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

Part 4 out of 7

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

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

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

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

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

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

After this the darkness of sadness shades gradually into brighter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The programme of the concert was as follows:--


1. Symphony by Gorner.

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

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

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


1. Overture to "Guillaume Tell" by Rossini.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And four days afterwards he writes to Matuszynski:--

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is one of the few descriptive passages to be found in
Chopin's letters--men and their ways interested him more than
natural scenery. But to return from the villa to its owner,
Chopin characterises his relation to the doctor unequivocally in
the following statement:--"Malfatti really loves me, and I am not
a little proud of it." Indeed, the doctor seems to have been a
true friend, ready with act and counsel. He aided him with his
influence in various ways; thus, for instance, we read that he
promised to introduce him to Madame Tatyszczew, the wife of the
Russian Ambassador, and to Baron Dunoi, the president of the
musical society, whom Chopin thought a very useful personage to
know. At Malfatti's he made also the acquaintance of some artists
whom he would, perhaps, have had no opportunity of meeting
elsewhere. One of these was the celebrated tenor Wild. He came to
Malfatti's in the afternoon of Christmas-day, and Chopin, who had
been dining there, says: "I accompanied by heart the aria from
Othello, which he sang in a masterly style. Wild and Miss
Heinefetter are the ornaments of the Court Opera." Of a
celebration of Malfatti's name-day Chopin gives the following
graphic account in a letter to his parents, dated June 25, 1831:-

Mechetti, who wished to surprise him [Malfatti], persuaded
the Misses Emmering and Lutzer, and the Messrs. Wild,
Cicimara, and your Frederick to perform some music at the
honoured man's house; almost from beginning to end the
performance was deserving of the predicate "parfait." I never
heard the quartet from Moses better sung; but Miss Gladkowska
sang "O quante lagrime" at my farewell concert at Warsaw with
much more expression. Wild was in excellent voice, and I
acted in a way as Capellmeister.

To this he adds the note:--

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 25, 1831.--The day before yesterday we were with
Kumelski and Czapek...on the Kahlenberg and Leopoldsberg. It
was a magnificent day; I have never had a finer walk. From
the Leopoldsberg one sees all Vienna, Wagram, Aspern,
Pressburg, even Kloster-Neuburg, the castle in which Richard

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