Engraving studio of Fr Izydor Józef Cybulski and Antoni Płachecki
In 1803, Józef Elsner set up his own music engraving studio, while he still held the position of Musical Director at the National Theatre. As his director’s duties took up a great deal of his time, Elsner soon decided to take on Fr Józef Cybulski as a partner.
Elsner’s studio only operated for three years, but it inspired Cybulski to continue in this line of business, and so he was soon running his own engraving establishment in partnership with Antoni Płachecki on ul. Przyrynek. This is where the Polonaise in G minor by a young Fryderyk Chopin, dedicated to Wiktoria Skarbek, first appeared, in 1817. Feliks Bentkowski wrote an enthusiastic editorial in Pamiętnik Warszawski [Warsaw journal]: ‘Although we do not count musical composers as literary writers (nevertheless, they are authors as well), we cannot conceal the following composition, amicably disseminated by an engraving, from the public: Polonaise pour Pianoforte dediée à son Ex[c]ellence Mlle la Comtesse Victoire Skarbek par Frédéric Chopin âgé de 8 ans. The composer of this Polish dance is a boy who has just turned eight. He is the son of Mr Mikołaj Chopin, a teacher of French language and literature at the Warsaw Lyceum, and a genuine musical genius – not just because he can play the most difficult piano pieces with the greatest of ease and with exceptional taste, but because he has already composed several dances and variations that have won the enduring admiration of music experts, not least on account of his tender age. If this boy had been born in Germany or France, he would almost certainly have attracted the attention of all society. Hopefully, this paragraph will serve notice that a genius has arisen in our land and that it is only a lack of publicity that has kept him hidden from the public’.
Although Chopin did not keep the manuscript of his childhood polonaise, there are three surviving copies of this work, engraved on ul. Przyrynek by Cybulski and Płachecki: in the Main Library of the Katowice Academy of Music, the Austrian National Library in Vienna and the Fryderyk Chopin Museum in Warsaw.