CHOPIN – The Two Photographs
This evening sees the first in a series of 11 concerts spread over 12 months in which the British pianist Warren Mailley-Smith will play the entire solo works of Frédéric Chopin in St John’s Smith Square. It’s a mammoth undertaking for any pianist and Warren has asked me to give a short introductory talk about the composer. We filmed an interview a few weeks ago as a promo for the series:
While preparing my talk, I wanted to check the details of the famous photograph (really a Daguerrotype) taken of Chopin a few months before his tragically early death in 1849.
In doing so I happened to land on a blog by the pianist Jack Gibbons (famous for his Alkan and Gershwin recitals in the 1980s and ‘90s, and now resident in America). Jack had not only posted a repro of the 1849 photo but the lesser-known earlier portrait of Chopin taken a couple of years earlier. Despite the poor quality of the picture (the original was destroyed so it’s a photograph of the photograph and originally probably printed the wrong way round judging by the side on which Chopin’s hair is parted – below is the reversed reproduction) it gives a far better idea of what the dandified composer really looked like than the later picture where he is obviously not well.
Come along and hear Warren Mailley-Smith in a cleverly-programmed series, each one mixing the familiar with the overlooked and under-played.