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The author of the acclaimed biography Byron: Child of Passion, Fool of Fame brings to life a closely focused portrait of another great romantic artist, Frédéric Chopin.
At twenty-one, Chopin fled Russian-occupied Poland for exile in France. He would never see his native country again. With only two public concerts in as many years, he became a star of Parisian society and a legendary performer at its salons, revered by his great contemporaries Schumann, Liszt, and the painter Eugène Delacroix. Blessed with genius, success, and the love of Europe’s most famous—and infamous—woman novelist, George Sand, Chopin’s years of triumph ended with his expulsion from paradise: less than two decades after his conquest of Paris, the composer lay destitute and dying in the arms of Sand’s estranged daughter, Solange. Chopin’s Funeral is the story of this fatal fall from grace, of an Oedipal tragedy unfolding, and of illness and loss redeemed by the radical breakthrough of the composer’s last style.
Richly textured and artfully compressed, Chopin’s Funeral is an intimate close-up of an embattled man, grappling with conflict on all sides: family violence, political passions, and, not least, his own dependency and pride. With consummate skill Benita Eisler tells the story of the artist as exile, of an explosive love affair, and of worlds—private and public—convulsed by momentous change.