Chopin and George Sand: Visions of reconciliation and otherness.
Both were drawn to folk traditions, but how this informed their work is complex. Chopin, Sand, folklore, folk music, stories, novel, autobiography, biography.
The relationship between Fryderyk Chopin and George Sand has long been a subject of fascination for both sides: that is, for biographers and musicologists of the musician and composer, Chopin, on the one hand, and biographers and literary critics of the novelist, writer and political figure and more , George Sand, on the other. Their intimate liaison, which lasted some eight years, ended antagonistically, and something of this hostility marks out the two groups of commentators.
Their affair caught the gossipy public imagination at the time and can easily be re-awakened, judging by the success of the British-American film Impromptu , released in , starring Hugh Grant as Chopin and Judy Davis as George Sand. Mostly unfounded rumours of the good and bad behaviours of the two at the time of their relationship circulated and are played out again in the film, again based on scant evidence.
It was generally well reviewed, however, albeit mostly for its burlesque qualities rather than its authenticity.
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So what can we actually know of their relationship, particularly in terms of the creative influence of one on the other? How much did their creative and associated quasi-political visions have in common? Very few of their letters survive, and those we have tell us little. We have accounts by contemporaries, but these express views which are so polarised that few of them encourage credibility. The Marquis de Custine, an aristocrat and writer, knew them both.
Fictional accounts are still more suspect. Chopin and Sand met in Paris in late Sand was very much caught up in the political and artistic moment. She had already been married and had lovers, in that order.
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Chopin, six years her junior, had lived a less dramatic life, and he suffered poor health. But his life had not been uneventful in other respects. His Frenchborn father, Nicolas, had emigrated to Poland in his teens to seek his fortune; he had even fought for Polish independence in the campaigns led by Tadeusz Kosciuszko, who had earlier seen action in the American Revolutionary War.
Nicolas remained in Poland after its partitioning and became a tutor to wealthy families. He married a well-educated but impoverished relative of the aristocratic Skarbek family in , and in the same year Fryderyk was born. By the age of sixteen, when he entered the Warsaw Conservatory, a number of his compositions had already been published. Elsner was a scholar, composer and conductor, as well as director of the Polish National Opera from When Chopin graduated, Warsaw was under Russian control, and leaving the country presented problems.
Chopin claimed he needed to go on a business trip to Vienna and was granted leave to travel. There, in the summer of , he gave some successful concerts. He returned to Warsaw, and in March performed his Piano Concerto in F minor to critical acclaim. He left again just weeks before the November Uprising of By the time he travelled to Paris and met Sand in , his artistic status was high: he had already composed his Etudes Opp. The couple spent the winter of —9 on the island of Majorca, in the Carthusian Monastery of Valldemossa, some 20 km north of Palma.
The weather was bad, good food was scarce, the islanders were inhospitable and Chopin suffered repeated bouts of ill health. Nevertheless, he worked, notably on his Preludes. It was here that Chopin wrote and polished many of his great works.
The couple separated in , for complex reasons. Thereafter Chopin composed very little, and his health continued to deteriorate. He played his last concert in Paris on 16 February , as revolution was about to break out, and died in October Yet he barely features in it.
Brunel provides both the background to biographical readings and a refutation of the approach. At the time there was outrage. That was the essence of his being. But there is further compelling evidence that a biographical reading is fallacious. His reaction was described in the Souvenirs of a common acquaintance:.
He is a dreamer and nothing more; as he has no genius, he does not have the rights of a genius.
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The latter are recitatives, based on the rhythms of the local patois and chanted by ploughmen to encourage their oxen. Transcribing these was made problematic not least by their existence in numerous versions. The recording of folk traditions emerges as of historical and cultural, as well as personal, significance. But the ephemeral nature of these traditions, their constant re-inventions, makes preservation contrary to its very ontology. What is at stake is the potential loss of Bohemian culture, including religious tolerance, a language, literature and music.
Dr. Belinda Wheeler
In its Bohemian episodes, and in stark contrast with the Venetian episode, the novel becomes a story about the preservation and recognition of traditional regional culture, principally through music. She was a staple frequenter of the radio waves in the late 80s and early 90s across the globe and many of her tracks went on to become international hit singles.
Tonight Belinda is intent on pleasing her fans with performances of the classics carefully merged with some of her own personal favourites as well as one hand picked Go-Go's track.
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She is an incredibly warm performer, interacting with the whole room on a personal level which goes down particularly well with the devoted fans. Carlisle is also a huge believer in the fun factor, singing, dancing and jumping during her own classics such as 'Mad About You'. The energy levels are so good throughout the night, it is wonderfully nostalgic and Belinda is the perfect front woman to lead the audience through this evening.
By the finale of 'Heaven Is A Place On Earth' everybody has their hands raised high and are ready to sing along to this 80s power pop gem. Belinda looked and sounded great. She is mesmerizing and causes you to move and dance with her. It was my friends birthday and she was so happy she got real close to the stage as did many others and we were all on our feet at the end and kept bring Belinda back.
I heard she tweeted that she loves Edmonton and can't wait to come back. I can tell her the feeling is mutual. Belinda just keeps getting better and I couldn't stop singing her songs the day after. Belinda said our city is beautiful well right back at you pretty lady. And i can tell her We're Mad about You. Thank You. The backing group was better than any group I seen before. Never thought I would get to see B C live,now I know for sure she true artist.
The show was electric and clean. Belinda Carlisle was amazing! She has still got it! Saw her about 10 years ago with my dad who was a big fan of hers so naturally me and my sister grew up with her music and became fans too. Sadly my dad passed away but seeing her again gave me such a strong connection to him! I enjoyed every song from the heart!! Her support act Gabe Lopez was great too!!
Had a great time. Belinda performed all her hits and it really connected me back to the early nineties when I was a young adult and life was full of possibilities. The O2 Indigo was an intimate venue and we were a lot closer to the stage than in previous concerts I have attended. The concert was awesome, Penn's Peak is a great venue for a concert, sing Belinda Carlisle live was great brought back a lot of memories listening to her songs, it's great to hear them live and in person at just the right size venue so it's not over crowded.
If you have the chance you should go. I've seen many great gigs over the years, and Belinda Carlisle's gig in Glasgow last night was up there with the best of them, from beginning to end, her and her band performed flawlessly. This was my first time seeing BC, and I'm eagerly awaiting her return to Scotland. This is possibly the worlds worst venue for any artist to play in.