Post by Frank Lekens Post by Frank Berger Post by Henk vT Post by Chris from Lafayette Post by MELMOTH
"After playing Chopin, I feel as if I have wept over sins I never
committed and lamented tragedies to which I was a stranger" O. *WILDE*
"I would give for Chopin all the rest of music" *NIETZCHE*
"He was dying all his life" *BERLIOZ*
"Chopin is an indecisive man. He is faithful only to his cough. He
coughs with infinite grace." *MARIE D'AGOULT*
"This dear corpse...He made a single instrument speak the language of
the infinite. Only Mozart is superior to him." G. *SAND*
"Hysterical bastard." *BALAKIREV*
Wow - I had not heard that Balakirev quote before! It strikes me as
ironic, because there seems to be a fair degree of Chopin influence
in some of Balakirev's own piano music. Not to mention Balakirev's
arrangement for solo piano of the Romance from Chopin's First
Concerto. I wonder about the circumstances surrounding that
IIRC Balakirew seems to have been a very unpleasant human being. He
probably didn't need special circumstances.
Reading the Wikipedia entry on Balakirev, I would say your
characterization is grossly over simplified.
If he's not just making it up, I suspect Henk read things about him
elsewhere -- in books or on the net, where especially Balakirevs
virulent anti-semitism is often remarked on.
"Anyone who invited the Russian composer Mily Balakirev to dinner had to
be jolly careful about the fish they served. How had it died? Balakirev
— mentor of Mussorgsky and Rimsky-Korsakov and regarded as the founder
of the Russian nationalist school of music — would want to know. If the
fish had perished on a hook, then he wouldn’t touch it. But if it had
been clubbed on the head, fine.
The many eccentricities of Balakirev (1837–1910) were regarded with
amusement, horror and dismay by his contemporaries. Though, to be fair,
the fish thing wasn’t a mad obsession of his own. Formerly an atheist,
in his thirties he converted to an ultra-strict Russian Orthodox sect
with firm views on the proper way to kill fish. Unfortunately this
wasn’t the only subject on which it was inflexible. It was anti-Semitic
even by the standards of Czarist Russia, which is saying something. And
Balakirev outdid even his own clergy with his ranting about
‘Christ-killers’. So, no Jews at the dinner party — or anyone the
composer suspected of being Jewish simply because they disagreed with
his musical opinions.
That last detail is significant. Balakirev suffered from paranoia
exacerbated by a midlife nervous breakdown from which he never really
Balakirev’s despotic nature and his tactlessness made him innumerable enemies, so that even his friends and young disciples came to resent his tutelage; and a series of personal and artistic misfortunes led to his almost complete withdrawal from the world of music during 1872–76 and his taking a post as a railway clerk. Balakirev had passed through a period of acute depression 10 years earlier; now he underwent a more severe crisis from which he emerged a totally changed man, a bigoted and superstitious Orthodox Christian.