Chopin: The Man and His Music
by James Huneker
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Gustave Flaubert, pessimist and master of cadenced lyric prose, urged young writers to lead ascetic lives that in their art they might be violent. Chopin's violence was psychic, a travailing and groaning of the spirit; the bright roughness of adventure was missing from his quotidian existence. The tragedy was within. One recalls Maurice Maeterlinck: "Whereas most of our life is passed far from blood, cries and swords, and the tears of men have become silent, invisible and almost spiritual." Chopin went from Poland to France—from Warsaw to Paris—where, finally, he was borne to his grave in Pere la Chaise. He lived, loved and died; and not for him were the perils, prizes and fascinations of a hero's career. He fought his battles within the walls of his soul- -we may note and enjoy them in his music. His outward state was not niggardly of incident though his inner life was richer, nourished as it was in the silence and the profound unrest of a being that irritably resented every intrusion. There were events that left ineradicable impressions upon his nature, upon his work: his early love, his sorrow at parting from parents and home, the shock of the Warsaw revolt, his passion for George Sand, the death of his father and of his friend Matuszynski, and the rupture with Madame Sand—these were crises of his history. All else was but an indeterminate factor in the scheme of his earthly sojourn. Chopin though not an anchorite resembled Flaubert, being both proud and timid; he led a detached life, hence his art was bold and violent. Unlike Liszt he seldom sought the glamor of the theatre, and was never in such public view as his maternal admirer, Sand. He was Frederic Francois Chopin, composer, teacher of piano and a lyric genius of the highest range.

Recently the date of his birth has been again discussed by Natalie Janotha, the Polish pianist. Chopin was born in Zelazowa- Wola, six miles from Warsaw, March 1, 1809. This place is sometimes spelled Jeliasovaya-Volia. The medallion made for the tomb by Clesinger—the son-in-law of George Sand—and the watch given by the singer Catalan! in 1820 with the inscription "Donne par Madame Catalan! a Frederic Chopin, age de dix ans," have incited a conflict of authorities. Karasowski was informed by Chopin's sister that the correct year of his birth was 1809, and Szulc, Sowinski and Niecks agree with him. Szulc asserts that the memorial in the Holy Cross Church, Warsaw—where Chopin's heart is preserved—bears the date March 2, 1809. Chopin, so Henry T. Finck declares, was twenty-two years of age when he wrote to his teacher Elsner in 1831. Liszt told Niecks in 1878 that Karasowski had published the correct date in his biography. Now let us consider Janotha's arguments. According to her evidence the composer's natal day was February 22, 1810 and his christening occurred April 28 of the same year. The following baptismal certificate, originally in Latin and translated by Finck, is adduced. It is said to be from the church in which Chopin was christened: "I, the above, have performed the ceremony of baptizing in water a boy with the double name Frederic Francois, on the 22d day of February, son of the musicians Nicolai Choppen, a Frenchman, and Justina de Krzyzanowska his legal spouse. God- parents: the musicians Franciscus Grembeki and Donna Anna Skarbekowa, Countess of Zelazowa-Wola." The wrong date was chiselled upon the monument unveiled October 14, 1894, at Chopin's birthplace—erected practically through the efforts of Milia Balakireff the Russian composer. Janotha, whose father founded the Warsaw Conservatory, informed Finck that the later date has also been put on other monuments in Poland.

Now Chopin's father was not a musician, neither was his mother. I cannot trace Grembeki, but we know that the Countess Skarbek, mother of Chopin's namesake, was not a musician; however, the title "musician" in the baptismal certificate may have signified something eulogistic at that time. Besides, the Polish clergy was not a particularly accurate class. But Janotha has more testimony: in her controversy with me in 1896 she quoted Father Bielawski, the present cure of Brochow parish church of Zelazowa- Wola; this reverend person consulted records and gave as his opinion that 1810 is authentic. Nevertheless, the biography of Wojcicki and the statement of the Chopin family contradict him. And so the case stands. Janotha continues firm in her belief although authorities do not justify her position.

All this petty pother arose since Niecks' comprehensive biography appeared. So sure was he of his facts that he disposed of the pseudo-date in one footnote. Perhaps the composer was to blame; artists, male as well as female, have been known to make themselves younger in years by conveniently forgetting their birthdate, or by attributing the error to carelessness in the registry of dates. Surely the Chopin family could not have been mistaken in such an important matter! Regarding Chopin's ancestry there is still a moiety of doubt. His father was born August 17, 1770—the same year as Beethoven—at Nancy, Lorraine. Some claim that he had Polish blood in his veins. Szulc claims that he was the natural son of a Polish nobleman, who followed King Stanislas Leszcinski to Lorraine, dropping the Szopen, or Szop, for the more Gallic Chopin. When Frederic went to Paris, he in turn changed the name from Szopen to Chopin, which is common in France.

Chopin's father emigrated to Warsaw in 1787—enticed by the offer of a compatriot there in the tobacco business—and was the traditional Frenchman of his time, well-bred, agreeable and more than usually cultivated.

He joined the national guard during the Kosciuszko revolution in 1794. When business stagnated he was forced to teach in the family of the Leszynskis; Mary of that name, one of his pupils, being beloved by Napoleon I. became the mother of Count Walewski, a minister of the second French empire. Drifting to Zelazowa- Wola, Nicholas Chopin lived in the house of the Countess Skarbek, acting as tutor to her son, Frederic. There he made the acquaintance of Justina Krzyzanowska, born of "poor but noble parents." He married her in 1806 and she bore him four children: three girls, and the boy Frederic Francois.

With a refined, scholarly French father, Polish in political sentiments, and an admirable Polish mother, patriotic to the extreme, Frederic grew to be an intelligent, vivacious, home- loving lad. Never a hearty boy but never very delicate, he seemed to escape most of the disagreeable ills of childhood. The moonstruck, pale, sentimental calf of many biographers, he never was. Strong evidence exists that he was merry, pleasure-loving and fond of practical jokes. While his father was never rich, the family after the removal to Warsaw lived at ease. The country was prosperous and Chopin the elder became a professor in the Warsaw Lyceum. His children were brought up in an atmosphere of charming simplicity, love and refinement. The mother was an ideal mother, and, as George Sand declared, Chopin's "only love." But, as we shall discover later, Lelia was ever jealous—jealous even of Chopin's past. His sisters were gifted, gentle and disposed to pet him. Niecks has killed all the pretty fairy tales of his poverty and suffering.

Strong common sense ruled the actions of Chopin's parents, and when his love for music revealed itself at an early age they engaged a teacher named Adalbert Zwyny, a Bohemian who played the violin and taught piano. Julius Fontana, one of the first friends of the boy—he committed suicide in Paris, December 31, 1869,— says that at the age of twelve Chopin knew so much that he was left to himself with the usual good and ill results. He first played on February 24, 1818, a concerto by Gyrowetz and was so pleased with his new collar that he naively told his mother, "Everybody was looking at my collar." His musical precocity, not as marked as Mozart's, but phenomenal withal, brought him into intimacy with the Polish aristocracy and there his taste for fashionable society developed. The Czartoryskis, Radziwills, Skarbeks, Potockis, Lubeckis and the Grand Duke Constantine with his Princess Lowicka made life pleasant for the talented boy. Then came his lessons with Joseph Elsner in composition, lessons of great value. Elsner saw the material he had to mould, and so deftly did he teach that his pupil's individuality was never checked, never warped. For Elsner Chopin entertained love and reverence; to him he wrote from Paris asking his advice in the matter of studying with Kalkbrenner, and this advice he took seriously. "From Zwyny and Elsner even the greatest ass must learn something," he is quoted as having said.

Then there are the usual anecdotes—one is tempted to call them the stock stories of the boyhood of any great composer. In infancy Chopin could not hear music without crying. Mozart was morbidly sensitive to the tones of a trumpet. Later the Polish lad sported familiarly with his talents, for he is related to have sent to sleep and awakened a party of unruly boys at his father's school. Another story is his fooling of a Jew merchant. He had high spirits, perhaps too high, for his slender physique. He was a facile mimic, and Liszt, Balzac, Bocage, Sand and others believed that he would have made an actor of ability. With his sister Emilia he wrote a little comedy. Altogether he was a clever, if not a brilliant lad. His letters show that he was not the latter, for while they are lively they do not reveal much literary ability. But their writer saw with open eyes, eyes that were disposed to caricature the peculiarities of others. This trait, much clarified and spiritualized in later life, became a distinct, ironic note in his character. Possibly it attracted Heine, although his irony was on a more intellectual plane.

His piano playing at this time was neat and finished, and he had already begun those experimentings in technique and tone that afterward revolutionized the world of music and the keyboard. He being sickly and his sister's health poor, the pair was sent in 1826 to Reinerz, a watering place in Prussian Silesia. This with a visit to his godmother, a titled lady named Wiesiolowska and a sister of Count Frederic Skarbek,—the name does not tally with the one given heretofore, as noted by Janotha,—consumed this year. In 1827 he left his regular studies at the Lyceum and devoted his time to music. He was much in the country, listening to the fiddling and singing of the peasants, thus laying the corner stone of his art as a national composer. In the fall of 1828 he went to Berlin, and this trip gave him a foretaste of the outer world.

Stephen Heller, who saw Chopin in 1830, described him as pale, of delicate health, and not destined, so they said in Warsaw, for a long life. This must have been during one of his depressed periods, for his stay in Berlin gives a record of unclouded spirits. However, his sister Emilia died young of pulmonary trouble and doubtless Frederic was predisposed to lung complaint. He was constantly admonished by his relatives to keep his coat closed. Perhaps, as in Wagner's case, the uncontrollable gayety and hectic humors were but so many signs of a fatal disintegrating process. Wagner outlived them until the Scriptural age, but Chopin succumbed when grief, disappointment and intense feeling had undermined him. For the dissipations of the "average sensual man" he had an abiding contempt. He never smoked, in fact disliked it. His friend Sand differed greatly in this respect, and one of the saddest anecdotes related by De Lenz accuses her of calling for a match to light her cigar: "Frederic, un fidibus," she commanded, and Frederic obeyed. Mr. Philip Hale mentions a letter from Balzac to his Countess Hanska, dated March 15, 1841, which concludes: "George Sand did not leave Paris last year. She lives at Rue Pigalle, No. 16...Chopin is always there. Elle ne fume que des cigarettes, et pas autre chose" Mr. Hale states that the italics are in the letter. So much for De Lenz and his fidibus!

I am impelled here to quote from Mr. Earnest Newman's "Study of Wagner" because Chopin's exaltation of spirits, alternating with irritability and intense depression, were duplicated in Wagner. Mr. Newman writes of Wagner: "There have been few men in whom the torch of life has burned so fiercely. In his early days he seems to have had that gayety of temperament and that apparently boundless energy which men in his case, as in that of Heine, Nietzsche, Amiel and others, have wrongly assumed to be the outcome of harmonious physical and mental health. There is a pathetic exception in the outward lives of so many men of genius, the bloom being, to the instructed eye, only the indication of some subtle nervous derangement, only the forerunner of decay." The overmastering cerebral agitation that obsessed Wagner's life, was as with Chopin a symptom, not a sickness; but in the latter it had not yet assumed a sinister turn.

Chopin's fourteen days in Berlin,—he went there under the protection of his father's friend, Professor Jarocki, to attend the great scientific congress—were full of joy unrestrained. The pair left Warsaw September 9, 1828, and after five days travel in a diligence arrived at Berlin. This was a period of leisure travelling and living. Frederic saw Spontini, Mendelssohn and Zelter at a distance and heard "Freischutz." He attended the congress and made sport of the scientists, Alexander von Humboldt included. On the way home they stopped at a place called Zullichau, and Chopin improvised on Polish airs so charmingly that the stage was delayed, "all hands turning in" to listen. This is another of the anecdotes of honorable antiquity. Count Tarnowski relates that "Chopin left Warsaw with a light heart, with a mind full of ideas, perhaps full of dreams of fame and happiness. 'I have only twenty kreuzers in my pockets,' he writes in his note-book, 'and it seems to me that I am richer than Arthur Potocki, whom I met only a moment ago;' besides this, witty conceptions, fun, showing a quiet and cheerful spirit; for example, 'May it be permitted to me to sign myself as belonging to the circle of your friends,—F. Chopin.' Or, 'A welcome moment in which I can express to you my friendship.—F. Chopin, office clerk.' Or again, 'Ah, my most lordly sir, I do not myself yet understand the joy which I feel on entering the circle of your real friends.—F. Chopin, penniless'!"

These letters have a Micawber ring, but they indicate Chopin's love of jest. Sikorski tells a story of the lad's improvising in church so that the priest, choir and congregation were forgotten by him.

The travellers arrived at Warsaw October 6 after staying a few days in Posen where the Prince Radziwill lived; here Chopin played in private. This prince-composer, despite what Liszt wrote, did not contribute a penny to the youth's musical education, though he always treated him in a sympathetic manner.

Hummel and Paganini visited Warsaw in 1829. The former he met and admired, the latter he worshipped. This year may have seen the composition, if not the publication of the "Souvenir de Paganini," said to be in the key of A major and first published in the supplement of the "Warsaw Echo Muzyczne." Niecks writes that he never saw a copy of this rare composition. Paderewski tells me he has the piece and that it is weak, having historic interest only. I cannot find much about the Polish poet, Julius Slowacki, who died the same year, 1849, as Edgar Allan Poe. Tarnowski declares him to have been Chopin's warmest friend and in his poetry a starting point of inspiration for the composer.

In July 1829, accompanied by two friends, Chopin started for Vienna. Travelling in a delightful, old-fashioned manner, the party saw much of the country—Galicia, Upper Silesia and Moravia- -the Polish Switzerland. On July 31 they arrived in the Austrian capital. Then Chopin first began to enjoy an artistic atmosphere, to live less parochially. His home life, sweet and tranquil as it was, could not fail to hurt him as artist; he was flattered and coddled and doubtless the touch of effeminacy in his person was fostered. In Vienna the life was gayer, freer and infinitely more artistic than in Warsaw. He met every one worth knowing in the artistic world and his letters at that period are positively brimming over with gossip and pen pictures of the people he knew. The little drop of malice he injects into his descriptions of the personages he encounters is harmless enough and proves that the young man had considerable wit. Count Gallenberg, the lessee of the famous Karnthnerthor Theatre, was kind to him, and the publisher Haslinger treated him politely. He had brought with him his variations on "La ci darem la mano"; altogether the times seemed propitious and much more so when he was urged to give a concert. Persuaded to overcome a natural timidity, he made his Vienna debut at this theatre August 11, 1829, playing on a Stein piano his Variations, opus 2. His Krakowiak Rondo had been announced, but the parts were not legible, so instead he improvised. He had success, being recalled, and his improvisation on the Polish tune called "Chmiel" and a theme from "La Dame Blanche" stirred up much enthusiasm in which a grumbling orchestra joined. The press was favorable, though Chopin's playing was considered rather light in weight. His style was admired and voted original—here the critics could see through the millstone—while a lady remarked "It's a pity his appearance is so insignificant." This reached the composer's ear and caused him an evil quarter of an hour for he was morbidly sensitive; but being, like most Poles, secretive, managed to hide it.

August 18, encouraged by his triumph, Chopin gave a second concert on the same stage. This time he played the Krakowiak and his talent for composition was discussed by the newspapers. "He plays very quietly, without the daring elan which distinguishes the artist from the amateur," said one; "his defect is the non- observance of the indication of accent at the beginning of musical phrases." What was then admired in Vienna was explosive accentuations and piano drumming. The article continues: "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 and passages, new forms unfolded themselves." This rather acute critique, translated by Dr. Niecks, is from the Wiener "Theaterzeitung" of August 20, 1829. The writer of it cannot be accused of misoneism, that hardening of the faculties of curiousness and prophecy—that semi-paralysis of the organs of hearing which afflicts critics of music so early in life and evokes rancor and dislike to novelties. Chopin derived no money from either of his concerts.

By this time he was accustomed to being reminded of the lightness and exquisite delicacy of his touch and the originality of his style. It elated him to be no longer mistaken for a pupil and he writes home that "my manner of playing pleases the ladies so very much." Thismanner never lost its hold over female hearts, and the airs, caprices and little struttings of Frederic are to blame for the widely circulated legend of his effeminate ways. The legend soon absorbed his music, and so it has come to pass that this fiction, begotten of half fact and half mental indolence, has taken root, like the noxious weed it is. When Rubinstein, Tausig and Liszt played Chopin in passional phrases, the public and critics were aghast. This was a transformed Chopin indeed, a Chopin transposed to the key of manliness. Yet it is the true Chopin. The young man's manners were a trifle feminine but his brain was masculine, electric, and his soul courageous. His Polonaises, Ballades, Scherzi and Etudes need a mighty grip, a grip mental and physical.

Chopin met Czerny. "He is a good man, but nothing more," he said of him. Czerny admired the young pianist with the elastic hand and on his second visit to Vienna, characteristically inquired, "Are you still industrious?" Czerny's brain was a tireless incubator of piano exercises, while Chopin so fused the technical problem with the poetic idea, that such a nature as the old pedagogue's must have been unattractive to him. He knew Franz, Lachner and other celebrities and seems to have enjoyed a mild flirtation with Leopoldine Blahetka, a popular young pianist, for he wrote of his sorrow at parting from her. On August 19 he left with friends for Bohemia, arriving at Prague two days later. There he saw everything and met Klengel, of canon fame, a still greater canon-eer than the redoubtable Jadassohn of Leipzig. Chopin and Klengel liked each other. Three days later the party proceeded to Teplitz and Chopin played in aristocratic company. He reached Dresden August 26, heard Spohr's "Faust" and met capellmeister Morlacchi—that same Morlacchi whom Wagner succeeded as a conductor January 10, 1843—vide Finck's "Wagner." By September 12, after a brief sojourn in Breslau, Chopin was again safe at home in Warsaw.

About this time he fell in love with Constantia Gladowska, a singer and pupil of the Warsaw Conservatory. Niecks dwells gingerly upon his fervor in love and friendship—"a passion with him" and thinks that it gives the key to his life. Of his romantic friendship for Titus Woyciechowski and John Matuszynski- -his "Johnnie"—there are abundant evidences in the letters. They are like the letters of a love-sick maiden. But Chopin's purity of character was marked; he shrank from coarseness of all sorts, and the Fates only know what he must have suffered at times from George Sand and her gallant band of retainers. To this impressionable man, Parisian badinage—not to call it anything stronger—was positively antipathetical. Of him we might indeed say in Lafcadio Hearn's words, "Every mortal man has been many million times a woman." And was it the Goncourts who dared to assert that, "there are no women of genius: women of genius are men"? Chopin needed an outlet for his sentimentalism. His piano was but a sieve for some, and we are rather amused than otherwise on reading the romantic nonsense of his boyish letters.

After the Vienna trip his spirits and his health flagged. He was overwrought and Warsaw became hateful to him, for he loved but had not the courage to tell it to the beloved one. He put it on paper, he played it, but speak it he could not. Here is a point that reveals Chopin's native indecision, his inability to make up his mind. He recalls to me the Frederic Moreau of Flaubert's "L'Education Sentimentale." There is an atrophy of the will, for Chopin can neither propose nor fly from Warsaw. He writes letters that are full of self-reproaches, letters that must have both bored and irritated his friends. Like many other men of genius he suffered all his life from folie de doute, indeed his was what specialists call "a beautiful case." This halting and irresolution was a stumbling block in his career and is faithfully mirrored in his art.

Chopin went to Posen in October, 1829, and at the Radziwills was attracted by the beauty and talent of the Princess Elisa, who died young. George Sand has noted Chopin's emotional versatility in the matter of falling in and out of love. He could accomplish both of an evening and a crumpled roseleaf was sufficient cause to induce frowns and capricious flights—decidedly a young man tres difficile. He played at the "Ressource" in November, 1829, the Variations, opus 2. On March 17, 1830, he gave his first concert in Warsaw, and selected the adagio and rondo of his first concerto, the one in F minor, and the Potpourri on Polish airs. His playing was criticised for being too delicate—an old complaint—but the musicians, Elsner, Kurpinski and the rest were pleased. Edouard Wolff said they had no idea in Warsaw of "the real greatness of Chopin." He was Polish, this the public appreciated, but of Chopin the individual they missed entirely the flavor. A week later, spurred by adverse and favorable criticism, he gave a second concert, playing the same excerpts from this concerto—the slow movement is Constance Gladowska musically idealized—the Krakowiak and an improvisation. The affair was a success. From these concerts he cleared six hundred dollars, not a small sum in those days for an unknown virtuoso. A sonnet was printed in his honor, champagne was offered him by an enthusiastic Paris bred, but not born, pianist named Dunst, who for this act will live in all chronicles of piano playing. Worse still, Orlowski served up the themes of his concerto into mazurkas and had the impudence to publish them.

Then came the last blow: he was asked by a music seller for his portrait, which he refused, having no desire, he said with a shiver, to see his face on cheese and butter wrappers. Some of the criticisms were glowing, others absurd as criticisms occasionally are. Chopin wrote to Titus the same rhapsodical protestations and finally declared in meticulous peevishness, "I will no longer read what people write about me." This has the familiar ring of the true artist who cares nothing for the newspapers but reads them religiously after his own and his rivals' concerts.

Chopin heard Henrietta Sontag with great joy; he was ever a lover and a connoisseur of singing. He advised young pianists to listen carefully and often to great singers. Mdlle. de Belleville the pianist and Lipinski the violinist were admired, and he could write a sound criticism when he chose. But the Gladowska is worrying him. "Unbearable longing" is driving him to exile. He attends her debut as Agnese in Paer's opera of that title and writes a complete description of the important function to Titus, who is at his country seat where Chopin visits him betimes. Agitated, he thinks of going to Berlin or Vienna, but after much philandering remains in Warsaw. On October 11, 1830, following many preparations and much emotional shilly-shallying, Chopin gave his third and last Warsaw concert. He played the E minor concerto for the first time in public but not in sequence. The first and last two movements were separated by an aria, such being the custom of those days. Later he gave the Fantasia on Polish airs. Best of all for him, Miss Gladowska sang a Rossini air, "wore a white dress and roses in her hair, and was charmingly beautiful." Thus Chopin; and the details have all the relevancy of a male besieged by Dan Cupid. Chopin must have played well. He said so himself, and he was always a cautious self-critic despite his pride. His vanity and girlishness peep out in his recital by the response to a quartet of recalls: "I believe I did it yesterday with a certain grace, for Brandt had taught me how to do it properly." He is not speaking of his poetic performance, but of his bow to the public. As he formerly spoke to his mother of his pretty collar, so as young man he makes much of his deportment. But it is all quite in the role; scratch an artist and you surprise a child.

Of course, Constantia sang wonderfully. "Her low B came out so magnificently that Zielinski declared it alone was worth a thousand ducats." Ah, these enamored ones! Chopin left Warsaw November 1, 1830, for Vienna and without declaring his love. Or was he a rejected suitor? History is dumb. He never saw his Gladowska again, for he did not return to Warsaw. The lady was married in 1832—preferring a solid certainty to nebulous genius- -to Joseph Grabowski, a merchant at Warsaw. Her husband, so saith a romantic biographer, Count Wodzinski, became blind; perhaps even a blind country gentleman was preferable to a lachrymose pianist. Chopin must have heard of the attachment in 1831. Her name almost disappears from his correspondence. Time as well as other nails drove from his memory her image. If she was fickle, he was inconstant, and so let us waste no pity on this episode, over which lakes of tears have been shed and rivers of ink have been spilt.

Chopin was accompanied by Elsner and a party of friends as far as Wola, a short distance from Warsaw. There the pupils of the Conservatory sang a cantata by Elsner, and after a banquet he was given a silver goblet filled with Polish earth, being adjured, so Karasowski relates, never to forget his country or his friends wherever he might wander. Chopin, his heart full of sorrow, left home, parents, friends, and "ideal," severed with his youth, and went forth in the world with the keyboard and a brain full of beautiful music as his only weapons.

At Kaliz he was joined by the faithful Titus, and the two went to Breslau, where they spent four days, going to the theatre and listening to music. Chopin played quite impromptu two movements of his E minor concerto, supplanting a tremulous amateur. In Dresden where they arrived November 10, they enjoyed themselves with music. Chopin went to a soiree at Dr. Kreyssig's and was overwhelmed at the sight of a circle of dames armed with knitting needles which they used during the intervals of music-making in the most formidable manner. He heard Auber and Rossini operas and Rolla, the Italian violinist, and listened with delight to Dotzauer and Kummer the violoncellists—the cello being an instrument for which he had a consuming affection. Rubini, the brother of the great tenor, he met, and was promised important letters of introduction if he desired to visit Italy. He saw Klengel again, who told the young Pole, thereby pleasing him very much, that his playing was like John Field's. Prague was also visited, and he arrived at Vienna in November. There he confidently expected a repetition of his former successes, but was disappointed. Haslinger received him coldly and refused to print his variations or concerto unless he got them for nothing. Chopin's first brush with the hated tribe of publishers begins here, and he adopts as his motto the pleasing device, "Pay, thou animal," a motto he strictly adhered to; in money matters Chopin was very particular. The bulk of his extant correspondence is devoted to the exposure of the ways and wiles of music publishers. "Animal" is the mildest term he applies to them, "Jew" the most frequent objurgation. After all Chopin was very Polish.

He missed his friends the Blahetkas, who had gone to Stuttgart, and altogether did not find things so promising as formerly. No profitable engagements could be secured, and, to cap his misery, Titus, his other self, left him to join the revolutionists in Poland November 30. His letters reflect his mental agitation and terror over his parents' safety. A thousand times he thought of renouncing his artistic ambitions and rushing to Poland to fight for his country. He never did, and his indecision—it was not cowardice—is our gain. Chopin put his patriotism, his wrath and his heroism into his Polonaises. That is why we have them now, instead of Chopin having been the target of some black-browed Russian. Chopin was psychically brave; let us not cavil at the almost miraculous delicacy of his organization. He wrote letters to his parents and to Matuszyriski, but they are not despairing— at least not to the former. He pretended gayety and had great hopes for the future, for he was living entirely on means supplied him by his father. News of Constantia gladdened him, and he decided to go to Italy, but the revolution early in 1831 decided him for France. Dr. Malfatti was good to him and cheered him, and he managed to accomplish much social visiting. The letters of this period are most interesting. He heard Sarah Heinefetter sing, and listened to Thaiberg's playing of a movement of his own concerto. Thalberg was three years younger than Chopin and already famous. Chopin did not admire him: "Thalberg plays famously, but he is not my man...He plays forte and piano with the pedals but not with the hand; takes tenths as easily as I do octaves, and wears studs with diamonds."

Thalberg was not only too much of a technician for Chopin, but he was also a Jew and a successful one. In consequence, both poet and Pole revolted.

Hummel called on Frederic, but we hear nothing of his opinion of the elder man and his music; this is all the more strange, considering how much Chopin built on Hummel's style. Perhaps that is the cause of the silence, just as Wagner's dislike for Meyerbeer was the result of his obligations to the composer of "Les Huguenots." He heard Aloys Schmitt play, and uttered the very Heinesque witticism that "he is already over forty years old, and composes eighty years old music." This in a letter to Elsner. Our Chopin could be amazingly sarcastic on occasion. He knew Slavik the violin virtuoso, Merk the 'cellist, and all the music publishers. At a concert given by Madame Garzia-Vestris, in April, 1831, he appeared, and in June gave a concert of his own, at which he must have played the E minor concerto, because of a passing mention in a musical paper. He studied much, and it was July 20, 1831, before he left Vienna after a second, last, and thoroughly discouraging visit.

Chopin got a passport vised for London, "passant par Paris &. Londres," and had permission from the Russian Ambassador to go as far as Munich. Then the cholera gave him some bother, as he had to secure a clean bill of health, but he finally got away. The romantic story of "I am only passing through Paris," which he is reported to have said in after years, has been ruthlessly shorn of its sentiment. At Munich he played his second concerto and pleased greatly. But he did not remain in the Bavarian capital, hastening to Stuttgart, where he heard of the capture of Warsaw by the Russians, September 8, 1831. This news, it is said, was the genesis of the great C minor etude in opus 10, sometimes called the "Revolutionary." Chopin exclaimed in a letter dated December 16, 1831, "All this caused me much pain—who could have foreseen it!" and in another letter he wrote, "How glad my mamma will be that I did not go back." Count Tarnowski in his recollections prints some extracts from a diary said to have been kept by Chopin. According to this his agitation must have been terrible. Here are several examples:

"My poor father! My dearest ones! Perhaps they hunger? Maybe he has not anything to buy bread for mother? Perhaps my sisters have fallen victims to the fury of the Muscovite soldiers? Oh, father, is this the consolation of your old age? Mother, poor suffering mother, is it for this you outlived your daughter?"

"And I here unoccupied! And I am here with empty hands! Sometimes I groan, suffer and despair at the piano! O God, move the earth, that it may swallow the humanity of this century! May the most cruel fortune fall upon the French, that they did not come to our aid." All this sounds a trifle melodramatic and quite unlike Chopin.

He did not go to Warsaw, but started for France at the end of September, arriving early in October, 1831. Poland's downfall had aroused him from his apathy, even if it sent him further from her. This journey, as Liszt declares, "settled his fate." Chopin was twenty-two years old when he reached Paris.


Here, according to Niecks, is the itinerary of Chopin's life for the next eighteen years: In Paris, 27 Boulevard Poisonniere, to 5 and 38 Chaussee d'Antin, to Aix-la-Chapelle, Carlsbad, Leipzig, Heidelberg, Marienbad, and London, to Majorca, to 5 Rue Tronchet, 16 Rue Pigalle, and 9 Square d'Orleans, to England and Scotland, to 9 Square d'Orleans once more, Rue Chaillot and 12 Place Vendeme, and then—Pere la Chaise, the last resting-place. It may be seen that Chopin was a restless, though not roving nature. In later years his inability to remain settled in one place bore a pathological impress,—consumptives are often so.

The Paris of 1831, the Paris of arts and letters, was one of the most delightful cities in the world for the culture-loving. The molten tide of passion and decorative extravagance that swept over intellectual Europe three score years and ten ago, bore on its foaming crest Victor Hugo, prince of romanticists. Near by was Henri Heine,—he left Heinrich across the Rhine,—Heine, who dipped his pen in honey and gall, who sneered and wept in the same couplet. The star of classicism had seemingly set. In the rich conflict of genius were Gautier, Schumann, and the rest. All was romance, fantasy, and passion, and the young men heard the moon sing silvery—you remember De Musset!—and the leaves rustle rhythms to the heart-beats of lovers. "Away with the gray- beards," cried he of the scarlet waistcoat, and all France applauded "Ernani." Pity it was that the romantic infant had to die of intellectual anaemia, leaving as a legacy the memories and work of one of the most marvellous groupings of genius since the Athens of Pericles. The revolution of 1848 called from the mud the sewermen. Flaubert, his face to the past, gazed sorrowfully at Carthage and wrote an epic of the French bourgeois. Zola and his crowd delved into a moral morass, and the world grew weary of them. And then the faint, fading flowers of romanticism were put into albums where their purple harmonies and subtle sayings are pressed into sweet twilight forgetfulness. Berlioz, mad Hector of the flaming locks, whose orchestral ozone vivified the scores of Wagnerand Liszt, began to sound garishly empty, brilliantly superficial; "the colossal nightingale" is difficult to classify even to-day. A romantic by temperament he unquestionably was. But then his music, all color, nuance, and brilliancy, was not genuinely romantic in its themes. Compare him with Schumann, and the genuine romanticist tops the virtuoso. Berlioz, I suspect, was a magnified virtuoso. His orchestral technique is supreme, but his music fails to force its way into my soul. It pricks the nerves, it pleases the sense of the gigantic, the strange, the formless, but there is something uncanny about it all, like some huge, prehistoric bird, an awful Pterodactyl with goggle eyes, horrid snout and scream. Berlioz, like Baudelaire, has the power of evoking the shudder. But as John Addington Symonds wrote: "The shams of the classicists, the spasms of the romanticists have alike to be abandoned. Neither on a mock Parnassus nor on a paste- board Blocksberg can the poet of the age now worship. The artist walks the world at large beneath the light of natural day." All this was before the Polish charmer distilled his sugared wormwood, his sweet, exasperated poison, for thirsty souls inmorbid Paris.

Think of the men and women with whom the new comer associated— for his genius was quickly divined: Hugo, Lamartine, Pere Lamenais,—ah! what balm for those troubled days was in his "Paroles d'un Croyant,"—Chateaubriand, Saint-Simon, Merimee, Gautier, Liszt, Victor Cousin, Baudelaire, Ary Scheffer, Berlioz, Heine,—who asked the Pole news of his muse the "laughing nymph,"- -"If she still continued to drape her silvery veil around the flowing locks of her green hair, with a coquetry so enticing; if the old sea god with the long white beard still pursued this mischievous maid with his ridiculous love?"—De Musset, De Vigny, Rossini, Meyerbeer, Auber, Sainte-Beuve, Adolphe Nourrit, Ferdinand Hiller, Balzac, Dumas, Heller, Delacroix,—the Hugo of painters,—Michelet, Guizot, Thiers, Niemcevicz and Mickiewicz the Polish bards, and George Sand: the quintessence of the Paris of art and literature.

The most eloquent page in Liszt's "Chopin" is the narrative of an evening in the Chaussee d'Antin, for it demonstrates the Hungarian's literary gifts and feeling for the right phrase. This description of Chopin's apartment "invaded by surprise" has a hypnotizing effect on me. The very furnishings of the chamber seem vocal under Liszt's fanciful pen. In more doubtful taste is his statement that "the glace which covers the grace of the elite, as it does the fruit of their desserts,...could not have been satisfactory to Chopin"! Liszt, despite his tendency to idealize Chopin after his death, is our most trustworthy witness at this period. Chopin was an ideal to Liszt though he has not left us a record of his defects. The Pole was ombrageux and easily offended; he disliked democracies, in fact mankind in the bulk stunned him. This is one reason, combined with a frail physique, of his inability to conquer the larger public. Thalberg could do it; his aristocratic tournure, imperturbability, beautiful touch and polished mechanism won the suffrage of his audiences. Liszt never stooped to cajole. He came, he played, he overwhelmed. Chopin knew all this, knew his weaknesses, and fought to overcome them but failed. Another crumpled roseleaf for this man of excessive sensibility.

Since told of Liszt and first related by him, is the anecdote of Chopin refusing to play, on being incautiously pressed, after dinner, giving as a reason "Ah, sir, I have eaten so little!" Even though his host was gauche it cannot be denied that the retort was rude.

Chopin met Osborne, Mendelssohn—who rather patronized him with his "Chopinetto,"—Baillot the violinist and Franchomme the 'cellist. With the latter he contracted a lasting friendship, often playing duos with him and dedicating to him his G minor 'cello Sonata. He called on Kalkbrenner, then the first pianist of his day, who was puzzled by the prodigious novelty of the young Pole's playing. Having heard Herz and Hiller, Chopin did not fear to perform his E minor concerto for him. He tells all about the interview in a letter to Titus: "Are you a pupil of Field's?" was asked by Kalkbrenner, who remarked that Chopin had the style of Cramer and the touch of Field. Not having a standard by which to gauge the new phenomenon, Kalkbrenner was forced to fall back on the playing of men he knew. He then begged Chopin to study three years with him—only three!—but Elsner in an earnest letter dissuaded his pupil from making any experiments that might hurt his originality of style. Chopin actually attended the class of Kalkbrenner but soon quit, for he had nothing to learn of the pompous, penurious pianist. The Hiller story of how Mendelssohn, Chopin, Liszt and Heller teased this grouty old gentleman on the Boulevard des Italiens is capital reading, if not absolutely true. Yet Chopin admired Kalkbrenner's finished technique despite his platitudinous manner. Heine said—or rather quoted Koreff— that Kalkbrenner looked like a bonbon that had been in the mud. Niecks thinks Chopin might have learned of Kalkbrenner on the mechanical side. Chopin, in public, was modest about his attainments, looking upon himself as self-taught. "I cannot create a new school, because I do not even know the old," he said. It is this very absence of scholasticism that is both the power and weakness of his music. In reality his true technical ancestor was Hummel.

He played the E minor concerto first in Paris, February 26, 1832, and some smaller pieces. Although Kalkbrenner, Baillot and others participated, Chopin was the hero of the evening. The affair was a financial failure, the audience consisting mostly of distinguished and aristocratic Poles. Mendelssohn, who disliked Kalkbrenner and was angered at his arrogance in asking Chopin to study with him, "applauded furiously." "After this," Hiller writes, "nothing more was heard of Chopin's lack of technique." The criticisms were favorable. On May 20, 1832, Chopin appeared at a charity concert organized by Prince de la Moskowa. He was lionized in society and he wrote to Titus that his heart beat in syncopation, so exciting was all this adulation, social excitement and rapid gait of living. But he still sentimentalizes to Titus and wishes him in Paris.

A flirtation of no moment, with Francilla Pixis, the adopted daughter of Pixis the hunchback pianist—cruelly mimicked by Chopin—aroused the jealousy of the elder artist. Chopin was delighted, for he was malicious in a dainty way. "What do you think of this?" he writes. "I, a dangerous seducteur!" The Paris letters to his parents were unluckily destroyed, as Karasowski relates, by Russian soldiers in Warsaw, September 19, 1863, and with them were burned his portrait by Ary Scheffer and his first piano. The loss of the letters is irremediable. Karasowski who saw some of them says they were tinged with melancholy. Despite his artistic success Chopin needed money and began to consider again his projected trip to America. Luckily he met Prince Valentine Radziwill on the street, so it is said, and was persuaded to play at a Rothschild soiree. From that moment his prospects brightened, for he secured paying pupils. Niecks, the iconoclast, has run this story to earth and finds it built on airy, romantic foundations. Liszt, Hiller, Franchomme and Sowinski never heard of it although it was a stock anecdote of Chopin.

Chopin must have broadened mentally as well as musically in this congenial, artistic environment. He went about, hobnobbed with princesses, and of the effect of this upon his compositions there can be no doubt. If he became more cosmopolitan he also became more artificial and for a time the salon with its perfumed, elegant atmosphere threatened to drug his talent into forgetfulness of loftier aims. Luckily the master-sculptor Life intervened and real troubles chiselled his character on tragic, broader and more passionate lines. He played frequently in public during 1832-1833 with Hiller, Liszt, Herz and Osborne, and much in private. There was some rivalry in this parterre of pianists. Liszt, Chopin and Hiller indulged in friendly contests and Chopin always came off winner when Polish music was essayed. He delighted in imitating his colleagues, Thalberg especially. Adolphe Brisson tells of a meeting of Sand, Chopin and Thalberg, where, as Mathias says, the lady "chattered like a magpie" and Thalberg, after being congratulated by Chopin on his magnificent virtuosity, reeled off polite phrases in return; doubtless he valued the Pole's compliments for what they were worth. The moment his back was presented, Chopin at the keyboard was mocking him. It was then Chopin told Sand of his pupil, Georges Mathias, "c'est une bonne caboche." Thalberg took his revenge whenever he could. After a concert by Chopin he astonished Hiller by shouting on the way home. In reply to questions he slily answered that he needed a forte as he had heard nothing but pianissimo the entire evening!

Chopin was never a hearty partisan of the Romantic movement. Its extravagance, misplaced enthusiasm, turbulence, attacks on church, state and tradition disturbed the finical Pole while noise, reclame and boisterousness chilled and repulsed him. He wished to be the Uhland of Poland, but he objected to smashing idols and refused to wade in gutters to reach his ideal. He was not a fighter, yet as one reviews the past half century it is his still small voice that has emerged from the din, the golden voice of a poet and not the roar of the artistic demagogues of his day. Liszt's influence was stimulating, but what did not Chopin do for Liszt? Read Schumann. He managed in 1834 to go to Aix-la-Chapelle to attend the Lower Rhenish Music Festival. There he met Hiller and Mendelssohn at the painter Schadow's and improvised marvellously, so Hiller writes. He visited Coblenz with Hiller before returning home.

Professor Niecks has a deep spring of personal humor which he taps at rare intervals. He remarks that "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 to sigh." This slanting allusion is matched by his treatment of George Sand. After literally ratting her in a separate chapter, he winds up his work with the solemn assurance that he abstains "from pronouncing judgment because the complete evidence did not seem to me to warrant my doing so." This is positively delicious. When I met this biographer at Bayreuth in 1896, I told him how much I had enjoyed his work, adding that I found it indispensable in the re-construction of Chopin. Professor Niecks gazed at me blandly—he is most amiable and scholarly-looking—and remarked, "You are not the only one." He was probably thinking of the many who have had recourse to his human documents of Chopin. But Niecks, in 1888, built on Karasowski, Liszt, Schumann, Sand and others, so the process is bound to continue. Since 1888 much has been written of Chopin, much surmised.

With Matuszysnki the composer was happier. He devoutly loved his country and despite his sarcasm was fond of his countrymen. Never an extravagant man, he invariably assisted the Poles. After 1834- 5, Chopin's activity as a public pianist began to wane. He was not always understood and was not so warmly welcomed as he deserved to be; on one occasion when he played the Larghetto of his F minor concerto in a Conservatoire concert, its frigid reception annoyed him very much. Nevertheless he appeared at a benefit concert at Habeneck's, April 26, 1835. The papers praised, but his irritability increased with every public performance. About this time he became acquainted with Bellini, for whose sensuous melodies he had a peculiar predilection.

In July, 1835, Chopin met his father at Carlsbad. Then he went to Dresden and later to Leipzig, playing privately for Schumann, Clara Wieck, Wenzel and Mendelssohn. Schumann gushes over Chopin, but this friendliness was never reciprocated. On his return to Paris Chopin visited Heidelberg, where he saw the father of his pupil, Adolphe Gutmann, and reached the capital of the civilized world the middle of October.

Meanwhile a love affair had occupied his attention in Dresden. In September, 1835, Chopin met his old school friends, the Wodzinskis, former pupils at his father's school. He fell in love with their sister Marie and they became engaged. He spoke to his father about the matter, and for the time Paris and his ambitions were forgotten. He enjoyed a brief dream of marrying and of settling near Warsaw, teaching and composing—the occasional dream that tempts most active artists, soothing them with the notion that there is really a haven of rest from the world's buffets. Again the gods intervened in the interest of music. The father of the girl objected on the score of Chopin's means and his social position—artists were not Paderewskis in those days— although the mother favored the romance. The Wodzinskis were noble and wealthy. In the summer of 1836, at Marienbad, Chopin met Marie again. In 1837, the engagement was broken and the following year the inconstant beauty married the son of Chopin's godfather, Count Frederic Skarbek. As the marriage did not prove a success—perhaps the lady played too much Chopin—a divorce ensued and later she married a gentleman by the name of Orpiszewski. Count Wodzinski wrote "Les Trois Romans de Frederic Chopin," in which he asserts that his sister rejected Chopin at Marienbad in 1836. But Chopin survived the shock. He went back to Paris, and in July 1837, accompanied by Camille Pleyel and Stanislas Kozmian, visited England for the first time. His stay was short, only eleven days, and his chest trouble dates from this time. He played at the house of James Broadwood, the piano manufacturer, being introduced by Pleyel as M. Fritz; but his performance betrayed his identity. His music was already admired by amateurs but the critics with a few exceptions were unfavorable to him.

Now sounds for the first time the sinister motif of the George Sand affair. In deference to Mr. Hadow I shall not call it a liaison. It was not, in the vulgar sense. Chopin might have been petty—a common failing of artistic men—but he was never vulgar in word or deed. He disliked "the woman with the sombre eye" before he had met her. Her reputation was not good, no matter if George Eliot, Matthew Arnold, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and others believed her an injured saint. Mr. Hadow indignantly repudiates anything that savors of irregularity in the relations of Chopin and Aurore Dudevant. If he honestly believes that their contemporaries flagrantly lied and that the woman's words are to be credited, why by all means let us leave the critic in his Utopia. Mary, Queen of Scots, has her Meline; why should not Sand boast of at least one apologist for her life—besides herself? I do not say this with cynical intent. Nor do I propose to discuss the details of the affair which has been dwelt upon ad nauseam by every twanger of the romantic string. The idealists will always see a union of souls, the realists—and there were plenty of them in Paris taking notes from 1837 to 1847—view the alliance as a matter for gossip. The truth lies midway.

Chopin, a neurotic being, met the polyandrous Sand, a trampler on all the social and ethical conventions, albeit a woman of great gifts; repelled at first he gave way before the ardent passion she manifested toward him. She was his elder, so could veil the situation with the maternal mask, and she was the stronger intellect, more celebrated—Chopin was but a pianist in the eyes of the many—and so won by her magnetism the man she desired. Paris, artistic Paris, was full of such situations. Liszt protected the Countess d'Agoult, who bore him children, Cosima Von Bulow-Wagner among the rest. Balzac—Balzac, that magnificent combination of Bonaparte and Byron, pirate and poet—was apparently leading the life of a saint, but his most careful student, Viscount Spelboerch de Lovenjoul—whose name is veritably Balzac-ian—tells us some different stories; even Gustave Flaubert, the ascetic giant of Rouen, had a romance with Madame Louise Colet, a mediocre writer and imitator of Sand,—as was Countess d'Agoult, the Frankfort Jewess better known as "Daniel Stern,"—that lasted from 1846 to 1854, according to Emile Faguet. Here then was a medium which was the other side of good and evil, a new transvaluation of morals, as Nietzsche would say. Frederic deplored the union for he was theoretically a Catholic. Did he not once resent the visit of Liszt and a companion to his apartments when he was absent? Indeed he may be fairly called a moralist. Carefully reared in the Roman Catholic religion he died confessing that faith. With the exception of the Sand episode, his life was not an irregular one, He abhorred the vulgar and tried to conceal this infatuation from his parents.

This intimacy, however, did the pair no harm artistically, notwithstanding the inevitable sorrow and heart burnings at the close. Chopin had some one to look after him—he needed it—and in the society of this brilliant Frenchwoman he throve amazingly: his best work may be traced to Nohant and Majorca. She on her side profited also. After the bitterness of her separation from Alfred de Musset about 1833 she had been lonely, for the Pagello intermezzo was of short duration. The De Musset-Sand story was not known in its entirety until 1896. Again M. Spelboerch de Lovenjoul must be consulted, as he possessed a bundle of letters that were written by George Sand and M. Buloz, the editor of "La Revue des Deux Mondes," in 1858.

De Musset went to Venice with Sand in the fall of 1833. They had the maternal sanction and means supplied by Madame de Musset. The story gives forth the true Gallic resonance on being critically tapped. De Musset returned alone, sick in body and soul, and thenceforth absinthe was his constant solace. There had been references, vague and disquieting, of a Dr. Pagello for whom Sand had suddenly manifested one of her extraordinary fancies. This she denied, but De Musset's brother plainly intimated that the aggravating cause of his brother's illness had been the unexpected vision of Sand coquetting with the young medical man called in to prescribe for Alfred. Dr. Pagello in 1896 was interviewed by Dr. Cabanes of the Paris "Figaro" and here is his story of what had happened in 1833. This story will explain the later behavior of "la merle blanche" toward Chopin.

"One night George Sand, after writing three pages of prose full of poetry and inspiration, took an unaddressed envelope, placed therein the poetic declaration, and handed it to Dr. Pagello. He, seeing no address, did not, or feigned not, to understand for whom the letter was intended, and asked George Sand what he should do with it. Snatching the letter from his hands, she wrote upon the envelope: 'To the Stupid Pagello.' Some days afterward George Sand frankly told De Musset that henceforth she could be to him only a friend."

De Musset died in 1857 and after his death Sand startled Paris with "Elle et Lui," an obvious answer to "Confessions of a Child of the Age, "De Musset's version—an uncomplimentary one to himself—of their separation. The poet's brother Paul rallied to his memory with "Lui et Elle," and even Louisa Colet ventured into the fracas with a trashy novel called "Lui." During all this mud-throwing the cause of the trouble calmly lived in the little Italian town of Belluno. It was Dr. Giuseppe Pagello who will go down in literary history as the one man that played Joseph to George Sand.

Now do you ask why I believe that Sand left Chopin when she was bored with him? The words "some days afterwards" are significant. I print the Pagello story not only because it is new, but as a reminder that George Sand in her love affairs was always the man. She treated Chopin as a child, a toy, used him for literary copy- -pace Mr. Hadow!—and threw him over after she had wrung out all the emotional possibilities of the problem. She was true to herself even when she attempted to palliate her want of heart. Beware of the woman who punctuates the pages of her life with "heart" and "maternal feelings." "If I do not believe any more in tears it is because I saw thee crying!" exclaimed Chopin. Sand was the product of abnormal forces, she herself was abnormal, and her mental activity, while it created no permanent types in literary fiction, was also abnormal. She dominated Chopin, as she had dominated Jules Sandeau, Calmatta the mezzotinter, De Musset, Franz Liszt, Delacroix, Michel de Bourges—I have not the exact chronological order—and later Flaubert. The most lovable event in the life of this much loved woman was her old age affair— purely platonic—with Gustave Flaubert. The correspondence shows her to have been "maternal" to the last.

In the recently published "Lettres a l'etrangere" of Honore de Balzac, this about Sand is very apropos. A visit paid to George Sand at Nohant, in March 1838, brought the following to Madame Hanska:

It was rather well that I saw her, for we exchanged confidences regarding Sandeau. I, who blamed her to the last for deserting him, now feel only a deep compassion for her, as you will have for me, when you learn with whom we have had relations, she of love, I of friendship.

But she has been even more unhappy with Musset. So here she is, in retreat, denouncing both marriage and love, because in both she has found nothing but delusion.

I will tell you of her immense and secret devotion to these two men, and you will agree that there is nothing in common between angels and devils. All the follies she has committed are claims to glory in the eyes of great and beautiful souls. She has been the dupe of la Dorval, Bocage, Lamenais, etc.; through the same sentiment she is the dupe of Liszt and Madame d'Agoult.

So let us accept without too much questioning as did Balzac, a reader of souls, the Sand-Chopin partnership and follow its sinuous course until 1847.

Chopin met Sand at a musical matinee in 1837. Niecks throttles every romantic yarn about the pair that has been spoken or printed. He got his facts viva voce from Franchomme. Sand was antipathetic to Chopin but her technique for overcoming masculine coyness was as remarkable in its particular fashion as Chopin's proficiency at the keyboard. They were soon seen together, and everywhere. She was not musical, not a trained musician, but her appreciation for all art forms was highly sympathetic. Not a beautiful woman, being swarthy and rather heavy-set in figure, this is what she was, as seen by Edouard Grenier:—

She was short and stout, but her face attracted all my attention, the eyes especially. They were wonderful eyes, a little too close together, it may be, large, with full eyelids, and black, very black, but by no means lustrous; they reminded me of unpolished marble, or rather of velvet, and this gave a strange, dull, even cold expression to her countenance. Her fine eyebrows and these great placid eyes gave her an air of strength and dignity which was not borne out by the lower part of her face. Her nose was rather thick and not over shapely. Her mouth was also rather coarse and her chin small. She spoke with great simplicity, and her manners were very quiet.

But she attracted with imperious power all that she met. Liszt felt this attraction at one time—and it is whispered that Chopin was jealous of him. Pouf! the woman who could conquer Franz Liszt in his youth must have been a sorceress. He, too, was versatile.

In 1838, Sand's boy Maurice being ill, she proposed a visit to Majorca. Chopin went with the party in November and full accounts of the Mediterranean trip, Chopin's illness, the bad weather, discomforts and all the rest may be found in the "Histoire de Ma Vie" by Sand. It was a time of torment. "Chopin is a detestable invalid," said Sand, and so they returned to Nohant in June 1839. They saw Genoa for a few days in May, but that is as far as Chopin ever penetrated into the promised land—Italy, at one time a passion with him. Sand enjoyed the subtle and truly feminine pleasure of again entering the city which six years before she had visited in company with another man, the former lover of Rachel.

Chopin's health in 1839 was a source of alarm to himself and his friends. He had been dangerously ill at Majorca and Marseilles. Fever and severe coughing proved to be the dread forerunners of the disease that killed him ten years later. He was forced to be very careful in his habits, resting more, giving fewer lessons, playing but little in private or public, and becoming frugal of his emotions. Now Sand began to cool, though her lively imagination never ceased making graceful, touching pictures of herself in the roles of sister of mercy, mother, and discreet friend, all merged into one sentimental composite. Her invalid was her one thought, and for an active mind and body like hers, it must have been irksome to submit to the caprices of a moody, ailing man. He composed at Nohant, and she has told us all about it; how he groaned, wrote and re-wrote and tore to pieces draft after draft of his work. This brings to memory another martyr to style, Gustave Flaubert, who for forty years in a room at Croisset, near Rouen, wrestled with the devils of syntax and epithet. Chopin was of an impatient, nervous disposition. All the more remarkable then his capacity for taking infinite pains. Like Balzac he was never pleased with the final "revise" of his work, he must needs aim at finishing touches. His letters at this period are interesting for the Chopinist but for the most part they consist of requests made to his pupils, Fontana, Gutmann and others, to jog the publishers, to get him new apartments, to buy him many things. Wagner was not more importunate or minatory than this Pole, who depended on others for the material comforts and necessities of his existence. Nor is his abuse of friends and patrons, the Leos and others, indicative of an altogether frank, sincere nature. He did not hesitate to lump them all as "pigs" and "Jews" if anything happened to jar his nerves. Money, money, is the leading theme of the Paris and Mallorean letters. Sand was a spendthrift and Chopin had often to put his hands in his pocket for her. He charged twenty francs a lesson, but was not a machine and for at least four months of the year he earned nothing. Hence his anxiety to get all he could for his compositions. Heaven-born geniuses are sometimes very keen in financial transactions, and indeed why should they not be?

In 1839 Chopin met Moscheles. They appeared together at St. Cloud, playing for the royal family. Chopin received a gold cup, Moscheles a travelling case. "The King gave him this," said the amiable Frederic, "to get the sooner rid of him." There were two public concerts in 1841 and 1842, the first on April 26 at Pleyel's rooms, the second on February 20 at the same hall. Niecks devotes an engrossing chapter to the public accounts and the general style of Chopin's playing; of this more hereafter. From 1843 to 1847 Chopin taught, and spent the vacations at Nohant, to which charming retreat Liszt, Matthew Arnold, Delacroix, Charles Rollinat and many others came. His life was apparently happy. He composed and amused himself with Maurice and Solange, the "terrible children" of this Bohemian household. There, according to reports, Chopin and Liszt were in friendly rivalry—are two pianists ever friendly?—Liszt imitating Chopin's style, and once in the dark they exchanged places and fooled their listeners. Liszt denied this. Another story is of one or the other working the pedal rods—the pedals being broken. This too has been laughed to scorn by Liszt. Nor could he recall having played while Viardot-Garcia sang out on the terrace of the chateau. Garcia's memory is also short about this event. Rollinat, Delacroix and Sand have written abundant souvenirs of Nohant and its distinguished gatherings, so let us not attempt to impugn the details of the Chopin legend, that legend which coughs deprecatingly as it points to its aureoled alabaster brow. De Lenz should be consulted for an account of this period; he will add the finishing touches of unreality that may be missing.

Chopin knew every one of note in Paris. The best salons were open to him. Some of his confreres have not hesitated to describe him as a bit snobbish, for during the last ten years of his life he was generally inaccessible. But consider his retiring nature, his suspicious Slavic temperament, above all his delicate health! Where one accuses him of indifference and selfishness there are ten who praise his unfaltering kindness, generosity and forbearance. He was as a rule a kind and patient teacher, and where talent was displayed his interest trebled. Can you fancy this Ariel of the piano giving lessons to hum-drum pupils! Playing in a charmed and bewitching circle of countesses, surrounded by the luxury and the praise that kills, Chopin is a much more natural figure, yet he gave lessons regularly and appeared to relish them. He had not much taste for literature. He liked Voltaire though he read but little that was not Polish—did he really enjoy Sand's novels?—and when asked why he did not compose symphonies or operas, answered that his metier was the piano, and to it he would stick. He spoke French though with a Polish accent, and also German, but did not care much for German music except Bach and Mozart. Beethoven—save in the C sharp minor and several other sonatas—was not sympathetic. Schubert he found rough, Weber, in his piano music, too operatic and Schumann he dismissed without a word. He told Heller that the "Carneval" was really not music at all. This remark is one of the curiosities of musical anecdotage.

But he had his gay moments when he would gossip, chatter, imitate every one, cut up all manner of tricks and, like Wagner, stand on his head. Perhaps it was feverish, agitated gayety, yet somehow it seemed more human than that eternal Thaddeus of Warsaw melancholy and regret for the vanished greatness and happiness of Poland—a greatness and happiness that never had existed. Chopin disliked letter writing and would go miles to answer one in person. He did not hate any one in particular, being rather indifferent to every one and to political events—except where Poland was concerned. Theoretically he hated Jews and Russians, yet associated with both. He was, like his music, a bundle of unreconciled affirmations and evasions and never could have been contented anywhere or with any one. Of himself he said that "he was in this world like the E string of a violin on a contrabass." This "divine dissatisfaction" led him to extremes: to the flouting of friends for fancied affronts, to the snubbing of artists who sometimes visited him. He grew suspicious of Liszt and for ten years was not on terms of intimacy with him although they never openly quarrelled.

The breach which had been very perceptibly widening became hopeless in 1847, when Sand and Chopin parted forever. A literature has grown up on the subject. Chopin never had much to say but Sand did; so did Chopin's pupils, who were quite virulent in their assertions that she killed their master. The break had to come. It was the inevitable end of such a friendship. The dynamics of free-love have yet to be formulated. This much we know: two such natures could never entirely cohere. When the novelty wore off the stronger of the two—the one least in love— took the initial step. It was George Sand who took it with Chopin. He would never have had the courage nor the will.

The final causes are not very interesting. Niecks has sifted all the evidence before the court and jury of scandal-mongers. The main quarrel was about the marriage of Solange Sand with Clesinger the sculptor. Her mother did not oppose the match, but later she resented Clesinger's actions. He was coarse and violent, she said, with the true mother-in-law spirit—and when Chopin received the young woman and her husband after a terrible scene at Nohant, she broke with him. It was a good excuse. He had ennuied her for several years, and as he had completed his artistic work on this planet and there was nothing more to be studied,—the psychological portrait was supposedly painted— Madame George got rid of him. The dark stories of maternal jealousy, of Chopin's preference for Solange, the visit to Chopin of the concierge's wife to complain of her mistress' behavior with her husband, all these rakings I leave to others. It was a triste affair and I do not doubt in the least that it undermined Chopin's feeble health. Why not! Animals die of broken hearts, and this emotional product of Poland, deprived of affection, home and careful attention, may well, as De Lenz swears, have died of heart-break. Recent gossip declares that Sand was jealous of Chopin's friendships—this is silly.

Mr. A. B. Walkley, the English dramatic critic, after declaring that he would rather have lived during the Balzac epoch in Paris, continues in this entertaining vein:

And then one might have had a chance of seeing George Sand in the thick of her amorisms. For my part I would certainly rather have met her than Pontius Pilate. The people who saw her in her old age—Flaubert, Gautier, the Goncourts—have left us copious records of her odd appearance, her perpetual cigarette smoking, and her whimsical life at Nohant. But then she was only an "extinct volcano;" she must have been much more interesting in full eruption. Of her earlier career—the period of Musset and Pagello—she herself told us something in "Elle et Lui," and correspondence published a year or so ago in the "Revue de Paris" told us more. But, to my mind, the most fascinating chapter in this part of her history is the Chopin chapter, covering the next decade, or, roughly speaking, the 'forties. She has revealed something of this time—naturally from her own point of view—in "Lucrezia Floriana" (1847). For it is, of course, one of the most notorious characteristics of George Sand that she invariably turned her loves into "copy." The mixture of passion and printer's ink in this lady's composition is surely one of the most curious blends ever offered to the palate of the epicure.

But it was a blend which gave the lady an unfair advantage for posterity. We hear too much of her side of the matter. This one feels especially as regards her affair with Chopin. With Musset she had to reckon a writer like herself; and against her "Elle et Lui" we can set his "Confession d'un enfant du siecle." But poor Chopin, being a musician, was not good at "copy." The emotions she gave him he had to pour out in music, which, delightful as sound, is unfortunately vague as a literary "document." How one longs to have his full, true, and particular account of the six months he spent with George Sand in Majorca! M. Pierre Mille, who has just published in the "Revue Bleue" some letters of Chopin (first printed, it seems, in a Warsaw newspaper), would have us believe that the lady was really the masculine partner. We are to understand that it was Chopin who did the weeping, and pouting, and "scene"- making while George Sand did the consoling, the pooh-poohing, and the protecting. Liszt had already given us a characteristic anecdote of this Majorca period. We see George Sand, in sheer exuberance of health and animal spirits, wandering out into the storm, while Chopin stays at home, to have an attack of "nerves," to give vent to his anxiety (oh, "artistic temperament"!) by composing a prelude, and to fall fainting at the lady's feet when she returns safe and sound. There is no doubt that the lady had enough of the masculine temper in her to be the first to get tired. And as poor Chopin was coughing and swooning most of the time, this is scarcely surprising. But she did not leave him forthwith. She kept up the pretence of loving him, in a maternal, protecting sort of way, out of pity, as it were, for a sick child.

So much the published letters clearly show. Many of them are dated from Nohant. But in themselves the letters are dull enough. Chopin composed with the keyboard of a piano; with ink and paper he could do little. Probably his love letters were wooden productions, and George Sand, we know, was a fastidious critic in that matter. She had received and written so many! But any rate, Chopin did not write whining recriminations like Mussel. His real view of her we shall never know—and, if you like, you may say it is no business of ours. She once uttered a truth about that (though not apropos of Chopin), "There are so many things between two lovers of which they alone can be the judges."

Chopin gave his last concert in Paris, February 16, 1848, at Pleyel's. He was ill but played beautifully. Oscar Commettant said he fainted in the artist's room. Sand and Chopin met but once again. She took his hand, which was "trembling and cold," but he escaped without saying a word. He permitted himself in a letter to Grzymala from London dated November 17-18, 1848, to speak of Sand. "I have never cursed any one, but now I am so weary of life that I am near cursing Lucrezia. But she suffers too, and suffers more because she grows older in wickedness. What a pity about Soli! Alas! everything goes wrong with the world!" I wonder what Mr. Hadow thinks of this reference to Sand!

"Soli" is Solange Sand, who was forced to leave her husband because of ill-treatment. As her mother once boxed Clesinger's ears at Nohant, she followed the example. In trying to settle the affair Sand quarrelled hopelessly with her daughter. That energetic descendant of "emancipated woman" formed a partnership, literary of course, with the Marquis Alfieri, the nephew of the Italian poet. Her salon was as much in vogue as her mother's, but her tastes were inclined to politics, revolutionary politics preferred. She had for associates Gambetta, Jules Ferry, Floquet, Taine, Herve, Weiss, the critic of the "Debats," Henri Fouquier and many others. She had the "curved Hebraic nose of her mother and hair coal-black." She died in her chateau at Montgivray and was buried March 20, 1899, at Nohant where, as my informant says, "her mother died of over-much cigarette smoking." She was a clever woman and wrote a book "Masks and Buffoons." Maurice Sand died in 1883. He was the son of his mother, who was gathered to her heterogeneous ancestors June 8, 1876.

In literature George Sand is a feminine pendant to Jean Jacques Rousseau, full of ill-digested, troubled, fermenting, social, political, philosophical and religious speculations and theories. She wrote picturesque French, smooth, flowing and full of color. The sketches of nature, of country life, have positive value, but where has vanished her gallery of Byronic passion-pursued women? Where are the Lelias, the Indianas, the Rudolstadts? She had not, as Mr. Henry James points out, a faculty for characterization. As Flaubert wrote her: "In spite of your great Sphinx eyes you have always seen the world as through a golden mist." She dealt in vague, vast figures, and so her Prince Karol in "Lucrezia Floriana," unquestionably intended for Chopin, is a burlesque— little wonder he was angered when the precious children asked him "Cher M. Chopin, have you read 'Lucrezia'? Mamma has put you in it." Of all persons Sand was pre-elected to give to the world a true, a sympathetic picture of her friend. She understood him, but she had not the power of putting him between the coversof a book. If Flaubert, or better still, Pierre Loti, could have known Chopin so intimately we should possess a memoir in which every vibration of emotion would be recorded, every shade noted, and all pinned with the precise adjective, the phrase exquisite.


The remaining years of Chopin's life were lonely. His father died in 1844 of chest and heart complaint, his sister Emilia died of consumption—ill-omens these!—and shortly after, John Matuszynski died. Titus Woyciechowski was in far-off Poland on his estates and Chopin had but Grzymala and Fontana to confide in; they being Polish he preferred them, although he was diplomatic enough not to let others see this. Both Franchomme and Gutmann whispered to Niecks at different times that each was the particular soul, the alter ego, of Chopin. He appeared to give himself to his friends but it was usually surface affection. He had coaxing, coquettish ways, playful ways that cost him nothing when in good spirits. So he was "more loved than loving." This is another trait of the man, which, allied with his fastidiousness and spiritual brusquerie, made him difficult to decipher. The loss of Sand completed his misery and we find him in poor health when he arrived in London, for the second and last time, April 21, 1848.

Mr. A. J. Hipkins is the chief authority on the details of Chopin's visit to England. To this amiable gentleman and learned writer on pianos, Franz Hueffer, Joseph Bennett and Niecks are indebted for the most of their facts. From them the curious may learn all there is to learn. The story is not especially noteworthy, being in the main a record of ill-health, complainings, lamentations and not one signal artistic success.

War was declared upon Chopin by a part of the musical world. The criticism was compounded of pure malice and stupidity. Chopin was angered but little for he was too sick to care now. He went to an evening party but missed the Macready dinner where he was to have met Thackeray, Berlioz, Mrs. Procter and Sir Julius Benedict. With Benedict he played a Mozart duet at the Duchess of Sutherland's. Whether he played at court the Queen can tell; Niecks cannot. He met Jenny Lind-Goldschmidt and liked her exceedingly—as did all who had the honor of knowing her. She sided with him, woman-like, in the Sand affair—echoes of which had floated across the channel—and visited him in Paris in 1849. Chopin gave two matinees at the houses of Adelaide Kemble and Lord Falmouth—June 23 and July 7. They were very recherche, so it appears. Viardot-Garcia sang. The composer's face and frame were wasted by illness and Mr. Solomon spoke of his "long attenuated fingers." He made money and that was useful to him, for doctors' bills and living had taken up his savings. There was talk of his settling in London, but the climate, not to speak of the unmusical atmosphere, would have been fatal to him. Wagner succumbed to both, sturdy fighter that he was.

Chopin left for Scotland in August and stopped at the house of his pupil, Miss Stirling. Her name is familiar to Chopin students, for the two nocturnes, opus 55, are dedicated to her. He was nearly killed with kindness but continually bemoaned his existence. At the house of Dr. Lyschinski, a Pole, he lodged in Edinburgh and was so weak that he had to be carried up and down stairs. To the doctor's good wife he replied in answer to the question "George Sand is your particular friend?" "Not even George Sand." And is he to be blamed for evading tiresome reminders of the past? He confessed that his excessive thinness had caused Sand to address him as "My Dear Corpse." Charming, is it not? Miss Stirling was doubtless in love with him and Princess Czartoryska followed him to Scotland to see if his health was better. So he was not altogether deserted by the women—indeed he could not live without their little flatteries and agreeable attentions. It is safe to say that a woman was always within call of Chopin.

He played at Manchester on the 28th of August, but his friend Mr. Osborne, who was present, says "his playing was too delicate to create enthusiasm and I felt truly sorry for him." On his return to Scotland he stayed with Mr. and Mrs. Salis Schwabe.

Mr. J. Cuthbert Hadden wrote several years ago in the Glasgow "Herald" of Chopin's visit to Scotland in 1848. The tone-poet was in the poorest health, but with characteristic tenacity played at concerts and paid visits to his admirers. Mr. Hadden found the following notice in the back files of the Glasgow "Courier":

Monsieur Chopin has the honour to announce that his matinee musicale will take place on Wednesday, the 27th September, in the Merchant Hall, Glasgow. To commence at half-past two o'clock. Tickets, limited in number, half-a-guinea each, and full particulars to be had from Mr. Muir Wood, 42, Buchanan street.

He continues:

The net profits of this concert are said to have been exactly L60—a ridiculously low sum when we compare it with the earnings of later day virtuosi; nay, still more ridiculously low when we recall the circumstance that for two concerts in Glasgow sixteen years before this Paganini had L 1,400. Muir Wood, who has since died, said: "I was then a comparative stranger in Glasgow, but I was told that so many private carriages had never been seen at any concert in the town. In fact, it was the county people who turned out, with a few of the elite of Glasgow society. Being a morning concert, the citizens were busy otherwise, and half a guinea was considered too high a sum for their wives and daughters."

The late Dr. James Hedderwick, of Glasgow, tells in his reminiscences that on entering the hall he found it about one- third full. It was obvious that a number of the audience were personal friends of Chopin. Dr. Hedderwick recognized the composer at once as "a little, fragile-looking man, in pale gray suit, including frock coat of identical tint and texture, moving about among the company, conversing with different groups, and occasionally consulting his watch," which seemed to be" no bigger than an agate stone on the forefinger of an alderman." Whiskerless, beardless, fair of hair, and pale and thin of face, his appearance was "interesting and conspicuous," and when, "after a final glance at his miniature horologe, he ascended the platform and placed himself at the instrument, he at once commanded attention." Dr. Hedderwick says it was a drawing-room entertainment, more piano than forte, though not without occasional episodes of both strength and grandeur. It was perfectly clear to him that Chopin was marked for an early grave.

So far as can be ascertained, there are now living only two members of that Glasgow audience of 1848. One of the two is Julius Seligmann, the veteran president of the Glasgow Society of Musicians, who, in response to some inquiries on the subject, writes as follows:

"Several weeks before the concert Chopin lived with different friends or pupils on their invitations, in the surrounding counties. I think his pupil Miss Jane Stirling had something to do with all the general arrangements. Muir Wood managed the special arrangements of the concert, and I distinctly remember him telling me that he never had so much difficulty in arranging a concert as on this occasion. Chopin constantly changed his mind. Wood had to visit him several times at the house of Admiral Napier, at Milliken Park, near Johnstone. but scarcely had he returned to Glasgow when he was summoned back to alter something. The concert was given in the Merchant Hall, Hutcheson street, now the County Buildings. The hall was about three-quarters filled. Between Chopin's playing Madame Adelasio de Margueritte, daughter of a well-known London physician, sang, and Mr. Muir accompanied her. Chopin was evidently very ill. His touch was very feeble, and while the finish, grace, elegance and delicacy of his performances were greatly admired by the audience, the want of power made his playing somewhat monotonous. I do not remember the whole programme, but he was encored for his well-known mazurka in B flat (op. 7, No. 1), which he repeated with quite different nuances from those of the first time. The audience was very aristocratic, consisting mostly of ladies, among whom were the then Duchess of Argyll and her sister, Lady Blantyre."

The other survivor is George Russell Alexander, son of the proprietor of the Theatre Royal, Dunlop street, who in a letter to the writer remarks especially upon Chopin's pale, cadaverous appearance. "My emotion," he says, "was so great that two or three times I was compelled to retire from the room to recover myself. I have heard all the best and most celebrated stars of the musical firmament, but never one has left such an impress on my mind."

Chopin played October 4 in Edinburgh, and returned to London in November after various visits. We read of a Polish ball and concert at which he played, but the affair was not a success. He left England in January 1849 and heartily glad he was to go. "Do you see the cattle in this meadow?" he asked, en route for Paris: "Ca a plus d'intelligence que des Anglais," which was not nice of him. Perhaps M. Niedzwiecki, to whom he made the remark took as earnest a pure bit of nonsense, and perhaps—! He certainly disliked England and the English.

Now the curtain prepares to fall on the last dreary finale of Chopin's life, a life not for a moment heroic, yet lived according to his lights and free from the sordid and the soil of vulgarity. Jules Janin said: "He lived ten miraculous years with a breath ready to fly away," and we know that his servant Daniel had always to carry him to bed. For ten years he had suffered from so much illness that a relapse was not noticed by the world. His very death was at first received with incredulity, for, as Stephen Heller said, he had been reported dead so often that the real news was doubted. In 1847 his legs began to bother him by swelling, and M. Mathias described him as "a painful spectacle, the picture of exhaustion, the back bent, head bowed—but always amiable and full of distinction." His purse was empty, and his lodgings in the Rue Chaillot were represented to the proud man as being just half their cost,—the balance being paid by the Countess Obreskoff, a Russian lady. Like a romance is the sending, by Miss Stirling, of twenty-five thousand francs, but it is nevertheless true. The noble-hearted Scotchwoman heard of Chopin's needs through Madame Rubio, a pupil, and the money was raised. That packet containing it was mislaid or lost by the portress of Chopin's house, but found after the woman had been taxed with keeping it.

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