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Chopin in the World

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« CHOPIN and The Swedish Nightingale »
Chopin in 1831, a portrait of unknown origin.
Prof. Dr Irena Poniatowska of the Institute of Musicology, University
of Warsaw¹ wrote the following article in the annual journal of the International Federation of Chopin Societies (2003/2004, p. 25-26), Chopin in the World in the section New Chopin Publications:


"... our view of facts thought to be known can change."

The article >> the original version

« Cecilia and Jens Jorgensen - Chopin and The Swedish Nightingale.  The Life and Times of Chopin and a Romance Unveiled 154 Years Later.   Icons of Europe asbl, Brussels, 2003.

This is a novelty in the book market not only because of the beautiful quality of the publication, but also because of content.  The book consists of 8 chapters, of which the five first recount Chopin's life, starting with a biography of his father Nicholas, who came from Lorraine.  The story is full of facts, supported by colour illustrations - portraits of the most important persons in Chopin's life, important personalities of the period, facsimiles of Chopin's manuscripts, photographs of places visited etc.

Photo credit:  Icons of Europe, B-1000 Brussels.The article includes this photo and caption:

"Cecilia and Jens Jorgensen together with artists after the concert in Lasne".

Chapter six is where the revelation begins - a tale of Chopin's acquaintance with Jenny lind, the title "Swedish Nightingale".  The authors suggest that this was the last romance, or perhaps the last dream of a love affair between Chopin and the Swedish singer in the years 1848-1849.  They interpret and analyse in depth the allusions in her letters and go so far as to suggest that the pair discussed marriage.  All this despite the fact that correspondence between Chopin and Jenny Lind does not exist.  Chopin's deteriorating health and external circumstances laid waste to these plans.  Cecilia and Jens Jorgensen refer to this as a "drama of Shakespearean proportions".   The letters of Jenny Lind are written in code, full of symbols.  It is difficult to verify their true content and intention, as only the book's authors know these letters.  They have delved into their style, and into the personality of the singer.  On the other hand, Chopin's letters written in England in 1848 describe his wonder at her opera performances, but there are no allusions whatsoever as to love, romance or marriage.  The authors quote, among others, Chopin's letter dated June 2nd, 1848, in which he writes that he has no strength, and yet he could begin life again anew.  Can this be interpreted unambiguously?

The second revelation is the discovery of the sum of 25 000 francs which Chopin received anonymously in the last period of his life was given by Jenny Lind, not, as previously thought, from Jane Stirling.   Jenny donated large sums of money to charity.  She was paid great sums for her performances.  Jane Stirling did love Chopin, but she rather had no access to such sums.

As we can see, there are still many facts to be discovered 154 years after Chopin's death, or our view of facts thought to be known can change.  There is another, very important piece of information:  Starting in the year 1855, Jenny Lind sang four mazurkas with Italian words and piano accompaniment, which were based on Chopin's mazurkas.  the authors quote the words of the last of these, op. 24 no. 3:   "Mi pover cor, lascia il dolor".  I recommend this book to all who love Chopin and his music.

The book was presented on 1 October 2003 in Lasne, Belgium.  A concert performance featured singers Biljana Staffansson and Ljiljana Jovanovic, accompanied by pianist Daniel Blumenthal performing works by Chopin and Bellini. »





¹
Prof. Poniatowska is also president of the Polish Chopin Academy and member of the Program Board of the Fryderyk Chopin Institute, Warsaw.


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Chopin in the World
is an authoritative magazine published annually in English and French by the International Federation of Chopin Societies (IFCS).

The 2004 issue of Chopin in the World is published with financial support by the Polish Ministry of Culture, the Fryderyk Chopin Institute, and the Adam Mickiewicz Institute.
 


The biography
"Chopin and The
Swedish Nightingale"
now at Amazon.co.uk