Persons related to Chopin Persons related to Chopin

Emilia Borzęcka

Emilia  Borzęcka

*30 III 1832 Wytomyśl, +3 III 1911 Warszawa

Emilia Anastazja Nepomucena Borzęcka (b. Wytomyśl, 30 March 1832; d. Warsaw, 3 March 1911) was the daughter of Józef Borzęcki (1795–1875) and Katarzyna Borzęcka, daughter of Maurycy. The Borzęckis were married in the Church of St John in Warsaw in 1831. Emilia’s father, a captain (in 1829) and then major (during the November Rising) of 4. Line Infantry Regiment, was that famous regiment’s last commander. In exile, Borzęcki was a leading democratic activist, but that did not prevent him from sending his daughter Emilia to the elite Institute for Young Polish Ladies, founded in 1844 by Princess Anna Zofia Czartoryska, née Sapieha, attached to the Hôtel Lambert. That institution trained daughters of émigrés to become teachers in Polish schools abroad. There, Emilia’s music teacher was Princess Marcelina Czartoryska, at whose advice Emilia took several lessons with Chopin. Pupils of the Institute would take part in social gatherings organised for guests of the Hôtel Lambert, in which Fryderyk Chopin sometimes played for dancing. There, Emilia met the cream of the Polish aristocracy, as well as the most outstanding musicians residing in Paris. She could also have met there Doctor Aleksander Hoffman, who – possibly at Chopin’s recommendation – would come to give ‘medical assistance’ to residents of the Hôtel Lambert, including Princess Czartoryska herself.

 

At news of the outbreak of revolution in 1848, Emilia’s father, Lieutenant Colonel Borzęcki, at the head of the Borzęcki Legion that he created with 900 émigrés, set off for home. However, that legion was interned by the Prussians, whilst its commander – on his release – settled on his estate of Brzóstków in Greater Poland. A few years later, he brought his daughter home from Paris, and on 2 November 1853 she married the widowed Doctor Hoffman in the parish church of Panienka, near Śrem. After a few years living in Śrem, where Hoffman had his surgery, before 1863 the family moved to the Kingdom. However, dismayed at the defeat of the January Rising, the Hoffmans subsequently returned to Prussian-ruled Greater Poland, where the doctor, burdened with  a large family, enjoyed better living conditions. On 2 November 1867, travelling through Kutno, Hoffman suddenly died. His 35-year-old widow, with the couple’s five children to support, was assisted financially by her elderly father. Emilia set up an educational institution in Poznań, where she also taught piano. During that time, Marceli Antoni Szulc met her, while gathering material for his biography of Chopin. After her institution closed down, Borzęcka moved with one of her daughters to Warsaw, and that is where Ferdynand Hoesick, also seeking information about Chopin, met her, c.1900. However, apart from writing down her memories, that scrupulous researcher did not enquire about her souvenirs and letters connected with Chopin, which would surely have been in the possession of Mrs Hoffman’s family. She died in Warsaw on 3 March 1911, at the age of seventy-eight, as a widow ‘living on capital’. Her descendants have not yet been established.

 

Piotr Mysłakowski
June 2012

 

 


 

 

Bibliography:

 

Ferdynand Hoesick, ‘Z rozmów o Chopinie’ [Conversations about Chopin], Kraj, 1900/32, pp. 437–439, 1900/33, pp. 449–451 (Borzęcka’s memories of Chopin)

 

Franciszek German, ‘Fryderyk Chopin i doktor Aleksander Hoffman’ [Fryderyk Chopin and Doctor Aleksander Hoffman], Rocznik Chopinowski, 13 (1981), pp. 49–63. See also reprint with commentary by Krzysztof Budzyń in Śremski Notatnik Historyczny, 6 (2010), pp. 48–66.

Edward Stocki, ‘Zapomniani lekarze - przyjaciele Fryderyka Chopina’ [Forgotten physician friends of Fryderyk Chopin], in Polski Tygodnik Lekarski, 1956, pp. 1102–1104; Stocki, ‘Dr med. Aleksander Hoffman - zapomniany przyjaciel Fryderyka Chopina’ [Dr Aleksander Hoffman – a forgotten friend of Fryderyk Chopin], in Polski Tygodnik Lekarski, 1972, pp. 1733–1735.


 

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