Solange Clésinger

Solange Clésinger


Solange Clésinger (1828–1899)

Reproduction of a photograph  from 1860 c., 180 x 130.

[Original: Muzeum George Sand w la  Châtre ?] .

Collection: Photographic collection of the Fryderyk Chopin Institute, Warsaw [F.3040].


Solange Clésinger, née Dudevant–Sand, daughter of George Sand and Casimir Dudevant. Chopin knew her from her childhood and was attached to her as to a daughter; he was full of heartfelt fatherly feelings for her. During his summer sojourns at Nohant in the period 1839–1845, Chopin taught her piano, replacing her teacher from 1840—Marie de Rozières. Solange’s wedding (in 1847) to the French sculptor Jean-Baptiste-Auguste Clésinger led to a family conflict and a rupture in Solange’s relationship with her mother. Chopin, who stood up for Solange, remained in contact with her until the end of his life. Solange contributed to a considerable extent to the discord that arose between George Sand and Chopin, and in consequence to the end of their relationship. Solange and her husband maintained close relations with Chopin to the very end and were grateful for his protective stance. On 30 September 1847, Solange wrote to Chopin: ‘On the one hand, money problems, on the other, a mother who abandoned me even though I had no experience of life, and a father more harsh than loving, a father who did not know how to be tender; this does not happen to nineteen-year-old girls every day. […] Fortunately, I have my sculptor, who consoles me in everything, who is my substitute for everything. But I have bored you, my Chopin, long enough with my troubles. I shall leave you now in peace, sending the most heartfelt handshake that ever could be. Clésinger joins me in this, and he is perfectly capable of esteeming the value of the old friend that you are for me. I also feel now what it means to have a friend in life, especially when he is the only one’ [Sydow, ii, 215].

Solange was with Chopin at his death, on 17 October 1849, in his apartment on Place Vendôme.

This is what Solange wrote about Chopin’s music: ‘Whoever has not heard him, or, lacking that, one of his favourite pupils, such as the Princess Marcelline Czartoryska […] cannot know even what his music is about. […] Under the flexible and responsive fingers of Chopin’s pale and frail hand the piano became the voice of an archangel, an orchestra, an army, a raging ocean, a creation of the universe, the end of the world. What divine majesty! What elemental forces, what cries of despair! What triumphant hymns! What suave grace, what angelical tenderness, what infinite sorrows! What funeral marches and triumphal processions! What rays of sunlight on flowers in full bloom, on the glittering river, on the valley of scented lemon trees! What tears from the depths of the damp cloister! What impatient whinnyings of the war-horse, what duels of knights, what village or courtly dances (what minuets) interrupted by the jingling of arms or the cannon of the citadel! And what melancholy raindrops falling one by one on the tiles in the cell garden!’ [Eigeldinger 1986, pp. 280–281].