Chopin was really French

Chopin was really French


norman lebrecht

April 16, 2021

From The Fryderyk Chopin Institute:

250 years ago Mikołaj Chopin, Fryderyk Chopin’s father was born.

Mikołaj was born in the French town of Marainville to François Chopin, a trustee and wheelwright, and Marguerite née Dauphin. Despite his father’s poor financial situation, he graduated from the secondary school in Tantimont, which prepared young people to become priests and teachers. Because of his position as a trustee from 1776 to 1785, François Chopin was in contact with Adam Jan Weydlich, an administrator of the chateau at Marainville, owned by Count Michał Jan Pac.

Weydlich’s wife, Françoise Nicole Schelling, intelligent and educated, taught the teenage Mikołaj savoir-vivre, German, literary French, calligraphy, accounting and music. After the death of the castle’s owner, Count Pac, the Weydlichs decided to return to Poland. Mikołaj, probably having in mind the deteriorating financial situation of the family and growing conflicts in France, decided to leave with them and in the autumn of 1787 left his homeland forever.




  • John Borstlap says:


    Chopin’s father fled France for the revolution, and his son remained in Paris later-on because of the revolution in Poland.

    If his father would have stayed in France, Chopin would not have had to travel to Paris in the first place, and would have been French without any Polish touches.

    Conclusion: Chopin was one of those European, international composers, like all others, and violent revolutions are pointless and destructive.

    • ex-gibbo says:

      ‘If his father would have’ is not a grammatical construction in English – what is your native language?

      • John Borstlap says:

        Of course it’s ‘If his father had stayed in France’, but he may have been distracted by my pulling-up a stocking. And then, my impression is that none of his languages comes really naturally, not even the German, French and Chinese (in which language he claims to dream).


      • Janusz Zembrowski says:

        Why do you want to know? What it has to do with the article?

      • Shane Knight Eptick says:

        Well… there are about 350 million
        speakers in the world. A good amount of them do it perfectly and yet are very dumb. No great feat.

      • Ashu says:

        Please stop.

  • Concertgebouw79 says:

    Nothing new. This story is famous as the story of Chopin with Sand. I think Chopin was more Parisian than French in a way … he was never considered a nation treasure like Ravel Berlioz or Debussy. Maybe it’s a mistake. But his grave is one of the most beautiful places in Paris.

  • Clarrieu says:

    And sadly, Nicolas Chopin’s house was destroyed (despite appeals to save it) in 1982, under the reign of culture minister Jack Lang…

  • Edgar Self says:

    Of course he was French. That’s why he wrote a rondo a la mazur, a krakowiak, a grand fantasy on Polish airs, a dozen polonaises, 17 Polish songs ,50-odd mazurkas, quoted Polish lullabies, was born in Poland, lived there half his life, corresponded in Polish, and why his , heart is buried in the wall of a church in Warsaw.

  • Swiss-MM says:

    His birth, his mother, his cultural and musical education as well as the language in which he best expressed himself were all Polish.

    Being bi-cultural was rare but not heard of at the time.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Liszt was multicultural, Berlioz was culturally German and Russian with a French sauce, César Franck was a Belgian with German-style music, d’Indy was very Wagnerian and Franckiste, etc. etc. Nationalities are sources, not rubber stamps.

  • Swiss-MM says:

    His birth, his mother, his cultural and musical education as well as the language in which he best expressed himself were all Polish.

    Being bi-cultural was rare but not unheard of at the time

  • Eliahu D says:

    Is Charlize Theron any less South African for living most of the time in the US and having acquired US citizenship later in life?

    Chopin got French citizenship in 1835 at the age of 25 and was like many artists a “cosmopolitan”, but his first and primary allegiance was to Poland.

  • Bruno Michel says:

    I am not sure what the piece of news here is. These facts are in every biography of Chopin, and have been known for two centuries. In French, since one is speaking of France here, one calls this “to push on an open door”, enfoncer les portes ouvertes. A complete genealogy of Chopin’s French roots can be found anywhere on the internet:
    I am really unsure as to what this post brings, not to mention the usual sensationalistic nature of the headline (as if it was news to anybody).

  • ZX says:


    He had a Polish mother and French father, he was born and raised in Poland, he was 20 when he left Poland. Does his make him French?

    Reading comments:
    Gay? According to whom? A German pianist translating Chopin’s letters written in old Polish 200 years ago? LOL……I am Polish and even for me, it is difficult to understand those letters. Anyway, if you start a letter to your friend with “Dear XXX” – does it make you gay?

    • John Borstlap says:

      ALL letters beginning with the offensive ‘Dear….’ reveal terrible truths about the author. But they are only detectible for the careful reader between the lines.

  • french horn says:

    But his mother was polish !

    • John Borstlap says:

      Chopin was genetically 50/50. There has been quite some discussion about which half was French and which Polish. French musicologists mostly go for designating the upper half to France, while Polish commentators are inclined to define the lower half as typically Parisian.

  • Leonid says:

    Chopin was Russian. He was born in the Russian Empire. He even played for the Tsar’s brother.

  • Nijinsky says:

    Yeah, but is Hilary Hahn French?

  • Dudek says:

    What drugs you on?

  • CMW says:

    Half French…maybe…his mother was Polish. And he was born in Poland, at least the Russian partition of Poland.