dimanche 31 mars 2013

48 Frederick Niecks biographe de Chopin (1888)

Quelques informations sur Frederick Niecks et sur son livre Frederick Chopin as a Man and Musician


Classement : questions biographiques ; écrits sur Frédéric Chopin



Frederick Niecks est l’auteur d'une biographie assez ancienne de Frédéric Chopin : Frederick Chopin as a Man and Musician, parue en 1888 à Londres et New-York.


L’auteur
Il fait l’objet de notices Wikipédia en anglais et en russe, ainsi que d’une notice sur le site Icons of Europe ; aussi, plus anciennement, dans l'Encyclopedia Americana, 1920. Je résume la première.

« Frederick Niecks (Friedrich Matemus Niecks) est né en 1845 à Düsseldorf, a eu une formation musicale en Allemagne, puis est parti en 1868 à Edinburgh où il est devenu joueur de violon alto dans un quartette dirigé par Alexandre McKenzie, puis organiste et professeur de musique à Dumfries.
Il écrit pour The Musical Times à partir de 1879. Il publie Concise Dictionary of Musical Terms (1884), Frédéric Chopin as a Man and Musician (1888).
En 1891, il obtient une charge d’enseignement (« Reid professor of Music* ») à l’université d’Edinburgh, poste qu’il occupe jusqu’en 1914, obtenant un doctorat (à l’université de Dublin) en 1898.
Ayant conservé la nationalité allemande, il doit passer les années 1914-18 en Allemagne, puis revient à Edinburgh où il meurt en 1924, peu avant la publication par son épouse d’une biographie de Robert Schumann. »
*Reid professorship of Music : il s’agit d’une chaire créée en 1839 par un général John Reid.


Le livre
Editions
*Londres et New-York, Novello, Ewer & Co, 1888, 1890 et 1902
*Chopin als Musiker und als Mensch, Leuckart, Leipzig, 1890
*Jerzy Michniewicz (éd.), Fryderyk Chopin jako człowiek i muzyk, Varsovie, Narodowy Instytut Fryderyka Chopina, 2011, ISBN 978-83-61142-30-0
La version anglaise est disponible en ligne, notamment sur le site Gutenberg.

Contenu
Le livre (en deux volumes) comprend un prologue, un chapitre historique (Poland and the Poles), trente-deux chapitres, un épilogue et dix appendices, dont deux de longueur conséquente :
IX Madame Streicher’s (Friederike Müller) recollection of Chopin, base on extracts from her diary of the years 1839, 1840 and 1841.
X Portraits of Chopin

Commentaires
Pour ce que j’ai lu de ce livre, c’est-à-dire le chapitre 1 consacré à Nicolas Chopin, je dirais que Frederick Niecks y fait un travail sérieux de collation des sources qu’il lui a été donné de connaître, énumérant les hypothèses plus ou moins sérieuses sur ses origines, mais visiblement sans leur accorder de crédit. En tout cas, il laisse le lecteur libre de ses interprétations, à partir d’un ensemble documentaire convenablement présenté.

Je donnerai maintenant les appréciations trouvées sur les sites Icons of Europe et Narodowy Instytut F. Chopin :

« Patron of the biography: Jenny Lind
In the preface, Frederick Niecks names Jenny Lind-Goldschmidt (1820-1887) among his few surviving "chief sources of information".  Icons of Europe's research shows that many of the other chief sources had known or been dependent on the wealthy and influential Jenny Lind (e.g. Lindsay Sloper), and that she commissioned Niecks and her Novello friends for the Chopin biography project.
The title "... As a Man" sounds like a pun on the depth of Jenny Lind's relationship with Chopin - a subject expanded with: "... he had made the best possible impression upon her [Jenny Lind], not only as an artist, but also as a man" (vol. 2, p. 284).
Flawed sections of the biography
Icons of Europe's research also shows that Frederick Niecks' sections on 1841-1849 and the posthumous years are flawed with half-truths, hearsay, misinformation, omissions, hints and puns.  These sections have later been cited and sometimes 'adapted' by various writers, sowing significant and lasting inaccuracies in Chopin literature.
Apparently covering for Jenny Lind's doings, Niecks often misrepresents or plants confusion about events involving Jane Stirling, George Sand (e.g. Lucrezia, 200 letters), Delfina Potocka and other people (e.g. Chopin's funeral).  He sometimes cites 'witnesses', who were not present at the events (e.g. Liszt in 1849).  No information has been found on whether Niecks could speak French with witnesses in Paris. »

2) Narodowy Instytut (page Fryderyk Chopin as a Man and Musicion - Frederick Niecks)
« [The] translation [in Polish] is supplemented by footnotes wherever Niecks' statements are no longer valid in the light of current state of knowledge. As a result, a reader in possession of Niecks' work, receives also information about the current state of knowledge about Chopin.
This work differs, in a surprising way and in a positive sense, from the writings about the composer of that time. This is a very thorough book, based on a wide source base. The author collected meticulously all possible information from Chopin students who lived then, and other persons who had direct contact with the composer. This information includes i.a. issues related to Chopin teaching methods, his attitude towards the performance problems, his own works, works of other composers, composing problems, etc. It is the only source, which conveys to us such broad, thoroughly documented and comprehensive information about the composer. Although some Niecks' interpretations are already out of date, most of them are still up to date and surprisingly contemporary. (from the review by Professor Zofia Chechlińska) »

Les remarques du NIFC me paraissent assez fondées ; elles ne contredisent d’ailleurs pas l’autre site, mais il faudrait encore examiner les éléments avancés à propos de « Jenny Lind », ce que je laisserai pour le moment en attente.


Quelques éléments intéressants extraits des préfaces de 1888 et 1902

La préface de 1888 est particulièrement intéressante parce que Niecks y présente ses sources de façon assez détaillée ; dans la préface de 1902, il fait une mise au point sur la question de la date de naissance de Frédéric Chopin.

1) Préface à la première édition (1888)

*Liszt (1851, 1878)
« The first work of some length having Chopin for its subject was Liszt's Frederic Chopin, which, after appearing in 1851 in the Paris journal "La France musicale," came out in book-form, still in French, in 1852 (Leipzig: Breitkopf and Hartel.—Translated into English by M. W. Cook, and published by William Reeves, London, 1877 »

« When, in 1878, the second edition of F. Chopin was passing through the press, Liszt remarked to me:— "I have been told that there are wrong dates and other mistakes in my book, and that the dates and facts are correctly given in Karasowski's biography of Chopin [which had in the meantime been published]. But, though I often thought of reading it, I have not yet done so. I got my information from Paris friends on whom I believed I might depend. The Princess Wittgenstein [who then lived in Rome, but in 1850 at Weimar, and is said to have had a share in the production of the book] wished me to make some alterations in the new edition. I tried to please her, but, when she was still dissatisfied, I told her to add and alter whatever she liked." »

*Szulc (1873)
« The next book we have to notice, M. A. Szulc's Polish Fryderyk Chopin i Utwory jego Muzyczne (Posen, 1873), is little more than a chaotic, unsifted collection of notices, criticisms, anecdotes, &c., from Polish, German, and French books and magazines. »

*Karasowski (1877)
« In 1877 Moritz Karasowski, a native of Warsaw, and since 1864 a member of the Dresden orchestra, published his Friedrich Chopin: sein Leben, seine Werke und seine Briefe (Dresden: F. Ries.—Translated into English by E. Hill, under the title Frederick Chopin: "His Life, Letters, and Work," and published by William Reeves, London, in 1879). This was the first serious attempt at a biography of Chopin. The author reproduced in the book what had been brought to light in Polish magazines and other publications regarding Chopin's life by various countrymen of the composer, among whom he himself was not the least notable.
In 1878 appeared a second edition of the work, distinguished from the first by a few additions and many judicious omissions, the original two volumes being reduced to one. But of more importance than the second German edition is the first Polish edition, Fryderyk Chopin: Zycie, Listy, Dziela, two volumes (Warsaw: Gebethner and Wolff, 1882), which contains a series of, till then, unpublished letters from Chopin to Fontana. »

*Audley (1880)
« Of Madame A. Audley's short and readable Frederic Chopin, sa vie et ses oeuvres (Paris: E. Plon et Cie., 1880), I need only say that for the most part it follows Karasowski, and where it does not is not always correct. »

*Wodzinski (1886)
« Count Wodzinski's Les trois Romans de Frederic Chopin (Paris: Calmann Levy, 1886)—according to the title treating only of the composer's love for Constantia Gladkowska, Maria Wodzinska, and George Sand, but in reality having a wider scope—cannot be altogether ignored, though it is more of the nature of a novel than of a biography. »

*Bennett ( ??) et Hueffer (1877)
« Mr. Joseph Bennett, who based his Frederic Chopin (one of Novello's Primers of Musical Biography) on Liszt's and Karasowski's works, had in the parts dealing with Great Britain the advantage of notes by Mr. A.J. Hipkins, who inspired also, to some extent at least, Mr. Hueffer in his essay Chopin ("Fortnightly Review," September, 1877; and reprinted in "Musical Studies"—Edinburgh: A. & C. Black, 1880). »

*Sand
« George Sand's Histoire de ma Vie, first published in the Paris newspaper "La Presse" (1854) and subsequently in book-form; and her six volumes of Correspondance, 1812-1876 (Paris: Calmann Levy, 1882-1884). »

*Informateurs directs : élèves, amis et connaissances, éditeurs
« My chief sources of information are divisible into two classes—newspapers, magazines, pamphlets, correspondences, and books; and conversations I held with, and letters I received from, Chopin's pupils, friends, and acquaintances.
> Of his pupils, my warmest thanks are due to Madame Dubois (nee Camille O'Meara), Madame Rubio (nee Vera de Kologrivof), Mdlle. Gavard, Madame Streicher (nee Friederike Muller), Adolph Gutmann, M. Georges Mathias, Brinley Richards, and Lindsay Sloper;
> of friends and acquaintances, to Liszt, Ferdinand Hiller, Franchomme, Charles Valentin Alkan, Stephen Heller, Edouard Wolff, Mr. Charles Halle, Mr. G. A. Osborne, T. Kwiatkowski, Prof. A. Chodzko, M. Leonard Niedzwiecki (gallice, Nedvetsky), Madame Jenny Lind-Goldschmidt, Mr. A. J. Hipkins, and Dr. and Mrs. Lyschinski.
>I am likewise greatly indebted to Messrs. Breitkopf and Hartel, Karl Gurckhaus (the late proprietor of the firm of Friedrich Kistner), Julius Schuberth, Friedrich Hofmeister, Edwin Ashdown, Richault & Cie, and others, for information in connection with the publication of Chopin's works.

2) Préface à la troisième édition (1902)
a) à propos de la date de naissance de Frédéric Chopin
« BESIDES minor corrections, the present edition contains the correction of the day and year of Frederick Francis Chopin's birth, which have been discovered since the publication of the second edition of this work. According to the baptismal entry in the register of the Brochow parish church, he who became the great pianist and immortal composer was born on February 22, 1810. This date has been generally accepted in Poland, and is to be found on the medal struck on the occasion of the semi-centenary celebration of the master's death. Owing to a misreading of musicus for magnificus in the published copy of the document, its trustworthiness has been doubted elsewhere, but, I believe, without sufficient cause. The strongest argument that could be urged against the acceptance of the date would be the long interval between birth and baptism, which did not take place till late in April, and the consequent possibility of an error in the registration. This, however, could only affect the day, and perhaps the month, not the year. It is certainly a very curious circumstance that Fontana, a friend of Chopin's in his youth and manhood, Karasowski, at least an acquaintance, if not an intimate friend, of the family (from whom he derived much information), Fetis, a contemporary lexicographer, and apparently Chopin's family, and even Chopin himself, did not know the date of the latter's birth. »

b) ouvrages parus depuis l’édition de 1888
« "Frederic Francois Chopin," by Charles Willeby;
*"Chopin, and Other Musical Essays," by Henry T. Finck;
*"Studies in Modern Music" (containing an essay on Chopin), by W. H. Hadow; *"Chopin's Greater Works," by Jean Kleczynski, translated by Natalie Janotha; and *"Chopin: the Man and his Music," by James Huneker. »



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