- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
“[Written] with poetic insight and admirable brevity, combining analytical skill with that of a novelist.” —New York Times Book Review
“A captivating narrative. . . . [Eisler] manages to infuse cultural history with heartbreak.” —New York Sun
“Psychologically compelling. . . . Eisler writes beautifully about Chopin’s music.” --The Christian Science Monitor
Posted November 23, 2011
In graduate school one of my professors cautioned us to read works only by musical scholars, not by ill-informed enthusiasts
Here are some errors--just a few.
1. "Unlike Brahms, Chopin never found a George Bernard Shaw to champion his work in Britain." Shaw DESPISED the music of Brahms until well after the latter's death when it made no difference.
2. Chopin's height is given by the author as 5 feet. If she had viewed Chopin's 1836 passport, she would have seen that his official height was just under 5 ft. 7 in.
3. Original (supposed) death mask by Clésinger. Ms. Eisler describes it: "Bald head...mouth contorted by agonized efforts to breathe..." Death masks were sometimes finished showing subjects bald, but Chopin had a headful of hair at his death. The author could have referred to the postmortem sketches by Kwiatowski--there you see it: hair. As for the "mouth contorted by agonized efforts to breathe," the mouth is no more contorted than any dead man's, especially after being mashed down under a couple of pounds of plaster. No such mask is on the website of the Bibliotheque Nationale de France. Does it resemble Chopin? The line of the nose doesn't, nor the chin, nor the massive, square jaws. Other than the the receding lower lip (due to missing teeth) this mask could just as easily be that of a hanged criminal.
4. "Called 'consumptive rage,' the particular disease¿has been related to episodes of paranoid suspicion..." Really? There's no such term in the Practice of Physic, by T. Watson, the preeminent clinician of this period. No Google search turns up anything in medical literature under the name.
5 Chopin was "repelled by...Jews..." Chopin was no more anti-Semitic than any other Pole of his day. And his anti-Semitic remarks (often as jests) are found mainly in his youthful letters.
6. "The disease that killed him is still not diagnosed with certainty..." Chopin exhibited the classic symptoms of pulmonary tuberculosis, probably contracted from a tubercular roommate early in adulthood.
7. "Every other day he spent five minutes inhaling deeply from a bottle whose contents, prescribed by Dr. Molin, and probably containing morphine..." There's no evidence for this. Morphine was smoked or swallowed during this period, not inhaled. The only inhaled pre-1850 medications for tuberculosis for which there's evidence are nitrous oxide and sulfuric ether. In a letter of July, 1849, Chopin refers to Molin's treatments as homeopathy. Probably there was no actual medication in his bottle.
8. Error dating Chopin's 1849 daguerreotype: Eisler dates Chopin's last daguerreotype to 1846, confusing it with an earlier photo. She also points out Chopin's edema in this 1849 photo (which, again, she says is from 1846). Edema would not have been apparent three years prior to death. Chopin himself doesn't refer to his swelling until the last year of his life.
9. Re. a possible postmortem photo of Chopin. The author says, "No evidence exists that (the Bisson studio) made 'house calls.'" Yes, Ms. Eisler, they did indeed make house calls. Post mortem photography was a huge source of income for daguerreotypists. And yes, an (apparent) postmortem photo of Chopin exists.
10. For those who enjoy being slowly tortured, peruse any of the author's interpretations of Chopin's music.
The author says that she had no idea "how terrifyingly hard it is to write ab
Posted August 15, 2009
BY THE TITLE I EXPECTED TO READ OF CHOPIN'S FUNERAL, AND ALTHOUGH ITS MENTIONED AT THE BEGINING AND AT THE END, ITS MORE A BOOK OF CHOPINS LIFE RATHER THAN HIS FUNERAL.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 28, 2005
I received this book for my birthday a few months ago, and since then, has become a staple of my music bookshelf! I found it as intriging as a fiction book and as instructive as a music teacher. I discovered things about Chopin's life that I had not before known. The notes concerning Chopin's compositions, the circumstances at the time, and his own personal thoughts are incredible and add so much to interpretation! Since I've read this book, I have viewed Chopin in a totally different light and approach his music even more respectfully and carefully. I would highly recommend this book to all Chopin enthusiasts!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 26, 2003
I've been reading Chopin biographies for over 30 years, and I found this to be one of the best. It doesn't have the scope of some others; the book is mostly concerned with Chopin's adult life and his times with George Sand. But her depiction of those years is arresting and highly readable. To focus on just one aspect, I don't think any other Chopin biographer has ever given readers such a detailed picture of Sand's relationships with her children. So much has already been written about Chopin and Sand that another entry in the series needs to be good to have a claim on our attention, but this book doesn't disappoint.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.