Auguste Franchomme (1808–1884)
Jean-Auguste-Alfred Masson, pencil drawing, 19th c., laser copy of a reproduction from the collection of Maria Mirska, 180 x 130.
Collection: Muzeum Fryderyka Chopina, Warsaw [F/143].
Auguste Franchomme—famous French cellist, pedagogue and composer, professor of cello at the Paris Conservatoire (from 1846). He was a friend of Liszt and Hiller, through whom he met Chopin soon after the latter’s arrival in Paris, quickly becoming his closest French friend. Their unbreakable friendship, based on mutual respect, was to link the two musicians until the death of Chopin, whose last extant letter is addressed to Franchomme. The latter took part in two of Chopin’s important Paris concerts (21 February 1842 and 16 February 1848); he collaborated with him in the composing of two works for piano and cello: the Grand Duo concertant on themes from Meyerbeer’s opera Robert le diable (published by Schlesinger in 1833) and the Cello Sonata, Op. 65, which is dedicated to him and is the last composition published during Chopin’s lifetime. Franchomme made numerous transcriptions for cello and piano of his friend’s works; most of their autographs are held in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. Chopin wrote to his family: ‘[Franchomme] has arranged, as you know, my Sonata with march for orchestra – and yesterday he brought me a notturno to which he had set the words of O salutaris and which sings well’ [Sydow, ii, 208].
Franchomme made copies of numerous posthumously-published Chopin works, and also produced a fair copy of his last mazurka, which Chopin left in the form of a barely legible sketch, later published in Fontana’s edition of Oeuvres posthumes. Additionally, he helped Thomas Tellefsen and Karol Mikuli (Chopin’s pupils) to prepare a collected edition of Chopin’s works and also contributed to work on a collected edition published by Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig (1878–1880, 14 vols.). Franchomme (along with Jane Stirling, Thomas Tellefsen, Marcelina Czartoryska and Eugène Delacroix) was among the group of individuals faithful to Chopin’s memory. ‘Perform Chopin’s works with the same accuracy as you do the works of the old masters. Bear in mind that a note repeated from the arm, a third beat unduly accented, a note lifted too hastily all suffice to distort the poetry of the composer’s work and place you in the category of his massacreurs’ [Eigeldinger 1986, p. 102].