Rare Stories about Frederic Chopin

Not Always Popular

Chopin is a famous composer who composed mainly for the piano. He lived by teaching others and by the sale of his works.

Chopin gave a recital of his own compositions in Paris, which Dreyshock attended in company with Thalberg. They listened with delight throughout the performance, but after the performance Thalberg began shouting at the top of his voice.

‘What’s the matter?’ asked Dreyshock, in astonishment.
‘Oh,’ explained Thalberg, ‘I’ve been listening to piano all the evening, and now, for the sake of contrast, I want a little forte.’
(William Mason, Memories of a Musical Life, 1901)

Frederic Chopin Anecdotes
Frederic Chopin Anecdotes
Treat the Manuscripts with Care

Chopin was extremely fastidious about many things, including the appearance of his manuscripts. He once loaned the manuscript of his Piano Concerto in E Minor to a friend who, knowing this, was very careful wearing white gloves to turn the pages. He returned the manuscript to Chopin without a single mark upon it. Chopin opened it and immediately said in displeasure, "Oh! You were smoking when you read it!"
(N. Slonimsky, A Thing or Two about Music)

Is Liszt Better than Chopin Anecdote?

Liszt once asked Frederic Chopin to play in complete darkness as he did before on the previous occasion. But after putting out all the lights and drawing curtains, just as Chopin was going to the piano, Liszt whispered something in his ear and sat down in his stead. He then played the same composition which Chopin had played, and the audience was once again captivated. After the performance, Liszt lighted candles on the piano revealing himself to the stupefied audience.
"What do you say to it?" said Liszt to his rival.
"I say what everyone says; I too believed it was Chopin."
"You see," said the virtuoso rising, "that Liszt can be Chopin when he likes; but could Chopin be Liszt?"
(F. Niecks, Frederick Chopin as Man and Musician, 1888-90)

To Each Their Own Style

One evening, while assembled in a salon, Liszt played one of Chopin’s nocturnes, to which he took the liberty of adding some embellishments.
Chopin’s delicate intellectual face, which still bore the traces of recent illness, looked disturbed; at last he could not control himself any longer, he said, “I beg you, my dear friend, when you do me the honor of playing my compositions, to play them as they are written or else not at all.”
“Play it yourself then,” said Liszt, rising from the piano, rather piqued.
“With pleasure,” answered Chopin.
At that moment a moth fell into the lamp and extinguished it. They were going to light it again when Chopin cried, “No, put out all the lamps, the moonlight is quite enough.”
Then he began to improvise and played for nearly an hour. And what an improvisation it was! Description would be impossible, for the feelings awakened by Chopin’s magic fingers are not transferable into words.
When he left the piano his audience were in tears; Liszt was deeply affected, and said to Chopin, as he embraced him, “Yes, my friend, you were right; works like yours ought not to be meddled with; other people’s alterations only spoil them. You are a true poet.”
“Oh, it is nothing,” returned Chopin, gaily, “We have each our own style.”
(Nowakowski, in Karasowski, Semptember 1874)