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Chopin in the Time of Cholera - the Paris pandemics of 1832 and 1849

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Upon arrival in Paris on 5 October 1831, Chopin had no set plans to stay in the city. However after six weeks residence at an inn near the diligence terminus in the Rue de la Cité Bergère, he took an apartment with a balcony and panoramic views across Paris at 27 Boulevard Poissonnière. 
In November 1831 he wrote of his initial impressions in an extraordinarily frank and one might venture 'manly' letter to one of his travelling companions, Alfons Kumelski. He describes the immense contrasts within the city : 
'You find here the greatest splendour, the greatest squalor, the greatest virtue, and the greatest vice; at every step you see posters advertising cures for venereal disease - nothing but cries, noise, din, and mud, past anything you can imagine.'  Later in the missive he speaks of the large numbers of prostitutes ('sisters of mercy') and confesses to a 'souvenir of Teresa (despite the ministrations of Bénédict who considers my misfortune insignificant) …

Krzysztof Penderecki 1933 -2020 - The passing of a world musical era

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I have just this morning heard of the death of Krzysztof Penderecki
As he joins the grand pantheon of Chopin, Szymanowski, Paderewski and Lutoslawski, the most fitting tribute I can pay to this Polish musical institution and fearless contemporary world composer is to post once again with the greatest sadness my detailed review of the 
Penderecki Festival 16-23 November 2018

I have spent decades searching for and discovering new sounds. I have also closely studied the forms, styles and harmonies of past eras. I continue to adhere to both principles … my current creative output is a synthesis 
Krzysztof Penderecki

All photographs by Bruno Fidrych





Introduction


This festival has stirred so many memories. I first encountered the music of Penderecki in the avant-garde year of revolution 1968. During those years I was in Paris writing my own experimental 'indeterminate' avant garde texts influenced by the style of the Nouveau Roman literary movement (Marguerite Duras, Nathalie Sarraute, Al…