Heinrich Heine (1787–1856)
Unsigned steel engraving, first half of 19th c., 108 x 85.
Collection: Biblioteka Jagiellońska, Cracow [T. 174 I.10564].
The license is accorded by the owner.
Heinrich Heine—a Romantic German poet, employing mood, dazzling wit, irony and satire, combining art with folklore and simplicity. He lived in Paris from 1831. His friends included the writers Balzac, Musset, Hugo and George Sand, and the musicians Chopin, Hiller, Liszt, Kalkbrenner, Bellini and Viardot. According to Liszt: ‘Chopin and Heine understood one another in mid-word and mid-sound’ [Chopin na obczy¼nie, p. 89].
Heine wrote the following about Chopin: ‘he is not only a virtuoso but also a poet; he can reveal to us the poetry that lives in his soul; he is a composer, and nothing can equal the pleasure he gives us when he sits at the piano and improvises. He is then neither Polish nor French nor German: he betrays a much higher origin, from the land of Mozart, of Raffael [sic], of Goethe; his true fatherland is the dream realm of poetry. When he sits improvising at the piano, I feel as though a compatriot from the beloved homeland were visiting me and recounting the most curious things which have taken place there during my absence. […] There is only one pianist I prefer [to Thalberg] Chopin, who, it is true, is more a composer than a virtuoso. In the vicinity of Chopin I completely forget the playing of the past master, and I sink into the soft unfathomed depths of his music, into the sorrowful delights of his creations, as exquisite as they are profound. Chopin is the great poet of music, the artist of genius whose name should be mentioned only in company with those of Mozart, Beethoven, Rossini and Berlioz’ [Eigeldinger 1986, pp. 284–285].