Frédéric François Chopin
Frédéric François Chopin was a Polish composer and virtuoso pianist of the Romantic era who wrote primarily for solo piano. He has maintained worldwide renown as a leading musician of his era, one whose "poetic genius was based on a professional technique that was without equal in his generation."
Chopin was born in Żelazowa Wola in the Duchy of Warsaw and grew up in Warsaw, which in 1815 became part of Congress Poland. A child prodigy, he completed his musical education and composed his earlier works in Warsaw before leaving Poland at the age of 20, less than a month before the outbreak of the November 1830 Uprising. At 21, he settled in Paris. Thereafter – in the last 18 years of his life – he gave only 30 public performances, preferring the more intimate atmosphere of the salon. He supported himself by selling his compositions and by giving piano lessons, for which he was in high demand. Chopin formed a friendship with Franz Liszt and was admired by many of his other musical contemporaries, including Robert Schumann.
After a failed engagement to Maria Wodzińska from 1836 to 1837, he maintained an often troubled relationship with the French writer Amantine Dupin (known by her pen name, George Sand). A brief and unhappy visit to Mallorca with Sand in 1838–39 would prove one of his most productive periods of composition. In his final years, he was supported financially by his admirer Jane Stirling, who also arranged for him to visit Scotland in 1848. For most of his life, Chopin was in poor health. He died in Paris in 1849 at the age of 39, probably of pericarditis aggravated by tuberculosis.
All of Chopin's compositions include the piano. Most are for solo piano, though he also wrote two piano concertos, a few chamber pieces, and some 19 songs set to Polish lyrics. His piano writing was technically demanding and expanded the limits of the instrument, his own performances noted for their nuance and sensitivity. His major piano works also include mazurkas, waltzes, nocturnes, polonaises, the instrumental ballade (which Chopin created as an instrumental genre), études, impromptus, scherzos, preludes and sonatas, some published only posthumously. Among the influences on his style of composition were Polish folk music, the classical tradition of J. S. Bach, Mozart, and Schubert, and the atmosphere of the Paris salons of which he was a frequent guest. His innovations in style, harmony, and musical form, and his association of music with nationalism, were influential throughout and after the late Romantic period.
Chopin's music, his status as one of music's earliest celebrities, his indirect association with political insurrection, his high-profile love-life, and his early death have made him a leading symbol of the Romantic era. His works remain popular, and he has been the subject of numerous films and biographies of varying historical fidelity. The Fryderyk Chopin Institute has been created by the Parliament of Poland to research and promote his life and works. It hosts the International Chopin Piano Competition, a prestigious competition devoted entirely to his works.
Fryderyk Chopin was born in Żelazowa Wola, 46 kilometres (29 miles) west of Warsaw, in what was then the Duchy of Warsaw, a Polish state established by Napoleon. The parish baptismal record gives his birthday as 22 February 1810, and cites his given names in the Latin form Fridericus Franciscus (in Polish, he was Fryderyk Franciszek). However, the composer and his family used the birthdate 1 March, which is now generally accepted as the correct date.
Inscribed pocket watch presented by soprano Angelica Catalani to "10-year-old" Chopin on 3 January 1820
Fryderyk's father, Nicolas Chopin, was a Frenchman from Lorraine who had emigrated to Poland in 1787 at the age of sixteen. Nicolas tutored children of the Polish aristocracy, and in 1806 married Tekla Justyna Krzyżanowska, a poor relative of the Skarbeks, one of the families for whom he worked. Fryderyk was baptised on Easter Sunday, 23 April 1810, in the same church where his parents had married, in Brochów. His eighteen-year-old godfather, for whom he was named, was Fryderyk Skarbek, a pupil of Nicolas Chopin. Fryderyk was the couple's second child and only son; he had an elder sister, Ludwika (1807–1855), and two younger sisters, Izabela (1811–1881) and Emilia (1812–1827). Nicolas was devoted to his adopted homeland, and insisted on the use of the Polish language in the household.
In October 1810, six months after Fryderyk's birth, the family moved to Warsaw, where his father acquired a post teaching French at the Warsaw Lyceum, then housed in the Saxon Palace. Fryderyk lived with his family in the Palace grounds. The father played the flute and violin; the mother played the piano and gave lessons to boys in the boarding house that the Chopins kept. Chopin was of slight build, and even in early childhood was prone to illnesses.
Fryderyk may have had some piano instruction from his mother, but his first professional music tutor, from 1816 to 1821, was the Czech pianist Wojciech Żywny. His elder sister Ludwika also took lessons from Żywny, and occasionally played duets with her brother. It quickly became apparent that he was a child prodigy. By the age of seven Fryderyk had begun giving public concerts, and in 1817 he composed two polonaises, in G minor and B-flat major. His next work, a polonaise in A-flat major of 1821, dedicated to Żywny, is his earliest surviving musical manuscript.
In 1817 the Saxon Palace was requisitioned by Warsaw's Russian governor for military use, and the Warsaw Lyceum was reestablished in the Kazimierz Palace (today the rectorate of Warsaw University). Fryderyk and his family moved to a building, which still survives, adjacent to the Kazimierz Palace. During this period, Fryderyk was sometimes invited to the Belweder Palace as playmate to the son of the ruler of Russian Poland, Grand Duke Konstantin Pavlovich of Russia; he played the piano for Konstantin Pavlovich and composed a march for him. Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz, in his dramatic eclogue, "Nasze Przebiegi" ("Our Discourses", 1818), attested to "little Chopin's" popularity.
From September 1823 to 1826, Chopin attended the Warsaw Lyceum, where he received organ lessons from the Czech musician Wilhelm Würfel during his first year. In the autumn of 1826 he began a three-year course under the Silesian composer Józef Elsner at the Warsaw Conservatory, studying music theory, figured bass, and composition. Throughout this period he continued to compose and to give recitals in concerts and salons in Warsaw. He was engaged by the inventors of the "aeolomelodicon" (a combination of piano and mechanical organ), and on this instrument, in May 1825 he performed his own improvisation and part of a concerto by Moscheles. The success of this concert led to an invitation to give a recital on a similar instrument (the "aeolopantaleon") before Tsar Alexander I, who was visiting Warsaw; the Tsar presented him with a diamond ring. At a subsequent aeolopantaleon concert on 10 June 1825, Chopin performed his Rondo Op. 1. This was the first of his works to be commercially published and earned him his first mention in the foreign press, when the Leipzig Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung praised his "wealth of musical ideas".
During 1824–28 Chopin spent his vacations away from Warsaw, at a number of locales.[n 3] In 1824 and 1825, at Szafarnia, he was a guest of Dominik Dziewanowski, the father of a schoolmate. Here for the first time, he encountered Polish rural folk music. His letters home from Szafarnia (to which he gave the title "The Szafarnia Courier"), written in a very modern and lively Polish, amused his family with their spoofing of the Warsaw newspapers and demonstrated the youngster's literary gift.
In 1827, soon after the death of Chopin's youngest sister Emilia, the family moved from the Warsaw University building, adjacent to the Kazimierz Palace, to lodgings just across the street from the university, in the south annex of the Krasiński Palace on Krakowskie Przedmieście, where Chopin lived until he left Warsaw in 1830. Here his parents continued running their boarding house for male students. Four boarders at his parents' apartments became Chopin's intimates: Tytus Woyciechowski, Jan Nepomucen Białobłocki, Jan Matuszyński, and Julian Fontana. The latter two would become part of his Paris milieu.
Chopin was friendly with members of Warsaw's young artistic and intellectual world, including Fontana, Józef Bohdan Zaleski and Stefan Witwicki. Chopin's final Conservatory report (July 1829) read: "Chopin F., third-year student, exceptional talent, musical genius." In 1829 the artist Ambroży Mieroszewski executed a set of portraits of Chopin family members, including the first known portrait of the composer.
Travel and domestic success
In September 1828 Chopin, while still a student, visited Berlin with a family friend, zoologist Feliks Jarocki, enjoying operas directed by Gaspare Spontini and attending concerts by Carl Friedrich Zelter, Felix Mendelssohn and other celebrities. On an 1829 return trip to Berlin, he was a guest of Prince Antoni Radziwiłł, governor of the Grand Duchy of Posen – himself an accomplished composer and aspiring cellist. For the prince and his pianist daughter Wanda, he composed his Introduction and Polonaise brillante in C major for cello and piano, Op. 3.
Back in Warsaw that year, Chopin heard Niccolò Paganini play the violin, and composed a set of variations, Souvenir de Paganini. It may have been this experience that encouraged him to commence writing his first Études (1829–32), exploring the capacities of his own instrument. On 11 August, three weeks after completing his studies at the Warsaw Conservatory, he made his debut in Vienna. He gave two piano concerts and received many favourable reviews – in addition to some commenting (in Chopin's own words) that he was "too delicate for those accustomed to the piano-bashing of local artists". In the first of these concerts, he premiered his Variations on Là ci darem la mano, Op. 2 (variations on a duet from Mozart's opera Don Giovanni) for piano and orchestra. He returned to Warsaw in September 1829, where he premiered his Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor, Op. 21 on 17 March 1830.
Chopin's successes as a composer and performer opened the door to western Europe for him, and on 2 November 1830, he set out, in the words of Zdzisław Jachimecki, "into the wide world, with no very clearly defined aim, forever." With Woyciechowski, he headed for Austria again, intending to go on to Italy. Later that month, in Warsaw, the November 1830 Uprising broke out, and Woyciechowski returned to Poland to enlist. Chopin, now alone in Vienna, was nostalgic for his homeland, and wrote to a friend, "I curse the moment of my departure." When in September 1831 he learned, while travelling from Vienna to Paris, that the uprising had been crushed, he expressed his anguish in the pages of his private journal: "Oh God! ... You are there, and yet you do not take vengeance!" Jachimecki ascribes to these events the composer's maturing "into an inspired national bard who intuited the past, present and future of his native Poland."
When he left Warsaw in late 1830, Chopin had intended to go to Italy, but violent unrest there made that a dangerous destination. His next choice was Paris; difficulties obtaining a visa from Russian authorities resulted in him getting transit permission from the French. In later years he would quote the passport's endorsement Passeport en passant par Paris à Londres ("In transit to London via Paris"), joking that he was in the city "only in passing."
Chopin arrived in Paris in late September 1831; he would never return to Poland, thus becoming one of many expatriates of the Polish Great Emigration. In France, he used the French versions of his given names, and after receiving French citizenship in 1835, he travelled on a French passport. However, Chopin remained close to his fellow Poles in exile as friends and confidants and he never felt fully comfortable speaking French. Chopin's biographer Adam Zamoyski writes that he never considered himself to be French, despite his father's French origins, and always saw himself as a Pole.
In Paris, Chopin encountered artists and other distinguished figures and found many opportunities to exercise his talents and achieve celebrity. During his years in Paris, he was to become acquainted with, among many others, Hector Berlioz, Franz Liszt, Ferdinand Hiller, Heinrich Heine, Eugène Delacroix, Alfred de Vigny and Friedrich Kalkbrenner, who introduced him to the piano manufacturer Camille Pleyel. This was the beginning of a long and close association between the composer and Pleyel's instruments. Chopin was also acquainted with the poet Adam Mickiewicz, principal of the Polish Literary Society, some of whose verses he set as songs. He also was more than once guest of Marquis Astolphe de Custine, one of his fervent admirers, playing his works in Custine's salon.
Two Polish friends in Paris were also to play important roles in Chopin's life there. His fellow student at the Warsaw Conservatory, Julian Fontana, had originally tried unsuccessfully to establish himself in England; Fontana was to become, in the words of Michałowski and Samson, Chopin's "general factotum and copyist". Albert Grzymała, who in Paris became a wealthy financier and society figure, often acted as Chopin's adviser and "gradually began to fill the role of elder brother in [his] life."
On 7 December 1831, Chopin received the first major endorsement from an outstanding contemporary when Robert Schumann, reviewing the Op. 2 Variations in the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung (his first published article on music), declared: "Hats off, gentlemen! A genius." On 25 February 1832 Chopin gave a debut Paris concert in the "salons de MM Pleyel" at 9 rue Cadet, which drew universal admiration. The critic François-Joseph Fétis wrote in the Revue et gazette musicale: "Here is a young man who ... taking no model, has found, if not a complete renewal of piano music, ... an abundance of original ideas of a kind to be found nowhere else ..." After this concert, Chopin realised that his essentially intimate keyboard technique was not optimal for large concert spaces. Later that year he was introduced to the wealthy Rothschild banking family, whose patronage also opened doors for him to other private salons (social gatherings of the aristocracy and artistic and literary elite). By the end of 1832 Chopin had established himself among the Parisian musical elite and had earned the respect of his peers such as Hiller, Liszt, and Berlioz. He no longer depended financially upon his father, and in the winter of 1832, he began earning a handsome income from publishing his works and teaching piano to affluent students from all over Europe. This freed him from the strains of public concert-giving, which he disliked.
Chopin seldom performed publicly in Paris. In later years he generally gave a single annual concert at the Salle Pleyel, a venue that seated three hundred. He played more frequently at salons but preferred playing at his own Paris apartment for small groups of friends. The musicologist Arthur Hedley has observed that "As a pianist Chopin was unique in acquiring a reputation of the highest order on the basis of a minimum of public appearances – few more than thirty in the course of his lifetime." The list of musicians who took part in some of his concerts indicates the richness of Parisian artistic life during this period. Examples include a concert on 23 March 1833, in which Chopin, Liszt, and Hiller performed (on pianos) a concerto by J.S. Bach for three keyboards; and, on 3 March 1838, a concert in which Chopin, his pupil Adolphe Gutmann, Charles-Valentin Alkan, and Alkan's teacher Joseph Zimmermann performed Alkan's arrangement, for eight hands, of two movements from Beethoven's 7th symphony. Chopin was also involved in the composition of Liszt's Hexameron; he wrote the sixth (and final) variation on Bellini's theme. Chopin's music soon found success with publishers, and in 1833 he contracted with Maurice Schlesinger, who arranged for it to be published not only in France but, through his family connections, also in Germany and England.
In the spring of 1834, Chopin attended the Lower Rhenish Music Festival in Aix-la-Chapelle with Hiller, and it was there that Chopin met Felix Mendelssohn. After the festival, the three visited Düsseldorf, where Mendelssohn had been appointed musical director. They spent what Mendelssohn described as "a very agreeable day", playing and discussing music at his piano, and met Friedrich Wilhelm Schadow, director of the Academy of Art, and some of his eminent pupils such as Lessing, Bendemann, Hildebrandt and Sohn. In 1835 Chopin went to Carlsbad, where he spent time with his parents; it was the last time he would see them. On his way back to Paris, he met old friends from Warsaw, the Wodzińskis. He had made the acquaintance of their daughter Maria in Poland five years earlier when she was eleven. This meeting prompted him to stay for two weeks in Dresden, when he had previously intended to return to Paris via Leipzig. The sixteen-year-old girl's portrait of the composer is considered, along with Delacroix's, as among Chopin's best likenesses.
In October he finally reached Leipzig, where he met Schumann, Clara Wieck and Mendelssohn, who organised for him a performance of his own oratorio St. Paul, and who considered him "a perfect musician". In July 1836 Chopin travelled to Marienbad and Dresden to be with the Wodziński family, and in September he proposed to Maria, whose mother Countess Wodzińska approved in principle. Chopin went on to Leipzig, where he presented Schumann with his G minor Ballade. At the end of 1836, he sent Maria an album in which his sister Ludwika had inscribed seven of his songs, and his 1835 Nocturne in C-sharp minor, Op. 27, No. 1. The anodyne thanks he received from Maria proved to be the last letter he was to have from her. Chopin placed the letters he had received from Maria and her mother into a large envelope, wrote on it the words "My sorrow" ("Moja bieda"), and to the end of his life retained in a desk drawer this keepsake of the second love of his life.
Although it is not known exactly when Chopin first met Franz Liszt after arriving in Paris, on 12 December 1831 he mentioned in a letter to his friend Woyciechowski that "I have met Rossini, Cherubini, Baillot, etc. – also Kalkbrenner. You would not believe how curious I was about Herz, Liszt, Hiller, etc." Liszt was in attendance at Chopin's Parisian debut on 26 February 1832 at the Salle Pleyel, which led him to remark: "The most vigorous applause seemed not to suffice to our enthusiasm in the presence of this talented musician, who revealed a new phase of poetic sentiment combined with such happy innovation in the form of his art."
The two became friends, and for many years lived close to each other in Paris, Chopin at 38 Rue de la Chaussée-d'Antin, and Liszt at the Hôtel de France on the Rue Laffitte, a few blocks away. They performed together on seven occasions between 1833 and 1841. The first, on 2 April 1833, was at a benefit concert organised by Hector Berlioz for his bankrupt Shakespearean actress wife Harriet Smithson, during which they played George Onslow's Sonata in F minor for piano duet. Later joint appearances included a benefit concert for the Benevolent Association of Polish Ladies in Paris. Their last appearance together in public was for a charity concert conducted for the Beethoven Monument in Bonn, held at the Salle Pleyel and the Paris Conservatory on 25 and 26 April 1841.
Although the two displayed great respect and admiration for each other, their friendship was uneasy and had some qualities of a love-hate relationship. Harold C. Schonberg believes that Chopin displayed a "tinge of jealousy and spite" towards Liszt's virtuosity on the piano, and others have also argued that he had become enchanted with Liszt's theatricality, showmanship and success. Liszt was the dedicatee of Chopin's Op. 10 Études, and his performance of them prompted the composer to write to Hiller, "I should like to rob him of the way he plays my studies." However, Chopin expressed annoyance in 1843 when Liszt performed one of his nocturnes with the addition of numerous intricate embellishments, at which Chopin remarked that he should play the music as written or not play it at all, forcing an apology. Most biographers of Chopin state that after this the two had little to do with each other, although in his letters dated as late as 1848 he still referred to him as "my friend Liszt". Some commentators point to events in the two men's romantic lives which led to a rift between them; there are claims that Liszt had displayed jealousy of his mistress Marie d'Agoult's obsession with Chopin, while others believe that Chopin had become concerned about Liszt's growing relationship with George Sand.
In 1836, at a party hosted by Marie d'Agoult, Chopin met the French author George Sand (born Aurore Dupin). Short (under five feet, or 152 cm), dark, big-eyed and a cigar smoker, she initially repelled Chopin, who remarked, "What an unattractive person la Sand is. Is she really a woman?" However, by early 1837 Maria Wodzińska's mother had made it clear to Chopin in correspondence that a marriage with her daughter was unlikely to proceed. It is thought that she was influenced by his poor health and possibly also by rumours about his associations with women such as d'Agoult and Sand. Chopin finally placed the letters from Maria and her mother in a package on which he wrote, in Polish, "My tragedy". Sand, in a letter to Grzymała of June 1838, admitted strong feelings for the composer and debated whether to abandon a current affair in order to begin a relationship with Chopin; she asked Grzymała to assess Chopin's relationship with Maria Wodzińska, without realising that the affair, at least from Maria's side, was over.
In June 1837 Chopin visited London incognito in the company of the piano manufacturer Camille Pleyel, where he played at a musical soirée at the house of English piano maker James Broadwood. On his return to Paris his association with Sand began in earnest, and by the end of June 1838 they had become lovers. Sand, who was six years older than the composer and had had a series of lovers, wrote at this time: "I must say I was confused and amazed at the effect this little creature had on me ... I have still not recovered from my astonishment, and if I were a proud person I should be feeling humiliated at having been carried away ..." The two spent a miserable winter on Majorca (8 November 1838 to 13 February 1839), where, together with Sand's two children, they had journeyed in the hope of improving Chopin's health and that of Sand's 15-year-old son Maurice, and also to escape the threats of Sand's former lover Félicien Mallefille. After discovering that the couple were not married, the deeply traditional Catholic people of Majorca became inhospitable, making accommodation difficult to find. This compelled the group to take lodgings in a former Carthusian monastery in Valldemossa, which gave little shelter from the cold winter weather.
On 3 December 1838, Chopin complained about his bad health and the incompetence of the doctors in Majorca, commenting: "Three doctors have visited me ... The first said I was dead; the second said I was dying; and the third said I was about to die." He also had problems having his Pleyel piano sent to him, having to rely in the meantime on a piano made in Palma by Juan Bauza. The Pleyel piano finally arrived from Paris in December, just shortly before Chopin and Sand left the island. Chopin wrote to Pleyel in January 1839: "I am sending you my Preludes [Op. 28]. I finished them on your little piano, which arrived in the best possible condition in spite of the sea, the bad weather and the Palma customs." Chopin was also able to undertake work while in Majorca on his Ballade No. 2, Op. 38; on two Polonaises, Op. 40; and on the Scherzo No. 3, Op. 39.
Although this period had been productive, the bad weather had such a detrimental effect on Chopin's health that Sand determined to leave the island. To avoid further customs duties, Sand sold the piano to a local French couple, the Canuts. The group travelled first to Barcelona, then to Marseilles, where they stayed for a few months while Chopin convalesced. While in Marseilles Chopin made a rare appearance at the organ during a requiem mass for the tenor Adolphe Nourrit on 24 April 1839, playing a transcription of Franz Schubert's lied Die Gestirne (D. 444). In May 1839 they headed to Sand's estate at Nohant for the summer, where they spent most of the following summers until 1846. In autumn they returned to Paris, where Chopin's apartment at 5 rue Tronchet was close to Sand's rented accommodation on the rue Pigalle. He frequently visited Sand in the evenings, but both retained some independence. In 1842 he and Sand moved to the Square d'Orléans, living in adjacent buildings.
On 26 July 1840 Chopin and Sand were present at the dress rehearsal of Berlioz's Grande symphonie funèbre et triomphale, composed to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the July Revolution. Chopin was reportedly unimpressed with the composition.
During the summers at Nohant, particularly in the years 1839–43, Chopin found quiet, productive days during which he composed many works, including his Polonaise in A-flat major, Op. 53. Among the visitors to Nohant were Delacroix and the mezzo-soprano Pauline Viardot, whom Chopin had advised on piano technique and composition. Delacroix gives an account of staying at Nohant in a letter of 7 June 1842:
The hosts could not be more pleasant in entertaining me. When we are not all together at dinner, lunch, playing billiards, or walking, each of us stays in his room, reading or lounging around on a couch. Sometimes, through the window which opens on the garden, a gust of music wafts up from Chopin at work. All this mingles with the songs of nightingales and the fragrance of roses.
Health of Frédéric Chopin
From 1842 onwards Chopin showed signs of serious illness. After a solo recital in Paris on 21 February 1842, he wrote to Grzymała: "I have to lie in bed all day long, my mouth and tonsils are aching so much." He was forced by illness to decline a written invitation from Alkan to participate in a repeat performance of the Beethoven 7th Symphony arrangement at Érard's on 1 March 1843. Late in 1844, Charles Hallé visited Chopin and found him "hardly able to move, bent like a half-opened penknife and evidently in great pain", although his spirits returned when he started to play the piano for his visitor. Chopin's health continued to deteriorate, particularly from this time onwards. Modern research suggests that apart from any other illnesses, he may also have suffered from temporal lobe epilepsy.
Chopin's output as a composer throughout this period declined in quantity year by year. Whereas in 1841 he had written a dozen works, only six were written in 1842 and six shorter pieces in 1843. In 1844 he wrote only the Op. 58 sonata. 1845 saw the completion of three mazurkas (Op. 59). Although these works were more refined than many of his earlier compositions, Zamoyski concludes that "his powers of concentration were failing and his inspiration was beset by anguish, both emotional and intellectual." Chopin's relations with Sand were soured in 1846 by problems involving her daughter Solange and Solange's fiancé, the young fortune-hunting sculptor Auguste Clésinger. The composer frequently took Solange's side in quarrels with her mother; he also faced jealousy from Sand's son Maurice. Chopin was indifferent to Sand's radical political pursuits, while Sand looked on his society friends with disdain.
As the composer's illness progressed, Sand had become less of a lover and more of a nurse to Chopin, whom she called her "third child". In letters to third parties she vented her impatience, referring to him as a "child," a "little angel", a "poor angel", a "sufferer", and a "beloved little corpse." In 1847 Sand published her novel Lucrezia Floriani, whose main characters – a rich actress and a prince in weak health – could be interpreted as Sand and Chopin. In Chopin's presence, Sand read the manuscript out aloud to Delacroix, who was both shocked and mystified by its implications, writing that "Madame Sand was perfectly at ease and Chopin could hardly stop making admiring comments". That year their relationship ended following an angry correspondence which, in Sand's words, made "a strange conclusion to nine years of exclusive friendship". Count Wojciech Grzymała, who had followed their romance from the beginning, commented, "If [Chopin] had not had the misfortune of meeting G.S. [George Sand], who poisoned his whole being, he would have lived to be Cherubini's age." Chopin would die two years later at thirty-nine; his friend Cherubini had died in Paris in 1842 at the age of eighty-one.
Tour of Great Britain
Chopin's public popularity as a virtuoso began to wane, as did the number of his pupils, and this, together with the political strife and instability of the time, caused him to struggle financially. In February 1848, with the cellist Auguste Franchomme, he gave his last Paris concert, which included three movements of the Cello Sonata Op. 65.
In April, during the Revolution of 1848 in Paris, he left for London, where he performed at several concerts and numerous receptions in great houses. This tour was suggested to him by his Scottish pupil Jane Stirling and her elder sister. Stirling also made all the logistical arrangements and provided much of the necessary funding.
In London, Chopin took lodgings at Dover Street, where the firm of Broadwood provided him with a grand piano. At his first engagement, on 15 May at Stafford House, the audience included Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The Prince, who was himself a talented musician, moved close to the keyboard to view Chopin's technique. Broadwood also arranged concerts for him; among those attending were Thackeray and the singer Jenny Lind. Chopin was also sought after for piano lessons, for which he charged the high fee of one guinea per hour, and for private recitals for which the fee was 20 guineas. At a concert on 7 July he shared the platform with Viardot, who sang arrangements of some of his mazurkas to Spanish texts. On 28 August he played at a concert in Manchester's Concert Hall, sharing the stage with Marietta Alboni and Lorenzo Salvi.
In late summer he was invited by Jane Stirling to visit Scotland, where he stayed at Calder House near Edinburgh and at Johnstone Castle in Renfrewshire, both owned by members of Stirling's family. She clearly had a notion of going beyond mere friendship, and Chopin was obliged to make it clear to her that this could not be so. He wrote at this time to Grzymała: "My Scottish ladies are kind, but such bores", and responding to a rumour about his involvement, answered that he was "closer to the grave than the nuptial bed". He gave a public concert in Glasgow on 27 September, and another in Edinburgh at the Hopetoun Rooms on Queen Street (now Erskine House) on 4 October. In late October 1848, while staying at 10 Warriston Crescent in Edinburgh with the Polish physician Adam Łyszczyński, he wrote out his last will and testament – "a kind of disposition to be made of my stuff in the future, if I should drop dead somewhere", he wrote to Grzymała.
Chopin made his last public appearance on a concert platform at London's Guildhall on 16 November 1848, when, in a final patriotic gesture, he played for the benefit of Polish refugees. This gesture proved to be a mistake, as most of the participants were more interested in the dancing and refreshments than in Chopin's piano artistry, which drained him. By this time he was very seriously ill, weighing under 99 pounds (less than 45 kg), and his doctors were aware that his sickness was at a terminal stage.
At the end of November Chopin returned to Paris. He passed the winter in unremitting illness, but gave occasional lessons and was visited by friends, including Delacroix and Franchomme. Occasionally he played, or accompanied the singing of Delfina Potocka, for his friends. During the summer of 1849, his friends found him an apartment in Chaillot, out of the centre of the city, for which the rent was secretly subsidised by an admirer, Princess Obreskoff. He was visited here by Jenny Lind in June 1849.
Death and funeral
With his health further deteriorating, Chopin desired to have a family member with him. In June 1849 his sister Ludwika came to Paris with her husband and daughter, and in September, supported by a loan from Jane Stirling, he took an apartment at Place Vendôme 12. After 15 October, when his condition took a marked turn for the worse, only a handful of his closest friends remained with him. Viardot remarked sardonically, though, that "all the grand Parisian ladies considered it de rigueur to faint in his room."
Some of his friends provided music at his request; among them, Potocka sang and Franchomme played the cello. Chopin bequeathed his unfinished notes on a piano tuition method, Projet de méthode, to Alkan for completion. On 17 October, after midnight, the physician leaned over him and asked whether he was suffering greatly. "No longer", he replied. He died a few minutes before two o'clock in the morning. He was 39. Those present at the deathbed appear to have included his sister Ludwika, Princess Marcelina Czartoryska, Sand's daughter Solange, and his close friend Thomas Albrecht. Later that morning, Solange's husband Clésinger made Chopin's death mask and a cast of his left hand.
The funeral, held at the Church of the Madeleine in Paris, was delayed almost two weeks until 30 October. Entrance was restricted to ticket holders, as many people were expected to attend. Over 3,000 people arrived without invitations, from as far as London, Berlin and Vienna, and were excluded. Absent from the funeral attendees was George Sand.
Mozart's Requiem was sung at the funeral; the soloists were the soprano Jeanne-Anaïs Castellan, the mezzo-soprano Pauline Viardot, the tenor Alexis Dupont, and the bass Luigi Lablache; Chopin's Preludes No. 4 in E minor and No. 6 in B minor were also played. The organist was Louis Lefébure-Wély. The funeral procession to Père Lachaise Cemetery, which included Chopin's sister Ludwika, was led by the aged Prince Adam Czartoryski. The pallbearers included Delacroix, Franchomme, and Camille Pleyel. At the graveside, the Funeral March from Chopin's Piano Sonata No. 2 was played, in Reber's instrumentation.
Chopin's tombstone, featuring the muse of music, Euterpe, weeping over a broken lyre, was designed and sculpted by Clésinger. The expenses of the funeral and monument, amounting to 5,000 francs, were covered by Jane Stirling, who also paid for the return of the composer's sister Ludwika to Warsaw. As requested by Chopin, Ludwika took his heart (which had been removed by his doctor Jean Cruveilhier and preserved in alcohol in a vase) back to Poland in 1850. She also took a collection of two hundred letters from Sand to Chopin; after 1851 these were returned to Sand, who destroyed them.
Chopin's disease and the cause of his death have been a matter of discussion. His death certificate gave the cause of death as tuberculosis, and his physician, Cruveilhier, was then the leading French authority on this disease. Other possibilities that have been advanced have included cystic fibrosis, cirrhosis, and alpha 1-antitrypsin deficiency. A visual examination of Chopin's preserved heart (the jar was not opened), conducted in 2014 and first published in the American Journal of Medicine in 2017, suggested that the likely cause of his death was a rare case of pericarditis caused by complications of chronic tuberculosis.