Chopin's funeral, bisecting the 19th century, stands as a turning point. Both the life and music of this frail elegant man played out at the crossroads. His decline and death following a series of catastrophes, particularly the breach with his lover Georges Sand and the ebb of his creative energy on the brink of a new style, were both final ...
Chopin's funeral, bisecting the 19th century, stands as a turning point. Both the life and music of this frail elegant man played out at the crossroads. His decline and death following a series of catastrophes, particularly the breach with his lover Georges Sand and the ebb of his creative energy on the brink of a new style, were both final chapters in his often tragic life and reflected larger historical forces. CHOPIN'S FUNERAL is about a death foretold as the sum of other tragedies: the end of a world that fostered his particular genius; the wounds of exile and most fatally, the loss of love. An intimate close-up of the composer's last years, it is also the story of the artist as hero. At the close of his life, with no home or money, his physical powers failing, Chopin grappled with nothing less than a new musical form. CHOPIN'S FUNERAL is also the larger story of a great nineteenth-century city, Paris, in the grip of revolution.
Publishers Weekly, 2003-02-03 Biographer Eisler, whose last book was on Byron, has moved to much more heavily trodden ground with this one, and it is to her credit that she manages to make the brief arc of the exiled Polish composer's life so affecting. She begins with a journalistic close-up of Chopin's funeral, which ironically was a lavish affair, though in his last months of sickness he was neglected by most of his society friends. Eisler then proceeds to the familiar story of his triumphant arrival on the Paris scene and the swift liaison with the notorious George Sand. Wisely skipping over the couple's disastrous and endlessly dramatized winter together on Majorca, Eisler focuses her well-researched attention on the closing years of the composer's life. She has an excellent chapter on Chopin's unhappy time in England and Scotland; and she writes with real vigor and sympathy of the byzantine family politics that embroiled the Sand household, both at the country retreat Nohant and in Paris, where the novelist turned away from her daughter Solange and rested her hopes on her far less worthy son, Maurice. In the end it was Solange who comforted the dying composer after Sand had ruthlessly thrust him from her life. Chopin's failings-his rigid conservatism and snobbishness, his political timidity and frequent financial selfishness-are made clear; but Eisler, deeply sympathetic to the quality of the music, also shows that he never ceased to struggle, despite perpetual illness, to expand his extraordinary gift into areas where no musician had previously ventured. The book adds little to the sum of Chopin scholarship, but is a skillfully written and mercifully brief overview that hits the right notes. (Mar. 9) Forecast: A striking cover and a handy size are good selling points for those in search of an accessible account. Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
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