Impromptu (199l)

 

 

 

Director:       James Lapine

Starring:    Judy Davis (George Sand/Aurora ),  Hugh Grant (Frederic Chopin ),  Mandy Patinkin (Alfred De Musset),  Bernadette Peters (Marie D'Agoult),  Julian Sands (Franz Liszt),  Ralph Brown (Eugene Delacroix),  Georges Corraface (Felicien Mallefille),  Anton Rodgers (Duke D'Antan),  Emma Thompson (Duchess D'Antan),  Anna Massey (George Sand's Mother),  David Birkin (Maurice),  Nimer Rashed (Didier),  Fiona Vincente (Solange),  John Savident (Buloz),  Lucy Speed (Young Aurora).

Romance of outspoken novelist George Sand and sickly composer Frederic Chopin. 

 

 

My wife and I enjoyed this film.  It is a good basic love story.  One of the things that intrigued me was the appearance of a number of contemporaneous artists in a would-be salon hosted by a local aristocrat and her husband.   The artists included: George Sand, Alfred de Musset,  Chopin, Franz Liszt, and Eugène Delacroix. As a historian, it is always helps the memory to know contemporaries in different periods.  Judy Davis does a great job of portraying the very forward George Sand.  I thought Hugh Grant would be miscast in the part, but he also did a good job. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 

 


Historical Background:

1804 – birth of Amandine-Aurore-Lucile Dupin, later Baroness Dudevant (a.k.a., writer George Sand) in Paris to an aristocratic family.

She was primarily raised by her grandmother at the family estate, Nohant..

1810 (March) --  Frédéric-François Chopin is born in central Poland of French and Polish parentage.   

1810 (October)  --  the family moved to Warsaw.

He was a child prodigy In Warsaw.

1816-1822  --  he took piano lessons from the violinist Wojciech Zywny.

1817  --  by age 7, he had written two polonaises (in G minor and B-flat major).

1822 – Sand married Baron Casimir Dudevant, and they had two children.

1823-1826  --  Chopin attended the Warsaw Lyceum, where his father was a professor.

1826  --  Chopin began studying music theory and composition with composer Józef Elsner at the Warsaw Conservatory.

1829  --  Chopin gave two piano performances in Vienna to mixed notices. 

1830  --  he premiered his Piano Concerto in F minor at the Merchants' Club; he performed his other piano concerto at the National Theatre.

1830  -- he played two piano concerts in Vienna.

1830  --  after learning about the November uprising followed by the Russian occupation of Poland, at age 20 Chopin left for Paris, never to return to live in Poland.

In Paris, he met fellow pianists Friedrich Kalkbrenner, Ferdinand Hiller, and Franz Liszt, as well as fellow composers Hector Berlioz, Felix Mendelssohn and Vincenzo Bellini. 

He made a living from performing, composing music and teaching.

1830  --  Eugène Delacroix painted his most influential work, Liberty Leading the People

1831 – Sand published her first novel, "Rose et Blanche". She took her pen name (George Sand) from her collaborator Jules Sandeau. She liked to wear men’s clothes, which helped her gain access to places she would otherwise be excluded, but made many of her same class very critical.

1833-1835  --  celebrated love affair between French poet Alfred de Musset and George Sand. 

1835  --  Chopin visited his family in Karlsbad and then went to Warsaw. He returned to Paris by way of Dresden, where he stayed for some weeks, and Leipzig where he met up with Mendelssohn, Robert Schumann and Clara Wieck.  On his journey he had a severe bronchial attack.

1835 – Sand left her husband, taking the children with her.

1835-1839  --  Hungarian composer and friend of Chopin Franz Liszt lived with Marie Catherine Sophie de Flavigny, ex-wife of the Comte d'Agoult. Her pen name was "Daniel Stern". They had two daughters and one son.

1836  --  Chopin was engaged to a 17 year old Polish girl named Maria Wodzinska.

1836  --  Chopin met the French romantic writer George Sand (her pseudonym).  She was a very early feminist who had been linked romantically with Alfred de Musset, a French poet, dramatist and novelist, and Franz Liszt (1811-1886).

1837  --  the Wodzinska family called off the engagement. 

1838 (September) -- Félicien Mallefille published in the ‘Revue et Gazette Musicale de Paris’ an enthusiastic text devoted to Poland, Chopin and his Polish Ballade. Mallefille was a very jealous character and, because he was so possessive of Sand, he sought a duel with Chopin.

1838-1847  --  he had a relationship with Sand for nine years.

1838-1839  --  the couple spent a miserable winter on the island of Mallorca.  The visit was cut short by the return of his chronic lung disease, from which this time he never fully recovered.

1839-1843 (summers)  --  the couple lived at Sand's estate in Nohant.

1845  --  Chopin's health further deteriorated and problems arose with his relationship with Sand. 

1846  --  family problems further worsened their relationship.

1846  --  Sand published Lucrezia Floriani, which was very critical of Chopin.

1847  -- family problems finished the relationship.

1848  --  Chopin gave his last concert in Paris and visited England and Scotland with his student admirer Jane Stirling. In London he became seriously ill. 

1849  --  he returned to Paris.   He was subject to poor health, and his physical state made him give up on performing and teaching shortly before he died. His sister Ludwika nursed him at his home in the palace Vendôme.

1849  --  death of Chopin.

1855 – Sand published Un hiver B Majorque ("A winter in Mallorca") about that terrible winter she spent with Chopin on Mallorca.

1860  --  Mallefille wrote the play Les deux veuves, The Two Widows.

1876  --  at the age of 72, Sand died. 

 

 

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