Abstract

Chopin's Stuttgart diary, written in a state of fear for his loved ones after the defeat of the anti-Russian insurrection in fall 1831, reveals the exiled composer's emotional distress and morbid alienation. Chopin's intense feelings of mourning lent his imagination a peculiar fascination with the morbid. References to corpses and allusions to ghosts in the diary reflect a profound trauma caused by the uncertainty of his personal situation and his awareness of the political crisis. The Stuttgart crisis is only one of numerous instances in which Chopin mapped his personal losses onto the broader fate of those Poles forced into exile after the failure of the uprising. This identification with the estranged community was capable of producing a deeply subjective experience of haunting. Chopin's music carries a poignant relationship to loss and melancholia, exemplified in this article by the Étude, op. 10, no. 12 (“Revolutionary”), the Nocturne, op. 15, no. 3, and the Funeral March from the Piano Sonata, op. 35. These traits have prompted recent films by Andrzej Zulawski and Zbig Rybczynski to adopt Chopin's music as a means of collective mourning in post-Communist Poland.

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