A fictional genre scene in the salon View 2The Fryderyk Chopin Institute
A well-defined taste
Fryderyk Chopin had a well-defined taste, not only in terms of music. In the circle of family and friends, he would discuss painting and literature. Even interior design tips can be found in his letters. The composer was not indifferent to the pleasures of the table, either.
Still Life: Tea Set Still Life: Tea Set (about 1781–1783) by Jean-Étienne LiotardThe J. Paul Getty Museum
In August 1824, the fourteen-year-old boy on vacation in the village of Szafarnia reported in a letter to his parents: Chopin drank seven cups of acorn coffee. Expect him to drink eight soon. Did he actually drink eight of them? Letters provide no information.
Fashion Plate (Dinner Dress) (2/1/1826) by Rudolph AckermannLos Angeles County Museum of Art
The Wild Man
While staying in Vienna, twenty-year-old Fryderyk did not shy away from solid meals. The Wild Man –that's the name of the excellent inn where we eat– has charged me a whole Rhenish and several Kreutzers for a large appetite for strudeln. The joy was general.
LIFE Photo Collection
In the footsteps of Beethoven
Some of the places visited by Fryderyk could boast of having hosted other famous guest. In 1831, when describing the Viennese musical life for his sister, he added: I went once to hear [an opera] then on to supper at the place where Beethoven always used to drink.
The composer did not reveal what had been served.
Still Life with Figs and Bread (c. 1770) by Luis MeléndezNational Gallery of Art, Washington DC
Permission to eat country bread
Besides sophisticated dishes, Fryderyk appreciate the simplest food as well. I eat with extraordinary appetite, he reported to his parents...
and I need nothing to fully satisfy my skinny belly, which is already beginning to get fat, except with the permission and freedom of eating country bread.
Chopin going up four steps to Mrs. Marliani (19th Century) by George SandThe Fryderyk Chopin Institute
Many Parisian celebrities would invite Chopin round. George Sand even made a satirical drawing in which we see the composer rushing to a dinner party, a few steps at a time.
Sonata h-moll op. 58 (1844/1844) by Fryderyk ChopinThe Fryderyk Chopin Institute
We'll get drunk for a greeting
Sometimes the invitation would come from the composer himself. In a letter to Józef Nowakowski, we find the following promise: I'm waiting for you with a decent breakfast or lunch. We'll get drunk for a greeting.
Cocoa cup with saucer (first half of the 19th century) by UnknownMuseum Europäischer Kulturen, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
They've brought chocolate...
My chocolate comes from Bordeaux –Chopin wrote in a letter–, where it's made deliberately without any flavors at a private house owned by cousins of one of my kind pupils who feeds me it. Presumably, Fryderyk would enjoy those gifts from a student very much.
Box for candies belonging to Fryderyk Chopin View 3The Fryderyk Chopin Institute
The cardboard candy box once owned by Fryderyk Chopin and lovingly preserved by the composer's family, also reveals he was fond of sweets.
A letter from Fryderyk Chopin to family in Warsaw A letter from Fryderyk Chopin to family in Warsaw (18-20 July 1845) by Fryderyk ChopinThe Fryderyk Chopin Institute
I have no one but you...
The passion for the pleasures of the table can also be seen in... the metaphor which Chopin uses to finish a letter to his friend: I kept everything back for the dessert, and now there is no other dessert than a hearty embrace, for I have no one but you...