Sand and Chopin….. etudes of the muse or the ballade of the…vampire

George Sand is often cast as the villain of the piece, though actually, she did wonders for Frederic Chopin by shielding him from the buffetings of the world.

Chopin’s connection with Madame Dudevant, the French novelist, better known as “George Sand,” was, in some respects, romantic enough. George Sand was already a wife and a mother, living in Paris apart from her husband, when Chopin met her. One would have said there could be no attraction between these two, their tastes and temperaments being so different. We know what Chopin was: dainty, neurotic, tender as a woman, dreamy, slim of frame; a man whose whole appearance made those who saw him think of the convolvuli, which, on the slenderest of stems, balance divinely-coloured chalices of such vaporous tissues that the slightest touch destroys them. Read More: a

---The French literary historian, Sainte-Beuve, who knew Sand, argued that he couldn’t imagine anything worse than an affair with a woman writer -- because your private life would always end up in print. This is why Oscar Wilde, commenting at the end of the 19th century, could write, “Like Goethe, George Sand had to live her romances before she could write them.” Wilde knew of what he wrote for he did the same. Others have been more hostile. Baudelaire called her "stupid, heavy and garrulous" while Nietzsche dismissed her as "a cow that writes."---Read More:

At Nohant, the Sand”s family estate, and under her management, he could escape to another kind of island; a sprawling manor house in the style of Louis XVI, surrounded by woods, fields, and gardens. He played games with the children, improvised at the piano for guests, and organized a puppet theatre. But at the same time, he fretted and agonized over his compositions:

But then would begin the most heartbreaking labor I have ever witnessed. It was a series of efforts, indecision, and impatience to recapture certain details of the theme he had heard: what had come to him all of a piece, he now over-analyzed in his desire to write it down, and his regret at not finding it again “neat,” as he said, would throw him into a kind of despair. He would shut himself up in his room for days at a time, weeping, pacing, breaking his pens, repeating and changing a single measure a hundred times, writing it and effacing it with equal frequency, and beginning again the next day with a meticulous and desperate perseverance. He would spend six weeks on one page, only to end up writing it just as he had traced it in his first outpouring. Read More:

Chopin Death Mask. and cast of his right hand made by August Clesinger. Read More:

In Paris during the winter months, when Nohant was too cold for them, Chopin would toil mightily, but with fewer results. There were too many distractions. Living with Sand in the rue Pigalle and later on the Square d’Orleans, they were the center of a brilliant literary and artistic circle that included Delacroix, Victor Hugo, Balzac and Heine. His concerts were attended by the whole elite of society, the richest financiers, and the aristocracy of birth, fortune and beauty. However, his health was deteriorating and in time, he weighed less than a hundred pounds.

…Contrast this with George Sand. To begin with, she was not pretty. Liszt speaks of her “masculine countenance.” De Musset says she was “brown, pale, and dull complexioned.” Others describe her as short and stout, dark and swarthy, “with a thick and unshapely nose of the Hebraic cast, a coarse mouth, and a small chin.” Balzac, the novelist, wrote that her dominant characteristics were those of a man; that she was “not to be regarded as a woman.” We know that she often wore men’s clothes, and as often smoked “enormously thick Trabucco cigars.” Chopin was very doubtful about her when first introduced. “What a repellent woman that Sand is!” he remarked to Ferdinand Hiller. “But is she really a woman? I am inclined to doubt it. ” Writing to a friend, he said: “Yesterday I met George Sand. She made a very disagreeable impression on me.” Yet this was the woman who, according to most of the biographers, broke Chopin’s heart and directly caused his early death. As Liszt puts it, she “inspired the frail and delicate Chopin with an intensity of admiration which consumed him, as a wine too spirituous shatters the fragile vase.” Read More: a

Werewolves, illustration for Legendes Rustiques by George Sand 1804-76 1858 Painted by: Baron Dudevant Jean Francois Maurice Sand Location: Bibliotheque Des Arts Decoratifs Paris Year: 1858 Read More:,-illustration-for-Legendes-Rustiques-by-George-Sand-1804-76-1858.html

Despite Sand”s care, Chopin began to feel edgy and discontented. As their lover’s quarrels grew more frequent and intense, each side had cause to consider itself maltreated. Their final rupture, in 1847, had to do with a family row over the marriage of Sand’s headstrong daughter. What seemed to be the case, was that Sand had imposed a working order on his life, and now, cut adrift, he stopped crating new music. To console himself he went on a seven- month tour of Britain, playing in London and Scotland, but he whole desperate undertaking was merely a protracted preamble to death. He died in Paris, of what was thought to be laryngeal tuberculosis, on October 17, 1849, less than five months from his fortieth birthday.

"Music as sacred rite: (left-right) Alexandre Dumas, Victor Hugo, George Sand, Paganini, Rossini and Liszt worship a bust Beethoven. At Liszt’s feet is his over, the Comtesse d�

oult" Read More:

Michael Lunts: As any George Sand biography shows, Chopin was only one of many famous men in her life. But for Chopin, George Sand was the love of his life – lover, mother, nurse, companion and muse. After the relationship fell apart, in 1847, he scarcely put pen to manuscript paper again, before his death two years later.

George was conspicuous by her absence at Chopin’s death in Paris on October 17th, 1849. Holding his hand instead was her estranged daughter Solange, she who had played, along with her husband – the sculptor Auguste Clesinger – such a pivotal part in ending her mother’s relationship. In an ironic twist of fate the task of making Chopin’s death mask and a cast of the composer’s hand fell to Clesinger, thus ensuring the sculptor’s place in history when his other work is little known today. Chopin never stopped loving George Sand. Amongst his belongings, found after his death, was a small envelope inserted into the back of his diary. It was embroidered with the initials ‘G.F’ (‘George/Frederick’) and contained a lock of her hair.Read More: a

---Similarly, the Polish poet, Adam Mickiewicz, wrote of Chopin and Sand that “Chopin is her evil genius, her moral vampire, her cross; he tortures her and will probably end by killing her.” He underestimated Sand’s strength but this sheds interesting light on the portrait we have of Sand as Great Mother and Chopin as the tragic victim, a portrait spread initially by Liszt. For these are the essential characteristics of Romanticism, wherein all artists are vampires. What better image is there of the alienated, upper class, black-suited European intellectual?---Read More: image:

Nothing of the sombre, religious earnestness of Bach is there; nothing of the fiery, robust vigour of Handel; nothing of the stately, heroic nobility of Beethoven. It is all like the beauty of the starry heavens, that cast their glitter upon the earth with a radiant yet somewhat chastened joy which speaks of the eternal. To admire Chopin’s compositions bespeaks a keen appreciation of forms of strange and wondrous loveliness, like the forms of Fairyland. The player who would do him anything like justice must, of course, have executive ability of the very highest order. But Chopin requires much more than this. To play him and not to sympathize with him-not to have something of that spirit of romance that shines out in his compositions — is to court certain failure; and that is why so many players whose talent is chiefly executive have had to give him up and leave him to the appreciation of the far-seeing few. Read More:

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George Sand professed to believe in free love while claiming to be disgusted with promiscuity! But how can you have it both ways? She believed in being faithful to one man while she was involved with him but she would ditch him when she lost interest. Franz Liszt’s secretary, Janka Wohl, captured this well in her later memoir: “Madame Sand took pleasure in capturing the butterfly with a sticky brush and in gaining its trust while she locked it into a box with aromatic herbs and flowers — this was the love period. Then she stuck a needle into it and let it writhe in a death agony — this was the dismissal, which always came from her. After which she dissected her ‘object’ and stuffed it for her collection of heroes for novels.”…

Honore Daumier. "Romantic art and literature are only enjoyable if you get in the spirit of it. Consider the menu: incest, illegitimacy, homosexuality, effeminacy, doubles and doppelgangers, schizophrenia, angels and devils and the vampire. But whatever you choose, there is always a cost, a Faustian bargain. There are winners and losers. George Sand wrote of Chopin, “Pole that he was, he lived in the nightmare world of legend. The phantoms called to him, entwined themselves about him...” Especially after you’re dead. Liszt made sure everyone knew the phantoms had got to Chopin and that his creativity had dried up. De Musset prowled the nightclubs of Paris for years in search of his evil double but he was all washed up by the age of 25. His later work is empty, there is less irony and distance as he drifted into impotence and cynicism. Sand’s eyes haunted him for years, they say. " Read More:

…The first of her weak and effeminate lovers was the 19-year old Jules Sandeau from whence she took the name Sand, and like the ones that were to follow — de Musset, Chopin in his sicklier times, Alexandre Manceau to name a few — she simply overpowered him sexually. She chose these boy-men because they were young, effeminate, consumptive, the idle class of aristocratic intellectual, easy prey.Read More:

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