In researching Chopin’s piano, I came across radiochopin.org. It presents 200 short podcasts (or you can read the text online) on the works of Chopin.
The one on Chopin’s Berceuse (cradle song), caught my eye. In particular, because of this passage:
When the toddler took to calling him “P’tit Chopin”, the composer melted. He spent hours cradling the child, kissing her tiny hands, making faces and playing peek-a-boo.
The toddler was Louisette Viardot, the daughter of a friend of Chopin, Pauline Viardot, who was a singer and composer with close ties to a number of composers and writers of her time.
We build a notion of a composer. We think we know Chopin. We imagine what he might have been like.
That passage did not fit with my image of Chopin.
The Berceuse is a glimpse into a seldom-seen side of Chopin. It is the only lullaby he wrote. Here is a web page detailing the origins of the piece.
Countless pianists have recorded this piece over the last 100 years. The variety of interpretations was surprising to me. One video compiling early recordings presented renditions that were lighter in touch and quicker than many of today’s recordings. A search on YouTube will reveal a wealth of choices, new and old.