Chopin, Frederic François

Chopin had several pupils, but none of them ever attained to any great degree of prominence as performers. The career of Filtsch, the brightest and most promising of all, was cut short by death, when he was thirteen. Of him, Liszt once remarked that when Filtsch made his debut he would retire, because he could never compete with the lad. Chopin's other pupils were Gutmann, Lysberg, Mikuli, Telefsen, George Mathias, and Princess Radziwill, who became under his instruction, an expert pianist, and often appeared in recitals with Liszt and other musicians. His English pupils were Lindsey Sloper and Brinley Richards. Chopin started a method for the piano, but he never lived to finish it.

Chopin has been compared by some writers to Heine, the German poet. James Huneker compares him with Edgar Allen Poe, because " both were morbid, neurotic wraiths of genius," who were "foredoomed to unhappiness and supped their fill of misery." Henry F. Chorley described him as "pale, thin and profoundly melancholy" in appearance and said his touch had in it all the delicacy of a woman's. According to Nieck's biography, Chopin was slender of build, not above medium height, with delicately formed hands, long silky hair, intelligent brown eyes, and a curved aquiline nose, while the melancholy aspect of his face was often relieved by a swe t and gracious smile. He was a man of refined sensibilities and detested vulgarity in every form. He liked fine clothes, was immaculate about his personal appearance, was fond of flowers and loved to have his apartments dainty and furnished in a tasteful and artistic manner. He was devotedly attached to his family, was an ardent patriot always, and while he loved Paris and his friends there, Poland and her wrongs were never long out of his mind. He worked hard at his compositions, laboring long and painstaking over them and literally burning away his slight frame for his art. He was good hearted and liberal and was always assisting his needy countrymen, making many gifts to his friends and often giving lessons free. Poetic distinction, exquisite refinement and a noble bearing are the characteristics apparent in all the portraits of Chopin. Charles K. Salaman in speaking of the composer as "great and lovable in disposition, an inspired composer and an enchanting pianist," only echoed what was said by all who knew him, for his great genius was equaled only by his lovable, unselfish disposition, his remarkable modesty of speech and bearing, and his gentle and gracious manner.