CHOPIN’S POLAND CHOPIN’S POLAND

Poznań

Poznań Poznań

Fryderyk decided to devote the early autumn of 1828 to his first longer journey abroad. Although he had already crossed the 'Polish border' on several occasions, he had never yet been to Berlin. The Chopins' family friend, Professor Feliks Paweł Jarocki, was travelling to Berlin for a naturalists' congress and invited Fryderyk to accompany him. Thanks to this trip, the young man had the chance to become acquainted with the Berlin music milieu.

On 9 September 1828 Chopin left with Professor Jarocki by stagecoach for Berlin. The route led through Poznań, where they had only a two-hour break in their journey. According to an hypothesis advanced by Henryk F. Nowaczyk, they used this time to deliver an important package entrusted them by Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz, containing 'documents designed to surmount the bureaucratic obstacles erected by the Prussian authorities over the transferral from Berlin to Gniezno of the mortal remains of Archbishop Ignacy Krasicki'. [1] On reaching Poznań, the two travellers set off in the direction of the Archbishops' Palace, in order to deliver the eagerly awaited parcel in person to Archbishop Teofil Wolicki. [2] It is possible that the archbishop invited his guests to dinner, at the same time encouraging them to spend more time in Poznań on their return journey.

It is thought that Chopin and Professor Jarocki did indeed spend a few days in Poznań on their way back to Warsaw around the turn of September and October (from 30 September to 3 October 1828). There is no certainty as to their accommodation in the city; could it have been 'the Hotel Saski on Wrocławska street, usually frequented by travellers?' [3] Most probably, as previously agreed, they went for dinner to the palace of Archbishop Wolicki. There is insufficient information in sources to confirm the hypothesis that Chopin performed at the Poznań residence of Duke Antoni Radziwiłł, who, as governor of the Grand Duchy of Posen, lived in the palace on Plac Kolegiacki.

It might have seemed, and has indeed been accepted in the subject literature, that Henryk Siemiradzi's painting Koncert Fryderyka Chopina w salonie księcia Antoniego Radziwiłła w 1829 r. [A concert given by Fryderyk Chopin in the salon of Duke Antoni Radziwiłł in 1829] (which supposedly shows the Radziwiłłs of Antonin and Chopin during a recital) was an iconographic representation of an historical fact. However, this is a false interpretation. Moreover, it is not certain that the Radziwiłłs, or at least the duke himself, were present in Poznań at that time (around the end of September and the beginning of October 1828). [4]

Fryderyk Chopin's stay in Poznań is commemorated by two plaques and a bust. One of the plaques is situated near the Adam Mickiewicz Monument on the east-facing wall in the courtyard of the building that houses the Poznań Society for the Friends of Learning, together with its Library and Meeting Hall, and the Poznań Academic Library (at 27/29 Seweryna Mielżyńskiego). The plaque is made of marble and brass and features a medallion with the composer's likeness and an inscription: 'To Chopin, 1810-1849'. The work of Władysław Marcinkowski, the plaque was unveiled in 1910. Destroyed during the Nazi occupation, it was reconstructed after 1945. [5]

The other plaque was set into the front wall, near the entrance, of the baroque building that formerly housed the Jesuit college (17 Plac Kolegiacki). Made of dark granite, it proclaims that: 'In 1828 Fryderyk Chopin played in this building'. It was unveiled on 16 October 1960. [6] Behind this building, on Podgórna, is a small park named after Chopin, with a bust of the composer made by Marcin Rożek. This was originally unveiled in 1923 in Stanisław Moniuszko Park in Poznań. It was held in safekeeping during the war and in 1961 placed in its new site, in the Fryderyk Chopin Park. In 1997 the bust was destroyed by a bomb explosion. A copy was produced, which was unveiled in 1999 (in Fryderyk Chopin Park). In that same year the previous bust was unveiled after restoration in the White Room of the Poznań Municipal Offices. [7]

The Jesuit college in Poznań was erected in the first half of the eighteenth century (replacing the Renaissance college built towards the end of the sixteenth century). In spite of minor alterations made during the nineteenth century, its monumental baroque structure has survived to the present day. It combines the forms of monastery and palace. The palatial complex also includes the church of St Stanislaus the Martyr (on Plac Kolegiacki at the exit of Gołębia). In 1773 the Jesuit Order was abolished. In 1793, when the city was occupied by the Prussians, the building became home to the Prussian administration. During the period of the Grand Duchy of Warsaw, the building was the headquarters of Prince Friedrich August, Saxon Elector (from 1806 King of Saxony) and Grand Duke of Warsaw.

Following the Congress of Vienna, it was inhabited for many years by Duke Antoni Radziwiłł, with his wife, Luiza, née Hohenzollern. The building now houses the Municipal Offices of Poznań.

In the Museum of Musical Instruments (at 45 Stary Rynek [Market Square]), in the Chopin Room (first floor, room 9), there stands the piano on which Chopin played during his visit to Duke Antoni Radziwiłł at Antonin. There is also a cast of Chopin's hand and his death-mask, Henryk Siemiradzki's painting Koncert Fryderyka Chopina w salonie księcia Antoniego Radziwiłła w 1829 r. [A concert given by Fryderyk Chopin in the salon of Duke Antoni Radziwiłł in 1829] a bust of the composer (in lime, design by Wacław Szymanowski), a portrait of Chopin and an upright piano by 'Traugott Berndt - Breslau' from c.1850.

Poznań is one of the oldest and largest cities in Poland, capital of the Greater Poland voivoideship. It lies on the River Vistula, on the E30 and DK11 roads.


[1] H. F. Nowaczyk, 'Przyczynek do dziejów eksploracji zwłok [biskupa Ignacego Krasickiego z Berlina do Gniezna: J. U. Niemcewicz, książę A. Radziwiłł, arcybiskup T. Wolicki i in.]', 9.
[2] Teofil Wolicki-a relative of the Skarbeks' (see Mysłakowski and Sikorski, Chopinowie).
[3] See H. F. Nowaczyk.
[4] This thread was examined in detail by H. F. Nowaczyk, who again refuted a myth that had become strongly rooted in sources.
[5] Z. Wojtkowiak, Napisy pamiątkowe miasta Poznania [Commemorative inscriptions in the city of Poznań] (Poznań, 2004), 70.
[6] Ibid. 49.
[7] E. Goliński, Pomniki Poznania [The monuments of Poznań] (Poznań, 2001), 59.


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