Recueil de Mazurkas de F. Chopin

February 2, 2021
Ray Heigemeir
Chopin's Mazurka [detail]

Guest blogger: Jenna Przybysz

Within the Jenny Lind Collection, located in Stanford Libraries' Department of Special Collections, is a manuscript titled “Recueil de Mazurkas de F. Chopin” or “Collection of Mazurkas by F. Chopin” arranged for soprano voice and pianoforte obligato.[1] Although the manuscript is undated and was never published, it unveils the relationship between Jenny Lind (1820-1887) and Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849) and provides insight into reception of Chopin’s work by other musicians of his time—especially vocalists.  

Jenny Lind and Chopin

Johanna Maria “Jenny” Lind, otherwise known as the “Swedish Nightingale,” was a soprano and one of the most well know opera performers throughout Europe during the 19th century. In addition to her European career, she also toured throughout the United States from 1850 to 1852 and was most well known for her partnership with Phineas Barnum, the founder of the Barnum and Bailey circus. 

Jenny Lind portrait on sheet music         Frédéric Chopin

Lind was introduced to Chopin by a mutual acquaintance, Mrs. Grote, in England in 1848. Lind was debuting the role of Amina at the Queen’s Theatre and Mrs. Grote invited Chopin to her box seat, but due to his poor health conditions which kept him from being able to climb stairs Chopin declined her offer. When Lind heard about this, she swiftly negotiated an orchestra seat for Chopin. Naturally, it can only be imagined that this was an unforgettable performance for him. Chopin continued seeing Lind after this performance. In his personal letters he wrote phrases that suggested intimacy such as “we did not leave the piano from 9 to 1 in the night.”[2] Both Lind’s and Chopin’s letters and memoirs indicate that the two discussed marriage, however, they most likely never married because of Chopin’s poor health.[3] In 1849, Chopin left England for France, where he spent the last months of his life. Lind secretly met with him for four weeks but fled Paris due to the cholera outbreak. Chopin died just months after her departure. However, shortly before his death, Chopin received 25,000 Francs from an anonymous benefactor. It was not until 2003 that researchers found evidence that Lind was the generous philanthropist due to her wealth, plans to marry Chopin, and the dates the donation was given. She must have finalized the arrangement during her visit with Chopin before fleeing Paris. 

The manuscript

“Recueil de Mazurkas de F. Chopin” is a collection of four mazurkas composed by Chopin. While the cover of the manuscript states that Otto Goldschmidt (1829-1907), Lind’s piano accompanist and later husband, is the arranger, secondary sources claim that Lind wrote the arrangements. Each mazurka remains true to Chopin’s original composition, including melody and key signature, and “she sang Chopin’s melody as written by the composer.”[4] The manuscript does not state the title of each individual mazurka. Instead, Lind uses different tempo markings to signify the beginning of each one. The tempo markings suggest that the mazurkas were performed continuously as one piece. Lind’s arrangement begins with Mazurka Op. 50, N. 2 in Ab major (allegretto), followed by Op. 30, N. 1 in C minor (allegretto non tanto), then Op. 30, N. 2 in B minor (vivace), and ended with Op. 24, N. 3 in Ab major (moderato con anima). 

Page numbers Tempo markings by Lind Chopin's mazurka (audio link, SuNET)
2 - 7 Allegretto Op. 50, N. 2 ( Ab major)
7 - 10 Allegretto non Tanto Op. 30, N. 1 (C minor)
10 - 14 Vivace Op. 30, N. 2 (B minor)
15 - 18 Moderato con anima Op. 24, N. 3 (Ab major)

Lind’s arrangement of Op. 24, N. 3 has received the most attention and was performed the most during her concert tours. Unlike the Italian texts used in the other mazurkas, this movement comes from Jenny Lind’s memoir.[5] It is still unclear if these are Lind’s words, a friend wrote them, or she referenced a poem. Due to the discovery of the lyrics in the memoir and a transcription of this arrangement, the only found recording or performance of Op. 24, N. 3 is from the 2004 production of Chopin and the Nightingale.[6]

Lyrics to Op. 24, N. 3 (Moderato con anima)

Mio pover cor, lascia il dolor

Ah divin piacer d’amor. 

Ricer d’amor. 

O speranza vien ah vien dal ciel, 

Fido amore mai non perirá,

No, no, no, no, no, no. 

Riman fedel al tuo amor,

Al dolce fido amore

Mai non perirá ah!

My poor heart, leave the pain

Oh divine pleasure of love. 

In search of love. 

Oh hope coming from the sky, 

Faithful love will never die,

No, no, no, no, no, no, 

Stay faithful to your love 

The sweet faithful love 

That will never die![7]

Lind’s first performance of her arrangement of Op. 24, No. 3 was on December 28, 1855 for Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle. Later, she performed her entire piece, “Recueil de Mazurkas de F. Chopin,” for the Queen on May 30, 1865 at Buckingham Palace. Lind continued performing Op. 24, N. 3 from 1856-1858 during her European concert tours which included sites such as cities in Holland and Poland. Considering Lind’s desire to marry Chopin, the generous donation she gifted him, and the amount of grief in her personal letters at the time of Chopin’s death, it can be inferred that the lyrics of “faithful love will never die” refers to Lind’s love for Chopin. 

Arrangement of mazurkas  

Despite Lind’s romantic encounters with Chopin, it is important to note that Lind was not the first opera singer who arranged and performed Chopin mazurkas. Contralto, pianist, and composer, Pauline Viardot (1821-1910) arranged fifteen of Chopin’s mazurkas for voice—six of which are published. Viardot’s first performance of her mazurka arrangements was on May 12, 1848—years before Lind wrote her arrangements. Most scholars have argued that Chopin was not impressed by Viardot’s arrangements. Although Chopin never told Viardot to stop singing and performing them, as she received standing ovations, he also never requested for her to sing them.[7]Since Lind composed and performed her arrangements after Chopin’s death and, at this time, there are no concert reviews of her performances, it is next to impossible to understand the opinions of Chopin and Chopin scholars on her arrangements.

Pauline Viardot

Viardot and Lind’s paths crossed multiple times and the two divas knew of each other. In fact, Lind even performed one of Viardot’s mazurka arrangements in 1858 during a performance in Poznań.[8] It is also known that Lind and Viardot sang a duet at the first performance of “Recueil de Mazurkas de F. Chopin” on May 30, 1865.[9] While Lind and Viardot both arranged Op. 50, N. 2 in Ab major, they used different texts for the lyrics. Considering their appreciation for Chopin’s music and the lyrics to Lind’s arrangement of Op. 24, N. 3, I would like to conclude by suggesting that perhaps Viardot inspired Lind to pay her own homage to Chopin and that Viardot’s arrangements served as a framework for Lind to process her grief after Chopin’s death. While research about Chopin and Lind’s relationship is still relatively recent, this manuscript within the Jenny Lind Collection offers numerous ways to think about their mysterious and brief relationship.



Jenna Przybysz Jenna Przybysz is a doctoral student in ethnomusicology at Stanford University. Her current research focuses on the popularity, circulation, and performance of Black music in Poland. In particular, she is interested in the relationship between music and solidarity, the significance of music institutions, and the effects of cultural exchange programs.



Douel, Martial. “Chopin And Jenny Lind (London, 1848).” The Musical Quarterly XVIII, no. 3 (1932): 423–27.

HARLEY, MARIA ANNA, Susan Marie Praeder, and Louis Pomey. “CHOPIN AND WOMEN COMPOSERS: COLLABORATIONS, IMITATIONS, INSPIRATIONS.” The Polish Review 45, no. 1 (2000): 29–50.

Jorgensen, Cecilia, and Jens Jorgensen. Chopin and the Swedish Nightingale: The Life and Times of Chopin and a Romance Unveiled 154 Years Later. Icons of Europe, 2003.

Jorgensen, Jens A. “On the Trail of Mazurka in A-Flat, Opus 24, N° 3.” International Federation of Chopin Societies Chopin in the World (2005): 2.

Rockstro, W. S. Jenny Lind;a Record and Analysis of the “Method” of the Late Madame Jenny Lind-Goldschmidt. London :, 1894. 

[1] Spelling of "obligato" taken from Jens A Jorgensen, “On the Trail of Mazurka in A-Flat, Opus 24, N° 3,” n.d., 2.

[2] Cecilia Jorgensen and Jens Jorgensen, Chopin and the Swedish Nightingale: The Life and Times of Chopin and a Romance Unveiled 154 Years Later (Icons of Europe, 2003), 70.

[3] Jorgensen and Jorgensen, 73.

[4] Jorgensen, “On the Trail of Mazurka in A-Flat, Opus 24, N° 3.”

[5] Jorgensen and Jorgensen, Chopin and the Swedish Nightingale, 87.

[7] Maria Anna Harley, Susan Marie Praeder, and Louis Pomey, “Chopin And Women Composers: Collaborations, Imitations, Inspirations,” The Polish Review 45, no. 1 (2000): 35.

[8] Harley, Praeder, and Pomey, 34.

[9] Jorgensen, “On the Trail of Mazurka in A-Flat, Opus 24, N° 3.”