Chopin, Frederic François
After the quarrel, Chopin's health grew rapidly worse, and although he continued to give lessons and appear occasionally in public, his friends all realized that the end was not far off. He grew more and more irritable and had frequent quarrels with those whom he loved the best the most serious one of all with Liszt, which was never made up.
In 1847 his last composition was published, the sonata for piano and cello in G minor and his last concert in Paris took place, when he played with Alard and Franchomme, the cellist, in 1848. In that year the revolution drove him along with others from the French capital and he went to England. The condition of the composer's health was at this time most pitiable. He was suffering not only bodily pain, but was in the deepest dejection of spirit. Those last days in London, while he was in the throes of consumption, were a torture to him. The climate irritated his complaint and the people wearied him by their unremitting attentions and the hospitality they fairly forced upon him, when he longed only for rest and quiet. He was dragged about to receptions and musicales and asked to play, when he was often so weak that he had to be carried into the concert-room. He was presented to the Queen, appeared at many of the fashionable houses in London, Manchester and Edinburgh, and stayed for a time at the castle of friends in Scotland, giving concerts in several English and Scotch cities. The last concert he ever gave was in aid of the Polish refugees in London. He was in the last stages of decline when he left that city early in October, 1849, for Paris. He was now no longer able to teach, and as he had never saved any money in his days of plenty, was sadly in need of funds. Friends railed to his aid and his " good Scots ladies," who had so wearied him with their attentions, saw to it that his last days were made comfortable. A Miss Sterling, whose family he had visited in Scotland and who was one of his pupils, sent him a large gift of money, more than enough for his needs. It was she who bought all of the composer's belongings, including his piano, at a public auction after his death. These were burned along with many of his letters during the sacking of Warsaw, in 1863, when the soldiers made a bonfire of the collection.
As death approached Chopin was not alone. His sister and her family had come from Poland to be with him, his friend and pupil, Gutmann, Solange, the daughter of George Sand, and the Countess Delphine Potocka, to whom he had dedicated one of the loveliest of his waltzes, were near him in his last hours. George Sand called to see him, but was denied admission, his friends fearing the excitement of seeing her might add to his distress. As the end approached, Chopin received the sacraments and, according to Liszt, the Countess Potocka sang at his deathbed the famous canticle to the Virgin, which had once saved the life of Stradella. Professor Niecks declares it was a psalm by Marcello, while Franchomme insisted it was an air from one of Bellini's operas, of which the composer was especially fond. Chopin expired in the arms of his pupil, Gutmann, Oct. 17, 1849, "dying," said Liszt "as he had lived loving."
He was buried from the Church of the Madeleine, in Paris, with pomp and ceremony. Mozart's requiem was sung at his funeral by Lablache, the famous tenor, and after his body had been assigned to the grave, the cup of Polish earth which had been given him so many years before was sprinkled upon the casket. He was laid to rest, at his own request, between the graves of Cherubini and Bellini at Pere le Chaise. His heart was taken back to Warsaw, where it is preserved in the Church of the Holy Cross. His tomb in Paris is marked by a monument, raised by popular subscription, and designed by George Sand's son-in-law, M. Clesinger. Chopin's mother and two of his sisters survived him many years. The woman to whom Chopin was indebted for much of his happiness and who was responsible for a great deal of his misery has summed up his worth as a composer thus:
"His genius has never been surpassed in the depth and fulness of sentiment and emotion. He has made an instrument speak the language of the infinite. He preserved an individuality even more powerful than that of Sebastian Bach, more exquisite than that of Beethoven, more dramatic than that of Weber... He combines the three and is himself. Mozart alone is superior, because Mozart had the calm of health and consequently the fulness of life."