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Yields, furniture, Beethoven, dogs and railway
Nohant. Chopin’s letter to his family in Warsaw (written at the beginning of August) contains a great deal of news, trivia and gossip. It takes him a few days to finish the letter: "It seems a bit strange always to finish on a different day than you started. I have been writing this letter for five days now." Later, he goes on: "You have hot weather; here it was extremely hot too a few days before but now it is often raining and they are waiting for it to change for the harvest, which, although ample, will be late this year. Last Sunday they celebrated Saint Anna’s Day, the patron saint of the local areas. Because the courtyard has been rearranged and is full of flower beds and blossom this year, all the dancing took place in front of the church, on the lawn. You remember the country festival in Sarzay, so I will not remind you the bagpipes, the stalls, or the dancers of different calibres. [...] What’s the news? […] In Bonn they sell cigars: Véritables cigares à la Beethoven, who presumably smoked Viennese pipes exclusively; they have sold so much furniture, so many old desks and old shelves, left behind by Beethoven that the poor composer de la symphonie pastorale would have to have had an enormous furniture business." He learns that Józef Nowakowski is playing his Berceuse in Warsaw: "Nowak[owski] is playing my Berseza, I’m glad; it seems I’m listening to him play from the distance. Give him my love." About himself: "Oh, the time goes by so quickly! I don’t know how it is, but I can’t do anything decent, although I don’t idle my time, don’t go back and forth as I did with you but stay in my room all days and nights. Yet I need to finish up some of my manuscripts before I leave here, because I can’t compose in the winter. Since you left, I have written only the sonata [in B minor]. Now, apart from new Mazurkas [Op. 59] I have nothing ready for printing, and I should." About dogs: "I have returned from a walk with Sol, who took me on a solid stroll in a cabriolet in the company of Jacque. Jacque is an enormous dog of a very beautiful breed which was presented to the lady of the house in replacement of Simon, who has grown much older this year and has a paralysed pawn. He is an inseparable friend of the fat Koko, yet of a breed that is fantastic in its kind. When it’s raining, he climbs up into the cabriolet and when he is lying down, his head is getting wet at one end and his tail at the other, despite the most shrewd positions he chooses to protect himself from the rain; he’s too big for such comforts." About his everyday life: "Jan has been ringing for dinner for quarter of an hour already. (The lady of the house promised to pour cold water over him if he rings too long.) I have to shave because my beard has grown long, so I’m leaving the letter again. — I have shaved now, but it hasn’t made me fatter, although I’m told that I have gained weight." He concludes with a piece of interesting news: "Mr Brunel, the engineer (of French origin) who devised the London tunnel under the Themes, among other important designs, has lately invented a new locomotive which will make it possible to travel 50 English miles per hour. The machine is supposed to have eight wheels. It will not make railway more pleasant."
More information:
  • Lullaby that is Berceuse in D-flat major Op. 57 – Internet Chopin Information Centre (NIFC)

  • Isambard Kingdom Brunel – WIKIPEDIA

  • Thames Tunnel – WIKIPEDIA

  • Sławomir Łotysz Atmospheric Railway (pl. Kolej atmosferyczna), "Technika Transportu Szynowego" 2004 No. 11 (article in Polish)