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Chopin's Letters

Chopin's Letters

4.5 2
by Frederic Chopin, E. L. Voynich (Editor), Ethel Lillian Voynich (Editor)

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"Nothing could be more spontaneous and ebullient than Chopin's letters." — Books
"Perhaps no composer's letters are so kindred to his music, and reminiscent of the impression produced by it, as Chopin's are." — The New York Times
This superbly edited selection of nearly 300 of Chopin's letters, the first to be published in English,


"Nothing could be more spontaneous and ebullient than Chopin's letters." — Books
"Perhaps no composer's letters are so kindred to his music, and reminiscent of the impression produced by it, as Chopin's are." — The New York Times
This superbly edited selection of nearly 300 of Chopin's letters, the first to be published in English, vividly reveals the composer as man and artist, and evokes the remarkable age — Europe of the 1830s and 1840s — he shared with an equally remarkable cast of characters, from Jenny Lind to Isabella II of Spain, from Queen Victoria to George Sand, from Heinrich Heine to Victor Hugo.
The tone of the letters is exuberantly engaging: "They abound in delightful gossip, they are merry rather than malicious, they are engagingly witty, and at times their humor becomes positively Rabelaisian" (Peter Bowdoin, Books). Their contents offer rare glimpses into Chopin's childhood environment, his mind and character, his tragic love for George Sand, the origins of many of his compositions, the various musical influences that shaped his creative ideas and habits, and the artistic circles in which he moved.
Originally collected by the Polish musicologist Henryk Opienski, the letters have been translated and annotated by Chopin scholar E. L. Voynich. Students and admirers of Chopin will find in their pages vast resources to deepen their love and appreciation for — and wonderment at — the unique individuality and achievement of this great musical personality.

Editorial Reviews

They abound in delightful gossip, are merry rather than malicious, are engagingly witty, and at times their humor becomes positively Rabelaisian.

Product Details

Dover Publications
Publication date:
Dover Books on Music Series
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Product dimensions:
5.37(w) x 8.48(h) x 0.86(d)

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Chopin's Letters


Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 1988 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-31952-0



To his father, on his name-day. [In verse]

When the world declares the festivity of your name-day, my Papa, it brings joy to me also, with these wishes; that you may live happily, may not know grievous cares, that God may always favour you with the fate you desire, these wishes I express for your sake.

F. Chopin 6 December 1816.


To his mother, on her name-day. [In verse]

I congratulate you, Mummy, on your name-day! May the heavens fulfil what I feel in my heart: That you should always be well and happy, and have the longest and most satisfactory life.

F. Chopin 16 June 1817.


To his father, on his name-day. [In verse]

How great a joy I feel in my heart. That a day so pleasant, so dear and glorious Begins, a day that I greet with the wish That long years may pass in happiness, In health and vigour, peacefully, successfully. May the gifts of heaven fall richly upon you.

F. Chopin 6 December 1817.


To his father on his name-day.

Dear Papa!

I could express my feelings more easily if they could be put into notes of music, but as the very best concert would not cover my affection for you, dear Daddy, I must use the simple words of my heart, to lay before you my utmost gratitude and filial affection.

F. Chopin

6 December 1818.


To Eustachy Marylski In Pecice. [Warsaw, September 1823.]

Dear Marylski!

I went myself to Pan Zubelewicz to find out when the lectures for beginners, not the examinations, begin; he told me that they begin either the 16th or the 17th of this month, the Commission not having yet decided whether the public session of the Academy shall be the 15th or the 16th. He also told me that the lectures are to be in the morning and the examinations in the afternoon, and that after the 15th he will not put anyone down. Excuse my writing so badly, I am in a hurry. Please tell Weltz what I have told you, and remember me kindly to him and Tytus. Bialoblocki came to Warsaw on Saturday; he will enter his name on Tuesday, leave on Wednesday and return for the term. Mamma and Papa send greetings to your parents and Ludwika to your sister; and I embrace you and your brothers heartily.

F. Chopin

Messrs. Kulikowski, Karwowski [Karnowski?], Wilczynski, and Krzywicki are retired, and that professor from Kalisz has got Kulikowski's place. Pan Dobronoki [?] sends you greetings. Goodbye. Don't show this letter to anyone, because everybody would say that I can't write and don't know anything about politics.


To wilhelm kolberg. Szafarnia, 19 August 1824.

Dear Wilus'!

Thanks for remembering me; but on the other hand I am annoyed with you, that you are such a mean and horrid etcetera and only write such a scrap to me. Were you short of paper or pens, or did you grudge the ink? Perhaps you had no time to do more than put in a scrawl? Eh, eh, that's it; you go horseback riding, enjoying yourself, and forget about me — Well, well; give me a kiss and I'll forgive you.

I'm glad you're well and jolly, because that's what is wanted in the country. I'm so glad I can write to you. I also am enjoying myself; and you're not the only one that rides, for I can stick on too. Don't ask how well; but I can, enough for the horse to go slowly wherever he prefers, while I sit fearfully on his back; like a monkey on a bear. Till now I haven't had any falls because the horse hasn't thrown me off; but — if ever he should want me to tumble off, I may do it some day.

I won't bother you with my affairs, because I know they won't interest you. The flies often alight on my lofty nose, but that's unimportant, because it's rather a custom of these importunate beasties. The gnats bite me; but that doesn't matter, because it's not on the nose. I run about the garden, and sometimes walk. I walk in the woods, and sometimes ride, not on horseback but in a carriage, or trap, or coach; but with such honour that I always sit at the back, never in front. Perhaps I've bored you already, but what can I do? If not, then write by the first post, and I will continue my epistles at once.

I end my letter therefore without compliments, but amicably. Keep well, dear Wilus', and please do write to me. We shall meet in 4 weeks. I embrace you heartily. Your sincere friend.

F. Chopin

My respects to your Mamma and Papa, and I embrace your brothers.


To Jan Bialobålocki In Sokolowo. [Sokolowo, end of summer 1824 or 1825.]

Dear, Beloved Jalek!

We start very early tomorrow. I promised to come to you yesterday, but I couldn't get to Sokolowo till today. I'm very sorry that I shan't see you again on these holidays; I must just say goodbye to you on this bit of paper and give you a letter for Panna Kostancja, which Ludwika has sent by post, in a letter to me. I wish you the best of health, and that your leg should get quite well. Kiss your Papa for me and thank him for the decoction, to which I am much indebted. Tell him that I will never forget about it. So, dear Jasia, we have to part without any real goodbye. I kiss you heartily. Remember me, as I remember you.

F. F. Chopin

Greetings to Panna Florentina. I should like to follow you to Radomin, but I can't. I should like to wait; I can't; for Panna Ludwika — oh that Panna Ludwika! — is waiting for me. I shall come back quickly, because I want to pack my things at once. Give me a kiss! You would not believe how sorry I am! — I don't want to go away. Why have I jolted all this way in a carriage to find nobody at home! But at least you will know that I did come. I came to say an affectionate goodbye to you and your Papa.

I don't myself know what I've written; I have never before been in such a situation.


To the Same. [Warsaw] Friday, 8 July 1825.

Dear Jasia!

It's lucky that there is such a good opportunity to write to you. I have to report to you that we are all pretty well; secondly, that the examination is close upon us, just under my nose (in old Poland they used to say: "in my belt"; but as I don't wear a belt, only a big nose, you have an excellent reason why I should tell you it is under my nose). Don't expect me to write much to you; I am very busy, and the gentleman who brought the note from Panna Kostancja came this evening and leaves tomorrow. Kresner and Signora Bianchi give a concert on Monday, not in the theatre, but in Elert's Hall in the German hotel. It's a concert à la Krogólski by private subscription; Kresner gave me 12 tickets, but I sold only 3, as the price is 6 zlotys.

I'm sorry you are not here; I have had some very good times with Your Benevolence, gossiping, joking, singing, crying, laughing, fisticuffing, and so on.

In my next letter I will let you know rather more fully, by post, when we shall meet, for we hear that the examination is to be on the 26th of this month. I'm writing after dark; tomorrow I have to get up early, and tonight to sit up and sit up, sit up, still sit up, and perhaps even sit up all night.

Amice, vale! I can't tell you anything, except that I haven't yet had a letter from you from Sochaczew. If you haven't written, a bad wigging awaits you in my next letter.

I must add one thing more to this; that is: that you are to tell me whether your leg is better, and whether you arrived all right.

This letter is like a field where peas and cabbages are mixed up together. There's no logic, je sais qu'il manque logique; mais que faire, on se hâte, car on n'a pas le temps pour écrire honnêtement. Si c'est comme ca, forgive me; I'll send a longer and better letter by post; now I just embrace you heartily.

F. F. Chopin

Zywny and Pani Dekert are well; they don't know I am writing to you, or would cend messages. My respects to your Papa.


To the Same. [Warsaw, 27 November 1825.]

Mon Cher!

La lettre que vous m'avez écrite, rejoiced me, although, comme je vois, it contains sad news. Votre jambe vous fait mal; I grieve for that; not que vous êtes assez gai, as I see from the letter, ça m'a donné de la sauce, and leaves me in the best of humours.

Demain nous finissons notre examination. Je ne prendrai pas de prix, car les lavements le prennent — When I come to you, I will explain this riddle — est-ce possible qu'on donne un prix à un lavement? It would need a long explanation to make this clear in a letter; but one spoken word will show you all the finesse of this expression.

On Monday, as Panna Ludwika has decided, we leave here, and arrive in Szafarnia on Wednesday. Si vous voulez me voir, venez le premier, car autrement my good Guardian Lady will not allow me to go to you.

Tomorrow at this hour quel bonheur quel plaisir; when I go to bed, I shan't get up so early on Friday. I have new breeches with [undecipherable] well cut (though this last is not true); a new muffler on my neck — you can call it by some other name, as perhaps you don't understand that one, — a tie for je ne me souviens plus, how many zlotys, je le paie avec l'argent et la main de ma chêre soeur Louise.

Ecoutez, ecoutez, ma'mzelle Dorothée

Adolf Szydlowski in the servant's part.

Ecoutez, here I begin the end of my letter, we shall soon meet; you know that I don't like to scribble much (except with 4 hands) ; so forgive me for stopping now. We are all well, I have had 3 letters from you; examination tomorrow; Panna Leszczynska sends you greetings; Pan Domowicz has been in Warsaw; Zywny is still wearing the old wig; Pani Dekert shakes your hand; Barcinski embraces you; I'll bring you a book for Okunie. All the household sends love to you; same to your Papa. Give your muzzle! I love you.

F. F. Chopin

Oh, I can smell Sokolowo!

A Monsieur Monsieur Jean Bialoblocki à Sokolowo — parbonté.


To his parents in Warsaw. Kowaiowo, Friday [1825].

My Dearest Parents; and you my dear Sisters!

Since my health is as good as a faithful dog, and Pan Zboinski's yellow eyes are lowered [?] and as we are starting for Plock, it would be funny of me if I didn't write to tell you so.

Today, then, to Plock, tomorrow to Rosciszew, the day after to Kikol, two or three days in Turznia, two or three in Kozlow, a moment in Gdansk [Danzig], and home. Perhaps somebody will say: — "He's in a hurry to get home, since he talks about it." No, not a bit; your Honours, or your Nobilities, are entirely mistaken; I wrote it only to arouse a pleasurable emotion, such as greetings usually produce. Who could be homesick? Not I at all; perhaps somebody else, but not I — All the same, there isn't any letter from Warsaw; when we get to Plock today I shall turn the whole postbag over to see if there's something for me. How are things in that new room? How are they grilling themselves for the examination? Is Tytus sighing for the country? Is Pruszak just the same? How did Pan Skarbek get on with that dinner, the 3rd one, that I was to have gone to the country for with him? I'm as inquisitive about everything as an old woman. But what can I do? If you give a dog no meat, the dog has to fast, and what else can it do except run here and there looking for food? So I'm going to Plock in the hope of meat; I suppose you didn't know that in summer the last post — Now I shall have to expect to be for a long time again without letters, so I shan't worry; it's hard to know where to catch me, but I shall write regularly at every step, and let you know what address to put. But, according to Pan Zboinski, you can write by Torun [Thorn], Schwetz, to Kozlow, and we shall find the letter on arriving. That's a good idea; I hope it will be adopted (for Izabela).

I wanted to send my bundle to you, Sisters, but I have no time to write, we're just starting; it's 8 in the morning, and we never get up before 7; the air is fine, the sun is shining beautifully, the birds are twittering; there isn't any brook or it would murmur, but there is a pond and the frogs are piping delightfully! But the very best of all is a blackbird that is performing all kinds of virtuosity under our windows; and, after the blackbird, the Zboinski's youngest child Kamilka, who is not 2 years old yet. She has taken a fancy to me, and lisps: "Kagila loves oo." And I loves oo a billion times, Papa, Mamma, Mamma and Papa, just as she loves me; and I kiss your hands.

Affectionately, F. Chopin

For my sisters: kisses, kisses, kisses.

Greetings to Tytus, Prus, Bartoch, everybody.


To Jan Matuszynski in Warsaw. [Szafarnia, 1825.]

Dear Beloved Jasia!

Oh, Mme de Sévigné would not have been able to describe to you my delight on receiving your letter so unexpectedly; I should sooner have looked for death than for such a surprise. It would never have entered my head to suppose that such an inveterate paper-smudger, a philologist who keeps his nose in his Schiller, would take up his pen to write a letter to a poor booby as slack as grandfather's horsewhip;1 To a person who has scarcely read a page of Latin yet; to a pigling who, fattening on hogwash, hopes to arrive at, anyway, the tenth part of your beefiness.

It really is a great favour; a great Hon-our from my John; and if anybody can ever rate it too highly, it's I, just now; and I should not apply it to myself, were I not deigning to take my pen in my hand to insult the beefiness of your Nobility.

All this is only an exordium; now I come to the real matter; and if you wanted to frighten me with your Pulawy and your hare, I intend to take down such an inexperienced sportsman with my Torun, and my hare (which was certainly bigger than yours), and my four partridges, which I brought in the day before yesterday. What did you see in Pulawy? What? You saw only a tiny part of what my eyes rested on in full. Did you see at Sybillie a brick taken from the house of Copernicus, from his birth-place? I have seen the whole house, the whole place, certainly a little profaned at present. Imagine, Jasio, in that corner, in that very room, where that famous astronomer received the gift of life, stands now the bed of some German, who probably, after eating too many potatoes, often emits many zephyrs; and on those bricks, of which one was sent with great ceremony to Pulawy, crawl many bed-bugs. Yes, Brother! The German does not care who lived in that house; he treats the whole wall as Princess Czartoryska would not treat a single brick.

But never mind Copernicus; let us come to the Torun cakes. In order that you may know them well, perhaps better than you know Copernicus, I have to announce to you a fact of importance with regard to them, which may surprise such a mere paper-smudger as you; that fact is as follows. According to the custom of the pastry-cooks here, the cake-shops are booths, provided with cupboards, well locked up, in which the various kinds of cakes rest, assembled in dozens. You doubtless will not find this in the Adagiorum Hiliades; but I, knowing your interest in such important matters, inform you, in order that when translating Horace, you may be able to help yourself out in passages of dubious significance. That is all that I am in a position to write to you about Torun; perhaps I can tell you personally; now all I can say in writing is that of everything there the cakes make the strongest impression. It is true that I saw the entire fortifications on all sides of the town, with all details; I saw a wonderful machine for transporting sand from place to place, a perfectly simple and most interesting thing, called by the Germans Sandmaschine; I also saw Gothic churches, founded by the Knights of the Cross, one of them dating from 1231. I saw a leaning tower, a fine town hall, fine inside and out; its special feature is that it has as many windows as there are days in the year, as many halls as there are months, as many rooms as the weeks, and the whole building is magnificent, in the Gothic style. But all that does not outshine the cakes; oh the cakes! I sent one to Warsaw. But what do I see? I have only just sat down, and here is the last sheet before me! It seems to me that I have but just begun to write, just started to talk with you, and now I've got to stop! Dear beloved Jasia, all I can do is to embrace you heartily. It's 10 o'clock, everybody's going to bed and I must go too. In Warsaw, on the 22nd. I shan't be there earlier — I will finish this letter orally and will embrace you heartily, dear Jasia. Now, from 20 miles away I press you to my lips and say goodbye till we meet.

Your sincerest and most affectionate friend

F. Chopin


Excerpted from Chopin's Letters by FRÉDÉRIC CHOPIN, E. L. VOYNICH. Copyright © 1988 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Chopin's Letters 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
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