Chopin in the Salons of Warsaw

How little Fryderyk Chopin won music lovers' hearts

By The Fryderyk Chopin Institute

Paweł Bień (Chopin Institute)

Krasiński Palace (Palace of the Commonwealth) (1778) by Bernardo Bellotto (Canaletto)Polish History Museum

The Wunderkind

Hailed as a wunderkind, Fryderyk Chopin often performed in Warsaw salons as early as a few-year-old. The doors of the most elegant palaces would open in front of him, and the most elegant audience did not skimp on applause for the little virtuoso.

Fryderyk Chopin in the salon of prince Antoni Radziwiłł (1888) by Rudolf SchusterThe Fryderyk Chopin Institute

At the Radziwiłł Palace

On February 24, 1818, eight-year-old Fryderyk amazed the company gathered at the Radziwiłł Palace at the invitation of Countess Zofia Zamoyska. It was probably the young virtuoso's first public concert. It is worth adding that the concert was a charity event, and among the listeners were Warsaw's most eminent personalities of the time.

Belweder in Warsaw (20. Century) by Dietrich Fryderyk KrzysztofThe Fryderyk Chopin Institute

At the Belvedere Palace

Only four years later, the young pianist was invited to the Belvedere Palace, then the residence of Grand Duke Konstanty and his wife. From 1822, Chopin would visited the palace, picturesquely situated on an escarpment overlooking the Łazienki Park, to play for the grand-ducal family.

Warsaw. View taken from the suburb of Praga (19th Century) by Adam PilińskiThe Fryderyk Chopin Institute

Warsaw Charitable Society

When Chopin was nine years old, the construction of the building of the Warsaw Charitable Society was completed. Four years later, in 1823, Fryderyk gave there a concert for the poor. He certainly saw the inscription on the front elevation: Res Sacra Miser, which can be translated as: a poor man is sacred.

Polonez g-mollThe Fryderyk Chopin Institute

At the Blue Palace

Another interesting event was sixteen-year-old Chopin's performance at the Blue Palace, which gathered the political and intellectual elite of the capital. Fryderyk wrote in a letter to his friend: On Sunday, a week ago today, I went to the Zamoyskis', where nearly the whole evening was spent in admiring Dlugosz's Eolipantaleon.

Eolipantalion

Eolipantalion was a musical invention made by a Warsaw instrument builder. Despite the delight aroused in the parlour, it did not turn out to be a spectacular success.

Square prospect in front of XX. Bernardines in Warsaw Taking a peek over the Krakowska Gate (20. Century) by Bernardo BellottoThe Fryderyk Chopin Institute

In the Morsztyn Palace

We can say something more only the concert organized a few days before Christmas 1829 in the Morsztyn Palace, then the Merchant's Resource. The press reviewer introduced the readers to the program of the evening…. 

Postcard showing the Chopin Family Salon (20. Century) by The Fryderyk Chopin Institute, Workers' Publishing Cooperative "Prasa"The Fryderyk Chopin Institute

Mr Bielawski started it with a concert accompanied by an orchestra; after him, P. Copello sang with the accompaniment of Mr. Chopin - the press reported - The singing of Mr. Dorville, an artist of French theater, was accompanied by Mr. Soliva, then P. Bielawski entertained the audience playing solo, and Mr. Chopin's fantaisies with various well-known melodies finished the evening. What melodies were those? We have no idea today.

Mus Concerts Concert HallsLIFE Photo Collection

A valuable experience

Concerts in Warsaw parlours were undoubtedly a valuable experience for Chopin. He gained a worldly polish, got to know representatives of the intelligentsia and respected artists while helping raise funds for noble causes. Today, we can only envy the regulars of those musical evenings!

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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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