41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
A Man not an Angel,
This review is from: Chopin (Hardcover)
Adam Zamoyski has triumphed once again in this completely new biography of Chopin. He magnificently reassesses this curiously ambiguous composer in light of his many years of research in primary sources written in a number of languages. Certain reviewers have remarked that this is an 'updated' reissue of his previous biography written as a young man and published in 1979. This is patently misleading and unfair as I have read both with the greatest pleasure. His knowledge of the cultural and historical literature of East-Central Europe has broadened immeasurably in the intervening years. There are structural similiarities (it is a biography after all) but so much material is new and enlightening.
Zamoyski's writing style has matured over time to become even more fluent and distinguished since his iconic historical survey entitled 'The Polish Way'. His own aristocratic background (the Zamoyskis are one of the most eminent of Polish szlachta families) has given a particularly refined discrimination to his selection of the revealing detail, the telling anecdote in his conception of Chopin's extraordinary life. I can think of no person better equipped temperamentally to write this challenging biography.
Zamoyski writes the compelling story of a real man shorn of all the Hollywood morbid sensationalism and vaporous cosmetics, a man shackled by illness of an unimaginable ghastliness in those medically primitive times. Yet Chopin is not one of us. As a man he possessed many forgivable and essentially trivial foibles. As an artist his music offers deep consolation for troubled hearts throughout the world. What matters it if he was fastidious and supercilious in his day to day relations with the fraught and mercenary world of nineteenth century music publishing. Here was a man fully aware of his musical genius. He was also a man of impeccable taste and surprising moral rectitude (despite the priurient fascination with his sexual proclivities which surely tells us more about the absurd preoccupations of our own age than his).
This is simply the finest biography of Fryderyk Chopin available and will remain so for decades. In 'Chopin 2010' you really should celebrate the bicentenary of one of the greatest of composers by purchasing and treasuring your copy.