Chopin course 8 – Debut in Vienna, revolt in Warsaw; ‘Revolutionary’ Etude

"Moscow rules the world! Oh God, do You exist? You do, and yet You do not take vengeance. Have You not had enough of these Muscovite crimes or... or, are You a Russian!!!?... Father, Mother, where are you? Perhad dead... " Thus wrote 21 year-old Frederic Chopin from Stuttgart, where he had stopped on his journey from Warsaw to Paris. He had just spent seven unfruitful months in Vienna trying to gain a professional foothold in the famous musical capital, but as a Pole he had not been especially welcome. That year Austria had joined with Russia to finally dismantle and carve up Poland between them, and in order to justify this they had to look down upon their victims, the Poles. After another few weeks in Munich, he had embarked on the final leg of his journey, though the destination that was stamped in his passport was "London, via Paris". Chopin was now officially a Russian subject, and the Russian authorities were not disposed to adding any further to the large community of Polish exiles then living in Paris, at that time a hotbed of revolutionary ardor. Many years later, when he was well established in Paris, Chopin would still tell people "I am just passing through". The revolt in Warsaw which had lasted nine months was finally crushed by the Russians on September 8th, 1831, and when Chopin received this news in Stuttgart he was driven to the edge of delirium, scribbling in his notebook a litany of lamentations, curses, fears and regrets. In the staging inn in which he found himself he also composed - reputedly in a single night - the epoch-making "Revolutionary Etude". No music like had ever been composed for the piano. This was a true 'tone poem' - a cry of heroic defiance transcending the limitations of any mere musical instrument.

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