One of the greatest music composers of all time, FrÃ©dÃ©ric Chopin, was passionately in love with men – although historians previously viewed these relationships as mere friendships.
Born in Warsaw in 1810, the composer became one of the greatest musicians of his time. He remains a national hero in Poland – a country strongly divided on LGBT + equality.
But now music journalist Moritz Weber has claimed that historians and biographers have spent two centuries ignoring and even misreading his homoerotic letters to make them conform to conservative Poland standards.
On a two-hour radio show on Swiss public broadcaster SRF, Weber said historians had exaggerated rumors about Chopin’s relationship with women. He even claims that the great pianist liked the “cottage” – looking for sex partners in a public bathroom.
In a letter from 1837, Chopin wrote to his friend Julian Fontana, expressing his enthusiasm for the “large urinals” in London.
Weber discovered a “flood of declarations of love aimed at men” in Chopin’s letters – including direct erotic comments. During this time, the composer used rumors of affairs with women as âa cloak for hidden feelingsâ.
In one of the 22 letters, Chopin wrote to his school friend Tytus Woyciechowski:
‘You don’t like to be kissed. Please allow me to do this today. You have to pay for the dirty dream I had of you last night.
He ended many letters to Woyciechowski with the words âGive me a kiss, dear loverâ.
Despite this, musicologist Alan Walker described Woyciechowski as a mere “close friend” in his 2018 biography of Chopin.
In one of the letters, in 1829, Chopin describes Woyciechowski as his “ideal”.
However, when the Fryderyk Chopin Institute in Warsaw translated Chopin’s letters in 2016, they used a feminine pronoun to identify his âidealâ. Weber says in the original letter in Polish, the name is masculine.
Nonetheless, academics seem likely to continue debating Chopin’s sexuality.
The Guardian asked translator David Frick, a retired professor of Slavic languages ââat Yale University, about the translation of the 1829 letter. But he rejected the accusation that the translators had changed the meaning.
Frick asserted: ‘He [Chopin] was a romantic who made no distinction between men and women in his expressions of “love”. But to say that there is some sort of plot behind the “missing” letters in the various critical editions is absurd.
The revelations can embarrass homophobic officials in Poland who claim their hatred is based on the country’s culture.
The country still organizes several music festivals that bear his name. Meanwhile, the capital’s main airport is named Warsaw Chopin Airport in his honor.