The Forever Alone Pianist

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Forever alone: a popular, usually humorous way for people to express online that they will never find lasting love and be single until the day they die.

Even though a pianist is capable of super-human like powers, such as hypnotizing their audience into feeling whatever emotion they wish to convey through the piano, sometimes there are issues with finding and keeping a significant other and being forever alone.

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Even Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, and Liszt, musical geniuses whose music is used even today to swoon lovers and captivate audiences, failed to find a life partner.

Perhaps every pianist goes through similar difficulties and can relate to the challenges being presented.

Have fun reading!

Loser Van Beethoven

How can a man who writes beautiful music that is played even in modern wedding ceremonies (such as the 2nd movement of the Pathetique piano sonata) end up never being married?

Let’s take a quick look at some of Beethoven’s lovers and see the reasons why his relationships didn’t work out!

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Love: Eleonore von Breuning. The Piano Sonata in C WoO 51 was one work that was dedicated to her. She was the sister of his bro, Stephan von Breuning.

Problem: According to one of Beethoven’s letters, it seemed that they had a quarrel of some sort and lost their friendship. She married Franz Wegeler in 1802.

Love: Magdalena Willman. She was a soprano.

Problem: Said Beethoven was “too ugly and half crazy”. She probably only used him to advance her own career. (Source)

Love: Therese Malfatti. She was the dedicatee of the famous Fur Elise.

Problem: Beethoven planned to proposed to her, but failed. According to one source, Beethoven planned to perform Fur Elise to her and propose, but got drunk and did not do it. She married Wilhelm von Droßdik, a Hungarian Count instead.

Love: Countess Giulietta Guicciardi. A pupil of Beethoven’s and the dedicatee of the Moonlight Sonata.

Problem: Social class. Married a count instead.

There are many other reported lovers of Beethoven, but this should suffice for understanding about Beethoven’s issues.

And let’s not forget about Beethoven’s physical appearance. According to many reports, Beethoven was short, had bushy eyebrows, lots of small pox scars, not orderly, and dressed badly. One time Beethoven was arrested by the police being confused for a homeless person. While the pictures and sculpture that we have today convey a certain image of Beethoven, we should not forget what sort of image he actually portrayed to the people in front of him.

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The majority of Beethoven’s lovers were students of his. They were usually of high social class. Beethoven, being a musician who was quite clumsy with his money, was of a lower social class, which may have led to the demise of many of his relationships. With Magdalena Willman, Beethoven may have had a chance at happiness since they were both musicians, but she was simply not attracted to the poor guy.

With the information above, it can be hypothesized that Beethoven failed at finding a significant other for two reason: he was ugly and was of a low social class.

Johannes Alone Brahms

I have mad respect for this man. Johannes Brahms, the man who willfully stayed in Clara Schumann‘s friend zone and took the phrase “bros before hoes” to the next level, ultimately died alone as well.

Did Brahms suffer from the same issues as Beethoven? Was Brahms ugly? Let’s take a look.

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Dayum! This man is beautiful! If Disney ever needed an actor for Prince Charming in the 19th century, they would most definitely choose a young Johannes Brahms. Brahms had no problems at attracting the ladies, and was known for having quite a few romantic attractions. But why is it that he never got married?

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It’s all her fault! Clara Schumann

Robert Schumann, a fellow composer and friend of Brahms, became sick, and, being a good bro, Brahms helped Robert Schumann’s wife with household chores and communicating with Robert. Brahms quickly fell in love with Robert’s wife, Clara Schumann, and developed a strong friendship with her.

After Robert’s death, Brahms and Clara remained good friends. She became a supporting figure for Brahms, encouraging him to compose and giving him feedback to his music.

It is unknown if Brahms made a move on Clara, but I choose to believe that he remained a true gentleman and never made an advance on her since she was the widow of his dear friend.

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I believe that because Brahms was deeply in love with Clara Schumann, he could not quite find himself to love another woman as deeply as he loved her. It may be because of this reason that he never married.

Desperate Chopin

If you could make a dollar for each time Chopin’s music was used for swooning, you’d have enough money to buy a Bosendorfer grand piano.

There are two lovers of Chopin that we can study briefly that will give us an understanding of why this romantic man never married.

They are Maria Wodzińska (1819 –  1896) and Amantine-Lucile-Aurore Dupin, better known as George Sand (1804 – 1876).

Maria Wodzinksa was a very talented artist who was the daughter of Count Wincenty and Countess Theresa Wodzińska (meaning she came from a pretty wealthy family). Here is a famous watercolor painting of Chopin she made:

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Pretty dayum good right?

Maria also was a talented pianist who studied with John Field and Chopin.

Chopin was a friend of the Wodzinksa family since childhood, and was asked to come visit the family in Dresden in 1835.

There, Chopin was able to meet his childhood friend who was at the age of 16 (I believe this was a legal age to marry at that time – possible source). Here is a portrait of her:

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Needless to say, Chopin could not resist her. Chopin may have found a way to make a move on her while teaching her (I’m guessing that it is a trend among great pianists to flirt with their students) and the two fell in love.

The next year, Chopin asked Maria to be married. Maria’s parents were not so approving of the relationship, but they allowed the great composer to show them if his health and income could improve, thus showing himself to be a suitable partner for their daughter. And what did Chopin do? He became increasingly sick, and was not doing so well financially either.

In 1837, their relationship ended. Four years later, Maria married to Józef Skarbek, the son of Chopin’s godfather. After their divorce, she married Władysław Orpiszewski in 1848. They lived happily until 1881, when Wladyslaw passed away.

A good bro always has his bro’s back. While Chopin was mourning over his loss and suffering from lung issues, his bro, Franz Liszt (who also made it to the forever alone list), decided to introduce Chopin to a new cutie, George Sand. Let’s take a look at her.

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In modern times, it’s no problem (at least it should not be) if we see a woman dressed this way.  However, in this time period, being a woman and dressing like a man was extremely improper and repulsive. Being a passionate novelist and feminist, George Sand choose to oppose the status quo of how women should dress. She justified her choice to dress this way by saying it was cheaper and easier to move in men’s clothes. Chopin was quite disgusted when he first met her. He even asked Liszt if she was a woman.

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In some bizarre and unknown way, the two fell in love and had a ten year long relationship from 1837-1847. The two seemed to benefit from their relationship by the prolific writings they were both able to produce during this period. However, the couple ran into two major problems.

Problem no. 1 – Chopin was always sick. And being sick, George Sand would have to take the role of a mother and would have to nurse the poor guy. Chopin died two years after their break up in 1847. While some believe that George Sand contributed to Chopin’s early death (he was really sad and was not taking care of himself), I choose to believe that if it was not for George Sand, Chopin may have died much earlier.

Problem no. 2 – Family Drama. I’ll try to make this short. George Sand had a daughter named  Solange and was in a bitter fight with her in regards to borrowing money. George asked Chopin to not be in contact with her, and he ignored her. Chopin was accused of being “in love” with Solange, which led to the couple fighting with each other. They eventually broke up, and seized talking to each other. George did not even attend the funeral for Chopin (for reasons unknown).

It seems that overall, the reason why Chopin failed to keep a lover was because he could not take care of himself. Being constantly ill, he should have taken better care of himself, but devoted himself to composing music.

Sad Liszt

Liszt, a rock star of the piano, was known for making countless women fall in love with him. Even while being in a committed relationship, he was accused of having affairs with other women. Let’s take a quick look at two women he had serious relationships with.

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Countess Marie D’Agoult: Met her in 1833 at the age of 22. A married women that Liszt was in a relationship with for 12 years. They had 3 children together. Their daughter, Cosima, would later marry Richard Wagner.

Carolyne Wittgenstein: A princess who Liszt met while in Russia in 1847. She left her husband for Liszt. She also made Liszt stop touring so that he could focus on their relationship (lame). They never officially married because of church issues surrounding her divorce with her husband, but they lived with each other while being unmarried. In 1860, they almost bypassed the church’s regulations of divorcing Carolyne’s husband, but failed. Their relationship ended shortly after.

Liszt was such a charming lad that he was able to attract women of a high class and even have them leave their wealthy spouses. But why is it that he never married?

After his failed love attempts, Liszt decided to become a monk of the Catholic Church in 1863. Two years later, he officially became a monk. He devoted his life to forever aloneness, teaching music and composing until his lonely death.

Liszt basically gave up on trying to find a suitable partner, and made the decision to be forever alone.

It is quite sad to see the issues that the composers to the music we play had to go through. It can be humbling to see that even they faced simple, human problems like we do…

Happy Pianists

The exceptions…

While reading about the above composers, it is important to not forget that there were many pianists who ended up living happily with a spouse. So if we ever get depressed and think that all pianists end up being alone, we should remember that there are actually more marriage pianists than unmarried. Let’s take a look at some of these pianists.

Scarlatti – Married to Maria Caterina Gentili (1728-1742). After her death, he married Anastasia Maxarti Ximenes.

J.S. Bach – Married to Maria Barbara Bach (1707-1720) and Anna Magdalena Bach (1721-1750). Maria died suddenly in 1720 from unknown causes (possibly pregnancy complications). Had 7 kids with Maria (4 survived infancy) and 13 from Anna (7 died young).

Haydn – Maria Anna Aloysia Apollonia. He was known for not being happy with her, as seen from the following quote from Haydn: A Creative Life in Music by Karl and Irene Geiringer: ‘But what upset Haydn the most was Maria Anna’s total lack of interest in his music. Outraged, he complained, “she doesn’t care a straw whether her husband is an artist or a cobbler.”’

Mozart – Married to Constanze Mozart (1782-1791).

Robert Schumann – Married to Clara Schumann.

Mendelssohn – Married to Cecile Charlotte Sophie Jeanrenaud (1887-1847).

Scriabin – Married to Vera Ivanova isokovich.

Rachmaninoff – Married to Natalia Alexandrovna Satina (1902-1943)

Of course, there are many other composers that could be added to the list, but this should suffice.

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