Sochaczew Sochaczew

The route to Szafarnia, where Chopin spent successive summers in 1824 and 1825, led along the road from Warsaw through such places as Błonie, Sochaczew and Płock, and almost every stay at Żelazowa Wola included walks and trips to neighbouring towns and villages. Thus Fryderyk could have been a regular visitor to nearby Sochaczew.

From letters to Tytus Woyciechowski, we learn that during his final visit to Żelazowa Wola, in the summer of 1830, Fryderyk accompanied Michał Skarbek on a trip to Sochaczew. Stationed there, in command of the 3rd Infantry Brigade, was General Piotr Szembek, a great music lover and accomplished violinist. Planned at that time were further meetings in Sochaczew to play music together, but these plans were not realised before Chopin's departure from Żelazowa Wola. However, shortly after his return to Warsaw, on 29 August 1830, [1] Fryderyk received a surprise: a carriage was sent for him from the camp of the 3rd Infantry Brigade at Sochaczew.
Chopin wrote of this in a letter to Tytus Woyciechowski: 'Also, I was lately in Gen. Szembek's camp once again. I should tell you that he always holds court in Sochaczew and he agreed with Michał that I would be taken to him. When, however, this did not come about, he sent his aide […] Czajkowski and they took me to him there.' [2]

General Szembek's camp was probably set up in the former Dominican Sisters' convent near the old Castle of the Mazovian Dukes, or, more precisely, its ruins. At the military camp to which Fryderyk was taken post-haste, the regimental orchestra played for him (to his approval, and even admiration), and the commander himself also showed his skills on the violin.

Chopin, meanwhile, played his own compositions, including the Adagio from the F minor Piano Concerto. When the musical displays had ended, Fryderyk was driven back to Warsaw. From the letter in which he described the whole event to Tytus, we learn that he still managed to make it to an opera that evening at the National Theatre. The spontaneity of this situation is more in keeping with present-day realities than with the accepted standards of two centuries ago; it was undoubtedly a somewhat surprising, yet pleasant, event for the young man.

The building of the Dominican Sisters' convent was destroyed during World War Two, whilst the ruins of the castle on a hill in Sochaczew remain perfectly visible today from the main road leading through the town.

Sochaczew honoured Chopin with an obelisk and a bust of the composer, unveiled in 1961 in the park on ul. Warszawska and ul. Romualda Traugutta; it bears the inscription 'Fryderyk Chopin 1810–1849'.

Sochaczew is a county town on the River Bzura, around 60 km from Warsaw.

Worth seeing in the area:

  • Museum of the Sochaczew Region and of the Battlefield on the Bzura and also the Narrow-gauge Railway Museum in Sochaczew
  • Classicist manor house in an old park in Czerwonka; now home to a State Primary and Secondary School of Music
  • Franciscan Fathers' monastery at Niepokalanów

[1] See H. F. Nowaczyk
[2] Korespondencja Fryderyka Chopina [The correspondence of Fryderyk Chopin], ed. B. E. Sydow, 1 vol. (Warsaw, 1955), 133.

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