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PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 6:02 am 
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Okay, now I have gotten to reading some things and had to post again. I just read through the 'Chopin' section of The Great Piano Virtuosos of Our Time from Personal Acquaintance, a pamphlet published by Wilhelm von Lenz, a student of Chopin's. His way of writing is VERY strange. He is the source of the story about Myerbeer and the mazurka, and Chopin going ballistic about it. He alternates between a strange vanity (he often emphasizes how Liszt, Chopin, etc. just LOVED the way he played), and a matter-of-fact humility (such as his relation of the fact that he was forbidden by Chopin to play the 2nd Scherzo, as it was too difficult for him, and von Lenz concedes that Chopin was right). Anyway, I like this quote:

WVL wrote:
....the question: "How do you understand Chopin?" is one of the gravest one can put to a representative of the modern piano.


And this one:

WVL wrote:
Chopin was a painter of pastels, but an unrivalled one. Contrasted with Liszt he might stand on an honorable equality with him—as his wife.

:shock: :lol:

But this is my favorite:

WVL wrote:
"Do you practice on the day of the concert?" I asked him.

"It is a terrible time for me; I do not like publicity, but it is a duty I owe my position. For two weeks I shut myself up, and play Bach. That is my preparation; I do not practice my own compositions."

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 1:49 pm 
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As his wife? Oh, brother....That Lenz fellow does sound rather strange. But I'm just not sure that FC said those exact words on the last quote.

Thanks Terez - keep posting these juicy tidbits! :D

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 3:52 pm 
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pianolady wrote:
As his wife? Oh, brother....That Lenz fellow does sound rather strange.

He is! He said many other strange things about Chopin being a woman, or writing like one, or something. This is cute too, from the Myerbeer incident:

WVL wrote:
I never but once saw Chopin angry; it was at this time ! A delicate flush colored his pale cheeks, and he looked very handsome.

LOL. I wonder if WVL had a crush. I will have to get the original German version to see exactly what he said.

Monica wrote:
But I'm just not sure that FC said those exact words on the last quote.

Yes, it's definitely in his words, rather than Chopin's (and of course they have been translated from Chopin's French to WVL's German to the English version I have), but other things from Chopin indicate that von Lenz was probably truthful in relaying the gist of Chopin's words.

Monica wrote:
Thanks Terez - keep posting these juicy tidbits! :D

You know I will. :D Last night I finished the Siepmann biography, and the 'Correspondence' book, with all the extra letters—for those wondering, I'd suggesting having both a copy of the Hedley 'Selected Correspondence', and the Voynich 'Letters', simply because the former abridges letters, and the latter omits any letters not written by Chopin himself.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 5:28 pm 
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Terez wrote:

WVL wrote:
I never but once saw Chopin angry; it was at this time ! A delicate flush colored his pale cheeks, and he looked very handsome.

LOL. I wonder if WVL had a crush. I will have to get the original German version to see exactly what he said.


Yuck - it does sound like a crush.


Terez wrote:
Yes, it's definitely in his words, rather than Chopin's (and of course they have been translated from Chopin's French to WVL's German to the English version I have), but other things from Chopin indicate that von Lenz was probably truthful in relaying the gist of Chopin's words.


I know - I've seen references to this many times, but well....you know.

(wish I had time to read....)

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 5:44 pm 
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pianolady wrote:
Terez wrote:

WVL wrote:
I never but once saw Chopin angry; it was at this time ! A delicate flush colored his pale cheeks, and he looked very handsome.

LOL. I wonder if WVL had a crush. I will have to get the original German version to see exactly what he said.


Yuck - it does sound like a crush.

Sometimes it seems like everyone in Paris had the hots for Chopin, though that's partly because everyone is so amazingly flowery in their descriptions of his playing (which Chopin seemed to hate from some people, and love from others...or maybe it depended on his mood).

This is another interesting bit from Lenz:

WVL wrote:
About this time there lived in Paris a pianist by the name of Gutmann; a rough fellow at the piano, but with robust health, and a herculean frame. Through these physical endowments, he impressed Chopin—the Sand also extended to him her protection. Chopin praised Gutmann as the pianist whose interpretation of his compositions was most grateful to him! That was strong! He said "he had taught himself." That was stronger, he, a giant! The Scherzo in C sharp minor, Op. 39, is dedicated to Gutmann, and Chopin certainly had his prize-fighter fist in mind, when he composed it, for no left hand can take the chord in the bass (sixth measure, d sharp, f sharp, g, d sharp, f sharp), least of all Chopin's hand, which arpeggio'd over the easy-running, narrow-keyed Pleyel. Only Gutmann could "knock a hole in a table" with that chord! I heard him at Chopin's; he played like a porter; so does Genius allow itself to be deluded, when its own weaknesses sit in judgment! To the little Filtsch, and me, Gutmann was a horror; we derided him; he learned absolutely nothing of Chopin, though Chopin took so much trouble to try and carve a toothpick out of this log! That was sufficient to blindfold him. Nothing more was ever heard of this Gutmann—he was a discovery of Chopin's.

And of course, Gutmann was one of the people that actually was at the death of Chopin.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 6:30 pm 
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Chopin and his moods - I can relate.

Interesting what Lenz said about Gutmann. I first thought he (Lenz) was perhaps jealous, but I just found some interesting words that may support that in Niecks book - copy and pasted here:

Adolph Gutmann was a boy of fifteen when in 1834 his father
brought him to Paris to place him under Chopin. The latter,
however, did not at first feel inclined to accept the proposed
trust; but on hearing the boy play he conceived so high an idea
of his capacities that he agreed to undertake his artistic
education. Chopin seems to have always retained a thorough belief
in his muscular pupil, although some of his great pianist friends
thought this belief nothing but a strange delusion. There are
also piquant anecdotes told by fellow-pupils with the purpose of
showing that Chopin did not care very much for him. For instance,
the following: Some one asked the master how his pupil was
getting on, "Oh, he makes very good chocolate," was the answer.
Unfortunately, I cannot speak of Gutmann's playing from
experience, for although I spent eight days with him, it was on a
mountain-top in the Tyrol, where there were no pianos. But
Chopin's belief in Gutmann counts with me for something, and so
does Moscheles' reference to him as Chopin's "excellent pupil";
more valuable, I think, than either is the evidence of Dr. A. C.
Mackenzie, who at my request visited Gutmann several times in
Florence and was favourably impressed by his playing, in which he
noticed especially beauty of tone combined with power. As far as
I can make out Gutmann planned only once, in 1846, a regular
concert-tour, being furnished for it by Chopin with letters of
introduction to the highest personages in Berlin, Warsaw, and St.
Petersburg. Through the intervention of the Countess Rossi
(Henriette Sontag), he was invited to play at a court-concert at
Charlottenburg in celebration of the King's birthday. [FOOTNOTE:
His part of the programme consisted of his master's E minor
Concerto (2nd and 3rd movements) and No. 3 of the first book of
studies, and his own tenth study.] But the day after the concert
he was seized with such home-sickness that he returned forthwith
to Paris, where he made his appearance to the great astonishment
of Chopin. The reader may perhaps be interested in what a writer
in the Gazette Musicale said about Chopin's favourite pupil on
March 24, 1844:--

M. Gutmann is a pianist with a neat but somewhat cold style of
playing; he has what one calls fingers, and uses them with
much dexterity. His manner of proceeding is rather that of
Thalberg than of the clever professor who has given him
lessons. He afforded pleasure to the lovers of the piano
[amateurs de piano] at the musical SOIREE which he gave last
Monday at M. Erard's. Especially his fantasia on the
"Freischutz" was applauded.

Of course, the expression of any individual opinion is no
conclusive proof. Gutmann was so successful as a teacher and in a
way also as a composer (his compositions, I may say in passing,
were not in his master's but in a light salon style) that at a
comparatively early period of his life he was able to retire from
his profession. After travelling for some time he settled at
Florence, where he invented the art, or, at least, practised the
art which he had previously invented, of painting with oil-
colours on satin. He died at Spezzia on October 27, 1882.



"He makes very good chocolate" - Oh, Chopin, you cad!

:lol:

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 6:48 pm 
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I can't decide what to read next. Niecks might be a good idea, though more recent scholarship seems to think that Niecks took entirely too many liberties in his interpretations. I might read something about George Sand instead - there are a few books on her love life (which was, of course, much more colorful over her lifetime than Chopin's was - she was pretty much his only serious relationship). I will probably not read these whole books, but I will at least skim the parts that aren't about Chopin. :wink:

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"Z Czernym poznałem się na panie brat—na dwa fortepiana często z nim u niego grywałem. Dobry człowiek, ale nic więcej..." - Fryderyk Chopin


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 7:01 pm 
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Yeah - Sand had quite a love life!

Have you read The Lioness and the Little One - the liaison of George Sand and Frederic Chopin by William Atwood? I have not. Could be some juicy bits in it. :wink:

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 7:32 pm 
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No, the library didn't have it. :cry: I did get the foremost Sand biography, though, and quite a few other books on her, so hopefully they will have something good in them. I've just started reading one of them...

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 7:55 pm 
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My library does have the book, so I've ordered them to bring it to the library closest to me. Should be able to pick it up tomorrow. I'll start reading as soon as possible (?) and will tell you all the good stuff.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 17, 2009 1:09 am 
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I've had no luck on the George Sand books so far. So much of that they say is apocryphal! But that is because the books are old - only recent scholarship has done a good job of cleaning up all of the junk rumors that have been floating around for the last 150 years. That's why the first two biographies I read all the way through were new ones - I wanted to make sure I had a good perspective from which to read all the older books.

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"Z Czernym poznałem się na panie brat—na dwa fortepiana często z nim u niego grywałem. Dobry człowiek, ale nic więcej..." - Fryderyk Chopin


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 17, 2009 1:57 am 
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Also! I forgot to mention that, at the end of the Siepmann biography, he says that Chopin asked on his deathbed that they should please only publish finished works, and destroy everything else. I was always under the impression that he asked for everything unpublished to be destroyed. But this is what I get for not reading any Chopin books for 10 years.

I don't own the Liszt biography, but I have read it before, and I realized when I checked it out from the university library that it was the same copy I checked out when I was a student there before, in 1997. It's only been checked out twice since then.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 17, 2009 2:17 pm 
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Terez wrote:
Also! I forgot to mention that, at the end of the Siepmann biography, he says that Chopin asked on his deathbed that they should please only publish finished works, and destroy everything else. I was always under the impression that he asked for everything unpublished to be destroyed. But this is what I get for not reading any Chopin books for 10 years.


Yeah, that's a little confusing. So basically it means that all Chopin's posthumous works were completely finished works (I dunno - maybe I don't have that right), and I haven't counted how many there are, but I think it numbers somewhere over 10 (thinking about the mazurkas and waltzes now). That's a lot of finished compositions sitting around his desk. But we know how he liked to 'tweak' his works so who knows what changes he may have made on those compositions.

However, I thought I remember reading that Chopin's friends practically ignored his wish and published even some unfinished works. I can't remember right now, but have you read anywhere that one of his friends like Fontana or that other F guy (Franschomme ?) or even Liszt actually did put some finishing notes on a Chopin piece and then published it? Granados did that with one of Albeniz pieces - actually, Granados added quite a lot to the composition, not just a few notes. It's been awhile since I have read all the Chopin books too, so I can't remember everything either.

The Liszt bio - do you mean the three-book set by Walker? Funny that you checked out the same books.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 17, 2009 3:45 pm 
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pianolady wrote:
Terez wrote:
Also! I forgot to mention that, at the end of the Siepmann biography, he says that Chopin asked on his deathbed that they should please only publish finished works, and destroy everything else. I was always under the impression that he asked for everything unpublished to be destroyed. But this is what I get for not reading any Chopin books for 10 years.


Yeah, that's a little confusing. So basically it means that all Chopin's posthumous works were completely finished works (I dunno - maybe I don't have that right), and I haven't counted how many there are, but I think it numbers somewhere over 10 (thinking about the mazurkas and waltzes now). That's a lot of finished compositions sitting around his desk. But we know how he liked to 'tweak' his works so who knows what changes he may have made on those compositions.

There is also the posthumous Nocturnes (e minor and c-sharp minor), and the Fantasie-Impromptu. I just read another account where it's said that he told his sister not to publish any of his inferior works, which would have left it up to her taste (and she was a musician of course). I haven't read anything about people finishing his works, but i will let you know if I do.

Monica wrote:
The Liszt bio - do you mean the three-book set by Walker? Funny that you checked out the same books.

hmmm, no. Liszt's biography of Chopin is fairly short, but he wrote it. I'm not sure what this 3-book set is you're talking about.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 17, 2009 6:13 pm 
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Terez wrote:
Monica wrote:
The Liszt bio - do you mean the three-book set by Walker? Funny that you checked out the same books.

hmmm, no. Liszt's biography of Chopin is fairly short, but he wrote it. I'm not sure what this 3-book set is you're talking about.


Sorry, I got confused again. I thought you meant a bio about Liszt, not a bio about Chopin written by Liszt. :? :lol: Funny, I have not read that one. I know that Liszt could be rather 'flowery' himself, and also exaggerated things.

The books I meant earlier are the three books on Liszt by Alan Walker. When you get done with your Chopin books, you should check these out. They're very good!!

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 17, 2009 8:37 pm 
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pianolady wrote:
Sorry, I got confused again. I thought you meant a bio about Liszt, not a bio about Chopin written by Liszt. :? :lol: Funny, I have not read that one. I know that Liszt could be rather 'flowery' himself, and also exaggerated things.

This is true! But I still enjoyed reading it. For all that things between them in life were somewhat tense, Liszt really does sing Chopin's praises in that book. And it's short! :lol:

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 17, 2009 9:32 pm 
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Terez wrote:
pianolady wrote:
Sorry, I got confused again. I thought you meant a bio about Liszt, not a bio about Chopin written by Liszt. :? :lol: Funny, I have not read that one. I know that Liszt could be rather 'flowery' himself, and also exaggerated things.

This is true! But I still enjoyed reading it. For all that things between them in life were somewhat tense, Liszt really does sing Chopin's praises in that book. And it's short! :lol:


That's what I like about Liszt. He could be mean and sarcastic just like anybody, but he always had kind words to say about Chopin - in his writings, anyway. (I don't think Chopin was that nice to Liszt.)

A short book - that would definitely be a nice change. :)

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 17, 2009 9:42 pm 
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Location: Obamanation, unfortunately...
MonMon, I saw a new sign on a billboard:


1810- op.2010

And it had a picture of his death mask as well

I'm sure you dont see much of that in chicagoland :lol:

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That is awesome! I wish I could be there for his 200th. :cry: But we will be having a bit of a Chopin festival at my school. Unfortunately, they've decided to be fair and include Schumann, but at least they have made Chopin a main focus. :lol:

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 18, 2009 12:12 am 
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juufa72 wrote:
MonMon, I saw a new sign on a billboard:


1810- op.2010

And it had a picture of his death mask as well

I'm sure you dont see much of that in chicagoland :lol:


Nope. Guess I'll just have my own private little birthday party for FC. Wonder what flavor cake I should bake...

Thanks for the update.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 18, 2009 3:47 am 
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CHOCOLATE.

It's not my favorite, but he seemed to like chocolate a lot. Or maybe you were being facetious. :lol:

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Chocolate is my favorite! :D And no, I'm not being facetious. :wink: :lol: :( (the sad smiley is because I'm serious)

btw - I picked up that book tonight - The Lioness and the Little One. It's 290 pages long and looks like it is full of interesting and juicy morsels. Can't read it now - going to bed - I know, it's only 10:00 - something I drank made me very sleepy. I'll read tomorrow...

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Theresa, if you're still here, I read a little of my book this evening. So far I have not learned any really juicy stuff, but I did read one thing that caught my eye. It deals with Liszt's biography on Chopin, and I think I may have read this in the Liszt bio, but now I'm getting a bit mixed up. You know how we mentioned that Liszt many times used flowery words in his writings? Well, that is true, but supposedly his mistress, the Princess Carolyn Sayn-Wittgenstein (she came after Marie d'Agoult), wrote much of the Chopin bio, and when you see her writings you can see that she sometimes goes on and on and on.

Another tidbit that I either didn't know or didn't remember, Solange may have had a different father than Maurice.

Not a new thing, but I read about Chopin's trip to England when he wanted to remain incognito and told his friends not to say anything about being there. I love this story - he went to a dinner party at James Broadwood's home (famous English piano maker) but went under the guise of Mr. Fritz. Later in the evening, Chopin (Mr. Fritz) couldn't resist playing the large Broadwood grand piano in the home and sat down and played in his usual wonderful way and the ruse was up; the other dinner guests knew he was actually Chopin. Wish I was one of those in attendance!

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 19, 2009 7:05 pm 
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pianolady wrote:
Theresa, if you're still here, I read a little of my book this evening. So far I have not learned any really juicy stuff, but I did read one thing that caught my eye. It deals with Liszt's biography on Chopin, and I think I may have read this in the Liszt bio, but now I'm getting a bit mixed up. You know how we mentioned that Liszt many times used flowery words in his writings? Well, that is true, but supposedly his mistress, the Princess Carolyn Sayn-Wittgenstein (she came after Marie d'Agoult), wrote much of the Chopin bio, and when you see her writings you can see that she sometimes goes on and on and on.

Really? I knew that she wrote the article about Chopin's last (or was it second-to-last) concert in Paris, but I hadn't heard that she wrote the biography! If you look in the 'Correspondence' book when you get it, there are some snippets from letters of Liszt and Marie d'Agoult around the time that concert, to show part of the evidence that she wrote that article, and why. lol, I remember a line from her letter....'the Chopin-Sands...are trying to resuscitate Chopin...' I have a feeling 'resuscitate' was translated exactly....what a horrible thing to say! Of course, he was already in dangerous health at that point in his life.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 19, 2009 9:37 pm 
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pianolady wrote:
something I drank made me very sleepy.


40 year tawny port!!!

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 21, 2009 4:53 pm 
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juufa72 wrote:
pianolady wrote:
something I drank made me very sleepy.


40 year tawny port!!!


You're close :wink:

Theresa - no time to read today, maybe tonight. I'll let you know if I learn more about that Liszt/Princess/Chopin bio stuff.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 21, 2009 9:16 pm 
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Location: Obamanation, unfortunately...
pianolady wrote:
You're close :wink: .



20yr tawnyt or a 50+ year vintage port?

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