Chopin’s anti-Semitism-if we can call it that-may not have been as bad as his hypocrisy.
Frederic Chopin (1810-1949) was a composer of genius as well a legendary pianist. He wrote letters prolifically, and among his favorite derogatory terms were “Jew”-and “Hun.” Especially “Jew.”
“I didn’t expect such Jewish behavior from Pleyel… If we have to deal with Jews, let it at least be with orthodox ones…. Jews will be Jews and Huns will be Huns-that’s the truth of it, but what can one do? I’m forced to deal with them….”
A biographer of Chopin, Jeremy Siepmann, comments: “To put such deeply unattractive behavior in context, it must be said that, however repellent, the thoughtless, casual anti-Semitism evidenced in his correspondence was in no way peculiar to Chopin. It was common change among Poles of almost every class and political stripe.”
He continues: “More revealing of Chopin’s own character, and in some ways more disturbing, is his readiness to address the unsuspecting recipients of his abuse in terms of sincerest friendship.” A letter to Pleyel, written at the same time as the once just quoted, concludes with, “Au revoir, then, my dearest friend. Yours devotedly, F. Chopin.”
He had grown up in Poland-his father was French, hence the French name.
Poland, indeed, has historically been a font of anti-Semitism. There was even a pogrom in Poland AFTER World War II.