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Prof. Joseph Elsner guides his protégé Frydryk Chopin through his formative years to early adulthood in Poland. At a recital in a duke's home Chopin insults the new Russian-installed governor, and must flee the country. The professor takes him to Paris, where he eventually comes under the wing and influence of novelist George Sand and rises to prominence in the music world, to the exclusion of his old friends and patriotic feelings towards Poland. Written by
Ron Kerrigan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Liberace, who was in 1945 performing as "Walter 'Buster' Keys," stated that he got the idea of having an ornate candelabra on his piano from the scene in this film when Merle Oberon carries a candelabra into the darkened salon and places it on the piano to reveal Chopin as the pianist rather than Franz Liszt. See more »
Almost all the pianos in the movie are artcase pianos made after the death of Chopin, the sound we hear is also of modern pianos. See more »
"A Song to Remember" is supposed to be the life of Chopin but in fact, very little in it is historically accurate. It's still a beautiful, emotional, and sumptuous movie, filled with the heavenly music of Chopin played by Jose Iturbi.
"A Song to Remember" helped to popularize Chopin's romantic, passionate music and launched Cornel Wilde's star into the heavens. Though he's never done much for me personally, he cuts a dashing figure as Chopin. The Chopin of Columbia Pictures is a strong patriot of Poland who, under the influence of the controlling George Sand, becomes a self-involved artist. Sand believed (here anyway) that the artist needed to serve himself alone and not others. Thus, she cut him off from his teacher and friend, Professor Elsnore, who wants Chopin to finish his magnificent Polonaise, a freedom cry for his beloved Poland, which is being suppressed by the Russians. Under Sand's control, Chopin turns out little ditties instead.
There really was a Professor Elsnore, but he did not teach Chopin piano, rather, music theory and composition. The role is played effectively by Paul Muni, who works to protect the change in Chopin's personality and apathy toward politics to his family and friends. Merle Oberon is stunning as a cold George Sand. Nina Foch plays Chopin's Polish girlfriend Constantia (and in reality, Constantia did exist).
Well, what is true and what isn't? Chopin was a child prodigy, he did meet George Sand at a party which was also attended by Franz Liszt, the bad weather in Mallorca nearly killed him, and in fact, after that time, he was never fully healthy again. He broke with George Sand two years before he died. She is the one who tried to get back together. His burial isn't covered in the film, but Chopin is buried in Paris. At his request, his heart was removed and buried in Poland.
One of the scenes in "A Song to Remember" has a place in history, though not perhaps in Chopin's, but that of another famous pianist. During a party, it is announced that Franz Liszt will play. The room is plunged into darkness. As the audience listens, George Sand walks over to the piano and places a candleabra on top of it to reveal that it is not Liszt at all, but Chopin. It is said that because of that scene, Liberace never played piano without his own famous candelabra.
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