Queering Chopin: Research at the Brook Center’s Foundation for Iberian Music

Antoni Pizà has recently edited a compilation on Chopin’s sexuality for ITAMAR of the Universitat de València (see pp. 421ff).

The dossier presents four essays.  Pizà argues in “Love is a Pink Cake or Queering Chopin’s in Times of Homophobia” that Chopin’s heterosexuality has gone unquestioned for too long with terrible consequences.  Moritz Weber analyzes in “Chopins Männer” the misleading translations of the composer’s letters, especially as they refer to his love life.  Joan Estrany examines the composer’s intimate life as depicted in film in “Chopin y los Sand, amor a cuatro bandas.  Aproximación a la esfera privada de Fryderyk Chopin a partir de la película Pragnienie Miłośc”.  Finally, Javier Albo’s “¿Es gay la música de Chopin?  Aspectos de la recepción de la música de Chopin en el siglo XIX” examines the role of women and the “feminine” in the contruction and dissemination of Chopin’s music.

The articles highlight the right to know whether Chopin was gay and contextualize this inquiry in a very long and pervasive historiographical tradition, essentially two hundred years long, dedicated to examining Chopin sexual orientation, on the one hand, and on the other the more recent tradition of queering western classical music composers. The main point is not to demonstrate categorically that Chopin was “gay” (a relative, modern identity marker in any case) but rather to highlight the perversive discourses that have presented him as unequivocally heterosexual.

After Antoni Pizà published an essay of Chopin’s sexuality in 2010, the controversy really took off in the winter of 2020 when Moritz Weber presented a two-part radio documentary on the mistranslation of the composer’s letters.

This radio documentary was picked up by many important media outlets including CNN, El mundo, The Guardian, Le Figaro, etc., causing a small succès de scandale. See these links.