Chopin’s Words

Put all your soul into it, play the way you feel!

Simplicity is the highest goal, achievable when you have overcome all difficulties.

Sometimes I can only groan, suffer, and pour out my despair at the piano!

[…] the Official Bulletin declared that the Poles should be as proud of me as the Germans are of Mozart; obvious nonsense.

England is a country of pianos, they are everywhere.

I don’t know how it is, but the Germans are amazed at me—and I am amazed at them for finding anything to be amazed about.

Yesterday’s concert was a success. I hasten to let you know. I inform your Lordship that I was not a bit nervous and played as I play when I am alone. It went well… and I had to come back and bow four times.

I feel like a novice, just as I felt before I knew anything of the keyboard. It is far too original, and I shall end up not being able to learn it myself.

[…] in a word, finished artists, take lessons from me and couple my name with that of Field. In short, if I were still stupider than I am, I should think myself at the apex of my career; yet I know how much I still lack, to reach perfection; I see it the more clearly now that I live only among first-rank artists and know what each one of them lacks.

All the same it is being said everywhere that I played too softly, or rather, too delicately for people used to the piano pounding of the artists here.

They want me to give another concert, but I have no desire to do so. You cannot imagine what a torture the three days before a public appearance are to me.

It is dreadful when something naughs on your mind, not to have a soul to unburden yourself to. You know what I mean. I tell my piano the things I used to tell you.

Here, waltzes are called works! And Strauss and Lanner, who play them for dancing, are called Kapellmeistern. This does not mean that everyone thinks like that; indeed, nearly everyone laughs about it; but only waltzes get printed.

There are certain times when I feel more inspired, filled with a strong power that forces me to listen to my inner voice, and when I feel more need than ever for a Pleyel piano.

I have met a great celebrity, Madame Dudevant, known as George Sand… Her appearance is not to my liking. Indeed there is something about her which positively repels me… What an unattractive person La Sand is… Is she really a woman? I’m inclined to doubt it.

It’s a huge Carthusian monastery, stuck down between rocks and sea, where you may imagine me, without white gloves or hair curling, as pale as ever, in a cell with such doors as Paris never had for gates. The cell is the shape of a tall coffin, with an enormous dusty vaulting, a small window… Bach, my scrawls and waste paper—silence—you could scream—there would still be silence. Indeed, I write to you from a strange place.

The three most celebrated doctors on the island have been to see me. One sniffed at what I spat, the second tapped where I spat from, and the third sounded me and listened as I spat. The first said I was dead, the second that I was dying and the third that I’m going to die.

My manuscripts sleep, while I cannot, for I am covered with poultices.

Here, whatever is not boring is not English.

But when he asked Chopin whether he was still in pain, we quite distinctly heard the answer: ‘No more.’ These were the last words heard from his lips.

Words about Chopin

Chopin is full of health and strength; all the French women are after him, and all the French men are jealous. He is the rage; the world will soon see people wearing new-fashioned gloves—gloves à la Chopin.
– Unknown

We may be sure that a genius like Mozart, were he born today, would write concertos like Chopin and not like Mozart.
– Robert Schumann

There is something fundamentally personal and at the same time so very masterly in his playing that he may be called a really perfect virtuoso.
– Mendelssohn

Hats off gentlemen, a genius!
– Robert Schumann

Chopin is a pianist of conviction. He composes for himself, plays for himself… and everyone listens with interest, with delight, with infinite pleasure… Nothing indeed equals the lightness and sweetness of his preluding on the piano, nothing compares with his works in originality, distinction and grace. Chopin is unique as a pianist—he should not and cannot be compared with anyone.
– La France Musicale

Chopin’s rubato possessed an unshakeable emotional logic. It always justified itself by a strengthening or weakening melodic line, by exaggeration or affectation.
– Karol Mikuli, pupil of Chopin

The marvellous charm, the poetry and originality, the perfect freedom and absolute lucidity of Chopin’s playing cannot be described. It is perfection in every sense.
– C.E. and M. Halle

He would lock himself up in his room for whole days, weeping, pacing back and forth, breaking his pens, repeating or changing one bar a hundred times, writing and erasing as many times, and beginning again the next day with an infinite and desperate perseverance. He sometimes spent six weeks on one page, only in the end to write it exactly as he had sketched at the first draft.
– George Sand

Here is a young man, abandoning himself to his natural impressions and without taking a model, has found, if not a complete renewal of pianoforte music, at least a part of what has been sought in vain for a long time—namely an abundance of original ideas of which the type is to be found nowhere.
– Revue Musicale, March 3, 1832