The Polish Ball and Concert alluded to in the above letter deserves our attention, for on that occasion Chopin was heard for the last time in public, indeed, his performance there may be truly called the swan’s song.
The following is an advertisement which appeared in the daily news of November 1, 1848:—
Grand Polish Ball and Concert at Guildhall, under Royal and distinguished patronage, and on a scale of more than usual magnificence, will take place on Thursday, the 16th of November, by permission of the Lord Mayor and Corporation of the City of London; particulars of which will be shortly announced to the public.
JamesR. Carr, honorary secretary.
The information given in this advertisement is supplemented in one of November 15:—
The magnificent decorations used on the Lord Mayor’s day are, by permission, preserved. The concert will comprise the most eminent vocalists. Tickets (refreshments included), for a lady and gentleman, 21/-; for a gentleman, 15/-; for a lady, 10/6; to be had of, &c.
On the 17th of November the times had, of course, an account of the festivity of the preceding night:—
The patrons and patronesses of this annual or rather perennial demonstration in favour of foreign claims on domestic charity assembled last night at Guildhall much in the same way as they assembled last year and on previous occasions, though certainly not in such numbers, nor in such quality as some years ago. The great hall was illuminated and decorated as at the Lord Mayor’s banquet. The appearance was brilliant without being particularly lively.
Then the dancing, Mr. Adams’ excellent band, the refreshment rooms, a few noble Lords, the Lord Mayor, and some of the civic authorities (who “diversified the plain misters and mistresses who formed the majority"), the gay costumes of some Highlanders and Spaniards, and Lord Dudley (the great lion of the evening)— all these are mentioned, but there is not a word about Chopin. Of the concert we read only that it “was much the same as on former anniversaries, and at its conclusion many of the company departed.” We learn, moreover, that the net profit was estimated at less than on former occasions.
The concert for which Chopin, prompted by his patriotism and persuaded by his friends, lent his assistance, was evidently a subordinate part of the proceedings in which few took any interest. The newspapers either do not notice it at all or but very briefly; in any case the, great pianist-composer is ignored. Consequently, very little information is now to be obtained about this matter. Mr. Lindsay Sloper remembered that Chopin played among other things the “Etudes” in A flat and F minor (Op. 25, Nos. 1 & 2). But the best account we have of the concert are some remarks of one present at it which Mr. Hueffer quotes in his essay on Chopin in “Musical Studies":—