Thursday, March 22, 2012

History and Primary Sources - Theme and Variations??

In going over the material on Chopin written by Frederick Niecks concerning the first meeting of the great composer and the novelist George Sand, which resulted in an affair lasting almost a decade, I must say that the four variations of their first encounter, all witnessed by contemporaries of the composer and the novelist, result in stark chaos, in reference to the term 'Primary Source.'
To cite:
One contemporary, named Enault, states that the first meeting occurred in an aristocrat's home, where Sand was described as one with a "beautiful face."
Another version of that fateful first meeting, as witnessed by one Karasowski, described the event with Chopin performing before a small audience(which he almost always did), with a"plainly dressed woman with penetrating dark eyes, leaning on the piano that Chopin was playing on. She was a woman of beauty and sweetness, with a deep, sweet voice."
A third variation of that first meeting was witnessed by a student of Chopin named Adolph Gutmann, who claimed that the recital Chopin gave was " a matinee,with all present wearing informal clothing, with Sand in the audience."
The fourth incarnation of that first meeting was related by Franz Liszt himself, which happened in Chopin's own apartments. Liszt claims that he was solely responsible for bringing Chopin and Sand together.
To cite further fuel to the fire in support of primary source material, do read on:
Another description of the woman 'of beauty and sweetness;' this attributed to Liszt himself -
she wore trousers often, smoked black cigars, had a penetrating voice, and a hint of 'down' on her upper lip.
To go on:
Liszt claimed that Chopin's eyes were blue.
Probably the first artist to paint Chopin, his name being Kwiatkowski, said that the composer's eyes were brown.
One contemporary stated that Chopin's hair was dark brown.
Another opined that it was light brown.
A third witness to Truth described the composer as a 'blonde.'
As one attached to the importance of historical weight in the study of Human History, I still adhere, be assured, to the elemental reality of Primary Source material as the primary tool to be utilized; however:
Are you as confused as I am about that first meeting??

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