Chopin in letters by Friederike

Chopin in letters by Friederike

On this 27th of September I would like to bring to your attention a recent publication by Uta Goebl-Streicher: Frédéric Chopin, Einblicke in Unterricht und Umfeld / Die Briefe seiner Lieblingsschülerin Friederike Müller, Paris 1839-1845. Whether you have great interest for the compositions of Frédéric Chopin, are passionate about his life and teachings, or whether your focus is on pianos, pianists or cultural life in Paris in the early 1840’s, in both cases this book is for you.

Friederike Müller is a young pianist from Vienna, who in 1839 travels to Paris with her aunt and becomes élève de prédilection, one of the select students, of Frédéric Chopin. She studied with Chopin over the years 1839 – 1845. In a dense but very readable correspondence she reports back to two aunts in Vienna about her experience in Paris.

The uniqueness of this document lies in the fact that Friederike reports weekly, and even in the heat of the moment, on her lessons and conversations with Chopin as well as on her encounters and activities in Paris. The letters, which are written in a mix of German and French, also provide an interesting insight in the exchanges between the Paris and Vienna musical scenes and how they compare in the eyes of this witty and observant young woman.

Friederike gave her first public concert in Vienna in 1841. In 1841, the composer dedicated his Allegro de Concert opus 46 to her. Her destiny became very much intertwined with the history of the Streicher family; in 1849 she married Johann Baptist Streicher, son of Nannette and Andreas Streicher and then head of the Streicher piano building enterprise, who was recently widowed from his first wife Auguste.

There are many reasons why this magnificent 640 page document might answer some of your historical, biographical or musical questions. Do not be afraid of its volume, which might discourage you at first glance: the content is worth the read from A to Z. This direct and lively account was thoroughly transcribed, annotated and documented by Uta Goebl-Streicher, with translations of the French text. It was presented during a lecture at the Wien-Bibliothek on the 11th of September 2019 and is now available directly from Musikverlag Katzbichler.

Uta Goebl-Streicher : Frédéric Chopin, Einblicke in Unterricht und Umfeld / Die Briefe seiner Lieblingsschülerin Friederike Müller, Paris 1839-1845

Musikverlag Katzbichler, München, Salzburg. ISBN 978-3-87397-214-8.