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Frederick Chopin as a Man and Musician, Volume 1 by Frederick Niecks

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the Lion-hearted lived for a long time as a prisoner. Also
the whole of the upper part of the Danube lay before our
eyes. After breakfast we ascended the Kahlenberg, where King
John Sobieski pitched his camp and caused the rockets to be
fired which announced to Count Starhemberg, the commandant of
Vienna, the approach of the Polish army. There is the
Camaldolese Monastery in which the King knighted his son
James before the attack on the Turks and himself served as
acolyte at the Mass. I enclose for Isabella a little leaf
from that spot, which is now covered with plants. From there
we went in the evening to the Krapfenwald, a beautiful
valley, where we saw a comical boys' trick. The little
fellows had enveloped themselves from head to foot in leaves
and looked like walking bushes. In this costume they crept
from one visitor to another. Such a boy covered with leaves
and his head adorned with twigs is called a "Pfingstkonig"
[Whitsuntide-King]. This drollery is customary here at

The second excursion is thus described:--

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

On October 20, 1829, Chopin writes:--"During my visit at Prince
Radziwill's [at Antonin] I wrote an Alla Polacca. It is nothing
more than a brilliant salon piece, such as pleases ladies"; and
on April 10, 1830:--

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And again:--

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ah, how I should like to have you beside me!...You cannot
imagine how sad it is to have nobody to whom I can open my
troubled heart. You know how easily I make acquaintances, how
I love human society--such acquaintances I make in great
numbers--but with no one, no one can I sigh. My heart beats
as it were always "in syncopes," therefore I torment myself
and seek for a rest--for solitude, so that the whole day
nobody may look at me and speak to me. It is too annoying to
me when there is a pull at the bell, and a tedious visit is
announced while I am writing to you. At the moment when I was
going to describe to you the ball, at which a divine being
with a rose in her black hair enchanted me, arrives your
letter. All the romances of my brain disappear? my thoughts
carry me to you, I take your hand and weep...When shall we
see each other again?...Perhaps never, because, seriously, my
health is very bad. I appear indeed merry, especially when I
am among my fellow-countrymen; but inwardly something

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