The Reviews are In!

Accounts of Chopin in Performance by His Contemporaries

"Here is a young man who, abandoning himself to his natural impressions and without taking a model, has found, if not a complete renewal of pianoforte music, at least a part of what has been sought in vain for a long time- namely an abundance of original ideas of which the type is to be found nowhere. " - Revue Musicale, March 3, 1832

"Hats of gentlemen, a genius!" - Robert Schumann

"It was . . . an unforgettable picture to see [Chopin] sitting at the piano like a clairvoyant, lost in his dreams; to see how his vision communicated itself through his playing, and how, at the end of each piece, he had the sad habit of running one finger over the length of the plaintive keyboard, as though to tear himself forcibly away from his dream."- Robert Schumann

"The marvelous charm, the poetry and originality, the perfect freedom and absolute lucidity of Chopin's playing cannot be described. It is perfection in every sense" - C.E. and M. Halle`

"Every single note was played with the highest degree of taste, in the noblest sense of the word. When he embellished - which he rarely did - it was a positive miracle of refinement." - Wilhelm von Lenz

"...that enchanting pianist who speaks a seductive language with his fingers and discloses his soul through his playing, which in turn leaves nothing to be desired. It is as though the piano had been transformed in some way and had become a totally different instrument, responding to the fiery touch of a genius, at once gentle and passionate." - Revue et Gazette Musicale, Feb. 27, 1842

"Chopin has written two wonderful mazurkas [opus 50] which are worth more than forty novels and are more eloquent than the entire century's literature." - George Sand

"[The listener] will weep, believing that he really suffers with one who can weep so well" - Hippolyte Barbedette

"There is something fundamentally personal and at the same time so very masterly in his playing that he may be called a really perfect virtuoso." - Mendelssohn

"Music was his language, the divine tongue through which he expressed a whole realm of sentiments that only the select few can appreciate... The muse of his homeland dictates his songs, and the anguished cries of Poland lend to his art a mysterious, indefinable poetry which, for all those who have truly experienced it, cannot be compared to anything else... The piano alone was not sufficient to reveal all that lies within him. In short he is a most remarkable individual who commands our highest degree of devotion." - Franz Listz

"Chopin has broken new trails for himself. His playing and his composition, from the very beginning, have won such high standing that in the eyes of many he has become an inexplicable phenomenon... No one as yet has tried to define the special character and merit of those works, what distinguished them from others, and why they occupy such a high place."- La Revue Muciale

"The one has done for piano what the other [Schubert] has done for the voice... Chopin is a pianist of conviction. He composes for himself, plays for himself...and everyone listens with interest, with delight, with infinite pleasure. Listen how he dreams, how he weeps, with what sweetness, tenderness and melancholy he sings, how perfectly he expresses the gentlest and loftiest feelings. Chopin is the pianist of sentiment par excellence. He may be said to have created a school of playing and a school of composition. Nothing indeed equals the lightness and sweetness of his preluding on the piano, nothing compares with his works in originality, distinction and grace. Chopin is unique as a pianist - he should not and cannot be compared with anyone." - La France Musicale

"Now, for the first time, I understood his music, and could also explain to myself the great enthusiasm of the ladies. The sudden modulations that I could not grasp when I myself played his works no longer bother me. His piano is so ethereal that no forte is needed to create the necessary contrast. Listening to him, one yields with one's whole soul, as to a singer who, oblivious of accompaniment, lets himself be carried away by his emotion. In short, he in unique among pianist." - Moscheles

"His music was spontaneous, miraculous. He found it without seeking it, without previous intimation of it. It came upon his piano sudden, complete, sublime, or it sang in his head during a walk, and he was impatient to hear it himself with the help of the instrument. But then began the most desperate labour that I have ever witnessed. It was a succession of efforts, hesitations and moments of impatience to recapture certain details of the theme he could hear; what he had conceived as one piece, he analysed too much in trying to write it down, and his dismay at his inability to rediscover it in what he thought was its original purity threw him into a kind of despair. He would lock himself up in his room for whole days, weeping, pacing back and forth, breaking his pens, repeating or changing one bar a hundred times, writing and erasing it as many times, and beginning again the next day with an infinite and desperate perseverance. He sometimes spent six weeks on one page, only in the end to write it exactly as he had sketched at the first draft." - George Sand