CHOPIN’S POLAND CHOPIN’S POLAND

Strzyżew Strzyżew

Strzyżew[1] was a small estate situated in Krotoszyn county, in the Grand Duchy of Posen. The property of Stefan Wiesiołowski and his wife Anna, née Skarbek, Strzyżew lay near Ostrów Wielkopolski in the parish of Kotłowo, and neighboured with the extensive estate of Duke Antoni Radziwiłł. As sources are lacking in detailed descriptions of the Wiesiołowskis' estate, the laconic reference to Strzyżew in Ludwika Chopin's children's story 'Little Józef's journey from Warsaw to the Silesian waters...' takes on crucial significance.[2] From her description, we learn that the manor house (we may assume that it differed little from the manor at Żelazowa Wola) was surrounded by a cherry orchard, with raspberries and strawberries growing in the garden and also a vegetable patch. As for the interior, it would seem to have been typical of the home of a fairly wealthy family, with paintings on the walls, including portraits of the Skarbeks' ancestors; a clavichord doubtless stood in the parlour, on which the members of the household would have played. The Wiesiołowskis had four children: one daughter, the eldest of the siblings, and three sons.

The Chopins travelled 'abroad' to Strzyżew rather infrequently, although the routes taken by members of the family on their journeys were planned so as to stop here for a shorter or longer visit. Thus we may presume that the composer stayed in Strzyżew several times. He did not rule out visiting Strzyżew, for example, on the way back from his holiday in Vienna, in the early autumn of 1829, although we do not know if this visit came about.[3] He most probably spent a little time there over a month later, after 20 October that year.

It seems that Anna Wiesiołowska, as Fryderyk's godmother, was very keen on promoting the young man, already renowned for his outstanding talent. Her godson's several visits to Strzyżew afforded the perfect opportunity to acquaint him with Duke Antoni Radziwiłł.[4] Such may be testified by a passage from a letter to Tytus dated 20 October 1829: 'I'm travelling at 7 o'clock this evening by stagecoach to the Wiesiołowskis near Poznań, which is why I'm writing in advance, especially as I don't know how long I shall be staying there, although I've taken a passport for only a month. My idea is to return in two weeks' time. - One reason for my journey is the presence of Radziwiłł on his estate the other side of Kalisz.'[5]

Strzyżew remained in the hands of the Wiesiołowskis from the mid eighteenth century to the 1840s, when it was sold to the Prussian government.

Strzyżew lies in the commune of Sieroszewice, in Ostrów county, in the Greater Poland voivodeship, some 15 km from Antonin.



[1] A variant of this name is often given in the Chopin literature-Strzyżewo.
[2] H. F. Nowaczyk considered the work of Fryderyk's teenage sister to be an interesting biographical source: Ludwika Chopinówna, Podróż Józia z Warszawy do wód Szlązkich przez niego samego opisana [Little Józef's journey from Warsaw to the Silesian waters as described by himself] (Warsaw, 1830; 2nd edn, 1844).
[3] Nowaczyk writes that Chopin gave up the planned visit to Strzyżew.
[4] Duke Antoni Radziwiłł was Prussian-appointed Governor of the Grand Duchy of Posen.
[5] KCh, i, 109.