Chopin at the Spa

How to save the health of a teenage genius?

By The Fryderyk Chopin Institute

Paweł Bień (Chopin Institute)

Portrait of Justyna Chopin (2015) by Katarzyna Gągol after Ambroży MieroszewskiThe Fryderyk Chopin Institute

Good reasons to be proud

Little Fryderyk gave his parents many reasons to be proud. In Warsaw, his name was mentioned with increasing admiration and respect. Unfortunately, the Chopins also had reasons to worry about their son.
 

Med SpasLIFE Photo Collection

Doctors recomendation

The main worry was the concern for the young genius' health. As the city air did not serve the pianist, the doctors –in line with the fashion of the time– recommended him a trip to a spa. What did Fryderyk's mother do with this recommendation?

Eisenschmelze bei Reinerz (19th Century) by Ferdinand KoskaThe Fryderyk Chopin Institute

A great trip

She began to make preparations for the trip. It was under the watchful eye of his mother that sixteen-year-old Fryderyk set off, in 1826, to the health resort in Duszniki Zdrój, i.e. Bad Reinerz, located in Silesia, then part of Germany.

Registration book with the names of people who came to Duszniki for treatment in 1826 Page 1 rectoThe Fryderyk Chopin Institute

Private letters

If you want to know the young convalescent's impressions, it is enough to refer to his correspondence. On August 18, 1826, Fryderyk wrote: I have been drinking whey and the local waters for two weeks, and they say that I am looking a little better...

Colonade in Reinerz (19th Century) by Anstalt von Mercier & LoeillotThe Fryderyk Chopin Institute

but I am said to be getting fat and therefore lazy, to which you can ascribe the long lethargy of my pen. But believe me, when you learn about my mode of life, you will agree that it is difficult to find a moment for sitting at home.
 

The Prison Choir (mid 19th century) by Honoré Daumier (French, 1808-1879)The Walters Art Museum

Sense of humor

With his sense of humor, the young patient complained about bad music: In the morning, at 6 o'clock at the latest, all the patients are at the wells; then there's an atrocious band of wind players: a dozen caricatures of various types collected together. 

A Walk at Dusk A Walk at Dusk (about 1830–1835) by Caspar David FriedrichThe J. Paul Getty Museum

Walk

After breakfast people usually go for a walk. I walk till 12 ; then one has to eat dinner, because after dinner one has to go back to Brunn. – Fryderyk reported. – After dinner there's usually a bigger masquerade than in the morning, because everyone is dressed up, all in different clothes from those of the morning.

Cup for drinking mineral waters View 1The Fryderyk Chopin Institute

Water and gingerbread

As befits a gourmet, Chopin did not deny himself sweetness. This is evidenced by the end of a letter to a friend, in which we read: I'm going to the Brunn for two glasses of water and a gingerbread.

Registration book with the names of people who came to Duszniki for treatment in 1826 Page 14 versoThe Fryderyk Chopin Institute

Madame Chopin

Today, at the Warsaw museum devoted to the composer, we keep the book of guests visiting Duszniki-Zdrój in 1826. Among the patients' names, calligraphed neatly, we can find the name of Mrs. Chopin, i.e. Justyna Tekla née Krzyżanowska, the composer's mother, written in red ink.

Decorative mug for drinking mineral water View 1The Fryderyk Chopin Institute

Silent witness

Another silent witness of life in the then Silesian resort is the cup for drinking the spa water. Did this item belong to Fryderyk? Most likely not; however, we can easily imagine the young virtuoso's slender fingers clenched around the handle of a similar elegant vessel.

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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