Was Gutmann really Chopin's favourite pupil? And what kind of pupil was Mathias?
Adolphe Gutmann & Georges Mathias.


The recent publication[1] of the weekly reports (Wochenberichte) sent by Friederike Müller to her aunts in Vienna during her two stays in Paris provides so much information about Chopin as a man, pianist and, above all, teacher—and not only that—, that everything that has been written about so far ought to be confined behind the scenes or, at least, scaled down.
The importance of these reports lies in their almost absolute reliability, which is guaranteed by the following facts: 1° they are not more or less distant memories, but accounts written a few days after the events reported, sometimes on the same day, which can no longer be adapted; 2° Fr. Müller is always accompanied by her aunt Wilhelmine (Mina), who, being a witness to everything and, therefore, able to deny or confirm what her niece says, acts as an unwitting guarantor; 3° the person of Friederike Müller: she is a 23-year-old woman, who proves to be mature, intelligent, a keen observer, capable of grasping people's character, unprejudiced and with very clear ideas, not venal, respectful but not without humour, in short, a woman who surprises for the totality of her qualities, so much so that Chopin, no less intuitive in understanding people, speaks to her with increasing confidence even about things outside the teacher-pupil relationship.[2]
However, these reports lack the essentially musical details; which is understandable, since the two aunts left in Vienna, to whom Fr. Müller writes, although curious about everything and presumably having had a musical education, are not interested in that particular note or chord or measure. Nevertheless, what can be deduced here and there is not insignificant. Finally, Fr. Müller, who speaks with Chopin in French—but it happened that Chopin sometimes spoke in German—, quotes Chopin's own words, which would not have been possible, indeed would have been hardly credible, had it been a matter of recollections.
In this paper we will only extrapolate references to two pupils whom Fr. Müller met during his lessons: Adolphe Gutmann and Georges Mathias. In fact, for different reasons, these two pupils are presented by chopinologists as the pride of Chopin's teaching; which does not correspond to reality. About Georges Mathias see what, in countertendency, we wrote in the article "Can a historical context make up for an ear problem?" in this same site. As for Adolphe Gutmann, on the other hand, see the very diligent encomiastic volume devoted to him,[3] the purpose of which, however—according to Jan Ekier's will—, was not to objectively evaluate the sources and derive as much as reasonably possible from them, but to exalt the figure, discrediting or ignoring the sources not agreeing with the pre-established thesis. This is the same method followed by many magistrates, who force the dictates of some laws and ignore others, in order to pass the sentence they had set in advance.
It is also our intention to collect all that can be gleaned about Chopin's teaching method, piano-playing, repertoire and, last but not least, the pianist, since the hilarious nonsense that has been written and is being written seems more appropriate in the circus area rather than in the piano domain.

THE FIRST mention of Gutmann is found in the letter of December 11, 1839. On Saturday, December 7th, after the lesson Chopin, Fr. Müller and perhaps Marie de Rosière, who, having her lesson on Saturdays after Müller's, this time had come early, went to see Mme Boieldieu, F.-A. Boieldieu's widow, a chatterbox with a less than impeccable demeanour (if we have not misunderstood the context). "On that happy Saturday—writes Fr. Müller—Chopin told me that he would like me to meet Gutmann,” and he added: “'He is the only pupil I have trained (C'est le seul élève que j'ai formé).' 'Gladly, oh!, gladly,' I would have replied, 'but[—I wondered—]couldn't I also one day be your pupil?' But then I thought that this would require more time than I have until April to fully train me as his pupil; so I kept silent, since I cannot stay longer. A third Scherzo by Chopin has been published, which he dedicated to Gutmann.
Chopin's assertion that Gutmann was the only pupil he had trained is noteworthy because, so clearly uttered, you find it only here.[4] Obviously “trained” must be understood as having been trained from the very beginning, i.e. the boy had no style (unlike Georges Mathias, who came from Kalkbrenner's school[5]): in fact, at the age of 10, Gutmann had already given his first concert in Heidelberg.[6]
In the letter of December 22, Fr. Müller writes to aunt Lotte that during the lesson the day before, Chopin had played her the Nocturnes dedicated to Hiller (Op. 15): how wonderful (unbegreiflich schön)! Another pupil arrives. The picture described is singular and almost humorous. Chopin says: “' Ah, I will send her back: I am not in the mood to hear wrong notes, and Gutmann will come (Ah, je la renverrai, je ne suis pas en humeur d'entendre de fausses notes, et Gutmann arrivera)'”. Having said this, he received the ladies very amiably; he regretted not having time and postponed the lesson until the following Wednesday. Fr. Müller, surprised and perhaps even amused, added: "Nota bene: it was pouring with rain! The ladies left and I played for my whole hour, and more actually; then Gutmann came in. How does he play, I'll tell aunt Sophie...".
"Dear aunt Sophie—she writes on the same December 22—, I resume from where I left off with aunt Lotte, namely, how Gutmann plays: he is very tall (himmelhoch), a complete and utter German, blue, blond, white and red, decidedly unpleasant to my taste; his hands measure just under half a Parisian cubit [½ of 60 cm.] and, in trying to drive a fly out of one's nose, might break it, as we read in Clairmont's Grammar about a grateful bear. He began, at Chopin's request, with the Scherzo which I also studied. I must confess that in this piece he did not dazzle me; even Chopin, who is exceedingly fussy, occasionally wrinkled his forehead and was tense: indeed, if something does not suit him, he seems to be on tenterhooks. But, when Gutmann played a modulation beautifully, Chopin immediately turned to me and murmured: ' That's it (C'est cela)'. At the end, Chopin said: 'We studied several details differently: it is a long time since I heard this piece, and it was not all as I wanted it. But play us what you like (mais jouez nous ce que vous aimez).'[7] Gutmann then played one of the last Etudes with truly admirable skill, and what is more, with a grace and elegance that made me wonder. Except for Chopin, nobody plays it like that. Then Gutmann played four more Etudes splendidly (herrlich), absolutely unsurpassed, again excluding his teacher; the boy must have worked really hard. Envy is not usually my fault, but I envy Gutmann; and if I do not play these Etudes at least once like him, I shall die of an attack of bile. That is what I want; to make a long story short, I confess that I could not sleep: I had Gutmann in my ears all the time: he is something quite different from Hermann![8] He really impressed me. Chopin said that this would not be the last time we would meet at his place, and that I too would then have to play (in front of) Gutmann.[9] But that is not enough for me: I want to play like Gutmann, I do, I must! [...] And Chopin is fond of him and sincerely proud of him!"
In this first meeting, Gutmann, apart from his disorienting physical appearance, impressed the young Viennese lady so much that she was naively envious. Gutmann, then, could not only play well, but very well, almost as well as his teacher! Being born on January 12, 1819, in December 1839 Gutmann was 20 years old, but in his curriculum vitae sent to the publisher Silbermann in 1856 he states that he was born in 1820! His biographer does not point out the surprising discrepancy, but merely puts an exclamation mark after the date in the text of the letter:[10] either Gutmann did not know his birth date or, for some reason, he was lying. A second discrepancy is in the date of his trip with his father to Paris: he tells Silbermann it was January 1834, while he tells Piccini it was February.[11]
In the letter of December 28 is mentioned the Liszt's Divertissement sur 'I tuoi frequenti palpiti' from Pacini's Niobe. Chopin had this piece studied for the sole purpose of maintaining a high technical level, the bravura: "Please—Chopin tells her—, continue to study this Divertissement; consider it a simple exercise to maintain the bravura of your fingers; there are lots and lots of notes, so study them." Fr Müller did not like this piece, and Chopin noticed this: "... Gutmann did not like this genre either—he added—, but it is my duty to make you play it; it is a question of your technique, which must not be neglected either by you or by me, and when you play it, it will produce its effect." Then Fr. Müller comments: “I am very happy indeed with the quotation of Gutmann; I ask and wish for nothing more than that Chopin deems me worthy of following the same path.”
On New Year's Day, writing to her aunts Lotte and Sophie, she mentions her fellow disciple: “I have nothing to say about Gutmann (except that): he is lucky, he plays wonderfully, and Chopin is fond of him...”
On Saturday, January 4, 1840, another lesson. After Field's Nocturne No. 5, Chopin gets her to play Etude No. 7: “'Well, I am satisfied—Chopin said—.I confess that it is not easy to be satisfied, because if you do not play certain things in my compositions the way I want you to, I cannot be happy. Very well; that is exactly what I mean'". “Then I had to play some more Etudes, even the ninth, which Gutmann had played so well. I reminded Chopin of this: '... but you will play it well, only not so fast, as Gutmann's hand is extremely large, while yours is delicate; but never mind. I also reproached Gutmann for being too fast; he gets excited too much (il se pâme trop)'.”[12]
On Sunday, January 26th, Fr. Müller informed aunt Lotte that the previous day's lesson, had been cancelled because, while they were waiting for him, news arrived that Chopin would not be able to return home. She is afraid, Sand has a hand in this, because the weather was fine on Saturday and she induced him to go for a carriage ride. Then, on page 3 of the same letter, she tells aunt Sophie about Wednesday's lesson: "We went to see Chopin. Gutmann arrived before and asked me not to disturb him: he would read and I could only continue playing. [...] At last Chopin arrived: he does not look well, he is as yellow as wax; all his movements are weaker, and he coughs much more than before. He has been less well since the beginning of the year and I am infinitely sorry. He greeted us, then asked Gutmann: 'So what have you been doing? Did you compose? And what?' 'An elegy,' he answered him. 'What? An elegy? But that is not music.' 'Ah! What is it then?' 'It is poetry, my friend. And what have you done again?' 'A caprice,' was the reply. 'All right. This is music. And what about the Mycielskis? What are those girls doing?' 'Nothing at all,' he answered. Then Chopin turned to me, shrugging his shoulders, and said: 'What can you do, if these girls do not study, there is nothing to do; they are my compatriots, it is true, but what can I do when they do nothing. Once I heard one of them playing something, and badly; I thought it was Gutmann's fault: he is their teacher; but if they do not study, I cannot blame him for anything.' Gutmann then said that the elder has applied herself to an Etude by Moscheles for two lessons, but she did not learn a thing. I immediately thought of Plachy, who was always complaining about girls being lazy; so I began to play Hummel's Rondo. Then Chopin said to Gutmann: 'Isn't that well played? And this is the first time he has played it to me.' So he played the Introduction: I do not understand how Chopin can perform everything like that, when I do not think he practices at all. I do not even know when he would have the time to do it: he composes a great deal, he is overloaded with work, and he has already told me several times that he does not yet want to practise properly, because his health is still too weak, and yet he plays everything with a perfection, a bravura and a grace, as if day and night he had studied nothing but that piece.
From this letter we learn that Gutmann could be rude to the fair sex, and that Chopin passed on to Gutmann those pupils who were probably less suitable for higher education, thus offering him not so much financial help[13] as the chance to make a name for himself. With regard to Gutmann's pupils, in letter No. 77 of March 6/7/8, Fr. Müller, describing her visit to the Dumoncheau family, consisting of father, mother and two "very simple" daughters, specifies that the elder, Marie, studied with Chopin, the younger with Gutmann, who is again mentioned in the account of the lesson of Thursday, March 5th: Chopin asks Fr. Müller to play the Polonaise op. 22; Gutmann, who is present, listens until the end, then leaves.
The letter of March 21st begins: “I am writing right from today because I am annoyed [...]. The reason is this—my God, you know it well—: Chopin did not give me a lesson today. He did not look well, but he seemed to be more in a bad mood than in pain; he apologised, and promised that if he had time on Monday he would let me know, but I do not think he will. God knows why he is in a bad mood, and I should thank heaven I do not have to play at his place today, because it would be a hard task.” In fact, when she went to Chopin's for the usual lesson, she found Gutmann there playing Chopin's Concerto. At Müller's request, he then played the Scherzo dedicated to him. At that point Chopin arrived: “You should have seen—writes Fr. Müller—the change in Gutmann's face as soon as he saw Chopin's forehead wrinkling: his face grew longer and longer. Gutmann had to play the Concerto in a soiree, so I think Chopin did not give me a lesson to hear it again. Well, if Gutmann had to play him the Concerto, then enjoy your meal (guten Appetit)!».[14]
And it was on January 29, 1840 that Fr. Müller met Georges Mathias for the first time: "After 4 o'clock a little Pole came in with his mother. If you have time—Chopin told us without being heard—, then listen to the boy play: 'He has a magnificent talent (c'est un talent magnifique).' The boy must be 13-14 years old: with much phlegm he sought out book and scores to sit higher, and finally began with the Adagio from Chopin's Concerto. I still have not recovered from my astonishment: I think he really does not know what it means to find a difficulty or to play unevenly or false notes, so sure, calm, clear and beautiful is his performance. The whole of Europe will certainly talk about him sooner or later. When he had finished, Chopin (said to him): 'Very good, my friend, but you know we do not always agree on nuances; the notes were perfect, but here' etc., and began to point out a few things about the performance. We took our leave, because I know that teacher and pupil prefer to be alone. I am sorry I did not make a note of his name, but I will ask Chopin. The little artist will soon be a great artist!"
So Mathias, like Gutmann, made a positive and unreserved impression on the young Viennese lady, who (letter of February 8) will meet again G. Mathias on Thursday, February 6th, at the Concert offered to subscribers to the Gazette musicale and exchange a few words with him: she calls him the "Chopin's little great artist". But there is a small detail that outlines some way the character of the lad who settles his seat “with great phlegm (sehr phlegmatisch)." We will speak of him again at the end of October (see below).
And let us come to the important letter of April 12th. Fr. Müller mentions her fluctuating moods: "With regard to Chopin today I am happy again, but also very sad, because he is suffering and looks tired." Again, Chopin was not well: because of the fever he had to stay in bed for three days. Nevertheless, he let Fr. Müller know that he would receive her on Saturday 11th. Waiting for him there were two ladies (Damen) and Mlle de Rozières, who told Fr. Müller that Chopin would have to get rid of some pupils. In fact, when he arrives, he addresses one of the ladies with the following words: “'And to you, Mademoiselle, I will no longer be able to give advice: you are not far enough advanced in your studies, while I am so ill that I do not have the time I need to devote to you. I will send you to Mr Gutmann: you will have two or three lessons a week, and you will try to get all the advantage you can out of it (Et à vous, Mademoiselle, je ne pourrais plus donner de conseils : vous n'êtes pas assez avancée, et je suis si souffrant que je n'ai pas le temps qu'il faudrait vous consacrer, mais je vous enverrai Mr Gutmann; vous prendrez deux ou trois leçons par semaine, et vous tacherez d'en tirer tout l'avantage possible)'.” Chopin cancels Fr. Müller's own lesson as well and does it in German! “'Und Sie—addressed to her—bekommen heute auch keine Stunde, ich weiß Sie haben es nicht so nötig, und morgen wenn ich kann dann, wollen Sie? (I am not going to give you a lesson today either: I know you are not in urgent need of it; if I feel up to it, will you come tomorrow?)'.”[15] So Fr. Müller is back to Chopin on Sunday, April 12th, at 1 pm. She plays for about a quarter of an hour, until Chopin shows up: "His appearance was no worse than yesterday, but he was very despondent about his perpetual indisposition, and terribly weak". Chopin asks: “'Have you played the first Etude [of Op. 25] with me?' 'Never',” she replies. "'Have I played it to you?'. 'Not even. I have only heard it from Liszt in Vienna.' 'I want to try to play it to you; however, my performance will be lacking in vigour, as I feel too weak today, but let us see'.” “Ah, how wonderful!—she comments—. I have never heard the notes sing like that; with Thalberg they sing, yes, but only in the mezzo-forte, with Liszt more or less in the ritardandos; with Chopin always: they amplify to the forte, and still sing in the pianissimo. However, he noticed some printing errors: 'More errors! Oh no! I owe this pleasure to Mr Gutmann. Three years ago I gave him my manuscript to make a copy for publishers in Germany: he did it wrong and these are the consequences.'[16] I objected very respectfully that it is often the engravers (Kunsthändler)[17] who are responsible for such mistakes. 'No, it is not their fault—Chopin said—, for I requested the manuscript and saw that the engraving was correct.[18] It is Gutmann who did not care enough. And I trusted him! So now I do not trust anyone, not even myself. When I think of how much trouble I went to, how much attention I paid, when my teacher in Warsaw gave me a task; in this way I made him happy. One of my friends, Fontana, an excellent musician, when I begged him to copy, to revise something, the result was perfect, I could count on it; but Gutmann... that is something else'.” Then Chopin asked Fr. Müller to play Etude No. 11. "I had just turned to the second page (there are 8 in all), when Gutmann came in: my heart leapt and I had to summon all my strength to go on with due calm, but I succeeded. 'Wait a little—Chopin told him—, sit down, I have something to tell you.' Gutmann stood, leaned over the piano, and began to leaf through the Gazette musicale; which annoyed Chopin, who grabbed the magazine, took it, and said, quietly indeed: 'Leave it!' It was foolish [to do so] on Gutmann's part. Chopin wanted to hear the Etude without interruption; Gutmann should have waited without disturbing him, and reading was certainly not a courteous act. When the lesson was over, Chopin had the servant give him the address and said to Gutmann: 'Here, you will go to this address,' and he named the two ladies he was to teach. 'Yes, yes,' replied Gutmann, 'tomorrow morning I shall certainly go there.' 'No—insisted Chopin—, already today, please.' They exchanged a few more words, and then Gutmann (Chopin was completely calm towards him), who showed himself very self-assured, said goodbye, shook Chopin's hand and left. 'He poses as a great man,' [Chopin added]. 'But, Monsieur, is it not the case that, being a big man, he is not to blame?' 'No, no. He gloats over his talent (il se pâme sur son talent);[19] he was praised too much; he was spoiled; in the end, it is I who have spoiled him. You saw how he was leaning on the piano, leafing through the Gazette; I cannot stand such things; it is indelicate; he has not the slightest delicacy. But what can you do: we are all like that.' 'Don't say we,' I objected; he laughed and replied: 'We men; you, then, are a woman'.[20] [...] After playing the Etudes No. 6 and No. 2, we returned to the first, the one unfortunate with the errors. “'Try to play it, have you studied it?' [Chopin asked me]. Of course I could play it; then he went and got a pencil and corrected all the wrong notes. 'You know the Scherzo I gave to Gutmann: well, I begged him to copy it for London and found a great number of mistakes in it'.” The letter continues, but the references to Gutmann stop with the errors in the copy intended for London: a very important information for any editor.
In the letter of May 23/25, 1840 there is an interesting passage. To her aunts in Vienna, who had evidently advised her niece to get some pupils through Chopin, Fr. Müller says that she cannot do this, explaining that Chopin has only two categories of pupils: the first are advanced students, whom only Chopin can teach; the second are those who want to take lessons from him just for his name or to hear him play. So, most of them leave, because Chopin directs them to Gutmann, which is not what they want.
In her letter of May 31 Fr. Müller reports that, when she arrived on Wednesday at 9.00 a.m. for the usual lesson, Chopin was not available: he was in a bad mood;[21] so she had to come back on Thursday at 10.30 a.m.[22] and chose to play the Sonata: "I played it all; only on every page there were misprints, so stupid misprintes, distorted chords, two missing measures and then two measures too many. 'I owe all this to Mr. Gutmann, to whom I had entrusted my manuscript, but who, being as preoccupied as ever with his toilet, could not find the time to correct it. He prefers to look at himself in the mirror, to fix his tie and waistcoat; in short, he's too young!' Because of all these mistakes I could scratch the Germans' eyes out. 'Do you know what they say then?-Chopin continued.-They accept all this nonsense, play it as it is, and then they say: ah, Chopin wants to do the original. And it is to my pupil Gutmann that I owe this pleasure. No, he is not an artist (oh, il n'est pas artiste, lui)'."
In the letter of June 8 Fr. Müller reiterates that Celeste, the youngest daughter of the Dumoncheau family, is studying with Gutmann.
Gutmann is mentioned again in the letter of June 27. After the Adagio from the Concerto, Chopin has Müller play the Rondo, but she says: “'You, Monsieur, will excuse me, but I will not play the orchestra part: I still play it too stiffly, but I will study it. He then (told us) that he would play it with Gutmann on two pianos and that he would like to do the same with me, when I have studied it properly."
At the end of the letter of July 2, Fr. Müller informs us that towards the end of August Gutmann will leave for Germany for a concert tour.[23]
From the letter of August 2 it emerges that in piano-playing Fr. Müller still lacks the ability to properly join the notes (which is also wanting in almost all pianists of today, who deceive themselves into joining the notes by pedalling, to the detriment of the sound quality, which is given by the touch). “When you hear Chopin play—writes Fr. Müller—, you have the impression that the notes are singing and are amplified by a supernatural means, and you do not realize that it is the pressure of the fingers that produces such an effect. Chopin said that Gutmann had worked hard to achieve the legato as Chopin wanted it, and that he would now like to hear it from me too.”
On Thursday August 6, 1840 F. Müller receives a visit from Countess Zoé de la Rüe, who, after hearing her play, tells her that, even if she had not known Friederike was a Chopin's pupil, she would have understood that at once, because Fr. Müller had made his style her own, and adds that "Gutmann, whom she has often heard, has never quite satisfied her, because his style is not that of Chopin."
Towards the end of the letter of August 30/31 Fr. Müller, after playing Thalberg, notes that it is already noon. She then reminds Chopin of that extraordinary technique of playing which he had once shown her-probably that of lowering certain keys without striking them, but only to make the strings resonate.[24] “'I want to show it to Liszt—says Chopin—; surely he will know how to use it.' 'No, Monsieur—remarks Fr. Müller—, show it to Gutmann: he is your pupil; then it will be known that it comes from you.' 'Mm—muttered Chopin—; the fact is that Gutmann is lazy, he does nothing, or very little; of course, he could do a great deal, but... no!'”
In the letter of September 6, Fr. Müller, hearing Chopin coming, stopped playing, even to rest a little. But the servant arrives, and tells her that Chopin begs her to continue playing, while he gets his hair cut: he would hear every note. She does not like it at all, but obeys, and plays the Sonata, all of it, "from A to Z." When the haircut is over, Chopin appears and says to her: “'I am very happy. [...] I confess: I was delighted with this Sonata: it was the first time I had heard it without interruption. Gutmann did not play it for me before he left. So you are the first; the Finale produced a great effect: piano, sombre and light; it must always be played like that. Only the March was a little too slow and not grand enough'.”
The subject of the letter of September 7 is Liszt's Etude, Ricordanza, and Bach's Fugues from the Well-tempered Clavier in its various editions. Apart from Chopin's very important remarks on the Fugues—which, however, are not the subject of the present account—he tells Fr. Müller that he knows she had studied the one in E-flat major from the second book: “'You played it some time ago; I was in my room, but I heard you.' 'No,' [she replies]. 'Then it must have been Gutmann: it was either you or him.' So it seems that Chopin only makes the two of us study Bach. That made me crazy with joy.”
From the letter of 26th September, we learn that Gutmann studied and performed well Hummel's Fantaisie in E-flat major Op. 18.
When she went for her lesson on Saturday, October 31, she found Mathias there, who then played the Moonlight Sonata, but she was not impressed. “Thanks to Chopin he has acquired an excellent bravura, but I did not like his playing so much, and Chopin repeatedly told him: 'No, it is not like that, you do not understand (Non, ce n'est pas cela, tu ne comprends pas cela).' [...] At the moment Chopin is cold to Mathias; his father chatted with me about this and that; when I told him I was not staying in Paris, he burst out: 'Ah, you will spread the name of Chopin in the provinces.' 'Sir, I shall return to Vienna.' 'Then you are German!', and he began to talk in German without stopping, and I had to tell him about the artists of Vienna, Czerny, etc. Then finally, Chopin arrived, fully dressed.”
The letter of November 8 informs us about the unforgivable discourtesy made by Mathias' father. On Saturday, October 7, the publisher Schlesinger had sent Fr. Müller two tickets (seats) for the Concert (offered to Gazette Musicale subscribers) on Sunday 8th, in which Georges Mathias would have performed. "On Saturday at 11.00 we were at Chopin's who arrived at 12.30 with a foreigner. The impious rascal flattered us, begged us to forgive him [...], accompanied us to the door and returned to the salon.” The scene described is amusing: while the servant is giving them their cloaks, Chopin sneaks out of the bedroom (he was in the salon) and asks them: “'Have you seen him? He is my publisher in London, and now he is going to get what he deserves—thumbing his nose—for the 'soupir' and the 'salon' piece,'[25] and then took leave of us laughing.” “Today—continues Fr. Müller—, that is, Sunday, we got dressed and went to the guilty imp [scil. Chopin]. While I was playing, Mlle de Rosières arrived, and behind her came Chopin. He was coughing a lot, so she concluded: “'You do not take care of yourselves enough, you should love yourselves a little more.' 'What are you talking about?—replied Chopin, laughing—. I take care of myself a lot and love myself as much as I can, and when I cough, I adore myself. In any case, my ladies, I am not going to give you a lesson. You are going to the concert, aren't you?—turning to me—. So you will be too late; I will give you three lessons this week. As for you, Mlle de Rosières, you still seem to me to be in too much pain,' and it was true, she had been ill and did not look well, 'and I have not much time. You will excuse me, I hope; I am sorry, but....' What can you do: you cannot blame him, if after so long he wants to enjoy the first glimpse of sunshine; you have to agree with him. — We talked long enough: Chopin only heard that Mathias was playing at the concert from the Gazette musicale; just last night the boy's father wrote to him that Schlesinger had insisted that he let his son play. Chopin said: 'It is because I told his father: if you want your son to really become someone, do not let him perform too soon. Two years ago he studied Weber's Concerto with me; today he plays it in public without even telling me and without having played it for me; of course I would now have a myriad of remarks to make which would then have been premature, but the fact is that the father sometimes wants the boy to be my pupil, and at other times would prefer me to be his. Fortunately, the boy has a lot of brains, and even if you steer him wrong, he will always manage: he has very good qualities. Finally, you will go to the concert, listen to him and tell me how he played.' [...] So we went to the concert, which was held in the Conservatory hall. [...] Mathias played Beethoven's Trio in B flat major with Alard and Franchomme, the one I played with Jansa and Borzaga. They took the First movement a little too slowly at first, although Mathias increased speed afterwards, but the effect was not good. Chopin would not have been happy with it, not even with the ritardandos; but he played very well: the passage of trills was excellent, which Liszt did not render as well and as pleasant as Mathias;[26] but the audience is dull and the Trio was lukewarmly received; they only played the First movement and the Scherzo. I think Mathias had expected more applause, and he would have deserved it; that is why he lost some of his composure, because he did not play Weber's Concerto with the necessary calm; he was appreciated, yes, but I know how Mathias plays, and I could see that he was awkward. It was a pity he did not ask Chopin's permission to play it for him; Chopin would have improved it a great deal. I would like to say to him what Chopin often says to me: 'There have been perfect moments, but the whole is not yet quite mastered and finished.' I know he will not be happy with himself either, but he does not care: the listeners were pleased; (the event) can serve as a lesson to him and his father, so that next time they will ask Chopin for advice and help. In the end he even played with Wolff a four-handed composition by Wolff himself, unworthy of a Chopin's pupil, but as Mathias is Wolff's nephew, this is a burden. [...].” — The valuable information contained in this review of the concerto is threefold: 1st the disrespect, as mentioned, of Mathias' father towards Chopin, a behaviour of such vulgarity that not even the most elaborate insult could imitate; 2nd the meeting with Wessel, the English publisher, concerning the titles: Chopin had probably seriously threatened to change publishers; 3rd Mathias had studied Weber's Konzertstück with Chopin two years earlier, so by the beginning of 1838 the 12-year-old boy was already a pupil of Chopin; and 4th he was Wolff's nephew. Was Mathias's Polish mother perhaps Wolff's sister-in-law? Be that as it may, it is safe to assume that lessons began at least in 1837, if not earlier, and the parental link with Wolff makes Marmontel's assertions about the change of teacher less reliable, as it must not have been decided by the boy's father alone.
On November 22, Fr. Müller reported that she had been at the concert held at the Kühns'. - M. Kühn ran a boarding school for boys where his wife also taught. The school piano teacher, Leopoldine Drake, a pupil of Gutmann, played there: “She played in such a way—writes Fr. Müller—that if Chopin could have heard her, he would have taken her and Gutmann together and killed them without mercy.”
Georges Mathias reappears at the end of the letter of November 29, 1840. After the lesson report, we read: "By the way, Chopin no longer gives Mathias lessons: Charles told us that Chopin has certainly dismissed him; I do not know why, but there must be a good reason. The father is stupidly boastful because of his son, and they did not get along with Chopin; we noticed that a long time ago, but they must have offended Chopin recently, otherwise he would have kept him. Without Chopin, however, Mathias will become nothing special: so much the worse for him!”
In his letter of December 6, Chopin asked: “'What did you play of Liszt?' I recited the whole litany. 'Well, you can still play some of his Etudes, but not these octaves: they spoil the hand. Gutmann played them too much while I was in Spain, and on my return was unable to join two notes together; he has now recovered. So, not these Liszt octaves'.” Chopin is alluding to chromatic scales to be played with both hands in alternating octaves.
In her report of December 13, Fr. Müller informs us about the opinion of the banker Auguste Leo: “Leo is not crazy about Gutmann; he finds his playing little like Chopin's: 'But, I do not know—he says—, Chopin is infatuated with him.' Now, however, Chopin speaks very little of him, at least to me.” But he meets his pupil in the antechamber and has a little talk with him. At the end of this same report we learn that, as far as Mathias is concerned, the ties of nationality between his mother, Wolff and Chopin must have taken effect, for Fr. Müller writes: “At 12.00 Mathias came with his mother, very lowly: Chopin therefore allowed himself to be softened.” But the probably definitive break is about to come.
On December 27, Fr. Müller writes: "It was just 11 o'clock, and after the initial exchange of greetings, Chopin said: 'Little Mathias will probably come, but I shall send him back; I was here the other day waiting for him and he did not come; so today it will be me who will not be able.' 'Then Mathias has done as I did yesterday,' I said apprehensively. 'Forgive me a thousand times, but there is a great difference—he replied—, and if he comes now, I cannot; I am busy with you.' I played the Finale [of the Kalkbrenner's Concerto] again and it was a quarter to 1 and Mathias was not there [...]."
The letter of January 3, 1841 contains an important statement, because it allows us to say with certainty that the Scherzo in C sharp minor was not dedicated to Gutmann as a reward, i.e. after its composition, but was written for Gutmann, thinking of Gutmann, inspired by Gutmann. During the lesson the day before, on Saturday, January 2, Chopin picked up the Scherzo, wrinkled his nose and said he no longer liked it, because there were too many octaves. "I, however—writes Fr. Müller—, protested; I showed him the splendid theme with the chords, which is full of power and grandeur, and asked him, 'How, Monsieur, do you not like this any more?' 'Well, then, play it for me!' Fortunately well, it was going well: 'Well, well,' he said; encouraged, therefore, I went on. In the meantime Mlle Duperré came in; I played the Scherzo to the end, but at every beautiful passage I asked him, 'And this, Monsieur, tell me, do you not like this any more?' 'It is not bad,' he would answer, laughing! Duperré did not know that the whole piece is difficult and the finale technically challenging (brillant): 'How difficult it is!' he said. 'Yes [—commented Chopin—], it is very difficult and very tiring; there are too many octaves: it is written for Gutmann, you know, the colossus (c'est écrit pour Gutmann, vous savez, ce colosse)!'” Here, the statement that the Scherzo was written for Gutmann is too clear to be doubted. We could almost say that the dedication preceded the composition.[27]
During the lesson on Saturday, January 9th, Gutmann arrives, hears some of Cramer's Etudes played by Fr. Müller and says he is enraptured by how well they are played; then Chopin asks him if he can play one so well: at first he recoils, but then he plays the 12th in A minor, “but not very well—writes Fr. Müller—, that is to say, a little mannered. (An unbelievable fatality: the skin of his fingers chaps, like yours, dear aunt.) Chopin did not like that Etude, nor did I. After he left, Chopin said: 'His hand is too big; it is a pity: two years ago he was playing very well; now he is bold (émancipé), he gives a lot of lessons; I do not know, maybe that is why he has lost some of his initial way of seeing (manière de voir). In spite of everything...,' and I noticed that Chopin was getting worried. Actually, Gutmann always plays well, but not the way Chopin wants him to and the way he teaches him.”
In the letter of January 17, 1841 to aunt Sophie we read: “Before Chopin arrived, Charles told us that he [scil. Chopin] had turned out Mathias. His father is an insufferable Jew who already thinks he is great because of his son's talent. They never respected the day and hour that Chopin had fixed, so that he not only waited for them in vain, but could not give any more lessons (to another pupil).”
On Saturday, February 6, 1841, while they were discussing Cramer's Etudes, Gutmann arrived, “who always manages to put Chopin in a bad mood in the end (der ihn immer glücklich verstimmt).” He has with him a Trio of his own composition which he wants to show the Maestro. Chopin takes a look at it, sits at the piano and plays a passage: “'You see, my friend, it is not right here, it is not pure.' 'It is so fast you do not notice it,' retorted Gutmann, rather resentfully. 'If you think so, I congratulate you,' was the severe answer of Chopin, while giving back the score to him. I would have thrown that lout out the door. [...] 'This Gutmann has incredible self-esteem—Chopin added—. And to think that I would have been very happy to find some intelligence in him, who is as stupid as a goose!'.”[28] Chopin's very measured behaviour also shows that he-in accordance with Leo's opinion (see above)-had a soft spot for this pupil for some reason.
On May 30, Fr. Müller reported: “I know nothing of Mathias, I have not seen him since December, and I think he no longer takes lessons from Chopin. We meet his father quite often, and he looks daggers at me: well, never mind!”
On Thursday, June 3 (letter of 5), Chopin involuntarily had fixed two lessons at the same time and, as Fr. Müller lived closer, he had her come back at 1.00 p.m. When she was back “little Tschernischeff was having her lesson and playing a Mazurka rather well. In the salon there was also a lady with a boy: she had been recommended to Chopin by Halévy and hoped that Chopin would accept her son as a pupil. As we did not want to disturb the Mazurka, we stayed a while in the dining-room. [...] Then in the salon we applauded Princess Tschernischeff for a long time, while Chopin spoke to the boy's mother. [...] Then the lad played Weber's Invitation à la Valse, which was good: you can see he understands what he's playing; he follows Kalkbrenner's method, only he grimaces with his head. Chopin, however, did not take him on, using his departure (to the country) as an excuse; but he asked him to be heard from time to time, and recommended that he play Clementi and be diligent. — When he left, Chopin (told us) that he no longer wanted to take boys, because, even if they had aptitude, their parents would not let their talent mature and thought only of making money: 'I have had so many of these disappointments, like young Mathias, whom I sent away: if one plays as I do not want him to, he wrongs you enormously. Sometimes you think you see admirable gift, but after getting to a certain point, one does not grow any more, like Gutmann, you know,' Chopin said, turning towards me. Tschernischeff asked who he was, and Chopin told her that he was a pupil, a promising boy indeed, but who had not progressed for three years, and his bravura left much to be desired, besides from a mental standpoint he turned out to be disappointing: 'I do not understand: he is not a boob, he knows languages, he reads, but he is too heavy.' 'Schwerfällig (ponderous),' I said. 'Yes, that's it, too... too... too finally...' 'Too German—auntie concluded, laughing—, is he not?' 'Ah, Madame, you could not stop yourself—he commented, laughing—. I would never have dared to say that, even if the usual expression is Schwab (Swabian).' Tschernischeff was very amused and had the difference between German and Swabian explained to her;[29] at last she left, but against her will."
During the lesson on Thursday, December 19, 1844, Fr. Müller saw Gutmann again, "a true gentleman (ganz gentleman)," who had come to ask Chopin if he could play his last compositions.
So, our tour through Fr. Müller's weekly reports in search of Gutmann and Mathias draws to an end. Both were very gifted, but the former stopped at some point; the latter, badly influenced by his father, wanted to do as he thought fit. They both disappointed Chopin, but Gutmann, despite being a bad copyist, was always a soft spot for him, so much so that, although at different times, they always remained in contact,[30] and Gutmann remained at the master's bedside until the end. All the other very important incidental information given to us by Fr. Müller's fantastic Wochenberichte is reported in the notes.
We conclude with a piece of news that, unknown—we guess—to all Chopin scholars, will not please the bigots, who unfortunately constitute the majority.
In the archives of the Paris Police Prefecture there are three “registers of pederasts”—as they used to say at the time—of the 19th century, the most considerable of which has been published.[31] In folio No. 70[32] we find five names: “—Vallerend [scil. Pierre Edouard Vallerand de la Fosse], médecin rue Mesnard n° 12 (1847); —Micheot [scil. Claude François Michéa] médecin rue Mesnard n° 12 (1847); —Herard [scil. Pierre Érard] Facteur de pianos rue du Mail 13; —Gutmann, Professeur de piano rue Blanche 4 (1847); —Maréchal (Louis) rue du Bac n° 50 au 2e sur le devant la porte à gauche. C'est une tante qui fait faire des passes (voir son dossier septembre 1847).” The editor of Dr Michéa's biography wonders how such a report against the two doctors could have been possible.[33] Well, as the mentioned Maréchal dossier was made up in September 1847, the same year as the five reports contained in folio No. 70—those in folio 71, in fact, mention 1850 and 1849—, the author considers very plausible the hypothesis that Vallerand de la Fosse and Michéa—and consequently also Érard and Gutmann—patronized that meeting place kept by Louis Maréchal in rue du Bac N° 50, second floor, door on the left. As the Maréchal file was destroyed in the fire at Paris municipality in 1871, the hypothesis remains a hypothesis, but a well-grounded one. However, there is a Police report on Gutmann dated August 9, 1853,[34] which states: "Mr Gutmann, professor of piano, rue Blanche 4, is a bachelor who earns between 25 and 30,000 francs a year, and associates only with distinguished people with whom he often has dinner. It is certain that he is addicted to pederasty, but as his profession allows him to receive many men in his home, in his neighbourhood one cannot believe that he has this vile passion. He is currently in southern France with his servant and will not return to Paris until early winter.”[35] Gutmann's name reappears in the register of pederasts in 1857: "Pianist; has a passion for pederasty. For a long time, he had a servant named Louis who provided him with young guys chosen mainly from the soldiers. They received a 10 fr reward. He lives at 4 rue Blanche."
Gutmann passed away in La Spezia, possibly of apoplectic fit. But why did he go to La Spezia, since he lived in Viareggio? Let us see what the correspondent wrote:[36] "[...] This man [scil. Gutmann] was barely showing signs of life. A young guy, who was accompanying him, was holding the man's head on his knee and in a foreign accent was calling for help. [...] [Gutmann] had gone to La Spezia to visit 'Dandolo'[37] [...]. In fact, it became known that he had gone aboard the battleship during the day by the boat of a young sailor, who immediately recognised the traveller he had transported a few hours before.” And the sailor who had accompanied Gutmann “a few hours before,” what was he doing there? Had he come back? And who was the young guy with the foreign accent who was in Gutmann's company? "While—the correspondent continues—, back from his sea trip, Knight Gutmann was walking through the gardens waiting for the time to go to the station, he suffered a stroke of apoplexy.” But was there anyone else besides a young man and a sailor? The article's ending is as follows: “At the religious service [...] was present Mr R. Dunky, who had been with Gutmann at the time when he suffered apoplexy, and who always had a brotherly affection for Gutmann.” The correspondent's malice is undeniable: he mentions first a young guy with a foreign accent, then the sailor who would bring Gutmann ashore, and finally his brotherly friend Dunky, who most likely lived together with him. Gutmann was certainly not alone! If you believe the latest Paris Police report, you may suspect that a wind quartet had formed in the seafront gardens, a workshop in short, which unfortunately caused Gutmann the strongest and fatal of emotions...
A reasonable question arises: was Chopin aware of such a “weakness” of Gutmann? Well, it is a legitimate question indeed, but a little too malicious. Each reader can give the answer that best corresponds to his or her own pruderie.


[1] Uta Goebl-Streicher, Frédéric Chopin. Einblicke in Unterricht und Umfeld – Die Briefe seiner Lieblingsschülerin Friederike Müller, Paris 1839-1845, München-Salzburg (Musikverlag Katzbichler) 2018. There is only one thing wrong with such a huge work, it was not intended for non-German scholars. The diplomatic copy, in fact, poses many obstacles to reading for non-Germans: the spelling of the first half of the nineteenth century, the variations in the spelling of the same words, the uneven punctuation, certain uniquely Viennese expressions, Müller's own writing errors, the non-literary but colloquial syntax, constitute real barriers for those of us who are not native speakers of German. Only the French passages are translated, quite well in fact, into literary German (according, however, to the detestable reformed spelling).

[2] This does not mean that she sometimes does not express unforseen opinions, as when she gives her judgment on Rossini. In the lesson of Thursday 29th October 1840 (see letter of 31st October) Chopin gets her to play the Concerto in F, all of it, i.e. including the 'tutti'. "'No, not like that—says Chopin—, you play the 'tutti' the same as the 'solo'; I want to hear the orchestra as well as possible'". To make her understand what he means, Chopin sits at the piano and plays the 'tutti'. Then he adds: "'No one knew this better than Rossini: when he accompanied a singer, you heard the orchestra, the whole orchestra.'" At this point Fr. Müller is astonished and expresses all his contempt for the Italian composer. Chopin, for his part, reveals by his reply all his intelligence, his composure, his great balance and his benevolence: "'Ah, here is a German judgment—he said laughing—, after all [Rossini] is in a difficult moment, it is true.' 'It is certainly not because of that, Monsieur; he had no other aim than to make an impression; he sacrificed science and art to please everybody, and then, since I have been in the world, I hear these things, these airs, etc., to the point thet they seem detestable to me.' 'Yes, I do. You see, Rossini as an opera composer, singing and melody I mean, is the greatest genius of our time, but a hundred people have dressed up in his clothes, imitated him and his genre has become flat and cheap. Certainly Rossini's sole aim was to make an impression, and that is often blamable, but in Otello, for example, you will find passages worthy of the greatest of masters, and William Tell! Who these days would write like that? No one, be convinced. On the other hand, I know that the Germans do not like Rossini at all. However, you must play this 'tutti' as well as he used to do'”. To which Fr. Müller adds no comment....

[3] E. Sławińska-Dahlig, Adolphe Gutmann - ulubiony uczeń Chopina [Adolphe Gutmann, Chopin's favourite pupil], Warszawa (NIFC) 2013.

[4] Wilhelm von Lenz in his attack on Gutmann, referring to Chopin's words, only writes: “'Er habe sich ihn erzogen,' sagte er ('He had trained him,' he said).” Let us add here that the Italian translation of the entire passage does not seem correct. Lenz writes: "Gutmann lobte Chopin als den Pianisten, der ihm seine Kompositionen am meisten zu Dank spiele! Das war stark! 'Er habe sich ihn erzogen,' sagte er. Das war stärker, er, einen Riesen!" The Italian version (Sellerio 2002, p. 99) is as follows: “Chopin lodava Gutmann come il pianista che interpretava meglio di tutti le sue composizioni. Lui stesso ne aveva curato l'educazione, diceva. Ma il gigante era lui, Chopin (Chopin praised Gutmann as the pianist who interpreted his compositions better than anyone else. He himself had taken care of his education, he said. But the giant was him, Chopin)!” The translator, as you can point out, omits both “Das war stark!” and “Das war stärker,” and makes “einen Riesen,” an accusative, agree with “er,” subject! W. von Lenz is being sarcastic: "(It was precisely) Gutmann (whom) Chopin praised as the pianist who played his compositions in the most pleasant way! This was too much! 'He had trained him,' he said. This was (even) more than too much: he (who had trained) a giant!". In the Italian translation, therefore, Lenz's fierce irony towards Chopin himself disappears. It should also be added that the English (Schirmer 1899, p. 70) and French (Flammarion 1995, p. 86) translations, although not incorrect, may be ambiguous, since in "he, a giant!" or in "lui, un géant!" the terms giant/géant, not being distinct by the accusative case as they are in German, lend themselves to being understood as an apposition of “he/lui”, as the Italian translator did!

[5] Antoine Marmontel devotes to his "colleague" Mathias a laudatory chapter in Virtuoses contemporains, Paris (Heugel) 1882, pp. 136÷149, to which must be added a sequel published in Histoire du piano, Paris (Heugel) 1885, pp. 377÷378. He reports that G. Mathias was born on October 14, 1826, and that he first studied with Keller, a Kalkbrenner's pupil, then "for several years he was Kalkbrenner's assiduous and docile pupil" (p. 137), until in 1838 he was introduced by his father—whose figure he exalts—to Chopin, who took care of the little prodigy's piano education for seven to eight years (p. 139). We shall see that some of these statements are not true. Cf. also J.-J Eigeldinger, Chopin vu par ses élèves, Paris (Fayard) 2006, pp. 221÷222, who has guessed that there is something fishy about the documentation regarding Mathias, as he ends his biographical sketch as follows: "It will be a case of maintaining reserve on the tone of his 'Memories' serialized in Le Monde musical [...], which are written in a relaxed style that betrays a strange self-satisfaction". Moreover, two quotations are enough to demonstrate the real value of Marmontel's critical intelligence, inversely proportional to the impressive, typically French, rhetoric that fills his prose with all sorts of sweetmeats: the first, at the end of Chopin's portrait in Les pianiste célèbres (Paris [Heugel] 101888, p. 19), when he states that he does not want to establish “a comparison between Chopin and the eagles with powerful flight that the first strokes of their wings have taken to the highest peaks;” the second (ibid. p. 38), when he compares Chopin and Heller: “But—he writes—without diminishing (sans amoindrir) Chopin's glory, we think it is fair to say that these two great artists [...] represent two different natures, two essentially distinct temperaments.” Have you got it? Chopin was certainly no eagle and, without belittling Chopin, Heller was something else! We must acknowledge Mormontel's skill as a great confectioner who presents you with an inviting Sachertorte, inside which, however, there is no trace of apricot jam, but something else..., and, when you realise it—if you realise it—, you have already swallowed a morsel: too late to spit it out!

[6] Cf. E. Sławińska-Dahlig, op. cit. p. 47.

[7] According to Eigeldinger (p. 216) "Gutmann, more than any other, must have become intimate with his master, who—a rare occurrence—addressed him as 'tu' instead of 'vous'" (see, in confirmation thereof, Chopin's letter to Gutmann of April 1841). Here, however, going by the words reported by Fr. Müller, Chopin uses the form of courtesy: an evident respect for Gutmann in front of a stranger, as Fr. Müller was at that moment, because from the letter of 26th January (see below) Chopin will go on to the 'tu.'

[8] Hermann Cohen (1820-1871), German pianist.

[9] We could not find a more sensible translation of "und auch ich müsse dann Gutmann spielen."

[10] Cf. E. Sławińska-Dahlig, op. cit. p. 48.

[11] Cf. Giulio Piccini, Adolfo Gutmann. Ricordi biografici, Firenze (G. Polverini) 1881, p. 7. It is clear that everything Piccini wrote must have been reported to him by Gutmann himself, of whom he was a friend and who lived in Florence at the time. It is worth comparing the episode of the Scherzo performed before Moscheles. After his return to Paris in the late afternoon or evening of Friday, October 11th, on Monday, October 21st, Chopin was the guest of the banker Leo, where he met Moscheles, who longed to know him. After a few days, “I visited him [scil. Chopin] by appointment-writes Moscheles-. There was only the Countess O(breskova) of Petersburg [...] and some gentlemen. Chopin's excellent pupil Gutmann, played his manuscript Scherzo in C sharp minor; Chopin himself his manuscript the Sonata in B flat minor, with the Funeral March." (cf. Aus Moscheles' Leben, hg. von seiner Frau, II, Leipzig [Duncker & Humblot] 1873, p. 39÷40). And here, on the other hand, is what Gutmann told Piccini: "Chopin had only been back in Paris for two days. On the morning of the third day he sent to wake Gutmann in good time, telling him to come to him as soon as he could. Gutmann, frightened, believing it to be something serious, ran to Chopin's house. He found him sitting quietly on his bed, waiting for him. “Excuse me, dear Gutmann—said his master—, if I have disturbed you; I have received a note from Moscheles in which he tells me how pleased he was to hear of my return to Paris, and tells me that he will come to see me today at five o'clock to hear my latest compositions... I am always too weak to play my pieces in front of him. Take my place, dear Gutmann, will you; the Scherzo is more important to me than anything else. And Chopin handed his favourite pupil the Scherzo [...]. Gutmann hesitated. Until that day Chopin had always played his own compositions before the dreaded and terrible critic Moscheles: and that piece is fraught with so many difficulties!... But he sat at Chopin's piano, spent many hours there, and when Moscheles arrived, the young disciple played the Scherzo from memory. Chopin listened to him with an air of bliss, shook his head in approval, and when he had finished, he said to Gutmann, in the presence of Moscheles: 'You played better than I did, you delighted us, and to compensate you I dedicate the Scherzo to you.' And the Scherzo bears Gutmann's name on its forehead" (cf. Piccini, op.cit. p. 8÷9). Apart from the exaggerations that the author may have introduced on his own initiative, the details, starting with that of the "bed," certainly cannot have been invented. We shall see below that the Scherzo was not dedicated to Gutmann as a reward, as Eigeldinger also writes.

[12] Uta Goebl-Streicher translates: er spielt sich zu sehr auf, i.e. 'he gives himself airs', but se pâmer does not mean 'to give oneself airs'. Etymologically connected with our 'spasimare' it means, according to Robert, devenir, être en quelque sorte paralysé sous le coup d'une émotion, and by extension, as here, s'abbandoner à des très vifs transports, thus 'to yield to an emotion' 'to get excited'. The meaning of which is perfectly congruent with excessive speed: Gutmann did not control himself, he let himself be carried away by emotion.

[13] After the death of his father (March 1837), Gutmann must have come into possession of his portion of inheritance. In 1858 he bought at an auction sale a property in Le Vésinet, in the western suburbs of Paris, and he sold it in 1864 (cf. E. Sławińska-Dahlig, op. cit. p. 25 e n. 9). We shall see below that his income was estimated, towards the end of the 1840s, at between 25,000 and 30,000 francs.

[14] Note that this "guten Appetit!" demonstrates Fr. Müller's non-twisted spontaneity and, consequently, his trustworthiness: she is quite irritated and does not deny it.

[15] This is perhaps the first direct evidence that Chopin was fluent in German.

[16] Thus, we now know that the antigraph used by Breitkopf for Op. 25 was a copy prepared by Gutmann: a valuable piece of information for future editors of the Etudes (the subject would require many more comments, but not here).

[17] Properly Kunsthändler is the 'art dealer', the antiquarian. However, in Brothers Grimm's Wörterbuch it is specified that the word also means Kupferstichhändler 'one who deals in copper-plate engraving', i.e. engraver. Chopin's answer fully confirms this meaning.

[18] Another very important piece of information, which allows us to identify the measure: it is m. 25. In fact, in m. 25 there are two flats (marked by two small arrows) patently added by the German proof-reader while proofreading; which means that, before such arbitrary addition, the engraving was correct, as Chopin says. The only modern editor who does not add those accidentals in the main text is Paul Badura-Skoda (Mikuli includes them; Rudorff, 1899, puts them in brackets), who, however, believes that this addition is due to Chopin, because he considers it unlikely "that the very conscienceous (peinlich gewissenhaft) engraver of DA would have introduced such subtlety on his own initiative." If it was not the engraver, we have to involve a proof-reader. Ekier considers the version without the flats primitive and proposes it in the note as a variant! But if it is a primitive version, how can it be a variant!? If Ekier had been a philologist, he should have known that in philology there is a fundamental principle, that of lectio difficilior, which together with the meaning of the context should have guided him towards the right solution. Anyone who understands the music language should also understand that here the modulation on the tonic of D flat, not directly from the diminished seventh, but through the liberating medium of the dominant seventh, is premature, out of place: it is not yet the time. Since, however, the meaning of the context is not understood, everyone plays the modulation with A-flat. Now, thanks to what Chopin reveals to Fr. Müller, we can avoid useless discussions with those who do not know the music language. But if this is not enough, we are helped by the lost manuscript, from Maria Wodzińska's album, but reproduced by Binental in his Dokumente: there you can see a beautiful natural prefixed to the last A of the right hand! No pianist, including Badura-Skoda, plays the correct version!

[19] Again, the Austrian editor translates se pâmer as sich brüsten, which is synonymous with sich aufspielen (see above n. 12). 'To give oneself on airs' is a behaviour directed outwards, before other people, but this is not the meaning: Chopin means that Gutmann is delighted, he has become infatuated with his talent, he does not control the excitement that knowing he is talented gives him.

[20] Note the prompt retort revealing Chopin's acute intelligence.

[21] Although this bad mood has nothing to do with Gutmann, we believe it is useful to clarify the reasons for this state of mind, since it confirms what we have always maintained about the allegedly mad passion that united one of the most famous pairs of lovers. Fr. Müller had remarked that Chopin's state of health was the usual one, and in any case not such as to justify the postponement of the lesson; but that night she had dreamt—a phenomenon not infrequent in persons born after summer solstice—that Sand had greatly annoyed the musician; hence, "as I saw him leaning over the piano, covering his forehead and eyes with his hand, the dream came back to me so vividly that, although I never speak to him of such trifles, I said to him: 'I was telling my aunt this morning that I had dreamt that you were distressed by some contrariety, by some sorrow'.” (Note that Fr. Müller does not report having dreamed about Sand...) “He immediately raised his eyes and looked at me in complete amazement: 'It is true, that is exactly what it is: you dreamed the truth'.” In the following conversation, Chopin reveals the cause of his mood. There were rumours of Sand's interest at the time—and those who know even just a little Mrs Sand can realize what kind of interest it was—in a certain Russian prince, and Fr. Müller refers to him in her letter of March 21. Chopin says: “'I will confess to you what has bothered me. Nothing, but that's how I am: everything irritates me, everything agitates me and upsets me; and that is why I do not want to give you a lesson today, because while you would be playing, my thoughts would be elsewhere. Do you know what the cause is? Well, it is the sight of a person who looks so unpleasant to me and is so empty... no, it is incredible, and he was standing there.' Just the memory of it—says Fr. Müller—blurred his face again. And I thought: this is the stupid Russian.” So, lovers to distraction? It is all nonsense! Sand clung to Chopin for his fame, but as for the rest, she was busy.... And Fr. Müller understood this very well: in the same letter, in fact, he wrote that Sand "is nothing but a stupid and wicked coquette."

[22] Chopin, realizing that he had exposed himself a little too much, tried to draw in his horns: “'Often, when the heart swells, the mouth overflows and betrays what it would never have wanted to say'.” On the other hand, he knew that both Fr. Müller and her aunt Wilhelmina were the soul of discretion.

[23] There is no trace of this tour in the aforementioned biography.

[24] We have mentioned it in the Preface to our critical edition of the second book of Préludes, which is available in this site.

[25] Allusion to the stupid titles given by Wessel, the English publisher, to Chopin's compositions.

[26] Liszt had played this Trio in Vienna twice in 1838 and 1839 (cf. Uta Goebl-Streicher, op. cit. p. 373 n. 9).

[27] The editor's note also seems to express, perhaps unintentionally, the same conviction: “A. Gutmann was of very large build and had surprisingly large hands, for which the Scherzo No. 3 Op. 39 with its octave passages was specially made (zugeschnitten, properly 'cut to size').”, cf. Uta Goebl-Streicher, op. cit. p. 421 n. 13.

[28] Chopin evidently did not know geese!

[29] Schwabe, Swabian, is a derogatory qualification for 'coarse, loutish German'; it seems to be used mainly by Swiss people. We Italians also have a similarly derogatory term for 'German': crucco.

[30] There is a letter of Chopin to Gutmann dated Paris October 28, 1845, in which he transmits a large number of letters to his pupil. Gutmann's biographer deduces from this that “Gutmann thus acted as intermediary for the delivery of the eleven letters addressed to various recipients” (cf. E. Sławińska-Dahlig, op. cit. p. 112). In reality, they were letters of recommendation aimed at promoting the concert tour that Gutmann had proposed to undertake (as Eigeldinger has well understood, cf. Chopin, âme des salons parisiens, Paris [Fayard] 2013, p. 28). The most surprising note from this letter is that Chopin moved heaven and earth to obtain every possible recommendation for his pupil, for whom he had evidently set aside his impenetrable discretion!

[31] Jean-Claude Féray, Le premier registre infamant de la Préfecture de police Paris au XIXe siècle, suivi d'un Dictionnaire... et d'annexes, Paris (Quintes-feuilles) 2012.

[32] Cf. J.-Cl. Féray, op. cit. p. 85.

[33] Cf. Jean-Claude Féray, L'impossible conciliation ou la vie heroïque du Dr Claude-François Michéa, Paris (Quintes-feuilles) s.d. (ma 2015), pp. 52÷53.

[34] The year 1853 is most likely a clerical or reading error, because Gutmann was Sand's guest in 1855 for a few days, and in 1856 for about a month.

[35] Dans le midi de la France is equivalent to saying 'in Nohant, at Sand's house'. The first epistolary document linking G. Sand to Gutmann is a letter of May 12, 1847 which the novelist decided—who knows for what purpose!—to send to Gutmann (cf. CGS, édition de G. Lubin, VII, p. 698÷699). Since she did not know his address (if she is telling the truth), she enclosed the letter with the one addressed to Grzymała on the same day (cf. ibid. p. 701), begging the latter to deliver it to Gutmann not in Chopin's presence (ne le lui remets pas en présence de Chopin). In it, G. Sand tries, as usual, to give the holiest and purest of images of herself, but this is only the frame. One sentence deserves to be quoted: “Grzymała writes me such good words about you, about the tenderness with which you have all replaced me with him [scil. Chopin], and especially you, that I want to tell you that I know, and that my heart will take it seriously and forever.” (cf. ibid. p. 698). This sentence is enigmatic in the purest Sandian style: on the one hand she states between the lines that, to replace her, one person was not enough, on the other hand that, of all people, it is above all he, Gutmann, who has replaced her and adds that he knows it! Since the virago never writes anything by chance, we must wonder what the purpose of such a letter was. We know with what diabolical skill she succeeded in her intentions: see, for example, with what artifice she convinces Emmanuel Arago that Solange and Chopin were lovers (cf. op.cit. VIII, p. 49 n. 1: and there are twits who believe that). G. Lubin states that Gutmann “continued to correspond with G. Sand until at least 1872” (op. cit. VII, p. 806), but rather than correspond, they were in contact; the only letter (?) from Nohant, the second, although not found, is of the end of June 1855 (cf. op. cit. XIII, p. 215). When G. Sand was in Paris, it is very likely that they communicated through notes such as those recovered by Lubin (one dated December 12, 1855, op. cit. XXV p. 925, and the other of January 31, 1856, ibid. p. 928). But what connected these two figures? Well, a few passages in the Correspondance enable us to clarify the issue and appreciate the novelist's farsightedness. On January 10, 1856, G. Sand wrote to the actress Sylvanie Arnould-Plessy: "I think that tomorrow there will be too many of us to resist without suffocating in my hovel. How about [...] we come and breathe at your place? And will you allow me to introduce you to Lambert, Borie and perhaps Gutmann, whom I had arranged to meet at my place? He is a very capable musician and an excellent young man, one of my sons since he was a child.” On the 24th of the same month to Émile de Girardin he confirms Wednesday's meeting: "... I have taken the liberty of inviting Gutmann to dinner. He is one of my sons and will play the piano. He will send the instrument." These quotations are enough to understand that G. Sand used Gutmann as musical entertainment for her guests not only at her own dinners, but also when she went to her friends for dinner. This is perfectly consistent with the police report. So, the first reason for their relationship came out. But there is a second, less visible but clear reason. On June 24, 1855, G. Sand wrote to the stockbroker Mirès, an ambiguous figure like all successful stockbrokers (cf. op. cit. XIII, p. 211÷212 and 704), for advice; in her letter to Émile Aucante of May 11, 1856, though, she concluded that "if Mirès has left without thinking of me, there is no reason to expect an answer from him. Advise Maurice to consult Gutmann” (cf. op. cit. XIII, p. 613). But how does Gutmann come into it? The answer to this question can be found in the letter to her son Maurice of May 20, 1856: “I am counting on you now, since you are no longer counting on Mirès. [...] Entrust your affairs to Gutmann: he will gladly take care of them and tell him to come and see us afterwards.” This reveals the lesser-known side of Gutmann, but which justifies the high income mentioned in the police report: Gutmann knew how to manage his money. And Sand had long understood this! She would never have dreamed of advising her beloved Maurice to entrust his finances to someone whose ability she was not absolutely certain of. Gutmann probably also looked after the interests of Solange, with whom he arrived in Nohant on July 3, 1855 to celebrate G. Sand's birthday (July 5) and left together, including Maurice, on the 8th. So Gutmann did not spend the summer in Nohant in 1855, as his biographer writes (cf. E. Sławińska-Dahlig, op. cit. p. 25), and in 1856 he stayed there from June (on the 27th Sand confirms to Solange that "Gutmann is here") until the 28th July, before going to an unspecified spa resort (pour les eaux, cf. GSC XIV, p. 36 and note 2; during his stay he had complained about "acute rheumatism [rhumatisme aigu]"). In conclusion, G. Sand used to manipulate Gutmann for her private interests.

[36] Cf. "La Nazione" of October 28, 1882, p. 2, col. 6.

[37] There were actually two warships, “Duilio” and “Dandolo,” but the repoter only mentions the “Dandolo,” whose meaning in Italian is quite obvious, “giving it”. The correspondent's malice runs throughout the article. In all likelihood he had picked up a lot of gossip.

[2021 © trad. di Franco Luigi Viero]