Opus Osm Magazine: Being Chopin, Sand
Fryderyk Chopin (pianist Ivo Kahánek) and George Sand (actress Hana Maciuchová) offer a one-night-only music and character sketch June 18 at the Smetana’s Litomyšl Festival.
″The subject of our presentation was an idea of artistic director of the Festival Smetanova Litomyšl, Vojtěch Stříteský, who also created the script,″ Ivo Kahánek begins his description for Opus Osm.
Through Hana Maciuchová’s reading (in Czech) of Sand’s poems and correspondence, ″The audience will be able to follow the life of the French writer George Sand, one of the most fascinating women of the 19th century,″ he says.
″Since it is not a usual concert, I have paid close attention to all the chosen poems and correspondence, as well as to historical circumstances of their origin. The pieces I decided to play shall illustrate, accent, or even complete the spoken word.″
A Shady Lady?
″What we might call fascinating, her contemporaries usually called outrageous, in the most negative way,″ says Mr Kahánek. ″To illustrate the character of this remarkable artist, Mr. Stříteský chose crucial chapters from her turbulent life – her childhood, her relationships to Alfred De Musset, Fryderyk Chopin, and Franz Liszt.
″Last but not least, George Sand had a close relationship to Czech culture which makes her even more interesting for the Czech audience.″
But often, in films and television shows, George Sand is portrayed as a manipulative, selfish woman, an immoral ″shady lady″; and the portrait of Fryderyk Chopin always includes dramatic scenes of his weakness, illness, and death.
Polish pianist/composer Fryderyk Chopin (1810-1849) was famous even during his lifetime; he earned a living by selling his compositions and teaching piano. Chopin’s friends included Franz Lizst, and of course French novelist George Sand. Chopin remains an iconic figure in Romanticism and the piano repertoire – presenting some of the most expressive and technically challenging works for the piano.
French writer George Sand (1804-1876), born Amantine-Lucile-Aurore Dupin, is remembered today more for her personal choices than for her pastoral novels, theatre pieces, essays, and memoirs. She outraged society with her personal relationships; she famously wore men’s clothing and smoked cigars – in public. Her 10-year relationship with Chopin has been depicted from various points of view.
″Fortunately for all of us, this image is far from true!″ Mr Kahánek objects. ″Both Sand and Chopin were very social people. They shared humor and enthusiasm, never missed an opportunity to have a good time with friends or fun of any kind.
″Their relationship was astonishing for many of their contemporaries. I think both of them showed a good portion of courage even by living together. What we might consider nonconformist today, was an unthinkable issue in the 19th century.″
He adds, ″In my opinion, both found a real soul mate in each other and luckily for them, they were experienced enough to know that it was something truly exceptional.
″Both of them surely had to give up something to be together. They respected and valued each other without any ulterior motives. Their story is undoubtedly modern and present even for the audience in the 21st century.″
Next page: Ivo Kahánek on Romanticism