Majorca, Valldemosa

Majorca, Valldemosa, view from the Carthusian monastery


After a long journey, of several stages, on 8 November 1838 Chopin and George Sand with her children reached Palma, where they stopped at an inn on the Calle de la Marina. A week later they were staying in the villa Son Vent, near Palma. From there, Chopin wrote to Julian Fontana: ‘I am in Palma, amidst the palms, cedars, cactuses, oranges, lemons, aloes, figs, pomegranates, etc. What only the Jardin des Plantes has in its ovens. The sky like turquoise, sea like azure, mountains like emerald, air like in heaven. During the day, sunny, everyone walking as if it were summer and hot; at night, guitars and song for hours on end. […] The piano has not yet arrived. What route did they send it? You will soon receive the preludes. […] And my life, I am living a little more… I am close to that which is most beautiful. I am better.’ Unfortunately, this idyllic holiday atmosphere was shattered for Chopin towards the end of the month by a virulent attack of illness, ‘in spite of the 18-degree warmth, roses, oranges, palms and figs’. Two weeks later, to Fontana: ‘The three most famous doctors of the whole island: one smelled what I spat, another tapped whence I spat, the third rubbed and listened how I spat. The one said that I had died, the second that I was dying, and the third that I would die […] à grâce de Providence I am today back to normal. However, it does affect the preludes, which the Lord God knows when You will receive’. With his health patched up for a while, on 3 December he wrote to his friend Wojciech Grzymała: ‘It is a devilish land, with regard to the post, the people and the comfort. The sky is lovely like your soul; the earth is black, like my heart.’ To Julian Fontana: ‘Only the piano I am still without. […] Do not tell people that I was ill, as they will start gossiping.’


photo Ewa Sławińska-Dahlig