Episode 77: George Sand

Nocturne in G Major, Op. 37, No. 2

rc-sand-200From the outset, they seemed an unlikely pair. After their first encounter, Chopin told his family: “Something about her repels me.” But before long, she became his “angel.”

Fryderyk Chopin met George Sand in Paris in 1836, at a party given by Franz Liszt and his mistress. He was 26 and she, 32. By most accounts, she was an unattractive woman. Consistent with her adopted name, she behaved and dressed like man. Born Amandine Aurore Lucille Dupin, Sand was widely known for her daring novels, pioneering feminism and affairs with famous men (including writers Prosper Mérimée and Alfred de Musset).

After meeting Chopin, Sand found herself in “a state of intoxication.” She launched a campaign to win him over, possibly even sabotaging his engagement. The sensitive, refined Chopin found himself drawn to her forceful personality and celebrity. She became his source of love and shelter; he called her his “angel.”

In 1838 Chopin wintered with Sand and her two children on the island of Majorca. There he wrote pieces that included his celebrated Preludes, Op. 28, and the Nocturnes, Op. 37. Back in Paris they lived next door to each other, and spent the next eight summers in Nohant, her country home in central France, where Chopin composed some of his greatest music. Musical herself, Sand both advised Chopin and inspired him, though he never dedicated a composition to her.

The relationship came to a bitter end in 1847 after Chopin sided with Sand’s daughter, Solange, in a quarrel. Devastated, Chopin felt his health quickly deteriorate. They saw each other for the last time 17 months before Chopin’s death—a chance encounter that Sand described in her autobiography: “I pressed his trembling and icy hand. I wished to speak to him, he slipped away.” - Jennifer Foster & Don Lee

Radio Chopin Episode 77: George Sand

Nocturne in G Major, Op. 37, No. 2