CHOPIN’S POLAND CHOPIN’S POLAND

Warsaw: National Theatre

Warsaw: National Theatre Warsaw: National Theatre

The theatre building, designed by Bonawentura Solari, was erected in 1779 on Plac Krasińskich, opposite Krasiński Palace, also known as the Palace of the Republic. It was built at the initiative of King Stanislaus Augustus, who entrusted the organising of the theatre and all rights connected with the work of the troupe to Franciszek Ryx, his trusted valet. The first performance was held on 7 September that year. The theatre was the largest and most important in Poland, and functioned until 1833, when it was transferred to a new building in the Marywil part of the city, on what is now Plac Teatralny.

Among the most outstanding creative artists to have contributed to the development of the National Theatre in this period were Wojciech Bogusławski, Józef Elsner and Karol Kurpiński. All three men attached great importance to the standard and variety of theatre presentations, created a large part of the Polish operatic repertory and also had a decisive influence on recruiting for the theatre the best actors and musicians in Warsaw.

Doubtless none of the artistic events of the 1820s escaped the attention of the young Chopin, who had the opportunity of admiring the artistry of many Polish and foreign virtuosos, such as Maria Szymanowska, Johann Nepomuk Hummel, Stephen Heller, Niccolò Paganini, Karol Lipiński and Henriette Sontag. His friends and colleagues from the Conservatory also appeared on the boards of the national stage, including Ignacy Feliks Dobrzyński. The theatre was a place in which he regularly met with Konstancja Gładkowska at shows and rehearsals. Chopin's first grand public concert in Warsaw took place in the National Theatre on 17 March 1830: 'The universal wish of music lovers is to be granted: Mr Szopę (Chopin), so rightfully adored, whose talent is compared by connoisseurs with the foremost virtuosos, is shortly to give a piano concert at the National Theatre, performing works of his own composition.' [1]

The repertory did indeed comprise works by Chopin himself, including the Concerto in F minor, Op. 21 and Fantasy on Polish Airs, Op. 13, performed with the accompaniment of an orchestra directed by Karol Kurpiński. A second performance, with a similar repertory, was held several days later, on 22 March, and Chopin's farewell concert, his last in Poland, took place on 11 October 1830. Each of the young virtuoso's recitals attracted an audience of several hundred.

 

[1] Kurier Warszawski, 8 March 1830.

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