Chopin’s Heart

Chopin’s body lies in the Pere-Lachaise cemetery in Paris, where he died in 1849; but his heart is in the Holy Cross Church in Warsaw, thanks to his sister, who had it cut out, pickled it in Cognac, and smuggled it into Poland a year later. During the Warsaw Uprising a German priest gave it to Heinz Reinefarth, “a high-ranking SS officer who professed to be a Chopin admirer”, and it spent the rest of WW2 in Nazi headquarters (1,000 words)

Shakespeare, Wagner, Aldridge

Dual profile of Ira Aldridge, African-American who rose to fame in Europe as one of the great Shakespearean actors of the 19C; and his daughter Luranah, opera singer, born in London to a Swedish mother. Ira saw off sneering prejudice in England, “mesmerized kings and emperors”, and was acclaimed as a genius in Germany. Luranah won over Cosima Wagner and almost sang at Bayreuth (Newly ungated) (5,000 words)

Wagner Summer

Reflections on the composer, and on the many productions of the Ring around the world in his bicentenary year. His stature has diminished: “Discussion of Wagner is stuck in a Nazi rut. His multifarious influence on artistic, intellectual, and political life has been largely forgotten”. The music continues to provoke: Bayreuth’s Ring this year is filled with “slapstick and absurdism”. Barenboim’s London Ring was a masterpiece (1,720 words)

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