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The Parisian worlds of Frederic Chopin

Atwood, William G.

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ISBN 10: 0300077734 / ISBN 13: 9780300077735
Published by Yale University Press, New Haven, 1999
Condition: Very Fine Hardcover
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About this Item

Octavo in an illustrated DJ (light green) ; 470 p. : illus ; 24 cm. Music -- France -- Paris -- 19th century -- History and criticism. A very fine clean copy in a very ine DJ First edition, first printing (full number line). Bookseller Inventory # 30649

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Parisian worlds of Frederic Chopin

Publisher: Yale University Press, New Haven

Publication Date: 1999

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Very Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Dust Jacket Included

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title


In 1831, Chopin stopped in Paris on his way to London, fleeing his native Warsaw after Russia's brutal repression of an insurrection there. Entranced by the lively social and artistic scene in the city, the musician remained there until his death in 1849. In this engaging book, William Atwood recreates the Paris that Chopin knew, providing vivid details about its places, people, and politics, and showing how these affected the sensitive musician during an enormously fruitful period in his career.Drawing on many contemporary sources, Atwood brings to life the musicians, writers, artists, courtesans, salon hostesses, politicians, doctors, businessmen, and messianic Polish emigres who lived in Paris. He describes the theaters, music halls, and salons of Paris as well as its less glamorous worlds filled with the political conflicts and economic fluctuations of the July Monarchy. He tells about the city's newly awakened social consciousness and the philosophers and writers (including George Sand) who fostered it. The book sheds brilliant new light on both Paris and Chopin and will be delightful reading for lovers of the city or the musician.


This book may be of greater interest to the historian--political, social, and cultural--than to the musician. As its title indicates, it is about France, particularly Paris, more than about Chopin, and presupposes considerable knowledge of French history. Chopin wanders through its pages as a peripatetic presence; there are quotes from his letters commenting on whom he meets, where he plays, what he sees and hears, with references to his friends, pupils, and publishers. The author, a New York dermatologist who has written two previous books about Chopin (including Fryderyk Chopin: Pianist from Warsaw), has prodigiously researched every aspect of French life between the revolutions of 1830 and 1848. He quotes copiously from contemporary writers as diverse as Balzac, Heine, Berlioz, Mrs. Trollop, and Thackeray. A meticulously detailed guided tour through Paris is followed by an account of several generations of the royal family describing their politics, personalities, fortunes, and misfortunes, as well as their habits, love affairs, interrelationships, hangers-on, and adversaries, resulting in a bewildering profusion of names.

Among the most interesting chapters are those on the Polish refugee community--where Chopin had many friends--and those on the artists, writers, musicians, philosophers, and theologians (including numerous crackpots) who created the city's rich cultural life in its concerts, theaters, operas, journals, and famous private salons. The writing is lively, witty, and informative, marred only by occasional infelicities like "his inseparable sister," and the book abounds with excellent illustrations. Unfortunately, it also abounds with anti-Semitic slurs; Atwood misses no chance to point out, in an insulting manner, the Jewish origin of anyone he does not like, from the Rothschilds to Heine, Meyerbeer, and Offenbach. --Edith Eisler

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