Row over Chopin's Majorcan residence solved by piano





A decades old feud over the true residence of composer Frederic Chopin and his French novelist lover when they spent a winter sojourn on the island of Majorca has finally been solved: thanks to a piano.

It has emerged that the piano claimed by a museum to be used by the composer while he stayed in an old monastic cell on the island could never have been played by the maestro as it was in fact manufactured after his death.

The Polish composer fled Paris to spend the winter of 1838-9 on the Spanish island with his mistress, the French aristocrat writer Aurore Dupin, who published under the nom de plume George Sands.

The pair took rooms at an abandoned 13th century Carthusian monastery in the hilltop town of Valldemossa where he supposedly composed some of his most loved works, including his Prelude in D flat major, and she wrote a scathing travel memoir on the people of Majorca.

For the last 96 years a small museum has welcomed visitors – for a fee – to tour the rooms where the famous couple once supposedly resided and admire exhibits including the shabby upright piano he was forced to use when the one he ordered shipped from Paris was late to arrive.

Known as the "Fryderyk Chopin and George Sand Museum in Valldemossa" it was established by the Ferra family and houses a collection of mementos including original manuscripts and letters written by the pair during their two month stay.

But the Quetglas family who own the neighbouring apartment in the former monastery have long claimed their rooms were the true residence.

They set up a rival memorial to the pair, named the Chopin Museum, complete with the long awaited Pleyel piano that finally arrived three weeks before the composer left the island in February 1939....



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