Talk:Frédéric Chopin

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RfC: Chopin's nationality[edit]

Clear majority voted for Option A, by a wide margin as seen below. GRUcrule (talk) 19:52, 20 December 2013 (UTC)
The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Should we mention Chopin's nationality as Polish or Polish-French? A debate on this has been simmering on for sometime now.

Prior discussions[edit]

1. Nationality
2. Talk:Frédéric_Chopin/Archive_2#Nationality (second discussion)
3. Nationality (third discussion)
4. Nationality standards?
5. LEAD: Polish, French or Polish-French?
6. Nationality (one more time)

Solutions considered[edit]

As consensus has and will always change, here are some solutions which are being considered for proposal:

  • Solution A - Describe Chopin as Polish in the lead
  • Solution B - Describe Chopin as a Polish-French in the lead
  • Solution C - Describe Chopin as Polish and French in the lead
  • Solution D - Describe Chopin as Polish, French-naturalized in the lead
  • Solution E - Do not describe his nationality in the lead. Discuss it in the body of the article.

Please weigh-in, indicating the solution(s) you support using the example format below. Include a brief explanation of your rationale. Or, alternatively, if you have some idea which hasn't previously been put forward, please let us know!

Example format

  • Support A - He is clearly a Polish. - Example 1 (talk) 00:00, 14 November 2257 (UTC)
  • Support C - He is of Polish and French Nationality - Example 2 (talk) 00:00, 14 November 2257 (UTC)
  • Support E - It is too tough of an issue to deal with. Let's not mention it. - Example 3 (talk) 00:00, 14 November 2257 (UTC)

Thanks everyone for the suggestions/comments/opinions in advance!

Please note that this RfC should not be construed as a vote rather than an attempt to measure consensus. As always let's keep the conversations at a civilized level and focus completely on content, not contributors or their motives.


How many times do I have to refer you to WP:GHITS and WP:NPOV? It's a factor of much less than 10, because (And I've pointed this out to you repeatedly) adding words greatly decreases the number of Google search results. 2AwwsomeTell me where I screwed up. See where I screwed up 14:04, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Support D to indicate that he composed and achieved fame while living in France. Also, all that discussion about his nationality and how he always considered himself Polish should be moved from the first paragraph of the lead into a later paragraph. The first paragraph should be about why he is notable, it should be concerned with his music and his work. FurrySings (talk) 12:35, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Support A - Chopin was a Pole who lived in France as an exile. I do not edit on this page but have a interest in and love classical music. --Woogie10w (talk) 13:00, 13 November 2013 (UTC)Also Paul Hindemith was a German composer and Arnold Schoenberg an Austrian even though both became American citizens. We would never refer to them as Americans--Woogie10w (talk) 19:44, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
  • A. Did Chopin ever consider himself French? Don't people get to say who they are anymore? Ravpapa (talk) 14:11, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
Much as I disagree with some of the POV-pushing here, primary sources usually should not be used for determining nationality. Toccata quarta (talk) 14:44, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
The POV you and the other members of your tag team are pushing is nationalist propaganda, the POV I am 'pushing' is neutral. Read policies before making hypocritical personal attacks. 2AwwsomeTell me where I screwed up. See where I screwed up 18:35, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
  1. I'm not Polish, nor am I aware of having Polish ancestors.
  2. "You are engaging in POV-pushing" is not a personal attack; "you are a(n) [expletive]" is. Toccata quarta (talk) 18:41, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
Where did I say that? 2AwwsomeTell me where I screwed up. See where I screwed up 18:43, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
Say what? You accused me of "pushing ... nationalist propaganda", and you deemed "POV-pushing"—a concept to which you have also referred—a personal attack. Toccata quarta (talk) 18:47, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
Just because I prefer a neutral POV to your completely biased one, it doesn't mean I'm a POV pusher. And where did I say "you are a(n) [expletive]"? 2AwwsomeTell me where I screwed up. See where I screwed up 18:52, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
You didn't say that; after all, I never accused you of making a personal attack. Toccata quarta (talk) 19:32, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Support A - mainly because I'm in agreement with Toccata quarta in regards to how reliable sources state him. Plus, I believe this column from the La Jolla Music Society is an informative read on the very topic. GRUcrule (talk) 16:10, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Support A- as per Dale Tucker (1998). Frederic Chopin. Alfred Music Publishing. p. 5. ISBN 978-1-4574-0134-3.  - though French should be mentioned in the article as it is now - all is fine -- Moxy (talk) 18:39, 13 November 2013 (UTC)#
It isn't mentioned, because it was removed and then the page was protected to the wrong version 2AwwsomeTell me where I screwed up. See where I screwed up 19:17, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
Current version says in the lead "Although Chopin's father was a Polonized Frenchman and Chopin himself was exiled in France from the age of 20 until his death, the composer always regarded himself as a Pole rather than a Frenchman" then outside the lead in the first section we say "Chopin's father, Nicolas Chopin, was a Frenchman from Lorraine who had emigrated to Poland in 1787 at the age of sixteen" - thus we can all imply hes of French heritage because of his fathers. This is how most bio confront the situation as we do here - V. K. Subramanian (2004). The Great Ones. Abhinav Publications. p. 225. ISBN 978-81-7017-421-9. . -- Moxy (talk) 19:34, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
By 'most bios' are you referring to the number of Google hits or the sources provided (which is 5 v 4)? And the article mentions that he was not French. 2AwwsomeTell me where I screwed up. See where I screwed up 19:38, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
General statement - out of all the "book sources" (dont care about Google hits of non scholarly websites or news papers) I can find only one small bio that mentions both Polish-French at William J. Roberts (2004). France: A Reference Guide from the Renaissance to the Present. Infobase Publishing. p. 214. ISBN 978-0-8160-4473-3.  -- Moxy (talk) 19:57, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
But did you search for Polish-French? And are you sure Encyclopedia Britannica is non-scholarly? 2AwwsomeTell me where I screwed up. See where I screwed up 20:00, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
We are only here to regurgitate what the majority of sources say and in the manner they say it. We have lots of space here thus we have more then enough room to explain the situation and not just a small bio trying to jam all in a few paragraphs. We have done this in the article pretty well I think (first time here today). Even non scholarly articles like this new paper confront the situation. So from what I am reading all over they refer to his "nationally" as Polish and in the same breath say he was "ethnically" half-French. -- Moxy (talk) 20:14, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
And by 'majority' do you mean 5 vs 4? Or are you talking about 5 vs 0 because the 4 supporting the fact that he was Polish-French removed by a biased POV pusher? 2AwwsomeTell me where I screwed up. See where I screwed up 20:22, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
Yes Britannica and the book France : a reference guide from the Renaissance to the present say this - in the case of Britannica they are trying to get you to read on with a subscription....thus both are very small bios trying to say a lot in a confined space. The book Jacqueline Dineen (1998). Frederic Chopin. Lerner Publications. p. 4. ISBN 978-1-57505-248-9.  does not say this in the copy I can read. - as in his "nationality" was French. As for Northern light : the Skagen painter I cant see it but why a panting book as a source? So from what I can see in the majority of source that I have found today that cover the topic in-depth say his "nationally" is Polish with a French background - as we explain in this article. I see no problem in expanding the section "Nationality" but to add this contentions point in the lead as if it was fact without explanation as we do later is not serving our readers well. -- Moxy (talk) 22:24, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
Given that last point you should change it to Support E. 2AwwsomeTell me where I screwed up.See where I screwed up. 12:07, 9 December 2013 (UTC)
  • Support E. Came here via RFC, so not involved. I like the way NPR cut the cake. It is ok to not put the nationality of people front and center and then give full details late. Say he was Polish-Born in the lead, then have the nationality section down below really go into it. That is informative while not distracting from the guy's works and life. I know the issue is important, but I think being broad in the lead and having a good nationality section could make for a much improved article. Best of luck. AbstractIllusions (talk) 07:32, 14 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Support A. Where Encyclopaedia Britannica is concerned, Moxy has exposed the heart of the matter. On the subject of Chopin, E.B. is sloppy and perfunctory and cannot be a guide to the much more precise and comprehensive Wikipedia. Nihil novi (talk) 15:15, 14 November 2013 (UTC)
Sources are not unreliable just because they oppose your view. And Wikipedia is not a reliable source, see WP:NOTRS. 2AwwsomeTell me where I screwed up. See where I screwed up 16:35, 14 November 2013 (UTC)
Encyclopaedia Britannica's expression, "Polish-French", is sloppy. What on earth does it mean?
Does it refer to a given individual's birthplace, ethnicity, sense of national identity, or citizenship, or to some combination of these?
Or does the expression refer to these characteristics in relation to the individual's parents?
Perhaps a mathematician could calculate for us the doubtless large number of possible combinations of characteristics that can lurk behind the vague expression, "Polish-French"? Nihil novi (talk) 10:30, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
The expression "Polish" is even more vague. It could refer to all of those, plus the fact that they polish things. 2AwwsomeTell me where I screwed up.See where I screwed up. 12:07, 9 December 2013 (UTC)
  • Support A, or (less-preferred, because not really relevant in the lead, but acceptable) D. At the time when I was active editing WP, (and was hoping to bring this article up to GA quality) I gave a lot of thought to this issue. All reliable musical dictionaries, critics and biographers regard Chopin as Polish. And he regarded himself as Polish. There is no problem providing citations for all this. The fact that he took French nationality (which was a convenience for him) made him legally French, I suppose, but this is trivial in the context of his music, which did not draw on French sources, as I hope the maturing article will point out when it starts being edited properly once again. I don't see in Wikipedia, e.g., Winston Churchill being described as American , even though his mother was an American and he himself received honorary American citizenship. Incidentally the cluster of notes in the first two sentences of the lead section should surely be removed, according to WP:MOS. The right place to explain in cited detail about squabbles of this sort is in the text, not the lead. I also believe the second sentence of the lead belongs in the body of the article as being WP:UNDUE in this section; later in the lead in the second paragraph Chopin's residence in France is quite adequately described, and the 'after age of 20' doesn't need to be anticipated in the first paragraph. Best, --Smerus (talk) 18:03, 14 November 2013 (UTC)
Agree completely with Smerus. The sentence "Although Chopin's father was a Polonized Frenchman and Chopin himself was exiled in France from the age of 20 until his death, the composer always regarded himself as a Pole rather than a Frenchman." should be removed from the lead altogether - all this polemic over his nationality is not nearly as important as his impact on piano technique and composition, as well as his importance in the emerging "star" culture surrounding great solo performers (especially pianists) - points which, in fact, are undercovered in the article itself. Ravpapa (talk) 18:15, 14 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Support A This entire controversy is absurd. Trilobitealive (talk) 02:29, 15 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Further my post supporting A: From Moritz Karasowski, Frederic Chopin: His Life and Letters (1906), volume II, page 368: "When [Chopin's] remains were lowered into the grave, Polish earth was scattered on the coffin. It was the same that Chopin had brought from the village of Wola nineteen years before as a memorial of his beloved fatherland, and shortly before his death had requested that if he might not rest in Polish soil his body might at least be covered with his native earth. Chopin's heart, which had beaten so warmly, and suffered so deeply for his country was, according to his desire, sent to the land whose sun had shone on his happy youth; it is preserved ad interim in the Church of the Sacred Cross at Warsaw."
Can we not let this poor piano-playing Pole (to paraphrase Paderewski) rest in peace?
I move to close this RFP. Ravpapa (talk) 13:19, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
As the sole Arthropod-American Wikipedia editor, I strongly second the motion. This whole thing is an example of what happens when you have a strongly POV minority trying to change articles. Trilobitealive (talk) 16:41, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
Don't you mean the NPOV minority? Anyway, WP:RS and WP:NPOV are core content policies, which cannot be superseded by consensus. So this means nothing. 2AwwsomeTell me where I screwed up. See where I screwed up 16:47, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
That's not how it works. Volunteer Marek  17:00, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
Yes it is. Let me quote:

"...not superseded by other policies or guidelines, or by editors' consensus. 2AwwsomeTell me where I screwed up. See where I screwed up 17:07, 16 November 2013 (UTC)

Keep telling yourself that. Volunteer Marek  17:19, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
Keep telling me that 2AwwsomeTell me where I screwed up.See where I screwed up. 12:07, 9 December 2013 (UTC)
  • "Polish-born" in lead: This source uses this wording which seems to side-step the issue nicely. The French aspect shouldn't be suppressed as we do have sources (1 2) that describe him so. We might also need to mention that the nationality issue is a touchy topic in Poland (source). Cheers, --Dailycare (talk) 14:45, 1 December 2013 (UTC)
  • Support E, "Polish-born" in lead - Per User:AbstractIllusions,Dailycare; Always a good idea to shy away from definitively asserting that "Person X is of some given nationality" when there is even the smallest ambiguity on the matter. WP shouldn't be deciding what someone's proper nationality is. Using "Polish-born" strikes me as a nice way to reflect the fact that most sources do refer to him as Polish, while not positively asserting that he is either Polish or French. NickCT (talk) 16:06, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
Dailycare and NickCT: I don't know how familiar you are with Chopin's biography, but your comments are not addressing a very important point: that Chopin was not merely Polish, he was emphatically Polish. He never identified himself as French, on the contrary, he always saw himself as an exile. His letters, his music, all his documented comments, from the day of his departure from Poland to his burial, all cry out his love and yearning for his native land. All the sources agree about this, even the two which in their leads refer to him as "Polish French". To call him anything other than Polish is not merely to distort the sources, but to do him a profound injustice. Ravpapa (talk) 17:24, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
@Ravpapa - Self identification is important. But it's not a be all and end all. And I agree, from my uninformed POV Chopin certainly does look "mostly or almost entirely Polish". That said, I think anyone who'd argue that Chopin was at least in some part French by virtue of his father and the fact that he spent half his life in France, would be making a reasonable point. Why not leave his nationality vague in the lead, but reflect the majority of sources and his own identification by calling him "Polish-born"? I don't see the injustice. It would seem we're placing emphasis on his "polishness" while simultaneously saying that his nationality was not definitively Polish. NickCT (talk) 00:42, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
By your reasoning, George Washington should be described only as "British-born", since he spent the first two-thirds of his life (1732–1776) as a British subject. Let's not muddle matters by mentioning that in the latter third of his life he thought of himself as an American!
The fact is that "–born" adjectives are so ambiguous as to be meaningless. I don't know whether one of Wikipedia's goals is meaninglessness. Nihil novi (talk) 04:58, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
How Washington should be described turns exclusively on what sources say about him, not on what editors think about him. There are sources that describe Chopin's nationality in a more nuanced way than merely "Polish", so allowing for them with "Polish-born" seems reasonable to me (and, importantly, since at least one source uses that exact language). We can expand on the subject a bit in the article body, maybe even mentioning that his nationality is a bit of a touchy subject in Poland, at least one source says that. Cheers, --Dailycare (talk) 19:37, 4 December 2013 (UTC)
Yes but the sources which describe Chopin as "Polish born" rather than just "Polish" are in a small minority. So exactly by your logic, you should switch your vote. Volunteer Marek  20:10, 4 December 2013 (UTC)
@Nihil novi - re "should be described only as "British-born"," - Sort of, yeah. I'd oppose saying some like "George Washington was American." in the lead of his article. A reasonable person might dispute that unqualified assertion. NickCT (talk) 02:34, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
I haven't counted sources on this page, but even I now know (having arrived via the RFC) that several sources describe his nationality in a more nuanced way than just "Polish". One source cited above describes him as Polish, but that "the situation is not simple". Saying "Polish-born" in the lead accomodates all the sources that I know, at least, and gives primacy to Polishness in line with what the majority of sources say. --Dailycare (talk) 20:24, 5 December 2013 (UTC)

I make the following compromise proposal (F) for the lead, in view of comments above: "was a Romantic-era Polish composer, who spent most of his mature career in France." I believe that this statement is compatible with all recognised authorities. The detail (e.g. his father, his exile, his passport, etc.) is already covered in the text of the article. --Smerus (talk) 21:18, 5 December 2013 (UTC)

Sounds good to me. Cheers, --Dailycare (talk) 21:16, 7 December 2013 (UTC)
Me,too Ravpapa (talk) 17:09, 8 December 2013 (UTC)
  • Support F or E. Why on Earth did it take this many kilobytes to find what seems like the most natural way to describe him? Yes, he was born in Poland and apparently considered himself Polish. Yes, he spent most of his life in France. Let's just say that instead of turning it into a civil war or contemplating dreadful constructs like Polish-French, which are anachronistic at best. Sai Weng (talk) 02:00, 13 December 2013 (UTC)

RfC Close[edit]

This RfC has been around for three days now, I'd like to ask that it be closed if it doesn't last for more than a couple of days or so. By my reading, option A seemed to garner the most support, with D coming in second, and C/E coming in last place.

  • Solution A - (12 support)
    • Support: me, Piotrus, Toccata quarta, Volunteer Marek, Woogie10w, Smerus, Moxy, GRUcrule, Nihil novi, Trilobitealive, Ravpapa
    • Weak or qualified support:
  • Solution B - (0 support, 0 weak support)
    • Support:
    • Weak or qualified support:
  • Solution C - (1 support, 0 weak support)
    • Support: 2Awwsome
    • Weak or qualified support:
  • Solution D - (0 support, 1 weak support)
    • Support:
    • Weak or qualified support: Piotrus
  • Solution E - (3 support, 0 weak support)
    • Support: AbstractIllusions, Dailycare, NickCT
    • Weak or qualified support:
  • Solution F - (1 support, 0 weak support)
    • Support: Smerus
    • Weak or qualified support:

Though there seems to be some off-topic arguing between a couple of users, I hope this is a clear consensus that satisfies all parties. There is no hurry, but does anyone have thoughts about this? Lord Sjones23 (talk - contributions) 23:45, 18 November 2013 (UTC)

The default duration of an RfC is 30 days or... if the community's response became obvious very quickly, the RfC participants can agree to end it, it can be formally closed by any uninvolved editor. -- Moxy (talk) 23:47, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
I completely understand. I think we should let this run for the full 30 days this RFC was opened (on December 15.) Lord Sjones23 (talk - contributions) 00:58, 24 November 2013 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Edit request, 22 Feb 2017[edit]

Paris should be linked the first time the name appears in the text. (talk) 12:04, 22 February 2017 (UTC)

Not according to WP:OVERLINK: "the following are not usually linked: ... The names of major geographic features, locations (e.g. United States, London, New York City, France, Berlin...)". -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 12:18, 22 February 2017 (UTC)

"Fee of one guinea"[edit]

I'm always a little suspicious of current monetary value conversions. But surely, in 1848, after Britain's 1821 adoption of the Gold standard, a guinea was simply equivalent to 21 shillings, whatever relative value that was at the time? Martinevans123 (talk) 13:06, 27 April 2017 (UTC)

We could try {{Inflation}} which gives: "equivalent to £95 in 2015" ({{Inflation|UK|1.05|1848|fmt=eq|cursign=£}} or "equivalent to £1,115 in 2010" ({{Inflation|UKNGDPPC|1.05|1848|fmt=eq|cursign=£}}. That doesn't help much either, does it?. As usual, it would be better to find a reliable source for the current value of a Guinea from 1848. Until then, it's probably best to remove the previous (£1.05) or current (£245) attempts. -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 13:45, 27 April 2017 (UTC)

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Alleged 1847 "photo"[edit]

Re: this recent removal. The caption clearly said: "Alleged daguerreotype of Chopin, ca 1847 (found 2017)." Isn't there sufficient doubt to suggest that this image would be of general interest to readers, whether or not it could ever be proven to be genuine? I think there was quite a bit if discussion about this image when it surfaced? Thanks. Martinevans123 (talk) 13:17, 27 June 2017 (UTC)

It is only 'alleged', and moreover it is not clear on what authority it is alleged. As you can see in past comments in the talk page, at least one other 'alleged' photo has turned up for which the sources are dubious to say the least. The source given on the file in WikiCommons for this picture appears to be dead. This article is FA status and shouldn't contain information which cannot be reliably sourced. If there is a reliable citation which makes the status of this picture clear that might make reinstatement appropriate. Smerus (talk) 15:55, 27 June 2017 (UTC)
I can't argue with your policy-based logic. But I hope a new replacement source can be found, as the image caused quite a stir in the general press when it was unearthed. One might expect to find it via the External link provided to "Media from Commons". But that links to "Category:Frédéric Chopin" not to "Category:Portrait photographs of Frederic Chopin", where the image resides, together with 11 others. In fact, that first category is itself a separate sub-category of "Category:Frederic Chopin". Is a second Commons link called for, or some kind of adjustment at Commons? Martinevans123 (talk) 19:04, 28 June 2017 (UTC) p.s. if you search the html file redirect given, you'll find the source is here. So is there any problem, if the source at the file is simply updated?
Smerus, so would you like me to update it over there? Thanks. Martinevans123 (talk) 15:56, 5 July 2017 (UTC)
IMO - For myself I would want rather better support than the opinion of a Swiss doctor that this was a genuine find - and I think that WP deserves better as well. What do photo experts think of it - where and how was it found, and can those circumstances be proved - what do Chopin experts say about it, etc.etc. In brief, how do we know this isn't just the work of some ingenious fellow who is good at Photoshop? It seems from this site - - that there is quite a tradition of alleged 'Chopin photos' which pop up out of the blue.....Smerus (talk) 17:21, 5 July 2017 (UTC)
I'm asking if it's better to have a valid source at the Commons page so that we at least have an idea where it came from? I'm also suggesting that the way images have been categorised at Commons is far from ideal, because using the link in this article to go there means you might miss a lot of them. Martinevans123 (talk) 18:33, 5 July 2017 (UTC)
Yes, I see, you are absolutely right. Of course categorization in Commons is a large scale problem in general, but we ought I suppose to patch it up as a matter of principle when we see the opportunity.Smerus (talk) 19:39, 5 July 2017 (UTC)
OK. I'll see what I can do. Thanks. I also see your point about "My Little Pop-up Book of Chopin Photos". Martinevans123 (talk) 19:52, 5 July 2017 (UTC)