Incomparable genius whom the heavens envied the Earth – Eugene Delacroix (French Romantic painter, 1798-1863)
Chopin was the greatest artistic shock which I experienced. My adoration for him continued to grow, and still does so, and I regard Chopin to be the most magnificent phenomenon not only in the history of Polish poetry but in global art as a whole. – Julian Tuwim (Polish poet, 1894 – 1953)
Where [John] Field smiles, Chopin makes a grinning grimace; where Field sighs, Chopin groans; where Field shrugs his shoulders, Chopin arches his back like a cat, where Field puts some seasoning into the food, Chopin empties a handful of cayenne pepper… In short, if one holds Field’s charming romances before a distorting, concave mirror, so that every delicate impression becomes a coarse one, one gets Chopin’s work. We implore Mr Chopin to return to nature. – Ludwig Rellstab (in Iris, A weekly periodical for ’sophisticated readers,’ Berlin August 2nd 1833).
Gustave Flaubert, pessimist and master of cadenced lyric prose, urged young writers to lead ascetic lives that in their art they might be violent. Chopin’s violence was psychic, a travailing and groaning of the spirit; the bright roughness of adventure was missing from his quotidian existence. The tragedy was within. – James Huneker (1860-1921)
Deeply regretted as he may be by the whole body of artists, lamented by all who have ever known him, we must still be permitted to doubt if the time has even yet arrived in which he, whose loss is so peculiarly deplored by ourselves, can be appreciated in accordance with his just value, or occupy thathigh rank which in all probability will be assigned him in the future. – Franz Liszt
His character was indeed not easily understood. A thousand subtle shades, mingling, crossing, contradicting and disguising each other, rendered it almost undecipherable at a first view. As is usually the case with the Slavs, it was difficult to read the recesses of his mind. With them, loyalty and candor, familiarity and the most captivating ease of manner, by no means imply confidence, or impulsive frankness. Like the twisted folds of a serpent rolled upon itself, their feelings are half hidden, half revealed. It requires a most attentive examination to follow thecoiled linking of the glittering rings. – Liszt
The Polish word: ZAL! As if his ear thirsted for the sound of this word, which expresses the whole range of emotions produced by an intense regret, through all the shades of feeling, from hatred t repentance, he repeated it again and again….Susceptible of different regimens, it includes all the tenderness, all the humility of a regret borne with resignation and without a murmur, while bowing before the fiat of necessity, the inscrutable decrees of Providence: but, changing its character, and assuming the regimen indirect as soon as it is addressed to man, it signifies excitement, agitation, rancor, revolt full of reproach, premeditated vengeance, menace never ceasing to threaten if retaliation should ever become possible, feeding itself meanwhile with a bitter, if sterile hatred. – Liszt
With thanks to the University of Michigan School of Music Chopin Project