My most recent research trip to France was in fall 2011, and the materials I brought back from this trip and my earlier one are going to keep me busy for years. Which is good, because there isn’t much on the internet, as readers of this blog already know. But occasionally, this IS something amazing on the web– case in point, a friend alerted me to a beat up “Franchomme Rondo” for sale on Ebay for $6, in its original French edition. Not having heard of a Rondo by Franchomme, I bought it of course! This is now the oldest piece of sheet music I own- it turned out to be an 1833 publication by Jules Forest, a lawyer and amateur cellist, violinist and conductor who met Franchomme after one of Franchomme’s concerts. They became good friends, and Franchomme’s time spent at the Forest Touraine house, le Côteau, probably inspired his daughter to buy a property in the same region. (See my photos of both houses at http://www.louise-dubin.com/Franchomme.html.) Jules’ daughter, Adele, met Chopin in Paris in 1833 and a few weeks later, it was arranged that Chopin take a holiday with Franchomme at le Côteau, where Adele took a few piano lessons with Chopin. More importantly, she was the dedicatee of the compositional collaboration between Franchomme and Chopin, the Grand Duo Concertant on Themes from Meyerbeer’s Robert le Diable, which was presented to her and her cello-playing father on this visit. In September 1833, Chopin and Franchomme performed the Grand Duo in Tours (nine miles from Le Côteau), at a concert arranged by Jules Forest, in what may have been its first performance. There is a well-known (published) letter from Chopin to Franchomme written after his reluctant departure from his holiday, reminiscing about le Côteau and the game he and Franchomme had played with the local peasant girls in a barn, among other things. But back to the Forest Rondo- before any of this happened, earlier in 1833, Jules Forest dedicated this technically challenging work to Franchomme. The Pleyel publication features Franchomme’s name prominently (see image below), but leaves out this poem dedication that Forest wrote on the manuscript:
Franchomme, c’est à toi que ce Rondo s’adresse,
Il est bien en dessous de tout ce que tu fais,
Mais sous tes doigts, appuis de sa faiblesse,
Il peut encore avoir quelque succès.
Par ton dévoué et sincère ami,
27 juin 1833
So sad this poem wasn’t published – too self-derogatory maybe? Franchomme would honor Jules Forest in return in 1841, by dedicating to Forest his own very challenging work, the Adagio and Bolero.