Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #26 The Saga of Frederick and Georg

When we last left our couple, they had just met and while it seems that Georg was "warm for Chopin's form", he did not initially return the feeling. However, I need to back up the track a bit, to explain that when Chopin met Sand, he was already engaged to another woman.

13 More Things on the Life of Frederick Chopin (pictured here in 1833)

#1 -- In 1835, while in Dresden trying to find a cure or some relief for his "consumption", Chopin renews his acquaintence with the Wodzinski family, who had lived in his father's boarding house back in Poland years before. Their young daughter Maria is an accomplished pianist in her own right and Chopin falls in love with her. She is 17, he is 25.

#2 -- They maintain a strong relationship by letter and see each other periodically as Chopin criss-crosses Europe giving concerts and teaching the aristocracy. Not long after on September 9, 1936, Chopin proposes marriage during a holiday together, chaparoned by Marie's mother. Marie accepts.

#3 -- Marie's family tells the couple that the engagement will not be "official" until Chopin proves that he is gonna live long enough to take care of their daughter! He gets a one year trial period to improve his failing health or all bets are off. He also needs to prove that he can provide a stable home environment. Due to continual travelling and performing, he has not yet set up a permanent home.

#4 -- So into this milieu marches Georg Sand. They meet approximately October 24, 1836, a month or so after Chopin proposes to Marie. Chopin is ill and realizes he just may be rejected by Marie's family as decent husband material. Sand is separated and soon divorced from her Baron husband and has 2 children, a boy, Maurice and a girl, Solange.

#5 -- As luck would have it, Chopin cannot do what the Wodzinski family requires of him. He becomes very ill over the winter months and eventually meets Marie in Germany the early part of July, 1837 after a series of concerts in England and the Netherlands. Marie's family sees the state of his frail health and instructs her to reject his letter....later. By the time he returns to Paris toward the end of July, he receives word of the broken "unofficial" engagement. He wraps Marie's correspondence and the rejection letter in a bundle and labels it "My Sorrow".

#6 -- From all accounts, Sand is a bold feminist, takes lovers of both sexes, and asserts herself as strongly as possible during the era she lived. She works around the prejudices against women by taking a man's name to publish her novels and write her plays. She divorces and is a directed, strong, single working mother. But she also has a very warm, maternal, loving side. And it is this side she presents to Chopin, who is physically and emotionally at one of the lowest points of his life.

#7 -- By the early part of 1838, Sand and Chopin begin attending parties together and their love affair blooms. By August of 1838, Sand wrote this of Chopin to friend and painter Eugene Delacroix: "If God were to ordain my death in an hour, I would not complain, because three months of undisturbed enchantment have passed." She also wrote to a friend: "He no longer expectorates blood, sleeps well, coughs little...He can sleep in a bed which shall not be burnt just because he used it."

#8 -- Even through illness, a broken love affair, traveling, teaching, performing and a terrible longing for his family and native Poland, Chopin manages to compose consistently. Mazurkas, Etudes, Polonaises, Sonatas, Ballades, Preludes, Nocturnes...often dedicated to those he loved -- Marie, various friends and teachers. These bars of music from his Nocturne in E flat Major were written down in an album of Marie's.

#9 -- From 1838 until approximately 1847, Sand and Chopin are together. By all accounts, they have a warm and loving relationship. Although they never marry, they are treated as a married couple. He gets along fairly well with Sand's son and very well with her daughter, Solange, whom he gives piano lessons to. They spend most of their time at Sand's home in Nohant (pictured here), in central France, returning to Paris only during the winter months. It is stated that Chopin is the happiest in Nohant he's ever been since leaving his family home in Poland. He is very busy composing, and while he has several near-death health scares, he is able to recover under Sand's watchful eye.

#10 -- During one of Chopin's seriously ill periods, Sand writes to a friend: "I know that many people accuse me; some say that I harmed him with my violent sensuality, others that I harmed him with my excesses."

#11 -- By 1845, Chopin's health is beginning to permanently deteriorate. His relationship with Sand is showing signs of strain, partially due to 2 other influences besides his health -- the fact that Chopin had sided with Sand's daughter Solange concerning a romantic involvement and the fact that Sand's son Maurice had begun taking a increasing hostile attitude toward Chopin and the time that Sand spent with him. The final break occurs in July 1847.

#12 -- The devasting blow compromises Chopin both physically and emotionally although he does maintain a close relationship with Sand's daughter Solange. He composes very little music after the break up and becomes increasingly ill. He gives his last public performance in London on November 16, 1848 and returns to Paris several days later. His pronounced tuberculosis makes tutoring impossible. Eventually, his sister comes from Poland to help nurse him as he is no longer able to care for or even support himself. Pictured is the last piano he used.

Frederick Chopin dies in Paris on October 17, 1849 at approximately 2am. It is rumored that Sand's daughter Solange is with him at the time of his death.

#13 -- Chopin's will is followed to the letter. He requested that after death, his heart be removed from his body and returned to Poland. His sister brings Frederick's heart back in an urn, where it is interred in a pillar of the Holy Cross Church in Krakowskie Przedmiescie. His body is buried in the Pere-Lachaise cemetery in Paris.

Chopin's hand notation of the Sonata in G minor, Op 65:


Sandee (Comedy +) said...

Wow, this is a lot of work putting this together. Very well done and I didn't know any of this. Have a great TT. :)

You might want to reenter your site in TT as your address was missing a dot between your blog name and blogspot.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

What a fascinating story, Lara! And people say fiction is better than real life... stories like these prove that wrong!

Irishcoda said...

I love you TT! I enjoy classical music and it was neat to learn so many more details about wonderful composers...I went and read your last week's TT too. Have a great weekend!
P.S. I see you are a cat lover and a book lover, so am I!

Winter said...

I love Chopin. He had an interesting life and wrote great music. Happy TT!

pussreboots said...

Very interesting TT.

Darla said...

Fascinating! I'm even more convinced now to watch A Song to Remember. :)

Nicole said...

Wow! That's quite a story. I can't imagine trying to squeeze all of that into one lifetime. =) Thanks for the TT!

Anonymous said...

"I know that many people accuse me; some say that I harmed him with my violent sensuality...."

If that isn't the most tragic thing to endure... ::Insert tragic romantic sigh normally reserved for gothic poetry::

Thank you for all the effort behind this and for introducing me to Georg Sand.

Happy TT


No Nonsense Girl said...

stopping by this late, I wasn't in town.

Nice T 13. :)

No Nonsense Girl said...

stopping by to say hello and check on you.

gentle hugs