Fryderyk Chopin is undoubtedly one of the most famous Poles in history. The life and art of this great Warsaw personality is popularised by the Fryderyk Chopin Museum, which boasts the world’s largest collection of the composer’s manuscripts and personal belongings. The museum exhibition tells the story of Chopin in a variety of ways: not only through his music, but also through the scent of his favourite flowers.
The Fryderyk Chopin Museum is housed in the Ostrogski Palace in Warsaw’s Powiśle district. The baroque mansion underwent a comprehensive modernisation and adaptation to meet the needs of the Museum, which opened for visitors in 2010 on the 200th anniversary of the composer’s birthday.
The Museum boasts a collection of several thousand items. The most valuable of these include Chopin’s manuscripts: his sketches, complete works, music studies, letters, notes and drawings. The Museum also exhibits Chopin’s personal belongings, such as dried flowers from his deathbed, his piano, a gold pocket watch, a plastron pin, a sweet box, a personalised kerchief and a wisp of his hair.
The exhibition offers something not only for the eye, but for the ear as well. The museum resounds with the composer’s pieces and with the sounds that accompanied his life: the bustle of Paris, Polish and French conversations, the shouting of his piano teacher and even the sound of a glass being put back on a table.
The exhibition also features recreations of little Fryderyk’s room at the manor house in Żelazowa Wola and the full-fledged artist’s suite at his house in Paris. The part of the museum arranged as the Paris suite smells of violets, Chopin’s favourite flowers. With the sound of birds and rustling leaves, the room devoted to the composer’s relationship with George Sand takes you to Nohant, a French village that was a frequent destination and a place of work for Chopin throughout many years of their relationship.
The Museum also boasts a concert hall. Every Thursday, the hall sees performances of Chopin pieces by young artists from the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw.
The Museum’s exhibition was designed to enable everyone to take delight in the tour, irrespective of their age or knowledge of the composer’s works. Every visitor can compose their own tour of the exhibition using a microchip that also serves as a key to specific parts of the exhibition.
Ostrogski Palace is neighboured by a seven-storey glazed building that houses the Chopin Centre. The Centre offers a restaurant, a tourist information desk, a bookstore, a record collection, as well as the seat of the National Fryderyk Chopin Institute that manages the museum at Ostrogski Palace. The Centre was established in 2001 by a decision of the Polish Sejm to promote the composer’s heritage.
The Institute also manages the Chopin Family Parlour (Salonik Chopinów) located in the left annex of the Czapski Palace on Krakowskie Przedmieście Street. The Parlour was arranged in the largest room of Chopin’s last apartment in Warsaw before he went to exile forever in 1830.
Krakowskie Przedmieście Street features the majority of Chopin-related addresses in Warsaw. Krakowskie Przedmieście was the site of a number of apartments in which the Chopin family, as well as the home of many of young Fryderyk’s friends and the Chopin Family’s church, the Holy Cross Church. Little Fryderyk gave his first concert at the Namiestnikowski (now: Presidential) Palace, and he also used to play organ at the Visitationist Church.
Currently, Krakowskie Przedmieście features so-called Chopin benches that play the composer’s most famous pieces: mazurkas, nocturnes, waltzes and polonaises.
POLISH PRESS AGENCY (PAP)