Inspired By The Dying Of The Light
Listen to a nocturne by Frederic Chopin late at night in a darkened room — just you and the music — and your spirit is taken somewhere beautiful, melancholy, mysterious — passionate. You are immersed in emotion, and emerge in the dawn light, soul-cleansed.
There’s a lot of give in a Chopin nocturne, a looseness and fluidity to the sound, so interpretations vary enormously. The two pianists that I like best (today) are Dinu Lipatti and Brigitte Engerer. You might disagree with those choices but there’s a version of the nocturnes out there to suit everyone’s taste.
So I was intrigued to find that Lipatti, Engerer and Chopin share an important astrological signature. All three have the conjunction of Saturn (sadness) with Neptune (music), putting the meaning of this combination of energies into the tightest nutshell. This conjunction contains depth, divinity, sorrow, seriousness – and astonishing emotional power.
Chopin’s real birthdate is not absolutely certain, but oddly the time of his birth seems to be undisputed. It is 6 in the evening on either February 22 or March 1, 1810. Either date puts the conjunction at the root of his chart, and keeps the houses the same.
It’s interesting, and maybe instructive, to look at these three charts, as the creator and the two interpreters.
Chopin was well known for his technical mastery of the piano, as you might expect with Virgo Rising, and the Sun in the 6th house. That solar placement can also be the mark of an invalid, and Chopin was unwell for most of his life. He died of tuberculosis, aged 39, when Jupiter in his guise as the angel of release, came to his ascendant for the third time in his life. Chopin’s chronic illness must have influenced everything he did. It’s hard not to hear the pain, the tenuous grasp on life in those nocturnes, and the long nights floating in and out of fever, awake.
The nocturnes describe the gossamer beauty transience and fragility of life. But at the same time, the music itself is eternal and its surely their pure emotional energy that makes this so. Surely this is described by that Neptune in fiery Sagittarius conjuncting Saturn who is the legacy we leave behind, who represents continuity and longevity.
Chiron, who brings pain and illness, conjuncts his chart ruler Mercury to the degree on the March 1 birthday. I don’t have a birth time for Lipattie or Engerer, but it’s interesting that both have Chiron-Mars conjunctions, although Lipatti’s is wide. Both pianists have Suns ruled by Mars, the planet of action, and what they did for a living was to breathe life into written notes. Their job was to vitalise. Mars is the spark of life.
And the recordings that I love very much were made when both these pianists were close to their final illnesses.
Engerer died relatively young, aged 59, after a lifetime of Gauloise smoking. Look how her Venus (art and grace) conjuncts Chopin’s Neptune-Saturn conjunction in fiery Sagittarius, and her Libran Neptune-Saturn conjuncts his North Node and opposes his passionate Jupiter in Aries. So her own Neptune-Saturn has a Venusian flavour and she imbues Chopin’s Neptune-Saturn with her own Venus.
(Engerer was famous for her musical collaborations with Russian pianist Boris Berezovsky. They played four-handed pieces together. Libra, the sign of partners.)
Like Chopin’s, her Neptune -Saturn is sextile to Pluto, but for her, the planet of transformation is in the sign of performance, Leo. Performance properly is an act of magic, a shamanic inhabiting of the music and the moment. This came to her naturally: Pluto conjunct the instinctive South Node.
To hear her play some of Chopin’s nocturnes, click here –– and weep.
Then there’s Lipatti, whose Aries stellium lines up with Chopin’s Aries South Node, Pallas and Jupiter, and whose chart has the same narrow intensity as Chopin’s.
Lipatti’s stellium is fascinating. It’s led by Mercury, the communicator, and it’s in Aries, a sign which has the ability to just be in the moment, but which is also fiercely competitive. You have to be driven to be the best in order to make it on to the concert platform. The skill pulls the stellium and Chiron in Pisces bites at its tail:
Lipatti died youngest of all, at just 33 years old, after a drawn-out struggle with Hodgkin’s disease. Chiron not only propels his Aries stellium it trines his Saturn in emotional Cancer and the Neptune in Leo.
The Saturn-Neptune conjunction is also simply musical legacy but the richness of that legacy from all three musicians is written all over the charts not just in a few aspects. It’s the whole person and their life’s experience which goes into the music.
I’ll leave you to ponder the charts and the recordings yourself.
Click here to listen to Lipatti play a nocturne.