At a time when attitudes towards the LGBTQ community in the country are considered as one of the worst in Europe, an audio documentary from Switzerland on one of Poland’s famous sons, Frédéric Chopin, may go against the country’s narrative of the Romantic era composer and pianist.
In his two-hour radio show, Chopin’s Men, Swiss music journalist, Moritz Weber talks about his research into letters written by Chopin and his discovery of “obvious, passionate and partly erotic declarations of love in black and white.” Weber’s discovery, though, wasn’t about the content but that the letters were addressed to men.
Weber notes in findings from his research that biographies mentioning the letters swapped masculine pronouns with feminine ones as well as minimize the composer’s relationship with other men. In a quote to CNN, Weber explains:
“He’s talking about love so directly with men. Why wasn’t that questioned by all these scholars and famous biographers?”
Weber also reports from his findings that Chopin’s closest friend in Warsaw, Tytus Woyciechowski, who stayed in the boarding house run by the Chopins, may have been the composer’s great love of his life. Weber writes:
Chopin has the most passionate and intensive correspondence with Tytus, to whom he also dedicates his Variations op. 2 and for him he composes the waltz op. 70,3. In the summer of 1830 he visits him for two weeks at his farm, and in November the two travel together to Vienna.
There were other men, according to Weber, that Chopin had relationships with during his time in Paris. Chopin had lived with two of the men, Jan Matuszyński and Julian Fontana, in Paris for years.
With the current state of LGBTQ rights in Poland, Rose Cholmondeley, the president of the UK’s Chopin Society, explains to CNN how this revelation concerning the country’s beloved composer would not be well-received:
“He is a symbol of Poland, but you’ve got a government now which is absolutely anti-gay — and were he to be gay, God knows what they would make of it. When somebody’s an icon, an awful lot of things are suppressed…(People) don’t want to do anything which would ‘damage’ his reputation in his country, it’s such an important thing to them.”