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Chopin's Funeral by Benita Eisler
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Chopin's Funeral

by Benita Eisler

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(I originally wrote this review on April 9, 2003 for Amazon.)

I was disappointed by this book. Its title and slight size might suggest that it deals almost exclusively with Chopin's last days and burial. Not so. Eisler's description of Chopin's funeral comprises the first nine pages of this book. Another two at the end tell of Chopin's last minutes. (She sheds no new light on either event.) In between, you will find a Reader's Digest version of Chopin's life with particular emphasis on his relationship with George Sand. The book ends when Chopin does: the aftermath of his demise, it's effects on those around him, are not discussed.

I assume the author's intent was to quickly distill the couple's relationship so that she could speculate on its unraveling. But the pair's quirky "association" lasted for twenty-one years. So this abridgment leaves much to be desired.

If you want a brief recap of the Chopin-Sand story, or are totally unfamiliar with their singular relationship, I suppose this book wouldn't be a bad place to start. However, it's not written particularly well. The convoluted, ungainly sentences were difficult to forgive after a while. If you want a better written and more detailed book on the composer, I recommend "Chopin in Paris" by Tad Szulc. ( )
  jbvm | Jun 28, 2009 |
In this new highly touted biography, the author paints the career and downfall of the composer Chopin. Born of a Polish mother and French father, he arrived in Paris as an unknown and was taken in as the lover of arguably one of the most controversial and colorful literary figure, the author George Sand, née Aurore Dupin. In their torrid but brief relationship argues the author, Chopin composed best, and as they fell apart, so his flame gave out. The author also touches upon Chopin as a frail and flawed genius, snobbish and conservative, and introduces us to some of his contemporaries, Liszt in particular, whose role as a latter day Antonio Salieri à la Amadeus the movie, awed by the brilliance but riven by envy, could be debated.

I do not know why I bothered with this one. It was a useless and disappointing read, which failed to capitalize on a griping story with a celebrated cast of characters. I found it unstructured, poorly written, and lacking in musical or literary contextual analysis. Music and literature were Chopin and Sand’s raison d’être, and if those aspects are disregarded, what remains is a sordid but very ordinary story ripped from the back pages of any society paper. ( )
  thierry | May 29, 2007 |
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Book description
At twenty-one, Chopin fled Russian-occupied Poland for exile in France. He would never see his native country again. With only two public concerts in as many years, he became a star of Parisian society and a legendary performer at its salons, revered by his great contemporaries Schumann, Liszt, and the painter Eugene Delacroix. Blessed with genius, success, and the love of Europe's most famous--and infamous-woman novelist, George Sand, Chopin's years of triumph ended with his expulsion from paradise: less than two decades after his conquest of Paris, the composer lay destitute and dying in the arms of Sand's estranged daughter, Solange. Chopin's Funeral is the story of this fatal fall from grace, of an Oedipal tragedy unfolding and of illness and loss redeemed by the radical breakthrough of the composer's last style.Richly textured and artfully compressed, Chopin's Funeral is an intimate close-up of an embattled man, grappling with conflict on all sides: family violence, political passions, and, not least, his own dependency and pride--Front flap.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375708685, Paperback)

Frédéric Chopin’s reputation as one of the Great Romantics endures, but as Benita Eisler reveals in her elegant and elegiac biography, the man was more complicated than his iconic image.

A classicist, conservative, and dandy who relished his conquest of Parisian society, the Polish émigré was for a while blessed with genius, acclaim, and the love of Europe’s most infamous woman writer, George Sand. But by the age of 39, the man whose brilliant compositions had thrilled audiences in the most fashionable salons lay dying of consumption, penniless and abandoned by his lover. In the fall of 1849, his lavish funeral was attended by thousands—but not by George Sand.

In this intimate portrait of an embattled man, Eisler tells the story of a turbulent love affair, of pain and loss redeemed by art, and of worlds—both private and public—convulsed by momentous change.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:56:26 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

A portrait of the great composer examines his final years, his legendary affair with novelist George Sand, his life as an artist in exile, and his decline and destitute final days.

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