When the toddler took to calling him “P’tit Chopin”, the composer melted. He spent hours cradling the child, kissing her tiny hands, making faces and playing peek-a-boo. The enchanting tot was Louise Viardot – “Louisette” – the daughter of Chopin’s cherished friend, the Spanish singer and composer Pauline Viardot.
In 1843, eighteen-month old Louisette came to stay with Chopin and George Sand at Nohant, the couple’s country estate. Louisette’s pixie-like, almost magical presence lent a much-needed sparkle to the household….bringing together the two adults who had drifted apart and were leading solitary lives, side-by-side.
Chopin composed his only lullaby, or Berceuse, the following summer. It is some of his most hypnotic writing. Gossamer, delicate, and tender from start to finish. Chopin planned to call the piece “Variations” – and it is a constellation of variations, hanging above a gently rocking left hand .
But he settled on Berceuse - literally, “cradle song” - likely with the smiling memory of a tiny, adored and and adoring muse in mind. - Jennifer Foster