Episode 127: Chopin Throws the Dogs a Bone

Gallop Marquis, Op. posth.

rc-dogs-200In late November, 2008, a manuscript all of twenty-eight bars long—forty-three seconds of music--sold at auction for $29,000.

Perhaps the most recognized Chopin work is funereal (Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor, "Funeral march.") So How much fun can the composer of such a work be? As it turns out, Fryderyk Chopin, Mr. Funeral March himself, had his playful side. He would drop on all fours to give horsey rides to an adored toddler. He once fished a wedding ring out of a pile of flour with his nose to win a contest. And the story goes, Chopin’s best-known waltz was composed on the heels of chuckling over companion George Sand’s little dog, Marquis, madly chasing its tail.

That piece that sold at auction for $29,000? Also by Chopin. A frivolous gallop, not for one dog, but two: Marquis and Dib. Both George Sand’s dogs, and both are assigned their very own roles by name in Chopin’s score.

Chopin jotted down this bit of fun during a stay at Nohant where the combined family entertained themselves on summer nights inventing musical plays. The dogs, it seems, liked to get in on the action. Chopin wrote to Sand that fall: "Did yesterday's pantomime induce Dib to dance?" Sand replied, "Marquis is acting too. He […] jumps to the arms of people being murdered, weeps at the feet of those singing romances…." Chopin mused, "I can just imagine the emotions of Marquis and Dib. Happy viewers, naive and unrefined." - Jennifer Foster

Radio Chopin Episode 127: Chopin Throws the Dogs a Bone

Gallop Marquis, Op. posth.