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Lkfary Bureau Cat. no. It37








Chopin is and remains the boldest and proudest poetic spirit of the age." —

Robert Schumann



Publisher of Musical Works.



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31 If







Frederic Chopin to Elsner,

Vienna f January 1.6th j 183 1.

Dear Monsieur Elsner,

I much regret that your kindness, of which I
have had so many proofs during my journey, has
once more made me feel ashamed of myself, and
that you have anticipated me with a letter.

I should have felt it my duty to v/rite to you
immediately on my arrival, but I put off doing so
from day to day, feeling almost certain that my
parents would not delay sending you all the news
about me, as I am vain enough to think this would
interest you. ,

I wanted also to wait till I could tell you some-
thing definite about myself; but since the day on
which I heard of the terrible events in the father-
land, I have had but one thought — anxiety and
yearning about my country and my dear ones.

Herr Malfatti has been vainly endeavouring to
persuade me that an artist is, or ought to be, a



cosmopolitan. Supposing this to be so, although I
was an artist in the cradle, I am, as a man, a Pole,
and liable to serve as a soldier, so I hope that 3^ou
will not blame me for not having thought seriously
as yet about arranging for a concert.

Obstacles surround me on all sides ; not only
has a succession of the most miserable concerts
quite ruined good music, and rendered the public
distrustful, but the recent affairs in Poland have a
prejudicial effect on my position.

I think, however — and Wiirfel fully approves my
intention — of giving my first concert during the
Carnival. The worthy Wiirfel is a constant sufferer.
I often see him, and find that he has a pleasant
recollection of you.

I should feel little satisfied with my stay here but
for the interesting acquaintances I have made among
the first talent in the place, such names as Slawick,
Merk, Bocklet, &c. The opera is good, and the
Viennese are enchanted with Wildt and Fraulein
Heinefetter ; but it is a pity that Duport brings out
so few new operas, and is more careful of his pocket
than of art.

Abbe Stadler * is loud in his complaints, and says

* Maximilian Stadler, born at Molk, in Lower Austria,
August 4th, 1748, was an excellent pianist and organist. His
ecclesiastical compositions were extremely popular in Vienna.
In the last years of his life he was much occupied in writing on
art, history, and science. He died universally esteemed and
beloved in Vienna, November 8th, 1833.


that Vienna is not what it used to be. He is pub-
lishing his Psalms at Mechetti's ; I saw the work in
manuscript and admired it.

As to your quartet, Joseph Czerny promised faith-
fully that it should be ready on St. Joseph's day.
He assured me that up till now it had been im-
possible for him to put it in hand, as he is just
bringing out Schubert's works, many of which are
still in the press. So I am afraid that yours will be

As I observed, Czerny is not one of the wealthiest
publishers in this city, and cannot so easily take the
risk of printing a work that is not performed either
at " Sperl's " or at the " Romische Kaiser."

Waltzes are here called " works," and Lanner and
Strauss, who play first violin at the performances of
these dances, " capellmeister " (band-masters.)

I do not mean to say that this is the universal way
of speaking, for there are many who ridicule it ;
however, scarcely anything but Waltzes are printed.
It seems to me that Mechetti is of an enterprising
turn of mind, and that he will be more likely to take
your Masses, for he intends to publish the scores of
the famous church composers. I spoke about those
glorious Masses of yours to Mechetti's book-keeper —
an impressible and enlightened Saxon — he seemed
to think something of them, and, according to what
I hear, he does quite as he likes in the business. I
am invited out to dinner to-day to meet Mechetti.
I shall talk the matter over seriously with him, and


will write to you about it soon. Haslinger is now
publishing Hummel's last Mass, for he lives only
for and by Hummel ; but it is said that these latest
compositions do not sell well ; and Haslinger, who
gave him a large honorarium for them, puts aside
all manuscripts now, and only prints Strauss's com-

Yesterday I was with Nidecki, at Steinkeller's,
who has written a libretto for Nidecki. He hopes
for great things from this opera, in which the famous
comedian, Schuster, is to appear. In this case,
Nidecki may make a name for himself. I hope that
this news will please you.

You ask, dear Mons. Eisner, why Nidecki studied
my second concerto ? He did so solely by his own
wish. Knowing that he would have to play in public
before his departure from Vienna, and having nothing
suitable of his own, except the beautiful variations,
he asked for my manuscripts. Meanwhile things
have greatly changed ; he no longer appears as a
pianoforte virtuoso^ but as an orchestral composer.
He will be sure to tell you of it himself. I shall
take care that his overture is performed at my
concert. You will be proud of us yet ; at any rate
you shall not be ashamed of us. The pianist, Aloys
Schmitt, has been cut up by the critics, although he
is past forty, and has been composing for eighteen

Kindest remembrances to all the collegians, and
to your own circle. For yourself, I beg you to


receive the assurance of the unbounded respect with
which I always remain,

Your grateful and faithful pupil,


Vienna, May 14^^, 1831.

My beloved Parents and Sisters,

I have to go on short commons this week, as
regards letters^ but I console myself with the thought
that I shall hear from you again next week, and wait
patiently, trusting that you are as well in the
country as you were in town. As to myself, I am
in excellent spirits, and feel that good health is the
best comforter in misfortune.

Perhaps it is Malfatti's soups which have given
me such strength that I really feel better than ever.
If so it is a two-fold regret to me that Malfatti and
his family are gone into the country. You cannot
imagine what a beautiful villa he lives in ; I was
there a week ago with Hummel. Having taken us
over his house, he showed us his garden, and when
we were at the top of the hill we had such a splendid
view that we did not want to come down again,
Malfatti has the honour of a visit from the court
every year, and I should not wonder if the Duchess
of Anhalt-Cothen, who is a neighbour of his, envies
him his garden.

On one side you see Vienna lying at your feet, and
looking as if Schonbrunn were joined to it ; on the


other, high hills picturesquely dotted with convents
and villages. This romantic panorama makes you
quite oblivious of the nearness of the noisy, bustling

Yesterday I was at the Imperial library with
Handler.* Do you know this is my first inspection
of what is, perhaps, the richest collection of musical
manuscripts in the world ? I can scarcely imagine
that the library in Bologna can be larger and more
systematically arranged than this one.

Now, my dearest ones, picture to yourselves my
astonishment at beholding among the new manu-
scripts a book entitled " Chopin."

It was a pretty large volume, elegantly bound ; I
thought to myself, I have neyer heard of any other
musician named Chopin, but there was a certain
Champin, and perhaps there has been a mistake
in the spelling. I took out the manuscript and saw
my own handwriting. Haslinger had sent the
original of my variations to the library. This is
an absurdity worth remembering.

Last Sunday there was to have been a grand dis-
play of fireworks, but the rain spoilt it. It is a
remarkable fact that it almost always rains here
when they are going to have fireworks. This
reminds me of the following story : "A gentleman
had a handsome bronze -coloured coat, but whenever

'■' An author and musical connoisseur, born in 1792, died
of cholera September, 1831.


he wore it, it rained; so he went to his tailor to
ask him the reason. The tailor was very much
astonished, shook his head, and asked the gentleman
to leave the coat with him for a day or two, as,
possibly, the hat, waistcoat or boots might be the
cause of the misfortune. However, it was not so,
for when the tailor went out for a walk in the coat
the rain suddenly poured down, and the poor man
was obliged to take a cab, for he had forgotten
his u^rella. Some people thought his wife had
taken it to a coffee-party; but, however that may
have been, the coat was wringing wet. After
thinking over this strange occurrence for a long time
it occurred to the tailor that perhaps there was some-
thing strange hidden in the coat. He took out the
sleeves, but found nothing ; he undid the tails, then
the front, when, lo and behold ! under the lining was
a piece of a hand-bill about some fireworks. This
explained all ; he took out the paper, and the coat
never brought down any more rain." Forgive me
for again having nothing new to tell you about
myself; I shall hope to ha^ve some more interesting
news bye and bye. I m(Jst sincerely desire to fulfil
your wishes ; hitherto, however, I have found it
impossible to give a concert. What do you think
of General Dwernicki's victory at Stoczek ?
May God continue to fight for us !



Vienna, May 28th, 183 1.

I have just returned from the post, but once more
there is no letter for me ! I received one on Wed-
nesday from Madame Jarocka, with a postcript from
dear Papa, which though very short was very pre-
cious to me. It told me, at least, that you were all
well. As to Marcel and Johann, I beg that they
will not write to me at all, if they are so stingy, that
in spite of my request they can only send a word or
two. I am so angry that I feel as if I could send
back their letters without opening them. Of course
they will make the old excuse of want of time ! I
am the only one who has time to write so fiilly every
week. But how. quickly this precious time passes.
It is already the end of May, and I am still in
Vienna, and probably shall be through June, for
Kumelski* has been ill and must lay by again.

I can see already that this letter will be a very
wearisome one, but you have no reason to fear that
this is a sign of indisposition. On the contrary, I
am quite well and amusing myself capitall}^ To-
day I was playing from early in the morning till two
in the afternoon, when I went out to dine and met
the worthy Kandler, who kindly offered to give me
letters to Cherubini and Paer.

I shall visit my invalid in the evening and go
to the theatre, where there is to be a concert at

^^ An esteemed friend, who was to accompany Chopin to Paris.


which the violinist Herz is to perform. He is an
Israelite, and made his dehit at Fraulein Henriette
Sonntag's concert in Warsaw, when he was almost
hissed off the stage. The pianist, Dohler, is also to
play some of Czerny's compositions, and in con-
clusion Herz will give his own variations on Polish
airs. Poor Polish motives, you little think how they
will over-lard you with "Majufes" (Jewish melodies),
giving you the title of " Polish music" to attract the

If you are honest enough to distinguish between
real Polish music and these imitations of it, and to
assign a higher position to the former, you are
thought crazy, more especially as Czerny, who is the
oracle of Vienna, has not, as yet, in the manufacture
of his musical tit-bits, included any variations on a
Polish theme.

Yesterday afternoon I went with Thalberg to the
Evangelical church, where Hesse, a young organist
from Breslau, was to perform before the most select
of Viennese audiences. The elite of the musical
world were present : Stadler, Kiesewetter, Mosel,
Seyfried, and Gyrowitz. Hesse has talent, and
understands the management of the organ ; he left
an album with me, but I don't feel as if I had
originality enough to write anything in it.

On Wednesday I was at Beper's with Slawick till
2 o'clock in the morning. He is one of the artists
here with whom I am really on friendly and con-
fidential terms. He plays like a second Paganini,


whom, in time, he gives promise of surpassing. I
should not think so, had I not already heard him
several times. I am very sorry that Titus has not
made Slawick's acquaintance, for he bewitches his
hearers, and moves them to tears ; he even made
Tiger weep ; Prince G. and Jskr. were much affected
by his playing.

How are things going on with you ? I am
always dreaming of you. Has not the bloodshed
ceased yet ? I know what your answer will be :
" Patience." I constantly console myself with the
same thought.

On Thursday there was a soiree at Fuchs's, when
Limmer, one of the best artists here, introduced
some of his own compositions for four violoncellos.
Merk, as usual, made them more beautiful than they
really were by his playing, which is so full of soul.
We stayed there till 12 o'clock, for Merk enjoyed
playing his Variations with me. He told me so
himself, and it is always a great pleasure for me to
play with him. I think we suit each other very well.*
He is the only violoncellist I really respect.

I am curious to know how I shall like Norblin ; t
please do not forget the letter to him.

=^ Chopin dedicated to Merk his " Introduction et Polonaise
Brillante pour piano et violoncello, " (op. 3.)

f M. L. Peter Norblin, born in Warsaw, 1781, was first
violoncellist at the Grand Opera in Paris, and teacher at the
Conservatoire. He died 1852.


Vienna, June z^th, 183 1.

I am quite well, and that is all that I have to be
happy about, for my departure seems as far off as
ever. I have never been in such a state before.
You know how undecided I am, and then obstacles
meet me at every step. I am promised a passport
every day, and I run from Herod to Pontius Pilate
simply to get back what I gave the police to take
care of. I received a delightful piece of news to-
day, that my passport had been mislaid somewhere
and could not be found, so I must try to procure a
new one. It is strange that every possible mis-
fortune happens just now to us poor Poles. Although
I am quite ready to start, I cannot.

I have followed Herr Beyer's advice and had my
passport vised for England, although I am only going
to Paris. Malfatti will give me a letter of introduc-
tion to his friend, Paer ; Kandler has already men-
tioned me in the " Leipziger Mtisikzeitung.''

I was not home until midnight yesterday, for
it was St. John's Day, and Malfatti's birthday.
Mechetti wished to give him a surprise, and had
engaged Miles. Emmering and Lutzer, and Messrs.
Wildt, Cicimara, and your Frederic to give a musical
performance in his honour. This almost deserved to
be described as perfect (" parfait.") I never heard
the Quartet from " Moses " given better ; although
Fraulein Gladkowska sang "Oh quante lacrime "
with far more feeling at my farewell concert at


Warsaw. Wildt was in excellent voice, and I acted
as quasi conductor.*

A considerable crowd was on the terrace of our
house, listening to the concert. The moon shone
marvellously, the fountains rose like columns of
pearls, the air was filled with the perfume of the
orange grove ; in short, it was an enchanting night,
the surroundings glorious !

I will now describe the room in which we per-
formed. Windows, reaching from the ceiling to
the floor, open on to the terrace, from whence
there is a magnificent view over the whole of Vienna.
Large mirrors hung on the walls ; but the room was
dimly lighted which heightened the effect of the
moonlight streaming through the windows ; and the
roominess of the " cabinet " adjoining the salon on
the left gave to the whole dwelling an air of grandeur.
The open-heartedness and politeness of the host, the
gay and elegant company, the sparkling wit, and the
excellent supper, made it late before we separated.
I live as frugally as possible, and look at every
penny as I did at the ring t when I was in Warsaw.
You may as well sell it, for I have cost you enough

* " Cicimara said, there was no one in Vienna, who accom-
panied as well as I did. I thought to myself, I have been
convinced of this a long time. Hush." — (Remark of Chopin's.)

f The ring presented by the Emperor Alexandra I. See
Chap. III.


The day before yesterday we were on the Kahlen
and Lepoldsberg with Kumelski ; and Czapek, who
visits me every day and gives me most substantial
proofs of his friendship ; he offered to lend me money
for travelling, if I wanted it. It was a magnificent
day, and I never took a more beautiful walk. From
the Leopoldsberg you see the whole of Vienna,
Agram, Aspern, Pressburg, and even Kloster-Neu-
burg, the castle in which Richard Coeur de Lion
was for some time imprisoned. We had a view
also of all the upper part of the Danube. After
breakfast we went to the Kahlenberg, where King
John Sobieski pitched his camp and sent up the
rockets which were to announce to Count. Starhem-
berg, Commandant of Vienna, the approach of the
Polish army. There, too, is the monastery of the
Kamedules, where, before the attack of the Turks,
the King knighted his son Jacob, and himself offici-
ated in the Mass. I have gathered a leaf for
Isabella from the spot which is now covered with

From thence we went, in the evening, to the
beautiful valley of Krappenwald, where we saw a
ridiculous boyish frolic, a number of urchins had
covered themselves, from head to foot, with leaves,
and, looking like walking-bushes, crawled from inn to
inn. A boy, covered with leaves, his head adorned
with branches, is called " Easter-king." This is a
customary jest at Easter-tide.

A few days ago I was at a soiree at Aloys


Fuchs's.* He showed me his rich collection of
autograph works (circa 400.) My Rondo t for two
pianos was among them. Some of the company
present were desirous of becoming personally ac-
quainted with me. Fuchs gave me a specimen of
Beethoven's handwriting.

Your last letter gave me great pleasure, for I saw
the handwriting of all my nearest and dearest ones
on one piece of paper. Let me kiss your hands and
feet, which are more charming than any to be found
in Vienna.

Vienna, Saturday, July 183 1.
I saw from your last letter, my dearests, that you
have already learnt to bear misfortune with fortitude.
You may be assured that neither am I so readily cast
down. Hope, oh, sweet perennial hope 1

* Aloys Fuchs, born 1799 in Austrio-Silesia, was for some
time musical historiographer and antiquarian at the Austrian
Royal Chapel. He possessed a great many autographs and
portraits ; and scores of the masters of the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries; also Mozart's compositions, in his own
handwriting. Fuchs played the violoncello very well, and was
one of Beethoven's intimate friends. At the sale of Beethoven's
property, Fuchs bought, among other manuscripts, one of the
sketch books, which he sent, as a mark of respect, to Mendels-
sohn. Another of these books was bought by Meyerbeer's
brother, William Beer. Fuchs's fine collection was dispersed
at his death, in 1852.

f This Rondo appeared among the posthumous works,
as op. 73.


I have got my passport at last, but have given up
the idea of starting on Monday. We shall go to
Salzburg on Monday and from there to Munich. I
asked for my passport to be vised for London ; and
the police did it at once ; but it was kept two days
at the Russian Embassy, and was sent back with
permission to travel to Munich, not to London. It
is all the same to me, if Herr Maison the French
Ambassador will sign it. To these troubles another
has now been added. A certificate of health is
necessary for crossing the Bavarian frontier, on
account of the cholera. We ran about for half a
day with Kumelski, but got the pass in the

We had the pleasure of being at least in good
company during our peregrinations, for Count Alex-
ander Fredro,* whom we reco§:nized from his Polish
appearance, his refined manner of speaking, and his
passport, was with us seeking a similar pass for his

The news to-day is that the town of Wilna is
taken. It is to be hoped this is not true.

Everyone is terribly afraid of the cholera, and the
precautions taken are quite ridiculous. Printed

* Alexander Count Von Fredro, born 1793, celebrated as a
writer of excellent comedies, and called by his countrymen,
the Polish Moliere, began his literary labours with a transla-
tion of Goethe's " Clavigo." His comedies sparkle with
original ideas, and are an ornament to the national stage.
He died at Lemberg, July 14th, 1876.


prayers are sold, supplicating God and all the saints
to stop the cholera. Nobody ventures to eat fruit,
and most people quit the city.

I leave a Polonaise for the Violoncello with

Louise writes that Herr Eisner is very pleased
with the review ; I am anxious to hear what he will
say about the others, as he was my teacher of com-
position. I want nothing but more life and spirit.
I often feel low-spirited, but sometimes as cheerful
as at home. When I feel melancholy I go to
Madame Schaschek's, where I generally meet several
amiable young Polish ladies who always cheer me
up with their kind and hopeful words, so that I begin
to mimic the generals here. This is my last new
trick ; those who have seen it are ready to die with
laughter. But there are days, alas ! when people
do not get two words out of me ; then I generally
spend thirty kreuzers in going to Hitzing, or some-
where else in the neighbourhood of Vienna (for
recreation) to divert my mind. Zacharkiewicz, of
Warsaw, was with me, and when his wife saw me at
Schaschek's their astonishment knew no bounds at
my looking such a proper fellow. I have only left
my whiskers on the right cheek, and they grow very
well ; there is no occasion to have them on the left,
as you always sit with your right to the public.

The good Wiirfel was with me the day before
yesterday ; Czapck, Kumelski, and several others
also came, and we went together to St. Veit, a


pretty place, which is more than I can say of Tivoli,
where there is a kind of Caroussel, or rather a rail
with sledges, called a " Rutsch." It is a childish
amusement, but a crowd of grown persons let them-
selves roll down the hill in these sledges without the
least object in going. At first I did not at all
care about trying ; but as we were eight of us and
all good friends, we began to dare each other to
go down first. It was very foolish, but we all
laughed heartily. I went heart and soul into the
fun till it occurred to me that strong healthy men
might find some better employment at a time like
the present when there is such a universal need for
protection and defence. Confound our frivolity.

A little while ago Rossini's " Siege of Corinth "
was exceedingly well given, and I was very pleased
to have another chance of hearing the opera. Fraulein
Heinefetter, Messrs. Wildt, Binder, and Forti, in a
word, all the best artists in Vienna, were present
and did their utmost. I went to the opera with
Czapek, and when it was over we went to the same
restaurant where Beethoven used to take his supper.

I must say, in case I forget, that I shall probably
take rather more money from Peter the banker than
dear papa had arranged for. I am very economical,
but heaven knows I can only do as I am doing, or I

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