Long-lost Chopin letters revealed by Polish museum

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The Independent Culture

Six letters written by 19th century composer and pianist Frederic Chopin, thought to have been lost since World War II, were Thursday revealed by the Polish museum dedicated to the musical icon.

Warsaw's Chopin Museum said that it had spent almost a decade trying to obtain the letters and dozens of other documents related to the composer after getting wind of their possible existence in 2003.

The international paper trial remained shrouded in mystery, with the trove acquired from its undisclosed owners by a Mexico-based Pole who then donated it to the museum.

The letters, due to go on display this week, date from 1845 to 1848, a year before Chopin's death in France.

Chopin wrote them in Paris and Nohant in central France, birthplace of his companion the writer Amantine Dupin - better known under her pen-name George Sand.

They were written in Polish and addressed to family members back in Poland.

"The letters were last displayed in public in Poland in 1932," the museum's curator Alicja Knast told reporters. "And they were last confirmed as physically being in Warsaw in 1939."

That was the year that Chopin's great-niece, Laura Ciechomska, died aged 77. She had been responsible for a collection of documents related to her illustrious ancestor.

The same year, Nazi Germany invaded Poland, sparking World War II. Like many priceless Polish cultural artifacts, the Chopin collection went missing during the six-year occupation.

Besides the six letters, the documents revealed by the museum Thursday include letters from Jane Sterling, a Scottish admirer and pupil of Chopin, and the composer's sister Ludwika Jedrzejewicz.

"In 2003, we received the first indication that the letters still existed, said Knast. "In 2009, we began moves to try to acquire them."

The museum was helped by Marek Keller, a Polish-born art dealer who has lived in Mexico for four decades.

He acquired them directly from their owners, who Knast said wished to remain anonymous.

The documents will be on display at the museum in central Warsaw until April 25.

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