Chopin, Frédéric. (1810-1849)
Signed French Copyright Agreement for the Publication of his Op. 20 Scherzo , Op. 21 Piano Concerto, Op. 22 Grand Polonaise and the Mazurkas Op. 24
Very rare signed document from the Polish composer and pianist, recording the sale of the French copyright to the Parisian publisher Maurice Schlesinger for some of his most celebrated works: the Scherzo No. 1 in B minor Op. 20, the Piano Concerto in F minor Op. 21, the Grand Polonaise in E-flat major Op. 22, and the four Op. 24 Mazurkas. 1 page. Paris, August, 1835. 20.5 x 22.5 cm. The handwritten document in French, prepared by a representative of the publishing company, signed by the composer in full "F.F. Chopin." "Je reconnais avoir vendu a Mr. Maur. Sch..ger la propriete pour la France des oeuvres suivants de ma Composition et j'ai recu de lui pour les dits ouvrages la somme de Douze cent francs...les ouvrages sont // 1. Scerzo op. // 2. 4. Mazurka op. // 3. Concerto. op. // 4. Polonaise op. // Paris le 7 Aout / 1835." On laid paper, the verso with a later note from the Publisher "7 Août 1835 Chopin." Upper margin stained, various creases and some small losses along the right edge, affecting two words, else fine. A great rarity.
The present agreement was forged just as Chopin prepared to leave Paris to visit his parents in Karlsbad for the first time since leaving Poland and his departure "marked the end of an extraordinary phase in his musical career. " (Tad Szulc, "Chopin in Paris," p. 109) The composer here acknowledges receipt of an advance payment from Maurice Schlesinger (1798-1871), who lead one of the most important musical publishing firms in Paris. Beginning in 1833, the Schlesinger firm published the first editions of 40 works by Chopin (op. 1-34 and 44-56, with the exception of op. 3-5, 16, 17, 19, 28), though Chopin's relationship with Schlesinger was a sometimes uneasy one. In a letter to Julien Fontana 3 March, 1839, the composer refers frequently to the publisher as "le Juif" and to Schlesinger's underhanded ways, remarking that "Schlesinger has always duped me," alluding to his having been used to make unreasonably profits, while slightly conceding the expenses that publishing entails. Although Chopin published also with other publishers, he most highly prized Schlesinger's publications, because it was mostly due to these that he owed his elevated position in the French music market.
Though without listing opus numbers, the agreement applies to the Scherzo No. 1 in B minor Op. 20, the Piano Concerto in F minor Op. 21, the Grand Polonaise in E-flat major Op. 22, and the four Op. 24 Mazurkas. The Scherzo was composed between 1831-34 and was first published in 1835, by Schlesinger. The Concerto in F minor op. 21 was composed 1829/1830, first performed in Warsaw, on March 17, 1830 and first published in 1836, by Schlesinger. The Grand Polonaise was composed 1830-1836, first performed in Paris on April 26, 1835 and first published in 1836, by Schlesinger (this is the haunting Polonaise featured in the Roman Polanski film "The Pianist"). The four Mazurkas, op. 24 were composed 1833-1835 and first published in 1835, by Schlesinger.
The present document has been authenticated by Hanna Wroblewska-Straus, Emeritus Director of The Frederick Chopin Institute in Warsaw and one of the leading Chopin scholars in the world.