Monday, March 1, 2010

Chopin: after two hundred years most still don't know his repentance

Frederic Chopin (1810-49) died at 39 but his music remains that of the prototypical Romantic genius. My guess is that most people associate him with the salons of Paris, George Sands, and a life of unchastity. Take another look. Patrick Kavanaugh describes his last days. While there are conflicting accounts of his death, they all agree on his powerful return to the Christian faith.  The Washington Post celebrates his 200th birthday. Below is a cast of his left hand.

BTW/ another great Romantic composer and pianist, Franz Liszt (1811-86), whose virtuosity, showmanship, and exploitation of the new technology of the piano, made him a popular phenomenon far beyond any previous figure in Western music, also had a major religious conversion.  In 1865 he decides to enter the priesthood. and takes the four minor orders (doorkeeper, lector, exorcist and acolyte). He never adopts celibacy or even much theological education but his music impresses Pius IX. In 1872, his massive oratorio, Christus, is composed and is now considered by some the greatest oratorio of the 19th century.

Would that Chopin had lived so long. Who knows what sacred music he might have produced. Neither man was a model of godliness but what is redemption for?

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