Tellefsen – student of Chopin
Already one year into his residence in Paris, Thomas Tellefsen decided that Fryderyk Chopin – “the divine Chopin” – was the greatest of pianists and that he wanted to be his student. However, to the struggling Tellefsen, Chopin long seemed unattainable as a teacher – until, on his return trip from Norway in November 1844, he met by chance his compatriot, the court assessor Peter Hersleb Smith, in Le Havre. Smith gave him a letter of recommendation to the poet Emil Barateau, who knew a friend of Chopin, Henri de Latouche (1785–1851), a French novelist, poet and editor of Le Figaro. The very next day after receiving the letter, de Latouche arranged Tellefsen's first meeting with a direct friend of Chopin, who happened to be George Sand. Soon, she organised a first meeting with Chopin, and from December 1844 until May 1847 Thomas Tellefsen had regular lessons with the Polish composer. The choice of Chopin as teacher proved to be fortunate in every respect. Chopin immediately recognized his Norwegian pupil's talent and met with him three times a week for the price of a single lesson. That period seems to have marked a great improvement in Tellefsen's playing technique and composition skills. Also in financial terms, Tellefsen’s situation changed for the better; Chopin employed him as one of his copyists, and his status of a student of Chopin resulted in better paid jobs for Tellefsen as a teacher of music.
Unfortunately, Tellefsen left little information about his studies with Chopin, but various reviews from his concerts point to the great influence exerted by his master. Around 1847, he found his way of playing as a pianist, and later he just improved on it. His interpretations were notable for the richness of dynamic nuances in the whole palette of volume and for the strong diversity of details. Also his rubato was described as “totally in the spirit of Chopin”.