Fryderyk Chopin said this about his Op. 41 Mazurkas: “They seem as lovely to me as only youngest children can to an aging parent.”
June 1st, 1839. Things are going well. Chopin and his companion George Sand had moved to Nohant - the welcoming home in the French countryside that belonged to Sand’s grandmother.
Chopin was perking up after the couple’s wrenching trip to Spain. He could hear birds singing in the courtyard, accompanied by the happy hustle and bustle of a household filled by Sand and her two children… And there was a Pleyel grand – Chopin’s favorite piano – in a private chamber Sand had set up next to her bedroom.
Three weeks after moving in, Sand chiseled the date and a line of English verse into a shutter affixed to her bedroom window. Why? If only we knew. Was it to mark the anniversary of…or the end of their consummated relationship? Chopin, it seems, poured more of these energies into his manuscripts than to his mate. Or perhaps Sand put penknife to wood to commemorate a happier occasion – or, at least, a growing sense of hope.
In Spain, three doctors had declared Chopin dead or dying. But here in Nohant, the doctor predicted rapid improvement. Chopin worked with an intensity and demeanor Sand had never seen.
It was in Nohant that Chopin wrote what Sand called his “most beautiful pages.” Chopin himself called these Opus 41 Mazurkas, his “lovely…youngest children.” - Jennifer Foster