These letters, which I believe have not before appeared in English as a complete collection, are of great interest from several points of view.
t on the genesis of some of Chopin's compositions; on his character, personality and mental habits; on his teachers, colleagues and pupils; on the environment which moulded his childhood, and the inhibitions which throughout life hampered him, both as a musician and as a man. We see here the conflicting influences of Bach and of Italian opera; of Polish folk-song and of pianistic virtuosity; his tragic devotion to George Sand and his utter inability to understand her; the crystalline clarity of his artistic instinct, and the imperfect thinking which enabled him, after living for years among French intellectuals, to retain almost unmodified the provincial prejudices of his youth.
We see his delightful relations with the family at home; his affectionate loyalty to old friends, and perpetual unconscious exploitation of them; his irritable temper and warm heart; his Rabelaisian jokes and essential conventionality; his protecting tenderness to Solange Clésinger; his naïve contempt for Jews and English, for publishers, Portuguese and similar inferior creatures; his charming modesty and regal pride; and his acceptance, at their own valuation, of the crowd of rich amateurs and brainless royalties, in whose palaces his genius permitted to him the status, now of a tame prodigy, now of a "poor relation. . . ."