he thought he was paid
twenty roubles for allowing himself to be played to sleep; or, how, when
his walking-stick had slipped out of his hand, he waited till some one
came and picked it up; or, how, on finding his dress-boots rather tight,
he put on slippers, and thus appeared in one of the first salons of
Paris and was led by the mistress of the house, the Duchess Decazes, to
the piano--but I have said enough of the artist who is so often named in
connection with Chopin.

From placid Field to volcanic Berlioz is an enormous distance, which,
however, we will clear at one leap, and do it too without hesitation or
difficulty. For is not leaping the mind's natural mode of locomotion,
and walking an artificially-acquired and rare accomplishment? Proceeding
step by step we move only with more or less awkwardness, but aided by
ever so slight an association of ideas we bound with the greatest ease
from any point to any other point of infinitude. Berlioz returned to
Paris in the latter part of 1832, and on the ninth of December of that
year gave a concert at which he produced among other works his "Episode
de la vie d'un artiste" (Part I.--"Symphonic fantastique," for the
second time; Part II--"Lelio, ou le retour a la vie," for the first
time), the subject of which is the history of his love for Miss
Smithson. Chopin, no doubt, made Berlioz's acquaintance through Liszt,
whose friendship with the great French symphonic composer dated from
before the latter's departure for Italy. The characters of Chopin and
Berlioz differed too much for a deep sympathy to exist between
them; their connection was indeed hardly more than a pleasant social
companionship. Liszt tells us that the constant intercourse with
Berlioz, Hiller, and other celebrities who were in the habit of saying
smart things, developed Chopin's natural talent for incisive remarks,
ironical answers, and ambiguous speeches. Berlioz. I think, had more
affection for Chopin than the latter for Berlioz.

But it is much more the artistic than the social attitude taken up by
Chopin towards Berlioz and romanticism which interests us. Has Liszt
correctly represented it? Let us see. It may be accepted as in the main
true that the nocturnes of Field, [Footnote: In connection with this,
however, Mikuli's remark has to be remembered.] the sonatas of
Dussek, and the "noisy virtuosities and decorative expressivities" of
Kalkbrenner were either insufficient for or antipathetic to Chopin; and
it is plainly evident that he was one of those who most perseveringly
endeavoured to free themselves from the servile formulas of the
conventional style and repudiated the charlatanisms that only replace
old abuses by new ones. On the other hand, it cannot be said that
he joined unreservedly those who, seeing the fire of talent devour
imperceptibly the old worm-eaten scaffolding, attached themselves to
the school of which Berlioz was the most gifted, valiant, and daring
representative, nor that, as long as the campaign of romanticism
lasted, he remained invariable in his predilections and repugnances.
The promptings of his genius taught Chopin that the practice of any one
author or set of authors, whatever their excellence might be, ought not
to be an obligatory rule for their successors. But while his individual
requirements led him to disregard use and wont, his individual taste set
up a very exclusive standard of his own. He adopted the maxims of the
romanticists, but disapproved of almost all the works of art in which
they were embodied. Or rather, he adopted their negative teaching, and
like them broke and threw off the trammels of dead formulas; but at the
same time he rejected their positive teaching, and walked apart from
them. Chopin's repugnance was not confined only to the frantic side and
the delirious excesses of romanticism as Liszt thinks. He presents to
us the strange spectacle of a thoroughly romantic and emphatically
unclassical composer who has no sympathy either with Berlioz and Liszt,
or with Schumann and other leaders of romanticism, and the object of
whose constant and ardent love and admiration was Mozart, the purest
type of classicism. But the romantic, which Jean Paul Richter defined
as "the beautiful without limitation, or the beautiful infinite" [das
Schone ohne Begrenzung, oder das schone Unendliche], affords more
scope for wide divergence, and allows greater freedom in the display of
individual and national differences, than the classical.

Chopin's and Berlioz's relative positions may be compared to those of
V. Hugo and Alfred de Musset, both of whom were undeniably romanticists,
and yet as unlike as two authors can be. For a time Chopin was carried
away by Liszt's and Killer's enthusiasm for Berlioz, but he soon retired
from his championship, as Musset from the Cenacle. Franchomme thought
this took place in 1833, but perhaps he antedated this change of
opinion. At any rate, Chopin told him that he had expected better things
from Berlioz, and declared that the latter's music justified any man
in breaking off all friendship with him. Some years afterwards, when
conversing with his pupil Gutmann about Berlioz, Chopin took up a pen,
bent back the point of it, and then let it rebound, saying: "This is the
way Berlioz composes--he sputters the ink over the pages of ruled paper,
and the result is as chance wills it." Chopin did not like the works of
Victor Hugo, because he felt them to be too coarse and violent. And this
may also have been his opinion of Berlioz's works. No doubt he spurned
Voltaire's maxim, "Le gout n'est autre chose pour la poesie que ce
qu'il est pour les ajustements des femmes," and embraced V. Hugo's
countermaxim, "Le gout c'est la raison du genie"; but his delicate,
beauty-loving nature could feel nothing but disgust at what has been
called the rehabilitation of the ugly, at such creations, for instance,
as Le Roi s'amuse and Lucrece Borgia, of which, according to their
author's own declaration, this is the essence:--

   Take the most hideous, repulsive, and complete physical
   deformity; place it where it stands out most prominently, in
   the lowest, most subterraneous and despised story of the
   social edifice; illuminate this miserable creature on all
   sides by the sinister light of contrasts; and then give it a
   soul, and place in that soul the purest feeling which is
   bestowed on man, the paternal feeling. What will be the
   result? This sublime feeling, intensified according to
   certain conditions, will transform under your eyes the
   degraded creature; the little being will become great; the
   deformed being will become beautiful.--Take the most hideous,
   repulsive, and complete moral deformity; place it where it
   stands out most prominently, in the heart of a woman, with
   all the conditions of physical beauty and royal grandeur
   which give prominence to crime; and now mix with all this
   moral deformity a pure feeling, the purest which woman can
   feel, the maternal feeling; place a mother in your monster
   and the monster will interest you, and the monster will make
   you weep, and this creature which caused fear will cause
   pity, and this deformed soul will become almost beautiful in
   your eyes. Thus we have in Le Roi s'amuse paternity
   sanctifying physical deformity; and in Lucrece Borgia
   maternity purifying moral deformity. [FOOTNOTE: from Victor
   Hugo's preface to "Lucrece Borgia."]

In fact, Chopin assimilated nothing or infinitely little of the ideas
that were surging around him. His ambition was, as he confided to his
friend Hiller, to become to his countrymen as a musician what Uhland was
to the Germans as a poet. Nevertheless, the intellectual activity of
the French capital and its tendencies had a considerable influence on
Chopin. They strengthened the spirit of independence in him, and were
potent impulses that helped to unfold his individuality in all its width
and depth. The intensification of thought and feeling, and the greater
fulness and compactness of his pianoforte style in his Parisian
compositions, cannot escape the attentive observer. The artist who
contributed the largest quotum of force to this impulse was probably
Liszt, whose fiery passions, indomitable energy, soaring enthusiasm,
universal tastes, and capacity of assimilation, mark him out as the very
opposite of Chopin. But, although the latter was undoubtedly stimulated
by Liszt's style of playing the piano and of writing for this
instrument, it is not so certain as Miss L. Ramann, Liszt's biographer,
thinks, that this master's influence can be discovered in many passages
of Chopin's music which are distinguished by a fiery and passionate
expression, and resemble rather a strong, swelling torrent than a
gently-gliding rivulet. She instances Nos. 9 and 12 of "Douze
Etudes," Op. 10; Nos. 11 and 12 of "Douze Etudes," Op. 25; No. 24 of
"Vingt-quatre Preludes," Op. 28; "Premier Scherzo," Op. 20; "Polonaise"
in A flat major, Op. 53; and the close of the "Nocturne" in A flat
major, Op. 32. All these compositions, we are told, exhibit Liszt's
style and mode of feeling. Now, the works composed by Chopin before he
came to Paris and got acquainted with Liszt comprise not only a sonata,
a trio, two concertos, variations, polonaises, waltzes, mazurkas, one
or more nocturnes, &c., but also--and this is for the question under
consideration of great importance--most of, if not all, the studies of
Op. 10, [FOOTNOTE: Sowinski says that Chopin brought with him to Paris
the MS. of the first book of his studies.] and some of Op. 25; and these
works prove decisively the inconclusiveness of the lady's argument. The
twelfth study of Op. 10 (composed in September, 1831) invalidates all
she says about fire, passion, and rushing torrents. In fact, no cogent
reason can be given why the works mentioned by her should not be the
outcome of unaided development.[FOONOTE: That is to say, development
not aided in the way indicated by Miss Ramann. Development can never
be absolutely unaided; it always presupposes conditions--external or
internal, physical or psychical, moral or intellectual--which induce
and promote it. What is here said may be compared with the remarks about
style and individuality on p. 214.] The first Scherzo alone might make
us pause and ask whether the new features that present themselves in
it ought not to be fathered on Liszt. But seeing that Chopin evolved so
much, why should he not also have evolved this? Moreover, we must keep
in mind that Liszt had, up to 1831, composed almost nothing of what in
after years was considered either by him or others of much moment,
and that his pianoforte style had first to pass through the state of
fermentation into which Paganini's, playing had precipitated it (in the
spring of 1831) before it was formed; on the other hand, Chopin arrived
in Paris with his portfolios full of masterpieces, and in possession of
a style of his own, as a player of his instrument as well as a writer
for it. That both learned from each other cannot be doubted; but the
exact gain of each is less easily determinable. Nevertheless, I think
I may venture to assert that whatever be the extent of Chopin's
indebtedness to Liszt, the latter's indebtedness to the former is
greater. The tracing of an influence in the works of a man of genius,
who, of course, neither slavishly imitates nor flagrantly appropriates,
is one of the most difficult tasks. If Miss Ramann had first noted
the works produced by the two composers in question before their
acquaintance began, and had carefully examined Chopin's early
productions with a view to ascertain his capability of growth, she
would have come to another conclusion, or, at least, have spoken less
confidently. [FOOTNOTE: Schumann, who in 1839 attempted to give a
history of Liszt's development (in the "Neue Zeitschrift fur Musik"),
remarked that when Liszt, on the one hand, was brooding over the most
gloomy fancies, and indifferent, nay, even blase, and, on the other
hand, laughing and madly daring, indulged in the most extravagant
virtuoso tricks, "the sight of Chopin, it seems, first brought him again
to his senses."]

It was not till 1833 that Chopin became known to the musical world as
a composer. For up to that time the "Variations," Op. 2, published in
1830, was the only work in circulation; the compositions previously
published in Warsaw--the "Rondo," Op. 1, and the "Rondeau a la Mazur,"
Op. 5--may be left out of account, as they did not pass beyond the
frontier of Poland till several years afterwards, when they were
published elsewhere. After the publication, in December, 1832, of Op. 6,
"Quatre Mazurkas," dedicated to Mdlle. la Comtesse Pauline Plater, and
Op. 7, "Cinq Mazurkas," dedicated to Mr. Johns, Chopin's compositions
made their appearance in quick succession. In the year 1833 were
published: in January, Op. 9, "Trois Nocturnes," dedicated to Mdme.
Camille Pleyel; in March, Op. 8, "Premier Trio," dedicated to M. le
Prince Antoine Radziwill; in July, Op. 10, "Douze Grandes Etudes,"
dedicated to Mr. Fr. Liszt; and Op. 11, "Grand Concerto" (in E minor),
dedicated to Mr. Fr. Kalkbrenner; and in November, Op. 12, "Variations
brillantes" (in B flat major), dedicated to Mdlle. Emma Horsford. In
1834 were published: in January, Op. 15, "Trois Nocturnes," dedicated
to Mr. Ferd. Hiller; in March, Op. 16, "Rondeau" (in E flat major),
dedicated to Mdlle. Caroline Hartmann; in April, Op. 13, "Grande
Fantaisie sur des airs polonais," dedicated to Mr. J. P. Pixis; and in
May, Op. 17, "Quatre Mazurkas," dedicated to Mdme. Lina Freppa; in June,
Op. 14, "Krakowiak, grand Rondeau de Concert," dedicated to Mdme.
la Princesse Adam Czartoryska; and Op. 18, "Grande Valse brillante,"
dedicated to Mdlle. Laura Horsford; and in October, Op. 19, "Bolero" (in
C major), dedicated to Mdme. la Comtesse E. de Flahault. [FOOTNOTE: The
dates given are those when the pieces, as far as I could ascertain, were
first heard of as published. For further information see "List of Works"
at the end of the second volume, where my sources of information are
mentioned, and the divergences of the different original editions, as
regards time of publication, are indicated.]

The "Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung" notices several of Chopin's
compositions with great praise in the course of 1833; in the year after
the notices became more frequent. But the critic who follows Chopin's
publications with the greatest attention and discusses them most fully
is Rellstab, the editor of the Iris. Unfortunately, he is not at all
favourably inclined towards the composer. He occasionally doles out a
little praise, but usually shows himself a spendthrift in censure and
abuse. His most frequent complaints are that Chopin strives too much
after originality, and that his music is unnecessarily difficult for the
hands. A few specimens of Rellstab's criticism may not be out of place
here. Of the "Mazurkas," Op. 7, he says:--

   In the dances before us the author satisfies the passion [of
   writing affectedly and unnaturally] to a loathsome excess. He
   is indefatigable, and I might say inexhaustible [sic], in his
   search for ear-splitting discords, forced transitions, harsh
   modulations, ugly distortions of melody and rhythm.
   Everything it is possible to think of is raked up to produce
   the effect of odd originality, but especially strange keys,
   the most unnatural positions of chords, the most perverse
   combinations with regard to fingering.

After some more discussion of the same nature, he concludes thus:-- If
Mr. Chopin had shown this composition to a master, the latter would,
it is to be hoped, have torn it and thrown it at his feet, which we
hereby do symbolically.

In his review of the "Trois Nocturnes," Op. 9, occurs the following
pretty passage:--

   Where Field smiles, Chopin makes a grinning grimace: where
   Field sighs, Chopin groans; where Field shrugs his shoulders,
   Chopin twists his whole body; where Field puts some seasoning
   into the food, Chopin empties a handful of Cayenne
   pepper...In short, if one holds Field's charming romances
   before a distorting concave mirror, so that every delicate
   expression becomes coarse, one gets Chopin's work...We
   implore Mr. Chopin to return to nature.

I shall quote one more sentence; it is from a notice of the "Douze
Etudes," Op. 10:--

   Those who have distorted fingers may put them right by
   practising these studies; but those who have not, should not
   play them, at least, not without having a surgeon at hand.

   [FOOTNOTE: In the number of the Iris in which this criticism
   appeared (No. 5 of Vol. V., 1834 Rellstab inserts the
   following letter, which he says he received from Leipzig:--

   "P. P.

   "You are really a very bad man, and not worthy that God's
   earth either knows (sic) or bears you. The King of Prussia
   should have imprisoned you in a fortress; in that case he
   would have removed from the world a rebel, a disturber of the
   peace, and an infamous enemy of humanity, who probably will
   yet be choked in his own blood. I have noticed a great number
   of enemies, not only in Berlin, but in all towns which I
   visited last summer on my artistic tour, especially very many
   here in Leipzig, where I inform you of this, in order--that
   you may in future change your disposition, and not act so
   uncharitably towards others. Another bad, bad trick, and you
   are done for! Do you understand me, you little man, you
   loveless and partial dog of a critic, you musical snarler
   [Schnurrbart], you Berlin wit-cracker [Witzenmacher], &c.

   "Your most obedient Servant,


   To this Rellstab adds: "Whether Mr. Chopin has written this
   letter himself, I do not know, and will not assert it, but
   print the document that he may recognise or repudiate it."
   The letter was not repudiated, but I do not think that it was
   written by Chopin. Had he written a letter, he surely would
   have written a less childish one, although the German might
   not have been much better than that of the above. But my
   chief reasons for doubting its genuineness are that Chopin
   made no artistic tour in Germany after 1831, and is not known
   to have visited Leipzig either in 1833 or 1834.]

However, we should not be too hard upon Rellstab, seeing that one of the
greatest pianists and best musicians of the time made in the same year
(in 1833, and not in 1831, as we read in Karasowski's book) an entry
in his diary, which expresses an opinion not very unlike his. Moscheles
writes thus:--

   I like to employ some free hours in the evening in making
   myself acquainted with Chopin's studies and his other
   compositions, and find much charm in the originality and
   national colouring of their motivi; but my fingers always
   stumble over certain hard, inartistic, and to me
   incomprehensible modulations, and the whole is often too
   sweetish for my taste, and appears too little worthy of a man
   and a trained musician.

And again--

   I am a sincere admirer of Chopin's originality; he has
   furnished pianists with matter of the greatest novelty and
   attractiveness. But personally I dislike the artificial,
   often forced modulations; my fingers stumble and fall over
   such passages; however much I may practise them, I cannot
   execute them without tripping.

The first criticism on Chopin's publications which I met with in the
French musical papers is one on the "Variations," Op. 12. It appeared in
the "Revue musicale" of January 26, 1834. After this his new works are
pretty regularly noticed, and always favourably. From what has been said
it will be evident that Karasowski made a mistake when he wrote that
Chopin's compositions began to find a wide circulation as early as the
year 1832.

Much sympathy has been undeservedly bestowed on the composer by many,
because they were under the impression that he had had to contend with
more than the usual difficulties. Now just the reverse was the case.
Most of his critics were well-disposed towards him, and his fame spread
fast. In 1834 (August 13) a writer in the "Allgemeine musikalische
Zeitung" remarks that Chopin had the good fortune to draw upon himself
sooner than others the attention not only of the pianists, although of
these particularly, but also of a number of the musicians generally. And
in 1836 even Rellstab, Chopin's most adverse critic, says: "We entertain
the hope of hearing a public performance of the Concerto [the second,
Op. 21] in the course of the winter, for now it is a point of honour for
every pianist to play Chopin." The composer, however, cannot be said to
have enjoyed popularity; his works were relished only by the few, not
by the many. Chopin's position as a pianist and composer at the point we
have reached in the history of his life (1833-1834) is well described by
a writer in the "Revue musicale" of May 15, 1834:--

   Chopin [he says] has opened up for himself a new route, and
   from the first moment of his appearance on the scene he has
   taken so high a stand, both by his pianoforte-playing and by
   his compositions for this instrument, that he is to the
   multitude an inexplicable phenomenon which it looks on in
   passing with astonishment, and which stupid egoism regards
   with a smile of pity, while the small number of connoisseurs,
   led by a sure judgment, rather by an instinct of progress
   than by a reasoned sentiment of enjoyment, follow this artist
   in his efforts and in his creations, if not closely, at least
   at a distance, admiring him, learning from him, and trying to
   imitate him. For this reason Chopin has not found a critic,
   although his works are already known everywhere. They have
   either excited equivocal smiles and have been disparaged, or
   have provoked astonishment and an overflow of unlimited
   praise; but nobody has as yet come forward to say in what
   their peculiar character and merit consists, by what they are
   distinguished from so many other compositions, what assigns
   to them a superior rank, &c.

No important events are to be recorded of the season 1833-1834, but
that Chopin was making his way is shown by a passage from a letter which
Orlowski wrote to one of his friends in Poland:--

   Chopin [he says] is well and strong; he turns the heads of
   all the Frenchwomen, and makes the men jealous of him. He is
   now the fashion, and the elegant world will soon wear gloves
   a la Chopin, Only the yearning after his country consumes

In the spring of 1834 Chopin took a trip to Aix-la-Chapelle, where
at Whitsuntide the Lower Rhenish Music Festival was held. Handel's
"Deborah," Mozart's Jupiter Symphony, and part of Beethoven's Ninth
were on the programme, and the baton was in the hand of Ferdinand Ries.
Hiller, who had written additional accompaniments to the oratorio and
translated the English words into German, had received an invitation
from the committee, and easily persuaded Chopin to accompany him.
But this plan very nearly came to naught. While they were making
preparations for the journey, news reached them that the festival was
postponed; and when a few days later they heard that it would take place
after all, poor Chopin was no longer able to go, having in the meantime
spent the money put aside for travelling expenses, probably given it
away to one of his needy countrymen, to whom, as Hiller says, his purse
was always open. But what was to be done now? Hiller did not like to
depart without his friend, and urged him to consider if he could not
contrive in one way or another to procure the requisite pecuniary
outfit. At last Chopin said he thought he could manage it, took the
manuscript of the Waltz in E flat (Op. 18), went with it to Pleyel, and
returned with 500 francs. [FOOTNOTE: I repeat Hiller's account without
vouching for its literal correctness, confining myself to the statement
that the work was in print on the 1st of June,1834, and published by
Schlesinger, of Paris, not by Pleyel.] Thus the barrier was removed, and
the friends set out for Aix-la-Chapelle. There Hiller was quartered in
the house of the burgomaster, and Chopin got a room close by. They
went without much delay to the rehearsal of "Deborah," where they met
Mendelssohn, who describes their meeting in a letter addressed to his
mother (Dusseldorf, May 23, 1834):--

   On the first tier sat a man with a moustache reading the
   score, and as he was coming downstairs after the rehearsal,
   and I was going up, we met in the side-scenes, and Ferdinand
   Hiller stumbled right into my arms, almost crushing me in his
   joyful embrace. He had come from Paris to hear the oratorio,
   and Chopin had left his pupils in the lurch and come with
   him, and thus we met again. Now I had my full share of
   pleasure in the musical festival, for we three now remained
   together, got a box in the theatre (where the performances
   are given) to ourselves, and as a matter of course betook
   ourselves next morning to a piano, where I enjoyed myself
   greatly. They have both still further developed their
   execution, and Chopin is now one of the very first pianoforte-
   players; he produces as novel effects as Paganini does on the
   violin, and performs wonders which one would never have
   imagined possible. Hiller, too, is an excellent player,
   powerful and coquettish enough. Both are a little infected by
   the Parisian mania for despondency and straining after
   emotional vehemence [Verzweif-lungssucht und
   Leidenschaftssucherei], and often lose sight of time and
   repose and the really musical too much. I, on the other hand,
   do so perhaps too little. Thus we made up for each other's
   deficiencies, and all three, I think, learned something,
   while I felt rather like a schoolmaster, and they like
   mirliflores or incroyables.

After the festival the three musicians travelled together to Dusseldorf,
where since the preceding October Mendelssohn was settled as musical
director. They passed the morning of the day which Chopin and Hiller
spent in the town at Mendelssohn's piano, and in the afternoon took a
walk, at the end of which they had coffee and a game at skittles. In
this walk they were accompanied by F. W. Schadow, the director of the
Academy of Art and founder of the Dusseldorf School, and some of
his pupils, among whom may have been one or more of its brightest
stars--Lessing, Bendemann, Hildebrandt, Sohn, and Alfred Rethel. Hiller,
who furnishes us with some particulars of what Mendelssohn calls "a very
agreeable day passed in playing and discussing music," says that
Schadow and his pupils appeared to him like a prophet surrounded by
his disciples. But the dignified manner and eloquent discourse of the
prophet, the humble silence of the devoutly-listening disciples, seem to
have prevented Chopin from feeling quite at ease.

   Chopin [writes Hiller], who was not known to any of them, and
   extremely reserved, kept close to me during the walk,
   observing everything and making remarks to me in a low, low
   tone. For the later part of the evening we were invited to
   the Schadows', who were never wanting in hospitality. We
   found there some of the most eminent young painters. The
   conversation soon became very animated, and all would have
   been right if poor Chopin had not sat there so reserved--not
   to say unnoticed. However, Mendelssohn and I knew that he
   would have his revenge, and were secretly rejoicing at the
   thought. At last the piano was opened; I began, Mendelssohn
   followed; then we asked Chopin to play, and rather doubtful
   looks were cast at him and us. But he had hardly played a few
   bars when all present, especially Schadow, looked at him with
   altogether different eyes. Nothing like it had ever been
   heard. They were all in the greatest delight, and begged for
   more and more. Count Almaviva had dropped his disguise, and
   all were speechless.

The following day Chopin and Hiller set out per steamer for Coblenz, and
Mendelssohn, although Schadow had asked him what was to become of "St.
Paul," at which he was working, accompanied them as far as Cologne.
There, after a visit to the Apostles' church, they parted at the Rhine
bridge, and, as Mendelssohn wrote to his mother, "the pleasant episode
was over."




The coming to Paris and settlement there of his friend Matuszynski must
have been very gratifying to Chopin, who felt so much the want of one
with whom he could sigh. Matuszynski, who, since we heard last of him,
had served as surgeon-major in the Polish insurrectionary army, and
taken his doctor's degree at Tubingen in 1834, proceeded in the
same year to Paris, where he was appointed professor at the Ecole
de Medecine. The latter circumstance testifies to his excellent
professional qualities, and Chopin's letters do not leave us in doubt
concerning the nature of his qualities as a friend. Indeed, what George
Sand says of his great influence over Chopin only confirms what these
letters lead one to think. In 1834 Matuszynski wrote in a letter
addressed to his brother-in-law:--

   The first thing I did in Paris was to call on Chopin. I
   cannot tell you how great our mutual happiness was on meeting
   again after a separation of five years. He has grown strong
   and tall; I hardly recognised him. Chopin is now the first
   pianist here; he gives a great many lessons, but none under
   twenty francs. He has composed much, and his works are in
   great request. I live with him: Rue Chaussee d'Antin, No. 5.
   This street is indeed rather far from the Ecole de Medecine
   and the hospitals; but I have weighty reasons for staying
   with him--he is my all! We spend the evenings at the theatre
   or pay visits; if we do not do one or the other, we enjoy
   ourselves quietly at home.

Less interesting than this letter of Matuszynski's, with its glimpses of
Chopin's condition and habits, are the reminiscences of a Mr. W., now or
till lately a music-teacher at Posen, who visited Paris in 1834, and
was introduced to Chopin by Dr. A. Hofman. [FOONOTE: See p. 257.] But,
although less interesting, they are by no means without significance,
for instance, with regard to the chronology of the composer's works.
Being asked to play something, Mr. W. chose Kalkbrenner's variations
on one of Chopin's mazurkas (the one in B major, Op. 7, No. 1). Chopin
generously repaid the treat which Kalkbrenner's variations and his
countryman's execution may have afforded him, by playing the studies
which he afterwards published as Op. 25.

Elsner, like all Chopin's friends, was pleased with the young artist's
success. The news he heard of his dear Frederick filled his heart
with joy, nevertheless he was not altogether satisfied. "Excuse my
sincerity," he writes, on September 14, 1834, "but what you have done
hitherto I do not yet consider enough." Elsner's wish was that Chopin
should compose an opera, if possible one with a Polish historical
subject; and this he wished, not so much for the increase of Chopin's
fame as for the advantage of the art. Knowing his pupil's talents and
acquirements he was sure that what a critic pointed out in Chopin's
mazurkas would be fully displayed and obtain a lasting value only in an
opera. The unnamed critic referred to must be the writer in the "Gazette
musicale," who on June 29, 1834, in speaking of the "Quatre Mazurkas,"
Op. 17, says--

   Chopin has gained a quite special reputation by the clever
   spirituelle and profoundly artistic manner in which he knows
   how to treat the national music of Poland, a genre of music
   which was to us as yet little known...here again he appears
   poetical, tender, fantastic, always graceful, and always
   charming, even in the moments when he abandons himself to the
   most passionate inspiration.

Karasowski says that Elsner's letter made Chopin seriously think of
writing an opera, and that he even addressed himself to his friend
Stanislas Kozmian with the request to furnish him with a libretto, the
subject of which was to be taken from Polish history. I do not question
this statement. But if it is true, Chopin soon abandoned the idea. In
fact, he thoroughly made up his mind, and instead of endeavouring to
become a Shakespeare he contented himself with being an Uhland. The
following conversations will show that Chopin acquired the rarest
and most precious kind of knowledge, that is, self-knowledge. His
countryman, the painter Kwiatkowski, calling one day on Chopin found him
and Mickiewicz in the midst of a very excited discussion. The poet urged
the composer to undertake a great work, and not to fritter away his
power on trifles; the composer, on the other hand, maintained that he
was not in possession of the qualities requisite for what he was advised
to undertake. G. Mathias, who studied under Chopin from 1839 to 1844,
remembers a conversation between his master and M. le Comte de Perthuis,
one of Louis Philippe's aides-de-camp. The Count said--

   "Chopin, how is it that you, who have such admirable ideas,
   do not compose an opera?" [Chopin, avec vos idees admirables,
   pourquoi ne nous faites-vous pas un opera?] "Ah, Count, let
   me compose nothing but music for the pianoforte; I am not
   learned enough to compose operas!" [Ah, Monsieur le Comte,
   laissez-moi ne faire que de la musique de piano; pour faire
   des operas je ne suis pas assez savant.]

Chopin, in fact, knew himself better than his friends and teacher knew
him, and it was well for him and it is well for us that he did, for
thereby he saved himself much heart-burning and disappointment, and us
the loss of a rich inheritance of charming and inimitable pianoforte
music. He was emphatically a Kleinmeister--i.e. a master of works of
small size and minute execution. His attempts in the sonata-form were
failures, although failures worth more--some of them at least--than
many a clever artist's most brilliant successes. Had he attempted the
dramatic form the result would in all probability have been still less
happy; for this form demands not only a vigorous constructive power,
but in addition to it a firm grasp of all the vocal and instrumental
resources--qualities, in short, in which Chopin was undeniably
deficient, owing not so much to inadequate training as to the nature
of his organisation. Moreover, he was too much given to express his
own emotions, too narrow in his sympathies, in short, too individual a
composer, to successfully express the emotions of others, to objectively
conceive and set forth the characters of men and women unlike himself.
Still, the master's confidence in his pupil, though unfounded in this
particular, is beautiful to contemplate; and so also is his affection
for him, which even the pedantic style of his letters cannot altogether
hide. Nor is it possible to admire in a less degree the reciprocation of
these sentiments by the great master's greater pupil:--

   What a pity it is [are the concluding words of Elsner's
   letter of September 14, 1834] that we can no longer see each
   other and exchange our opinions! I have got so much to tell
   you. I should like also to thank you for the present, which
   is doubly precious to me. I wish I were a bird, so that I
   might visit you in your Olympian dwelling, which the
   Parisians take for a swallow's nest. Farewell, love me, as I
   do you, for I shall always remain your sincere friend and

In no musical season was Chopin heard so often in public as in that of
1834-35; but it was not only his busiest, it was also his last season
as a virtuoso. After it his public appearances ceased for several years
altogether, and the number of concerts at which he was subsequently
heard does not much exceed half-a-dozen. The reader will be best enabled
to understand the causes that led to this result if I mention those of
Chopin's public performances in this season which have come under
my notice. On December 7, 1834, at the third and last of a series
of concerts given by Berlioz at the Conservatoire, Chopin played an
"Andante" for the piano with orchestral accompaniments of his own
composition, which, placed as it was among the overtures to "Les
Francs-Juges" and "King Lear," the "Harold" Symphony, and other works of
Berlioz, no doubt sounded at the concert as strange as it looks on
the programme. The "Andante" played by Chopin was of course the middle
movement of one of his concertos. [Footnote: Probably the "Larghetto"
from the F minor Concerto. See Liszt's remark on p. 282.]

On December 25 of the same year, Dr. Francois Stoepel gave a matinee
musicale at Pleyel's rooms, for which he had secured a number of very
distinguished artists. But the reader will ask--"Who is Dr. Stoepel?"
An author of several theoretical works, instruction books, and musical
compositions, who came to Paris in 1829 and founded a school on
Logier's system, as he had done in Berlin and other towns, but was
as unsuccessful in the French capital as elsewhere. Disappointed
and consumptive he died in 1836 at the age of forty-two; his income,
although the proceeds of teaching were supplemented by the remuneration
for contributions to the "Gazette musicale," having from first to last
been scanty. Among the artists who took part in this matinee musicale
were Chopin, Liszt, the violinist Ernst, and the singers Mdlle.
Heinefetter, Madame Degli-Antoni, and M. Richelmi. The programme
comprised also an improvisation on the orgue expressif (harmonium) by
Madame de la Hye, a grand-niece of J.J. Rousseau's. Liszt and Chopin
opened the matinee with a performance of Moscheles' "Grand duo a quatre
mains," of which the reporter of the "Gazette musicale" writes as

   We consider it superfluous to say that this piece, one of the
   masterworks of the composer, was executed with a rare
   perfection of talent by the two greatest pianoforte-virtuosos
   of our epoch. Brilliancy of execution combined with perfect
   delicacy, sustained elevation, and the contrast of the most
   spirited vivacity and calmest serenity, of the most graceful
   lightness and gravest seriousness--the clever blending of all
   the nuances can only be expected from two artists of the same
   eminence and equally endowed with deep artistic feeling. The
   most enthusiastic applause showed MM. Liszt and Chopin better
   than we can do by our words how much they charmed the
   audience, which they electrified a second time by a Duo for
   two pianos composed by Liszt.

This work of Liszt's was no doubt the Duo for two pianos on a theme of
Mendelssohn's which, according to Miss Ramann, was composed in 1834 but
never published, and is now lost.

The "Menestrel" of March 22, 1835, contains a report of a concert at
Pleyel's rooms, without, however, mentioning the concert-giver, who was
probably the proprietor himself:--

   The last concert at Pleyel's rooms was very brilliant. Men of
   fashion, litterateurs, and artists had given each other
   rendez-vous there to hear our musical celebrities--MM. Herz,
   Chopin, Osborne, Hiller, Reicha, Mesdames Camille Lambert and
   Leroy, and M. Hamati [read Stamati], a young pianist who had
   not yet made a public appearance in our salons. These artists
   performed various pieces which won the approval of all.

And now mark the dying fall of this vague report: "Kalkbrenner's
Variations on the cavatina 'Di tanti palpiti' were especially

We come now to the so much talked-of concert at the Italian Opera, which
became so fateful in Chopin's career as a virtuoso. It is generally
spoken of as a concert given by Chopin, and Karasowski says it took
place in February, 1834. I have, however, been unable to find any trace
of a concert given by Chopin in 1834. On the other hand, Chopin played
on April 5, 1835, at a concert which in all particulars except that of
date answers to the description of the one mentioned by Karasowski. The
"Journal des Debats" of April 4, 1835, draws the public's attention to
it by the following short and curious article:--

   The concert for the benefit of the indigent Poles [i.e.,
   indigent Polish refugees] will take place to-morrow,
   Saturday, at the Theatre-Italien, at eight o'clock in the
   evening. Mdlle. Falcon and Nourrit, MM. Ernst, Dorus, Schopin
   [sic], Litz [sic], and Pantaleoni, will do the honours of
   this soiree, which will be brilliant. Among other things
   there will be heard the overtures to "Oberon" and "Guillaume
   Tell," the duet from the latter opera, sung by Mdlle. Falcon
   and Nourrit, and romances by M. Schubert, sung by Nourrit and
   accompanied by Litz, &c.

To this galaxy of artistic talent I have yet to add Habeneck, who
conducted the orchestra. Chopin played with the orchestra his E minor
Concerto and with Liszt a duet for two pianos by Hiller.

   As you may suppose [says a writer of a notice in the "Gazette
   musicale"] M. Chopin was not a stranger to the composition of
   the programme of this soiree in behalf of his unhappy
   countrymen. Accordingly the fete was brilliant.

In the same notice may also be read the following:--

   Chopin's Concerto, so original, of so brilliant a style, so
   full of ingenious details, so fresh in its melodies, obtained
   a very great success. It is very difficult not to be
   monotonous in a pianoforte concerto; and the amateurs could
   not but thank Chopin for the pleasure he had procured them,
   while the artists admired the talent which enabled him to do
   so [i.e., to avoid monotony], and at the same time to
   rejuvenate so antiquated a form.

The remark on the agedness of the concerto-form and the difficulty of
not being monotonous is naive and amusing enough to be quoted for its
own sake, but what concerns us here is the correctness of the report.
Although the expressions of praise contained in it are by no means
enthusiastic, nay, are not even straightforward, they do not tally
with what we learn from other accounts. This discrepancy may be thus
explained. Maurice Schlesinger, the founder and publisher of the
"Gazette musicale," was on friendly terms with Chopin and had already
published some of his compositions. What more natural, therefore, than
that, if the artist's feelings were hurt, he should take care that
they should not be further tortured by unpleasant remarks in his paper.
Indeed, in connection with all the Chopin notices and criticisms in
the "Gazette musicale" we must keep in mind the relations between the
publisher and composer, and the fact that several of the writers in
the paper were Chopin's intimate friends, and many of them were of the
clique, or party, to which he also belonged. Sowinski, a countryman
and acquaintance of Chopin's, says of this concert that the theatre
was crowded and all went well, but that Chopin's expectations were
disappointed, the E minor Concerto not producing the desired effect. The
account in Larousse's "Grand Dictionnaire" is so graphic that it
makes one's flesh creep. After remarking that Chopin obtained only a
demi-success, the writer of the article proceeds thus: "The bravos of
his friends and a few connoisseurs alone disturbed the cold and somewhat
bewildered attitude of the majority of the audience." According to
Sowinski and others Chopin's repugnance to play in public dates from
this concert; but this repugnance was not the outcome of one but of
many experiences. The concert at the Theatre-Italien may, however, have
brought it to the culminating point. Liszt told me that Chopin was
most deeply hurt by the cold reception he got at a concert at the
Conservatoire, where he played the Larghetto from the F minor Concerto.
This must have been at Berlioz's concert, which I mentioned on one of
the foregoing pages of this chapter.

Shortly after the concert at the Theatre-Italien, Chopin ventured once
more to face that terrible monster, the public. On Sunday, April 26,
1835, he played at a benefit concert of Habeneck's, which is notable as
the only concert of the Societe des Concerts du Conservatoire in which
he took part. The programme was as follows:--1. The "Pastoral Symphony,"
by Beethoven; 2. "The Erl-King," by Schubert, sung by M. Ad. Nourrit;
3. Scherzo from the "Choral Symphony," by Beethoven; 4. "Polonaise
avec introduction" [i.e., "Polonaise brillante precedee d'un Andante
spianato"], composed and played by M. Chopin; 5. Scena, by Beethoven,
sung by Mdlle. Falcon; 6. Finale from the C minor Symphony, by
Beethoven. The writer of the article Chopin in Larousse's "Grand
Dictionnaire" says that Chopin had no reason to repent of having taken
part in the concert, and others confirm this statement. In Elwart's
"Histoire des Concerts du Conservatoire" we read:--"Le compositeur
reveur, l'elegiaque pianiste, produisit a ce concert un effet
delicieux." To the author of the "Histoire dramatique en France" and
late curator of the Musee du Conservatoire I am indebted for some
precious communications. M. Gustave Chouquet, who at the time we are
speaking of was a youth and still at the College, informed me in a
charming letter that he was present at this concert at which Chopin
played, and also at the preceding one (on Good Friday) at which Liszt
played Weber's "Concertstuck," and that he remembered very well "the
fiery playing of Liszt and the ineffable poetry of Chopin's style."
In another letter M. Chouquet gave a striking resume of the vivid
reminiscences of his first impressions:--

   Liszt, in 1835 [he wrote], represented a merveilleux the
   prototype of the virtuoso; while in my opinion Chopin
   personified the poet. The first aimed at effect and posed as
   the Paganini of the piano; Chopin, on the other hand, seemed
   never to concern himself [se preuccuper] about the public,
   and to listen only to the inner voices. He was unequal; but
   when inspiration took hold of him [s'emparait de hit] he made
   the keyboard sing in an ineffable manner. I owe him some
   poetic hours which I shall never forget.

One of the facts safely deducible from the often doubtful and
contradictory testimonies relative to Chopin's public performances is,
that when he appeared before a large and mixed audience he failed to
call forth general enthusiasm. He who wishes to carry the multitude
away with him must have in him a force akin to the broad sweep of a
full river. Chopin, however, was not a Demosthenes, Cicero, Mirabeau, or
Pitt. Unless he addressed himself to select conventicles of sympathetic
minds, the best of his subtle art remained uncomprehended. How well
Chopin knew this may be gathered from what he said to Liszt:--

   I am not at all fit for giving concerts, the crowd
   intimidates me, its breath suffocates me, I feel paralysed by
   its curious look, and the unknown faces make me dumb. But you
   are destined for it, for when you do not win your public, you
   have the power to overwhelm it.

Opposition and indifference, which stimulate more vigorous natures,
affected Chopin as touch does the mimosa pudica, the sensitive
plant--they made him shrink and wither. Liszt observes correctly that
the concerts did not so much fatigue Chopin's physical constitution
as provoke his irritability as a poet; that, in fact, his delicate
constitution was less a reason than a pretext for abstention, he wishing
to avoid being again and again made the subject of debate. But it is
more difficult for one in similar circumstances not to feel as Chopin
did than for a successful virtuoso like Liszt to say:--

   If Chopin suffered on account of his not being able to take
   part in those public and solemn jousts where popular
   acclamation salutes the victor; if he felt depressed at
   seeing himself excluded from them, it was because he did not
   esteem highly enough what he had, to do gaily without what he
   had not.

To be sure, the admiration of the best men of his time ought to have
consoled him for the indifference of the dull crowd. But do we not all
rather yearn for what we have not than enjoy what we have? Nay, do we
not even often bewail the unattainableness of vain bubbles when it would
be more seasonable to rejoice in the solid possessions with which we
are blessed? Chopin's discontent, however, was caused by the
unattainableness not of a vain bubble, but of a precious crown. There
are artists who pretend to despise the great public, but their abuse of
it when it withholds its applause shows their real feeling. No artist
can at heart be fully satisfied with the approval of a small minority;
Chopin, at any rate, was not such a one. Nature, who had richly endowed
him with the qualities that make a virtuoso, had denied him one, perhaps
the meanest of all, certainly the least dispensable, the want of which
balked him of the fulfilment of the promise with which the others had
flattered him, of the most brilliant reward of his striving. In the
lists where men much below his worth won laurels and gold in abundance
he failed to obtain a fair share of the popular acclamation. This
was one of the disappointments which, like malignant cancers, cruelly
tortured and slowly consumed his life.

The first performance of Bellini's "I Puritani" at the Theatre-Italien
(January 24, 1835), which as well as that of Halevy's "La Juive" at the
Academic (February 23, 1835), and of Auber's "Le cheval de bronze" at
the Opera-Comique (March 23, 1835), was one of the chief musico-dramatic
events of the season 1834-1835, reminds me that I ought to say a few
words about the relation which existed between the Italian and the
Polish composer. Most readers will have heard of Chopin's touching
request to be buried by the side of Bellini. Loath though I am to
discredit so charming a story, duty compels me to state that it is
wholly fictitious. Chopin's liking for Bellini and his music, how ever,
was true and real enough. Hiller relates that he rarely saw him so
deeply moved as at a performance of Norma, which they attended together,
and that in the finale of the second act, in which Rubini seemed to sing
tears, Chopin had tears in his eyes. A liking for the Italian operatic
music of the time, a liking which was not confined to Bellini's works,
but, as Franchomme, Wolff, and others informed me, included also those
of Rossini, appears at first sight rather strange in a musician of
Chopin's complexion; the prevalent musical taste at Warsaw, and a
kindred trait in the national characters of the Poles and Italians,
however, account for it. With regard to Bellini, Chopin's sympathy was
strengthened by the congeniality of their individual temperaments. Many
besides Leon Escudier may have found in the genius of Chopin points of
resemblance with Bellini as well as with Raphael--two artists who, it is
needless to say, were heaven-wide apart in the mastery of the craft of
their arts, and in the width, height, and depth of their conceptions.
The soft, rounded Italian contours and sweet sonorousness of some of
Chopin's cantilene cannot escape the notice of the observer. Indeed,
Chopin's Italicisms have often been pointed out. Let me remind the
reader here only of some remarks of Schumann's, made apropos of the
Sonata in B flat minor, Op. 35:--

   It is known that Bellini and Chopin were friends, and that
   they, who often made each other acquainted with their
   compositions, may perhaps have had some artistic influence on
   each other. But, as has been said, there is [on the part of
   Chopin] only a slight leaning to the southern manner; as soon
   as the cantilena is at an end the Sarmatian flashes out

To understand Chopin's sympathy we have but to picture to ourselves
Bellini's personality--the perfectly well-proportioned, slender figure,
the head with its high forehead and scanty blonde hair, the well-formed
nose, the honest, bright look, the expressive mouth; and within this
pleasing exterior, the amiable, modest disposition, the heart that felt
deeply, the mind that thought acutely. M. Charles Maurice relates a
characteristic conversation in his "Histoire anecdotique du Theatre."
Speaking to Bellini about "La Sonnambula," he had remarked that there
was soul in his music. This expression pleased the composer immensely.
"Oui, n'est-ce pas? De l'ame!" he exclaimed in his soft Italian manner
of speaking, "C'est ce que je veux...De L'ame! Oh! je suis sensible!
Merci!...C'est que l'ame, c'est toute la musique!" "And he pressed my
hands," says Charles Maurice, "as if I had discovered a new merit in his
rare talent." This specimen of Bellini's conversation is sufficient to
show that his linguistic accomplishments were very limited. Indeed, as
a good Sicilian he spoke Italian badly, and his French was according to
Heine worse than bad, it was frightful, apt to make people's hair stand
on end.

When one was in the same salon with him, his vicinity inspired one with
a certain anxiety mingled with the fascination of terror which repelled
and attracted at the same time. His puns were not always of an amusing
kind. Hiller also mentions Bellini's bad grammar and pronunciation, but
he adds that the contrast between what he said and the way he said
it gave to his gibberish a charm which is often absent from the
irreproachable language of trained orators. It is impossible to
conjecture what Bellini might have become as a musician if, instead
of dying before the completion of his thirty-third year (September 24,
1835), he had lived up to the age of fifty or sixty; thus much, however,
is certain, that there was still in him a vast amount of undeveloped
capability. Since his arrival in Paris he had watched attentively the
new musical phenomena that came there within his ken, and the "Puritani"
proves that he had not done so without profit. This sweet singer from
sensuous Italy was not insensible even to the depth and grandeur of
German music. After hearing Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony, for instance,
he said to Hiller, his eyes glistening as if he had himself done a great
deed: "E bel comme la nature!" [Footnote: I give the words literally
as they are printed in Hiller's Kimmerleben. The mixture of Italian
and French was no doubt intended, but hardly the spelling.] In short,
Bellini was a true artist, and therefore a meet companion for a true
artist like Chopin, of whose music it can be said with greater force
than of that of most composers that "it is all soul." Chopin, who of
course met Bellini here and there in the salons of the aristocracy,
came also in closer contact with him amidst less fashionable but
more congenial surroundings. I shall now let Hiller, the pleasant
story-teller, speak, who, after remarking that Bellini took a great
interest in piano-forte music, even though it was not played by a
Chopin, proceeds thus:--

   I can never forget some evenings which I spent with him
   [Bellini] and Chopin and a few other guests at Madame
   Freppa's. Madame Freppa, an accomplished and exceedingly
   musical woman, born at Naples, but of French extraction, had,
   in order to escape from painful family circumstances, settled
   in Paris, where she taught singing in the most distinguished
   circles. She had an exceedingly sonorous though not powerful
   voice, and an excellent method, and by her rendering of
   Italian folk-songs and other simple vocal compositions of the
   older masters charmed even the spoiled frequenters of the
   Italian Opera. We cordially esteemed her, and sometimes went
   together to visit her at the extreme end of the Faubourg St.
   Germain, where she lived with her mother on a troisieme au
   dessus de l'entresol, high above all the noise and tumult of
   the ever-bustling city. There music was discussed, sung, and
   played, and then again discussed, played, and sung. Chopin
   and Madame Freppa seated themselves by turns at the
   pianoforte; I, too, did my best; Bellini made remarks, and
   accompanied himself in one or other of his cantilene, rather
   in illustration of what he had been saying than for the
   purpose of giving a performance of them. He knew how to sing
   better than any German composer whom I have met, and had a
   voice less full of sound than of feeling. His pianoforte-
   playing sufficed for the reproduction of his orchestra,
   which, indeed, is not saying much. But he knew very well what
   he wanted, and was far from being a kind of natural poet, as
   some may imagine him to have been.

In the summer of 1835, towards the end of July, Chopin journeyed to
Carlsbad, whither his father had been sent by the Warsaw physicians. The
meeting of the parents and their now famous son after a separation of
nearly five years was no doubt a very joyous one; but as no accounts
have come down to us of Chopin's doings and feelings during his sojourn
in the Bohemian watering-place, I shall make no attempt to fill up the
gap by a gushing description of what may have been, evolved out of
the omniscience of my inner consciousness, although this would be an
insignificant feat compared with those of a recent biographer whose
imaginativeness enabled her to describe the appearance of the sky
and the state of the weather in the night when her hero became a free
citizen of this planet, and to analyse minutely the characters of
private individuals whose lives were passed in retirement, whom she had
never seen, and who had left neither works nor letters by which they
might be judged.

From Carlsbad Chopin went to Dresden. His doings there were of great
importance to him, and are of great interest to us. In fact, a
new love-romance was in progress. But the story had better be told
consecutively, for which reason I postpone my account of his stay in the
Saxon capital till the next chapter.

Frederick Wieck, the father and teacher of Clara, who a few years later
became the wife of Robert Schumann, sent the following budget of Leipzig
news to Nauenburg, a teacher of music in Halle, in the autumn of 1835:--

   The first subscription concert will take place under the
   direction of Mendelssohn on October 4, the second on October
   4. To-morrow or the day after to-morrow Chopin will arrive
   here from Dresden, but will probably not give a concert, for
   he is very lazy. He could stay here for some time, if false
   friends (especially a dog of a Pole) did not prevent him from
   making himself acquainted with the musical side of Leipzig.
   But Mendelssohn, who is a good friend of mine and Schumann's,
   will oppose this. Chopin does not believe, judging from a
   remark he made to a colleague in Dresden, that there is any
   lady in Germany who can play his compositions--we will see
   what Clara can do.

The Neue Zeitschrift fur Musik, Schumann's paper, of September 29, 1835,
contained the following announcement:--

   Leipzig will soon be able to show a Kalisz [Footnote: An
   allusion to the encampment of Russian and Prussian troops and
   friendly meeting of princes which took place there in 1835.]
   as regards musical crowned heads. Herr Mendelssohn has
   already arrived. Herr Moscheles comes this week; and besides
   him there will be Chopin, and later, Pixis and Franzilla.
   [Footnote: Franzilla (or Francilla) Pixis, the adopted
   daughter of Peter Pixis, whose acquaintance the reader made
   in one of the preceding chapters (p. 245).]

The details of the account of Chopin's visit to Leipzig which I am now
going to give, were communicated to me by Ernst Ferdinand Wenzel,
the well-known professor of pianoforte-playing at the Leipzig
Conservatorium, who died in 1880.

In the middle of the year 1835 the words "Chopin is coming" were passing
from mouth to mouth, and caused much stir in the musical circles of
Leipzig. Shortly after this my informant saw Mendelssohn in the street
walking arm in arm with a young man, and he knew at once that the Polish
musician had arrived, for this young man could be no other than Chopin.
From the direction in which the two friends were going, he guessed
whither their steps were tending. He, therefore, ran as fast as his legs
would carry him to his master Wieck, to tell him that Chopin would be
with him in another moment. The visit had been expected, and a little
party was assembled, every one of which was anxious to see and hear
the distinguished artist. Besides Wieck, his wife, daughter, and
sister-in-law, there were present Robert Schumann and Wieck's pupils
Wenzel, Louis Rakemann, and Ulex. But the irascible pedagogue, who felt
offended because Chopin had not come first to him, who had made such
efforts for the propagation of his music, would not stay and welcome
his visitor, but withdrew sulkily into the inner apartments. Wieck had
scarcely left the room when Mendelssohn and Chopin entered. The former,
who had some engagement, said, "Here is Chopin!" and then left, rightly
thinking this laconic introduction sufficient. Thus the three most
distinguished composers of their time were at least for a moment brought
together in the narrow space of a room. [Footnote: This dictum, like
all superlatives and sweeping assertions, will no doubt raise objectors;
but, I think, it may be maintained, and easily maintained with the
saving clause "apart from the stage."] Chopin was in figure not unlike
Mendelssohn, but the former was more lightly built and more graceful in
his movements. He spoke German fluently, although with a foreign accent.
The primary object of Chopin's visit was to make the acquaintance of
Clara Wieck, who had already acquired a high reputation as a pianist.
She played to him among other things the then new and not yet published
Sonata in F sharp minor (Op. 11) by Schumann, which she had lately been
studying. The gentlemen dared not ask Chopin to play because of the
piano, the touch of which was heavy and which consequently would not
suit him. But the ladies were bolder, and did not cease entreating him
till he sat down and played his Nocturne in E flat (Op. 9, No. 2). After
the lapse of forty-two years Wenzel was still in raptures about the
wonderful, fairy-like lightness and delicacy of Chopin's touch and
style. The conversation seems to have turned on Schubert, one of
Schumann's great favourites, for Chopin, in illustration of something he
said, played the commencement of Schubert's Alexander March. Meanwhile
Wieck was sorely tried by his curiosity when Chopin was playing, and
could not resist the temptation of listening in the adjoining room, and
even peeping through the door that stood slightly ajar. When the visit
came to a close; Schumann conducted Chopin to the house of his friend
Henrietta Voigt, a pupil of Louis Berger's, and Wenzel, who accompanied
them to the door, heard Schumann say to Chopin: "Let us go in here where
we shall find a thorough, intelligent pianist and a good piano." They
then entered the house, and Chopin played and also stayed for dinner.
No sooner had he left, than the lady, who up to that time had been
exceedingly orthodox in her musical opinions and tastes, sent to
Kistner's music-shop, and got all the compositions by Chopin which were
in stock.

The letter of Mendelssohn which I shall quote presently and an entry in
Henrietta Voigt's diary of the year 1836, which will be quoted in the
next chapter, throw some doubt on the latter part of Herr Wenzel's
reminiscences. Indeed, on being further questioned on the subject,
he modified his original information to this, that he showed Chopin,
unaccompanied by Schumann, the way to the lady's house, and left him at
the door. As to the general credibility of the above account, I may say
that I have added nothing to my informant's communications, and that in
my intercourse with him I found him to be a man of acute observation and
tenacious memory. What, however, I do not know, is the extent to which
the mythopoeic faculty was developed in him.

[Footnote: Richard Pohl gave incidentally a characterisation of this
exceedingly interesting personality in the Signale of September, 1886,
No. 48. Having been personally acquainted with Wenzel and many of his
friends and pupils, I can vouch for its truthfulness. He was "one of
the best and most amiable men I have known," writes R. Pohl, "full of
enthusiasm for all that is beautiful, obliging, unselfish, thoroughly
kind, and at the same time so clever, so cultured, and so many-sided
as--excuse me, gentlemen--I have rarely found a pianoforte-teacher.
He gave pianoforte lessons at the Conservatorium and in many private
houses; he worked day after day, year after year, from morning till
night, and with no other outcome as far as he himself was concerned
than that all his pupils--especially his female pupils--loved him
enthusiastically. He was a pupil of Friedrich Wieck and a friend of

In a letter dated October 6, 1835, and addressed to his family,
Mendelssohn describes another part of Chopin's sojourn in Leipzig and
gives us his opinion of the Polish artist's compositions and playing:--

   The day after I accompanied the Hensels to Delitzsch, Chopin
   was here; he intended to remain only one day, so we spent
   this entirely together and had a great deal of music. I
   cannot deny, dear Fanny, that I have lately found that you do
   not do him justice in your judgment [of his talents]; perhaps
   he was not in a right humour for playing when you heard him,
   which may not unfrequently be the case with him. But his
   playing has enchanted me anew, and I am persuaded that if you
   and my father had heard some of his better pieces played as
   he played them to me, you would say the same. There is
   something thoroughly original and at the same time so very
   masterly in his piano-forte-playing that he may be called a
   really perfect virtuoso; and as every kind of perfection is
   welcome and gratifying to me, that day was a most pleasant
   one, although so entirely different from the previous ones
   spent with you Hensels.

   I was glad to be once more with a thorough musician, not with
   those half-virtuosos and half-classics who would gladly
   combine in music les honneurs de la vertu et les plaisirs du
   vice, but with one who has his perfect and well-defined genre
   [Richtung]. To whatever extent it may differ from mine, I can
   get on with it famously; but not with those half-men. The
   Sunday evening was really curious when Chopin made me play
   over my oratorio to him, while curious Leipzigers stole into
   the room to see him, and how between the first and second
   parts he dashed off his new Etudes and a new Concerto, to the
   astonishment of the Leipzigers, and I afterwards resumed my
   St. Paul, just as if a Cherokee and a Kaffir had met and
   conversed. He has such a pretty new notturno, several parts
   of which I have retained in my memory for the purpose of
   playing it for Paul's amusement. Thus we passed the time
   pleasantly together, and he promised seriously to return in
   the course of the winter if I would compose a new symphony
   and perform it in honour of him. We vowed these things in the
   presence of three witnesses, and we shall see whether we both
   keep our word. My works of Handel [Footnote: A present from
   the Committee of the Cologne Musical Festival of 1835.]
   arrived before Chopin's departure, and were a source of quite
   childish delight to him; but they are really so beautiful
   that I cannot sufficiently rejoice in their possession.

Although Mendelssohn never played any of Chopin's compositions in
public, he made his piano pupils practise some of them. Karasowski is
wrong in saying that Mendelssohn had no such pupils; he had not many, it
is true, but he had a few. A remark which Mendelssohn once made in his
peculiar naive manner is very characteristic of him and his opinion
of Chopin. What he said was this: "Sometimes one really does not know
whether Chopin's music is right or wrong." On the whole, however, if one
of the two had to complain of the other's judgment, it was not Chopin
but Mendelssohn, as we shall see farther on.

To learn what impression Chopin made on Schumann, we must once more turn
to the Neue Zeitschrift fur Musik, where we find the Polish artist's
visit to Leipzig twice mentioned:--

   October 6, 1835. Chopin was here, but only for a few hours,
   which he passed in private circles. He played just as he
   composes, that is, uniquely.

The second mention is in the P.S. of a transcendental Schwarmerbrief
addressed by Eusebius (the personification of the gentle, dreamy side of
Schumann's character) to Chiara (Clara Wieck):--

   October 20, 1835. Chopin was here. Florestan [the
   personification of the strong, passionate side of Schumann's
   character] rushed to him. I saw them arm in arm glide rather
   than walk. I did not speak with him, was quite startled at
   the thought.

On his way to Paris, Chopin stopped also at Heidelberg, where he visited
the father of his pupil Adolph Gutmann, who treated him, as one of his
daughters remarked, not like a prince or even a king, but like somebody
far superior to either. The children were taught to look up to Chopin as
one who had no equal in his line. And the daughter already referred to
wrote more than thirty years afterwards that Chopin still stood out in
her memory as the most poetical remembrance of her childhood and youth.

Chopin must have been back in Paris in the first half or about the
middle of October, for the Gazette musicale of the 18th of that month
contains the following paragraph:--

   One of the most eminent pianists of our epoch, M. Chopin, has
   returned to Paris, after having made a tour in Germany which
   has been for him a real ovation. Everywhere his admirable
   talent obtained the most flattering reception and excited
   enthusiasm. It was, indeed, as if he had not left our capital
   at all.




IF we leave out of account his playing in the salons, Chopin's artistic
activity during the period comprised in this chapter was confined to
teaching and composition. [Footnote: A Paris correspondent wrote in the
Neue Zeitschrift fur Musik of May 17, 1836, that Chopin had not been
heard at all that winter, meaning, of course, that he had not been
heard in public.] The publication of his works enables us to form an
approximate idea of how he was occupied as a creative musician. In the
year 1835 were published: in February, Op. 20, Premier Scherzo (in B
minor), dedicated to Mr. T. Albrecht, and in November, Op. 24, Quatre
Mazurkas, dedicated to M. le Comte de Perthuis. In 1836 appeared: in
April, Op. 21, Second Concerto (in F minor), dedicated to Madame la
Comtesse Delphine Potocka: in May, Op. 27, Deux Nocturnes (in C sharp
minor and D flat major), dedicated to Madame la Comtesse d'Appony;
in June, Op. 23, Ballade (in G minor), dedicated to M. le Baron de
Stockhausen; in July, Op. 22, Grande Polonaise brillante (E flat major)
precedee d'un Andante spianato for pianoforte and orchestra, dedicated
to Madame la Baronne d'Est; and Op. 26, Deux Polonaises (in C sharp
minor and E flat minor), dedicated to Mr. J. Dessauer. It is hardly
necessary to point out that the opus numbers do not indicate the order
of succession in which the works were composed. The Concerto belongs to
the year 1830; the above notes show that Op. 24 and 27 were sooner in
print than Op. 23 and 26; and Op. 25, although we hear of its being
played by the composer in 1834 and 1835, was not published till 1837.

The indubitably most important musical event of the season 1835-1836,
was the production of Meyerbeer's Les Huguenots, which took place on
February 29, 1836, and had an extraordinary success. The concert-rooms,
however, concern us more than the opera-houses. This year brought to
Paris two Polish musicians: Lipinski, the violinist, and Gusikow, the
virtuoso on the Strohfiedel, [FOOTNOTE: "Straw-fiddle," Gigelira, or
Xylophone, an instrument consisting of a graduated series of bars of
wood that lie on cords of twisted straw and are struck with sticks.]
whom Mendelssohn called "a true genius," and another contemporary
pointed out as one of the three great stars (Paganini and Malibran were
the two others) at that time shining in the musical heavens. The story
goes that Lipinski asked Chopin to prepare the ground for him in Paris.
The latter promised to do all in his power if Lipinski would give a
concert for the benefit of the Polish refugees. The violinist at first
expressed his willingness to do so, but afterwards drew back, giving as
his reason that if he played for the Polish refugees he would spoil his
prospects in Russia, where he intended shortly to make an artistic tour.
Enraged at this refusal, Chopin declined to do anything to further
his countryman's plans in Paris. But whether the story is true or not,
Lipinski's concert at the Hotel de Ville, on March 3, was one of the
most brilliant and best-attended of the season. [FOOTNOTE: Revue et
Gazette musicale of March 13, 1836. Mainzer had a report to the same
effect in the Neue Zeitschrift fur Musik.]

The virtuoso, however, whose appearance caused the greatest sensation
was Thalberg. The Gazette musicale announced his arrival on November
8, 1835. He was first heard at M. Zimmermann's; Madame Viardot-Garcia,
Duprez, and De Beriot being the other artists that took active parts in
the soiree. The enthusiasm which Thalberg on this occasion as well as
subsequently excited was immense. The Menestrel expressed the all but
unanimous opinion when, on March 13, 1836, it said: "Thalberg is not
only the first pianist in the world, but he is also a most distinguished
composer." His novel effects astonished and delighted his hearers.
The pianists showed their appreciation by adopting their confrere's
manipulations and treatment of the piano as soon as these ceased to
puzzle them; the great majority of the rising Parisian pianists became
followers of Thalberg, nor were some of the older ones slow in profiting
by his example. The most taking of the effects which Thalberg brought
into vogue was the device of placing the melody in the middle--i.e.,
the most sonorous part of the instrument--and dividing it so between the
hands that they could at the same time accompany it with full chords
and brilliant figures. Even if he borrowed the idea from the harpist
Parish-Alvars, or from the pianist Francesco G. Pollini, there remains
to him the honour of having improved the invention of his forerunners
and applied it with superior ability. His greatness, however, does not
solely or even mainly rest on this or any other ingeniously-contrived
and cleverly-performed trick. The secret of his success lay in the
aristocratic nature of his artistic personality, in which exquisite
elegance and calm self-possession reigned supreme. In accordance with
this fundamental disposition were all the details of his style of
playing. His execution was polished to the highest degree; the evenness
of his scales and the clearness of his passages and embellishments could
not be surpassed. If sensuous beauty is the sole end of music, his touch
must be pronounced the ideal of perfection, for it extracted the essence
of beauty. Strange as the expression "unctuous sonorousness" may sound,
it describes felicitously a quality of a style of playing from which
roughness, harshness, turbulence, and impetuosity were altogether
absent. Thalberg has been accused of want of animation, passion, in
short, of soul; but as Ambros remarked with great acuteness--

   Thalberg's compositions and playing had soul, a salon soul to
   be sure, somewhat like that of a very elegant woman of the
   world, who, nevertheless, has really a beautiful disposition
   [Gemueth], which, however, is prevented from fully showing
   itself by the superexquisiteness of her manners.

This simile reminds me of a remark of Heine's, who thought that Thalberg
distinguished himself favourably from other pianists by what he (Heine)
felt inclined to call "his musical conduct [Betragen]." Here are some
more of the poet-critic's remarks on the same subject:--

   As in life so also in art, Thalberg manifests innate tact;
   his execution is so gentlemanlike, so opulent, so decorous,
   so entirely without grimace, so entirely without forced
   affectation of genius [forcirtes Genialthun], so entirely
   without that boastful boorishness which badly conceals the
   inner pusillanimity...He enchants by balsamic euphony, by
   sobriety and gentleness....There is only one I prefer. That
   is Chopin.

As a curiosity I must quote a passage from a letter dated July 10,
1836, and addressed by George Sand to the Comtesse d'Agoult. Feelings
of friendship, and, in one case at least, of more than friendship, made
these ladies partial to another prince of the keyboard:--

   I have heard Thalberg in Paris. He made on me the impression
   of a good little child, very nice and very well-behaved.
   There are hours when Franz [Liszt], while amusing himself,
   trifles [badine], like him, on some notes in order to let the
   furious elements afterwards loose on this gentle breeze.

Liszt, who was at the time of Thalberg's visit to Paris in Switzerland,
doubted the correctness of the accounts which reached him of this
virtuoso's achievements. Like Thomas he would trust only his own senses;
and as his curiosity left him no rest, he betook himself in March,
1836, to Paris. But, unfortunately, he arrived too late, Thalberg having
quitted the capital on the preceding day. The enthusiastic praises which
were everywhere the answer to his inquiries about Thalberg irritated
Liszt, and seemed to him exaggerations based on delusions. To challenge
criticism and practically refute the prevalent opinion, he gave two
private soirees, one at Pleyel's and another at Erard's, both of which
were crowded, the latter being attended by more than four hundred
people. The result was a brilliant victory, and henceforth there were
two camps. The admiration and stupefaction of those who heard him were
extraordinary; for since his last appearance Liszt had again made such
enormous progress as to astonish even his most intimate friends. In
answer to those who had declared that with Thalberg a new era began,
Berlioz, pointing to Liszt's Fantasia on I Pirati and that on themes
from La Juive, now made the counter-declaration that "this was the new
school of pianoforte-playing." Indeed, Liszt was only now attaining to
the fulness of his power as a pianist and composer for his instrument;
and when after another sojourn in Switzerland he returned in December,
1836, to Paris, and in the course of the season entered the lists with
Thalberg, it was a spectacle for the gods. "Thalberg," writes Leon
Escudier, "est la grace, comme Liszt la force; le jeu de l'un est blond,
celui de l'autre est brun." A lady who heard the two pianists at a
concert for the Italian poor, given in the salons of the Princess
Belgiojoso, exclaimed: "Thalberg est le premier pianiste du monde."--"Et
Liszt?" asked the person to whom the words were addressed--"Liszt!
Liszt--c'est le seul!" was the reply. This is the spirit in which great
artists should be judged. It is oftener narrowness of sympathy than
acuteness of discrimination which makes people exalt one artist and
disparage another who differs from him. In the wide realm of art there
are to be found many kinds of excellence; one man cannot possess them
all and in the highest degree. Some of these excellences are indeed
irreconcilable and exclude each other; most of them can only be combined
by a compromise. Hence, of two artists who differ from each other, one
is not necessarily superior to the other; and he who is the greater on
the whole may in some respects be inferior to the lesser. Perhaps the
reader will say that these are truisms. To be sure they are. And yet if
he considers only the judgments which are every day pronounced, he may
easily be led to believe that these truisms are most recondite truths
now for the first time revealed. When Liszt after his first return
from Switzerland did not find Thalberg himself, he tried to satisfy his
curiosity by a careful examination of that pianist's compositions. The
conclusions he came to be set forth in a criticism of Thalberg's Grande
Fantaisie, Op. 22, and the Caprices, Op. 15 and 19, which in 1837 made
its appearance in the Gazette musicale, accompanied by an editorial
foot-note expressing dissent. I called Liszt's article a criticism, but
"lampoon" or "libel" would have been a more appropriate designation. In
the introductory part Liszt sneers at Thalberg's title of "Pianist to
His Majesty the Emperor of Austria," and alludes to his rival's distant
(i.e., illegitimate) relationship to a noble family, ascribing his
success to a great extent to these two circumstances. The personalities
and abusiveness of the criticism remind one somewhat of the manner
in which the scholars of earlier centuries, more especially of the
sixteenth and seventeenth, dealt critically with each other. Liszt
declares that love of truth, not jealousy, urged him to write; but he
deceived himself. Nor did his special knowledge and experience as a
musician and virtuoso qualify him, as he pretended, above others for the
task he had undertaken; he forgot that no man can be a good judge in his
own cause. No wonder, therefore, that Fetis, enraged at this unprovoked
attack of one artist on a brother-artist, took up his pen in defence of
the injured party. Unfortunately, his retort was a lengthy and pedantic
dissertation, which along with some true statements contained many
questionable, not to say silly, ones. In nothing, however, was he so far
off the mark as in his comparative estimate of Liszt and Thalberg.
The sentences in which he sums up the whole of his reasoning show this
clearly: "You are the pre-eminent man of the school which is effete and
which has nothing more to do, but you are not the man of a new school!
Thalberg is this man--herein lies the whole difference between you two."
Who can help smiling at this combination of pompous authoritativeness
and wretched short-sightedness? It has been truly observed by Ambros
that there is between Thalberg and Liszt all the difference that
exists between a man of talent and a man of genius; indeed, the former
introduced but a new fashion, whereas the latter founded really a new
school. The one originated a few new effects, the other revolutionised
the whole style of writing for the pianoforte. Thalberg was perfect
in his genre, but he cannot be compared to an artist of the breadth,
universality, and, above all, intellectual and emotional power of Liszt.
It is possible to describe the former, but the latter, Proteus-like, is
apt to elude the grasp of him who endeavours to catch hold of him. The
Thalberg controversy did not end with Fetis's article. Liszt wrote a
rejoinder in which he failed to justify himself, but succeeded in giving
the poor savant some hard hits. I do not think Liszt would have approved
of the republication of these literary escapades if he had taken the
trouble to re-read them. It is very instructive to compare his criticism
of Thalberg's compositions with what Schumann--who in this case is by no
means partial--said of them. In the opinion of the one the Fantaisie sur
Les Huguenots is not only one of the most empty and mediocre works, but
it is also so supremely monotonous that it produces extreme weariness.
In the opinion of the other the Fantaisie deserves the general
enthusiasm which it has called forth, because the composer proves
himself master of his language and thoughts, conducts himself like a man
of the world, binds and loosens the threads with so much ease that it
seems quite unintentional, and draws the audience with him wherever he
wishes without either over-exciting or wearying it. The truth, no
doubt, is rather with Schumann than with Liszt. Although Thalberg's
compositions cannot be ranked with the great works of ideal art, they
are superior to the morceaux of Czerny, Herz, and hoc genus omne, their
appearance marking indeed an improvement in the style of salon music.

But what did Chopin think of Thalberg? He shared the opinion of
Liszt, whose side he took. In fact, Edouard Wolff told me that Chopin
absolutely despised Thalberg. To M. Mathias I owe the following
communication, which throws much light on Chopin's attitude:--

   I saw Chopin with George Sand at the house of Louis Viardot,
   before the marriage of the latter with Pauline Garcia. I was
   very young, being only twelve years old, but I remember it as
   though it had been yesterday. Thalberg was there, and had
   played his second fantasia on Don Giovanni (Op. 42), and upon
   my word Chopin complimented him most highly and with great
   gravity; nevertheless, God knows what Chopin thought of it in
   his heart, for he had a horror of Thalberg's arrangements,
   which I have seen and heard him parody in the most droll and
   amusing manner, for Chopin had the sense of parody and
   ridicule in a high degree.

Thalberg had not much intercourse with Chopin, nor did he exercise the
faintest shadow of an influence over him; but as one of the foremost
pianist-composers--indeed, one of the most characteristic phenomena
of the age--he could not be passed by in silence. Moreover, the noisy
careers of Liszt and Thalberg serve as a set-off to the noiseless one of

I suspect that Chopin was one of that race of artists and poets "qui
font de la passion un instrument de l'art et de la poesie, et dont
l'esprit n'a d'activite qu'autant qu'il est mis en mouvement par
les forces motrices du coeur." At any rate, the tender passion was a
necessary of his existence. That his disappointed first love did not
harden his heart and make him insensible to the charms of the fair sex
is apparent from some remarks of George Sand, who says that although
his heart was ardent and devoted, it was not continuously so to any one
person, but surrendered itself alternately to five or six affections,
each of which, as they struggled within it, got by turns the mastery
over all the others. He would passionately love three women in the
course of one evening party and forget them as soon as he had turned his
back, while each of them imagined that she had exclusively charmed him.
In short, Chopin was of a very impressionable nature: beauty and grace,
nay, even a mere smile, kindled his enthusiasm at first sight, and
an awkward word or equivocal glance was enough to disenchant him. But
although he was not at all exclusive in his own affections, he was so
in a high degree with regard to those which he demanded from others.
In illustration of how easily Chopin took a dislike to anyone, and how
little he measured what he accorded of his heart with what he exacted
from that of others, George Sand relates a story which she got from
himself. In order to avoid misrepresenting her, I shall translate her
own words:--

   He had taken a great fancy to the granddaughter of a
   celebrated master. He thought of asking her in marriage at
   the same time that he entertained the idea of another
   marriage in Poland--his loyalty being engaged nowhere, and
   his fickle heart floating from one passion to the other. The
   young Parisian received him very kindly, and all went as well
   as could be till on going to visit her one day in company
   with another musician, who was of more note in Paris than he
   at that time, she offered a chair to this gentleman before
   thinking of inviting Chopin to be seated. He never called on
   her again, and forgot her immediately.

The same story was told me by other intimate friends of Chopin's, who
evidently believed in its genuineness; their version differed from that
of George Sand only in this, that there was no allusion to a lady-love
in Poland. Indeed, true as George Sand's observations are in the main,
we must make allowance for the novelist's habit of fashioning and
exaggerating, and the woman's endeavour to paint her dismissed and
aggrieved lover as black as possible. Chopin may have indulged in
innumerable amorous fancies, but the story of his life furnishes at
least one instance of his having loved faithfully as well as deeply.
Nor will it be denied that Chopin's love for Constantia Gladkowska was a
serious affair, whether the fatal end be attributable to him or her,
or both. And now I have to give an account of another love-affair which
deserves likewise the epithet "serious."

As a boy Chopin contracted a friendship with the brothers Wodzinski,
who were boarders at his father's establishment. With them he went
repeatedly to Sluzewo, the property of their father, and thus became
also acquainted with the rest of the family. The nature of the relation
in which Chopin and they stood to each other is shown by a letter
written by the former on July 18, 1834, to one of the brothers who with
his mother and other members of the family was at that time staying at
Geneva, whither they had gone after the Polish revolution of 1830-31, in
which the three brothers--Anthony, Casimir, and Felix--had taken part:--

   My dear Felix,--Very likely you thought "Fred must be moping
   that he does not answer my letter!" But you will remember
   that it was always my habit to do everything too late. Thus I
   went also too late to Miss Fanche, and consequently was
   obliged to wait till honest Wolf had departed. Were it not
   that I have only recently come back from the banks of the
   Rhine and have an engagement from which I cannot free myself
   just now, I would immediately set out for Geneva to thank
   your esteemed mamma and at the same time accept her kind
   invitation. But cruel fate--in one word, it cannot be done.
   Your sister was so good as to send me her composition. It
   gives me the greatest pleasure, and happening to improvise
   the veryevening of its arrival in one of our salons, I took
   for my subject the pretty theme by a certain Maria with whom
   in times gone by I played at hide and seek in the house of
   Mr. Pszenny...To-day! Je prends la liberte d'envoyer a mon
   estimable collegue Mile Marie une petite valse que je viens
   de publier. May it afford her a hundredth part of the
   pleasure which I felt on receiving her variations. In
   conclusion, I once more thank your mamma most sincerely for
   kindly remembering her old and faithful servant in whose
   veins also there run some drops of Cujavian blood.
   [Footnote: Cujavia is the name of a Polish district.]


   P.S.--Embrace Anthony, stifle Casimir with caresses if you
   can; as for Miss Maria make her a graceful and respectful
   bow. Be surprised and say in a whisper, "Dear me, how tall
   she has grown!"

The Wodzinskis, with the exception of Anthony, returned in the summer of
1835 to Poland, making on their way thither a stay at Dresden. Anthony,
who was then in Paris and in constant intercourse with Chopin, kept the
latter informed of his people's movements and his people of Chopin's.
Thus it came about that they met at Dresden in September, 1835, whither
the composer went after his meeting with his parents at Carlsbad,
mentioned in the preceding chapter (p. 288). Count Wodzinski says in his
Les trois Romans de Frederic Chopin that Chopin had spoken to his father
about his project of marrying Maria Wodzinska, and that this idea had
sprung up in his soul by the mere force of recollections. The young
lady was then nineteen years of age, and, according to the writer just
mentioned, tall and slender in figure, and light and graceful in gait.
The features, he tells us, were distinguished neither by regularity nor
classical beauty, but had an indefinable charm. Her black eyes were
full of sweetness, reverie, and restrained fire; a smile of ineffable
voluptuousness played around her lips; and her magnificent hair was as
dark as ebony and long enough to serve her as a mantle. Chopin and Maria
saw each other every evening at the house of her uncle, the Palatine
Wodzinski. The latter concluded from their frequent tete-a-tete at the
piano and in corners that some love-making was going on between them.
When he found that his monitory coughs and looks produced no effect on
his niece, he warned his sister-in-law. She, however, took the matter
lightly, saying that it was an amitie d'enfance, that Maria was fond of
music, and that, moreover, there would soon be an end to all this--their
ways lying in opposite directions, hers eastward to Poland, his westward
to France. And thus things were allowed to go on as they had begun,
Chopin passing all his evenings with the Wodzinskis and joining them
in all their walks. At last the time of parting came, the clock of the
Frauenkirche struck the hour of ten, the carriage was waiting at the
door, Maria gave Chopin a rose from a bouquet on the table, and he
improvised a waltz which he afterwards sent her from Paris, and which
she called L'Adieu. Whatever we may think of the details of this scene
of parting, the waltz composed for Maria at Dresden is an undeniable
fact. Facsimiles may be seen in Szulc's Fryderyk Chopin and Count
Wodziriski's Les trois Romans de Frederic Chopin. The manuscript bears
the superscription: "Tempo de Valse" on the left, and "pour Mile.
Marie" on the right; and the subscription: "F. Chopin, Drezno [Dresden],
September, 1835." [FOOTNOTE: It is Op. 69, No. 1, one of the posthumous
works published by Julius Fontana.]

The two met again in the following summer, this time at Marienbad, where
he knew she and her mother were going. They resumed their walks, music,
and conversations. She drew also his portrait. And then one day Chopin
proposed. Her answer was that she could not run counter to her parents'
wishes, nor could she hope to be able to bend their will; but she would
always preserve for him in her heart a grateful remembrance.[FOOTNOTE:
Count Wodzinski relates on p. 255 of his book that at a subsequent
period of her life the lady confided to him the above-quoted answer.]
This happened in August, 1836; and two days after mother and daughter
left Marienbad. Maria Wodzinska married the next year a son of Chopin's
godfather, Count Frederick Skarbek. The marriage turned but an unhappy
one, and was dissolved. Subsequently the Countess married a Polish
gentleman of the name of Orpiszewski, who died some years ago in
Florence. She, I think, is still alive.

Karasowski relates the affair very differently. He says Chopin, who knew
the brothers Wodzinski in Poland, met them again in Paris, and through
them made the acquaintance of their sister Maria, whose beauty and
amiability inspired him at once with an interest which soon became
ardent love. But that Chopin had known her in Poland may be gathered
from the above letter to Felix Wodzinski, quite apart from the distinct
statements of the author of Les trois Romans that Chopin was a frequent
visitor at Sluzewo, and a great friend of Maria's. Further, Karasowski,
who does not mention at all the meeting of Chopin and the Wodzinskis at
Dresden in 1835, says that Chopin went in the middle of July, 1836, to
Marienbad, where he knew he would find Maria and her mother, and that
there he discovered that she whom he loved reciprocated his affection,
the consequence being an engagement approved of by her relations. When
the sojourn in Marienbad came to an end, the whole party betook itself
to Dresden, where they remained together for some weeks, which they
spent most pleasantly.

[FOOTNOTE: Karasowski relates that Chopin was at the zenith of
happiness. His good humour was irresistible. He imitated the most famous
pianists, and played his dreamy mazurkas in the manner much in
favour with Warsaw amateurs--i.e., strictly in time and with the
strongly-accented rhythm of common dance-tunes. And his friends reminded
him of the tricks which, as a boy, he had played on his visits to the
country, and how he took away his sisters' kid gloves when he was going
to an evening-party, and could not buy himself new ones, promising to
send them dozens as soon as he had gained a good position in Paris.
Count Wodzinski, too, bears witness to Chopin's good humour while in the
company of the Wodzinskis. In the course of his account of the sojourn
at Marienbad, this writer speaks of Chopin's polichinades: "He imitated
then this or that famous artist, the playing of certain pupils or
compatriots, belabouring the keyboard with extravagant gestures, a wild
[echevele] and romantic manner, which he called aller a la chasse aux

Unless Chopin was twice with the Wodzinskis in Dresden, Karasowski must
be mistaken. That Chopin sojourned for some time at Dresden in 1835
is evidenced by Wieck's letter, quoted on p. 288, and by the
above-mentioned waltz. The latter seems also to confirm what Count
Wodzinski says about the presence of the Wodzinskis at Dresden in that
year. On the other hand, we have no such documents to prove the presence
at Dresden in 1836 either of Chopin or the Wodzinskis. According to
Karasowski, the engagement made at Marienbad remained in force till the
middle of 1837, when Chopin received at Paris the news that the lady
withdrew from it. [FOOTNOTE: In explanation of the breaking-off of this
supposed engagement, it has also been said that the latter was favoured
by the mother, but opposed by the father.] The same authority informs
us that before this catastrophe Chopin had thoughts of settling with his
future wife in the neighbourhood of Warsaw, near his beloved parents
and sisters. There he would cultivate his art in retirement, and found
schools for the people. How, without a fortune of his own, and with a
wife who, although belonging to a fairly wealthy family, would not come
into the possession of her portion till after the death of her parents,
he could have realised these dreams, I am at a loss to conjecture.

[FOONOTE: To enable his readers to measure the social distance that
separated Chopin from his beloved one, Count Wodzinski mentions among
other details that her father possessed a domain of about 50,000
acres (20,000 hectares). It is hardly necessary to add that this large
acreage, which we will suppose to be correctly stated, is much less a
measure of the possessor's wealth than of his social rank.]

Chopin's letters, which testify so conclusively to the cordial
friendship existing between him and the Wodzinskis, unfortunately
contain nothing which throws light on his connection with the young
lady, although her name occurs in them several times. On April 2, 1837,
Chopin wrote to Madame Wodzinska as follows:--

   I take advantage of Madame Nakwaska's permission and enclose
   a few words. I expect news from Anthony's own hand, and shall
   send you a letter even more full of details than the one
   which contained Vincent's enclosure. I beg of you to keep
   your mind easy about him. As yet all are in the town. I am
   not in possession of any details, because the correspondents
   only give accounts of themselves. My letter of the same date
   must certainly be in Sluzewo; and, as far as is possible, it
   will set your mind at rest with regard to this Spaniard who
   must, must write me a few words. I am not going to use many
   words in expressing the sorrow I felt on learning the news of
   your mother's death--not for her sake whom I did not know,
   but for your sake whom I do know. (This is a matter of
   course!) I have to confess, Madam, that I have had an attack
   like the one I had in Marienbad; I sit before Miss Maria's
   book, and were I to sit a hundred years I should be unable to
   write anything in it. For there are days when I am out of
   sorts. To-day I would prefer being in Sluzewo to writing to
   Sluzewo. Then would I tell you more than I have now written.
   My respects to Mr. Wodzinski and my kind regards to Miss
   Maria, Casimir, Theresa, and Felix.

The object of another letter, dated May 14, 1837, is likewise to give
news of Anthony Wodzinski, who was fighting in Spain. Miss Maria is
mentioned in the P.S. and urged to write a few words to her brother.

After a careful weighing of the evidence before us, it appears to me
that--notwithstanding the novelistic tricking-out of Les trois Romans de
Frederic Chopin--we cannot but accept as the true account the author's
statement as to Chopin's proposal of marriage and Miss Wodzinska's
rejection at Marienbad in 1836. The testimony of a relation with direct
information from one of the two chief actors in the drama deserves more
credit than that of a stranger with, at best, second-hand information;
unless we prefer to believe that the lady misrepresented the facts
in order to show herself to the world in a more dignified and amiable
character than that of a jilt. The letters can hardly be quoted in
support of the engagement, for the rejection would still admit of the
continuation of the old friendship, and their tone does not indicate the
greater intimacy of a closer relationship.

Subsequent to his stay at Marienbad Chopin again visited Leipzig. But
the promises which Mendelssohn and Chopin had so solemnly made to each
other in the preceding year had not been kept; the latter did not go
in the course of the winter to Leipzig, and if he had gone, the former
could not have performed a new symphony of his in honour of the guest.
Several passages in letters written by Schumann in the early part
of 1836 show, however, that Chopin was not forgotten by his Leipzig
friends, with whom he seems to have been in correspondence. On March 8,
1836, Schumann wrote to Moscheles:--

   Mendelssohn sends you his hearty greetings. He has finished
   his oratorio, and will conduct it himself at the Dusseldorf
   Musical Festival. Perhaps I shall go there too, perhaps also
   Chopin, to whom we shall write about it.

The first performance of Mendelssohn's St. Paul took place at Dusseldorf
on May 22, and was a great success. But neither Schumann nor Chopin
was there. The latter was, no doubt, already planning his excursion to
Marienbad, and could not allow himself the luxury of two holidays within
so short a time.

Here is another scrap from a letter of Schumann's, dated August
28, 1836, and addressed to his brother Edward and his sister-in-law

   I have just written to Chopin, who is said to be in
   Marienbad, in order to learn whether he is really there. In
   any case, I should visit you again in autumn. But if Chopin
   answers my letter at once, I shall start sooner, and go to
   Marienbad by way of Carlsbad. Theresa, what do you think! you
   must come with me! Read first Chopin's answer, and then we
   will fully discuss the rest.

Chopin either had left or was about to leave Marienbad when he received
Schumann's letter. Had he received it sooner, his answer would not have
been very encouraging. For in his circumstances he could not but have
felt even the most highly-esteemed confrere, the most charming of
companions, in the way.[FOOTNOTE: Mendelscohn's sister, Rebecka
Dirichlet, found him completely absorbed in his Polish Countess. (See
The Mendelssohn Family, Vol. II, p. 15.)] But although the two musicians
did not meet at Marienbad, they saw each other at Leipzig. How much one
of them enjoyed the visit may be seen in the following extract from a
letter which Schumann wrote to Heinrich Dorn on September 14, 1836:--

   The day before yesterday, just after I had received your
   letter and was going to answer it, who should enter?--Chopin.
   This was a great pleasure. We passed a very happy day
   together, in honour of which I made yesterday a holiday...I
   have a new ballade by Chopin. It appears to me his
   genialischstes (not genialstes) work; and I told him that I
   liked it best of all.

   [FOOTNOTE: "Sein genialischstes (nicht genialstes) Werk." I
   take Schumann to mean that the ballade in question (the one
   in G minor) is Chopin's most spirited, most daring work, but
   not his most genial--i.e., the one fullest of genius.
   Schumann's remark, in a criticism of Op. 37, 38, and 42, that
   this ballade is the "wildest and most original" of Chopin's
   compositions, confirms my conjecture.]

   After a long meditative pause he said with great emphasis: "I
   am glad of that, it is the one which I too like best." He
   played besides a number of new etudes, nocturnes, and
   mazurkas--everything incomparable. You would like him very
   much. But Clara [Wieck] is greater as a virtuoso, and gives
   almost more meaning to his compositions than he himself.
   Imagine the perfection, a mastery which seems to be quite
   unconscious of itself!

Besides the announcement of September 16, 1836, that Chopin had been
a day in Leipzig, that he had brought with him among other things new
"heavenly" etudes, nocturnes, mazurkas, and a new ballade, and that he
played much and "very incomparably," there occur in Schumann's writings
in the Neue Zeitschrift fur Musik unmistakable reminiscences of this
visit of the Polish musician. Thus, for instance, in a review of
dance-music, which appeared in the following year, and to which he
gave the fantastic form of a "Report to Jeanquirit in Augsburg of
the editor's last artistico-historical ball," the writer relates a
conversation he had with his partner Beda:--

   I turned the conversation adroitly on Chopin. Scarcely had
   she heard the name than she for the first time fully looked
   at me with her large, kindly eyes. "And you know him?" I
   answered in the affirmative. "And you have heard him?" Her
   form became more and more sublime. "And have heard him
   speak?" And when I told her that it was a never-to-be-
   forgotten picture to see him sitting at the piano like a
   dreaming seer, and how in listening to his playing one seemed
   to one's self like the dream he created, and how he had the
   dreadful habit of passing, at the end of each piece, one
   finger quickly over the whizzing keyboard, as if to get rid
   of his dream by force, and how he had to take care of his
   delicate health--she clung to me with ever-increasing
   timorous delight, and wished to know more and more about him.

Very interesting is Schumann's description of how Chopin played some
etudes from his Op. 25; it is to be found in another criticism of the
same year (1837):--

   As regards these etudes, I have the advantage of having heard
   most of them played by Chopin himself, and, as Florestan
   whispered in my ear at the time, "He plays them very much a
   la Chopin." Imagine an AEolian harp that had all the scales,
   and that these were jumbled together by the hand of an artist
   into all sorts of fantastic ornaments, but in such a manner
   that a deeper fundamental tone and a softly-singing higher
   part were always audible, and you have an approximate idea of
   his playing. No wonder that we have become fondest of those
   pieces which we heard him play himself, and therefore we
   shall mention first of all the first one in A flat, which is
   rather a poem than an etude. It would be a mistake, however,
   to suppose that he brought out every one of the little notes
   with distinctness; it was more like a billowing of the A flat
   major chord, swelled anew here and there by means of the
   pedal; but through the harmonies were heard the sustained
   tones of a wondrous melody, and only in the middle of it did
   a tenor part once come into greater prominence amid the
   chords along with that principal cantilena. After listening
   to the study one feels as one does after a blissful vision,
   seen in a dream, which, already half awake, one would fain
   bring back. He soon came to the one in F minor, the second in
   the book, likewise one which impresses one indelibly with his
   originality; it is so charming, dreamy, and soft, somewhat
   like the singing of a child in its sleep. Beautiful also,
   although less new in character than in the figure, was the
   following one in F major; here the object was more to exhibit
   bravura, the most charming bravura, and we could not but
   praise the master highly for it....But of what use are
   descriptive words?

This time we cannot cite a letter of Mendelssohn's; he was elsewhere
similarly occupied as Chopin in Marienbad. After falling in love with
a Frankfort lady, Miss Jeanrenaud, he had gone to Scheweningen to
see whether his love would stand the test of absence from the beloved
object. It stood the test admirably, and on September 9, a few days
before Chopin's arrival in Leipzig, Mendelssohn's engagement to the lady
who became his wife on March 28, 1837, took place.

But another person who has been mentioned in connection with Chopin's
first visit to Leipzig, Henrietta Voigt, [FOOTNOTE: The editor of "Acht
Briefe und ein Facsimile van Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy" speaks of her
as "the artistic wife of a Leipzig merchant, whose house stood open
to musicians living in and passing through Leipzig."] has left us
an account of the impression made upon her. An entry in her diary on
September 13, 1836, runs thus:--

   Yesterday Chopin was here and played an hour on my piano--a
   fantasia and new etude of his--interesting man and still more
   interesting playing; he moved me strangely. The over-
   excitement of his fantastic manner is imparted to the keen-
   eared; it made me hold my breath. Wonderful is the ease with
   which his velvet fingers glide, I might almost say fly, over
   the keys. He has enraptured me--I cannot deny it--in a way
   which hitherto had been unknown to me. What delighted me was
   the childlike, natural manner which he showed in his
   demeanour and in his playing.

After this short break of his journey at Leipzig, which he did not leave
without placing a wreath of flowers on the monument of Prince Joseph
Poniatowski, who in 1812 met here with an early death, being drowned
in the river Elster, Chopin proceeded on his homeward journey, that is
toward Paris, probably tarrying again for a day or two at Heidelberg.

The non-artistic events of this period are of a more stirring nature
than the artistic ones. First in time and importance comes Chopin's
meeting with George Sand, which more than any other event marks an epoch
in the composer's life. But as this subject has to be discussed fully
and at some length we shall leave it for another chapter, and conclude
this with an account of some other matters.

Mendelssohn, who arrived in London on August 24, 1837, wrote on
September 1 to Hiller:--

   Chopin is said to have suddenly turned up here a fortnight
   ago; but he visited nobody and made no acquaintances. He
   played one evening most beautifully at Broadwood's, and then
   hurried away again. I hear he is still suffering very much.

Chopin accompanied by Camille Pleyel and Stanislas Kozmian, the elder,
came to London on the 11th of July and stayed till the 22nd. Pleyel
introduced him under the name of M. Fritz to his friend James Broadwood,
who invited them to dine with him at his house in Bryanston Square. The
incognito, however, could only be preserved as long as Chopin kept his
hands off the piano. When after dinner he sat down to play, the ladies
of the family suspected, and, suspicion being aroused, soon extracted a
confession of the truth.

Moscheles in alluding in his diary to this visit to London adds an item
or two to its history:--

   Chopin, who passed a few days in London, was the only one of
   the foreign artists who visited nobody and also did not wish
   to be visited, as every conversation aggravates his chest-
   complaint. He went to some concerts and disappeared.

Particularly interesting are the reminiscences of the writer of an
enthusiastic review [Footnote: Probably J. W. Davison.]of some of
Chopin's nocturnes and a scherzo in the "Musical World" of February 23,

   Were he [Chopin] not the most retiring and unambitious of all
   living musicians, he would before this time have been
   celebrated as the inventor of a new style, or school, of
   pianoforte composition. During his short visit to the
   metropolis last season, but few had the high gratification of
   hearing his extemporaneous performance. Those who experienced
   this will not readily lose its remembrance. He is, perhaps,
   par eminence, the most delightful of pianists in the drawing-
   room. The animation of his style is so subdued, its
   tenderness so refined, its melancholy so gentle, its niceties
   so studied and systematic, the tout-ensemble so perfect, and
   evidently the result of an accurate judgment and most
   finished taste, that when exhibited in the large concert-
   room, or the thronged saloon, it fails to impress itself on
   the mass. The "Neue Zeitschrift fur Musik" of September 8,
   1837, brought the piece of news that Chopin was then at a
   Bohemian watering-place. I doubt the correctness of this
   statement; at any rate, no other information to that effect
   has come to my knowledge, and the ascertained facts do not
   favour the assumption of its truth.

Never robust, Chopin had yet hitherto been free from any serious
illness. Now, however, the time of his troubles begins. In a letter,
undated, but very probably written in the summer of 1837, which he
addressed to Anthony Wodzinski, who had been wounded in Spain, where
civil war was then raging, occur remarks confirmatory of Mendelssohn's
and Moscheles' statements:--

   My dearest life! Wounded! Far from us--and I can send you
   nothing....Your friends are thinking only of you. For mercy's
   sake recover as soon as possible and return. The newspaper
   accounts say that your legion is completely annihilated.
   Don't enter the Spanish army....Remember that your blood may
   serve a better purpose....Titus [Woyciechowski] wrote to ask
   me if I could not meet him somewhere in Germany. During the
   winter I was again ill with influenza. They wanted to send me
   to Ems. Up to the present, however, I have no thought of
   going, as I am unable to move. I write and prepare
   manuscript. I think far more of you than you imagine, and
   love you as much as ever.

   F. C.

   Believe me, you and Titus are enshrined in my memory.

On the margin, Chopin writes--

   I may perhaps go for a few days to George Sand's, but keep
   your mind easy, this will not interfere with the forwarding
   of your money, for I shall leave instructions with Johnnie

With regard to this and to the two preceding letters to members of the
Wodzinski family, I have yet to state that I found them in M. A. Szulc's
"Fryderyk Chopin."



It is now necessary that the reader should be made acquainted with
Madame Dudevant, better known by her literary name, George Sand, whose
coming on the scene has already been announced in the preceding chapter.
The character of this lady is so much a matter of controversy, and a
correct estimate of it so essential for the right understanding of the
important part she plays in the remaining portion of Chopin's life, that
this long chapter--an intermezzo, a biography in a biography--will not
be regarded as out of place or too lengthy. If I begin far off, as it
were before the beginning, I do so because the pedigree has in this case
a peculiar significance.

The mother of George Sand's father was the daughter of the Marschal de
Saxe (Count Maurice of Saxony, natural son of August the Strong, King
of Poland and Elector of Saxony, and the Countess Maria Aurora von
Konigsmark) and the dame de l'opera, Mdlle. de Verrieres, whose real
name was Madame de la Riviere, nee Marie Rinteau. This daughter, Marie
Aurore, married at the age of fifteen Comte de Home, a natural son of
Louis XV., who died soon after; and fifteen years later she condescended
to accept the hand of M. Dupin de Francueil, receveur general, who,
although of an old and well-connected family, did not belong to the
high nobility. The curious may read about Mdlle. de Verrieres in the
"Memoires" of Marmontel, who was one of her many lovers, and about
M. Dupin, his father, mother-in-law, first wife &c., in Rousseau's
"Confessions," where, however, he is always called De Francueil.
Notwithstanding the disparity of age, the husband being twice as old as
his wife, the marriage of M. Dupin and the Comtesse de Home proved to be
a very happy one. They had one child, a son, Maurice Francois Elisabeth
Dupin. He entered the army in 1798, and two years later, in the course
of the Italian campaign, became first lieutenant and then aide-de-camp
to General Dupont.

In Italy and about the same time Maurice Dupin saw and fell in love
with Sophie Victoire Antoinette Delaborde, the daughter of a Paris
bird-seller, who had been a supernumerary at some small theatre, and
whose youth, as George Sand delicately expresses it, "had by the
force of circumstances been exposed to the most frightful hazards."
Sacrificing all the advantages she was then enjoying, she followed
Maurice Dupin to France. From this liaison sprang several children, all
of whom, however, except one, died very young. A month before the
birth of her in whom our interest centres, Maurice Dupin married Sophie
Delaborde. The marriage was a civil one and contracted without the
knowledge of his mother, who was opposed to this union less on account
of Sophie's plebeian origin than of her doubtful antecedents.

It was on July 5, 1804, that Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin, who under the
name of George Sand became famous all the world over, saw for the first
time the light of day. The baby, which by a stratagem was placed in the
arms of her grandmother, mollified the feelings of the old lady, whom
the clandestine marriage had put in a great rage, so effectually that
she forgave her son, received his wife, and tried to accommodate herself
to the irremediable. After the Spanish campaign, during which he acted
as aide-de-camp to Murat, Maurice Dupin and his family came to Nohant,
his mother's chateau in Berry. There little Aurora lost her father when
she was only four years old. Returning home one evening from La Chatre,
a neighbouring town, he was thrown off his horse, and died almost

This was an event that seriously affected the future of the child,
for only the deceased could keep in check the antagonism of two such
dissimilar characters as those of Aurora's mother and grandmother.
The mother was "dark-complexioned, pale, ardent, awkward and timid in
fashionable society, but always ready to explode when the storm
was growling too strongly within"; her temperament was that "of a
Spaniard--jealous, passionate, choleric, and weak, perverse and kindly
at the same time." Abbe Beaumont (a natural son of Mdlle. de Verrieres
and the Prince de Turenne, Duke de Bouillon, and consequently
grand-uncle of Aurora) said of her that she had a bad head but a good
heart. She was quite uneducated, but had good natural parts, sang
charmingly, and was clever with her hands. The grandmother, on the other
hand, was "light-complexioned, blonde, grave, calm, and dignified in
her manners, a veritable Saxon of noble race, with an imposing demeanour
full of ease and patronising goodness." She had been an assiduous
student of the eighteenth century philosophers, and on the whole was
a lady of considerable culture. For about two years these two women
managed to live together, not, however, without a feeling of discord
which was not always successfully suppressed, and sometimes broke out
into open dissension. At last they came to an arrangement according to
which the child was to be left in the keeping of the grandmother, who
promised her daughter-in-law a yearly allowance which would enable her
to take up her abode in Paris. This arrangement had the advantage for
the younger Madame Dupin that she could henceforth devote herself to
the bringing-up of another daughter, born before her acquaintance with
Aurora's father.

From her mother Aurora received her first instruction in reading and
writing. The taste for literary composition seems to have been innate in
her, for already at the age of five she wrote letters to her grandmother
and half-brother (a natural son of her father's). When she was seven,
Deschartres, her grandmother's steward, who had been Maurice Dupin's
tutor, began to teach her French grammar and versification, Latin,
arithmetic, botany, and a little Greek. But she had no liking for any
of these studies. The dry classifications of plants and words were
distasteful to her; arithmetic she could not get into her head; and
poetry was not her language. History, on the other hand, was a source
of great enjoyment to her; but she read it like a romance, and did not
trouble herself about dates and other unpleasant details. She was also
fond of music; at least she was so as long as her grandmother taught
her, for the mechanical drilling she got from the organist of La Chatre
turned her fondness into indifference. That subject of education,
however, which is generally regarded as the foundation of all
education--I mean religion--was never even mentioned to her. The Holy
Scriptures were, indeed, given into the child's hands, but she was left
to believe or reject whatever she liked. Her grandmother, who was a
deist, hated not only the pious, but piety itself, and, above all, Roman
Catholicism. Christ was in her opinion an estimable man, the gospel
an excellent philosophy, but she regretted that truth was enveloped in
ridiculous fables. The little of religion which the girl imbibed she
owed to her mother, by whose side she was made to kneel and say her
prayers. "My mother," writes George Sand in her "Histoire de ma Vie,"
from which these details are taken, "carried poetry into her religious
feeling, and I stood in need of poetry." Aurora's craving for religion
and poetry was not to remain unallayed. One night there appeared to her
in a dream a phantom, Corambe by name. The dream-created being took hold
of her waking imagination, and became the divinity of her religion
and the title and central figure of her childish, unwritten romance.
Corambe, who was of no sex, or rather of either sex just as occasion
might require--for it underwent numberless metamorphoses--had "all the
attributes of physical and moral beauty, the gift of eloquence, and
the all-powerful charm of the arts, especially the magic of musical
improvisation," being in fact an abstract of all the sacred and secular
histories with which she had got acquainted.

The jarrings between her mother and grandmother continued; for of
course their intercourse did not entirely cease. The former visited her
relations at Nohant, and the latter and her grandchildren occasionally
passed some weeks in Paris. Aurora, who loved both, her mother even
passionately, was much harassed by their jealousy, which vented itself
in complaints, taunts, and reproaches. Once she determined to go to
Paris and live with her mother, and was only deterred from doing so by
the most cruel means imaginable--namely, by her grandmother telling
her of the dissolute life which her mother had led before marrying her

   I owe my first socialistic and democratic instincts to the
   singularity of my position, to my birth a cheval so to speak
   on two classes--to my love for my mother thwarted and broken
   by prejudices which made me suffer before I could comprehend
   them. I owe them also to my education, which was by turns
   philosophical and religious, and to all the contrasts which
   my own life has presented to me from my earliest years.

At the age of thirteen Aurora was sent to the convent of English
Augustines in Paris, the only surviving one of the three or four
institutions of the kind that were founded during the time of Cromwell.
There she remained for the next three years. Her knowledge when she
entered this educational as well as religious establishment was not of
the sort that enables its possessor to pass examinations; consequently
she was placed in the lowest class, although in discussion she could
have held her own even against her teachers. Much learning could not be
acquired in the convent, but the intercourse with other children, many
of them belonging, like the nuns, to English-speaking nations, was not
without effect on the development of her character. There were three
classes of pupils, the diables, betes, and devotes (the devils,
blockheads, and devout). Aurora soon joined the first, and became one of
their ringleaders. But all of a sudden a change came over her. From one
extreme she fell into the other. From being the wildest of the wild she
became the most devout of the devout: "There was nothing strong in me
but passion, and when that of religion began to break out, it devoured
everything in my heart; and nothing in my brain opposed it." The
acuteness of this attack of religious mania gradually diminished; still
she harboured for some time the project of taking the veil, and perhaps
would have done so if she had been left to herself.

After her return-to Nohant her half-brother Hippolyte, who had recently
entered the army, gave her riding lessons, and already at the end of a
week she and her mare Colette might be seen leaping ditches and hedges,
crossing deep waters, and climbing steep inclines. "And I, the eau
dormante of the convent, had become rather more daring than a hussar and
more robust than a peasant." The languor which had weighed upon her
so long had all of once given way to boisterous activity. When she was
seventeen she also began seriously to think of self-improvement; and as
her grandmother was now paralytic and mentally much weakened, Aurora
had almost no other guidance than that of chance and her own instinct.
Thomas a Kempis' "Imitation of Christ," which had been her guide since
her religious awakening, was now superseded, not, however, without some
struggles, by Chateaubriand's "Le Genie du Christianisme." The book was
lent her by her confessor with a view to the strengthening of her faith,
but it produced quite the reverse effect, detaching her from it for
ever. After reading and enjoying Chateaubriand's book she set to work
on the philosophers and essayists Mably, Locke, Condillac, Montesquieu,
Bacon, Bossuet, Aristotle, Leibnitz, Pascal, Montaigne, and then turned
to the poets and moralists La Bruyere, Pope, Milton, Dante, Virgil,
Shakespeare, &c. But she was not a metaphysician; the tendencies of her
mind did not impel her to seek for scientific solutions of the great
mysteries. "J'etais," she says, "un etre de sentiment, et le sentiment
seul tranchait pour moi les questions a man usage, qui toute experience
faite, devinrent bientot les seules questions a ma, portee." This
"le sentiment seul tranchait pour moi les questions" is another
self-revelation, or instance of self-knowledge, which it will be useful
to remember. What more natural than that this "being of sentiment"
should prefer the poets to the philosophers, and be attracted, not by
the cold reasoners, but by Rousseau, "the man of passion and sentiment."
It is impossible to describe here the various experiences and doings of
Aurora. Without enlarging on the effects produced upon her by Byron's
poetry, Shakespeare's "Hamlet," and Chateaubriand's "Rene"; on her
suicidal mania; on the long rides which, clad in male attire, she took
with Deschartres; on the death of her grandmother, whose fortune she
inherited; on her life in Paris with her extravagantly-capricious
mother; on her rupture with her father's family, her aristocratic
relations, because she would not give up her mother--I say, without
enlarging on all this we will at once pass on to her marriage, about
which there has been so much fabling.

Aurore Dupin married Casimir Dudevant in September, 1822, and did so
of her own free will. Nor was her husband, as the story went, a
bald-headed, grey-moustached old colonel, with a look that made all his
dependents quake. On the contrary, Casimir Dudevant, a natural son of
Colonel Dudevant (an officer of the legion of honour and a baron of the
Empire), was, according to George Sand's own description, "a slender,
and rather elegant young man, with a gay countenance and a military
manner." Besides good looks and youth--he was twenty-seven--he must
also have possessed some education, for, although he did not follow
any profession, he had been at a military school, served in the army as
sub-lieutenant, and on leaving the army had read for the bar and been
admitted a barrister. There was nothing romantic in the courtship, but
at the same time it was far from commonplace.

   He did not speak to me of love [writes George Sand], and
   owned that he was little inclined to sudden passion, to
   enthusiasm, and in any case no adept in expressing it in an
   attractive manner. He spoke of a friendship that would stand
   any test, and compared the tranquil happiness of our hosts
   [she was then staying with some friends] to that which he
   believed he could swear to procure me.

She found sincerity not only in his words, but also in his whole
conduct; indeed, what lady could question a suitor's sincerity
after hearing him say that he had been struck at first sight by her
good-natured and sensible look, but that he had not thought her either
beautiful or pretty?

Shortly after their marriage the young couple proceeded to Nohant, where
they spent the winter. In June, 1823, they went to Paris, and there
their son Maurice was born. Their only other offspring, the daughter
Solange, did not come into the world till fiveyears later. The
discrepancies of the husband and wife's character, which became soon
apparent, made themselves gradually more and more felt. His was a
practical, hers a poetic nature. Under his management Nohant assumed an
altogether different aspect--there was now order, neatness, and economy,
where there was previously confusion, untidiness, and waste. She
admitted that the change was for the better, but could not help
regretting the state of matters that had been--the old dog Phanor taking
possession of the fire-place and putting his muddy paws upon the carpet;
the old peacock eating the strawberries in the garden; and the wild
neglected nooks, where as a child she had so often played and dreamed.
Both loved the country, but they loved it for different reasons. He was
especially fond of hunting, a consequence of which was that he left his
wife much alone. And when he was at home his society may not always have
been very entertaining, for what liveliness he had seems to have been
rather in his legs than in his brain. Writing to her mother on April
i, 1828, Madame Dudevant says: "Vous savez comme il est paresseux de
l'esprit et enrage des jambes." On the other hand, her temper, which
was anything but uniformly serene, must have been trying to her husband.
Occasionally she had fits of weeping without any immediate cause, and
one day at luncheon she surprised her husband by a sudden burst of
tears which she was unable to account for. As M. Dudevant attributed
his wife's condition to the dulness of Nohant, the recent death of her
grandmother, and the air of the country, he proposed a change of scene,
which he did the more readily as he himself did not in the least like
Berry. The pleasant and numerous company they found in the house of the
friends with whom they went to stay at once revived her spirits, and
she became us frolicsome as she had before been melancholy. George
Sand describes her character as continually alternating between
"contemplative solitude and complete giddiness in conditions of
primitive innocence." It is hardly to be wondered at that one who
exhibited such glaring and unaccountable contrasts of character was
considered by some people whimsical (bizarre) and by her husband an
idiot. She herself admits the possibility that he may not have been
wrong. At any rate, little by little he succeeded in making her feel
the superiority of reason and intelligence so thoroughly that for a long
time she was quite crushed and stupefied in company. Afraid of finding
themselves alone at Nohant, the ill-matched pair continued their
migration on leaving their friends. Madame Dudevant made great efforts
to see through her husband's eyes and to think and act as he wished, but
no sooner did she accord with him than she ceased to accord with her
own instincts. Whatever they undertook, wherever they went, that sadness
"without aim and name" would from time to time come over her. Thinking
that the decline of her religiousness was the cause of her lowness of
spirits, she took counsel with her old confessor, the Jesuit Abbe de
Premord, and even passed, with her husband's consent, some days in the
retirement of the English convent. After staying during the spring of
1825 at Nohant, M. and Madame Dudevant set out for the south of France
on July 5, the twenty-first anniversary of the latter's birthday. In
what George Sand calls the "History of my Life," she inserted some
excerpts from a diary kept by her at this time, which throw much light
on the relation that existed between wife and husband. If only we could
be sure that it is not like so much in the book the outcome of her
powerful imagination! Besides repeated complaints about her husband's
ill-humour and frequent absences, we meet with the following ominous
reflections on marriage:--

   Marriage is beautiful for lovers and useful for saints.

   Besides saints and lovers there are a great many ordinary
   minds and placid hearts that do not know love and cannot
   attain to sanctity.

   Marriage is the supreme aim of love. When love has left it,
   or never entered it, sacrifice remains. This is very well for
   those who understand sacrifice. The latter presupposes a
   measure of heart and a degree of intelligence which are not
   frequently to be met with.

   For sacrifice there are compensations which the vulgar mind
   can appreciate. The approbation of the world, the routine
   sweetness of custom, a feeble, tranquil, and sensible
   devotion that is not bent on rapturous exaltation, or money,
   that is to say baubles, dress, luxury--in short, a thousand
   little things which make one forget that one is deprived of

The following extracts give us some glimpses which enable us to realise
the situation:--

   I left rather sad. ____ said hard things to me, having been told
   by a Madame ____ that I was wrong in making excursions without
   my husband. I do not think that this is the case, seeing that
   my husband goes first, and I go where he intends to go.

   My husband is one of the most intrepid of men. He goes
   everywhere, and I follow him. He turns round and rebukes me.
   He says that I affect singularity. I'll be hanged if I think
   of it. I turn round, and I see Zoe following me. I tell her
   that she affects singularity. My husband is angry because Zoe

   ...We quickly leave the guides and the caravan behind us.
   We ride over the most fantastic roads at a gallop. Zoe is mad
   with courage. This intoxicates me, and I at once am her

In addition to the above, we must read a remark suggested by certain
entries in the diary:--

   Aimee was an accomplished person of an exquisite distinction.
   She loved everything that in any way is elegant and ornate in
   society: names, manners, talents, titles. Madcap as I
   assuredly was, I looked upon all this as vanity, and went in
   quest of intimacy and simplicity combined with poesy. Thanks
   to God, I found them in Zoe, who was really a person of
   merit, and, moreover, a woman with a heart as eager for
   affection as my own.

M. and Madame Dudevant spent the greater part of autumn and the whole
winter at Guillery, the chateau of Colonel Dudevant. Had the latter not
died at this time, he might perhaps have saved the young people from
those troubles towards which they were drifting, at least so his
daughter-in-law afterwards thought. In the summer of 1826 the
ill-matched couple returned to Nohant, where they continued to live, a
few short absences excepted, till 1831. Hitherto their mutual relation
had left much to be desired, henceforth it became worse and worse
every day. It would, however, be a mistake to account for this state of
matters solely by the dissimilarity of their temperaments--the poetic
tendency on the one side, the prosaic on the other--for although
it precluded an ideal matrimonial union, it by no means rendered an
endurable and even pleasant companionship impossible. The real cause
of the gathering clouds and imminent storm is to be sought elsewhere.
Madame Dudevant was endowed with great vitality; she was, as it were,
charged with an enormous amount of energy, which, unless it found an
outlet, oppressed her and made her miserable. Now, in her then position,
all channels were closed up. The management of household affairs, which,
if her statement may be trusted, she neither considered beneath her
dignity nor disliked, might have served as a safety-valve; but her
administration came to an untimely end. When, after the first year of
their married life, her husband examined the accounts, he discovered
that she had spent 14,000 francs instead of 10,000, and found
himself constrained to declare that their purse was too light for her
liberality. Not having anything else to do, and her uselessness vexing
her, she took to doctoring the poor and concocting medicines. Hers,
however, was not the spirit that allows itself to be fettered by the
triple vow of obedience, silence, and poverty. No wonder, therefore,
that her life, which she compared to that of a nun, was not to her
taste. She did not complain so much of her husband, who did not
interfere with her reading and brewing of juleps, and was in no way a
tyrant, as of being the slave of a given situation from which he could
not set her free. The total lack of ready money was felt by her
to constitute in our altogether factitious society an intolerable
situation, frightful misery or absolute powerlessness. What she missed
was some means of which she might dispose, without compunction and
uncontrolled, for an artistic treat, a beautiful book, a week's
travelling, a present to a poor friend, a charity to a deserving person,
and such like trifles, which, although not indispensable, make life
pleasant. "Irresponsibility is a state of servitude; it is something
like the disgrace of the interdict." But servitude and disgrace are
galling yokes, and it was not likely that so strong a character would
long and meekly submit to them. We have, however, not yet exhausted the
grievances of Madame Dudevant. Her brother Hippolyte, after mismanaging
his own property, came and lived for the sake of economy at Nohant. His
intemperance and that of a friend proved contagious to her husband, and
the consequence was not only much rioting till late into the night,
but occasionally also filthy conversations. She began, therefore, to
consider how the requisite means might be obtained--which would enable
her to get away from such undesirable surroundings, and to withdraw her
children from these evil influences. For four years she endeavoured
to discover an employment by which she could gain her livelihood. A
milliner's business was out of the question without capital to begin
with; by needlework no more than ten sous a day could be earned; she was
too conscientious to make translation pay; her crayon and water-colour
portraits were pretty good likenesses, but lacked originality; and in
the painting of flowers and birds on cigar-cases, work-boxes, fans,
&c., which promised to be more successful, she was soon discouraged by a
change of fashion.

At last Madame Dudevant made up her mind to go to Paris and try her luck
in literature. She had no ambition whatever, and merely hoped to be able
to eke out in this way her slender resources. As regards the capital
of knowledge she was possessed of she wrote: "I had read history and
novels; I had deciphered scores; I had thrown an inattentive eye over
the newspapers....Monsieur Neraud [the Malgache of the "Lettres d'un
Voyageur"] had tried to teach me botany. According to the "Histoire de
ma Vie" this new departure was brought about by an amicable arrangement;
her letters, as in so many cases, tell, however, a very different tale.
Especially important is a letter written, on December 3, 1830, to Jules
Boucoiran, who had lately been tutor to her children, and whom, after
the relation of what had taken place, she asks to resume these duties
for her sake now that she will be away from Nohant and her children part
of the year. Boucoiran, it should be noted, was a young man of about
twenty, who was a total stranger to her on September 2, 1829, but whom
she addressed on November 30 of that year as "Mon cher Jules." Well, she
tells him in the letter in question that when looking for something in
her husband's writing-desk she came on a packet addressed to her, and
on which were further written by his hand the words "Do not open it till
after my death." Piqued by curiosity, she did open the packet, and found
in it nothing but curses upon herself. "He had gathered up in it," she
says, "all his ill-humour and anger against me, all his reflections on
my perversity." This was too much for her; she had allowed herself to be
humiliated for eight years, now she would speak out.

   Without waiting a day longer, still feeble and ill, I
   declared my will and mentioned my motives with an aplomb and
   coolness which petrified him. He hardly expected to see a
   being like me rise to its full height in order to face him.
   He growled, disputed, beseeched. I remained immovable. I want
   an allowance, I shall go to Paris, my children will remain at

She feigned intractability on all these points, but after some time
relented and consented to return to Nohant if her conditions were
accepted. From the "Histoire de ma Vie" we learn what these conditions
were. She demanded her daughter, permission to pass twice three months
every year in Paris, and an allowance of 250 francs per month during
the time of her absence from Nohant. Her letters, however, show that her
daughter was not with her during her first three months at Paris.

Madame Dudevant proceeded to Paris at the beginning of 1831. Her
establishment there was of the simplest. It consisted of three
little rooms on the fifth story (a mansarde) in a house on the Quai
Saint-Michel. She did the washing and ironing herself, the portiere
assisting her in the rest of the household work. The meals came from
a restaurant, and cost two francs a day. And thus she managed to keep
within her allowance. I make these and the following statements on her
own authority. As she found her woman's attire too expensive, little
suited for facing mud and rain, and in other respects inconvenient,
she provided herself with a coat (redingote-guerite), trousers, and
waistcoat of coarse grey cloth, a hat of the same colour, a large
necktie, and boots with little iron heels. This latter part of her
outfit especially gave her much pleasure. Having often worn man's
clothes when riding and hunting at Nohant, and remembering that her
mother used to go in the same guise with her father to the theatre
during their residence in Paris, she felt quite at home in these
habiliments and saw nothing shocking in donning them. Now began what she
called her literary school-boy life (vie d'ecolier litteraire), her vie
de gamin. She trotted through the streets of Paris at all times and in
all weathers, went to garrets, studios, clubs, theatres, coffee-houses,
in fact, everywhere except to salons. The arts, politics, the romance
of society and living humanity, were the studies which she passionately
pursued. But she gives those the lie who said of her that she had the
"curiosite du vice."

The literary men with whom she had constant intercourse, and with whom
she was most closely connected, came, like herself, from Berry. Henri de
Latouche (or Delatouche, as George Sand writes), a native of La Chatre,
who was editor of the Figaro, enrolled her among the contributors to
this journal. But she had no talent for this kind of work, and at the
end of the month her payment amounted to perhaps from twelve to fifteen
francs. Madame Dudevant and the two other Berrichons, Jules Sandeau and
Felix Pyat, were, so to speak, the literary apprentices of Delatouche,
who not only was much older than they, having been born in 1785, but
had long ago established his reputation as a journalist, novelist, and
dramatic writer. The first work which Madame Dudevant produced was
the novel "Rose et Blanche"; she wrote it in collaboration with Jules
Sandeau, whose relation to her is generally believed to have been not
only of a literary nature. The novel, which appeared in 1831, was so
successful that the publishers asked the authors to write them another.
Madame Dudevant thereupon wrote "Indiana", but without the assistance of
Jules Sandeau. She was going to have it published under the nom de plume
Jules Sand, which they had assumed on the occasion of "Rose et Blanche."
But Jules Sandeau objected to this, saying that as she had done all the
work, she ought to have all the honour. To satisfy both, Jules Sandeau,
who would not adorn himself with another's plumes, and the publishers,
who preferred a known to an unknown name, Delatouche gave Madame
Dudevant the name of George Sand, under which henceforth all her
works were published, and by which she was best known in society,
and generally called among her friends. "Valentine" appeared, like
"Indiana," in 1832, and was followed in 1833 by Lelia. For the first two
of these novels she received 3,000 francs. When Buloz bought the Revue
des deux Mondes, she became one of the contributors to that
journal. This shows that a great improvement had taken place in her
circumstances, and that the fight she had to fight was not a very hard
one. Indeed, in the course of two years she had attained fame, and was
now a much-praised and much-abused celebrity.

All this time George Sand had, according to agreement, spent alternately
three months in Paris and three months at Nohant. A letter written by
M. Dudevant to his wife in 1831 furnishes a curious illustration of the
relation that existed between husband and wife. The accommodating spirit
which pervades it is most charming:--

   I shall go to Paris; I shall not put up at your lodgings, for
   I do not wish to inconvenience you any more than I wish you
   to inconvenience me (parceque je ne veux pas vous gener, pas
   plus que je ne veux que vous me geniez).

In August, 1833, George Sand and Alfred de Musset met for the first time
at a dinner which the editor Buloz gave to the contributors to the Revue
des deux Mondes. The two sat beside each other. Musset called on
George Sand soon after, called again and again, and before long was
passionately in love with her. She reciprocated his devotion. But the
serene blissfulness of the first days of their liaison was of short
duration. Already in the following month they fled from the Parisian
surroundings and gossipings, which they regarded as the disturbers of
their harmony. After visiting Genoa, Florence, and Pisa, they settled
at Venice. Italy, however, did not afford them the hoped-for peace and
contentment. It was evident that the days of "adoration, ecstasy, and
worship" were things of the past. Unpleasant scenes became more and more
frequent. How, indeed, could a lasting concord be maintained by two such
disparate characters? The woman's strength and determination contrasted
with the man's weakness and vacillation; her reasoning imperturbation,
prudent foresight, and love of order and activity, with his excessive
irritability and sensitiveness, wanton carelessness, and unconquerable
propensity to idleness and every kind of irregularity. While George Sand
sat at her writing-table engaged on some work which was to bring her
money and fame, Musset trifled away his time among the female singers
and dancers of the noiseless city. In April, 1834, before the poet had
quite recovered from the effects of a severe attack of typhoid fever,
which confined him to his bed for several weeks, he left George Sand
after a violent quarrel and took his departure from Venice. This,
however, was not yet the end of their connection. Once more, in spite
of all that had happened, they came together; but it was only for a
fortnight (at Paris, in the autumn of 1834), and then they parted for

It is impossible, at any rate I shall not attempt, to sift the true
from the false in the various accounts which have been published of
this love-drama. George Sand's version may be read in her Lettres d'un
Voyageur and in Elle et Lui; Alfred de Musset's version in his brother
Paul's book Lui et Elle. Neither of these versions, however, is a plain,
unvarnished tale. Paul de Musset seems to keep on the whole nearer
the truth, but he too cannot be altogether acquitted of the charge of
exaggeration. Rather than believe that by the bedside of her lover, whom
she thought unconscious and all but dead, George Sand dallied with the
physician, sat on his knees, retained him to sup with her, and drank
out of one glass with him, one gives credence to her statement that
what Alfred de Musset imagined to be reality was but the illusion of
a feverish dream. In addition to George Sand's and Paul de Musset's
versions, Louise Colet has furnished a third in her Lui, a publication
which bears the stamp of insincerity on almost every page, and which
has been described, I think by Maxime du Camp, as worse than a lying
invention--namely, as a systematic perversion of the truth. A passage
from George Sand's Elle et Lui, in which Therese and Laurent, both
artists, are the representatives of the novelist and poet, will indicate
how she wishes the story to be read:--

   Therese had no weakness for Laurent in the mocking and
   libertine sense that one gives to this word in love. It was
   by an act of her will, after nights of sorrowful meditation,
   that she said to him--"I wish what thou wishest, because we
   have come to that point where the fault to be committed is
   the inevitable reparation of a series of committed faults. I
   have been guilty towards thee in not having the egotistical
   prudence to shun thee; it is better that I should be guilty
   towards myself in remaining thy companion and consolation at
   the expense of my peace and of my pride."..."Listen," she
   added, holding his hand in both of hers with all the strength
   she possessed, "never draw back this hand from me, and,
   whatever happens, preserve so much honour and courage as not
   to forget that before being thy mistress I was thy
   FRIEND....I ask of thee only, if thou growest weary of my
   Jove as thou now art of my friendship, to recollect that it
   was not a moment of delirium that threw me into thy arms, but
   a sudden impulse of my heart, and a more tender and more
   lasting feeling than the intoxication of voluptuousness."

I shall not continue the quotation, the discussion becomes too
nauseous. One cannot help sympathising with Alfred de Musset's impatient
interruption of George Sand's unctuous lecturing reported in his
brother's book--"My dear, you speak so often of chastity that it becomes
indecent." Or this other interruption reported by Louise Colet:--

   When one gives the world what the world calls the scandale of
   love, one must have at least the courage of one's passion. In
   this respect the women of the eighteenth century are better
   than you: they did not subtilise love in metaphysics [elles
   n'alambiquaient pas l'amour dans la metaphysique].

It is hardly necessary to say that George Sand had much intercourse with
men of intellect. Several litterateurs of some distinction have already
been mentioned. Sainte-Beuve and Balzac were two of the earliest of her
literary friends, among whom she numbered also Heine. With Lamartine
and other cultivators of the belles-lettres she was likewise acquainted.
Three of her friends, men of an altogether different type and calibre,
have, however, a greater claim on the attention of the student of
George Sand's personality than any of those just named, because
their speculations and teachings gave powerful impulses to her mind,
determined the direction of her thoughts, and widened the sphere of her
intellectual activity. The influences of these three men--the advocate
Michel of Bourges, an earnest politician; the philosopher and political
economist: Pierre Leroux, one of the founders of the "Encyclopedie
Nouvelle," and author of "De l'humanite, de son principe et de
son avenir"; and the Abbe Lamennais, the author of the "Essai sur
l'indifference en matiere de religion," "Paroles d'un Croyant," &c.--are
clearly traceable in the "Lettres a Marcie, Spiridion," "Les sept
Cordes de la Lyre," "Les Compagnons du tour de France," "Consuelo,"
"La Comtesse de Rudolstadt," "Le Peche de M. Antoine," "Le Meunier
d'Angibault," &c. George Sand made the acquaintance of Pierre Leroux
and the Abbe Lammenais in 1835. The latter was introduced to her by her
friend Liszt, who knew all the distinguished men of the day, and seems
to have often done her similar services. George Sand's friendship with
Michel of Bourges, the Everard of her "Lettres d'un Voyageur," dates
farther back than 1835.

During George Sand's stay in Venice M. Dudevant had continued to write
to her in an amicable and satisfied tone. On returning in the summer of
1834 to France she therefore resumed her periodical sojourns at Nohant;
but the pleasure of seeing her home and children was as short-lived as
it was sweet, for she soon discovered that neither the former nor the
latter, "morally speaking," belonged to her. M. Dudevant's ideas of how
they ought to be managed differed entirely from those of his wife, and
altogether things had become very uncongenial to her. George Sand, whose
view of the circumstances I am giving, speaks mysteriously of abnormal
and dangerous influences to which the domestic hearth was exposed,
and of her inability to find in her will, adverse as it was to daily
struggles and family quarrels, the force to master the situation. From
the vague and exceedingly brief indications of facts which are scattered
here and there between eloquent and lengthy dissertations on marriage
in all its aspects, on the proper pride of woman, and more of the same
nature, we gather, however, thus much: she wished to be more independent
than she had been hitherto, and above all to get a larger share of her
revenues, which amounted to about 15,000 francs, and out of which her
husband allowed her and her daughter only 3,000 francs. M. Dudevant, it
must be noted, had all along been living on his wife's income, having
himself only expectations which would not be realised till after his
stepmother's death. By the remonstrances of his wife and the advice
of her brother he was several times prevailed upon to agree to a more
equitable settlement. But no sooner had he given a promise or signed
a contract than he revoked what he had done. According to one of these
agreements George Sand and her daughter were to have a yearly allowance
of 6,000 francs; according to another M. Dudevant was to have a yearly
allowance of 7,000 francs and leave Nohant and the remainder of the
revenues to his wife. The terms of the latter of these agreements were
finally accepted by both parties, but not till after more than a year's
quarrelling and three lawsuits. George Sand sued for a divorce, and the
Court of La Chatre gave judgment in her favour on February 16, 1836.
This judgment was confirmed after a second trial by the same Court on
May 11, 1836.

[Footnote: What George Sand calls her "matrimonial biography" can
be read in "Le Droit" ("Journal des Tribunaux") of May 18, 1836. The
account there given, no doubt inspired by her advocate if not directly
by herself, contains some interesting items, but leaves others
unmentioned. One would have liked to learn something more of the
husband's pleadings.

The proceedings began on October 30, 1835, when "Madame D----- a forme
centre son mari une demande en separation de corps. Cette demande etait
fondee sur les injures graves, sevices et mauvais traitements dont elle
se plaignait de la part de son mari."

The following is a passage from Michel of Bourges, her advocate's
defence: "Des 1824, la vie intime etait devenue difficile; les egards
auxquels toute femme a droit furent oublies, des actes d'emportement et
de violence revelerent de la part de M. D----- un caractere peu facile,
peu capable d'apprecier le devouement et la delicatesse qu'on lui avail
temoignes. Les mauvais traitements furent d'abord plus rares que les
mauvais precedes, ainsi les imputations d'imbecillite, de stupidite,
furent prodiguees a Madame D----- le droit de raisonner, de prendre
l'art a la conversation lui fut interdit... des relations avec d'autres
femmes furent connues de l'epouse,et vers le mois de Decembre, 1828,
toute cohabitation intime cessa.

"Les enfants eux-memes eurent quelque part dans les mauvais

M. Dudevant then appealed to the Court of Cassation at Bourges, where
the case was tried on July 25; but he withdrew his appeal before
judgment was given. The insinuations and revelations made in the course
of these lawsuits were anything but edifying. George Sand says that she
confined herself to furnishing the proofs strictly demanded by the law,
and revealed only such facts as were absolutely necessary. But these
facts and proofs must have been of a very damaging nature, for M.
Dudevant answered them by imputations to merit one hundred-thousandth
part of which would have made her tremble. "His attorney refused to read
a libel. The judges would have refused to listen to it." Of a deposition
presented by M. Dudevant to the Court, his wife remarks that it was
"dictated, one might have said, drawn up," by two servants whom she had
dismissed. She maintains that she did not deserve this treatment, as she
betrayed of her husband's conduct only what he himself was wont to boast

George Sand's letters [Footnote: George Sand: Correspondence 1812-1876;
Six volumes (Paris: Calman Levy).] seem to me to show conclusively
that her chief motives for seeking a divorce were a desire for greater
independence and above all for more money. Complaints of ill-treatment
are not heard of till they serve to justify an action or to attain a
purpose. And the exaggeration of her varying statements must be obvious
to all but the most careless observer. George Sand is slow in making
up her mind; but having made it up she acts with fierce promptitude,
obstinate vigour, and inconsiderate unscrupulousness, in one word, with
that concentration of self which sees nothing but its own desires. On
the whole, I should say that M. Dudevant was more sinned against than
sinning. George Sand, even as she represents herself in the Histoire
de ma Vie and in her letters, was far from being an exemplary wife, or
indeed a woman with whom even the most angelic of husbands would have
found it easy to live in peace and happiness.

From the letters, which reveal so strikingly the ungentlewomanlikeness
(not merely in a conventional sense) of her manners and her numerous and
curious intimacies with men of all ages, more especially with young men,
I shall now cull a few characteristic passages in proof of what I have

   One must have a passion in life. I feel ennui for the want of
   one. The agitated and often even rather needy life I am
   leading here drives spleen far away. I am very well, and you
   will see me in the best of humours. [To her friend A. M.
   Duteil. Paris, February 15, 1831.]

   I have an object, a task, let me say the word, a passion. The
   profession of writing is a violent and almost indestructible
   one. [To Jules Boucoiran. Paris, March 4, 1831.]

   I cannot bear the shadow of a constraint, this is my
   principal fault. Everything that is imposed upon me as a duty
   becomes hateful to me.

After saying that she leaves her husband full liberty to do what he
likes--"qu'il a des maitresses ou n'en a pas, suivant son appetit,"--and
speaking highly of his management of their affairs, she writes in the
same letter as follows:--

   Moreover, it is only just that this great liberty which my
   husband enjoys should be reciprocal; otherwise, he would
   become to me odious and contemptible; that is what he does
   not wish to be. I am therefore quite independent; I go to bed
   when he rises, I go to La Chatre or to Rome, I come in at
   midnight or at six o'clock; all this is my business. Those
   who do not approve of this, and disparage me to you, judge
   them with your reason and your mother's heart; the one and
   the other ought to be with me. [To her mother. Nohant, May
   31, 1831.]

   Marriage is a state so contrary to every kind of union and
   happiness that I have good reason to fear for you. [To Jules
   Boucoiran, who had thoughts of getting married. Paris, March
   6, 1833.]

   You load me with very heavy reproaches, my dear child... you
   reproach me with my numerous liaisons, my frivolous
   friendships. I never undertake to clear myself from the
   accusations which bear on my character. I can explain facts
   and actions; but never defects of the mind or perversities of
   the heart. [To Jules Boucoiran. Paris, January 18, 1833.]

   Thou hast pardoned me when I committed follies which the
   world calls faults. [To her friend Charles Duvernet. Paris,
   October 15, 1834.]

   But I claim to possess, now and for ever, the proud and
   entire independence which you believe you alone have the
   right to enjoy. I shall not advise it to everyone; but I
   shall not suffer that, so far as I am concerned, any love
   whatever shall in the least fetter it. I hope to make my
   conditions so hard and so clear that no man will be bold and
   vile enough to accept them. [To her friend Adolphe Gueroult.
   Paris, May 6, 1835.]

   Nothing shall prevent me from doing what I ought to and what
   I will do. I am the daughter of my father, and I care not for
   prejudices when my heart enjoins justice and courage. [To her
   mother. Nohant, October 25, 1835.]

   Opinion is a prostitute which must be sent about her business
   with kicks when one is in the right. [To her friend Adolphe
   Gueroult. La Chatre, November 9, 1835.]

The materials made use of in the foregoing sketch of George Sand's life
up to 1836 consist to a very considerable extent of her own DATA, and in
part even of her own words. From this fact, however, it ought not to
be inferred that her statements can always be safely accepted without
previous examination, or at any time be taken au pied de la lettre.
Indeed, the writer of the Histoire de ma Vie reveals her character
indirectly rather than directly, unawares rather than intentionally.
This so-called "history" of her life contains some truth, although
not all the truth; but it contains it implicitly, not explicitly. What
strikes the observant reader of the four-volumed work most forcibly, is
the attitude of serene self-admiration and self-satisfaction which
the autobiographer maintains throughout. She describes her nature as
pre-eminently "confiding and tender," and affirms that in spite of the
great and many wrongs she was made to suffer, she never wronged anyone
in all her life. Hence the perfect tranquillity of conscience she always
enjoyed. Once or twice, it is true, she admits that she may not be an
angel, and that she as well as her husband may have had faults. Such
humble words, however, ought not to be regarded as penitent confessions
of a sinful heart, but as generous concessions of a charitable mind. In
short, a thorough belief in her own virtuousness and superior excellence
was the key-note of her character. The Pharisaical tendency to thank
God for not having made her like other people pervades every page of her
autobiography, of which Charles Mazade justly says that it is--

   a kind of orgy of a personality intoxicated with itself, an
   abuse of intimate secrets in which she slashes her friends,
   her reminiscences, and--truth.

George Sand declares again and again that she abstains from speaking
of certain matters out of regard for the feelings or memories of other
persons, whereas in reality she speaks recklessly of everybody as long
as she can do so without compromising herself. What virtuous motives
can have prompted her to publish her mother's shame? What necessity
was there to expatiate on her brother's drunkenness? And if she was
the wronged and yet pitiful woman she pretended to be, why, instead of
burying her husband's, Musset's, and others' sins in silence, does she
throw out against them those artful insinuations and mysterious hints
which are worse than open accusations? Probably her artistic instincts
suggested that a dark background would set off more effectively her own
glorious luminousness. However, I do not think that her indiscretions
and misrepresentations deserve always to be stigmatised as intentional
malice and conscious falsehood. On the contrary, I firmly believe that
she not only tried to deceive others, but that she actually deceived
herself. The habit of self-adoration had given her a moral squint, a
defect which was aggravated by a powerful imagination and excellent
reasoning faculties. For, swayed as these were by her sentiments and
desires, they proved themselves most fertile in generating flattering
illusions and artful sophisms. George Sand was indeed a great sophist.
She had always in readiness an inexhaustible store of interpretations
and subterfuges with which to palliate, excuse, or even metamorphose
into their contraries the most odious of her words and actions. It
is not likely that any one ever equalled, much less surpassed,
her expertness in hiding ugly facts or making innocent things look
suspicious. To judge by her writings and conversations she never acted
spontaneously, but reasoned on all matters and on all occasions.

   At no time whatever [writes Paul Lindau in his "Alfred de
   Musset"] is there to be discovered in George Sand a trace of
   a passion and inconsiderateness, she possesses an
   imperturbable calmness. Love sans phrase does not exist for
   her. That her frivolity may be frivolity, she never will
   confess. She calculates the gifts of love, and administers
   them in mild, well-measured doses. She piques herself upon
   not being impelled by the senses. She considers it more
   meritorious if out of charity and compassion she suffers
   herself to be loved. She could not be a Gretchen [a Faust's
   Margaret], she would not be a Magdalen, and she became a Lady

George Sand's three great words were "maternity," "chastity," and
"pride." She uses them ad nauseam, and thereby proves that she did not
possess the genuine qualities. No doubt, her conceptions of the words
differed from those generally accepted: by "pride" (orgueil), for
instance, she seems to have meant a kind of womanly self-respect debased
by a supercilious haughtiness and self-idolatry. But, as I have said
already, she was a victim to self-deception. So much is certain, the
world, with an approach to unanimity rarely attained, not only does not
credit her with the virtues which she boasts of, but even accuses her of
the very opposite vices. None of the writers I have consulted arrives,
in discussing George Sand's character, at conclusions which tally with
her own estimate; and every person, in Paris and elsewhere, with whom I
have conversed on the subject condemned her conduct most unequivocally.
Indeed, a Parisian--who, if he had not seen much of her, had seen much
of many who had known her well--did not hesitate to describe her to me
as a female Don Juan, and added that people would by-and-by speak more
freely of her adventures. Madame Audley (see "Frederic Chopin, sa vie
et ses oeuvres," p. 127) seems to me to echo pretty exactly the general
opinion in summing up her strictures thus:--

   A woman of genius, but a woman with sensual appetites, with
   insatiable desires, accustomed to satisfy them at any price,
   should she even have to break the cup after draining it,
   equally wanting in balance, wisdom, and purity of mind, and
   in decorum, reserve, and dignity of conduct.

Many of the current rumours about her doings were no doubt inventions of
idle gossips and malicious enemies, but the number of well-ascertained
facts go far to justify the worst accusations. And even though the
evidence of deeds were wanting, have we not that of her words and
opinions as set forth in her works? I cannot help thinking that George
Sand's fondness for the portraiture of sensual passion, sometimes even
of sensual passion in its most brutal manifestations, is irreconcilable
with true chastity. Many a page in her novels exhibits indeed a
surprising knowledge of the physiology of love, a knowledge which
presupposes an extensive practical acquaintance with as wellas attentive
study of the subject. That she depicts the most repulsive situations
with a delicacy of touch which veils the repulsiveness and deceives the
unwary rather aggravates the guilt. Now, though the purity of a work
of art is no proof of the purity of the artist (who may reveal only the
better part of his nature, or give expression to his aspirations), the
impurity of a work of art always testifies indubitably to the presence
of impurity in the artist, of impurity in thought, if not in deed. It
is, therefore, not an unwarranted assumption to say that the works
of George Sand prove conclusively that she was not the pure, loving,
devoted, harmless being she represents herself in the "Histoire de ma
Vie." Chateaubriand said truly that: "le talent de George Sand a
quelque ratine dans la corruption, elle deviendrait commune en devenant
timoree." Alfred Nettement, who, in his "Histoire de la litterature
franqaise sous le gouvernement de Juillet," calls George Sand a "painter
of fallen and defiled natures," remarks that--

   most of her romances are dazzling rehabilitations of
   adultery, and in reading their burning pages it would seem
   that there remains only one thing to be done--namely, to break
   the social chains in order that the Lelias and Sylvias may go
   in quest of their ideal without being stopped by morality and
   the laws, those importune customs lines which religion and
   the institutions have opposed to individual whim and

Perhaps it will be objected to this that the moral extravagances and
audacious sophistries to be met with in "Lelia," in "Leoni," and other
novels of hers, belong to the characters represented, and not to the
author. Unfortunately this argument is untenable after the publication
of George Sand's letters, for there she identifies herself with Lelia,
and develops views identical with those that shocked us in Leoni and

[Footnote: On May 26, 1833, she writes to her friend Francois Rollinat
with regard to this book: "It is an eternal chat between us. We are the
gravest personages in it." Three years later, writing to the Comtesse
d'Agoult, her account differs somewhat: "I am adding a volume to
'Lelia.' This occupies me more than any other novel has as yet
done. Lelia is not myself, je suis meilleure enfant; but she is my
ideal."--Correspondance, vol. I., pp. 248 and 372.]

These letters, moreover, contain much that is damaging to her claim
to chastity. Indeed, one sentence in a letter written in June, 1835
(Correspondance, vol. I., p. 307), disposes of this claim decisively.
The unnecessarily graphic manner in which she here deals with an
indelicate subject would be revolting in a man addressing a woman, in a
woman addressing a man it is simply monstrous.

As a thinker, George Sand never attained to maturity; she always
remained the slave of her strong passions and vitiated principles.
She never wrote a truer word than when she confessed that she judged
everything by sympathy. Indeed, what she said of her childhood
applies also to her womanhood: "Il n'y avait de fort en moi que la
passion... rien dans man cerveau fit obstacle." George Sand often lays
her finger on sore places, fails, however, not only to prescribe the
right remedy, but even to recognise the true cause of the disease. She
makes now and then acute observations, but has not sufficient strength
to grapple successfully with the great social, philosophical, and
religious problems which she so boldly takes up. In fact, reasoning
unreasonableness was a very frequent condition of George Sand's mind.
That the unreasonableness of her reasoning remains unseen by many,
did so at any rate in her time, is due to the marvellous beauty and
eloquence of her language. The best that can be said of her subversive
theories was said by a French critic--namely, that they were in reality
only "le temoignage d'aspirations genereuses et de nobles illusions."
But even this is saying too much, for her aspirations and illusions are
far from being always generous and noble. If we wish to see George Sand
at her best we must seek her out in her quiet moods, when she contents
herself with being an artist, and unfolds before us the beauties of
nature and the secrets of the human heart. Indeed, unless we do this,
we cannot form a true idea of her character. Not all the roots of her
talent were imbedded in corruption. She who wrote Lelia wrote also
Andre, she who wrote Lucrezia Floriani wrote also La petite Fadette.
And in remembering her faults and shortcomings justice demands that we
should not forget her family history, with its dissensions and
examples of libertinism, and her education without system, continuity,
completeness, and proper guidance.

The most precious judgment pronounced on George Sand is by one who was
at once a true woman and a great poet. Mrs. Elizabeth Barrett Browning
saw in her the "large-brained woman and large-hearted man... whose soul,
amid the lions of her tumultuous senses, moans defiance and answers roar
for roar, as spirits can"; but who lacked "the angel's grace of a pure
genius sanctified from blame." This is from the sonnet to George Sand,
entitled "A Desire." In another sonnet, likewise addressed to George
Sand and entitled "A Recognition," she tells her how vain it was to deny
with a manly scorn the woman's nature... while before

   The world thou burnest in a poet-fire,
   We see thy woman-heart beat evermore
   Through the large flame. Beat purer, heart, and higher,
   Till God unsex thee on the heavenly shore
   Where unincarnate spirits purely aspire!

                  END OF VOLUME I.







THE loves of famous men and women, especially of those connected with
literature and the fine arts, have always excited much curiosity. In the
majority of cases the poet's and artist's choice of a partner falls on a
person who is incapable of comprehending his aims and sometimes even of
sympathising with his striving. The question "why poets are so apt to
choose their mates, not for any similarity of poetical endowment,
but for qualities which might make the happiness of the rudest
handicrafts-man as well as that of the ideal craftsman" has perhaps
never been better answered than by Nathaniel Hawthorne, who remarks that
"at his highest elevation the poet needs no human intercourse; but he
finds it dreary to descend, and be a stranger." Still, this is by no
means a complete solution of the problem which again and again presents
itself and challenges our ingenuity. Chopin and George Sand's
case belongs to the small minority of loves where both parties are
distinguished practitioners of ideal crafts. Great would be the mistake,
however, were we to assume that the elective affinities of such lovers
are easily discoverable On the contrary, we have here another problem,
one which, owing to the higher, finer, and more varied factors that come
into play, is much more difficult to solve than the first. But before we
can engage in solving the problem, it must be properly propounded. Now,
to ascertain facts about the love-affairs of poets and artists is the
very reverse of an easy task; and this is so partly because the parties
naturally do not let outsiders into all their secrets, and partly
because romantic minds and imaginative litterateurs are always busy
developing plain facts and unfounded rumours into wonderful myths. The
picturesqueness of the story, the piquancy of the anecdote, is generally
in inverse proportion to the narrator's knowledge of the matter
in question. In short, truth is only too often most unconscionably
sacrificed to effect. Accounts, for instance, such as L. Enault and
Karasowski have given of Chopin's first meeting with George Sand can be
recommended only to those who care for amusing gossip about the world of
art, and do not mind whether what they read is the simple truth or not,
nay, do not mind even whether it has any verisimilitude. Nevertheless,
we will give these gentlemen a hearing, and then try if we cannot find
some firmer ground to stand on.

L. Enault relates that Chopin and George Sand met for the first time at
one of the fetes of the Marquis de C., where the aristocracy of Europe
assembled--the aristocracy of genius, of birth, of wealth, of beauty,

  The last knots of the chaine anglaise had already been untied,
  the brilliant crowd had left the ball-room, the murmur of
  discreet conversation was heard in the boudoirs: the fetes of
  the intimate friends began. Chopin seated himself at the
  piano. He played one of those ballads whose words are written
  by no poet, but whose subjects, floating in the dreamy soul of
  nations, belong to the artist who likes to take them. I
  believe it was the Adieux du Cavalier...Suddenly, in the
  middle of the ballad, he perceived, close to the door,
  immovable and pale, the beautiful face of Lelia. [FOOTNOTE:
  This name of the heroine of one of her romances is often given
  to George Sand. See Vol. I., p. 338.] She fixed her passionate
  and sombre eyes upon him; the impressionable artist felt at
  the same time pain and pleasure... others might listen to him:
  he played only for her.

  They met again.

  From this moment fears vanished, and these two noble souls
  understood each other... or believed they understood each

Karasowski labours hard to surpass Enault, but is not like him a master
of the ars artem celare. The weather, he tells us, was dull and damp,
and had a depressing effect on the mind of Chopin. No friend had visited
him during the day, no book entertained him, no musical idea gladdened
him. It was nearly ten o'clock at night (the circumstantiality of the
account ought to inspire confidence) when he bethought himself of paying
a visit to the Countess C. (the Marquis, by some means, magical or
natural, has been transformed into a Countess), this being her jour
fixe, on which an intellectual and agreeable company was always
assembled at her house.

  When he ascended the carpet-covered stairs [Unfortunately we
  are not informed whether the carpet was Turkey, Brussels, or
  Kidderminster], it seemed to him as if he were followed by a
  shadow that diffused a fragrance of violets [Ah!], and a
  presentiment as if something strange and wonderful were going
  to happen to him flashed through his soul. He was on the point
  of turning back and going home, but, laughing at his own
  superstition, he bounded lightly and cheerfully over the last

Skipping the fine description of the brilliant company assembled in the
salon, the enumeration of the topics on which the conversation ran, and
the observation that Chopin, being disinclined to talk, seated himself
in a corner and watched the beautiful ladies as they glided hither and
thither, we will join Karasowski again where, after the departure of
the greater number of the guests, Chopin goes to the piano and begins to

  His auditors, whom he, absorbed in his own thoughts and
  looking only at the keys, had entirely forgotten, listened
  with breathless attention. When he had concluded his
  improvisation, he raised his eyes, and noticed a plainly-
  dressed lady who, leaning on the instrument, seemed to wish to
  read his soul with her dark fiery eyes. [Although a severe
  critic might object to the attitude of a lady leaning on a
  piano as socially and pictorially awkward, he must admit that
  from a literary point of view it is unquestionably more
  effective than sitting or standing by the door.] Chopin felt
  he was blushing under the fascinating glances of the lady
  [Bravo! This is a master-touch]; she smiled [Exquisite!], and
  when the artist was about to withdraw from the company behind
  a group of camellias, he heard the peculiar rustling of a silk
  dress, which exhaled a fragrance of violets [Camellias,
  rustling silks, fragrance of violets! What a profusion of
  beauty and sweetness!], and the same lady who had watched him
  so inquiringly at the piano approached him accompanied by
  Liszt. Speaking to him with a deep, sweet voice, she made some
  remarks on his playing, and more especially on the contents of
  his improvisation. Frederick listened to her with pleasure and
  emotion, and while words full of sparkling wit and
  indescribable poetry flowed from the lady's eloquent lips
  [Quite a novel representation of her powers of conversation],
  he felt that he was understood as he had never been.

All this is undoubtedly very pretty, and would be invaluable in a novel,
but I am afraid we should embarrass Karasowski were we to ask him to
name his authorities.

Of this meeting at the house of the Marquis de C.--i.e., the Marquis de
Custine--I was furnished with a third version by an eye-witness--namely,
by Chopin's pupil Adolph Gutmann. From him I learned that the occasion
was neither a full-dress ball nor a chance gathering of a jour fixe, but
a musical matinee. Gutmann, Vidal (Jean Joseph), and Franchomme opened
the proceedings with a trio by Mayseder, a composer the very existence
of whose once popular chamber-music is unknown to the present
generation. Chopin played a great deal, and George Sand devoured him
with her eyes. Afterwards the musician and the novelist walked together
a long time in the garden. Gutmann was sure that this matinee took place
either in 1836 or in 1837, and was inclined to think that it was in the
first-mentioned year.

Franchomme, whom I questioned about the matinee at the Marquis
de Custine's, had no recollection of it. Nor did he remember the
circumstance of having on this or any other occasion played a trio
of Mayseder's with Gutmann and Vidal. But this friend of the Polish
pianist--composer, while confessing his ignorance as to the place where
the latter met the great novelist for the first time, was quite certain
as to the year when he met her. Chopin, Franchomme informed me, made
George Sand's acquaintance in 1837, their connection was broken in 1847,
and he died, as everyone knows, on October 17, 1849. In each of these
dates appears the number which Chopin regarded with a superstitious
dread, which he avoided whenever he could-for instance, he would not
at any price take lodgings in a house the number of which contained a
seven--and which may be thought by some to have really exercised a fatal
influence over him. It is hardly necessary to point out that it was this
fatal number which fixed the date in Franchomme's memory.

But supposing Chopin and George Sand to have really met at the Marquis
de Custine's, was this their first meeting?

[FOONOTE: That they were on one occasion both present at a party given
by the Marquis de Custine may be gathered from Freiherr von Flotow's
Reminiscences of his life in Paris (published in the "Deutsche Revue"
of January, 1883, p. 65); but not that this was their first meeting,
nor the time when it took place. As to the character of this dish
of reminiscences, I may say that it is sauced and seasoned for the
consumption of the blase magazine reader, and has no nutritive substance

I put the question to Liszt in the course of a conversation I had with
him some years ago in Weimar. His answer was most positive, and to the
effect that the first meeting took place at Chopin's own apartments.
"I ought to know best," he added, "seeing that I was instrumental in
bringing the two together." Indeed, it would be difficult to find a more
trustworthy witness in this matter than Liszt, who at that time not
only was one of the chief comrades of Chopin, but also of George Sand.
According to him, then, the meeting came about in this way. George
Sand, whose curiosity had been excited both by the Polish musician's
compositions and by the accounts she had heard of him, expressed to
Liszt the wish to make the acquaintance of his friend. Liszt thereupon
spoke about her to Chopin, but the latter was averse to having any
intercourse with her. He said he did not like literary women, and was
not made for their society; it was different with his friend, who there
found himself in his element. George Sand, however, did not cease to
remind Liszt of his promise to introduce her to Chopin. One morning in
the early part of 1837 Liszt called on his friend and brother-artist,
and found him in high spirits on account of some compositions he had
lately finished. As Chopin was anxious to play them to his friends, it
was arranged to have in the evening a little party at his rooms.

This seemed to Liszt an excellent opportunity to redeem the promise
which he had given George Sand when she asked for an introduction; and,
without telling Chopin what he was going to do, he brought her with him
along with the Comtesse d'Agoult. The success of the soiree was such
that it was soon followed by a second and many more.

In the foregoing accounts the reader will find contradictions enough to
exercise his ingenuity upon. But the involuntary tricks of memory and
the voluntary ones of imagination make always such terrible havoc of
facts that truth, be it ever so much sought and cared for, appears
in history and biography only in a more or less disfigured condition.
George Sand's own allusion to the commencement of the acquaintance
agrees best with Liszt's account. After passing in the latter part of
1836 some months in Switzerland with Liszt and the Comtesse d'Agoult,
she meets them again at Paris in the December of the same year:--

  At the Hotel de France, where Madame d'Agoult had persuaded me
  to take quarters near her, the conditions of existence were
  charming for a few days. She received many litterateurs,
  artists, and some clever men of fashion. It was at Madame
  d'Agoult's, or through her, that I made the acquaintance of
  Eugene Sue, Baron d'Eckstein, Chopin, Mickiewicz, Nourrit,
  Victor Schoelcher, &c. My friends became also hers. Through me
  she got acquainted with M. Lamennais, Pierre-Leroux, Henri
  Heine, &c. Her salon, improvised in an inn, was therefore a
  reunion d'elite over which she presided with exquisite grace,
  and where she found herself the equal of all the eminent
  specialists by reason of the extent of her mind and the
  variety of her faculties, which were at once poetic and
  serious. Admirable music was performed there, and in the
  intervals one could instruct one's self by listening to the

To reconcile Liszt's account with George Sand's remark that Chopin was
one of those whose acquaintance she made at Madame d'Agoult's or through
her, we have only to remember the intimate relation in which Liszt stood
to this lady (subsequently known in literature under the nom de plume of
Daniel Stern), who had left her husband, the Comte d'Agoult, in 1835.

And now at last we can step again from the treacherous quicksand of
reminiscences on the terra firma of documents. The following extracts
from some letters of George Sand's throw light on her relation to Chopin
in the early part of 1837:--

  Nohant, March 28, 1837.

  [To Franz Liszt.]...Come and see us as soon as possible. Love,
  esteem, and friendship claim you at Nohant. Love (Marie
  [FOOTNOTE: The Comtesse d'Agoult.]) is some what ailing,
  esteem (Maurice and Pelletan [FOOTNOTE: The former, George
  Sand's son; the latter, Eugene Pelletan, Maurice's tutor.])
  pretty well, and friendship (myself) obese and in excellent

  Marie told me that there was some hope of Chopin. Tell Chopin
  that I beg of him to accompany you; that Marie cannot live
  without him, and that I adore him.

  I shall write to Grzymala personally in order to induce him
  also, if I can, to come and see us. I should like to be able
  to surround Marie with all her friends, in order that she also
  may live in the bosom of love, esteem, and friendship.

[FOOTNOTE: Albert Grzymala, a man of note among the Polish refugees.
He was a native of Dunajowce in Podolia, had held various military
and other posts--those of maitre des requites, director of the Bank of
Poland, attache to the staff of Prince Poniatowski, General Sebastiani,
and Lefebvre, &c.--and was in 1830 sent by the Polish Government on
a diplomatic mission to Berlin, Paris, and London. (See L'Amanach de
L'Emigration polonaise, published at Paris some forty years ago.) He
must not be confounded with the publicist Francis Grzymala, who at
Warsaw was considered one of the marechaux de plume, and at Paris was
connected with the Polish publication Sybilla. With one exception (Vol.
I., p. 3), the Grzymala spoken of in these volumes is Albert Grzymala,
sometimes also called Count Grzymala. This title, however, was, if I am
rightly informed, only a courtesy title. The Polish nobility as such was
untitled, titles being of foreign origin and not legally recognised.
But many Polish noblemen when abroad assume the prefix de or von, or the
title "Count," in order to make known their rank.]

  Nohant, April 5, 1837.

  [To the Comtesse d'Agoult.]...Tell Mick....[FOOTNOTE:
  Mickiewicz, the poet.] (non-compromising manner of writing
  Polish names) that my pen and my house are at his service, and
  are only too happy to be so; tell Grzy...., [FOOTNOTE:
  Gryzmala] whom I adore, Chopin, whom I idolatrise, and all
  those whom you love that I love them, and that, brought by
  you, they will be welcome. Berry in a body watches for the
  maestro's [FOOTNOTE: Liszt's] return in order to hear him play
  the piano. I believe we shall be obliged to place le garde-
  champetre and la garde nationals of Nohant under arms in order
  to defend ourselves against the dilettanti berrichoni.

  Nohant, April 10, 1837.

  [To the Comtesse d'Agoult.] I want the fellows, [FOOTNOTE:
  "Fellows" (English) was the nickname which Liszt gave to
  himself and his pupil Hermann Cohen.] I want them as soon and
  as LONG as possible. I want them a mort. I want also Chopin
  and all the Mickiewiczs and Grzymalas in the world. I want
  even Sue if you want him. What more would I not want if that
  were your fancy? For instance, M. de Suzannet or Victor
  Schoelcher! Everything, a lover excepted.

  Nohant, April 21, 1837.

  [To the Comtesse d'Agoult.] Nobody has permitted himself to
  breathe the air of your room since you left it. Arrangements
  will be made to put up all those you may bring with you. I
  count on the maestro, on Chopin, on the Rat, [FOOTNOTE:
  Liszt's pupil, Hermann Cohen.] if he does not weary you too
  much, and all the others at your choice.

Chopin's love for George Sand was not instantaneous like that of Romeo
for Juliet. Karasowski remembers having read in one of those letters of
the composer which perished in 1863: "Yesterday I met George Sand...;
she made a very disagreeable impression upon me." Hiller in his Open
Letter to Franz Liszt writes:--

  One evening you had assembled in your apartments the
  aristocracy of the French literary world--George Sand was of
  course one of the company. On the way home Chopin said to me
  "What a repellent [antipathische] woman the Sand is! But is
  she really a woman? I am inclined to doubt it."

Liszt, in discussing this matter with me, spoke only of Chopin's
"reserve" towards George Sand, but said nothing of his "aversion" to
her. And according to this authority the novelist's extraordinary mind
and attractive conversation soon overcame the musician's reserve. Alfred
de Musset's experience had been of a similar nature. George Sand did
not particularly please him at first, but a few visits which he paid her
sufficed to inflame his heart with a violent passion. The liaisons
of the poet and musician with the novelist offer other points of
resemblance besides the one just mentioned: both Musset and Chopin were
younger than George Sand--the one six, the other five years; and both,
notwithstanding the dissimilarity of their characters, occupied the
position of a weaker half. In the case of Chopin I am reminded of a
saying of Sydney Smith, who, in speaking of his friends the historian
Grote and his wife, remarked: "I do like them both so much, for he is
so lady-like, and she is such a perfect gentleman." Indeed, Chopin was
described to me by his pupil Gutmann as feminine in looks, gestures, and
taste; as to George Sand, although many may be unwilling to admit her
perfect gentlemanliness, no one can doubt her manliness:--

  Dark and olive-complexioned Lelia! [writes Liszt] thou hast
  walked in solitary places, sombre as Lara, distracted as
  Manfred, rebellious as Cain, but more fierce [farouche], more
  pitiless, more inconsolable than they, because thou hast found
  among the hearts of men none feminine enough to love thee as
  they have been loved, to pay to thy virile charms the tribute
  of a confiding and blind submission, of a silent and ardent
  devotion, to suffer his allegiance to be protected by thy
  Amazonian strength!

The enthusiasm with which the Poles of her acquaintance spoke of their
countrywomen, and the amorous suavity, fulness of feeling, and spotless
nobleness which she admired in the Polish composer's inspirations, seem
to have made her anticipate, even before meeting Chopin, that she would
find in him her ideal lover, one whose love takes the form of worship.
To quote Liszt's words: "She believed that there, free from all
dependence, secure against all inferiority, her role would rise to the
fairy-like power of some being at once the superior and the
friend of man." Were it not unreasonable to regard spontaneous
utterances--expressions of passing moods and fancies, perhaps
mere flights of rhetoric--as well-considered expositions of stable
principles, one might be tempted to ask: Had George Sand found in Chopin
the man who was "bold or vile enough" to accept her "hard and clear"
conditions? [FOOTNOTE: See extract from one of her letters in the
preceding chapter, Vol. I., p. 334.]

While the ordinary position of man and woman was entirely reversed in
this alliance, the qualities which characterised them can nevertheless
hardly ever have been more nearly diametrically opposed. Chopin was weak
and undecided; George Sand strong and energetic. The former shrank from
inquiry and controversy; the latter threw herself eagerly into them.
[FOOTNOTE: George Sand talks much of the indolence of her temperament:
we may admit this fact, but must not overlook another one--namely, that
she was in possession of an immense fund of energy, and was always ready
to draw upon it whenever speech or action served her purpose or fancy.]
The one was a strict observer of the laws of propriety and an almost
exclusive frequenter of fashionable society; the other, on the contrary,
had an unmitigated scorn for the so-called proprieties and so-called
good society. Chopin's manners exhibited a studied refinement, and no
woman could be more particular in the matter of dress than he was. It
is characteristic of the man that he was so discerning a judge of the
elegance and perfection of a female toilette as to be able to tell at a
glance whether a dress had been made in a first-class establishment or
in an inferior one. The great composer is said to have had an unlimited
admiration for a well-made and well-carried (bien porte) dress. Now what
a totally different picture presents itself when we turn to George Sand,
who says of herself, in speaking of her girlhood, that although never
boorish or importunate, she was always brusque in her movements and
natural in her manners, and had a horror of gloves and profound
bows. Her fondness for male garments is as characteristic as Chopin's
connoisseurship of the female toilette; it did not end with her student
life, for she donned them again in 1836 when travelling in Switzerland.

The whole of Chopin's person was harmonious. "His appearance," says
Moscheles, who saw him in 1839, "is exactly like his music [ist
identificirt mit seiner Musik], both are tender and schwarmerisch."

[FOOTNOTE: I shall not attempt to translate this word, but I will
give the reader a recipe. Take the notions "fanciful," "dreamy," and
"enthusiastic" (in their poetic sense), mix them well, and you have a
conception of schwarmerisck.]

A slim frame of middle height; fragile but wonderfully flexible limbs;
delicately-formed hands; very small feet; an oval, softly-outlined head;
a pale, transparent complexion; long silken hair of a light chestnut
colour, parted on one side; tender brown eyes, intelligent rather than
dreamy; a finely-curved aquiline nose; a sweet subtle smile; graceful
and varied gestures: such was the outward presence of Chopin. As to the
colour of the eyes and hair, the authorities contradict each other most
thoroughly. Liszt describes the eyes as blue, Karasowski as dark brown,
and M. Mathias as "couleur de biere." [FOOTNOTE: This strange expression
we find again in Count Wodzinski's Les trois Romans de Frederic Chopin,
where the author says: "His large limpid, expressive, and soft eyes
had that tint which the English call auburn, which the Poles, his
compatriots, describe as piwne (beer colour), and which the French would
denominate brown."] Of the hair Liszt says that it was blonde, Madame
Dubois and others that it was cendre, Miss L. Ramann that it was dark
blonde, and a Scotch lady that it was dark brown. [FOOTNOTE: Count
Wodzinski writes: "It was not blonde, but of a shade similar to that of
his eyes: ash-coloured (cendre), with golden reflections in the light."]
Happily the matter is settled for us by an authority to which all others
must yield--namely, by M. T. Kwiatkowski, the friend and countryman of
Chopin, an artist who has drawn and painted the latter frequently. Well,
the information I received from him is to the effect that Chopin had
des yeux bruns tendres (eyes of a tender brown), and les cheveux blonds
chatains (chestnut-blonde hair). Liszt, from whose book some of the
above details are derived, completes his portrayal of Chopin by some
characteristic touches. The timbre of his voice, he says, was subdued
and often muffled; and his movements had such a distinction and
his manners such an impress of good society that one treated him
unconsciously like a prince. His whole appearance made one think of
that of the convolvuli, which on incredibly slender stems balance
divinely-coloured chalices of such vapourous tissue that the slightest
touch destroys them.

And whilst Liszt attributes to Chopin all sorts of feminine graces and
beauties, he speaks of George Sand as an Amazon, a femme-heros, who is
not afraid to expose her masculine countenance to all suns and winds.
Merimee says of George Sand that he has known her "maigre comme un clou
et noire comme une taupe." Musset, after their first meeting, describes
her, to whom he at a subsequent period alludes as femme a l'oeil sombre,

  She is very beautiful; she is the kind of woman I like--brown,
  pale, dull-complexioned with reflections as of bronze, and
  strikingly large-eyed like an Indian. I have never been able
  to contemplate such a countenance without inward emotion. Her
  physiognomy is rather torpid, but when it becomes animated it
  assumes a remarkably independent and proud expression.

The most complete literary portrayal of George Sand that has been handed
down to us, however, is by Heine. He represents her as Chopin knew
her, for although he published the portrait as late as 1854 he did not
represent her as she then looked; indeed, at that time he had probably
no intercourse with her, and therefore was obliged to draw from memory.
The truthfulness of Heine's delineation is testified by the approval of
many who knew George Sand, and also by Couture's portrait of her:--

  George Sand, the great writer, is at the same time a beautiful
  woman. She is even a distinguished beauty. Like the genius
  which manifests itself in her works, her face is rather to be
  called beautiful than interesting. The interesting is always a
  graceful or ingenious deviation from the type of the
  beautiful, and the features of George Sand bear rather the
  impress of a Greek regularity. Their form, however, is not
  hard, but softened by the sentimentality which is suffused
  over them like a veil of sorrow. The forehead is not high, and
  the delicious chestnut-brown curly hair falls parted down to
  the shoulders. Her eyes are somewhat dim, at least they are
  not bright, and their fire may have been extinguished by many
  tears, or may have passed into her works, which have spread
  their flaming brands over the whole world, illumined many a
  comfortless prison, but perhaps also fatally set on fire many
  a temple of innocence. The authoress of "Lelia" has quiet,
  soft eyes, which remind one neither of Sodom nor of Gomorrah.
  She has neither an emancipated aquiline nose nor a witty
  little snub nose. It is just an ordinary straight nose. A good-
  natured smile plays usually around her mouth, but it is not
  very attractive; the somewhat hanging under-lip betrays
  fatigued sensuality. The chin is full and plump, but
  nevertheless beautifully proportioned. Also her shoulders are
  beautiful, nay, magnificent. Likewise her arms and hands,
  which, like her feet, are small. Let other contemporaries
  describe the charms of her bosom, I confess my incompetence.
  The rest of her bodily frame seems to be somewhat too stout,
  at least too short. Only her head bears the impress of
  ideality; it reminds one of the noblest remains of Greek art,
  and in this respect one of our friends could compare the
  beautiful woman to the marble statue of the Venus of Milo,
  which stands in one of the lower rooms of the Louvre. Yes, she
  is as beautiful as the Venus of Milo; she even surpasses the
  latter in many respects: she is, for instance, very much
  younger. The physiognomists who maintain that the voice of man
  reveals his character most unmistakably would be much at a
  loss if they were called upon to detect George Sand's
  extraordinary depth of feeling [Innigkeit] in her voice. The
  latter is dull and faded, without sonority, but soft and
  agreeable. The naturalness of her speaking lends it some
  charm. Of vocal talent she exhibits not a trace! George Sand
  sings at best with the bravura of a beautiful grisette who has
  not yet breakfasted or happens not to be in good voice. The
  organ of George Sand has as little brilliancy as what she
  says. She has nothing whatever of the sparkling esprit of her
  countrywomen, but also nothing of their talkativeness. The
  cause of this taciturnity, however, is neither modesty nor
  sympathetic absorption in the discourse of another. She is
  taciturn rather from haughtiness, because she does not think
  you worth squandering her cleverness [Geist] upon, or even
  from selfishness, because she endeavours to absorb the best of
  your discourse in order to work it up afterwards in her works.
  That out of avarice George Sand knows how never to give
  anything and always to take something in conversation, is a
  trait to which Alfred de Musset drew my attention. "This gives
  her a great advantage over us," said Musset, who, as he had
  for many years occupied the post of cavaliere servente to the
  lady, had had the best opportunity to learn to know her
  thoroughly. George Sand never says anything witty; she is
  indeed one of the most unwitty Frenchwomen I know.

While admiring the clever drawing and the life-like appearance of
the portrait, we must, however, not overlook the exaggerations and
inaccuracies. The reader cannot have failed to detect the limner
tripping with regard to Musset, who occupied not many years but less
than a year the post of cavaliere servente. But who would expect
religious adherence to fact from Heine, who at all times distinguishes
himself rather by wit than conscientiousness? What he says of George
Sand's taciturnity in company and want of wit, however, must be true;
for she herself tells us of these negative qualities in the Histoire de
ma Vie.

The musical accomplishments of Chopin's beloved one have, of course, a
peculiar interest for us. Liszt, who knew her so well, informed me that
she was not musical, but possessed taste and judgment. By "not musical"
he meant no doubt that she was not in the habit of exhibiting her
practical musical acquirements, or did not possess these latter to any
appreciable extent. She herself seems to me to make too much of her
musical talents, studies, and knowledge. Indeed, her writings show
that, whatever her talents may have been, her taste was vague and her
knowledge very limited.

When we consider the diversity of character, it is not a matter for
wonder that Chopin was at first rather repelled than attracted by the
personality of George Sand. Nor is it, on the other hand, a matter for
wonder that her beauty and power of pleasing proved too strong for
his antipathy. How great this power of pleasing was when she wished to
exercise it, the reader may judge from the incident I shall now relate.
Musset's mother, having been informed of her son's projected tour to
Italy, begged him to give it up. The poet promised to comply with
her request: "If one must weep, it shall not be you," he said. In the
evening George Sand came in a carriage to the door and asked for Madame
Musset; the latter came out, and after a short interview gave her
consent to her son's departure. Chopin's unsuccessful wooing of Miss
Wodzinska and her marriage with Count Skarbek in this year (1837) may
not have been without effect on the composer. His heart being left
bruised and empty was as it were sensitised (if I may use this
photographic term) for the reception of a new impression by the action
of love. In short, the intimacy between Chopin and George Sand grew
steadily and continued to grow till it reached its climax in the autumn
of 1838, when they went together to Majorca. Other matters, however,
have to be adverted to before we come to this passage of Chopin's life.
First I shall have to say a few words about his artistic activity during
the years 1837 and 1838.

Among the works composed by Chopin in 1837 was one of the Variations
on the March from I Puritani, which were published under the title
Hexameron: Morceau de Concert. Grandes variations de bravoure sur la
marche des Puritains de Bellini, composees pour le concert de Madame la
Princesse Belgiojoso au benefice des pauvres, par M.M. Liszt, Thalberg,
Pixis, H. Herz, Czerny, et Chopin. This co-operative undertaking was
set on foot by the Princess, and was one of her many schemes to procure
money for her poor exiled countrymen. Liszt played these Variations
often at his concerts, and even wrote orchestral accompaniments to them,
which, however, were never published.

Chopin's publications of the year 1837 are: in October, Op. 25, Douze
Etudes, dedicated to Madame la Comtesse d'Agoult; and in December, Op.
29, Impromptu (in A flat major), dedicated to Mdlle. la Comtesse de
Lobau; Op. 30, Quatre Mazurkas, dedicated to Madame la Princesse de
Wurtemberg, nee Princesse Czartoryska; Op. 31, Deuxieme Scherzo (B flat
minor), dedicated to Mdlle. la Comtesse Adele de Furstenstein; and Op.
32, Deux Nocturnes (B major and A flat major), dedicated to Madame la
Baronne de Billing. His publications of the year 1838 are: in October,
Op. 33, Quatre Mazurkas, dedicated to Mdlle. la Comtesse Mostowska; and,
in December, Op. 34, Trois Valses brillantes (A flat major, A minor, and
F major), respectively dedicated to Mdlle. de Thun-Hohenstein, Madame G.
d'Ivri, and Mdlle. A. d'Eichthal. This last work appeared at Paris
first in an Album des Pianistes, a collection of unpublished pieces by
Thalberg, Chopin, Doehler, Osborne, Liszt, and Mereaux. Two things in
connection with this album may yet be mentioned--namely, that Mereaux
contributed to it a Fantasia on a mazurka by Chopin, and that Stephen
Heller reviewed it in the Gazette musicale. Chopin was by no means
pleased with the insertion of the waltzes in Schlesinger's Album des
Pianistes. But more of this and his labours and grievances as a composer
in the next chapter.

There are also to be recorded some public and semi-public appearances of
Chopin as a virtuoso. On February 25, 1838, the Gazette musicale
informs its readers that Chopin, "that equally extraordinary and modest
pianist," had lately been summoned to Court to be heard there en cercle
intime. His inexhaustible improvisations, which almost made up the
whole of the evening's entertainment, were particularly admired by the
audience, which knew as well as a gathering of artists how to appreciate
the composer's merits. At a concert given by Valentin Alkan on March 3,
1838, Chopin performed with Zimmermann, Gutmann, and the concert-giver,
the latter's arrangement of Beethoven's A major Symphony (or rather some
movements from it) for two pianos and eight hands. And in the Gazette
musicale of March 25, 1838, there is a report by M. Legouve of Chopin's
appearance at a concert given by his countryman Orlowski at Rouen, where
the latter had settled after some years stay in Paris. From a writer in
the Journal de Rouen (December 1, 1849) we learn that ever since this
concert, which was held in the town-hall, and at which the composer
played his E minor Concerto with incomparable perfection, the name of
Chopin had in the musical world of Rouen a popularity which secured to
his memory an honourable and cordial sympathy. But here is what Legouve
says about this concert. I transcribe the notice in full, because it
shows us both how completely Chopin had retired from the noise and
strife of publicity, and how high he stood in the estimation of his

  Here is an event which is not without importance in the
  musical world. Chopin, who has not been heard in public for
  several years; Chopin, who imprisons his charming genius in an
  audience of five or six persons; Chopin, who resembles those
  enchanted isles where so many marvels are said to abound that
  one regards them as fabulous; Chopin, whom one can never
  forget after having once heard him; Chopin has just given a
  grand concert at Rouen before 500 people for the benefit of a
  Polish professor. Nothing less than a good action to be done
  and the remembrance of his country could have overcome his
  repugnance to playing in public. Well! the success was
  immense! immense! All these enchanting melodies, these
  ineffable delicacies of execution, these melancholy and
  impassioned inspirations, and all that poesy of playing and of
  composition which takes hold at once of your imagination and
  heart, have penetrated, moved, enraptured 500 auditors, as
  they do the eight or ten privileged persons who listen to him
  religiously for whole hours; every moment there were in the
  hall those electric fremissements, those murmurs of ecstasy
  and astonishment which are the bravos of the soul. Forward
  then, Chopin! forward! let this triumph decide you; do not be
  selfish, give your beautiful talent to all; consent to pass
  for what you are; put an end to the great debate which divides
  the artists; and when it shall be asked who is the first
  pianist of Europe, Liszt or Thalberg, let all the world reply,
  like those who have heard you..."It is Chopin."

Chopin's artistic achievements, however, were not unanimously received
with such enthusiastic approval. A writer in the less friendly La France
musicale goes even so far as to stultify himself by ridiculing, a propos
of the A flat Impromptu, the composer's style. This jackanapes--who
belongs to that numerous class of critics whose smartness of verbiage
combined with obtuseness of judgment is so well-known to the serious
musical reader and so thoroughly despised by him--ignores the spiritual
contents of the work under discussion altogether, and condemns without
hesitation every means of expression which in the slightest degree
deviates from the time-honoured standards. We are told that Chopin's
mode of procedure in composing is this. He goes in quest of an idea,
writes, writes, modulates through all the twenty-four keys, and, if the
idea fails to come, does without it and concludes the little piece very
nicely (tres-bien). And now, gentle reader, ponder on this momentous and
immeasurably sad fact: of such a nature was, is, and ever will be the
great mass of criticism.



In a letter written in 1837, and quoted on p. 313 of Vol. I., Chopin
said: "I may perhaps go for a few days to George Sand's." How heartily
she invited him through their common friends Liszt and the Comtesse
d'Agoult, we saw in the preceding chapter. We may safely assume, I
think, that Chopin went to Nohant in the summer of 1837, and may be sure
that he did so in the summer of 1838, although with regard to neither
visit reliable information of any kind is discoverable. Karasowski, it
is true, quotes four letters of Chopin to Fontana as written from Nohant
in 1838, but internal evidence shows that they must have been written
three years later.

We know from Mendelssohn's and Moscheles' allusions to Chopin's visit
to London that he was at that time ailing. He himself wrote in the same
year (1837) to Anthony Wodzinski that during the winter he had been
again ill with influenza, and that the doctors had wanted to send him
to Ems. As time went on the state of his health seems to have got worse,
and this led to his going to Majorca in the winter of 1838-1839. The
circumstance that he had the company of Madame Sand on this occasion has
given rise to much discussion. According to Liszt, Chopin was forced by
the alarming state of his health to go to the south in order to avoid
the severities of the Paris winter; and Madame Sand, who always watched
sympathetically over her friends, would not let him depart alone, but
resolved to accompany him. Karasowski, on the other hand, maintains that
it was not Madame Sand who was induced to accompany Chopin, but that
Madame Sand induced Chopin to accompany her. Neither of these statements
tallies with Madame Sand's own account. She tells us that when in
1838 her son Maurice, who had been in the custody of his father, was
definitively entrusted to her care, she resolved to take him to a milder
climate, hoping thus to prevent a return of the rheumatism from which he
had suffered so much in the preceding year. Besides, she wished to live
for some time in a quiet place where she could make her children work,
and could work herself, undisturbed by the claims of society.

  As I was making my plans and preparations for departure [she
  goes on to say], Chopin, whom I saw every day and whose genius
  and character I tenderly loved, said to me that if he were in
  Maurice's place he would soon recover. I believed it, and I
  was mistaken. I did not put him in the place of Maurice on the
  journey, but beside Maurice. His friends had for long urged
  him to go and spend some time in the south of Europe. People
  believed that he was consumptive. Gaubert examined him and
  declared to me that he was not. "You will save him, in fact,"
  he said to me, "if you give him air, exercise, and rest."
  Others, knowing well that Chopin would never make up his mind
  to leave the society and life of Paris without being carried
  off by a person whom he loved and who was devoted to him,
  urged me strongly not to oppose the desire he showed so a
  propos and in a quite unhoped-for way.

  As time showed, I was wrong in yielding to their hopes and my
  own solicitude. It was indeed enough to go abroad alone with
  two children, one already ill, the other full of exuberant
  health and spirits, without taking upon myself also a terrible
  anxiety and a physician's responsibility.

  But Chopin was just then in a state of health that reassured
  everybody. With the exception of Grzymala, who saw more
  clearly how matters stood, we were all hopeful. I nevertheless
  begged Chopin to consider well his moral strength, because for
  several years he had never contemplated without dread the idea
  of leaving Paris, his physician, his acquaintances, his room
  even, and his piano. He was a man of imperious habits, and
  every change, however small it might be, was a terrible event
  in his life.

Seeing that Liszt--who was at the time in Italy--and Karasowski speak
only from hearsay, we cannot do better than accept George Sand's
account, which contains nothing improbable. In connection with this
migration to the south, I must, however, not omit to mention certain
statements of Adolph Gutmann, one of Chopin's pupils. Here is the
substance of what Gutmann told me. Chopin was anxious to go to Majorca,
but for some time was kept in suspense by the scantiness of his funds.
This threatening obstacle, however, disappeared when his friend the
pianoforte-maker and publisher, Camille Pleyel, paid him 2,000 francs
for the copyright of the Preludes, Op. 28. Chopin remarked of this
transaction to Gutmann, or in his hearing: "I sold the Preludes to
Pleyel because he liked them [parcequ'il les aimait]." And Pleyel
exclaimed on one occasion: "These are my Preludes [Ce sont mes
Preludes]." Gutmann thought that Pleyel, who was indebted to Chopin for
playing on his instruments and recommending them, wished to assist his
friend in a delicate way with some money, and therefore pretended to
be greatly taken with these compositions and bent upon possessing them.
This, however, cannot be quite correct; for from Chopin's letters, which
I shall quote I presently, it appears that he had indeed promised
Pleyel the Preludes, but before his departure received from him only
500 francs, the remaining 1,500 being paid months afterwards, on the
delivery of the manuscript. These letters show, on the other hand,
that when Chopin was in Majorca he owed to Leo 1,000 francs, which
very likely he borrowed from him to defray part of the expenses of his
sojourn in the south.

[FOOTNOTE: August Leo, a Paris banker, "the friend and patron of many
artists," as he is called by Moscheles, who was related to him through
his wife Charlotte Embden, of Hamburg. The name of Leo occurs often in
the letters and conversations of musicians, especially German musicians,
who visited Paris or lived there in the second quarter of this century.
Leo kept house together with his brother-in-law Valentin. (See Vol. I.,
p. 254.)]

Chopin kept his intention of going with Madame Sand to Majorca secret
from all but a privileged few. According to Franchomme, he did not
speak of it even to his friends. There seem to have been only three
exceptions--Fontana, Matuszynski, and Grzymala, and in his letters to
the first he repeatedly entreats his friend not to talk about him. Nor
does he seem to have been much more communicative after his return, for
none of Chopin's acquaintances whom I questioned was able to tell me
whether the composer looked back on this migration with satisfaction or
with regret; still less did they remember any remark made by him that
would throw a more searching light on this period of his life.

Until recently the only sources of information bearing on Chopin's stay
in Majorca were George Sand's "Un Hiver a Majorque" and "Histoire de ma
Vie." But now we have also Chopin's letters to Fontana (in the Polish
edition of Karasowski's "Chopin") and George Sand's "Correspondance,"
which supplement and correct the two publications of the novelist.
Remembering the latter's tendency to idealise everything, and her
disinclination to descend to the prose of her subject, I shall make
the letters the backbone of my narrative, and for the rest select my
material cautiously.

Telling Chopin that she would stay some days at Perpignan if he were not
there on her arrival, but would proceed without him if he failed to make
his appearance within a certain time, Madame Sand set out with her two
children and a maid in the month of November, 1838, for the south of
France, and, travelling for travelling's sake, visited Lyons, Avignon,
Vaucluse, Nimes, and other places. The distinguished financier and
well-known Spanish statesman Mendizabal, their friend, who was going to
Madrid, was to accompany Chopin to the Spanish frontier. Madame Sand was
not long left in doubt as to whether Chopin would realise his reve de
voyage or not, for he put in his appearance at Perpignan the very next
day after her arrival there. Madame Sand to Madame Marliani, [FOOTNOTE:
The wife of the Spanish politician and author, Manuel Marliani. We
shall hear more of her farther on.] November, 1838:-- Chopin arrived at
Perpignan last night, fresh as a rose, and  rosy as a turnip; moreover,
in good health, having stood his four nights of the mail-coach heroically.
As to ourselves, we travelled slowly, quietly, and surrounded at all
stations by our friends, who overwhelmed us with kindness.

As the weather was fine and the sea calm Chopin did not suffer much on
the passage from Port-Vendres to Barcelona. At the latter town the party
halted for a while-spending some busy days within its walls, and making
an excursion into the country-and then took ship for Palma, the capital
of Majorca and the Balearic Isles generally. Again the voyagers were
favoured by the elements.

  The night was warm and dark, illumined only by an
  extraordinary phosphorescence in the wake of the ship;
  everybody was asleep on board except the steersman, who, in
  order to keep himself awake, sang all night, but in a voice so
  soft and so subdued that one might have thought that he feared
  to awake the men of the watch, or that he himself was half
  asleep. We did not weary of listening to him, for his singing
  was of the strangest kind. He observed a rhythm and
  modulations totally different from those we are accustomed to,
  and seemed to allow his voice to go at random, like the smoke
  of the vessel carried away and swayed by the breeze. It was a
  reverie rather than a song, a kind of careless divagation of
  the voice, with which the mind had little to do, but which
  kept time with the swaying of the ship, the faint sound of the
  dead water, and resembled a vague improvisation, restrained,
  nevertheless, by sweet and monotonous forms.

When night had passed into day, the steep coasts of Majorca, dentelees
au soleil du matin par les aloes et les palmiers, came in sight, and
soon after El Mallorquin landed its passengers at Palma. Madame Sand had
left Paris a fortnight before in extremely cold weather, and here she
found in the first half of November summer heat. The newcomers
derived much pleasure from their rambles through the town, which has
a strongly-pronounced character of its own and is rich in fine and
interesting buildings, among which are most prominent the magnificent
Cathedral, the elegant Exchange (la lonja), the stately Town-Hall,
and the picturesque Royal Palace (palacio real). Indeed, in Majorca
everything is picturesque,

  from the hut of the peasant, who in his most insignificant
  buildings has preserved the tradition of the Arabic style, to
  the infant clothed in rags and triumphant in his "malproprete
  grandiose," as Heine said a propos of the market-women of
  Verona. The character of the landscape, whose vegetation is
  richer than that of Africa is in general, has quite as much
  breadth, calm, and simplicity. It is green Switzerland under
  the sky of Calabria, with the solemnity and silence of the

But picturesqueness alone does not make man's happiness, and Palma seems
to have afforded little else. If we may believe Madame Sand, there was
not a single hotel in the town, and the only accommodation her party
could get consisted of two small rooms, unfurnished rather than
furnished, in some wretched place where travellers are happy to find "a
folding-bed, a straw-bottomed chair, and, as regards food, pepper and
garlic a discretion." Still, however great their discomfort and disgust
might be, they had to do their utmost to hide their feelings; for, if
they had made faces on discovering vermin in their beds and scorpions in
their soup, they would certainly have hurt the susceptibilities of
the natives, and would probably have exposed themselves to unpleasant
consequences. No inhabitable apartments were to be had in the town
itself, but in its neighbourhood a villa chanced to be vacant, and this
our party rented at once.

Madame Sand to Madame Marliani; Palma, November 14, 1838:--

  I am leaving the town, and shall establish myself in the
  country: I have a pretty furnished house, with a garden and a
  magnificent view, for fifty francs per month. Besides, two
  leagues from there I have a cell, that is to say, three rooms
  and a garden full of oranges and lemons, for thirty-five
  francs PER YEAR, in the large monastery of Valdemosa.

The furniture of the villa was indeed of the most primitive kind, and
the walls were only whitewashed, but the house was otherwise convenient,
well ventilated--in fact, too well ventilated--and above all beautifully
situated at the foot of rounded, fertile mountains, in the bosom of a
rich valley which was terminated by the yellow walls of Palma, the mass
of the cathedral, and the sparkling sea on the horizon.

Chopin to Fontana; Palma, November 15, 1838:--

[FOOTNOTE: Julius Fontana, born at Warsaw in 1810, studied music (at
the Warsaw Conservatoire under Elsner) as an amateur and law for his
profession; joined in 1830 the Polish insurrectionary army; left his
country after the failure of the insurrection; taught the piano in
London; played in 1835 several times with success in Paris; resided
there for some years; went in 1841 to Havannah; on account of the
climate, removed to New York; gave there concerts with Sivori; and
returned to Paris in 1850. This at least is the account we get of him
in Sowinski's "Les Musiciens polonais et slaves." Mr. A. J. Hipkins, who
became acquainted with Fontana during a stay which the latter made in
London in 1856 (May and early part of June), described him to me as "an
honourable and gentlemanly man." From the same informant I learned that
Fontana married a lady who had an income for life, and that by this
marriage he was enabled to retire from the active exercise of his
profession. Later on he became very deaf, and this great trouble was
followed by a still greater one, the death of his wife. Thus left deaf
and poor, he despaired, and, putting a pistol to one of his ears, blew
out his brains. According to Karasowski he died at Paris in 1870. The
compositions he published (dances, fantasias, studies, &c.) are of no
importance. He is said to have published also two books, one on Polish
orthography in 1866 and one on popular astronomy in 1869. The above and
all the following letters of Chopin to Fontana are in the possession
of Madame Johanna Lilpop, of Warsaw, and are here translated from
Karasowski's Polish edition of his biography of Chopin. Many of the
letters are undated, and the dates suggested by Karasowski generally
wrong. There are, moreover, two letters which are given as if dated
by Chopin; but as the contents point to Nohant and 1841 rather than to
Majorca and 1838 and 1839, I shall place them in Chapter XXIV., where
also my reasons for doing so will be more particularly stated. A third
letter, supposed by Karasowski to be written at Valdemosa in February, I
hold to be written at Marseilles in April. It will be found in the next

  My dear friend,--I am at Palma, among palms, cedars, cactuses,
  aloes, and olive, orange, lemon, fig, and pomegranate trees,
  &c., which the Jardin des Plantes possesses only thanks to its
  stoves. The sky is like a turquoise, the sea is like lazuli,
  and the mountains are like emeralds. The air? The air is just
  as in heaven. During the day there is sunshine, and
  consequently it is warm--everybody wears summer clothes.
  During the night guitars and songs are heard everywhere and at
  all hours. Enormous balconies with vines overhead, Moorish
  walls...The town, like everything here, looks towards
  Africa...In one word, a charming life!

  Dear Julius, go to Pleyel--the piano has not yet arrived--and
  ask him by what route they have sent it.

  The Preludes you shall have soon.

  I shall probably take up my quarters in a delightful monastery
  in one of the most beautiful sites in the world: sea,
  mountains, palm trees, cemetery, church of the Knights of the
  Cross, ruins of mosques, thousand-year-old olive trees!...Ah,
  my dear friend, I am now enjoying life a little more; I am
  near what is most beautiful--I am a better man.

  Letters from my parents and whatever you have to send me give
  to Grzymala; he knows the safest address.

  Embrace Johnnie. [FOOTNOTE: The Johnnie so frequently
  mentioned in the letters to Fontana is John Matuszynski.] How
  soon he would recover here!

  Tell Schlesinger that before long he will receive MS. To
  acquaintances speak little of me. Should anybody ask, say that
  I shall be back in spring. The mail goes once a week; I write
  through the French Consulate here.

  Send the enclosed letter as it is to my parents; leave it at
  the postoffice yourself.



George Sand relates in "Un Hiver a Majorque" that the first days which
her party passed at the Son-Vent (House of the Wind)--this was the name
of the villa they had rented--were pretty well taken up with promenading
and pleasant lounging, to which the delicious climate and novel scenery
invited. But this paradisaic condition was suddenly changed as if by
magic when at the end of two or three weeks the wet season began and the
Son-Vent became uninhabitable.

  The walls of it were so thin that the lime with which our
  rooms were plastered swelled like a sponge. For my part I
  never suffered so much from cold, although it was in reality
  not very cold; but for us, who are accustomed to warm
  ourselves in winter, this house without a chimney was like a
  mantle of ice on our shoulders, and I felt paralysed. Chopin,
  delicate as he was and subject to violent irritation of the
  larynx, soon felt the effects of the damp.

  We could not accustom ourselves to the stifling odour of the
  brasiers, and our invalid began to ail and to cough.

  From this moment we became an object of dread and horror to
  the population. We were accused and convicted of pulmonary
  phthisis, which is equivalent to the plague in the prejudices
  regarding contagion entertained by Spanish physicians. A rich
  doctor, who for the moderate remuneration of forty-five francs
  deigned to come and pay us a visit, declared, nevertheless,
  that there was nothing the matter, and prescribed nothing.

  Another physician came obligingly to our assistance; but the
  pharmacy at Palma was in such a miserable state that we could
  only procure detestable drugs. Moreover, the illness was to be
  aggravated by causes which no science and no devotion could
  efficiently battle against.

  One morning, when we were given up to serious fears on account
  of the duration of these rains and these sufferings which were
  bound up together, we received a letter from the fierce Gomez
  [the landlord], who declared, in the Spanish style, that we
  held a person who held a disease which carried contagion into
  his house, and threatened prematurely the life of his family;
  in consequence of which he requested us to leave his palace
  with the shortest delay possible.

  This did not cause us much regret, for we could no longer stay
  there without fear of being drowned in our rooms; but our
  invalid was not in a condition to be moved without danger,
  especially by such means of transport as are available in
  Majorca, and in the weather then obtaining. And then the
  difficulty was to know where to go, for the rumour of our
  phthisis had spread instantaneously, and we could no longer
  hope to find a shelter anywhere, not even at a very high price
  for a night. We knew that the obliging persons who offeredto
  take us in were themselves not free from prejudices, and that,
  moreover, we should draw upon them, in going near them, the
  reprobation which weighed upon us. Without the hospitality of
  the French consul, who did wonders in order to gather us all
  under his roof, we were threatened with the prospect of
  camping in some cavern like veritable Bohemians.

  Another miracle came to pass, and we found an asylum for the
  winter. At the Carthusian monastery of Valdemosa there was a
  Spanish refugee, who had hidden himself there for I don't know
  what political reason. Visiting the monastery, we were struck
  with the gentility of his manners, the melancholy beauty of
  his wife, and the rustic and yet comfortable furniture of
  their cell. The poesy of this monastery had turned my head. It
  happened that the mysterious couple wished to leave the
  country precipitately, and--that they were as delighted to
  dispose to us of their furniture and cell as we were to
  acquire them. For the moderate sum of a thousand francs we had
  then a complete establishment, but such a one as we could have
  procured in France for 300 francs, so rare, costly, and
  difficult to get are the most necessary things in Majorca.

The outcasts decamped speedily from the Son-Vent. But before Senor Gomez
had done with his tenants, he made them pay for the whitewashing and the
replastering of the whole house, which he held to have been infected by

And now let us turn once more from George Sand's poetical inventions,
distortions, and exaggerations, to the comparative sobriety and
trustworthiness of letters.

Chopin to Fontana; Palma, December 3, 1838:--

  I cannot send you the MSS. as they are not yet finished.
  During the last two weeks I have been as ill as a dog, in
  spite of eighteen degrees of heat, [FOOTNOTE: That is,
  eighteen degrees Centigrade, which are equal to about sixty-
  four degrees Fahrenheit.] and of roses, and orange, palm, and
  fig trees in blossom. I caught a severe cold. Three doctors,
  the most renowned in the island, were called in for
  consultation. One smelt what I spat, the second knocked whence
  I spat, the third sounded and listened when I spat. The first
  said that I would die, the second that I was dying, the third
  that I had died already; and in the meantime I live as I was
  living. I cannot forgive Johnnie that in the case of bronchite
  aigue, which he could always notice in me, he gave me no
  advice. I had a narrow escape from their bleedings,
  cataplasms, and such like operations. Thanks to Providence, I
  am now myself again. My illness has nevertheless a pernicious
  effect on the Preludes, which you will receive God knows when.

  In a few days I shall live in the most beautiful part of the
  world. Sea, mountains... whatever you wish. We are to have our
  quarters in an old, vast, abandoned and ruined monastery of
  Carthusians whom Mend [FOOTNOTE: Mendizabal] drove away as it
  were for me. Near Palma--nothing more wonderful: cloisters,
  most poetic cemeteries. In short, I feel that there it will be
  well with me. Only the piano has not yet come! I wrote to
  Pleyel. Ask there and tell him that on the day after my
  arrival here I was taken very ill, and that I am well again.
  On the whole, speak little about me and my manuscripts. Write
  to me. As yet I have not received a letter from you.

  Tell Leo that I have not as yet sent the Preludes to the
  Albrechts, but that I still love them sincerely, and shall
  write to them shortly.

  Post the enclosed letter to my parents yourself, and write as
  soon as possible.

  My love to Johnnie. Do not tell anyone that I was ill, they
  would only gossip about it.

[FOOTNOTE: to Madame Dubois I owe the information that Albrecht, an
attache to the Saxon legation (a post which gave him a good standing in
society) and at the same time a wine-merchant (with offices in the Place
Vendome--his specialty being "vins de Bordeaux"), was one of Chopin's
"fanatic friends." In the letters there are allusions to two Albrechts,
father and son; the foregoing information refers to the son, who, I
think, is the T. Albrecht to whom the Premier Scherzo, Chopin's Op. 20,
is dedicated.]

Chopin to Fontana; Palma, December 14, 1838:--

  As yet not a word from you, and this is my third or fourth
  letter. Did you prepay? Perhaps my parents did not write.
  Maybe some misfortune has befallen them. Or are you so lazy?
  But no, you are not lazy, you are so obliging. No doubt you
  sent my two letters to my people (both from Palma). And you
  must have written to me, only the post of this place, which is
  the most irregular in the world, has not yet delivered your

  Only to-day I was informed that on the ist of December my
  piano was embarked at Marseilles on a merchant vessel. The
  letter took fourteen days to come from that town. Thus there
  is some hope that the piano may pass the winter in the port,
  as here nobody stirs when it rains. The idea of my getting it
  just at my departure pleases me, for in addition to the 500
  francs for freight and duty which I must pay, I shall have the
  pleasure of packing it and sending it back. Meanwhile my
  manuscripts are sleeping, whereas I cannot sleep, but cough,
  and am covered with plasters, waiting anxiously for spring or
  something else.

  To-morrow I start for this delightful monastery of Valdemosa.
  I shall live, muse, and write in the cell of some old monk who
  may have had more fire in his heart than I, and was obliged to
  hide and smother it, not being able to make use of it.

  I think that shortly I shall be able to send you my Preludes
  and my Ballade. Go and see Leo; do not mention that I am ill,
  he would fear for his 1,000 francs.

  Give my kind remembrances to Johnnie and Pleyel.

Madame Sand to Madame Marliani; Palma, December 14, 1838:--

  ...What is really beautiful here is the country, the sky, the
  mountains, the good health of Maurice, and the radoucissement  of
  Solange. The good Chopin is not in equally brilliant health. He
  misses his piano very much. We received news of it to-day. It has
  left Marseilles, and we shall perhaps have it in a fortnight. Mon
  Dieu, how hard, difficult, and miserable the physical life is
  here! It is beyond what one can imagine.

  By a stroke of fortune I have found for sale a clean suite of
  furniture, charming for this country, but which a French
  peasant would not have. Unheard-of trouble was required to get
  a stove, wood, linen, and who knows what else. Though for a
  month I have believed myself established, I am always on the
  eve of being so. Here a cart takes five hours to go three
  leagues; judge of the rest. They require two months to
  manufacture a pair of tongs. There is no exaggeration in what
  I say. Guess about this country all I do not tell you. For my
  part I do not mind it, but I have suffered a little from it in
  the fear of seeing my children suffer much from it.

  Happily, my ambulance is doing well. To-morrow we depart for
  the Carthusian monastery of Valdemosa, the most poetic
  residence on earth. We shall pass there the winter, which has
  hardly begun and will soon end. This is the sole happiness of
  this country. I have never in my life met with a nature so
  delicious as that of Majorca.

...The people of this country are generally very gracious, very
obliging; but all this in words...

  I shall write to Leroux from the monastery at leisure. If you
  knew what I have to do! I have almost to cook. Here, another
  amenity, one cannot get served. The domestic is a brute:
  bigoted, lazy, and gluttonous; a veritable son of a monk (I
  think that all are that). It requires ten to do the work which
  your brave Mary does. Happily, the maid whom I have brought
  with me from Paris is very devoted, and resigns herself to do
  heavy work; but she is not strong, and I must help her.
  Besides, everything is dear, and proper nourishment is
  difficult to get when the stomach cannot stand either rancid
  oil or pig's grease. I begin to get accustomed to it; but
  Chopin is ill every time that we do not prepare his food
  ourselves. In short, our expedition here is, in many respects,
  a frightful fiasco.

On December 15, 1838, then, the Sand party took possession of their
quarters in the monastery of Valdemosa, and thence the next letters are

Chopin to Fontana; "Palma, December 28, 1838, or rather Valdemosa, a few
miles distant from Palma":--

  Between rocks and the sea, in a great abandoned Carthusian
  monastery, in one of the cells with doors bigger than the
  gates in Paris, you may imagine me with my hair uncurled,
  without white gloves, pale as usual. The cell is in the shape
  of a coffin, high, and full of dust on the vault. The window
  small, before the window orange, palm, and cypress trees.
  Opposite the window, under a Moorish filigree rosette, stands
  my bed. By its side an old square thing like a table for
  writing, scarcely serviceable; on it a leaden candlestick (a
  great luxury) with a little tallow-candle, Works of Bach, my
  jottings, and old scrawls that are not mine, this is all I
  possess. Quietness... one may shout and nobody will hear... in
  short, I am writing to you from a strange place.

  Your letter of the 9th of December I received the day before
  yesterday; as on account of the holidays the express mail does
  not leave till next week, I write to you in no great hurry. It
  will be a Russian month before you get the bill of exchange
  which I send you.

  Sublime nature is a fine thing, but one should have nothing to
  do with men--nor with roads and posts. Many a time I came here
  from Palma, always with the same driver and always by another
  road. Streams of water make roads, violent rains destroy them;
  to-day it is impossible to pass, for what was a road is
  ploughed; next day only mules can pass where you were driving
  yesterday. And what carriages here! That is the reason,
  Julius, why you do not see a single Englishman, not even an
  English consul.

  Leo is a Jew, a rogue! I was at his house the day before my
  departure, and I told him not to send me anything here. I
  cannot send you the Preludes, they are not yet finished. At
  present I am better and shall push on the work. I shall write
  and thank him in a way that will make him wince.

  But Schlesinger is a still worse dog to put my Waltzes
  [FOOTNOTE: "Trois Valses brillantes," Op. 34.] in the Album,
  and to sell them to Probst [FOOTNOTE: Heinrich Albert Probst
  founded in 1823 a music-shop and publishing-house at Leipzig.
  In 1831 Fr. Kistner entered the business (Probst-Kistner),
  which under his name has existed from 1836 down to this day.
  In the Chopin letters we meet Probst in the character of
  Breitkopf and Hartel's agent.] when I gave him them because he
  begged them for his father in Berlin. [FOOTNOTE: Adolf Martin
  Schlesinger, a music-publisher like his son Maurice Adolph of
  Paris, so frequently mentioned in these letters.] All this
  irritates me. I am only sorry for you; but in one month at the
  latest you will be clear of Leo and my landlord. With the
  money which you receive on the bill of exchange, do what is
  necessary. And my servant, what is he doing? Give the portier
  twenty francs as a New Year's present.

  I do not remember whether I left any debts of importance. At
  all events, as I promised you, we shall be clear in a month at
  the latest.

  To-day the moon is wonderful, I never saw it more beautiful.

  By the way, you write that you sent me a letter from my
  people. I neither saw nor heard of one, and I am longing so
  much for one! Did you prepay when you sent them the letter?

  Your letter, the only one I have hitherto received, was very
  badly addressed. Here nature is benevolent, but the people are
  thievish. They never see any strangers, and therefore do not
  know what to ask of them. For instance, an orange they will
  give you for nothing, but ask a fabulous sum for a coat-

  Under this sky you are penetrated with a kind of poetical
  feeling which everything seems to exhale. Eagles alarmed by no
  one soar every day majestically over our heads.

  For God's sake write, always prepay, and to Palma add always

  I love Johnnie, and I think it is a pity that he did not
  altogether qualify himself as director of the children of some
  benevolent institution in some Nuremberg or Bamberg. Get him
  to write to me, were it only a few words.

  I enclose you a letter to my people...I think it is already
  the third or fourth that I send you for my parents.

  My love to Albrecht, but speak very little about me.

Chopin to Fontana; Valdemosa, January 12, 1839:--

  I send you the Preludes, make a copy of them, you and Wolf;
  [FOOTNOTE: Edouard Wolff] I think there are no mistakes. You
  will give the transcript to Probst, but my manuscript to
  Pleyel. When you get the money from Probst, for whom I enclose
  a receipt, you will take it at once to Leo. I do not write and
  thank him just now, for I have no time. Out of the money which
  Pleyel will give you, that is 1,500 francs, you will pay the
  rent of my rooms till the New Year, 450 francs and you will
  give notice of my giving them up if you have a chance to get
  others from April. If not it will be necessary to keep them
  for a quarter longer. The rest of the amount, or 1,000 francs,
  you will return from me to Nougi. Where he lives you will
  learn from Johnnie, but don't tell the latter of the money,
  for he might attack Nougi, and I do not wish that anyone but
  you and I should know of it. Should you succeed in finding
  rooms, you could send one part of the furniture to Johnnie and
  another to Grzymala. You will tell Pleyel to send letters
  through you.

  I sent you before the New Year a bill of exchange for Wessel;
  tell Pleyel that I have settled with Wessel.

  [FOOTNOTE: The music-publisher Christian Rudolph Wessel, of
  Bremen, who came to London in 1825. Up to 1838 he had Stodart,
  and from 1839 to 1845 Stapleton, as partner. He retired in
  1860, Messrs. Edwin Ashdown and Henry Parry being his
  successors. Since the retirement of Mr. Parry, in 1882, Mr.
  Ashdown is the sole proprietor. Mr. Ashdown, whom I have to
  thank for the latter part of this note, informs me that Wessel
  died in 1885.]

  In a few weeks you will receive a Ballade, a Polonaise, and a

  Until now I have not yet received any letters from my parents.

  I embrace you.

  Sometimes I have Arabian balls, African sun, and always before
  my eyes the Mediterranean Sea.

  I do not know when I shall be back, perhaps as late as May,
  perhaps even later.

Madame Sand to Madame Marliani; Valdemosa, January 15, 1839:--

  ...We inhabit the Carthusian monastery of Valdemosa, a really
  sublime place, which I have hardly the time to admire, so many
  occupations have I with my children, their lessons, and my work.

  There are rains here of which one has elsewhere no idea: it is
  a frightful deluge! The air is on account of it so relaxing,
  so soft, that one cannot drag one's self along; one is really
  ill. Happily, Maurice is in admirable health; his constitution
  is only afraid of frost, a thing unknown here. But the little
  Chopin [FOOTNOTE: Madame Marliani seems to have been in the
  habit of calling Chopin "le petit."  In another letter to her
  (April 28, 1839) George Sand writes of Chopin as votre petit.
  This reminds one of Mendelssohn's Chopinetto.] is very
  depressed and always coughs much. For his sake I await with
  impatience the return of fine weather, which will not be long
  in coming. His piano has at last arrived at Palma; but it is
  in the clutches of the custom-house officers, who demand from
  five to six hundred francs duty, and show themselves

  ...I am plunged with Maurice in Thucydides and company; with
  Solange in the indirect object and the agreement of the
  participle. Chopin plays on a poor Majorcan piano which reminds
  me of that of Bouffe in "Pauvre Jacques." I pass my nights
  generally in scrawling. When I raise my nose, it is to see
  through the sky-light of my cell the moon which shines in the
  midst of the rain on the orange trees, and I think no more of it
  than she.

Madame Sand to M. A. M. Duteil; Valdemosa, January 20, 1839:--

  ...This [the slowness and irregularity of the post] is not the
  only inconvenience of the country. There are innumerable ones,
  and yet this is the most beautiful country. The climate is
  delicious. At the time I am writing, Maurice is gardening in his
  shirt-sleeves, and Solange, seated under an orange tree loaded
  with fruit, studies her lesson with a grave air. We have bushes
  covered with roses, and spring is coming in. Our winter lasted
  six weeks, not cold, but rainy to a degree to frighten us. It is
  a deluge! The rain uproots the mountains; all the waters of the
  mountain rush into the plain; the roads become torrents. We found
  ourselves caught in them, Maurice and I. We had been at Palma in
  superb weather. When we returned in the evening, there were no
  fields, no roads, but only trees to indicate approximately the
  way which we had to go. I was really very frightened, especially
  as the horse refused to proceed, and we were obliged to traverse
  the mountain on foot in the night, with torrents across our legs.

Madame Sand to Madame Marliani; Valdemosa, February 22, 1839:--

  ...You see me at my Carthusian monastery, still sedentary, and
  occupied during the day with my children, at night with my  work.
  In the midst of all this, the warbling of Chopin, who goes his
  usual pretty way, and whom the walls of the cell are much
  astonished to hear.

  The only remarkable event since my last letter is the arrival
  of the so much-expected piano. After a fortnight of
  applications and waiting we have been able to get it out of
  the custom-house by paying three hundred francs of duty.
  Pretty country this! After all, it has been disembarked
  without accident, and the vaults of the monastery are
  delighted with it. And all this is not profaned by the
  admiration of fools-we do not see a cat.

  Our retreat in the mountains, three leagues from the town, has
  freed us from the politeness of idlers.

  Nevertheless, we have had one visitor, and a visitor from
  Paris!--namely, M. Dembowski, an Italian Pole whom Chopin
  knew, and who calls himself a cousin of Marliani--I don't know
  in what degree.

  ...The fact is, that we are very much pleased with the freedom
  which this gives us, because we have work to do; but we
  understand very well that these poetic intervals which one
  introduces into one's life are only times of transition and rest
  allowed to the mind before it resumes the exercise of the
  emotions. I mean this in the purely intellectual sense; for, as
  regards the life of the heart, it cannot cease for a moment...

This brings us to the end of the known letters written by Chopin and
Madame Sand from Majorca. And now let us see what we can find in George
Sand's books to complete the picture of the life of her and her party
at Valdemosa, of which the letters give only more or less disconnected
indications. I shall use the materials at my disposal freely and
cautiously, quoting some passages in full, regrouping and summing-up
others, and keeping always in mind--which the reader should likewise
do--the authoress's tendency to emphasise, colour, and embellish, for
the sake of literary and moral effect.

Not to extend this chapter too much, I refer the curious to George
Sand's "Un Hiver a Majorque" for a description of the "admirable,
grandiose, and wild nature" in the midst of which the "poetic abode" of
her and her party was situated--of the grandly and beautifully-varied
surface of the earth, the luxuriant southern vegetation, and the
marvellous phenomena of light and air; of the sea stretching out on two
sides and meeting the horizon; of the surrounding formidable peaks, and
the more distant round-swelling hills; of the eagles descending in the
pursuit of their prey down to the orange trees of the monastery gardens;
of the avenue of cypresses serpentining from the top of the mountain to
the bottom of the gorge; of the torrents covered with myrtles; in short,
of the immense ensemble, the infinite details, which overwhelm the
imagination and outvie the poet's and painter's dreams. Here it will be
advisable to confine ourselves to the investigation of a more limited
sphere, to inspect rather narrow interiors than vast landscapes.

As the reader has gathered from the preceding letters, there was no
longer a monastic community at Valdemosa. The monks had been dispersed
some time before, and the monastery had become the property of the
state. During the hot summer months it was in great part occupied by
small burghers from Palma who came in quest of fresh air. The only
permanent inhabitants of the monastery, and the only fellow-tenants of
George Sand's party, were two men and one woman, called by the novelist
respectively the Apothecary, the Sacristan, and Maria Antonia.
The first, a remnant of the dispersed community, sold mallows and
couch-grass, the only specifics he had; the second was the person in
whose keeping were the keys of the monastery; and the third was a
kind of housekeeper who, for the love of God and out of neighbourly
friendship, offered her help to new-comers, and, if it was accepted, did
not fail to levy heavy contributions.

The monastery was a complex of strongly-constructed, buildings without
any architectural beauty, and such was, its circumference and mass of
stones that it would have been easy to house an army corps. Besides the
dwelling of the superior, the cells of the lay-brothers, the lodgings
for visitors, the stables, and other structures, there were three
cloisters, each consisting of twelve cells and twelve chapels. The most
ancient of these cloisters, which is also the smallest, dates from the
15th century.

  It presents a charming coup d'oeil. The court which it
  encloses with its broken-down walls is the ancient cemetery of
  the monks. No inscription distinguishes these tombs...The
  graves are scarcely indicated by the swellings of the turf.

In the cells were stored up the remains of all sorts of fine old
furniture and sculpture, but these could only be seen through the
chinks, for the cells were carefully locked, and the sacristan would not
open them to anyone. The second cloister, although of more recent date,
was likewise in a dilapidated state, which, however, gave it character.
In stormy weather it was not at all safe to pass through it on account
of the falling fragments of walls and vaults.

  I never heard the wind sound so like mournful voices and utter
  such despairing howls as in these empty and sonorous
  galleries. The noise of the torrents, the swift motion of the
  clouds, the grand, monotonous sound of the sea, interrupted by
  the whistling of the storm and the plaintive cries of sea-
  birds which passed, quite terrified and bewildered, in the
  squalls; then thick fogs which fell suddenly like a shroud and
  which, penetrating into the cloisters through the broken
  arcades, rendered us invisible, and made the little lamp we
  carried to guide us appear like a will-o'-the-wisp wandering
  under the galleries; and a thousand other details of this
  monastic life which crowd all at once into my memory: all
  combined made indeed this monastery the most romantic abode in
  the world.

  I was not sorry to see for once fully and in reality what I
  had seen only in a dream, or in the fashionable ballads, and
  in the nuns' scene in Robert le Diable at the Opera. Even
  fantastic apparitions were not wanting to us. [FOOTNOTE: "Un
  Hiver a Majorque," pp. 116 and 117.]

In the same book from which the above passage is extracted we find
also a minute description of the new cloister; the chapels, variously
ornamented, covered with gilding, decorated with rude paintings and
horrible statues of saints in coloured wood, paved in the Arabic style
with enamelled faience laid out in various mosaic designs, and provided
with a fountain or marble conch; the pretty church, unfortunately
without an organ, but with wainscot, confessionals, and doors of
most excellent workmanship, a floor of finely-painted faience, and a
remarkable statue in painted wood of St. Bruno; the little meadow in the
centre of the cloister, symmetrically planted with box-trees, &c., &c.

George Sand's party occupied one of the spacious, well-ventilated,
and well-lighted cells in this part of the monastery. I shall let her
describe it herself.

  The three rooms of which it was composed were spacious,
  elegantly vaulted, and ventilated at the back by open
  rosettes, all different and very prettily designed. These
  three rooms were separated from the cloister by a dark passage
  at the end of which was a strong door of oak. The wall was
  three feet thick. The middle room was destined for reading,
  prayer, and meditation; all its furniture consisted of a large
  chair with a praying-desk and a back, from six to eight feet
  high, let into and fixed in the wall. The room to the right of
  this was the friar's bed-room; at the farther end of it was
  situated the alcove, very low, and paved above with flags like
  a tomb. The room to the left was the workshop, the refectory,
  the store-room of the recluse. A press at the far end of the
  room had a wooden compartment with a window opening on the
  cloister, through which his provisions were passed in. His
  kitchen consisted of two little stoves placed outside, but
  not, as was the strict rule, in the open air; a vault, opening
  on the garden, protected the culinary labours of the monk from
  the rain, and allowed him to give himself up to this
  occupation a little more than the founder would have wished.
  Moreover, a fire-place introduced into this third room
  indicated many other relaxations, although the science of the
  architect had not gone so far as to make this fire-place

  Running along the back of the rooms, on a level with the
  rosettes, was a long channel, narrow and dark, intended for
  the ventilation of the cell, and above was a loft in which the
  maize, onions, beans, and other simple winter provisions were
  kept. On the south the three rooms opened on a flower garden,
  exactly the size of the cell itself, which was separated from
  the neighbouring gardens by walls ten feet high, and was
  supported by a strongly-built terrace above a little orange
  grove which occupied this ledge of the mountain. The lower
  ledge was covered with a beautiful arbour of vines, the third
  with almond and palm trees, and so on to the bottom of the
  little valley, which, as I have said, was an immense garden.

  The flower garden of each cell had all along its right side a
  reservoir, made of freestone, from three to four feet in width
  and the same in depth, receiving through conduits placed in
  the balustrade of the terrace the waters of the mountain, and
  distributing them in the flower garden by means of a stone
  cross, which divided it into four equal squares.

  As to this flower garden, planted with pomegranate, lemon, and
  orange trees, surrounded by raised walks made of bricks which,
  like the reservoir, were shaded by perfumed arbours, it was
  like a pretty salon of flowers and verdure, where the monk
  could walk dry-footed on wet days.

Even without being told, we should have known that the artists who
had now become inmates of the monastery were charmed with their
surroundings. Moreover, George Sand did her utmost to make life within
doors comfortable. When the furniture bought from the Spanish refugee
had been supplemented by further purchases, they were, considering the
circumstances, not at all badly off in this respect. The tables and
straw-bottomed chairs were indeed no better than those one finds in the
cottages of peasants; the sofa of white wood with cushions of mattress
cloth stuffed with wool could only ironically be called "voluptuous";
and the large yellow leather trunks, whatever their ornamental
properties might be, must have made but poor substitutes for wardrobes.
The folding-beds, on the other hand, proved irreproachable; the
mattresses, though not very soft, were new and clean, and the padded
and quilted chintz coverlets left nothing to be desired. Nor does
this enumeration exhaust the comforts and adornments of which the
establishment could boast. Feathers, a rare article in Majorca, had been
got from a French lady to make pillows for Chopin; Valenciennes matting
and long-fleeced sheep skins covered the dusty floor; a large tartan
shawl did duty as an alcove curtain; a stove of somewhat eccentric
habits, and consisting simply of an iron cylinder with a pipe that
passed through the window, had been manufactured for them at Palma; a
charming clay vase surrounded with a garland of ivy displayed its beauty
on the top of the stove; a beautiful large Gothic carved oak chair with
a small chest convenient as a book-case had, with the consent of the
sacristan, been brought from the monks' chapel; and last, but not least,
there was, as we have already read in the letters, a piano, in the
first weeks only a miserable Majorcan instrument, which, however, in
the second half of January, after much waiting, was replaced by one of
Pleyel's excellent cottage pianos.

[FOOTNOTE: By the way, among the many important and unimportant doubtful
points which Chopin's and George Sand's letters settle, is also that of
the amount of duty paid for the piano. The sum originally asked by the
Palma custom-house officers seems to have been from 500 to 600 francs,
and this demand was after a fortnight's negotiations reduced to 300
francs. That the imaginative novelist did not long remember the exact
particulars of this transaction need not surprise us. In Un Hiver a
Majorque she states tha the original demand was 700 francs, and the sum
ultimately paid about 400 francs.]

These various items collectively and in conjunction with the rooms in
which they were gathered together form a tout-ensemble picturesque and
homely withal. As regards the supply of provisions, the situation of
our Carthusians was decidedly less brilliant. Indeed, the water and the
juicy raisins, Malaga potatoes, fried Valencia pumpkins, &c., which
they had for dessert, were the only things that gave them unmixed
satisfaction. With anything but pleasure they made the discovery that
the chief ingredient of Majorcan cookery, an ingredient appearing in all
imaginable and unimaginable guises and disguises, was pork. Fowl was all
skin and bones, fish dry and tasteless, sugar of so bad a quality that
it made them sick, and butter could not be procured at all. Indeed,
they found it difficult to get anything of any kind. On account of
their non-attendance at church they were disliked by the villagers of
Valdemosa, who sold their produce to such heretics only at twice or
thrice the usual price. Still, thanks to the good offices of the French
consul's cook, they might have done fairly well had not wet weather been
against them. But, alas, their eagerly-awaited provisions often arrived
spoiled with rain, oftener still they did not arrive at all. Many a time
they had to eat bread as hard as ship-biscuits, and content themselves
with real Carthusian dinners. The wine was good and cheap, but,
unfortunately, it had the objectionable quality of being heady.

These discomforts and wants were not painfully felt by George Sand and
her children, nay, they gave, for a time at least, a new zest to life.
It was otherwise with Chopin. "With his feeling for details and the
wants of a refined well-being, he naturally took an intense dislike to
Majorca after a few days of illness." We have already seen what a bad
effect the wet weather and the damp of Son-Vent had on Chopin's health.
But, according to George Sand, [FOOTNOTE: "Un Hiver a Marjorque," pp.
161-168. I suspect that she mixes up matters in a very unhistorical
manner; I have, however, no means of checking her statements, her and
her companion's letters being insufficient for the purpose. Chopin
certainly was not likely to tell his friend the worst about his health.]
it was not till later, although still in the early days of their sojourn
in Majorca, that his disease declared itself in a really alarming
manner. The cause of this change for the worse was over-fatigue incurred
on an excursion which he made with his friends to a hermitage three
miles [FOOTNOTE: George Sand does not say what kind of miles] distant
from Valdemosa; the length and badness of the road alone would have been
more than enough to exhaust his fund of strength, but in addition to
these hardships they had, on returning, to encounter a violent wind
which threw them down repeatedly. Bronchitis, from which he had
previously suffered, was now followed by a nervous excitement that
produced several symptoms of laryngeal phthisis. [FOOTNOTE: In the
Histoire de ma Vie George Sand Bays: "From the beginning of winter,
which set in all at once with a diluvian rain, Chopin showed, suddenly
also, all the symptoms of pulmonary affection."] The physician, judging
of the disease by the symptoms that presented themselves at the time of
his visits, mistook its real nature, and prescribed bleeding, milk diet,
&c. Chopin felt instinctively that all this would be injurious to him,
that bleeding would even be fatal. George Sand, who was an experienced
nurse, and whose opportunities for observing were less limited than
those of the physician, had the same presentiment. After a long and
anxious struggle she decided to disregard the strongly-urged advice of
the physician and to obey the voice that said to her, even in her sleep:
"Bleeding will kill him; but if you save him from it, he will not die,"
She was persuaded that this voice was the voice of Providence, and that
by obeying it she saved her friend's life. What Chopin stood most in
need of in his weakness and languor was a strengthening diet, and that,
unfortunately, was impossible to procure:--

  What would I not have given to have had some beef-tea and a
  glass of Bordeaux wine to offer to our invalid every day! The
  Majorcan food, and especially the manner in which it was
  prepared when we were not there with eye and hand, caused him
  an invincible disgust. Shall I tell you how well founded this
  disgust was? One day when a lean chicken was put on the table
  we saw jumping on its steaming back enormous Mattres Floh,
  [FOOTNOTE: Anglice "fleas."] of which Hoffmann would have made
  as many evil spirits, but which he certainly would not have
  eaten in gravy. My children laughed so heartily that they
  nearly fell under the table.

Chopin's most ardent wish was to get away from Majorca and back to
France. But for some time he was too weak to travel, and when he had got
a little stronger, contrary winds prevented the steamer from leaving
the port. The following words of George Sand depict vividly our poor
Carthusian friends' situation in all its gloom:--

  As the winter advanced, sadness more and more paralysed my
  efforts at gaiety and cheerfulness. The state of our invalid
  grew always worse; the wind wailed in the ravines, the rain
  beat against our windows, the voice of the thunder penetrated
  through our thick walls and mingled its mournful sounds with
  the laughter and sports of the children. The eagles and
  vultures, emboldened by the fog, came to devour our poor
  sparrows, even on the pomegranate tree which shaded my window.
  The raging sea kept the ships in the harbours; we felt
  ourselves prisoners, far from all enlightened help and from
  all efficacious sympathy. Death seemed to hover over our heads
  to seize one of us, and we were alone in contending with him
  for his prey.

If George Sand's serenity and gaiety succumbed to these influences,
we may easily imagine how much more they oppressed Chopin, of whom she
tells us that--

  The mournful cry of the famished eagle and the gloomy
  desolation of the yew trees covered with snow saddened him
  much longer and more keenly than the perfume of the orange
  trees, the gracefulness of the vines, and the Moorish song of
  the labourers gladdened him.

The above-quoted letters have already given us some hints of how the
prisoners of Valdemosa passed their time. In the morning there
were first the day's provisions to be procured and the rooms to be
tidied--which latter business could not be entrusted to Maria Antonia
without the sacrifice of their night's rest. [FOOTNOTE: George Sand's
share of the household work was not so great as she wished to make the
readers of Un Hiver a Majorque believe, for it consisted, as we gather
from her letters, only in giving a helping hand to her maid, who had
undertaken to cook and clean up, but found that her strength fell short
of the requirements.] Then George Sand would teach her children for
some hours. These lessons over, the young ones ran about and amused
themselves for the rest of the day, while their mother sat down to
her literary studies and labours. In the evening they either strolled
together through the moonlit cloisters or read in their cell, half of
the night being generally devoted by the novelist to writing. George
Sand says in the "Histoire de ma Vie" that she wrote a good deal and
read beautiful philosophical and historical works when she was not
nursing her friend. The latter, however, took up much of her time, and
prevented her from getting out much, for he did not like to be left
alone, nor, indeed, could he safely be left long alone. Sometimes
she and her children would set out on an expedition of discovery, and
satisfy their curiosity and pleasantly while away an hour or two in
examining the various parts of the vast aggregation of buildings; or the
whole party would sit round the stove and laugh over the rehearsal of
the morning's transactions with the villagers. Once they witnessed even
a ball in this sanctuary. It was on Shrove-Tuesday, after dark, that
their attention was roused by a strange, crackling noise. On going to
the door of their cell they could see nothing, but they heard the noise
approaching. After a little there appeared at the opposite end of the
cloister a faint glimmer of white light, then the red glare of torches,
and at last a crew the sight of which made their flesh creep and their
hair stand on end--he-devils with birds' heads, horses' tails, and
tinsel of all colours; she-devils or abducted shepherdesses in white
and pink dresses; and at the head of them Lucifer himself, horned and,
except the blood-red face, all black. The strange noise, however, turned
out to be the rattling of castanets, and the terrible-looking figures a
merry company of rich farmers and well-to-do villagers who were going to
have a dance in Maria Antonia's cell. The orchestra, which consisted
of a large and a small guitar, a kind of high-pitched violin, and from
three to four pairs of castanets, began to play indigenous jotas and
fandangos which, George Sand tells us, resemble those of Spain, but have
an even bolder form and more original rhythm. The critical spectators
thought that the dancing of the Majorcans was not any gayer than their
singing, which was not gay at all, and that their boleros had "la
gravite des ancetres, et point de ces graces profanes qu'on admire en
Andalousie." Much of the music of these islanders was rather interesting
than pleasing to their visitors. The clicking of the castanets with
which they accompany their festal processions, and which, unlike the
broken and measured rhythm of the Spaniards, consists of a continuous
roll like that of a drum "battant aux champs," is from time to time
suddenly interrupted in order to sing in unison a coplita on a phrase
which always recommences but never finishes. George Sand shares the
opinion of M. Tastu that the principal Majorcan rhythms and favourite
fioriture are Arabic in type and origin.

Of quite another nature was the music that might be heard in those
winter months in one of the cells of the monastery of Valdemosa. "With
what poesy did his music fill this sanctuary, even in the midst of his
most grievous troubles!" exclaims George Sand. I like to picture
to myself the vaulted cell, in which Pleyel's piano sounded so
magnificently, illumined by a lamp, the rich traceries of the Gothic
chair shadowed on the wall, George Sand absorbed in her studies, her
children at play, and Chopin pouring out his soul in music.

It would be a mistake to think that those months which the friends
spent in Majorca were for them a time of unintermittent or even
largely-predominating wretchedness. Indeed, George Sand herself admits
that, in spite of the wildness of the country and the pilfering habits
of the people, their existence might have been an agreeable one in
this romantic solitude had it not been for the sad spectacle of her
companion's sufferings and certain days of serious anxiety about his
life. And now I must quote a. long but very important passage from the
"Histoire de ma Vie":--

   The poor great artist was a detestable patient. What I had
   feared, but unfortunately not enough, happened. He became
   completely demoralised. Bearing pain courageously enough, he
   could not overcome the disquietude of his imagination. The
   monastery was for him full of terrors and phantoms, even when
   he was well. He did not say so, and I had to guess it. On
   returning from my nocturnal explorations in the ruins with my
   children, I found him at ten o'clock at night before his
   piano, his face pale, his eyes wild, and his hair almost
   standing on end. It was some moments before he could
   recognise us.

   He then made an attempt to laugh, and played to us sublime
   things he had just composed, or rather, to be more accurate,
   terrible or heartrending ideas which had taken possession of
   him, as it were without his knowledge, in that hour of
   solitude, sadness, and terror.

   It was there that he composed the most beautiful of those
   short pages he modestly entitled "Preludes." They are
   masterpieces. Several present to the mind visions of deceased
   monks and the sounds of the funeral chants which beset his
   imagination; others are melancholy and sweet--they occurred
   to him in the hours of sunshine and of health, with the noise
   of the children's laughter under the window, the distant
   sound of guitars, the warbling of the birds among the humid
   foliage, and the sight of the pale little full-blown roses on
   the snow.

   Others again are of a mournful sadness, and, while charming
   the ear, rend the heart. There is one of them which occurred
   to him on a dismal rainy evening which produces a terrible
   mental depression. We had left him well that day, Maurice and
   I, and had gone to Palma to buy things we required for our
   encampment. The rain had come on, the torrents had
   overflowed, we had travelled three leagues in six hours to
   return in the midst of the inundation, and we arrived in the
   dead of night, without boots, abandoned by our driver, having
   passed through unheard-of dangers. We made haste,
   anticipating the anxiety of our invalid. It had been indeed
   great, but it had become as it were congealed into a kind of
   calm despair, and he played his wonderful prelude weeping. On
   seeing us enter he rose, uttering a great cry, then he said
   to us, with a wild look and in a strange tone: "Ah! I knew
   well that you were dead!"

   When he had come to himself again, and saw the state in which
   we were, he was ill at the retrospective spectacle of our
   dangers; but he confessed to me afterwards that while waiting
   for our return he had seen all this in a dream and that, no
   longer distinguishing this dream from reality, he had grown
   calm and been almost lulled to sleep while playing the piano,
   believing that he was dead himself. He saw himself drowned in
   a lake; heavy and ice-cold drops of water fell at regular
   intervals upon his breast, and when I drew his attention to
   those drops of water which were actually falling at regular
   intervals upon the roof, he denied having heard them. He was
   even vexed at what I translated by the term imitative
   harmony. He protested with all his might, and he was right,
   against the puerility of these imitations for the ear. His
   genius was full of mysterious harmonies of nature, translated
   by sublime equivalents into his musical thought, and not by a
   servile repetition of external sounds. His composition of
   this evening was indeed full of the drops of rain which
   resounded on the sonorous tiles of the monastery, but they
   were transformed in his imagination and his music into tears
   falling from heaven on his heart.

Although George Sand cannot be acquitted of the charge of exaggerating
the weak points in her lover's character, what she says about his being
a detestable patient seems to have a good foundation in fact. Gutmann,
who nursed him often, told me that his master was very irritable and
difficult to manage in sickness. On the other hand, Gutmann contradicted
George Sand's remarks about the Preludes, saying that Chopin composed
them before starting on his journey. When I mentioned to him that
Fontana had made a statement irreconcilable with his, and suggested
that Chopin might have composed some of the Preludes in Majorca, Gutmann
maintained firmly that every one of them was composed previously, and
that he himself had copied them. Now with Chopin's letters to Fontana
before us we must come to the conclusion that Gutmann was either under
a false impression or confirmed a rash statement by a bold assertion,
unless we prefer to assume that Chopin's labours on the Preludes
in Majorca were confined to selecting, [FOOTNOTE: Internal evidence
suggests that the Preludes consist (to a great extent at least) of
pickings from the composer's portfolios, of pieces, sketches, and
memoranda written at various times and kept to be utilised when occasion
might offer.] filing, and polishing. My opinion--which not only has
probability but also the low opus number (28) and the letters in its
favour--is that most of the Preludes, if not all, were finished or
sketched before Chopin went to the south, and that a few, if any, were
composed and the whole revised at Palma and Valdemosa. Chopin cannot
have composed many in Majorca, because a few days after his arrival
there he wrote: from Palma (Nov. 15, 1838) to Fontana that he would send
the Preludes soon; and it was only his illness that prevented him from
doing so. There is one statement in George Sand's above-quoted narrative
which it is difficult to reconcile with other statements in "Un Hiver
a Majorque" and in her and Chopin's letters. In the just-mentioned book
(p. 177) she says that the journey in question was made for the purpose
of rescuing the piano from the hands of the custom-house officers; and
in a letter of January 15, 1839, to her friend Madame Marliani (quoted
on p. 31), which does not contain a word about adventures on a stormy
night, [They are first mentioned in the letter of January 20, 1839,
quoted on p. 32.] she writes that the piano is still in the clutches of
the custom-house officers. From this, I think, we may conclude that it
must have taken place after January 15. But, then, how could Chopin have
composed on that occasion a Prelude included in a work the manuscript
of which he sent away on the lath? Still, this does not quite settle the
question. Is it not possible that Chopin may have afterwards substituted
the new Prelude for one of those already forwarded to France? To this
our answer must be that it is possible, but that the letters do not give
any support to such an assumption. Another and stronger objection would
be the uncertainty as to the correctness of the date of the letter.
Seeing that so many of Chopin's letters have been published with wrong
dates, why not also that of January 12? Unfortunately, we cannot in
this case prove or disprove the point by internal evidence. There is,
however, one factor we must be especially careful not to forget in our
calculations--namely, George Sand's habitual unconscientious inaccuracy;
but the nature of her narrative will indeed be a sufficient warning to
the reader, for nobody can read it without at once perceiving that it is
not a plain, unvarnished recital of facts.

It would be interesting to know which were the compositions that Chopin
produced at Valdemosa. As to the Prelude particularly referred to by
George Sand, it is generally and reasonably believed to be No. 6 (in B
minor). [FOOTNOTE: Liszt, who tells the story differently, brings in
the F sharp minor Prelude. (See Liszt's Chopin, new edition, pp. 273 and
274.)] The only compositions besides the Preludes which Chopin mentions
in his letters from Majorca are the Ballade, Op, 38, the Scherzo,
Op. 39, and the two Polonaises, Op. 40. The peevish, fretful, and
fiercely-scornful Scherzo and the despairingly-melancholy second
Polonaise (in C minor) are quite in keeping with the moods one imagines
the composer to have been in at the time. Nor is there anything
discrepant in the Ballade. But if the sadly-ailing composer really
created, and not merely elaborated and finished, in Majorca the
superlatively-healthy, vigorously-martial, brilliantly-chivalrous
Polonaise in A major, we have here a remarkable instance of the mind's
ascendency over the body, of its independence of it. This piece,
however, may have been conceived under happier circumstances, just as
the gloomy Sonata, Op. 35 (the one in B flat minor, with the funeral
march), and the two Nocturnes, Op. 37--the one (in G minor)
plaintive, longing, and prayerful; the other (in G major) sunny and
perfume-laden--may have had their origin in the days of Chopin's sojourn
in the Balearic island. A letter of Chopin's, written from Nohant in the
summer of 1839, leaves, as regards the Nocturnes, scarcely room for such
a conjecture. On the other hand, we learn from the same letter that he
composed at Palma the sad, yearning Mazurka in E minor (No. 2 of Op.

As soon as fair weather set in and the steamer resumed its weekly
courses to Barcelona, George Sand and her party hastened to leave the
island. The delightful prospects of spring could not detain them.

  Our invalid (she says) did not seem to be in a state to stand
  the passage, but he seemed equally incapable of enduring
  another week in Majorca. The situation was frightful; there
  were days when I lost hope and courage. To console us, Maria
  Antonia and her village gossips repeated to us in chorus the
  most edifying discourses on the future life. "This consumptive
  person," they said, "is going to hell, first because he is
  consumptive, secondly, because he does not confess. If he is
  in this condition when he dies, we shall not bury him in
  consecrated ground, and as nobody will be willing to give him
  a grave, his friends will have to manage matters as well as
  they can. It remains to be seen how they will get out of the
  difficulty; as for me, I will have Inothing to do with it,--
  Nor I--Nor I: and Amen!"

In fact, Valdemosa, which at first was enchanting to them, lost
afterwards much of its poesy in their eyes. George Sand, as we have
seen, said that their sojourn was I in many respects a frightful fiasco;
it was so certainly as far as Chopin was concerned, for he arrived with
a cough and left the place spitting blood.

The passage from Palma to Barcelona was not so pleasant as that from
Barcelona to Palma had been. Chopin suffered much from sleeplessness,
which was caused by the noise and bad smell of the most favoured class
of passengers on board the Mallorquin--i.e., pigs. "The captain showed
us no other attention than that of begging us not to let the invalid
lie down on the best bed of the cabin, because according to Spanish
prejudice every illness is contagious; and as our man thought already of
burning the couch on which the invalid reposed, he wished it should be
the worst." [FOOTNOTE: "Un Hiver a Majorque," pp. 24--25.]

On arriving at Barcelona George Sand wrote from the Mallorquin and sent
by boat a note to M. Belves, the officer in command at the station, who
at once came in his cutter to take her and her party to the Meleagre,
where they were well received by the officers, doctor, and all the crew.
It seemed to them as if they had left the Polynesian savages and were
once more in civilised society. When they shook hands with the French
consul they could contain themselves no longer, but jumped for joy and
cried "Vive La France!"

A fortnight after their leaving Palma the Phenicien landed them at
Marseilles. The treatment Chopin received from the French captain of
this steamer differed widely from that he had met with at the hands
of the captain of the Mallorquin; for fearing that the invalid was not
quite comfortable in a common berth, he gave him his own bed. [FOOTNOTE:
"Un Hiver a Majorque," p. 183.]

An extract from a letter written by George Sand from Marseilles on March
8, 1839, to her friend Francois Rollinat, which contains interesting
details concerning Chopin in the last scenes of the Majorca intermezzo,
may fitly conclude this chapter.

  Chopin got worse and worse, and in spite of all offers of
  service which were made to us in the Spanish manner, we should
  not have found a hospitable house in all the island. At last
  we resolved to depart at any price, although Chopin had not
  the strength to drag himself along. We asked only one--a first
  and a last service--a carriage to convey him to Palma, where
  we wished to embark. This service was refused to us, although
  our FRIENDS had all equipages and fortunes to correspond. We
  were obliged to travel three leagues on the worst roads in a
  birlocho [FOOTNOTE: A cabriolet. In a Spainish Dictionary I
  find a birlocho defined as a vehicle open in front, with two
  seats, and two or four wheels. A more detailed description is
  to be found on p. 101 of George Sand's "Un Hiver a
  Marjorque."] that is to say, a brouette.

  On arriving at Palma, Chopin had a frightful spitting of
  blood; we embarked the following day on the only steamboat of
  the island, which serves to transport pigs to Barcelona. There
  is no other way of leaving this cursed country. We were in
  company of 100 pigs, whose continual cries and foul odour left
  our patient no rest and no respirable air. He arrived at
  Barcelona still spitting basins full of blood, and crawling
  along like a ghost. There, happily, our misfortunes were
  mitigated! The French consul and the commandant of the French
  maritime station received us with a hospitality and grace
  which one does not know in Spain. We were brought on board a
  fine brig of war, the doctor of which, an honest and worthy
  man, came at once to the assistance of the invalid, and
  stopped the hemorrhage of the lung within twenty-four hours.

  From that moment he got better and better. The consul had us
  driven in his carriage to an hotel. Chopin rested there a
  week, at the end of which the same vessel which had conveyed
  us to Spain brought us back to France. When we left the hotel
  at Barcelona the landlord wished to make us pay for the bed in
  which Chopin had slept, under the pretext that it had been
  infected, and that the police regulations obliged him to burn

Chapter XXII.


As George Sand and her party were obliged to stop at Marseilles, she had
Chopin examined by Dr. Cauviere. This celebrated physician thought him
in great danger, but, on seeing him recover rapidly, augured that with
proper care his patient might nevertheless live a long time. Their stay
at Marseilles was more protracted than they intended and desired; in
fact, they did not start for Nohant till the 22nd of May. Dr. Cauviere
would not permit Chopin to leave Marseilles before summer; but whether
this was the only cause of the long sojourn of the Sand party in the
great commercial city, or whether there were others, I have not been
able to discover. Happily, we have first-hand information--namely,
letters of Chopin and George Sand--to throw a little light on these
months of the pianist-composer's life. As to his letters, their main
contents consist of business matters--wranglings about terms, abuse of
publishers, &c. Here and there, however, we find also a few words about
his health, characteristic remarks about friends and acquaintances,
interesting hints about domestic arrangements and the like--the allusion
(in the letter of March 2, 1839) to a will made by him some time before,
and which he wishes to be burned, will be read with some curiosity.

An extract or two from the letter which George Sand wrote on March 8,
1839, to Francois Rollinat, launches us at once in medias res.

  At last we are in Marseilles. Chopin has stood the passage
  very well. He is very weak here, but is doing infinitely
  better in all respects, and is in the hands of Dr. Cauviere,
  an excellent man and excellent physician, who takes a paternal
  care of him, and who answers for his recovery. We breathe at
  last, but after how many troubles and anxieties!...Write to me
  here to the address of Dr. Cauviere, Rue de Rome, 71.

  Chopin charges me to shake you heartily by the hand for him.
  Maurice and Solange embrace you. They are wonderfully well.
  Maurice has completely recovered.

Chopin to Fontana; Marseilles, March 2, 1839:--

  You no doubt learned from Grzymala of the state of my health
  and my manuscripts. Two months ago I sent you from Palma my
  Preludes. After making a copy of them for Probst and getting
  the money from him, you were to give to Leo 1,000 francs; and
  out of the 1,500 francs which Pleyel was to give you for the
  Preludes I wrote you to pay Nougi and one term to the
  landlord. In the same letter, if I am not mistaken, I asked
  you to give notice of my leaving the apartments; for were this
  not done before April, I should be obliged to retain them for
  the next quarter, till July.

  The second batch of manuscripts may have now reached you; for
  it must have remained a long time at the custom-house, on the
  sea, and again at the custom-house.

  I also wrote to Pleyel with the Preludes that I give him the
  Ballade (which I sold to Probst for Germany) for 1,000 francs.
  For the two Polonaises I asked 1,500 francs for France,
  England, and Germany (the right of Probst is confined to the
  Ballade). It seems to me that this is not too dear.

  In this way you ought to get, on receiving the second batch of
  manuscripts, from Pleyel 2,500 francs, and from Probst, for
  the Ballade, 500 or 600 francs, I do not quite remember, which
  makes altogether 3,000 francs.

  I asked Grzymala if he could send me immediately at least 500
  francs, which need not prevent him from sending me soon the
  rest. Thus much for business.

  Now if, which I doubt, you succeed in getting apartments from
  next month, divide my furniture amongst you three: Grzymala,
  Johnnie, and you. Johnnie has the most room, although not the
  most sense, judging from the childish letter he wrote to me.
  For his telling me that I should become a Camaldolite, let him
  take all the shabby things. Do not overload Grzymala too much,
  and take to your house what you judge necessary and
  serviceable to you, as I do not know whether I shall return to
  Paris in summer (keep this to yourself). At all events, we
  will always write one another, and if, as I expect, it be
  necessary to keep my apartments till July, I beg of you to
  look after them and pay the quarterly rent.

  For your sincere and truly affectionate letter you have an
  answer in the second Polonaise. [FOOTNOTE: See next foot-
  note.] It is not my fault that I am like a mushroom that
  poisons when you unearth and taste it. I know I have never in
  anything been of service to anyone, but also not of much to

  I told you that in the first drawer of my writing-desk near
  the door there was a paper which you or Grzymala or Johnnie
  might unseal on a certain occasion. Now I beg of you to take
  it out and, WITHOUT READING IT, BURN IT. Do this, I entreat
  you, for friendship's sake. This paper is now of no use.

  If Anthony leaves without sending you the money, it is very
  much in the Polish style; nota bene, do not say to him a word
  about it. Try to see Pleyel; tell him I have received no word
  from him, and that his pianino is entrusted to safe hands.
  Does he agree to the transaction I proposed to him?

  The letters from home reached me all three together, with
  yours, before going on board the vessel. I again send you one.

  I thank you for the friendly help you give me, who am not
  strong. My love to Johnnie, tell him that I did not allow
  them, or rather that they were not permitted, to bleed me;
  that I wear vesicatories, that I am coughing a very little in
  the morning, and that I am not yet at all looked upon as a
  consumptive person. I drink neither coffee nor wine, but milk.
  Lastly, I keep myself warm, and look like a girl.

Chopin to Fontana; Marseilles, March 6, 1839:--

  My health is still improving; I begin to play, eat, walk, and
  speak, like other men; and when you receive these few words
  from me you will see that I again write with ease. But once
  more of business. I would like very much that my Preludes
  should be dedicated to Pleyel (surely there is still time, for
  they are not yet printed) and the Ballade to Robert Schumann.
  The Polonaises, as they are, to you and to Kessler. If Pleyel
  does not like to give up the dedication of the Ballade, you
  will dedicate the Preludes to Schumann.

  [FOOTNOTE: The final arrangement was that Op. 38, the
  "Deuxieme Ballade," was dedicated to Robert Schumann; Op. 40,
  the "Deux Polonaises," to Julius Fontana; the French and the
  English edition of Op. 28, "Vingt-quatre Preludes," to Camille
  Pleyel, and the German editon to J. C. Kessler.]

  Garczynski called upon me yesterday on his way back from Aix;
  he is the only person that I have received, for I keep the
  door well shut to all amateurs of music and literature.

  Of the change of dedication you will inform Probst as soon as
  you have arranged with Pleyel.

  From the money obtained you will give Grzymala 500 francs, the
  rest, 2,500 francs, you will send me as soon as possible.

  Love me and write.

  Pardon me if I overwhelm you too much with commissions, but do
  not be afraid, these are not the last. I think you do
  willingly what I ask you.

  My love to Johnnie.

Chopin to Fontana; Marseilles, March 10, 1839:--

  Thanks for your trouble. I did not expect Jewish tricks from
  Pleyel; but if it is so, I beg of you to give him the enclosed
  letter, unless he makes no difficulties about the Ballade and
  the Polonaises. On the other hand, on receiving for the
  Ballade 500 francs from Probst, you will take it to
  Schlesinger. If one has to deal with Jews, let it at least be
  with orthodox ones. Probst may cheat me still worse; he is a
  bird you will not catch. Schlesinger used to cheat me, he
  gained enough by me, and he will not reject new profit, only
  be polite to him. Though a Jew, he nevertheless wishes to pass
  for something better.

  Thus, should Pleyel make the least difficulties, you will go
  to Schlesinger, and tell him that I give him the Ballade for
  France and England for 800 francs, and the Polonaises for
  Germany, England, and France for 1,500 francs (should he not
  be inclined to give so much, give them for 1,400, 1,300, and
  even for 1,200 francs). If he mentions the Preludes, you may
  say that it is a thing long ago promised to Pleyel--he wished
  to be the publisher of them; that he asked them from me as a
  favour before my departure from Paris--as was really the case.
  You see, my very dear friend, for Pleyel I could break with
  Schlesinger, but for Probst I cannot. What is it to me if
  Schlesinger makes Probst pay dearer for my manuscripts? If
  Probst pays dear for them to Schlesinger, it shows that the
  latter cheats me, paying me too little. After all, Probst has
  no establishment in Paris. For all my printed things
  Schlesinger paid me at once, and Probst very often made me
  wait for money. If he will not have them all, give him the
  Ballade separately, and the Polonaises separately, but at the
  latest within two weeks. If he does not accept the offer, then
  apply to Probst. Being such an admirer of mine, he must not
  pay less than Pleyel. You will deliver my letter to Pleyel
  only if he makes any difficulties.

  Dear me! this Pleyel who is such an adorer of mine! He thinks,
  perhaps, that I shall never return to Paris alive. I shall
  come back, and shall pay him a visit, and thank him as well as

  I enclose a note to Schlesinger, in which I give you full
  authority to act in this matter.

  I feel better every day; nevertheless, you will pay the
  portier these fifty francs, to which I completely agree, for
  my doctor does not permit me to move from here before summer.

  Mickiewicz's "Dziady" I received yesterday. What shall you do
  with my papers?

  The letters you will leave in the writing-desk, and send the
  music to Johnnie, or take it to your own house. In the little
  table that stands in the anteroom there are also letters; you
  must lock it well.

  My love to Johnnie, I am glad he is better.

Chopin to Fontana; March 17, 1839:--

  I thank you for all your efforts. Pleyel is a scoundrel,
  Probst a scape-grace. He never gave me 1,000 francs for three
  manuscripts. Very likely you have received my long letter
  about Schlesinger, therefore I wish you and beg of you to give
  that letter of mine to Pleyel, who thinks my manuscripts too
  dear. If I have to sell them cheap, I would rather do so to
  Schlesinger than look for new and improbable connections. For
  Schlesinger can always count upon England, and as I am square
  with Wessel, he may sell them to whomsoever he likes. The same
  with the Polonaises in Germany, for Probst is a bird whom I
  have known a long time. As regards the money, you must make an
  unequivocal agreement, and do not give the manuscripts except
  for cash. I send you a reconnaissance for Pleyel, it
  astonishes me that he absolutely wants it, as if he could not
  trust me and you.

  Dear me, this Pleyel who said that Schlesinger paid me badly!
  500 francs for a manuscript for all the countries seems to him
  too dear! I assure you I prefer to deal with a real Jew. And
  Probst, that good-for-nothing fellow, who pays me 300 francs
  for my mazurkas! You see, the last mazurkas brought me with
  ease 800 francs--namely, Probst 300 francs, Schlesinger 400,
  and Wessel 100. I prefer giving my manuscripts as formerly at
  a very low price to stooping before these...I prefer being
  submissive to one Jew to being so to three. Therefore go to
  Schlesinger, but perhaps you settled with Pleyel.

  Oh, men, men! But this Mrs. Migneron, she too is a good one!
  However, Fortune turns round, I may yet live and hear that
  this lady will come and ask you for some leather; if, as you
  say, you are aiming at being a shoemaker. I beg of you to make
  shoes neither for Pleyel nor for Probst.

  Do not yet speak to anyone of the Scherzo [Op. 39]. I do not
  know when I shall finish it, for I am still weak and cannot

  As yet I have no idea when I shall see you. My love to
  Grzymala; and give him such furniture as he will like, and let
  Johnnie take the rest from the apartments. I do not write to
  him, but I love him always. Tell him this, and give him my

  Wodzinski still astonishes me.

  When you receive the money from Pleyel, pay first the
  landlord's rent, and send me immediately 500 francs. I left on
  the receipt for Pleyel the Op. blank, for I do not remember
  the following number.

Madame Sand to Madame Marliani; Marseilles, April 22, 1839:--

  ...I was also occupied with the removal from one hotel to
  another. Notwithstanding all his efforts and inquiries, the  good
  doctor was not able to find me a corner in the country where to
  pass the month of April.

  I am pretty tired of this town of merchants and shopkeepers,
  where the intellectual life is wholly unknown; but here I am
  still shut up for the month of April.

Further on in the letter, after inviting Madame Marliani and her husband
to come to Nohant in May, she proceeds thus:--

  He [M. Marliani] loves the country, and I shall be a match for
  him as regards rural pleasures, while you [Madame Marliani]
  will philosophise at the piano with Chopin. It can hardly be
  said that he enjoys himself in Marseilles; but he resigns
  himself to recover patiently.

The following letter of Chopin to Fontana, which Karasowski thinks
was written at Valdemosa in the middle of February, ought to be dated
Marseilles, April, 1839:--

  As they are such Jews, keep everything till my return. The
  Preludes I have sold to Pleyel (I received from him 500
  francs). He is entitled to do with them what he likes. But as
  to the Ballades and Polonaises, sell them neither to
  Schlesinger nor to Probst. But whatever may happen, with no
  Schonenberger [FOOTNOTE: A Paris music-publisher] will I have
  anything to do. Therefore, if you gave the Ballade to Probst,
  take it back, even though he offered a thousand. You may tell
  him that I have asked you to keep it till my return, that when
  I am back we shall see.

  Enough of these...Enough for me and for you.

  My very life, I beg of you to forgive me all the trouble; you
  have really been busying yourself like a friend, and now you
  will have still on your shoulders my removal. I beg Grzymala
  to pay the cost of the removal. As to the portier, he very
  likely tells lies, but who will prove it? You must give, in
  order to stop his barking.

  My love to Johnnie, I will write to him when I am in better
  spirits. My health is improved, but I am in a rage. Tell
  Johnnie that from Anthony as well as from me he will have
  neither word nor money.

  Yesterday I received your letter, together with letters from
  Pleyel and Johnnie.

  If Clara Wieck pleased you, that is good, for nobody can play
  better than she does. When you see her give her my
  compliments, and also to her father.

  Did I happen to lend you Witwicki's songs? I cannot find them.
  I only ask for them in case you should chance to have them.

Chopin to Fontana; Marseilles, March 25 [should no doubt be April 25],

  I received your letter, in which you let me know the
  particulars of the removal. I have no words to thank you for
  your true, friendly help. The particulars were very
  interesting to me. But I am sorry that you complain, and that
  Johnnie is spitting blood. Yesterday I played for Nourrit on
  the organ, you see by this that I am better. Sometimes I play
  to myself at home, but as yet I can neither sing nor dance.

  Although the news of my mother is welcome, its having been
  originated by Plat... is enough to make one consider it a

  The warm weather has set in here, and I shall certainly not
  leave Marseilles before May, and then go somewhere else in the
  south of France.

  It is not likely that we shall soon have news from Anthony.
  Why should he write? Perhaps to pay his debts? But this is not
  customary in Poland. The reason Raciborski appreciates you so
  much is that you have no Polish habits, nota bene, not those
  Polish habits you know and I mean.

  You are staying at No. 26 [Chaussee d'Antin]. Are you
  comfortable? On what floor, and how much do you pay? I take
  more and more interest in these matters, for I also shall be
  obliged to think of new apartments, but not till after my
  return to Paris.

  I had only that letter from Pleyel which he sent through you--
  it is a month ago or more. Write to the same address, Rue et
  Hotel Beauveau.

  Perhaps you did not understand what I said above about my
  having played for Nourrit. His body was brought from Italy and
  carried to Paris. There was a Requiem Mass for his soul. I was
  asked by his friends to play on the organ during the

  Did Miss Wieck play my Etude well? Could she not select
  something better than just this etude, the least interesting
  for those who do not know that it is written for the black
  keys? It would have been far better to do nothing at all.
  [FOOTNOTE: Clara Wieck gave a concert in Paris on April 16,
  1839. The study in question is No. 5 of Op. 10 (G flat major).
  Only the right hand plays throughout on black keys.]

  In conclusion, I have nothing more to write, except to wish
  you good luck in the new house. Hide my manuscripts, that they
  may not appear printed before the time. If the Prelude is
  printed, that is Pleyel's trick. But I do not care.
  Mischievous Germans, rascally Jews...! Finish the litany, for
  you know them as well as I do.

  Give my love to Johnnie and Grzymaia if you see them.--Your


One subject mentioned in this letter deserves a fuller explanation than
Chopin vouchsafes. Adolphe Nourrit, the celebrated tenor singer, had in
a state of despondency, caused by the idea that since the appearance of
his rival Duprez his popularity was on the wane, put an end to his life
by throwing himself out of a window at Naples on the 8th of March, 1839.
[FOOTNOTE: This is the generally-accepted account of Nourrit's death.
But Madame Garcia, the mother of the famous Malibran, who at the time
was staying in the same house, thought it might have been an accident,
the unfortuante artist having in the dark opened a window on a level
with the floor instead of a door. (See Fetis: Biographie universelle des
Musiciens.)] Madame Nourrit brought her husband's body to Paris, and it
was on the way thither that a funeral service was held at Marseilles for
the much-lamented man and singer.

Le Sud, Journal de la Mediterranee of April 25, 1839, [FOOTNOTE: Quoted
in L. M. Quicherat's Adolphe Nourrit, sa vie, son talent, son caractere]
shall tell us of Chopin's part in this service:--

  At the Elevation of the Host were heard the melancholy tones
  of the organ. It was M. Chopin, the celebrated pianist, who
  came to place a souvenir on the coffin of Nourrit; and what a
  souvenir! a simple melody of Schubert, but the same which had
  so filled us with enthusiasm when Nourrit revealed it to us at
  Marseilles--the melody of Les Astres. [FOOTNOTE: Die gestirne
  is the original German title of this song.]

A less colourless account, one full of interesting facts and free from
conventional newspaper sentiment and enthusiasm, we find in a letter of
Chopin's companion.

Madame Sand to Madame Marliani; Marseilles, April 28, 1839:--

  The day before yesterday I saw Madame Nourrit with her six
  children, and the seventh coming shortly...Poor unfortunate
  woman! what a return to France! accompanying this corpse, and
  she herself super-intending the packing, transporting, and
  unpacking [charger, voiturer, deballer] of it like a parcel!

  They held here a very meagre service for the poor deceased,
  the bishop being ill-disposed. This was in the little church
  of Notre-Dame-du-Mont. I do not know if the singers did so
  intentionally, but I never heard such false singing. Chopin
  devoted himself to playing the organ at the Elevation, what an
  organ! A false, screaming instrument, which had no wind except
  for the purpose of being out of tune. Nevertheless, YOUR
  LITTLE ONE [votre petit] made the most of it. He took the
  least shrill stops, and played Les Astres, not in a proud and
  enthusiastic style as Nourrit used to sing it, but in a
  plaintive and soft style, like the far-off echo from another
  world. Two, at the most three, were there who deeply felt
  this, and our eyes filled with tears.

  The rest of the audience, who had gone there en masse, and had
  been led by curiosity to pay as much as fifty centimes for a
  chair (an unheard-of price for Marseilles), were very much
  disappointed; for it was expected that he would make a
  tremendous noise and break at least two or three stops. They
  expected also to see me, in full dress, in the very middle of
  the choir; what not? They did not see me at all; I was hidden
  in the organ-loft, and through the balustrade I descried the
  coffin of poor Nourrit.

Thanks to the revivifying influences of spring and Dr. Cauviere's
attention and happy treatment, Chopin was able to accompany George Sand
on a trip to Genoa, that vaga gemma del mar, fior delta terra. It gave
George Sand much pleasure to see again, now with her son Maurice by her
side, the beautiful edifices and pictures of the city which six years
before she had visited with Musset. Chopin was probably not strong
enough to join his friends in all their sight-seeing, but if he saw
Genoa as it presents itself on being approached from the sea, passed
along the Via Nuova between the double row of magnificent palaces, and
viewed from the cupola of S. Maria in Carignano the city, its port, the
sea beyond, and the stretches of the Riviera di Levante and Riviera di
Ponente, he did not travel to Italy in vain. Thus Chopin got at last a
glimpse of the land where nine years before he had contemplated taking
up his abode for some time.

On returning to Marseilles, after a stormy passage, on which Chopin
suffered much from sea-sickness, George Sand and her party rested for a
few days at the house of Dr. Cauviere, and then set out, on the 22nd of
May, for Nohant.

Madame Sand to Madame Marliani; Marseilles, May 20, 1839:--

  We have just arrived from Genoa, in a terrible storm. The bad
  weather kept us on sea double the ordinary time; forty hours
  of rolling such as I have not seen for a long time. It was a
  fine spectacle, and if everybody had not been ill, I would
  have greatly enjoyed it...

  We shall depart the day after to-morrow for Nohant. Address
  your next letter to me there, we shall be there in eight days.
  My carriage has arrived from Chalon at Arles by boat, and we
  shall post home very quietly, sleeping at the inns like good




The date of one of George Sand's letters shows that the travellers were
settled again at Nohant on the 3rd of June, 1839. Dr. Papet, a rich
friend of George Sand's, who practised his art only for the benefit of
the poor and his friends, took the convalescent Chopin at once under
his care. He declared that his patient showed no longer any symptoms
of pulmonary affection, but was suffering merely from a slight chronic
laryngeal affection which, although he did not expect to be able to cure
it, need not cause any serious alarm.

On returning to Nohant, George Sand had her mind much exercised by the
question how to teach her children. She resolved to undertake the task
herself, but found she was not suited for it, at any rate, could not
acquit herself of it satisfactorily without giving up writing. This
question, however, was not the only one that troubled her.

  In the irresolution in which I was for a time regarding the
  arrangement of my life with a view to what would be best for
  my dear children, a serious question was debated in my
  conscience. I asked myself if I ought to entertain the idea
  which Chopin had formed of taking up his abode near me. I
  should not have hesitated to say "no," had I known then for
  how short a time the retired life and the solemnity of the
  country suited his moral and physical health. I still
  attributed his despair and horror of Majorca to the excitement
  of fever and the exces de caractere of that place. Nohant
  offered pleasanter conditions, a less austere retreat,
  congenial society, and resources in case of illness. Papet was
  to him an enlightened and kind physician. Fleury, Duteil,
  Duvernet, and their families, Planet, and especially Rollinat,
  were dear to him at first sight. All of them loved him also,
  and felt disposed to spoil him as I did.

Among those with whom the family at Nohant had much intercourse, and
who were frequent guests at the chateau, was also an old acquaintance
of ours, one who had not grown in wisdom as in age, I mean George Sand's
half-brother, Hippolyte Chatiron, who was now again living in Berry,
his wife having inherited the estate of Montgivray, situated only half a
league from Nohant.

  His warmth of manner, his inexhaustible gaiety, the
  originality of his sallies, his enthusiastic and naive
  effusions of admiration for the genius of Chopin, the always
  respectful deference which he showed to him alone, even in the
  inevitable and terrible apres-boire, found favour with the
  eminently-aristocratic artist. All, then, went very well at
  first, and I entertained eventually the idea that Chopin might
  rest and regain his health by spending a few summers with us,
  his work necessarily calling him back to Paris in the winter.

  However, the prospect of this kind of family union with a
  newly-made friend caused me to reflect. I felt alarmed at the
  task which I was about to undertake, and which I had believed
  would be limited to the journey in Spain.

In short, George Sand presents herself as a sister of mercy, who,
prompted by charity, sacrifices her own happiness for that of another.
Contemplating the possibility of her son falling ill and herself being
thereby deprived of the joys of her work, she exclaims: "What hours
of my calm and invigorating life should I be able to devote to another
patient, much more difficult to nurse and comfort than Maurice?"

The discussion of this matter by George Sand is so characteristic of her
that, lengthy as it is, I cannot refrain from giving it in full.

  A kind of terror seized me in presence of a new duty which I
  was to take upon me. I was not under the illusion of passion.
  I had for the artist a kind of maternal adoration which was
  very warm, very real, but which could not for a moment contend
  with maternal love, the only chaste feeling which may be

  I was still young enough to have perhaps to contend with love,
  with passion properly so called. This contingency of my age,
  of my situation, and of the destiny of artistic women,
  especially when they have a horror of passing diversions,
  alarmed me much, and, resolved as I was never to submit to any
  influence which might divert me from my children, I saw a
  less, but still possible danger in the tender friendship with
  which Chopin inspired me.

  Well, after reflection, this danger disappeared and even
  assumed an opposite character--that of a preservative against
  emotions which I no longer wished to know. One duty more in my
  life, already so full of and so overburdened with work,
  appeared to me one chance more to attain the austerity towards
  which I felt myself attracted with a kind of religious

If this is a sincere confession, we can only wonder at the height of
self-deception attainable by the human mind; if, however, it is meant
as a justification, we cannot but be surprised at the want of skill
displayed by the generally so clever advocate. In fact, George Sand has
in no instance been less happy in defending her conduct and in setting
forth her immaculate virtuousness. The great words "chastity" and
"maternity" are of course not absent. George Sand could as little leave
off using them as some people can leave off using oaths. In either case
the words imply much more than is intended by those from whose mouths or
pens they come. A chaste woman speculating on "real love" and "passing
diversions," as George Sand does here, seems to me a strange phenomenon.
And how charmingly naive is the remark she makes regarding her relations
with Chopin as a "PRESERVATIVE against emotions which she no longer
wished to know"! I am afraid the concluding sentence, which in its
unction is worthy of Pecksniff, and where she exhibits herself as an
ascetic and martyr in all the radiance of saintliness, will not have the
desired effect, but will make the reader laugh as loud as Musset is said
to have done when she upbraided him with his ungratefulness to her, who
had been devoted to him to the utmost bounds of self-abnegation, to
the sacrifice of her noblest impulses, to the degradation of her chaste

George Sand, looking back in later years on this period of her life,
thought that if she had put into execution her project of becoming the
teacher of her children, and of shutting herself up all the year round
at Nohant, she would have saved Chopin from the danger which, unknown
to her, threatened him--namely, the danger of attaching himself too
absolutely to her. At that time, she says, his love was not so great but
that absence would have diverted him from it. Nor did she consider his
affection exclusive. In fact, she had no doubt that the six months which
his profession obliged him to pass every year in Paris would, "after a
few days of malaise and tears," have given him back to "his habits of
elegance, exquisite success, and intellectual coquetry." The correctness
of the facts and the probability of the supposition may be doubted. At
any rate, the reasons which led her to assume the non-exclusiveness
of Chopin's affection are simply childish. That he spoke to her of a
romantic love-affair he had had in Poland, and of sweet attractions he
had afterwards experienced in Paris, proves nothing. What she says about
his mother having been his only passion is still less to the point. But
reasoning avails little, and the strength of Chopin's love was not put
to the test. He went, indeed, in the autumn of 1839 to Paris, but
not alone; George Sand, professedly for the sake of her children's
education, went there likewise. "We were driven by fate," she says,
"into the bonds of a long connection, and both of us entered into it
unawares." The words "driven by fate," and "entered into it unawares,"
sound strange, if we remember that they apply not to a young girl who,
inexperienced and confiding, had lost herself in the mazes of life,
but to a novelist skilled in the reading of human hearts, to a
constantly-reasoning and calculating woman, aged 35, who had better
reasons than poor Amelia in Schiller's play for saying "I have lived and

After all this reasoning, moralising, and sentimentalising, it is
pleasant to be once more face to face with facts, of which the following
letters, written by Chopin to Fontana during the months from June to
October, 1839, contain a goodly number. The rather monotonous publishing
transactions play here and there again a prominent part, but these
Nohant letters are on the whole more interesting than the Majorca
letters, and decidedly more varied as regards contents than those he
wrote from Marseilles--they tell us much more of the writer's tastes and
requirements, and even reveal something of his relationship to George
Sand. Chopin, it appears to me, did not take exactly the same view of
this relationship as the novelist. What will be read with most interest
are Chopin's directions as to the decoration and furnishing of his
rooms, the engagement of a valet, the ordering of clothes and a hat, the
taking of a house for George Sand, and certain remarks made en passant
on composers and other less-known people.


  ...The best part of your letter is your address, which I had
  already forgotten, and without which I do not know if I would
  have answered you so soon; but the worst is the death of
  Albrecht. [FOOTNOTE: See p.27 foot-note 7.]

  You wish to know when I shall be back. When the misty and
  rainy weather begins, for I must breathe fresh air.

  Johnnie has left. I don't know if he asked you to forward to
  me the letters from my parents should any arrive during his
  absence and be sent to his usual address. Perhaps he thought
  of it, perhaps not. I should be very sorry if any of them
  miscarried. It is not long since I had a letter from home,
  they will not write soon, and by this time he, who is so kind
  and good, will be in good health and return.

  I am composing here a Sonata in B flat minor, in which will be
  the Funeral March which you have already. There is an allegro,
  then a "Scherzo" in E flat minor, the "March," and a short
  "Finale" of about three pages. The left hand unisono with the
  right hand are gossiping [FOOTNOTE: "Lewa reka unisono z
  prawa, ogaduja po Marszu."] after the March. I have a new
  "Nocturne" in G major, which will go along with the Nocturne
  in G minor, [FOOTNOTE: "Deux Nocturnes," Op.37.] if you
  remember such a one.

  You know that I have four new mazurkas: one from Palma in E
  minor, three from here in B major, A flat major, and C sharp
  minor. [FOOTNOTE: Quatre mazurkas, Op. 41.] They seem to me
  pretty, as the youngest children usually do when the parents
  grow old.

  Otherwise I do nothing; I correct for myself the Parisian
  edition of Bach; not only the stroke-makers' [FOOTNOTE: In
  Polish strycharz, the usual meaning of which is "brickmaker."
  Chopin may have played upon the word. A mistake, however, is
  likewise possible, as the Polish for engraver is sztycharz.]
  (engravers') errors, but, I think, the harmonic errors
  committed by those who pretend to understand Bach. I do not do
  it with the pretension that I understand him better than they,
  but from a conviction that I sometimes guess how it ought to

  You see I have praised myself enough to you.

  Now, if Grzymata will visit me (which is doubtful), send me
  through him Weber for four hands. Also the last of my Ballade
  in manuscript, as I wish to change something in it. I should
  like very much to have your copy of the last mazurkas, if you
  have such a thing, for I do not know if my gallantry went so
  far as to give you a copy.

  Pleyel wrote to me that you were very obliging, and have
  corrected the Preludes. Do you know how much Wessel paid him
  for them? It would be well to know this for the future.

  My father has written to me that my old sonata has been
  published by Haslinger, and that the Germans praise it.
  [FOOTNOTE: There must have been some misunderstanding; the
  Sonata, Op. 4, was not published till 1851.]

  I have now, counting those you have, six manuscripts; the
  devil take them if they get them for nothing. Pleyel did not
  do me any service with his offers, for he thereby made
  Schlesinger indifferent about me. But I hope this will be set
  right, f wrote to ask him to let me know if he had been paid
  for the piano sent to Palma, and I did so because the French
  consul in Majorca, whom I know very well, was to be changed,
  and had he not been paid, it would have been very difficult
  for me to settle this affair at such a distance. Fortunately,
  he is paid, and very liberally, as he wrote to me only last

  Write to me what sort of lodgings you have. Do you board at
  the club?

  Woyciechowski wrote to me to compose an oratorio. I answered
  him in the letter to my parents. Why does he build a sugar-
  refinery and not a monastery of Camaldolites or a nunnery of
  Dominican sisters!


  I give you my most hearty thanks for your upright, friendly,
  not English but Polish soul.

  Select paper (wall-paper) such as I had formerly, tourterelle
  (dove colour), only bright and glossy, for the two rooms, also
  dark green with not too broad stripes. For the anteroom
  something else, but still respectable. Nevertheless, if there
  are any nicer and more fashionable papers that are to your
  liking, and you think that I also will like them, then take
  them. I prefer the plain, unpretending, and neat ones to the
  common shopkeeper's staring colours. Therefore, pearl colour
  pleases me, for it is neither loud nor does it look vulgar. I
  thank you for the servant's room, for it is much needed.

  Now, as to the furniture: you will make the best of it if you
  look to it yourself. I did not dare to trouble you with it,
  but if you will be so kind, take it and arrange it as it ought
  to be. I shall ask Grzymala to give money for the removal. I
  shall write to him about it at once. As to the bed and writing-
  desk, it may be necessary to give them to the cabinet-maker to
  be renewed. In this case you will take the papers out of the
  writing-desk, and lock them up somewhere else. I need not tell
  you what you ought to do. Act as you like and judge what is
  necessary. Whatever you may do will be well done. You have my
  full confidence: this is one thing.

  Now the second.

  You must write to Wessel--doubtless you have already written
  about the Preludes. Let him know that I have six new
  manuscripts, for which I want 300 francs each (how many pounds
  is that?). If you think he would not give so much, let me know
  first. Inform me also if Probst is in Paris. Further look out
  for a servant. I should prefer a respectable honest Pole. Tell
  also Grzymala of it. Stipulate that he is to board himself; no
  more than 80 francs. I shall not be in Paris before the end of
  October--keep this, however, to yourself.

  My dear friend, the state of Johnnie's health weighs sometimes
  strangely on my heart. May God give him what he stands in need
  of, but he should not allow himself to be cheated...However,
  this is neither here nor there. The greatest truth in the
  world is that I shall always love you as a most honest and
  kind man and Johnnie as another.

  I embrace you both, write each of you and soon, were it of
  nothing more than the weather.--Your old more than ever long-



  According to your description and that of Grzymala you have
  found such capital rooms that we are now thinking you have a
  lucky hand, and for this reason a man--and he is a great man,
  being the portier of George's house--who will run about to
  find a house for her, is ordered to apply to you when he has
  found a few; and you with your elegant tact (you see how I
  flatter you) will also examine what he has found, and give
  your opinion thereon. The main point is that it should be
  detached, if possible; for instance, a little hotel. Or
  something in a courtyard, with a view into a garden, or, if
  there be no garden, into a large court-yard; nota bene, very
  few lodgers--elegant--not higher than the second story.
  Perhaps some corps de logis, but small, or something like
  Perthuis's house, or even smaller. Lastly, should it be in
  front, the street must not be noisy. In one word, something
  you judge would be good for her. If it could be near me, so
  much the better; but if it cannot be, this consideration need
  not prevent you.

  It seems to me that a little hotel in the new streets--such as
  Clichy, Blanche, or Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, as far as Rue des
  Martyrs--would be most suitable. Moreover, I send you a list
  of the streets where Mr. Mardelle--the portier of the Hotel
  Narbonne, Rue de la Harpe, No. 89, which belongs to George--
  will look for a house. If in your leisure time you also looked
  out for something in our part of the town, it would be very
  nice. Fancy, I don't know why, but we think that you will find
  something wonderfully good, although it is already late.

  The price she wishes to pay is from 2,000 to 2,500 francs, you
  might also give a couple of hundred francs more if anything
  extra fine should turn up. Grzymala and Arago promised to look
  out for something, but in spite of Grzymala's efforts nothing
  acceptable has thus far been found. I have written to him that
  he should employ you also in this business of mine (I say of
  MINE, for it is just the same as if it were mine). I shall
  write to him again to-day and tell him that I have asked you
  to give your help and use all your talents. It is necessary
  that there should be three bedrooms, two of which must be
  beside each other and one separated, for instance, by the
  drawing-room. Adjoining the third there will be required a
  well-lighted cabinet for her study. The other two may be
  small, this one, the third, also not very large. Besides this
  a drawing-room and dining-room in proportion. A pretty large
  kitchen. Two rooms for the servants, and a coal-cellar. The
  rooms must of course have inlaid floors, be newly laid, if
  possible, and require no repairs. But a little hotel or a
  separate part of a house in a court-yard looking into a garden
  would be most desirable. There must be tranquillity,
  quietness, no blacksmith in the neighbourhood. Respectable
  stairs. The windows exposed to the sun, absolutely to the
  south. Further, there must be no smoke, no bad odour, but a
  fine view, a garden, or at least a large court. A garden would
  be best. In the Faubourg St. Germain are many gardens, also in
  the Faubourg St. Honore. Find something quickly, something
  splendid, and near me. As soon as you have any chance, write
  immediately, don't be lazy; or get hold of Grzymala, go and
  see, both of you, take et que cela finisse. I send you a plan
  of the arrangement of the apartments. If you find something
  like this, draw the plan, or take it at once, which will be
  better than letting it slip out of your hands.

  Mr. Mardelle is a decent man, and no fool, he was not always a
  portier. He is ordered to go and see you whenever he finds
  anything. You must also on your part be on the look-out, but
  let us keep that between us. I embrace you and Johnnie also.
  You will have our true gratitude when you find a house.

  [a diagram of the apartments is inserted here in the letter.]

  |        |          |               |          |                 |
  | Study  | Bedroom. | Drawing room. | Bedroom. | Servants’ room. |
  |        |          |               |          |                 |
  |                   |               |                            |
  |                   | Dining room   |                            |
  |                   |               |                            |
  |                   |               |                            |
  |                   |     Lobby     |                            |
  |                   |               |                            |

  Pas de voisinage, surtout blacksmith, nor anything that
  belongs to him. For God's sake I beg of you take an active
  interest in the matter, my dear friend!


  I thank you for all your kind actions.

  In the anteroom you will direct the grey curtains to be hung
  which were in my cabinet with the piano, and in the bedroom
  the same that were in the bedroom, only under them the white
  muslin ones which were under the grey ones.

  I should like to have a little press in my bedroom, unless
  there be not room enough, or the drawing-room be too bare
  between the windows.

  If the little sofa, the same which stood in the dining-room,
  could be covered with red, with the same stuff with which the
  chairs are covered, it might be placed in the drawing-room;
  but as it would be necessary to call in the upholsterer for
  that, it may be difficult.

  It is a good thing that Domaradzki is going to be married, for
  surely he will give me back the 80 francs after the wedding. I
  should like also to see Podczaski married, and Nakw.
  (Nakwaska), and Anthony also. Let this remain between this
  paper, myself, and you.

  Find me a valet. Kiss Madame Leo (surely the first commission
  will be the more pleasant to you, wherefore I relieve you of
  the second if you will do the first).

  Let me know about Probst, whether he is in Paris or not. Do
  not forget Wessel. Tell Gutmann that I was much pleased that
  he asked for me at least once. To Moscheles, should he be in
  Paris, order to be given an injection of Neukomm's oratorios,
  prepared with Berlioz's "Cellini" and Doehler's Concerto. Give
  Johnnie from me for his breakfast moustaches of sphinxes and
  kidneys of parrots, with tomato sauce powdered with little
  eggs of the microscopic world. You yourself take a bath in
  whale's infusion as a rest from all the commissions I give
  you, for I know that you will do willingly as much as time
  will permit, and I shall do the same for you when you are
  married--of which Johnnie will very likely inform me soon.
  Only not to Ox, for that is my party.


  My dear friend,--In five, six, or seven days I shall be in
  Paris. Get things prepared as quickly as possible; if not all,
  let me find at least the rooms papered and the bed ready.

  I am hastening my arrival as the presence of George Sand is
  necessary on account of a piece to be played. [FOOTNOTE:
  "Cosima." The first representation, at the Comedie Francaise,
  did not take place until April, 1840.] But this remains
  between us. We have fixed our departure for the day after to-
  morrow; thus, counting a few days for delay, we shall see each
  other on Wednesday or Thursday.

  Besides the different commissions I gave you, especially that
  in the last letter about her house, which after our arrival
  will be off your shoulders--but till then, for God's sake, be
  obliging--besides all this, I say, I forgot to ask you to
  order for me a hat from my Duport in your street, Chaussee
  d'Antin. He has my measure, and knows how light I want it and
  of what kind. Let him give the hat of this year's shape, not
  too much exaggerated, for I do not know how you are dressing
  yourself just now. Again, besides this, call in passing at
  Dautremont's, my tailor's, on the Boulevards, and order him to
  make me at once a pair of grey trousers. You will yourself
  select a dark-grey colour for winter trousers; something
  respectable, not striped, but plain and elastic. You are an
  Englishman, so you know what I require. Dautremont will be
  glad to hear that I am coming. Also a quiet black velvet
  waistcoat, but with very little and no loud pattern, something
  very quiet but very elegant. Should he not have the best
  velvet of this kind, let him make a quiet, fine silk
  waistcoat, but not too much open. If the servant could be got
  for less than 80 francs, I should prefer it; but as you have
  already found one, let the matter rest.

  My very dear friend, pardon me once more for troubling you,
  but I must. In a few days we shall see each other, and embrace
  for all this.

  I beg of you, for God's sake, do not say to any Poles that I
  am coming so soon, nor to any Jewess either, as I should like
  to reserve myself during the first few days only for you,
  Grzymala, and Johnnie. Give them my love; to the latter I
  shall write once more.

  I expect that the rooms will be ready. Write constantly to me,
  three times a day if you like, whether you have anything to
  say or not. Before leaving here I shall once more write to


  You are inappreciable! Take Rue Pigal [Pigalle], both houses,
  without asking anybody. Make haste. If by taking both houses
  you can diminish a little the price, well; if not, take them
  for 2,500 francs. Do not let them slip out of your hands, for
  we think them the best and most excellent. SHE regards you as
  my most logical and best--and I would add: the most splenetic,
  Anglo-Polish, from my soul beloved--friend.


  The day after to-morrow, Thursday, at five o'clock in the
  morning, we start, and on Friday at three, four, certainly at
  five o'clock, I shall be in Rue Tronchet, No. 5. I beg of you
  to inform the people there of this, I wrote to Johnnie to-day
  to retain for me that valet, and order him to wait for me at
  Rue Tronchet on Friday from noon. Should you have time to call
  upon me at that time, we would most heartily embrace each
  other. Once more my and my companion's most sincere thanks for
  Rue Pigalle.

  Now, keep a sharp look-out on the tailor, he must have the
  clothes ready by Friday morning, so that I can change my
  clothes as soon as I come. Order him to take them to Rue
  Tronchet, and deliver them there to the valet Tineau--if I
  mistake not, that is his name. Likewise the hat from Dupont,
  [FOOTNOTE: In the preceding letter it was Duport] and for that
  I shall alter for you the second part of the Polonaise till
  the last moment of my life. Yesterday's version also may not
  please you, although I racked my brains with it for at least
  eighty seconds.

  I have written out my manuscripts in good order. There are six
  with your Polonaises, not counting the seventh, an impromptu,
  which may perhaps be worthless--I do not know myself, it is
  too new. But it would be well if it be not too much in the
  style of Orlowski, Zimmermann, or Karsko-Konski, [FOOTNOTE:
  Chopin's countryman, the pianist and composer Antoine Kontski]
  or Sowinski, or other similar animals. For, according to my
  reckoning, it might fetch me about 800 francs. That will be
  seen afterwards.

  As you are such a clever man, you might also arrange that no
  black thoughts and suffocating coughs shall annoy me in the
  new rooms. Try to make me good. Change, if you can, many
  episodes of my past. It would also not be a bad thing if I
  should find a few years of great work accomplished. By this
  you will greatly oblige me, also if you would make yourself
  younger or bring about that we had never been born.--Your old





Although Chopin and George Sand came to Paris towards the end of
October, 1839, months passed before the latter got into the house which
Fontana had taken for her. This we learn from a letter written by her
to her friend Gustave Papet, and dated Paris, January, 1840, wherein we

  At last I am installed in the Rue Pigalle, 16, only since the
  last two days, after having fumed, raged, stormed, and sworn
  at the upholsterers, locksmith, &c., &c. What a long,
  horrible, unbearable business it is to lodge one's self here!

  [FOOTNOTE: In the letter, dated Paris, October, 1839,
  preceding, in the George Sand "Correspondance," the one from
  which the above passage is extracted, occur the following
  words: "Je suis enfin installee chez moi a Paris." Where this
  chez moi was, I do not know.]

How greatly the interiors of George Sand's pavilions in the Rue
Pigalle differed from those of Senor Gomez's villa and the cells in the
monastery of Valdemosa, may be gathered from Gutmann's description of
two of the apartments.

[FOOTNOTE: I do not guarantee the correctness of all the following
details, although I found them in a sketch of Gutmann's life inspired by
himself ("Der Lieblings-schuler Chopin's", No. 3 of "Schone Geister,"
by Bernhard Stavenow, Bremen, 1879), and which he assured me was
trustworthy. The reasons of my scepticism are--1, Gutmann's imaginative
memory and tendency to show himself off to advantage; 2, Stavenow's love
of fine writing and a good story; 3, innumerable misstatements that can
be indisputably proved by documents.]

Regarding the small salon, he gives only the general information that it
was quaintly fitted up with antique furniture. But of George Sand's
own room, which made a deeper impression upon him, he mentions so many
particulars--the brown carpet covering the whole floor, the walls hung
with a dark-brown ribbed cloth (Ripsstoff), the fine paintings, the
carved furniture of dark oak, the brown velvet seats of the chairs, the
large square bed, rising but little above the floor, and covered with
a Persian rug (Teppich)--that it is easy to picture to ourselves the
tout-ensemble of its appearance. Gutmann tells us that he had an early
opportunity of making these observations, for Chopin visited his pupil
the very day after his arrival (?), and invited him at once to call on
George Sand in order to be introduced to her. When Gutmann presented
himself in the small salon above alluded to, he found George Sand seated
on an ottoman smoking a cigarette. She received the young man with great
cordiality, telling him that his master had often spoken to her of him
most lovingly. Chopin entered soon after from an adjoining apartment,
and then they all went into the dining-room to have dinner. When they
were seated again in the cosy salon, and George Sand had lit another
cigarette, the conversation, which had touched on a variety of topics,
among the rest on Majorca, turned on art. It was then that the authoress
said to her friend: "Chop, Chop, show Gutmann my room that he may see
the pictures which Eugene Delacroix painted for me."

Chopin on arriving in Paris had taken up his lodgings in the Rue
Tronchet, No. 5, and resumed teaching. One of his pupils there was
Brinley Richards, who practised under him one of the books of studies.
Chopin also assisted the British musician in the publication, by
Troupenas, of his first composition, having previously looked over
and corrected it. Brinley Richards informed me that Chopin, who played
rarely in these lessons, making his corrections and suggestions rather
by word of mouth than by example, was very languid, indeed so much so
that he looked as if he felt inclined to lie down, and seemed to say: "I
wish you would come another time."

About this time, that is in the autumn or early in the winter of 1839,
Moscheles came to Paris. We learn from his diary that at Leo's, where
he liked best to play, he met for the first time Chopin, who had just
returned from the country, and whose acquaintance he was impatient
to make. I have already quoted what Moscheles said of Chopin's
appearance--namely, that it was exactly like [identificirt mit] his
music, both being delicate and dreamy [schwarmerisch]. His remarks on
his great contemporary's musical performances are, of course, still more
interesting to us.

  He played to me at my request, and now for the first time I
  understand his music, and can also explain to myself the
  enthusiasm of the ladies. His ad libitum playing, which with
  the interpreters of his music degenerates into disregard of
  time, is with him only the most charming originality of
  execution; the dilettantish harsh modulations which strike me
  disagreeably when I am playing his compositions no longer
  shock me, because he glides lightly over them in a fairy-like
  way with his delicate fingers; his piano is so softly breathed
  forth that he does not need any strong forte in order to
  produce the wished-for contrasts; it is for this reason that
  one does not miss the orchestral-like effects which the German
  school demands from a pianoforte-player, but allows one's self
  to be carried away, as by a singer who, little concerned about
  the accompaniment, entirely follows his feeling. In short, he
  is an unicum in the world of pianists. He declares that he
  loves my music very much, and at all events he knows it very
  well. He played me some studies and his latest work, the
  "Preludes," and I played him many of my compositions.

In addition to this characterisation of the artist Chopin, Moscheles'
notes afford us also some glimpses of the man. "Chopin was lively,
merry, nay, exceedingly comical in his imitations of Pixis, Liszt, and a
hunchbacked pianoforte-player." Some days afterwards, when Moscheles saw
him at his own house, he found him an altogether different Chopin:--

  I called on him according to agreement with Ch. and E., who
  are also quite enthusiastic about him, and who were
  particularly struck with the "Prelude" in A flat major in 6/8
  time with the ever-recurring pedal A flat. Only the Countess
  O. [Obreskoff] from St. Petersburg, who adores us artists en
  bloc, was there, and some gentlemen. Chopin's excellent pupil
  Gutmann played his master's manuscript Scherzo in C sharp
  minor. Chopin himself played his manuscript Sonata in B flat
  minor with the Funeral March.

Gutmann relates that Chopin sent for him early in the morning of the
day following that on which he paid the above-mentioned visit to George
Sand, and said to him:--

  Pardon me for disturbing you so early in the morning, but I
  have just received a note from Moscheles, wherein he expresses
  his joy at my return to Paris, and announces that he will
  visit me at five in the afternoon to hear my new compositions.
  Now I am unfortunately too weak to play my things to him; so
  you must play. I am chiefly concerned about this Scherzo.

Gutmann, who did not yet know the work (Op. 39), thereupon sat down at
Chopin's piano, and by dint of hard practising managed to play it at
the appointed hour from memory, and to the satisfaction of the composer.
Gutmann's account does not tally in several of its details with
Moscheles'. As, however, Moscheles does not give us reminiscences, but
sober, business-like notes taken down at the time they refer to, and
without any attempt at making a nice story, he is the safer authority.
Still, thus much at least we may assume to be certain:--Gutmann played
the Scherzo, Op. 39, on this occasion, and his rendering of it was such
as to induce his master to dedicate it to him.

Comte de Perthuis, the adjutant of King Louis Philippe, who had heard
Chopin and Moscheles repeatedly play the latter's Sonata in E flat major
for four hands, spoke so much and so enthusiastically about it at Court
that the royal family, wishing "to have also the great treat," invited
the two artists to come to St. Cloud. The day after this soiree
Moscheles wrote in his diary:--

  Yesterday was a memorable day... at nine o'clock Chopin and I,
  with Perthuis and his amiable wife, who had called for us,
  drove out to St. Cloud in the heaviest showers of rain, and
  felt so much the more comfortable when we entered the
  brilliant, well-lighted palace. We passed through many state-
  rooms into a salon carre, where the royal family was assembled
  en petit comite. At a round table sat the queen with an
  elegant work-basket before her (perhaps to embroider a purse
  for me?); near her were Madame Adelaide, the Duchess of
  Orleans, and ladies-in-waiting. The noble ladies were as
  affable as if we had been old acquaintances...Chopin played
  first a number of nocturnes and studies, and was admired and
  petted like a favourite. After I also had played some old and
  new studies, and been honoured with the same applause, we
  seated ourselves together at the instrument--he again playing
  the bass, which he always insists on doing. The close
  attention of the little circle during my E flat major Sonata
  was interrupted only by the exclamations "divine!"
  "delicious!" After the Andante the queen whispered to a lady-
  in-waiting: "Would it not be indiscreet to ask them to play it
  again?" which naturally was equivalent to a command to repeat
  it, and so we played it again with increased abandon. In the
  Finale we gave ourselves up to a musical delirium. Chopin's
  enthusiasm throughout the whole piece must, I believe, have
  infected the auditors, who now burst forth into eulogies of
  us. Chopin played again alone with the same charm, and called
  forth the same sympathy as before; then I improvised...

  [FOOTNOTE: In the "Neue Zeitschrift fur Musik" of November 12,
  1839, we read that Chopin improvised on Grisar's "La Folle,"
  Moscheles on themes by Mozart. La Folle is a romance the
  success of which was so great that a wit called it une folie
  de salon. It had for some years an extraordinary popularity,
  and made the composer a reputation.]

To show his gratitude, the king sent the two artists valuable presents:
to Chopin a gold cup and saucer, to Moscheles a travelling case. "The
king," remarked Chopin, "gave Moscheles a travelling case to get the
sooner rid of him." The composer was fond of and had a talent for
throwing off sharp and witty sayings; but it is most probable that on
this occasion the words were prompted solely by the fancy, and that
their ill-nature was only apparent. Or must we assume that the man
Moscheles was less congenial to Chopin than the artist? Moscheles was a
Jew, and Chopin disliked the Jews. As, however, the tempting opportunity
afforded by the nature of the king's present to Moscheles is sufficient
to account for Chopin's remark, and no proofs warranting a less
creditable explanation are forthcoming, it would be unfair to listen to
the suggestions of suspicion.

George Sand tells us in the "Histoire de ma Vie" that Chopin found his
rooms in the Rue Tronchet cold and damp, and felt sorely the separation
from her. The consequence of this was that the saintly woman, the sister
of mercy, took, after some time, pity upon her suffering worshipper, and
once more sacrificed herself. Not to misrepresent her account, the only
one we have, of this change in the domestic arrangements of the
two friends, I shall faithfully transcribe her delicately-worded

  He again began to cough alarmingly, and I saw myself forced
  either to give in my resignation as nurse, or to pass my life
  in impossible journeyings to and fro. He, in order to spare me
  these, came every day to tell me with a troubled face and a
  feeble voice that he was wonderfully well. He asked if he
  might dine with us, and he went away in the evening, shivering
  in his cab. Seeing how he took to heart his exclusion from our
  family life, I offered to let to him one of the pavilions, a
  part of which I could give up to him. He joyfully accepted. He
  had there his room, received there his friends, and gave there
  his lessons without incommoding me. Maurice had the room above
  his; I occupied the other pavilion with my daughter.

Let us see if we cannot get some glimpses of the life in the pavilions
of the Rue Pigalle, No. 16. In the first months of 1840, George Sand was
busy with preparations for the performance of her drama Cosima, moving
heaven and earth to bring about the admission of her friend Madame
Dorval into the company of the Theatre-Francais, where her piece,
in which she wished this lady to take the principal part, was to be
performed. Her son Maurice passed his days in the studio of Eugene
Delacroix; and Solange gave much time to her lessons, and lost much over
her toilet. Of Grzymala we hear that he is always in love with all the
beautiful women, and rolls his big eyes at the tall Borgnotte and the
little Jacqueline; and that Madame Marliani is always up to her ears in
philosophy. This I gathered from George Sand's Correspondance, where, as
the reader will see presently, more is to be found.

George Sand to Chopin; Cambrai, August 13, 1840:--

  I arrived at noon very tired, for it is 45 and 35 leagues from
  Paris to this place. We shall relate to you good stories of
  the bourgeois of Cambrai. They are beaux, they are stupid,
  they are shopkeepers; they are the sublime of the genre. If
  the Historical Procession does not console us, we are capable
  of dying of ennui at the politeness which people show us. We
  are lodged like princes. But what hosts, what conversations,
  what dinners! We laugh at them when we are by ourselves, but
  when we are before the enemy, what a pitiable figure we
  selves, make! I am no longer desirous to see you come; but I
  aspire to depart very quickly, and I understand why you do not
  wish to give concerts. It is not unlikely that Pauline Viardot
  may not sing the day after to-morrow, for want of a hall. We
  shall, perhaps, leave a day sooner. I wish I were already far
  away from the Cambresians, male and female.

  Good night! I am going to bed, I am overcome with fatigue.

  Love your old woman [votre vieille] as she loves you.

From a letter written two days later to her son, we learn that Madame
Viardot after all gave two concerts at Cambrai. But amusing as the
letter is, we will pass it over as not concerning us here. Of another
letter (September 20,1840), likewise addressed to her son, I shall quote
only one passage, although it contains much interesting matter about the
friends and visitors of the inmates of the pavilions of the Rue Pigalle,
No. 16:--

  Balzac came to dine here the day before yesterday. He is quite
  mad. He has discovered the blue rose, for which the
  horticultural societies of London and Belgium have promised a
  reward of 500,000 francs (qui dit, dit-il). He will sell,
  moreover, every grain at a hundred sous, and for this great
  botanic production he will lay out only fifty centimes.
  Hereupon Rollinat asked him naively:--

  "Well, why, then, do you not set about it at once?"

  To which Balzac replied:

  "Oh! because I have so many other things to do; but I shall
  set about it one of these days."

Stavenow, in Schone Geister (see foot-note, p. 70), tells an anecdote of
Balzac, which may find a place here:--

  One day Balzac had invited George Sand, Chopin, and Gutmann to
  dinner. On that occasion he related to them that the next day
  he would have to meet a bill of 30,000 francs, but that he had
  not a sou in his pocket. Gutmann asked what he intended to do?
  "Well," replied Balzac, "what shall I do? I wait quietly.
  Before to-morrow something unexpected may turn up, and give me
  the means to pay the sum." Scarcely had he said this when the
  door bell rang. The servant entered and announced that a
  gentleman was there who urgently wished to speak with M.

  Balzac rose and left the room. After a quarter of an hour he
  came back in high spirits and said:

  "The 30,000 francs are found. My publisher wishes to bring out
  a new edition of my works, and he offers me just this sum."

  George Sand, Chopin, and Gutmann looked at each other with a
  smile, and thought--"Another one!"

George Sand to her son; Paris, September 4, 1840:--

  We have had here great shows of troops. They have fione the
  gendarme and cuisse the national guardsman. All Paris was in
  agitation, as if there were to be a revolution. Nothing took
  place, except that some passers-by were knocked down by the

  There were places in Paris where it was dangerous to pass, as
  these gentlemen assassinated right and left for the pleasure
  of getting their hands into practice. Chopin, who will not
  believe anything, has at last the proof and certainty of it.

  Madame Marliani is back. I dined at her house the day before
  yesterday with the Abbe de Lamennais. Yesterday Leroux dined
  here. Chopin embraces you a thousand times. He is always qui,
  qui, qui, me, me, me. Rollinat smokes like a steam-boat.
  Solange has been good for two or three days, but yesterday she
  had a fit of temper [acces de fureur]. It is the Rebouls, the
  English neighbours, people and dogs, who turn her head.

In the summer of 1840 George Sand did not go to Nohant, and Chopin seems
to have passed most of, if not all, the time in Paris. From a letter
addressed to her half-brother, we learn that the reason of her staying
away from her country-seat was a wish to economise:--

  If you will guarantee my being able to pass the summer at
  Nohant for 4,000 francs, I will go. But I have never been
  there without spending 1,500 francs per month, and as I do not
  spend here the half of this, it is neither the love of work,
  nor that of spending, nor that of glory, which makes me

George Sand's fits of economy never lasted very long. At any rate,
in the summer of 1841 we find her again at Nohant. But as it is my
intention to treat of Chopin's domestic life at Nohant and in Paris
with some fulness in special chapters, I shall now turn to his artistic

In 1839 there appeared only one work by Chopin, Op. 28, the "Preludes,"
but in the two following years as many as sixteen--namely, Op. 35-50.
Here is an enumeration of these compositions, with the dates of
publication and the dedications.

[FOOTNOTE: Both the absence of dedications in the case of some
compositions, and the persons to whom others are dedicated, have a
biographical significance. They tell us of the composer's absence from
Paris and aristocratic society, and his return to them.]

The "Vingt-quatre Preludes," Op. 28, published in September, 1839, have
a twofold dedication, the French and English editions being dedicated a
son ami Pleyel, and the German to Mr. J. C. Kessler. The publications
of 1840 are: in May--Op. 35, "Sonate" (B flat minor); Op. 36, "Deuxieme
Impromptu" (F sharp minor); Op. 37, "Deux Nocturnes" (G minor and G
major); in July--Op. 42, "Valse" (A flat major); in September--Op.
38, "Deuxieme Ballade" (F major), dedicated to Mr. R. Schumann; in
October--Op. 39, "Troisieme Scherzo" (C sharp minor), dedicated to
Mr. A. Gutmann; in November--Op. 40, "Deux Polonaises" (A major and C
minor), dedicated to Mr. J. Fontana; and in December--Op. 41, "Quatre
Mazurkas" (C sharp and E minor, B and A flat major), dedicated to E.
Witwicki. Those of 1841 are: in October--Op. 43, "Tarantelle" (A flat
major), without any dedication; and in November--Op. 44, "Polonaise" (F
sharp minor), dedicated to Madame la Princesse Charles de Beauvau;
Op. 45, "Prelude" (C sharp minor), dedicated to Madame la Princesse
Elizabeth Czernicheff; Op. 46, "Allegro de Concert" (A major), dedicated
to Mdlle. F. Muller; Op. 47, "Troisieme Ballade" (A flat major),
dedicated to Mdlle. P. de Noailles; Op. 48, "Deux Nocturnes" (C minor
and F sharp minor), dedicated to Mdlle. L. Duperre; Op. 49, "Fantaisie"
(F minor), dedicated to Madame la Princesse C. de Souzzo; and Op. 50,
"Trois Mazurkas" (G and A flat major, and C sharp minor), dedicated to
Mr. Leon Smitkowski.

Chopin's genius had now reached the most perfect stage of its
development, and was radiating with all the intensity of which its
nature was capable. Notwithstanding such later creations as the fourth
"Ballade," Op. 52, the "Barcarolle," Op. 60, and the "Polonaise," Op.
53, it can hardly be said that the composer surpassed in his subsequent
works those which he had published in recent years, works among which
were the first three ballades, the preludes, and a number of stirring
polonaises and charming nocturnes, mazurkas, and other pieces.

However, not only as a creative artist, but also as an executant, Chopin
was at the zenith of his power. His bodily frame had indeed suffered
from disease, but as yet it was not seriously injured, at least, not
so seriously as to disable him to discharge the functions of a musical
interpreter. Moreover, the great majority of his compositions demanded
from the executant other qualities than physical strength, which was
indispensable in only a few of his works. A writer in the "Menestrel"
(April 25, 1841) asks himself the question whether Chopin had progressed
as a pianist, and answers: "No, for he troubles himself little about the
mechanical secrets of the piano; in him there is no charlatanism;
heart and genius alone speak, and in these respects his privileged
organisation has nothing to learn." Or rather let us say, Chopin
troubled himself enough about the mechanical secrets of the piano, but
not for their own sakes: he regarded them not as ends, but as means to
ends, and although mechanically he may have made no progress, he had
done so poetically. Love and sorrow, those most successful teachers of
poets and musicians, had not taught him in vain.

It was a fortunate occurrence that at this period of his career Chopin
was induced to give a concert, and equally fortunate that men of
knowledge, judgment, and literary ability have left us their impressions
of the event. The desirability of replenishing an ever-empty purse, and
the instigations of George Sand, were no doubt the chief motive powers
which helped the composer to overcome his dislike to playing in public.

"Do you practise when the day of the concert approaches?" asked Lenz.
[FOOTNOTE: Die grossen Pianoforte-Virtusen unstrer Zeit, p. 36.] "It is
a terrible time for me," was Chopin's answer; "I dislike publicity, but
it is part of my position. I shut myself up for a fortnight and play
Bach. That is my preparation; I never practise my own compositions."
What Gutmann told me confirms these statements. Chopin detested playing
in public, and became nervous when the dreaded time approached. He then
fidgeted a great deal about his clothes, and felt very unhappy if one
or the other article did not quite fit or pinched him a little. On one
occasion Chopin, being dissatisfied with his own things, made use of a
dress-coat and shirt of his pupil Gutmann. By the way, the latter, who
gave me this piece of information, must have been in those days of less
bulk, and, I feel inclined to add, of less height, than he was when I
became acquainted with him.

Leaving the two concerts given by Chopin in 1841 and 1842 to be
discussed in detail in the next chapter, I shall now give a translation
of the Polish letters which he wrote in the summer and autumn of 1841 to
Fontana. The letters numbered 4 and 5 are those already alluded to on p.
24 (foot-note 3) which Karasowski gives as respectively dated by Chopin:
"Palma, November 17, 1838"; and "Valdemosa, January 9, 1839." But
against these dates militate the contents: the mention of Troupenas,
with whom the composer's business connection began only in 1840 (with
the Sonata, Op. 35); the mention of the Tarantelle, which was not
published until 1841; the mention (contradictory to an earlier
inquiry--see p. 30) of the sending back of a valet nowhere else alluded
to; the mention of the sending and arrival of a piano, irreconcilable
with the circumstances and certain statements in indisputably
correctly-dated letters; and, lastly, the absence of all mention of
Majorca and the Preludes, those important topics in the letters really
from that place and of that time. Karasowski thinks that the letters
numbered 1, 2, 3, and 9 were of the year 1838, and those numbered 6,
7, and 8 of the year 1839; but as the "Tarantelle," Op. 43, the
"Polonaise," Op. 44, the "Prelude," Op. 45, the "Allegro de Concert,"
Op. 46, the third "Ballade," Op. 47, the two "Nocturnes," Op. 48, and
the "Fantaisie," Op. 49, therein mentioned, were published in 1841, I
have no doubt that they are of the year 1841. The mention in the ninth
letter of the Rue Pigalle, 16, George Sand's and Chopin's abode in
Paris, of Pelletan, the tutor of George Sand's son Maurice, and of the
latter's coming to Paris, speaks likewise against 1838 and for 1841,
1840 being out of the question, as neither George Sand nor Chopin was in
this year at Nohant. What decides me especially to reject the date 1839
for the seventh letter is that Pauline Garcia had then not yet become
the wife of Louis Viardot. There is, moreover, an allusion to a visit of
Pauline Viardot to Nohant in the summer of 1841 in one of George Sand's
letters (August 13, 1841). In this letter occurs a passage which is
important for the dating both of the fifth and the seventh letter. As
to the order of succession of the letters, it may be wrong, it certainly
does not altogether satisfy me; but it is the result of long and careful
weighing of all the pros and cons. I have some doubt about the seventh
letter, which, read by the light of George Sand's letter, ought perhaps
to be placed after the ninth. But the seventh letter is somewhat of a
puzzle. Puzzles, owing to his confused statements and slipshod style,
are, however, not a rare thing in Chopin's correspondence. The passage
in the above-mentioned letter of George Sand runs thus: "Pauline leaves
me on the 16th [of August]; Maurice goes on the 17th to fetch his
sister, who should be here on the 23rd."

  [I.] Nohant [1841].

  My very dear friend,--I arrived here yesterday, Thursday. For
  Schlesinger [FOOTNOTE: The Paris music-publisher.] I have
  composed a Prelude in C sharp minor [Op. 45], which is short,
  as he wished it. Seeing that, like Mechetti's [FOOTNOTE: The
  Vienna music-publisher.] Beethoven, this has to come out at
  the New Year, do not yet give my Polonaise to Leo (although
  you have already transcribed it), for to-morrow I shall send
  you a letter for Mechetti, in which I shall explain to him
  that, if he wishes something short, I will give him for the
  Album instead of the mazurka (which is already old) the NEW
  prelude. It is well modulated, and I can send it without
  hesitation. He ought to give me 300 francs for it, n'est-ce
  pas? Par-dessus le marche he may get the mazurka, only he must
  not print it in the Album.

  Should Troupenas, [FOOTNOTE: Eugene Troupenas, the Paris music-
  publisher.] that is, Masset, [FOOTNOTE: Masset (his daughter,
  Madame Colombier, informed me) was the partner of Troupenas,
  and managed almost the whole business, Troupenas being in weak
  health, which obliged him to pass the last ten winters of his
  life at Hyeres.] make any difficulties, do not give him the
  pieces a farthing cheaper, and tell him that if he does not
  wish to print them all--which I should not like--I could sell
  them at a better price to others.

  Now of something else.

  You will find in the right-hand drawer of my writing-desk (in
  the place where the cash-box always is) a sealed parcel
  addressed to Madame Sand. Wrap this parcel in wax-cloth, seal
  it, and send it by post to Madame Sand's address. Sew on the
  address with a strong thread, that it may not come off the wax-
  cloth. It is Madame Sand who asks me to do this. I know you
  will do it perfectly well. The key, I think, is on the top
  shelf of the little cabinet with the mirror. If it should not
  be there, get a locksmith to open the drawer.

  I love you as an old friend. Embrace Johnnie.--Your


  [2.] Nohant [1841].

  Thanks for forwarding the parcel. I send you the Prelude, in
  large characters for Schlesinger and in small characters for
  Mechetti. Clip the MS. of the Polonaise to the same size,
  number the pages, and fold it like the Prelude, add to the
  whole my letter to Mechetti, and deliver it into Leo's own
  hands, praying him to send it by the first mail, as Mechetti
  is waiting for it.

  The letter to Haslinger [FOOTNOTE: The Vienna music-
  publisher.] post yourself; and if you do not find Schlesinger
  at home leave the letter, but do not give him the MS. until he
  tells you that he accepts the Prelude as a settlement of the
  account. If he does not wish to acquire the right of
  publication for London, tell him to inform me of it by letter.
  Do not forget to add the opus on the Polonaise and the
  following number on the Prelude--that is, on the copies that
  are going to Vienna.

  I do not know how Czerniszewowa is spelt. Perhaps you will
  find under the vase or on the little table near the bronze
  ornament a note from her, from her daughter, or from the
  governess; if not, I should be glad if you would go--they know
  you already as my friend--to the Hotel de Londres in the Place
  Vendome, and beg in my name the young Princess to give you her
  name in writing and to say whether it is Tscher or Tcher. Or
  better still, ask for Mdlle. Krause, the governess; tell her
  that I wish to give the young Princess a surprise; and inquire
  of her whether it is usual to write Elisabeth and
  Tschernichef, or ff. [FOOTNOTE: Chopin dedicated the Prelude,
  Op. 45, to Mdlle. la Princesse Elisabeth Czernicheff.]

  If you do not wish to do this, don't be bashful with me, and
  write that you would rather be excused, in which case I shall
  find it out by some other means. But do not yet direct
  Schlesinger to print the title. Tell him I don't know how to
  spell. Nevertheless, I hope that you will find at my house
  some note from them on which will be the name....

  I conclude because it is time for the mail, and I wish that my
  letter should reach Vienna without fail this week.

  [3.] Nohant, Sunday [1841].

  I send you the Tarantella [Op. 43]. Please to copy it. But
  first go to Schlesinger, or, better still, to Troupenas, and
  see the collection of Rossini's songs published by Troupenas.
  In it there is a Tarantella in F. I do not know whether it is
  written in 6/8 or 12/8 time. As to my composition, it does not
  matter which way it is written, but I should prefer it to be
  like Rossini's. Therefore, if the latter be in 12/8 or in C
  with triplets, make in copying one bar out of two. It will be
  thus: [here follows one bar of music, bars four and five of
  the Tarantella as it is printed.] [FOOTNOTE: This is a
  characteristic instance of Chopin's carelessness in the
  notation of his music. To write his Tarantella in 12/8 or C
  would have been an egregious mistake. How Chopin failed to see
  this is inexplicable to me.]

  I beg of you also to write out everything in full, instead of
  marking repeats. Be quick, and give it to Leo with my letter
  to Schubert. [FOOTNOTE: Schuberth, the Hamburg music-
  publisher.] You know he leaves for Hamburg before the 8th of
  next month, and I should not like to lose 500 francs.

  As regards Troupenas, there is no hurry. If the time of my
  manuscript is not right, do not deliver the latter, but make a
  copy of it. Besides this, make a third copy of it for Wessel.
  It will weary you to copy this nasty thing so often; but I
  hope I shall not compose anything worse for a long time. I
  also beg of you to look up the number of the last opus--
  namely, the last mazurkas, or rather the waltz published by
  Paccini [FOOTNOTE: Pacini, a Paris music-publisher. He
  published the Waltz in A flat major, Op. 42, in the summer of
  1840, if not earlier.]--and give the following number to the

  I am keeping my mind easy, for I know you are willing and
  clever. I trust you will receive from me no more letters
  burdened with commissions. Had I not been with only one foot
  at home before my departure you would have none of these
  unpleasantnesses. Attend to the Tarantella, give it to Leo,
  and tell him to keep the money he may receive till I come
  back. Once more I beg of you to excuse my troubling you so
  much. To-day I received the letter from my people in Poland
  you sent me. Tell the portier to give you all the letters
  addressed to me.


  My dear friend,--As you are so good, be so to the end. Go to
  the transport commission-office of Mr. Hamberg et Levistal
  successeurs de Mr. Corstel fils aine et Cie, rue des Marais
  St. Martin, No. 51, a Paris, and direct them to send at once
  to Pleyel for the piano I am to have, so that it may go off
  the next day. Say at the office that it is to be forwarded par
  un envoy [sic] accelere et non ordinaire. Such a transport
  costs of course far more, but is incomparably quicker. It will
  probably cost five francs per cwt. I shall pay here. Only
  direct them to give you a receipt, on which they will write
  how many cwts. the piano weighs, when it leaves, and when it
  will arrive at Chateauroux. If the piano is conveyed by
  roulage [land-transport]--which goes straight to Toulouse and
  leaves goods only on the route--the address must not be a la
  Chatre, [FOOTNOTE: Instead of "la Chatre" we have in
  Karasowski's Polish book "la Chatie," which ought to warn us
  not to attribute all the peculiar French in this letter to
  Chopin, who surely knew how to spell the name of the town in
  the neighbourhood of the familiar Nohant.] but Madame
  Dudevant, a Chateauroux, as I wrote above. [FOOTNOTE: "Address
  of the piano: Madame Dudevant, a Chateauroux. Bureau Restant
  chez M. Vollant Patureau." This is what Chopin wrote above.]
  At the last-mentioned place the agency has been informed, and
  will forward it at once. You need not send me the receipt, we
  should require it only in case of some unforeseen reclamation.
  The correspondent in Chateauroux says that PAR LA VOYE
  ACCELERE [SIC] it will come from Paris in four days. If this
  is so, let him bind himself to deliver the piano at
  Chateauroux in four or five days.

  Now to other business.

  Should Pleyel make any difficulties, apply to Erard; I think
  that the latter in all probability ought to be serviceable to
  you. Only do not act hastily, and first ascertain how the
  matter really stands.

  As to the Tarantella, seal it and send it to Hamburg. To-
  morrow I shall write you of other affairs, concerning
  Troupenas, &c.

  Embrace Johnnie, and tell him to write.


  Thanks for all the commissions you have executed so well. To-
  day, that is on the 9th, I received the piano and the other
  things. Do not send my little bust to Warsaw, it would
  frighten them, leave it in the press. Kiss Johnnie for his
  letter. I shall write him a few lines shortly.

  To-morrow I shall very likely send back my old servant, who
  loses his wits here. He is an honest man and knows how to
  serve, but he is tiresome, and makes one lose one's patience.
  I shall send him back, telling him to wait for me in Paris. If
  he appears at the house, do not be frightened.

  Latterly the weather has been only so-so.

  The man in Chateauroux was waiting three days for the piano;
  yesterday, after receiving your letter, I gave orders that he
  should be recalled. To-day I do not yet know what kind of tone
  the piano has, as it is not yet unpacked; this great event is
  to take place to-morrow. As to the delay and misunderstanding
  in sending it, do not make any inquiries; let the matter rest,
  it is not worth a quarrel. You did the best you could. A
  little ill-humour and a few days lost in expectation are not
  worth a pinch of snuff. Forget, therefore, my commissions and
  your transaction; next time, if God permits us to live,
  matters will turn out better.

  I write you these few words late at night. Once more I thank
  you, most obliging of men, for the commissions, which are not
  yet ended, for now comes the turn of the Troupenas business,
  which will hang on your shoulders. I shall write to you on
  this subject more fully some other time, and to-day I wish you
  good night. But don't have dreams like Johnnie--that I died;
  but rather dream that I am about to be born, or something of
  the sort.

  In fact, I am feeling now as calm and serene as a baby in
  swaddling-clothes; and if somebody wished to put me in leading-
  strings, I should be very glad--nota bene, with a cap thickly
  lined with wadding on my head, for I feel that at every moment
  I should stumble and turn upside down. Unfortunately, instead
  of leading-strings there are probably awaiting me crutches, if
  I approach old age with my present step. I once dreamt that I
  was dying in a hospital, and this is so strongly rooted in my
  mind that I cannot forget it--it is as if I had dreamt it
  yesterday. If you survive me, you will learn whether we may
  believe in dreams.

  And now I often dream with my eyes open what may be said to
  have neither rhyme nor reason in it.

  That is why I write you such a foolish letter, is it?

  Send me soon a letter from my people, and love your old


  [6.] Nohant [1841].

  Thanks for your very kind letter. Unseal all you judge

  Do not give the manuscripts to Troupenas till Schubert has
  informed you of the day of publication. The answer will very
  likely come soon through Leo.

  What a pity that the Tarantella is gone to Berlin, for, as you
  know from Schubert's letter, Liszt is mixed up in this
  monetary affair, and I may have some unpleasantness. He is a
  thin-skinned Hungarian, and may think that I do not trust him
  because I directed that the manuscripts should not be given
  otherwise than for cash. I do not know, but I have a
  presentiment of a disagreeable mess. Do not say anything about
  it to the ailing Leo; go and see him if you think it
  necessary, give him my compliments and thanks (although
  undeserved), and ask pardon for troubling him so much. After
  all, it is kind of him to take upon him the forwarding of my
  things. Give my compliments, also to Pleyel, and ask him to
  excuse my not writing to him (do not say anything about his
  sending me a very inferior piano).

  I beg of you to put into the letter-box at the Exchange
  yourself the letter to my parents, but I say do it yourself,
  and before 4 o'clock. Excuse my troubling you, but you know of
  what great importance my letter is to my people.

  Escudier has very likely sent you that famous album. If you
  wish you may ask Troupenas to get you a copy as if it were for
  me; but if you don't wish, say nothing.

  [FOOTNOTE: Leon Escudier, I suppose. The brothers Marie and
  Leon Escudier established a music business in the latter part
  of the fourth decade of this century; but when soon after both
  married and divided their common property, Marie got their
  journal "La France Musicale" and Leon the music-business. They
  wrote and published together various books on music and

  Still one more bother.

  At your leisure transcribe once more this unlucky Tarantella,
  which will be sent to Wessel when the day [of publication] is
  known. If I tire you so much with this Tarentella, you may be
  sure that it is for the last time. From here, I am sure you
  will have no more manuscript from me. If there should not be
  any news from Schubert within a week, please write to me. In
  that case you would give the manuscript to Troupenas. But I
  shall write him about it.

  [7.] Nohant [1841], Friday evening.

  My dear Julius,--I send you a letter for Bonnet; read, seal,
  and deliver it. And if in passing through the streets in which
  you know I can lodge, you find something suitable for me,
  please write to me. Just now the condition about the staircase
  exists no longer. [FOOTNOTE: Chopin felt so much stronger that
  high stairs were no longer any objection to lodgings.] I also
  send you a letter to Dessauer [FOOTNOTE: Joseph Dessauer, a
  native of Prague, best known by his songs. He stayed in Paris
  in 1833, and afterwards settled in Vienna. George Sand
  numbered him among her friends.] in answer to his letter which
  Madame Deller sent me from Austria. He must already be back to
  Paris; be sure and ask Schlesinger, who will be best able to
  inform you of this.

  Do not give Dessauer many particulars about me; do not tell
  him that you are looking for rooms, nor Anthony either, for he
  will mention it to Mdlle. de Rozieres, and she is a babbler
  and makes the least thing a subject for gossip. Some of her
  gossipings have already reached me here in a strange way. You
  know how great things sometimes grow out of nothing if they
  pass through a mouth with a loose tongue. Much could be said
  on this head.

  As to the unlucky Tarantella, you may give it to Troupenas
  (that is, to Masset); but, if you think otherwise, send it by
  post to Wessel, only insist on his answering at once that he
  has received it. The weather has been charming here for the
  last few days, but my music--is ugly. Madame Viardot spent a
  fortnight here; we occupied ourselves less with music than
  with other things.

  Please write to me whatever you like, but write.

  May Johnnie be in good health!

  But remember to write on Troupenas's copy: Hamburg, Schubert;
  Wessel, London.

  In a few days I shall send you a letter for Mechetti in
  Vienna, to whom I promised to give some compositions. If you
  see Dessauer or Schlesinger, ask if it is absolutely necessary
  to pay postage for the letters sent to Vienna.--I embrace you,



  Nohant, Sunday [1841].

  What you have done you have done well. Strange world! Masset
  is a fool, so also is Pelletan. Masset knew of Pacini's waltz
  and that I promised it to the "Gazette" for the Album. I did
  not wish to make any advances to him. If he does not wish them
  at 600 francs, with London (the price of my USUAL manuscripts
  was 300 francs with him)--three times five being fifteen--I
  should have to give so much labour for 1,500 francs--that
  cannot be. So much the more as I told him when I had the first
  conversation with him that it might happen that I could not
  let him have my things at this price. For instance, he cannot
  expect that I should give him twelve Etudes or a new Methode
  de Piano for 300 francs. The Allegro maestoso ["Allegro de
  Concert," Op. 46] which I send you to-day I cannot give for
  300 francs, but only for 600 francs, nor the "Fantasia" [Op.
  49], for which I ask 500 francs. Nevertheless, the "Ballade"
  [the third, Op. 47], the Nocturnes ["Deux Nocturnes," Op. 48],
  and Polonaise [F sharp minor, Op. 44], I shall let him have at
  300 francs, for he has already formerly printed such things.
  In one word, for Paris I give these five compositions for
  2,000 francs. If he does not care for them, so much the
  better. I say it entre nous--for Schlesinger will most
  willingly buy them. But I should not like him to take me for a
  man who does not keep his word in an agreement. "Il n'y avait
  qu'une convention facile d'honnete homme a honnete homme."
  therefore, he should not complain of my terms, for they are
  very easy. I want nothing but to come out of this affair
  respectably. You know that I do not sell myself. But tell him
  further that if I were desirous of taking advantage of him or
  of cheating him, I could write fifteen things per year, but
  worthless ones, which he would buy at 300 francs and I would
  have a better income. Would it be an honest action?

  My dear friend, tell him that I write seldom, and spend but
  little. He must not think that I wish to raise the price. But
  when you yourself see my manuscript flies, [FOOTNOTE: An
  allusion to his small, fine writing.] you will agree with me
  that I may ask 600 francs when I was paid 300 francs for the
  Tarantella and 500 for the Bolero.

  For God's sake take good care of the manuscripts, do not
  squeeze, dirty, or tear them. I know you are not capable of
  doing anything of the sort, but I love my WRITTEN TEDIOUSNESS
  [NUDY, tediousness; NUTY, notes] so much that I always fear
  that something might happen to them.

  To-morrow you will receive the Nocturne, and at the end of the
  week the Ballade and Fantasia; I cannot get my writing done
  sooner. Each of these things you will transcribe; your copies
  will remain in Paris. If copying wearies you, console yourself
  with thinking that you are doing it for THE REMISSION OF YOUR
  SINS. I should not like to give my little spider-feet to any
  copyist who would daub coarsely. Once more I make this
  request, for had I again to write these eighteen pages, I
  should most certainly go wrong in my mind.

  I send you a letter from Hartel.

  Try to get another valet instead of the one you have. I shall
  probably be in Paris during the first days of November. To-
  morrow I will write to you again.


  On reading your letter attentively, I see that Masset does not
  ask for Paris. Leave this point untouched if you can. Mention
  only 3,000 francs pour les deux pays, and 2,000 francs for
  Paris itself if he particularly asks about it. Because la
  condition des deux pays is still easier, and for me also more
  convenient. If he should not want it, it must be because he
  seeks an opportunity for breaking with me. In that case, wait
  for his answer from London. Write to him openly and frankly,
  but always politely, and act cautiously and coolly, but mind,
  not to me, for you know how much loves you your...

  [9.] Nohant [1841].

  My dear friend,--You would be sure to receive my letters and
  compositions. You have read the German letters, sealed them,
  and done everything I asked you, have you not? As to Wessel,
  he is a fool and a cheat. Write him whatever you like, but
  tell him that I do not intend to give up my rights to the
  Tarantella, as he did not send it back in time. If he
  sustained losses by my compositions, it is most likely owing
  to the foolish titles he gave them, in spite of my directions.
  Were I to listen to the voice of my soul, I would not send him
  anything more after these titles. Say as many sharp things to
  him as you can.

  [FOOTNOTE: Here are some specimens of the publisher's
  ingenious inventiveness:--"Adieu a Varsovie" (Rondeau, Op. 1),
  "Hommage a Mozart" (Variations, Op. 2), "La Gaite"
  (Introduction et Polonaise, Op. 3), "La Posiana" (Rondeau a la
  Mazur, Op. 5), "Murmures de la Seine" (Nocturnes, Op. 9), "Les
  Zephirs" (Nocturnes, Op. 15), "Invitation a la Valse" (Valse,
  Op. 18), "Souvenir d'Andalousie" (Bolero, Op. 19), "Le banquet
  infernal" (Premier Scherzo, Op. 20), "Ballade ohne Worte"
  [Ballad without words] (Ballade, Op. 23), "Les Plaintives"
  (Nocturnes, Op. 27), "La Meditation" (Deuxieme Scherzo, Op.
  31), "Il lamento e la consolazione" (Nocturnes, Op. 32), "Les
  Soupirs" (Nocturnes, Op. 37), and "Les Favorites" (Polonaises,
  Op. 40). The mazurkas generally received the title of
  "Souvenir de la Pologne."]

  Madame Sand thanks you for the kind words accompanying the
  parcel. Give directions that my letters may be delivered to
  Pelletan, Rue Pigal [i.e., Pigalle], 16, and impress it very
  strongly on the portier. The son of Madame Sand will be in
  Paris about the 16th. I shall send you, through him, the MS.
  of the Concerto ["Allegro de Concert"] and the Nocturnes [Op.
  46 and 48].

These letters of the romantic tone-poet to a friend and fellow-artist
will probably take the reader by surprise, nay, may even disillusionise
him. Their matter is indeed very suggestive of a commercial man writing
to one of his agents. Nor is this feature, as the sequel will show,
peculiar to the letters just quoted. Trafficking takes up a very large
part of Chopin's Parisian correspondence; [FOOTNOTE: I indicate by this
phrase comprehensively the whole correspondence since his settling in
the French capital, whether written there or elsewhere.] of the ideal
within him that made him what he was as an artist we catch, if any, only
rare glimmerings and glimpses.



The concert which Chopin gave in 1841, after several years of
retirement, took place at Pleyel's rooms on Monday, the 26th of April.
It was like his subsequent concerts a semi-public rather than a public
one, for the audience consisted of a select circle of pupils, friends,
and partisans who, as Chopin told Lenz, took the tickets in advance and
divided them among themselves. As most of the pupils belonged to the
aristocracy, it followed as a matter of course that the concert was
emphatically what Liszt calls it, "un concert de fashion." The three
chief musical papers of Paris: the "Gazette Musicale," the "France
Musicale," and the "Menestrel" were unanimous in their high, unqualified
praise of the concert-giver, "the king of the fete, who was overwhelmed
with bravos." The pianoforte performances of Chopin took up by far the
greater part of the programme, which was varied by two arias from Adam's
"La Rose de Peronne," sung by Mdme. Damoreau--Cinti, who was as usual
"ravissante de perfection," and by Ernst's "Elegie," played by the
composer himself "in a grand style, with passionate feeling and a purity
worthy of the great masters." Escudier, the writer of the notice in the
"France Musicale," says of Ernst's playing: "If you wish to hear the
violin weep, go and hear Ernst; he produces such heart-rending, such
passionate sounds, that you fear every moment to see his instrument
break to pieces in his hands. It is difficult to carry farther the
expression of sadness, of suffering, and of despair."

To give the reader an idea of the character of the concert, I shall
quote largely from Liszt's notice, in which he not only sets forth the
merits of the artists, but also describes the appearance of the room
and the audience. First, however, I must tell a pretty anecdote of which
this notice reminds me. When Liszt was moving about among the audience
during the intervals of the concert, paying his respects here and there,
he came upon M. Ernest Legouve. The latter told him of his intention
to give an account of the concert in the "Gazette Musicale." Liszt
thereupon said that he had a great wish to write one himself, and M.
Legouve, although reluctantly, gave way. When it came to the ears of
Chopin that Liszt was going to report on the concert, he remarked: "Il
me donnera un petit royaume dans son empire" (He will give me a little
kingdom in his empire).

[FOOTNOTE: Since I wrote the above, M. Legouve has published his
"Soixante ans de Souvenirs," and in this book gives his version of the
story, which, it is to be hoped, is less incorrect than some other
statements of his relating to Chopin: "He [Chopin] had asked me to
write a report of the concert. Liszt claimed the honour. I hastened to
announce this good news to Chopin, who quietly said to me: "I should
have liked better if it had been you." "What are you thinking of my dear
friend! An article by Liszt, that is a fortunate thing for the public
and for you. Trust in his admiration for your talent. I promise you
qu'il vous fera un beau royaume.'--'Oui, me dit-il en souriant, dans son

These few words speak volumes. But here is what Liszt wrote about the
concert in the "Gazette musicale" of May 2, 1841:--

  Last Monday, at eight o'clock in the evening, M. Pleyel's
  rooms were brilliantly lighted up; numerous carriages brought
  incessantly to the foot of a staircase covered with carpet and
  perfumed with flowers the most elegant women, the most
  fashionable young men, the most celebrated artists, the
  richest financiers, the most illustrious noblemen, a whole
  elite of society, a whole aristocracy of birth, fortune,
  talent, and beauty.

  A grand piano was open on a platform; people crowded round,
  eager for the seats nearest it; they prepared to listen, they
  composed them-selves, they said to themselves that they must
  not lose a chord, a note, an intention, a thought of him who
  was going to seat himself there. And people were right in
  being thus eager, attentive, and religiously moved, because he
  for whom they waited, whom they wished to hear, admire, and
  applaud, was not only a clever virtuoso, a pianist expert in
  the art of making notes [de faire des notes], not only an
  artist of great renown, he was all this and more than all
  this, he was Chopin...

  ...If less eclat has gathered round his name, if a less bright
  aureole has encircled his head, it is not because he had not  in
  him perhaps the same depth of feeling as the illustrious author
  of "Conrad Wallenrod" and the "Pilgrims," [FOOTNOTE: Adam
  Mickiewicz.] but his means of expression were too limited, his
  instrument too imperfect; he could not reveal his whole self by
  means of a piano. Hence, if we are not mistaken, a dull and
  continual suffering, a certain repugnance to reveal himself to
  the outer world, a sadness which shrinks out of sight under
  apparent gaiety, in short, a whole individuality in the highest
  degree remarkable and attractive.

  ...It was only rarely, at very distant intervals, that Chopin
  played in public; but what would have been for anyone else an
  almost certain cause of oblivion and obscurity was precisely what
  assured to him a fame above the caprices of fashion, and kept him
  from rivalries, jealousies, and injustice. Chopin, who has taken
  no part in the extreme movement which for several years has
  thrust one on another and one against another the executive
  artists from all quarters of the world, has been constantly
  surrounded by faithful adepts, enthusiastic pupils, and warm
  friends, all of whom, while guarding him against disagreeable
  contests and painful collisions, have not ceased to spread abroad
  his works, and with them admiration for his name. Moreover, this
  exquisite, altogether lofty, and eminently aristocratic celebrity
  has remained unattacked. A complete silence of criticism already
  reigns round it, as if posterity were come; and in the brilliant
  audience which flocked together to hear the too long silent poet
  there was neither reticence nor restriction, unanimous praise was
  on the lips of all.

  ...He has known how to give to new thoughts a new form. That
  element of wildness and abruptness which belongs to his  country
  has found its expression in bold dissonances, in strange
  harmonies, while the delicacy and grace which belong to his
  personality were revealed in a thousand contours, in a thousand
  embellishments of an inimitable fancy.

  In Monday's concert Chopin had chosen in preference those of
  his works which swerve more from the classical forms. He
  played neither concerto, nor sonata, nor fantasia, nor
  variations, but preludes, studies, nocturnes, and mazurkas.
  Addressing himself to a society rather than to a public, he
  could show himself with impunity as he is, an elegiac poet,
  profound, chaste, and dreamy. He did not need either to
  astonish or to overwhelm, he sought for delicate sympathy
  rather than for noisy enthusiasm. Let us say at once that he
  had no reason to complain of want of sympathy. From the first
  chords there was established a close communication between him
  and his audience. Two studies and a ballade were encored, and
  had it not been for the fear of adding to the already great
  fatigue which betrayed itself on his pale face, people would
  have asked for a repetition of the pieces of the programme one
  by one...

An account of the concert in La France musicale of May 2, 1841,
contained a general characterisation of Chopin's artistic position
with regard to the public coinciding with that given by Liszt, but
the following excerpts from the other parts of the article may not be
unacceptable to the reader:--

  We spoke of Schubert because there is no other nature which
  has a more complete analogy with him. The one has done for the
  piano what the other has done for the voice...Chopin was a
  composer from conviction. He composes for himself, and what he
  composes he performs for himself...Chopin is the pianist of
  sentiment PAR EXCELLENCE. One may say that Chopin is the
  creator of a school of pianoforte-playing and of a school of
  composition. Indeed, nothing equals the lightness and
  sweetness with which the artist preludes on the piano, nothing
  again can be placed by the side of his works full of
  originality, distinction, and grace. Chopin is an exceptional
  pianist who ought not to be, and cannot be, compared with

The words with which the critic of the Menestrel closes his remarks,
describe well the nature of the emotions which the artist excited in his

  In order to appreciate Chopin rightly, one must love gentle
  impressions, and have the feeling for poetry: to hear Chopin
  is to read a strophe of Lamartine....Everyone went away full
  of sweet joy and deep reverie (recueillement).

The concert, which was beyond a doubt a complete success, must have
given Chopin satisfaction in every respect. At any rate, he faced the
public again before a year had gone by. In the Gazette Musicale of
February 20, 1842, we read that on the following evening, Monday, at
Pleyel's rooms, the haute societe de Paris et tous les artistes s'y
donneront rendez-vous. The programme of the concert was to be as

  1. Andante suivi de la 3ieme Ballade, par Chopin.

  2. Felice Donzella, air de Dessauer.

  3. Suite de Nocturnes, Preludes et Etudes, par Chopin.

  4. Divers fragments de Handel, chante par Madame Viardot-

  5. Solo pour Violoncello, par M. Franchomme.

  6. Nocturne, Preludes, Mazurkas et Impromptu.

  7. Le Chene et le Roseau, chante par Madame Viardot-Garcia,
  accompagne par Chopin.

Maurice Bourges, who a week later reports on the concert, states more
particularly what Chopin played. He mentions three mazurkas in A flat
major, B major, and A minor; three studies in A flat major, F minor, and
C minor; the Ballade in A flat major; four nocturnes, one of which was
that in F sharp minor; a prelude in D flat; and an impromptu in G (G
flat major?). Maurice Bourges's account is not altogether free from
strictures. He finds Chopin's ornamentations always novel, but sometimes
mannered (manierees). He says: "Trop de recherche fine et minutieuse
n'est pas quelquefois sans pretention et san froideur." But on the whole
the critique is very laudatory. "Liszt and Thalberg excite, as is well
known, violent enthusiasm; Chopin also awakens enthusiasm, but of a
less energetic, less noisy nature, precisely because he causes the most
intimate chords of the heart to vibrate."

From the report in the "France musicale" we see that the audience was
not less brilliant than that of the first concert:--

  ...Chopin has given in Pleyel's hall a charming soiree, a fete
  peopled with adorable smiles, delicate and rosy faces, small  and
  well-formed white hands; a splendid fete where simplicity was
  combined with grace and elegance, and where good taste served as
  a pedestal to wealth. Those ugly black hats which give to men the
  most unsightly appearance possible were very few in number. The
  gilded ribbons, the delicate blue gauze, the chaplets of
  trembling pearls, the freshest roses and mignonettes, in short, a
  thousand medleys of the prettiest and gayest colours were
  assembled, and intersected each other in all sorts of ways on the
  perfumed heads and snowy shoulders of the most charming women for
  whom the princely salons contend. The first success of the seance
  was for Madame George Sand. As soon as she appeared with her two
  charming daughters [daughter and cousin?], she was the observed
  of all observers. Others would have been disturbed by all those
  eyes turned on her like so many stars; but George Sand contented
  herself with lowering her head and smiling...

This description is so graphic that one seems to see the actual scene,
and imagines one's self one of the audience. It also points out a very
characteristic feature of these concerts--namely, the preponderance of
the fair sex. As regards Chopin's playing, the writer remarks that the
genre of execution which aims at the imitation of orchestral effects
suits neither Chopin's organisation nor his ideas:--

  In listening to all these sounds, all these nuances, which
  follow each other, intermingle, separate, and reunite to
  arrive at one and the same goal, melody, do you not think you
  hear little fairy voices sighing under silver bells, or a rain
  of pearls falling on crystal tables? The fingers of the
  pianist seem to multiply ad infinitum; it does not appear
  possible that only two hands can produce effects of rapidity
  so precise and so natural...

I shall now try to give the reader a clearer idea of what Chopin's style
of playing was like than any and all of the criticisms and descriptions
I have hitherto quoted can have done. And I do this not only in order to
satisfy a natural curiosity, but also, and more especially, to furnish a
guide for the better understanding and execution of the master's works.
Some, seeing that no music reflects more clearly its author's nature
than that of Chopin, may think that it would be wiser to illustrate
the style of playing by the style of composition, and not the style of
composition by the style of playing. Two reasons determine me to
differ from them. Our musical notation is an inadequate exponent of
the conceptions of the great masters--visible signs cannot express the
subtle shades of the emotional language; and the capabilities of
Chopin the composer and of Chopin the executant were by no means
coextensive--we cannot draw conclusions as to the character of his
playing from the character of his Polonaises in A major (Op. 40) and
in A flat (Op. 53), and certain movements of the Sonata in B flat minor
(Op. 35). The information contained in the following remarks is derived
partly from printed publications, partly from private letters and
conversations; nothing is admitted which does not proceed from Chopin's
pupils, friends, and such persons as have frequently heard him.

What struck everyone who had the good fortune to hear Chopin was the
fact that he was a pianist sui generis. Moscheles calls him an unicum;
Mendelssohn describes him as "radically original" (Gruneigentumlich);
Meyerbeer said of him that he knew no pianist, no composer for the
piano, like him; and thus I could go on quoting ad infinitum. A writer
in the "Gazette musicale" (of the year 1835, I think), who, although
he places at the head of his article side by side the names of Liszt,
Hiller, Chopin, and--Bertini, proved himself in the characterisation
of these pianists a man of some insight, remarks of Chopin: "Thought,
style, conception, even the fingering, everything, in fact, appears
individual, but of a communicative, expansive individuality, an
individuality of which superficial organisations alone fail to recognise
the magnetic influence." Chopin's place among the great pianists of the
second quarter of this century has been felicitously characterised by an
anonymous contemporary: Thalberg, he said, is a king, Liszt a prophet,
Chopin a poet, Herz an advocate, Kalkbrenner a minstrel, Madame Pleyel a
sibyl, and Doehler a pianist.

But if our investigation is to be profitable, we must proceed
analytically. It will be best to begin with the fundamental technical
qualities. First of all, then, we have to note the suppleness and
equality of Chopin's fingers and the perfect independence of his hands.
"The evenness of his scales and passages in all kinds of touch," writes
Mikuli, "was unsurpassed, nay, prodigious." Gutmann told me that his
master's playing was particularly smooth, and his fingering calculated
to attain this result. A great lady who was present at Chopin's last
concert in Paris (1848), when he played among other works his Valse in
D flat (Op. 64, No. 1), wished to know "le secret de Chopin pour que les
gammes fussent si COULEES sur le piano." Madame Dubois, who related
this incident to me, added that the expression was felicitous, for
this "limpidite delicate" had never been equalled. Such indeed were the
lightness, delicacy, neatness, elegance, and gracefulness of Chopin's
playing that they won for him the name of Ariel of the piano. The reader
will remember how much Chopin admired these qualities in other artists,
notably in Mdlle. Sontag and in Kalkbrenner.

So high a degree and so peculiar a kind of excellence was of course
attainable only under exceptionally favourable conditions, physical
as well as mental. The first and chief condition was a suitably formed
hand. Now, no one can look at Chopin's hand, of which there exists a
cast, without perceiving at once its capabilities. It was indeed small,
but at the same time it was thin, light, delicately articulated, and, if
I may say so, highly expressive. Chopin's whole body was extraordinarily
flexible. According to Gutmann, he could, like a clown, throw his legs
over his shoulders. After this we may easily imagine how great must have
been the flexibility of his hands, those members of his body which he
had specially trained all his life. Indeed, the startlingly wide-spread
chords, arpeggios, &c., which constantly occur in his compositions, and
which until he introduced them had been undreamt-of and still are far
from being common, seemed to offer him no difficulty, for he executed
them not only without any visible effort, but even with a pleasing ease
and freedom. Stephen Heller told me that it was a wonderful sight to see
one of those small hands expand and cover a third of the keyboard. It
was like the opening of the mouth of a serpent which is going to swallow
a rabbit whole. In fact, Chopin appeared to be made of caoutchouc.

In the criticisms on Chopin's public performances we have met again and
again with the statement that he brought little tone out of the piano.
Now, although it is no doubt true that Chopin could neither subdue to
his sway large audiences nor successfully battle with a full orchestra,
it would be a mistake to infer from this that he was always a weak and
languid player. Stephen Heller, who declared that Chopin's tone was
rich, remembered hearing him play a duet with Moscheles (the latter's
duet, of which Chopin was so fond), and on this occasion the Polish
pianist, who insisted on playing the bass, drowned the treble of his
partner, a virtuoso well known for his vigour and brilliancy. Were we,
however, to form our judgment on this single item of evidence, we should
again arrive at a wrong conclusion. Where musical matters--i.e.,
matters generally estimated according to individual taste and momentary
impressibility alone--are concerned, there is safety only in the
multitude of witnesses. Let us, therefore, hear first what Chopin's
pupils have got to say on this point, and then go and inquire further.
Gutmann said that Chopin played generally very quietly, and rarely,
indeed hardly ever, fortissimo. The A flat major Polonaise (Op. 53),
for instance, he could not thunder forth in the way we are accustomed to
hear it. As for the famous octave passages which occur in it, he began
them pianissimo and continued thus without much increase in loudness.
And, then, Chopin never thumped. M. Mathias remarks that his master
had extraordinary vigour, but only in flashes. Mikuli's preface to his
edition of the works of Chopin affords more explicit information. We
read there:--

  The tone which Chopin brought out of the instrument was
  always, especially in the cantabiles, immense (riesengross),
  only Field could perhaps in this respect be compared to him. A
  manly energy gave to appropriate passages overpowering effect--
  energy without roughness (Rohheit); but, on the other hand,
  he knew how by delicacy--delicacy without affectation--to
  captivate the hearer.

We may summarise these various depositions by saying with Lenz that,
being deficient in physical strength, Chopin put his all in the
cantabile style, in the connections and combinations, in the detail. But
two things are evident, and they ought to be noted: (1) The volume of
tone, of pure tone, which Chopin was capable of producing was by no
means inconsiderable; (2) he had learnt the art of economising his means
so as to cover his shortcomings. This last statement is confirmed by
some remarks of Moscheles which have already been quoted--namely, that
Chopin's piano was breathed forth so softly that he required no vigorous
forte to produce the desired contrasts; and that one did not miss the
orchestral effects which the German school demanded from a pianist, but
allowed one's self to be carried away as by a singer who takes little
heed of the accompaniment and follows his own feelings.

In listening to accounts of Chopin's style of playing, we must not leave
out of consideration the time to which they refer. What is true of the
Chopin of 1848 is not true of the Chopin of 1831 nor of 1841. In the
last years of his life he became so weak that sometimes, as Stephen
Heller told me, his playing was hardly audible. He then made use of
all sorts of devices to hide the want of vigour, often modifying the
original conception of his compositions, but always producing beautiful
effects. Thus, to give only one example (for which and much other
interesting information I am indebted to Mr. Charles Halle), Chopin
played at his last concert in Paris (February, 1848) the two forte
passages towards the end of the Barcarole, not as they are printed,
but pianissimo and with all sorts of dynamic finesses. Having possessed
himself of the most recondite mysteries of touch, and mastered as no
other pianist had done the subtlest gradations of tone, he even then,
reduced by disease as he was, did not give the hearer the impression
of weakness. At least this is what Mr. Otto Goldschmidt relates, who
likewise was present at this concert. There can be no doubt that what
Chopin aimed at chiefly, or rather, let us say, what his physical
constitution permitted him to aim at, was quality not quantity of tone.
A writer in the "Menestrel" (October 21, 1849) remarks that for Chopin,
who in this was unlike all other pianists, the piano had always too much
tone; and that his constant endeavour was to SENTIMENTALISE the timbre,
his greatest care to avoid everything which approached the fracas
pianistique of the time.

Of course, a true artist's touch has besides its mechanical also its
spiritual aspect. With regard to this it is impossible to overlook the
personal element which pervaded and characterised Chopin's touch. M.
Marmontel does not forget to note it in his "Pianistes Celebres." He

  In the marvellous art of carrying and modulating the tone, in
  the expressive, melancholy manner of shading it off, Chopin
  was entirely himself. He had quite an individual way of
  attacking the keyboard, a supple, mellow touch, sonorous
  effects of a vaporous fluidity of which only he knew the

In connection with Chopin's production of tone, I must not omit to
mention his felicitous utilisation of the loud and soft pedals. It was
not till the time of Liszt, Thalberg, and Chopin that the pedals
became a power in pianoforte-playing. Hummel did not understand their
importance, and failed to take advantage of them. The few indications
we find in Beethoven's works prove that this genius began to see some of
the as yet latent possibilities. Of the virtuosi,

Moscheles was the first who made a more extensive and artistic use of
the pedals, although also he employed them sparingly compared with
his above-named younger contemporaries. Every pianist of note has,
of course, his own style of pedalling. Unfortunately, there are no
particulars forthcoming with regard to Chopin's peculiar style; and this
is the more to be regretted as the composer was very careless in his
notation of the pedals. Rubinstein declares that most of the pedal marks
in Chopin's compositions are wrongly placed. If nothing more, we know at
least thus much: "No pianist before him [Chopin] has employed the pedals
alternately or simultaneously with so much tact and ability," and
"in making constantly use of the pedal he obtained des harmonies
ravissantes, des bruissements melodiques qui etonnaient et charmaient."
[FOOTNOTE: Marmontel: "Les Pianistes celebres."]

The poetical qualities of Chopin's playingare not so easily defined as
the technical ones. Indeed, if they are definable at all they are so
only by one who, like Liszt, is a poet as well as a great pianist. I
shall, therefore, transcribe from his book some of the most important
remarks bearing on this matter.

After saying that Chopin idealised the fugitive poesy inspired by
fugitive apparitions like "La Fee aux Miettes," "Le Lutin d'Argail,"
&c., to such an extent as to render its fibres so thin and friable that
they seemed no longer to belong to our nature, but to reveal to us the
indiscreet confidences of the Undines, Titanias, Ariels, Queen Mabs, and
Oberons, Liszt proceeds thus:--

  When this kind of inspiration laid hold of Chopin his playing
  assumed a distinctive character, whatever the kind of music he
  executed might be--dance-music or dreamy music, mazurkas or
  nocturnes, preludes or scherzos, waltzes or tarantellas,
  studies or ballades. He imprinted on them all one knows not
  what nameless colour, what vague appearance, what pulsations
  akin to vibration, that had almost no longer anything material
  about them, and, like the imponderables, seemed to act on
  one's being without passing through the senses. Sometimes one
  thought one heard the joyous tripping of some amorously-
  teasing Peri; sometimes there were modulations velvety and
  iridescent as the robe of a salamander; sometimes one heard
  accents of deep despondency, as if souls in torment did not
  find the loving prayers necessary for their final deliverance.
  At other times there breathed forth from his fingers a despair
  so mournful, so inconsolable, that one thought one saw Byron's
  Jacopo Foscari come to life again, and contemplated the
  extreme dejection of him who, dying of love for his country,
  preferred death to exile, being unable to endure the pain of
  leaving Venezia la bella!

It is interesting to compare this description with that of another poet,
a poet who sent forth his poetry daintily dressed in verse as well
as carelessly wrapped in prose. Liszt tells us that Chopin had in his
imagination and talent something "qui, par la purete de sa diction, par
ses accointances avec La Fee aux Miettes et Le Lutin d'Argail, par ses
rencon-tres de Seraphine et de Diane, murmurant a son oreille leurs plus
confidentielles plaintes, leurs reves les plus innommes," [FOOTNOTE: The
allusions are to stories by Charles Nodier. According to Sainte-Beuve,
"La Fee aux Miettes" was one of those stories in which the author was
influenced by Hoffmann's creations.] reminded him of Nodier. Now, what
thoughts did Chopin's playing call up in Heine?

  Yes, one must admit that Chopin has genius in the full sense
  of the word; he is not only a virtuoso, he is also a poet; he
  can embody for us the poesy which lives within his soul, he is
  a tone-poet, and nothing can be compared to the pleasure which
  he gives us when he sits at the piano and improvises. He is
  then neither a Pole, nor a Frenchman, nor a German, he reveals
  then a higher origin, one perceives then that he comes from
  the land of Mozart, Raphael, and Goethe, his true fatherland
  is the dream-realm of poesy. When he sits at the piano and
  improvises I feel as though a countryman from my beloved
  native land were visiting me and telling me the most curious
  things which have taken place there during my
  absence...Sometimes I should like to interrupt him with
  questions: And how is the beautiful little water-nymph who
  knows how to fasten her silvery veil so coquettishly round her
  green locks? Does the white-bearded sea-god still persecute
  her with his foolish, stale love? Are the roses at home still
  in their flame-hued pride? Do the trees still sing as
  beautifully in the moonlight?

But to return to Liszt. A little farther on than the passage I quoted
above he says:--

  In his playing the great artist rendered exquisitely that kind
  of agitated trepidation, timid or breathless, which seizes the
  heart when one believes one's self in the vicinity of
  supernatural beings, in presence of those whom one does not
  know either how to divine or to lay hold of, to embrace or to
  charm. He always made the melody undulate like a skiff borne
  on the bosom of a powerful wave; or he made it move vaguely
  like an aerial apparition suddenly sprung up in this tangible
  and palpable world. In his writings he at first indicated this
  manner which gave so individual an impress to his virtuosity
  by the term tempo rubato: stolen, broken time--a measure at
  once supple, abrupt, and languid, vacillating like the flame
  under the breath which agitates it, like the co