Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #25


We were big faves of Frederick Chopin as I was growing up and I've carried that love into my adult life. My mother and I would watch "A Song To Remember" (Cornel Wilde played a robust Frederick and Merle Oberon played a beautiful Georg Sand, which right there tells you it's a movie...because he wasn't robust and she wasn't THAT beautiful) but we'd get all weepy about his love for his native Poland, the gal he left behind (maybe fact, maybe fiction) and his slow, horrid death from tuberculosis at 39. The relationship between and Chopin and Georg Sand really is the stuff of romance novels...the tortured pianist and the feminist writer...and his short life was certainly filled with love and music, pain and loss.

So here are 13 Things About Frederick Chopin

#1 -- He was born here as Fryderyk [Franciszek] Chopin on March 1, 1810 in the village of Żelazowa Wola, near Warsaw Poland. There is some confusion over when he was actually born. There is no known birth certificate, and his mother filled out the birth date on his baptismal certificate as February 22, 1810. So in other words, he was born March 1, give or take.

#2 -- His father Nicolas (translated into Polish as Mikołaj) was a French expatriot originally from Lorraine. He emigrated to Poland in 1787 at the age of 16 and served in the Polish National Guard. He eventually went to Żelazowa Wola and secured a post as a tutor to some aristocratic families. He met and fell in love with Tekla Justyna Krzyżanowska, whom he married.

#3 Fryderyk (Frederick) Chopin was the couple's third child, the first boy. He inherited his mother's blue eyes and fair hair and skin, but his small frame and frail health from his father.


#4 -- The Chopins were by no means destitute. In 1817 Mikołaj Chopin became a teacher of French at the Warsaw Lyceum, housed in Warsaw University. The family lived in a spacious second-floor apartment in an adjacent building. Even though Chopin's father was French and taught the language, Polish was spoken exclusively in the family home and Chopin never did master the French language, even after living in Paris for many years.

#5 -- Chopin's parents were both musical (his father played the flute and his mother taught piano) but Frederick showed remarkable ability and was known as a child prodigy. He did have formal piano training, but quickly outgrew his teachers. He composed his first works, 2 polonaises (which are basically Polish dances) at the age of 7 and began giving recitals in public. He remained fiercely loyal to his Polish heritage through music his entire life.

#6 -- Chopin had an incredibly stable home life and was reported to be extremely bright and funny. He studied piano with various teachers, most notably Jozef Elsner at the Warsaw Conservatory from the ages of 16-20 (and possibly even when Frederick was younger). From the age of 7 months until he left Warsaw at the age of 20 in 1830, Chopin always lived with his family in very comfortable surroundings.

#7 -- Notable before his leaving Warsaw was that his sister Emilia died from "consumption" or tuberculosis in 1827. Comments about Frederick's physical appearance before he left Poland suggest that he too had contracted the disease. His father died in 1844 from TB also.

#8 -- Chopin, now a seasoned pianist and composer, traveled to Paris by way of Vienna, arriving in 1831. He became an accomplished teacher and composed etudes for his students, which were melodies that taught specific fingering and positioning on the piano. It is rumored that Chopin's hand span on the piano was 2 octaves, or a full 16 keys.





#9 -- The cast of his left hand.






#10 -- While Chopin enjoyed teaching (performing was becoming increasingly difficult for him because of his health. He needed to play small venues or salons because he frequently did not have the strength to play the piano forcefully enough to full a huge room with sound) he was also exceptionally proud. During a lesson, Chopin would reportedly stand after a time and walk to look out his window. That was the cue that the lesson was over and a "donation" was to be placed on the mantel. He maintained he never asked for money to teach his students.

#11 -- In Paris, Chopin met many other artists -- composers, painters, writers. He was extremely popular and was sought out as a teacher, composer, and salon pianist. It was there in 1836, at a party hosted by the mistress of fellow-composer and friend Franz Liszt, that Chopin met Amandine-Aurore-Lucile Dupin, Baroness Dudevant, better known by her pseudonym, Georg(e) Sand. He was 26, she 32.

#12 -- Georg Sand was a French Romantic writer noted for her numerous love affairs, and the fact she dressed in men's clothing, which she found more comfortable than women's garb. She also chain smoked a pipe. As women were not allowed to be published, she took a man's name in order to do so. Her first published novel, Rose et Blanche (1831) was written in collaboration with one of her lovers, Jules Sandeau, from whom she allegedly took her pen name, Sand.


#13 -- It was not "love at first sight" for Frederick and Georg. "Something about her repels me," he wrote his family. Sand, however, in a letter to a friend in June, 1837, debated whether she should end a current affair to begin one with Chopin -- repelled be damned! -- even though she knew he was reportedly engaged to a woman named Maria Wodzińska.




#14 -- Portait of Chopin by Georg Sand.



Now you say....what happened to Frederick and Georg? Did they have an affair or just stay mildly interested in each other's lives? And how did Sand's husband (the Baron) feel about all this? Or Sand's 2 children? What's the scoop on Georg and her affairs and her writing career? What happened to the woman Chopin was "engaged" to? Did he ever get back to Poland? How did he die? Is it true that Sand actually hastened his death? And what eventually happened to Georg Sand?

Well, 13 facts (plus Sand's portrait of Frederick) just weren't enough to tell the whole exciting, sad, painful, story of their love affair and his death. I guess I'll just have to finish next Thursday!

29 comments:

Mama Duck said...

I love Chopin, was always putting something of his into my programs when I played piano professionally ;). Great facts of interest!

No Nonsense Girl said...

Very interesting post Lara.

Have a great week and great weekend. :)

Joely Sue Burkhart said...

Dang, talk about a cliffhanger! I'll definitely come back to hear about their continued story...

Nap Warden said...

Such a post...I'll be back!

Open Grove Claudia said...

Gosh... I had no idea. You write beautifully - this was really very interesting. As a Western US person, it's hard for me to imagine all the country swapping.

Happy TT!

pussreboots said...

He had beautiful hands. Happy TT.

auria cortes said...

Chopin truly is remarkable. Thank you for sharing a thoughtful TT.

Picturing of Life said...

thanks for share all the info about Chopin in here :D

My T13 #1

Chelle Y. said...

Chopin really had "piano fingers," didn't he?

Thanks for visiting my 365 Day's Blog! I think it is horrible that the kid did that to your daughter's Valentine card! Didn't the mother see it?

I was always the "Charlie Brown" of my class, so I always hate it when a child is mean. Children will be that way, but it's the adults (and teacher's in our cases) that need to put a stop to it.

The Invisible Mo said...

I see you already have your Thursday Thirteen up. Drat! I haven't even posted my Wordless Wednesday, yet. I wanted to wait until I got home and it took awhile to get in here and get started. Thanks for your kind comments on my page. You know how life is...when it rains it pours. But the visit with my son's family went very well. Just like there wasn't a missed day. I was happy and my grandson was ecstatic. Check out my Wordless Wednesday for some of the pics.

PS....Loved the Chopin TT. I love Chopin. It was one of the first classical albums I bought. I can't remember which orchestra.

Sandy Carlson said...

That was very interesting! I'm looking forward to next week's installment!

Darla said...

Fascinating! I'm not sure I ever knew anything about him, despite all those years of piano lessons.

Nancy Lindquist-Liedel said...

I love the list. I also enjoy Chopin, but I never knew most of this. Thank you.

Tempest Knight said...

Awesome facts! I also love Chopin's music. :) Happy T13!

Lyrical Press, Inc. said...

Never knew much about him. Very interesting.

-Renee

colleen said...

Maybe you should do Georg next. I learned a lot. Thanks! I wonder what happened to the 13 Thursday hub? It seems to be down.

storyteller said...

I enjoyed the "history lesson" and will look forward to the rest next week.
Hugs and blessings,

Lynne said...

I've always thought that these composers like Chopin lived in a fascinating time. Their lives were full of very interesting little tidbits. :-D

Karina said...

Wow, what an educational AND entertaining list! Thanks for stopping by my TT last week as well, I never managed to make the rounds then, so am making sure to do so today!

MondaythroughSunday said...

Not fair..I will be looking for next weeks 13..I want to hear the end of the story!

The Mama Bear said...

Wow, an excellent, informative, and educational TT this week....was neat learning these things.

Nicole said...

I've always enjoyed Chopin's music, but never knew much about him.

Thanks for the fun TT!

MamaGeek said...

WOW, this is so interesting. I studied Chopin in college, so I loved this!

xakara said...

You're making me wait for the torrid, steamy parts? How mean! Granted, I do love sequels. :)

Thanks for coming by and for saying that you'll check out my ebook. I appreciate it.

I'm going to try to to remember to do an email reminder bulletin on Tuesday to everyone interested. That is if I can find contact info through their blog links. If not, I'll swing by with reminder comments and virtual treats for everyone. :D

Seeya next TT

~X

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

That's cool stuff! I really like the cast of his hand, too. I'm a sucker for hands...

I tried to visit you both Wednesday night and yesterday, but your feed kept bringing me to a 404 error.

Weird things afoot on the Net the past few days, huh? (I e-mailed Carol about the TT hub issue, but haven't heard back)

fullbodytransplant said...

Very chewy, long lasting entertainment. Fascinating stuff.

Amy Ruttan said...

Oh you sneak you! Well I'll be back next week to read what happened.

Hey you gotta love a woman who writes romance!! ;)

Nicholas said...

Very interesting! Almost all of that is completely new to me. And I'm looking forward to the next installment!

Malcolm said...

Georg Sand was quite a busy lady. Because they could do a more realistic version, I would be interested in seeing someone make another movie on the lives of Chopin and Sand. Until then, I will keep a look out for "A Song To Remember" on TCM.