Miss Kicka's Salon in Lubomirski Palace
For a week now, I haven’t written a thing, either for people, or for God’, lamented Chopin to Tytus Woyciechowski in December 1828. ‘I run from Peter to Paul, and today I will be at Vincengerode’s for a soirée, and from there I go for a second one to Miss Kicka’s. You know how pleasant it is when you feel like sleeping, and here they are asking you for an improvisation. Just try to satisfy everybody!’
The gifted young virtuoso was certainly a very welcome guest in the salons of Warsaw, especially popular among which was that of Miss Kicka, who was famous in her day for having rejected marriage proposals from King Frederick William of Prussia.
Antoni Edward Odyniec described one of the famous improvisations Chopin gave here: ‘It was in 1827 or 1828. I cannot remember exactly. Chopin was still in school uniform and as bashful as a young girl. The salon had an aeolomelodicon instead of a piano, and the hostess had been asking him to play it all evening. In Dresden, Chopin laughed when he looked back on the feelings he experienced, whereas I was serious when I recalled the impression he made on the audience. After playing two or three of his own compositions, he started improvising on the theme of the last one. The plaintive and solemn tones of the organ had a visible effect on the inspiration he appeared to have absorbed. The admiration was universal. It was not thought, but heard. He kept on playing, more and more distinctly and dolefully. Goodness knows how long he would have gone on playing had not the venerable Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz, having noticed the extraordinary change and pallor that had come over his face, taken pity on him. He came up, quietly sat down beside him, took him by the hand and said “Enough. Enough young man. You need to rest”. Everybody circled round him then. Nobody dared praise him out loud. The hostess and the guests squeezed his hand and thanked him. Chopin said that none of his greatest triumphs ever gave him consolation as sweet as that’.
We can assume with a fair degree of certainty that Odyniec added a touch of colour to his description of the evening. He might have enhanced its emotional value as well, especially as he was remembering Chopin. This goes to show how popular the young Chopin could be among a large group of distinguished listeners.