CHOPIN BIOGRAPHY CHOPIN BIOGRAPHY

Year 1810 Year 1810

The question of the date on which Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin entered the world has never been satisfactorily resolved: according to his own written testimony –
1 March
; according to the official entry in the baptismal register of Brochów parish church – 22 February. The place of birth is beyond dispute: Żelazowa Wola, a Mazovian village lying on the River Utrata, close to the Kampinos Forest, 54 kilometres west of Warsaw, belonging at that time to the family of Count Skarbek.

His father, Mikołaj (1771–1844), 'the lawful son of Franciszek Chopin, wheelwright, and Małgorzata Delfin, his wife', born in Marainville (Lorraine), had resided in Poland since 1787. He is known to have taken part in the Kościuszko Rising[1]. He became Polonised, and discharged the functions of governor, first to the Łączyński family, then to the Skarbeks. Fryderyk held his father in respect and esteem, and his death caused him considerable grief. His mother, Tekla Justyna (1782–1861), 'born of noble parents: Antonina (nee Kołomińska) and Jakub Krzyżanowski, lawful spouses', in Długie, in the Kujawy region, was raised as an orphan (a distant relative?) by the Skarbek family, with whom she resided. Unverified hypotheses were formerly advanced that she issued from a family of Polish Frankists[2]. Mother and son were linked by an extremely strong emotional bond. The wedding of Justyna and Mikołaj took place in 1806, in Brochów. Their first child, three years older than Fryderyk, was his sister Ludwika (1807–1855), later Jędrzejewiczowa[3], who displayed considerable musical and literary talents; she would care for him and watch over him all her life.

23 April. Baptism in the church of St Roch in Brochów, near Sochaczew. Chosen as godparents were Anna Skarbek, later Wiesiołowska, of Strzyżew, and Fryderyk Skarbek, a pupil of Mikołaj Chopin, a future scholar and writer.

1 October. Mikołaj Chopin is awarded a position at the Warsaw Liceum [secondary school], and moves with his family to the capital of the Grand Duchy of Warsaw. The Chopin family's first apartment is located in the Saxon Palace, in the right wing.


[1] National uprising of 1794 led by General Tadeusz Kościuszko (1746-1817) against the Russians and later the Prussians, in response to the second partition of Poland in 1793.
[2] Polish-Jewish anti-rabbinical mystic religious sect founded by the self-proclaimed messiah Jacob Frank (1726-1791).
[3] The suffix –owa (cf. also the form –ova, used here with Russian surnames) was traditionally added to the surname of her husband by a married woman (here: Kalasanty Jędrzejewicz and Ludwika Jędrzejewicz-owa). The endings –ska and -cka are also female forms, used both as a maiden form and a married form (e.g. Anna Czartoryska, married to Adam Czartoryski), whereas –ówna is a maiden form only.

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