Showing posts from March, 2020

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

Honoré Daumier (1808-1879) 'Cholera' Upon his 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 min

Chopin and his 'espaces imaginaires' - The Fortress of Venus - An escapist thought in these disordered times

The Fortress of   Venus Michael Moran In the summer of 1844 Chopin was at Nohant with George Sand, her children, his sister  Ludwika Jędrzejewicz and his sister's husband Kalasanty.  After they left to return to Warsaw he wrote a letter to her expressing his sense of loss at her departure: 'I feel strange this year [...] but I am not at all here at this moment, only as usual in some strange space. This must be  espaces imaginaires,  but I am not embarrassed by it.'   It is now exactly 50 years since I left civilization  as a young man  and went to live on a South Pacific Island. I took with me my  C. Bechstein  upright grand piano and a great deal of the music of Fryderyk Chopin. I intended, among other escapist tendencies, to practice and realize the utterly false hope of turning myself into a concert pianist.  As much of the world is now living in strange and unaccustomed isolation during one of the greatest catastrophes mankind has experienced , I

Tomasz Ritter at the birthplace of Chopin at Żelazowa Wola - 210th Birthday of Fryderyk Chopin, 1st March 2020 - 'Wszystkiego najlepszego Frycek!' (Happy Birthday Frycek!)

Fryderyk Chopin [1 March 1810 Żelzowa Wola, Poland - 17 October 1849, Paris] F or a fascinating detailed examination in English of the originally disputed date of his birth The Dworek where Chopin was born at Żelzowa Wola Tomasz Ritter Throughout this recital he played an Erard from 1838 from the NIFC collection.. He ambitiously opened with the Ballade No.4 in F minor. His opening of the narrative was convincing and confident with much transparent polyphony and colour of sound.  He showed affecting, passionate lyricim and the overtones of the period instrument gave a warm watercolour diffuseness to the soundscape in pianissimo performance. His rubato was emotional yet I still felt a certain diminishment of poetry and sensibility. There were inspiring elements of chiaroscuro sound, colour and a fine balance of the 'registers' of period pianos was preserved. The Etude in E minor Op.25/5 had an affecti