Composers / Fryderyk Chopin / Places catalog

Warsaw Conservatory

In the autumn of 1826, Fryderyk Chopin began studying at the Main School of Music, which had recently been attached to the University of Warsaw. ‘To this end, I am going to Elsner 6 hours a week to study strict counterpoint. I listen to Brodziński, Bentkowski and other subjects that have anything at all to do with music’.

The vice-chancellor of the Main School of Music at the time was Józef Elsner. Due to disputes with the University over rooms for lessons for undergraduates, the Main School of Music students usually had lessons in his apartment, which was in the Conservatory building.

Ferdynand Hoesick gives a description of these visits, which over time became friendly get-togethers: ‘The Elsners […] lived on the first floor of the Conservatory building on the corner of Marjensztat at the time. So the students of the composer of Męka Zbawiciela [The Passion], Stefani Jan, Wolff Edward, Nidecki Tomasz and Ludwik, Weinert Paweł and Chopin Fryderyk, being extremely frequent guests at the vice-chancellor’s home (for he was not just a teacher, but a friend to every one of them), enjoyed the graciousness and friendship of both the vice-chancellor’s wife and her daughter, Emilia. They obviously enjoyed themselves most with music, as everyone in the group was musical. Playing the piano and singing held pride of place. After all, it should be borne in mind that Mrs Elsner was regarded as a jewel of the Polish Opera, and her extraordinarily musical daughter was similarly blessed with a lovely voice. Moreover, she played very nicely and fluently on the piano. Ludwik Nidecki liked playing four-hands with her so much that they ended up getting married... Anyway, before it came to that, the piano in the Elsners’ salon could often be heard, and one of those who played it most frequently was Chopin, who already enjoyed the reputation of being “the best pianist in town”. As this was a period in which he composed an awful lot, and as he attached a great deal of weight to the opinion of not only his harmony and counterpoint teacher, but also [Elsner’s] wife and daughter, he played everything he composed for them, consulted them and genuinely sought their opinion’.

A particularly celebratory mood held sway on ul. Mariensztat every year when all the highly esteemed teacher’s charges hurried over with their best wishes for his name day. Wishes in verse were usually prepared for St Joseph’s Day, and one of the students or teachers always set them to music. There was then a choral rendition of the song by the students, with Chopin doubtless among them. When Chopin left Warsaw forever, in 1830, his friends sang a similarly versified farewell set to music, this time written especially for him by Prof. Elsner.

In one of his later letters, Chopin defined himself as the ‘most devoted’ pupil of the venerable vice-chancellor, and Franz Liszt, apparently not without reason, claimed in his biography of Chopin that Elsner had bequeathed him ‘the rarest and most difficult skill that can be possessed, namely to always set challenges for himself and to realise that results can only be achieved through patience and hard work’.

The Conservatory building no longer exists. It was situated between St Anne’s and the Royal Castle, roughly where the East-West motorway exit is today.

Place Category
Antonin Manors / Palaces / Castles
Antoni Brzezina’s bookshop Publishers / Bookshops
Apartment of Dominik Magnuszewski Flats
Apartment of Stefan Witwicki Flats
Apartment of the family of Alfons Brandt Flats
Augsburg Evangelical Church of the Holy Trinity Churches / Places of worship
Belvedere Appearances
Bielany, Camaldolese monastery Churches / Places of worship
Blue Palace Manors / Palaces / Castles
‘Botanika’ Other
Brochów Churches / Places of worship
Brühl Palace Appearances
Buchholtz’s instrument store Other
Casimir Palace Flats
Chopin Monument in Łazienki Park Other
Czapski (Krasiński) Palace Appearances, Manors / Palaces / Castles
Dal Trozzo bookshop Publishers / Bookshops
Duszniki Zdrój Hotels / Inns
Dziewanowski home Flats
Engraving studio of Fr Izydor Józef Cybulski and Antoni Płachecki Education
Franciszek Klukowski bookshop Publishers / Bookshops
Fryderyk Chopin Museum Other
Fryderyk Skarbek’s apartment Flats
Gdańsk Hotels / Inns
Gładkowskis' apartment Flats
Golub Other
Holy Cross Church Churches / Places of worship
Home of Jan Matuszyński Flats
‘Honoratka’ Coffeehouses
Jabłonowski Palace Manors / Palaces / Castles
Jan Böhm’s townhouse Flats
Kalisz Other
Kikół Manors / Palaces / Castles
Kolbergs' apartment Flats
Kowalewo Manors / Palaces / Castles
Kozłowo Manors / Palaces / Castles
Krakow Other
Ludwik Dmuszewski’s house Flats
Magnus's bookshop Publishers / Bookshops
Marceli Celiński’s apartment Flats
Maurycy Mochnacki’s home Flats
Miss Kicka's Salon in Lubomirski Palace Manors / Palaces / Castles
National Theatre Appearances
Obory Churches / Places of worship
Obrowo Manors / Palaces / Castles
Ojców Other
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Patisserie Lourse Coffeehouses
Pieskowa Skała Other
Płock Other
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Powązki Cemeteries
Poznań Other
Presbytery of St Jadwiga (Hedwig) parish church in Milanówek Other
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Residence of Józef Reinschmidt’s parents Flats
Rościszewo Manors / Palaces / Castles
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Saxon Palace Flats
Saxon Post Office Other
Skating rink Other
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Staszic Palace Manors / Palaces / Castles
Strzyżew Manors / Palaces / Castles
Szafarnia Manors / Palaces / Castles
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‘U Brzezińskiej’ Coffeehouses
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Vilnius (Wileński) Hotel Hotels / Inns
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Warsaw Other
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Warsaw Conservatory Appearances
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Wieliczka Other
Wojciech Żywny’s apartment Flats
Wola Tollhouse Other
Wrocław Appearances
Żelazowa Wola Flats
Żychlin Manors / Palaces / Castles