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Whereupon many bows and stammered thanks on



86 LIFE OF CHOPIN.

my part. My next letter, from Breslau, will tell you
the rest.* I have seen the world-renowned gallery,
the fruit show, the gardens, have paid some visits,
and am now going to the theatre. Enough, I hope,
for one day.

Second Postcript. — It is night. Just returned
from the theatre, where I saw *' Faust." t The rush
was so great that we had to be in the queue, outside
the office, before five o'clock, to get a ticket at all.
The performance began at six, and lasted till
eleven o'clock. Devrient,J whom I saw in Berlin,
acted Faust. A fearful but magnificent conception.
Portions of Spohr's Opera, '' Faust," were performed
as Entr'actes. Goethe's eightieth birthday was
celebrated to-day. Now I am off to bed, I expect
Morlacchi early to-morrow, and shall go with him
to Fraulein Pechwell's, that is, he will come
with me.

Good night,

Your FREDERIC.



* I have not found any letters from Breslau. He probably
hurried on as fast as he could, to give his news in person.

f The first part of Goethe's " Faust " was performed for the
first time, that evening, in Dresden. Louis Tieck had made
the necessary curtailments.

I Charles Devrient, eldest of the three brothers, and nephew
of the great Louis Devrient.




CHAPTER VI.

INFLUENCE OF THE LAST JOURNEY ON CHOPIN.

LETTERS TO TITUS WOYCIECHOWSKI. FAREWELL

CONCERT IN WARSAW.

CHOPIN LEAVES HIS NATIVE CITY.

h^l HE innocent youthful gaiety which accompanied
^ Chopin on his journey was his faithful com-
panion for some time to come. The brilliant success
of his two performances in Vienna assured him that
he really had talent, and that his parents had not
done wrong in allowing him to dedicate himself
wholly to art.

He returned from his second journey with wider
views and riper judgment. He left off drawing
caricatures, with which, in boyish mischief, he had
often amused himself in Berlin. He felt, with
intense delight, that the wings of his genius were
bearing him higher than they did a year ago. With
his inborn modesty he was surprised that great
musicians should marvel at his playing; he had,
indeed, already the courage to defend his opinions
when they differed from those of other musicians ;



88 LIFE OF CHOPIN.

but he always spoke with a certain reserve and
courtesy, which prevented him from giving offence,
nor did he forget to pay the respect which the young
man owes to the elder. " That Vienna would lose
much if he went away without letting people hear
him," was incomprehensible to the modest youth not
yet fully conscious of his talents.

It is characteristic of Chopin that he always
began his letters in a clear elegant hand ; but, as
if overpowered by the rush of thought and feeling,
the writing, as he proceeded, grew larger and more
hurried. His Polish letters are pithy and natural,
and often contain surprisingly original thoughts.
A great deal cannot be transcribed into German,
although this language bears the palm for the best
translations.

Frederic's humorous nature was often displayed in
the address of a letter. For example, he sent one to
his father directed " To the Right Hon. N. Chopin,
Professor in Warsaw, and to the dear parents of the
son who is in Dresden." He would often call his
sisters "my children" (mojo dzieci), out of tender-
ness, and add some playful affectionate expressions.
He never forgot to send remembrances to his
much-honoured teachers, Zwyny and Eisner, nor to
gladden his fellow collegians and intimate friends
by kind words as reminders of himself.

It has become the custom with most of the
writers on Chopin to dilate on his weak and ex-
hausted health. The grossest exaggerations have



CHOPIN'S HEALTH. 89

been current on this point, and, as is nearly always
the case, more credence has been given to the
exaggerations than to the truth. Goethe says truly,
*' People believe the truth so little because it is so
simple."

It has been said of Chopin that he suffered from
his earliest years from an incurable malady v^hich
might have caused death at any moment. This
may have been the reason why Liszt describes him
as very sickly wtien only a youth of fifteen or
sixteen ; among other things about him he says :

''**** Chopin was more like one of those
ideal creations with which the poetry of the middle ages
adorned the Christian temples : a beautiful angel, with
a form pure and slight as a young god of Olympus, with
a face like that of a majestic woman filled with a divine
sorrow, and, as the crown of all, an expression at the
same time tender and severe, chaste and impassioned.

'' He daily accustomed himself to think that the hour
of his death was near, and, under the influence of this
feeling, he accepted the careful attentions of a friend,
from whom he concealed how short a time, he believed,
remained for him on earth. He possessed great physical
courage, and, if he did not accept with the heroic care-
lessness of youth the idea of his approaching end, he at
least cherished the expectation of it with a Ifind of bitter
pleasure."

These remarks are not applicable to that period
of Chopin's life, for they are not in accordance with
the facts. Chopin neither looked like " a beautiful



go LIFE OF CHOPIN.

angel," '' a majestic woman filled with a divine
sorrow," nor " a young god from Olympus ;" just as
little did he imagine daily " that the hour of his
death was near." On the contrary, his cheerful
letters, pervaded with the joy of youth, showed that
Frederic had as good health as any other young
man of his age. When travelling he saw all that
was worth seeing, gave two concerts within a week,
paid several visits, was present at long performances
at the theatre, and wrote a great many letters
besides. Undeniably, Chopin had a delicate con-
stitution, but he was healthy, and strong enough to
bear the fatigue of travelling in a diligence.

It was not until ten years later that he was
threatened with the illness brought on by the excite-
ment of Paris life. And if Frederic had been
sickly, would his parents have permitted their only,
tenderly loved son to travel abroad ? Would they
have consented to an absence of two years — which
followed the earlier journeys — if the young artist
had been troubled with a dangerous malady ? Only
in the last years of his life his physical strength was
often greatly exhausted, in consequence of the rapid
strides of the disease which caused his early death.

Chopin's playmate and schoolfellow, Wilhelm von
Kolberg, who is still living in Warsaw, affirms that
till manhood, Chopm was only ill once, and then
from a cold. It is true that after the manner of
loving womanly hearts, mother and sisters very
much petted their dear Frederic. There was no



Chopin's disposition. gi

lack of exhortations to " wrap up carefully in cold
damp weather;" he laug"hed good-humouredly at the
instructions, but followed them like an obedient son.

There were moments when, buried in thought,
Frederic paid little heed to the outer world, and
avoided even his best friends. These were times of
communion with his muse, and he would suffer the
intervention of no third person.

In a general way he was fond of pleasure, and
delighted to share it with his parents, family and
friends. He never marred anyone's enjoyment. If
he were among company who wished to dance, he
would sit down to the piano without being pressed
and play the most charming Mazurkas and other
dances. If a bad player were at the piano, he would
politely and pleasantly put himself in his place. In
after years also, when he lived in Paris and had
acquired a European reputation, he was always
willing, in the kindest manner, to delight a Polish
family with some national dances. As a player he
was as indefatigable as the dancers, who in their
enthusiasm often did not know how to stop.

Like all intelligent young men, Frederic returned
from his travels with a wider knowledge of human
nature. He perceived that the artists, whose ac-
quaintance he had lately made, were not all so
amiable and free from envy as he had imagined; he,
therefore, clung the closer to the more noble-minded
among his compeers, for whom he retained through
life a friendly recollection.



93 LIFE OF CHOPIN.

Unfortunately, he did not fail to meet with bitter
disappointments in later years.

The artists in Vienna looked upon Chopin as a
young man with a thorough and most refined
musical education, who was not puffed up with
vanity, and had no thought of settling in the
Imperial city. They were, therefore, favourably
disposed towards him, and willingly lent their
assistance.

Like every true artist and poet, Chopin was
tormented with doubts as to the extent and range
of his genius. Some, indeed, who heard him at
the concerts which he gave in Vienna, said that
his playing was not powerful enough ; but with
regard to his compositions there was but one
opinion. Real connoisseurs of pianoforte playing,
truly musical souls, knew how to value the smooth-
ness, certainty, and elegance of his style. The
wonderful penetrating and melancholy expression
peculiar to Chopin's playing, found a response in
all poetical minds. He was pre-eminently the
pianist for poets, and could not be exalted too
highly abo7e the mass, who only desire technical
skill and noise ; the musicians were especially
interested by the character and orie^inality of his
compositions. To complete the story of his Vienna
experiences, I give two letters to his most intimate
friend Woyciechowski.



HIS GREAT JOURNEY. 93

Warsaw, September 12th, 1829.
Dearest Titus,

You would not have heard from me, if I had not
met Vicentius Skarbek, and thereby been reminded
that you would be in Warsaw by the end of this
month. I hoped that I should have been able to
tell you personally of my great journey, for truly
and sincerely I should only be too glad to have a
chat with you. But as this is unfortunately im-
possible, let me tell you, dear, that I have been to
Cracow, Vienna, Prague, Dresden and Breslau.

We passed the first week at Cracow in taking
walks, and visiting the neighbourhood. Ojcow is
very beautiful ; but I shall not say anything, for
although you were not there, you know all about
it from Tanska's accurate descriptions. I had good
company on my way to Vienna ; if Cracow made so
many demands upon me that I could not find a
few moments to think of you and my family, Vienna
so utterly stupefied and infatuated me, that, although
a fortnight passed without my receiving a letter from
home, I felt no longing for my friends. Just imagine
my playing twice in the Royal and Imperial Theatre
in so short a time. This is how it came about : my
publisher Haslinger represented to me that it would
be of advantage to my compositions if I were to
appear in Vienna ; that my name was as yet un-
known, and my music difficult both to play and
understand.

I did not yet think of it seriously, and replied :



94 LIFE OF CHOPIN.

" That I had not played a note for a fortnight,
and so was not prepared to present myself before
a select and critical public." In the meantime
Count Gallenberg, who writes pretty ballets, and is
manager of the Vienna theatre, came in. Haslinger
introduced me to him as a coward, afraid of appear-
ing in public. The Count very obligingly placed the
theatre at my disposal, but I was shrewd enough to
decline, with thanks. The next day Wiirfel came
in, and urged me not to bring disgrace on my
parents, Eisner, and myself by neglecting the oppor-
tunity of performing in Vienna.

As soon as I had yielded to all this pressure,
Wiirfel at once undertook the necessary prepara-
tions. The next morning bills announced my
concert. It was impossible, therefore, to retreat,
although I did not know how or what I should play.
Three manufacturers proposed to send me pianos,
but, owing to the narrow limits of my lodgings, I
was obliged to refuse their offers. What would
have been the use either of my practising a great
deal two days before the concert ?

In one day I made the acquaintance of all the
great artists in Vienna, among them Mayseder,
Gyrowetz, Lachner, Kreutzer, Schuppanzigh, &c.

The members of the orchestra looked sourly at
me during the rehearsal ; they were particularly
vexed at my making my dehut with new compositions.
Then I began the Variations dedicated to you, which
were to come after the Rondo Cracovienne. The



DEBUT IN VIENNA. 95

Variations were a success, but the Rondo, owing to
the way in which it was written, went so badly that
we were obliged to commence from the beginning
twice. I ought to have put the pauses below instead
of above. Enough ; the gentlemen made such wry
faces that I felt very much inclined to announce
myself ill in the evening.

Demmar, the manager, noticed the ill-temper of
the orchestra, who do not like Wiirfel. The latter
wished to conduct himself, but the orchestra declined
(I don't know why) to play under his lead. Herr
Demmar advised me to improvise, at which proposal
the orchestra stared. I was so much irritated by
what had happened that I consented in despair ;
and who knows whether my miserable mood and
strange humour were not the cause of the great
success I achieved ?

The presence of the Viennese public did not excite
me at all, and I sat down, very calmly, to a wonderful
instrument of Graff's, the best, perhaps, then in
Vienna. Beside me sat a young man, covered with
rouge, who had turned over for me in the Variations,
and plumed himself on having rendered the same
service to Moscheles, Hummel, and Herz. I played,
as you may imagine, in a desperate mood ; the
Variations, nevertheless, made such an effect that I
was encored enthusiastically. Fraulein Veltheim
sang very beautifully. As to my Improvisation I
only know that it was followed by a storm of
applause and many recalls.



96 LIFE OF CHOPIN.

The Vienna newspapers were lavish in their praise.
By universal desire I played again a week after, con-
gratulating myself that no one could say now that I
was only able to appear once. I was especially
pleased with the performance of the Rondo, because
Gyrowetz, Lachner, and other masters, and even the
orchestra were so delighted — forgive me for saying
so — that they recalled me twice. I was obliged to
repeat the Variations (at the special request of the
ladies) ; Haslinger, too, was so pleased with them
that he is going to bring them out in Odeon ; a great
honour for me, is it not ?

Lichnowski, one of Beethoven's friends, wished to
lend me his piano for the concert (this is, indeed,
something), as it seemed to him that mine was too
weak. But this was on account of my style of play-
ing, which pleased the ladies so much ; especially
Fraulein Blahetka. It might be that she is favour-
ably disposed towards me (by the way, she is not
yet twenty, a lovely and intelligent girl). At my
departure she honoured me by a composition, with
an inscription in her own handwriting.

The Wiener Zeitung said, in a notice of the second
concert, " This is a young man who knows how to
please by entirely original means. His style differs
totally from that of the ordinary concert giver. I
hope this is satisfactory, especially as the article
concludes, " Herr Chopin to-day again received the
most unanimous applause." Pardon me for writing
such an opinion of myself, but I do so because it



STAY IN DRESDEN. 97

pleases me more than any amount of praise in
the Warsaw Courier*

I became quite intimate with Czerny, and often
played with him on two pianos. He is a good-
natured man, but nothing more. Klengel, whom I
saw at Pixis's, in Prague, I like best of all my
artistic acquaintances. He played his fugues to
me (one might call them a continuation of Bach's,
there are forty-eight, and as many canons.) What
a contrast to Czerny ! Klengel gave me a letter of
introduction to Morlacchi, in Dresden. We visited
the Saxon Switzerland, so rich in natural beauties,
and the magnificent picture gallery ; but the Italian
Opera had to be given up before my very eyes. I
was, unfortunately, obliged to leave the day on
which " Crociato in Egitto " was to be performed.
My only consolation was that I had already heard it
in Vienna.

Frau Pruszak, and her two children, Alexandrine
and Constantin, are in Dresden. I met them the
day I left. What a pleasure ! They called out,
" Pan Frycek, Pan Frycek; "* it was so charming
that I should certainly have stayed but for my
companions. Herr Pruszak I met at Teplitz. Teplitz
is a wonderfully beautiful place. I was only there a
day, but went to a soiree at Prince Clary's.

I have been too much absorbed in my writing to

^ The Polish for Frederic.

G



gS LIFE OF CHOPIN.

be able to stop. I affectionately embrace you, and
kiss your lips, if you allow me.

Your FREDERIC.



Warsaw, October ^rd, 1829.
Dearest Titus,

You write that you have read something about
my concerts in two newspapers ; if they were
Warsaw papers, you could certainly not have been
gratified, for not only is their translation bad, but
they have taken the trouble to distort, to my dis-
paragement, the comments of the Viennese critics.
The Vienna Sammler and the Zeitschrift fiir Literatur,
from which Hube brought me the extracts, made the
most flattering criticisms on my playing and com-
positions (pardon me for writing this to you), and
called me, in conclusion, " An independent virtuoso,
full of delicacy and the deepest feeling." * If such
extracts had fallen into your hands I should have no
occasion to be ashamed.

You will learn from me bye and bye what I think
of doing this winter. In no case shall I remain in
Warsaw; where fate will lead me I do not yet know.
Prince and Princess Radziwill have, in the most
polite manner, invited me to Berlin, and offered me



'■' Edward Hanslick, in his book, " History of Concerts in
Vienna," uses the same words as the Sammkr does about
Chopin.



Chopin's ideal. gg

appartments in their palace ; but of what use would
this be ? I have begun so much work that it would
seem the wisest course for me to remain here. I
have also promised to return to Vienna, and a
Vienna paper openly declared that a sojourn in the
Imperial city would be very advantageous to me, and
"have the best influence on my career.

You will, perhaps, think so too ; but do not
imagine that I am thinking about Fraulein Blahetka,
whom I mentioned in my letter. I have already — to
my misfortune, perhaps — found my ideal, which I
sincerely and loyally worship. Half a year has
passed without exchanging a syllable with her of
whom I dream every night. While thinking of this
lovely being I composed the Adagio in my new
Concerto,* and early this morning the Waltz, which
I send you. Notice the passage marked +, nobody
knows of it but yourself. How glad I should be if I
could play my newest compositions to you, my dear
friend. In the fifth bar of the Trio, the melody in
the bass must rise to the higher E flat in the violin
cleff, which, however, I need not tell you, for you
will feel it for yourself.

I have no other news to send than that every
Friday there is music at Kessler's. Yesterday they
played, among other things, Spohr's Octett, a won-
derful work. I go to Brzezina's t every day ; he has

'i' E minor Concerto op. ii.
f Book and Music Seller, in Warsaw.



100 LIFE OF CHOPIN.

nothing new but Pixis's Concerto which made no
great impression on me ; the Rondo seems the best
part of it. You cannot imagine how dull Warsaw
looks. If it were not for the happiness I find with
my family I could not live here.

Oh, how miserable it is to have no one to share
your sorrows and joys, and, when your heart is
heavy, to have no soul to whom you can pour out
your woes. You know very well what I mean.
How often do I communicate to my piano all that
I would confide to you.

My friend, you must change into a delightful
reality my dream of travelling with you abroad. I
do not know what I should do for joy. But, alas,
our ways lie wide apart.

I hope to go to Italy, from Vienna, for my further
improvement, and next winter I am to meet Hube
in Paris ; but everything may be altered, as my kind
father would like me to go to Berlin, for which, to
say the truth, ] have no great desire. If, as I trust, I
go to Vienna, I shall, perhaps, choose the way through
Dresden and Prague, to visit Klengel again ; also
the famous picture gallery and the Conservatoire.

I must now leave off, or I shall only weary you
with my dry news, and I do not want to do that.
If you would only write me a few lines, it would give
me pleasure for several weeks. Forgive me for
sending you the Waltz, which will make you angry
with me in' the end. My intention is to please you.

Your FREDERIC.



PROPOSED TOUR TO PARIS AND ITALY. lOI

The favourable critiques in the Vienna newspapers
of Chopin's playing awakened universal interest in
Warsaw, and caused his father to take counsel with
Eisner and other friends about Frederic's further
training. All agreed on sending the young artist
for a longer sojourn abroad. Warsaw offered, indeed,
little artivstic stimulus to Chopin's extraordinary
abilities; he passed there for a perfect artist. His
compositions, published in Warsaw, are among the
best he ever wrote, and if his creative talent grew
and matured in later years, his early works bear the
true Chopin stamp.

Eisner's advice was that Chopin should go to
Italy first, then to Paris, and so be away two years
in all. From letters to his friend, Titus Woycie-
chowski, who now resides at his estate Poturzyn,
in Poland, and who very kindly furnished these
letters, we learn from Frederic himself how he
passed the next few years. It is most fortunate
for us that his most intimate friend has religiously
preserved, as sacred memorials, every line of the
talented artist.

Warsaw, October 20th, 1829.
My Dearest Titus,

You won't know how to make out why such a
writing mania has suddenly seized me, and how it is
that, in so short a time, I send you a third letter.

I start at seven this evening, per diligence, for
Wiesiowlowski's, in Posen, and so write to you



102 LIFE OF CHOPIN.

beforehand, not knowing how long I shall stay-
there, though I have only got a passport for a
month. My idea is to return in about a fortnight.
The object of my journey is to see Prince Radziwill,
who is living at his estate not far from Kalitz. He
wishes me to go to Berlin, and live as a guest in his
house, &c. ; but I cannot see that it would be of any
real, that is to say, artistic use. " Mit grossen
Herren ist nicht gut Kirschen essen."

My good father will not believe that these invita*
tions are merely des belles paroles.

Forgive me if I repeat myself. I easily forget
what I have written, and often fancy I am giving
you news which is really stale.

Kessler gives a musical soiree every Friday ; nearly
all the artists here meet together, and play whatever
is brought forward, prima vista; so, for example,
there were performed, last Friday: Concerto in C
sharp minor, by Ries, with quartet accompaniment ;
then Trio in E major, by Hummel ; Beethoven's
last Trio, which I thought magnificent and impres-
sive ; also a Quartet, by Prince Louis Ferdinand
of Prussia, alias Dussek ; * and singing to conclude
with.

Eisner has praised my Concerto Adagio. He says



'!" Chopin says what he may have heard reported, for it is
well known that the world rarely credits the nobly born with
artistic talent. Prince Louis Ferdinand was, indeed, Dussek's
pupil, but he was not, therefore, helped in his compositions by



VISIT TO PRINCE RADZIWILL. IO3

there is something new in it. As for the Rondo I do
not want any opinion on that at present, for I am
not satisfied with it myself. I wonder whether I
shall finish it when I return.

Thank you very much for your letter, which
pleased me exceedingly. You have the happy gift
of cheering and delighting one. You cannot imagine
how despondent I was in the morning, and how my
spirits rose when I received your letter. I embrace
you warmly. Many write this at the end of their
letters and scarcely think about it ; but you know,
dearest friend, that I do it sincerely, as truly as I
am called " Fritz." I have composed a Study in my
style ; when we meet again I will play it to you.

Your faithful

FREDERIC.



Warsaw, Sunday, November i/^th, 1829.

Dearest Titus,

I received your last letter at Radziwill's, at
Antonin. I was there a week, and you cannot think
how quickly and pleasantly the time passed. I



his teacher. Prince Ferdinand — called Louis Ferdinand in


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