Warsaw’s Chopin Airport, the nation’s largest transport hub, greets greater than 1 million folks each month. And it’s miles from the one landmark devoted to the Romantic-era composer, born in a tiny hamlet west of the capital 210 years in the past; his title is all over the place, his works and picture ubiquitous throughout the central European nation.
Chopin’s residences bear unmissable plaques. Busts and statues of his likeness are dotted throughout most main cities. His title adorns parks, streets, benches and buildings. Even his coronary heart, preserved in alcohol after his demise in 1849 on the age of 39, is sealed right into a wall of Warsaw’s Holy Cross Church.
However new ideas about Frederic Chopin’s non-public life collide awkwardly with Poland’s staunchly conservative traditions and its right-wing management — and have prompted some to query whether or not the story of Chopin that Poles are informed from a younger age is true.
Music journalist Moritz Weber, whose program aired on Swiss community SRF, mentioned he reviewed letters from Chopin, despatched to male mates, that characteristic express and romantic passages.
Weber additionally discovered that subsequent biographies and re-tellings of some letters swap male pronouns to feminine ones and downplay, whether or not deliberately or not, any proof of Chopin’s relationships with males.
“He is speaking about love so immediately with males,” Weber informed CNN. “Why wasn’t that questioned by all these students and well-known biographers?”
Probably the most conventional story of Chopin’s love life is that he had romantic relationships with girls — most notably the author Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin, who was recognized by her pen title, George Sand.
However the archive of letters that Weber trawled informed a unique story, he discovered. “He did not write letters to them in any respect. And he does not write about them in a method that you possibly can conclude there was love,” Weber mentioned.
“What is clear in his letters that there’s love written to his male mates — most passionately to Titus Woyciechowski,” Weber mentioned, referring to the Polish activist and longtime buddy of Chopin’s. Later, he wrote in such a technique to “many different” males, he added.
Strategies that Chopin had male lovers are usually not new, and the sexuality of a Romantic-era artist could be of little significance in lots of elements of the world.
In Poland, nonetheless — the place Chopin’s music is omnipresent, and the place the artist instructions a reverence rivaled solely by compatriots Pope John Paul II and Marie Curie — Weber’s documentary has attracted discover.
“He is like a holy particular person (in Poland),” Weber notes. “He is admired, his music is so necessary there.”
Whereas Poland loves Chopin, its relationship with the LGBTQ neighborhood is a painful one. The nation’s populist authorities ceaselessly makes use of harshly homophobic rhetoric, with its Prime Minister complaining of a “gay agenda” threatening the homeland.
Polish President Andrzej Duda has denounced LGBTQ folks, profitable re-election earlier this yr after placing the difficulty entrance and middle in his marketing campaign.
The governing get together’s highly effective chief, Jarosław Kaczyński, has claimed LGBT folks “threaten the Polish state.”
Its new Training Minister mentioned final yr that “these individuals are not equal to regular folks.” And final yr, Krakow’s archbishop bemoaned that the nation was below siege from a “rainbow plague.”
Activists within the nation are hoping that the renewed curiosity in Chopin’s relationships will trigger a mirrored image on these attitudes. “For example it overtly. Sure, Chopin was a minimum of bisexual,” Bart Staszewski, the nation’s foremost LGBTQ campaigner, wrote on Wednesday.
‘An terrible lot of issues are suppressed’
Chopin’s love life has lengthy been thought-about enigmatic, and admirers of the composer have debated in latest days whether or not his relationships warrant dialogue in any respect.
“Chopin himself was so very secretive that one may think about all types of issues,” mentioned Rose Cholmondeley, the president of the UK’s Chopin Society. “I might hesitate to say Chopin was any (sexuality) actually. I feel he was a person of feeling,” she informed CNN.
“As a result of Chopin was slightly discreet about revealing his intimate life even to his closest mates, essentially the most trusted amongst them being Tytus Woyciechowski, it’s tough to construct theories about this side of his life,” a spokesperson for Poland’s Fryderyk Chopin Institute mentioned..
“The claims that there have been makes an attempt to airbrush one thing from historical past are merely absurd,” the spokesperson informed CNN. “Moritz Weber of SRF has really ‘found’ one thing that each second-year pupil of musicology in Poland is aware of about.”
However Weber insists that Chopin’s male relationships, and his efforts to cover them from public view, influenced each his persona and his works. He recommended that the findings shine a brand new gentle on Chopin’s music, practically two centuries after the artist’s demise.
“As he writes in his letters, a difficulty in his life was that he … wasn’t exhibiting his interior self to the general public,” he mentioned. “We hear these excessive holes in his music — for instance the Scherzo in E main, the place the encompassing of the A component may be very sunny, and within the center there’s one of the vital miserable, and melancholic and unhappy passages.”
However specialists agree that the suggestion that Chopin had gay relationships wouldn’t be welcomed in a lot of Poland.
“He’s a logo of Poland, however you have bought a authorities now which is totally anti-gay — and had been he to be homosexual, God is aware of what they’d make of it,” Cholmondeley mentioned. “When anyone’s an icon, an terrible lot of issues are suppressed.”
That angle could have already got coloured the way in which Chopin’s life is retold in Poland, she added.
“(Individuals) do not wish to do something which might ‘harm’ his repute in his nation, it is such an necessary factor to them,” she concluded.
Chopin is widely known as vehemently as ever by Poland’s present leaders. On one in all his first international journeys as President, Duda donated a bust of the composer to the Beijing Live performance Corridor.
It was a gesture that encapsulated the stance of his populist Regulation and Justice get together: It unabashedly touts Poland’s heritage and conventional tradition, of which Chopin represents a weighty half.
The nation’s admiration was returned by the artist himself. “They’ve a really wealthy nationwide music in Poland. There’s all the time been (one), amongst peasants, amongst aristocrats. Poland is regarded as the house of the dance,” Cholmondeley mentioned. “And Chopin put all of that into his music; he (captured) the entire really feel of it. So it’s extremely, very Polish.”
The extent of Poland’s nationwide dialog over Chopin’s life stays to be seen, however will probably be intently watched by his admirers and LGBTQ campaigners alike.
Consultants agree, nonetheless, that any makes an attempt to evolve the legacy of the person whose title adorns a lot of the nation is not going to be made simple.
“We use Shakespeare in all our conversations. Chopin is as massive (in Poland) as Shakespeare is to us,” Cholmondeley mentioned, referring to her British compatriots.
“(And) we are able to settle for that Shakespeare had male mates in addition to feminine,” she added, alluding to the longstanding debate over Shakespeare’s sexuality.
“As folks we’re getting extra frank about numerous issues,” she mentioned. “However in some locations, they don’t seem to be.”