Frederick Chopin, as a Man and Musician — Volume 1 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 478 pages of information about Frederick Chopin, as a Man and Musician — Volume 1.
brother, he followed their advice.  Lastly, he objected to smoking.  Some of the items of this evidence are very trivial, but taken collectively they have considerable force.  Of greater significance are the following additional items.  Chopin’s sister Emilia was carried off at the age of fourteen by pulmonary disease, and his father, as a physician informed me, died of a heart and chest complaint.  Stephen Heller, who saw Chopin in 1830 in Warsaw, told me that the latter was then in delicate health, thin and with sunken cheeks, and that the people of Warsaw said that he could not live long, but would, like so many geniuses, die young.  The real state of the matter seems to me to have been this.  Although Chopin in his youth was at no time troubled with any serious illness, he enjoyed but fragile health, and if his frame did not alreadv contain the seeds of the disease to which he later fell a prey, it was a favourable soil for their reception.  How easily was an organisation so delicately framed over-excited and disarranged!  Indeed, being vivacious, active, and hard-working, as he was, he lived on his capital.  The fire of youth overcame much, not, however, without a dangerous waste of strength, the lamentable results of which we shall see before we have gone much farther.  This statement of the case we find, I think, confirmed by Chopin’s correspondence—­the letter written at Reinerz is in this respect noteworthy.



The golden age of Polish music, which coincides with that of Polish literature, is the sixteenth century, the century of the Sigismonds.  The most remarkable musician of that time, and probably the greatest that Poland produced previous to the present century, was Nicolas Gomolka, who studied music in Italy, perhaps under Palestrina, in whose style he wrote.  Born in or about the beginning of the second half of the sixteenth century, he died on March 5, 1609.  During the reigns of the kings of the house of Saxony (1697-1763) instrumental music is said to have made much progress.  Be this as it may, there was no lack of opportunities to study good examples.  Augustus the Strong (I. of Saxony and ii of Poland) established a special Polish band, called, in contradistinction to the Grosse Kammermusik (Great Chamber-band) in Dresden, Kleine Kammermusik (Little Chamber-band), whose business it was to be in attendance when his majesty went to Poland.  These visits took place usually once a year, and lasted from, August to December, but sometimes were more frequent, and shorter or longer, just as occasion might call for.  Among the members of the Polish band—­which consisted of a leader (Premier), four violins, one oboe, two French horns, three bassoons, and one double bass—­we meet with such well-known men as Johann Joachim Quanz and Franz Benda.  Their conductor was Alberto

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