Departure from Poland

Chopin on his way to exile

By The Fryderyk Chopin Institute

Paweł Bień (Chopin Institute)

Chopin (19th Century) by Veit Peter FroerThe Fryderyk Chopin Institute

As for my journey, I now don't know what will happen...

I think that instead of going abroad this year I shall wait till I get a fever, and that will be the end.– Chopin complained to Tytus Woyciechowski in May 1830, not anticipating that he would be leaving soon and that it would be a journey with no possibility of return.

Portrait of Fryderyk Chopin at the piano (c. 1826) by Eliza RadziwiłłównaThe Fryderyk Chopin Institute

I think I shall go away to die

I am still here - Fryderyk writes in October 1830 - I have not the strength to decide on my date; I think I shall go away to forget my home for ever; I think I shall go away to die.

"Krajowy Dziennik Powszechny" publishes the words of an anonymous reviewer: He is to go abroad. [...] Hopefully no foreign capital will keep him forever.

Warsaw. National Theater on Krasiński Square (20. Century) by UnknownThe Fryderyk Chopin Institute

Furious applause

Full hall. [...] Furious applause. - these are the words used to describe the farewell concert that Chopin gave at the National Theater. He played the Concerto in E minor and the Fantasy on Polish Airs. It was October 11, 1830.

Chopin's Farewell to Konstancja GładkowskaThe Fryderyk Chopin Institute

Konstancja Gładkowska

Some days later, Chopin's juvenile love Konstancja Gładkowska wrote a poem for him: 
To turn the wreath of fame into an ever-fresh one, 
You are leaving your dear friends and family; 
Foreigners can reward and appreciate you better, 
But they certainly cannot love you more than us.

Portrait of Konstancja Gładkowska (after 1880) by Wojciech Gerson (?)The Fryderyk Chopin Institute

Chopin would add the words "they can" from himself.

Etiuda Ges-dur op. 10 nr 5The Fryderyk Chopin Institute

Etudes op. 10

On November 2, on the outskirts of Warsaw, parents, friends and admirers of the twenty-year-old genius say goodbye to him with a cantata specially composed by Elsner for this occasion. Interestingly, the same date appears on the manuscript of the first two etudes, Op. 10.

View of Breslau from the water (1836) by Carl Friedrich TrautmannAlte Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Though Wrocław, Dresden, and Prague to Vienna

Meanwhile, Poland is shocked by dramatic events. On November 29, Poles start an uprising against the Russian annexationists. At that news, Chopin wants to return to the country, but Tytus Woyciechowski dissuades him from it.

The Jägerzeile (1825) by Franz Scheyerer (Scheurer)Wien Museum

The act is done

Fryderyk therefore remains in Vienna. Mama is glad I have gone away –he wrote home in December – but I am not. – the young composer admits with sorrow – The act is done. 

A View of Paris from the Pont Neuf A View of Paris from the Pont Neuf (1763) by Jean-Baptiste RaguenetThe J. Paul Getty Museum

A new chapter

After the fall of the uprising, the tsarist authorities forbid Chopin to return to the Polish territory. He is therefore forced to look for a new home. He goes to Paris, where the next chapter of his life opens.

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