CHOPIN’S POLAND CHOPIN’S POLAND

Sanniki

Sanniki Sanniki

Chopin spent the months of July and August 1828 with his school friends Konstanty Pruszak and his sister Olesia on the Pruszak family estate in Sanniki. This village is situated 30 km north-west of Sochaczew, and so along the route that Fryderyk took several times when travelling, for example, to Dobrinland. This beautifully situated, extensive estate belonged to Aleksander Pruszak, who inherited it from his uncle, Castellan Tomasz Pruszak. [1] The palace was concealed among splendid old trees.

In Sanniki, Fryderyk and his friends spent their time making music, playing and walking around the shady park, as well as paying visits to neighbours and making trips around the area.

Sanniki Palace acquired its present form in 1910, under the initiative of Stefan Dziewulski, to a design by Władysław Marconi. The palace stands on ul. Warszawska in a park surrounded by a white wall. Set into the front wall of the palace tower (in 1925, by the then owners of the estate, Antonina Maria Dziewulska, née Natanson, and Stefan Dziewulski) is a marble plaque with the following inscription: 'In this manor house Fryderyk Chopin stayed in 1828'.

In 1981 a Fryderyk Chopin Memorial Centre was created in the left wing of the palace. Gathered here are nineteenth-century exhibits, reproductions of portraits of the composer and prints of nineteenth-century Warsaw. The interior decor was designed by Marek Kwiatkowski, custodian of the Royal Baths Park in Warsaw. This part of the palace also contains a 120-seat concert hall, in which 'word-and-music' concerts have been held every first Sunday of the month, from February to October, since 1981. The Centre was founded at the initiative of local cultural activists and the administration of the state-owned farm which from 1948 was responsible for Sanniki Palace. The venture was realised thanks to collaboration between the local authorities and the Fryderyk Chopin Society in Warsaw.

In 1985 a bronze statue of Chopin by Ludwika Kraskowska-Nitschowa was unveiled. Situated on a marble base in front of the palace, on the left-hand side, it depicts the composer wrapped in an overcoat, walking in a park.

On the first floor of the palace is the Mateusz Gliński Music Library, established in 1986. A book collection donated by this Chopin scholar’s widow, Zofia Glińska, contains publications concerning the life and work of Fryderyk Chopin and studies by Mateusz Gliński himself, as well as encyclopaedias, books on music history in various languages and a collection of periodicals.

Besides its devotion to Chopin, Sanniki is distinguished by its thriving folk culture, representing a distinctive subregion of Mazovia, known as the Gąbin-Sanniki region. Still today, traditional decorations are manufactured in this area: paper-cuts, paper flowers, painted eggs and 'pająki'—hanging ornaments of straw and tissue paper. Each year, on the first Sunday in June, the Sanniki Sunday folk festival is held. The cultivation of local traditions is supported by the Communal Cultural Centre, which organises regional education and also exhibitions and markets of folk art.

Almost exactly opposite the main gate leading down the chestnut avenue to the palace, on ul. Warszawska, is the Church of the Holy Trinity. In front of the church stands a Madonna, erected in 1946 from funds raised by parishioners and thanks to the efforts of Fr Piotr Mika. Behind the church extends a picturesque prospect over the fields and neighbouring hamlets.

When visiting Sanniki, it is worth taking in the neighbouring communes of Gąbin, Słubice, Iłów and Kernozia, for the landscapes, the old oaks and willows and also the nineteenth-century thatched cottages in the nearby Lwówek. Some of the villages in the surrounding area could certainly have been visited by Chopin during his summer stay in Sanniki, and the composer travelled through Iłów and Gąbin on his way to Szafarnia in 1824 and 1825.

Worth seeing in the area:

  • Gąbin town hall
  • monuments of nature in Iłów
  • parish church of St Margaret in Kiernozia
  • classicist Łączyński Palace, set in historical grounds in Kiernozia. The history of this property is connected with the fortunes of Fryderyk Chopin’s father, Mikołaj. Around the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the widow Ewa Łączyńska employed him at Czerniewo (part of the Kiernozia estate) as tutor to her children. We may assume, therefore, that the excellent French of Maria Walewska, née Łączyńska was to a considerable extent the work of her good teacher—Mikołaj Chopin. [2]

[1] Aleksander Pruszak inherited from his paternal uncle the above-mentioned estates of Sanniki and Żychlin as well as a property (a palace, mansion and tenement house) on ul. Marszałkowska (plot no. 1372) in Warsaw (Pruszak House), in which Fryderyk doubtless was received many times.
[2] See Mysłakowski and Sikorski: Chopinowie. Krąg rodzinno-towarzyski [The Chopins. Their family and social circle] (Warsaw, 2005), 74.