Composers Datebook®

Chopin is smitten

Composers Datebook - 20231213


On today’s date in 1836, Chopin held a soiree in his apartment in Paris. The famous tenor Adolphe Nourit sang some Schubert songs, accompanied by Chopin’s friend, Franz Liszt. Liszt and Chopin then played a new sonata for piano four-hands by Ignaz Moscheles.

In attendance was a petite, olive-skinned baroness turned writer known by her pen name, George Sand. Sand was notorious for her racy novels and for her highly unorthodox lifestyle. She liked cigars, for example, and often showed up at parties wearing men's clothing without the required permit.

Chopin had met her earlier and was not at first impressed. The 26-year-old composer was engaged to a much younger woman back home in Poland, a pale beauty who couldn’t be more unlike the 32-year-old Sand. But, anxious to make a good impression, Sand showed up for Chopin’s soiree wearing white pantaloons and a scarlet sash (the colors of the Polish flag) — and left her stogies at home!

All it took was a “Dear Frederic” letter from the girl back home, and before long the Chopin-Sand romance was the talk of Paris.

“My heart was conquered,” Chopin wrote in his journal. “She understood me.”

Music Played in Today's Program

Frederic Chopin (1810-1849) Polonaise in C-sharp; Garrick Ohlsson, piano; Arabesque 6642

On This Day


  • 1838 - French composer Alexis Vicomte de Castillon, in Chartres;


  • 1898 - American composer George Frederick Bristow, age 72, in New York.;


  • 1729 - Handel: opera "Lotario" (Julian date: Dec. 2);

  • 1739 - Handel: revival performance of oratorio "Acis and Galetea" (all-English version), in London at Lincoln's Inn Field, with the premiere performances of two unspecified instrumental concertos from Handel's recently completed Op. 6 set of 12 Concerti Grossi (Gregorian date: Dec. 24);

  • 1868 - Saint-Saëns: Piano Concerto No. 2, at a Concert Popilaire in Paris conducted by Anton Rubinstein, with the composer as soloist;

  • 1884 - R. Strauss: Symphony in f, in New York, with Theodore Thomas conducting;

  • 1895 - Mahler: Symphony No. 2 ("Resurrection"), by Berlin Philharmonic, with the composer conducting; The Berlin Philharmonic had premiered the first three movements of this symphony earlier that same year (on March 4), again with the composer conducting;

  • 1913 - Rachmaninov: choral symphonic poem, “The Bells,” in St. Petersburg, composer conducting (Julian date: Nov. 30);

  • 1928 - Gershwin: "An American in Paris," in New York, at Carnegie Hall, by the New York Philharmonic, Walter Damrosch conducting;

  • 1929 - Bax: Symphony No. 2, by the Boston Symphony, Serge Kouusevitzky conducting;

  • 1930 - Stravinsky: "Symphony of Psalms," in Brussels at the Palais des Beaux-Arts, conducted by Ernest Ansermet; Serge Koussevitzky (who commissioned the work to celebrate the Boston Symphony's 50th Anniversary), conducted the American premiere in Boston on December 19, 1930;

  • 1936 - Barber: “Symphony in One Movement” (No. 1), Op. 9, at the Adriano Theater in Rome, with the Augusteo Orchestra conducted by Bernardino Molinari; Rudolf Ringwall conducted the American premiere of the Symphony with the Cleveland Orchestra (Jan. 21, 1937) and Artur Rodzinski conducted the new work with the Vienna Philharmonic at the Salzburg Festival (July 35, 1937);

  • 1944 - Bernstein: musical "On the Town," as trial run in Boston at the Colonial Theater; The show opened in New York City at the Adelphi Theater on December 28, 1944;

  • 1966 - Druckman: String Quartet No. 2, in New York City, by the Juilliard String Quartet;

  • 1970 - Shostakovich: String Quartet No. 13, in Leningrad, by the Beethoven Quartet;


  • 1836 - At a musical soiree at Chopin's apartments in Paris, the female writer "George" Sand, determined to make a good impression with her host, arrives wearing white pantaloons and a scarlet sash (the colors of the Polish flag); Paris Opéra tenor Adolphe Nourit sings some Schubert songs, accompanied by Franz Liszt; Liszt and Chopin play Moschele's Sonata in Eb for piano four-hands;

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About Composers Datebook®

Host John Birge presents a daily snapshot of composers past and present, with timely information, intriguing musical events and appropriate, accessible music related to each.

He has been hosting, producing and performing classical music for more than 25 years. Since 1997, he has been hosting on Minnesota Public Radio's Classical Music Service. He played French horn for the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestra and performed with them on their centennial tour of Europe in 1995. He was trained at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Eastman School of Music and Interlochen Arts Academy.

About Composers Datebook®