Warsaw Charitable Society
Nineteenth-century Warsaw, like any other large city, had its fair share of poverty and deprivation, as well as ostentatious salons and monumental palaces. The hungry and those unable to support themselves for whatever reason were assisted by a variety of charitable institutions and philanthropic initiatives. The Warsaw Charitable Society contributed most in this area. The Society was founded by Zofia Zamoyska, née Czartoryska, in 1814, after a devastating fire in the capital. Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz, Anna Sapieżyna, née Zamoyska, Princess Maria Wirtemberska and Józef Lipiński, secretary general of the Chamber of Education, were among those who patronised it. The Society was officially inaugurated at a meeting held in December 1814, and Prince Adam Czartoryski, brother of Zofia Zamoyska, was elected chairman.
The Society proved to be expeditious from day one and set up several branches. In 1818, the tsar donated a complex of buildings at what is now Krakowskie Przedmieście 62 for its headquarters.
The palace that had originally stood there since the middle of the sixteenth century changed hands several times before coming into the possession of the Princes Lubomirski in the 1660s. Shortly afterwards, it was merged with a Discalced Carmelite Monastery. In 1818 the monastery moved to Krakow, and in 1819–1823 Antonio Corazzi converted the building for the Society.
The Society collected donations for its charges at charitable concerts it held on the first floor of its Krakowskie Przedmieście headquarters. The young Fryderyk Chopin performed in one of those concerts on 24 February 1823. Mieczysław Tomaszewski tells us that he played a piano concerto by Ferdinand Ries. The performance of the young virtuoso was very positively written up two days later in the Kurier dla Płci Pięknej [Courier of the fair sex]: ‘We venture to say that we have never heard a virtuoso in our capital who can master such astounding difficulties with such ease and precision at such a tender age; who can play the most beautiful adagio with such feeling and unfailing accuracy; in a word, we have never heard such a fabulous genius who can achieve that level of excellence at that age. He was every bit worthy of the admirable work of Ries’.