Paul Dukas, Francis Poulenc, Vincenzo Bellini, Edourard Lalo, Daniel Auber, George Enescu, Georges Bizet, Ernest Chausson, Luigi Cherubini…Fryderyk Chopin. All gathered in one very quiet place. So many composers; such a hush – reverence - we’re at the most visited cemetery in the world: Paris’ prodigious, prestigious Père Lachaise.
Père Lachaise: One hundred-nineteen acres on the Boulevard de Ménilmontant. There, thousands of luminaries who lived or loved in the City of Lights are interred and hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world go to pay homage. Molière, Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf and Jim Morrison are buried there. Perhaps this says it all: Père Lachaise has its own iPhone app.
The star-studded necropolis is the Number One Destination for any Chopin fan in Paris. There is a caveat: Tony Bennett might’ve left his heart in San Francisco; Chopin’s is in Warsaw, ensconced in a pillar in Holy Cross Church, in accordance with the composer’s deathbed wishes.
The day he was interred, mourners walked the three-mile procession from La Madeleine to Père Lachaise. No graveside speech was made. None was needed. Chopin’s coffin was lowered into a plot between Luigi Cherubini’s and Vincenzo Bellini’s. It was perhaps the first time that the composer’s own “Funeral March” from his Piano Sonata No. 2 accompanied a burial ceremony…a ritual so common today that it’s become a cliché. Close your eyes for a moment and you can practically hear it. Open them, regardless of the season you’ll see fresh-cut flowers festooned around the tomb…a bearing witness to the everlasting pull of the poet of the piano. - Jennifer Foster