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Chopin In Paris: The Life And Times Of The Romantic Composer Paperback – December 31, 1999


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Chopin In Paris: The Life And Times Of The Romantic Composer + Chopin's Letters (Dover Books on Music) + Chopin: Pianist and Teacher: As Seen by his Pupils
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 452 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press (December 31, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306809338
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306809330
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #804,722 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Frederic Chopin was in many ways a contradictory figure: a passionately patriotic Pole, he left his country for good at the age of 21; frail and almost sexless, he was famous for a seven-year love affair with the novelist George Sand; shy, lonely, and retiring, he was inevitably surrounded by friends and admirers. In Chopin in Paris, biographer Tad Szulc has produced a dishy account of Chopin's most creative and tempestuous period, his 18-year sojourn in France. It's also a portrait of a unique time, when musical and artistic luminaries such as Chopin, Balzac, Hugo, Liszt, Berlioz, Delacroix, and Schumann ran in the same heady Parisian circles.

What it's not is a detailed study of Chopin's music. The author of critically praised books about Fidel Castro and Pope John Paul II, Szulc sets out in search of Chopin the man, "the human dimension" he finds missing in other, more musically oriented biographies. What he finds is not always attractive; tortured through much of his life by physical and psychological illness, Chopin emerges as an often fussy, distant, manipulative man, as well as something of a snob. It's a tribute to his genius as a composer, Szulc writes, that he was befriended by some of the greatest minds of his age, including the larger-than-life figure of George Sand: "Fryderyk Chopin gave the world a treasure in music. The world gave Chopin a treasure in human beings." Commendably, Szulc refrains from editorializing about the composer's life and habits, in particular Chopin's break with Sand. Instead, he allows his wealth of primary sources--including diaries, memoirs, letters, and Chopin's own brief journal--to speak for themselves. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Political reporter and biographer Szulc (Fidel, LJ 1/87) based this biography of Chopin's adult years on correspondence and diaries in Polish and French as well as published sources in several languages. Liberally supplied quotations add liveliness to the portrait, but because of gaps in the record (many letters were lost or destroyed) and because Chopin often shielded himself from intimacy with others, emphasis is on Chopin's public persona and his "times." Szulc concentrates on Chopin's relationships with people, leaving discussions of his music to other writers. He relies heavily on earlier biographies for assessment of Chopin's character but makes some speculative judgments of his own, particularly regarding Chopin's sexuality. A supplement to George Marek and Maria Gordon-Smith's Chopin (LJ 9/15/78), with useful information, journalistically presented for a general audience.?Bonnie Jo Dopp, Univ. of Maryland Lib., College Park
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Many things detract from the effort, however, firstly his use of purple ink.
laguna_greg
I hope not only Chopin's music will last for thousands of years, his life story will also be carefully preserved.
"xyding"
This book is a great read for anyone interested in learning more about Chopin and his love for music.
Erica Ford

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 24, 1999
Format: Hardcover
After reading most of the Chopin biographies, I wasn't sure that there was more I could learn. Tad Szulc offers a more personal and intimate view of this enigmatic master than any others. This is because he brings into play a great deal of material from Chopin's contempories. So much more of the relationship between George Sand is available with a much more sympathetic portrayal of Chopin's third and last great paramour. We also learn about Chopin's personal views on Beethoven, other musicians and artists, on piano pedagogy, based on discussions with his friend and the artist, Delacroix. Chopin's relationship with the Marquis de Custine, who above all others seemed able to understand the inner soul of Chopin and his music. The fact that the marquis was homosexual and perhaps adds to the empathy of one man for the expression of another does not go unnoticed though the author cautions against any inferences that Chopin may have had an intimate affair with another man. Chopin, the sensitive thinker amidst the rich turbulence of the times is portrayed through letters, correspondences and recalled conversations. Chopin is probably the most personal of all the great masters, yet he was aloof from the artistic excesses of his times, played Bach's well Tempered daily, meticulous in his composing habits and yet, a little appreciated fact emphasized by Tad Szulc that Chopin was an innovator and creator of new and important musical forms. Certainly all popular music and jazz harmonies of the 20th century are direcly derived and based on Chopin. If you love Chopin the musician, his music and fascinated with the rich artistic and political times of the early 19th century, you will treasure this book. Michael Tierra
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34 of 39 people found the following review helpful By laguna_greg on August 30, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I'm just reaching the middle of Chopin in Paris right now, and I already have a list of complaints that have become irritating. The book follows Chopin's life from childhood to his death, focusing primarily on the period of his self-selected Parisian exile. Other reviewers have noted the special place this moment holds in European cultural history and, if this is of interest to readers, they should peruse The Parisian Worlds of Frederic Chopin by William Atwood. That work is an exhaustive socio-politico-cultural history of the period, interesting and colorfully written. While it only touches on Chopin peripherally, it explains the why's and how's of Paris as certainly the musical and probably the cultural center of Europe at that time.

Mr. Szulc's book does have its strong points. A recently written, authoritative account of Chopin's life is certainly overdue, and Szulc attempts this. He depends largely on textual sources, obviously, and much of what he says appears at first glance to be documented. For example, Szulc does treat George Sand very evenhandedly, letting the evidence speak for itself. Many, many writers have painted Sand as a depraved, blood-sucking harpy who robbed Chopin of his life, and Szulc resists the temptation. He relies heavily on the Andre Maurois biography of Sand and the correspondence in hand, and this presents a more fair and balanced picture of their relationship. On the plus side, Szulc manages to make it sound very dishy, heightening the interest.

Many things detract from the effort, however, firstly his use of purple ink.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By "xyding" on October 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
Hesitated to get this book for a long time because of the negative feedback from previous one, two, and three star reviewers.
After finally getting my hands on it, those negative comments turned out to be either untrue, or so trivial compared to the enormous amount of information provided about our great composer.
It is very readable. Lots of details. Lots of quotes directly from Chopin, his friends, Sand, AND most importantly, the circumstances for their remarks. Controversial evidences and author's own opinions were usually pointed out clearly. I felt this is very necessary. If writers inject too many their imaginations, opinions, and guidance into their biography books, then 1520 years from now, nobody will know what truly happened. I hope not only Chopin's music will last for thousands of years, his life story will also be carefully preserved.
In case I'm biased, you probably want to know that I'm
1. A big Chopin fan.
2. Haven't read other Chopin biographies yet (otherwise will claim to be the "biggest fan") so don't know how this one compared to others.
3. Did read "Chopin's Letter". I'll go back to read that again because this book helped me a lot understanding all the names and their roles, and the context when a letter was written.
4. English is my second language. Since this book is very readable and easy to follow for me, you might find it too plainly written but I really doubt that'll be the case.
You'll appreciate this book if you are close to my situation.
Submitted on a special day -- October 17.
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40 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Julian Grant on March 28, 2000
Format: Paperback
To concentrate on Chopin's time in Paris, and to try and trace his connections and acquaintances in that extraordinarily fertile artistic stamping ground, is a very good idea and focus for a biography of Chopin's short life. It is a fascinating milieu and it says a great deal for the facts uncovered here that the story can survive a verbose and gushing written style, and some factual carelessness. One is confronted time and time again by statements such as these: 'The year 1834 was a good one for Chopin whose life, like the chord spread of an arpeggio, went alternatively from the bottom upwards or from the top downwards'. Or the final sentence in the whole book, a summing-up: 'Frederick Chopin gave the world a treasure in music. The world gave Chopin a treasure in human beings'. This is typicalof the windy flow that so impedes the sense in this book. Don't editors read this stuff before it gets into print?
Factually, the book falls down particularly badly when dealing with matters musical; for example we are told: 'Hector Berlioz made Romanticism's breakthrough in 1825 when he conducted a performance of his requiem at Saint-Roch Church. No performance of such magnitude and venturesome boldness had ever been presented before'. A muddle here - Berlioz's Requiem was written in 1837 and first performed at 'Les Invalides', and yes, did poleaxe the musical world. There was a Berlioz performance at St.Roch Church in 1825 - that was the Mass, an immature and not particularly large scale work (recently rediscovered and performed by John Eliot Gardiner) which Berlioz himself discarded after one performance, and which had no widespread impact. Also, the idea that Romanticism suddenly took everyone by surprise is fatuous.
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