A young person in Warsaw when Fryderyk Chopin was growing up there could have spent many a pleasant hour on ul. Miodowa – sitting in the Honoratka café, sampling sweets at Lourse’s and browsing the new releases at Dal Trozzo’s, Brzezina’s, Magnus’s or any other of the several bookshops there.
Magnus's bookshop was housed in a tenement building recently erected by banker Samuel Eleazar Kronenberg at what is now ul. Miodowa 20. Karol Ludwik Magnus (c.1793–1834) was a Warsaw merchant and publisher of Swedish extraction. He ran a shop selling musical instruments and sheet music in the Kronenberg building from March 1828.
Magnus played a major role in the life of the young Chopin by distributing his Variations, Op. 2, which had been published by Haslinger in Vienna. This is mentioned in Chopin’s correspondence. For example, he informed Tytus Wojciechowski, in a letter dated 17 April 1830, ‘Magnus went to Vienna a week ago. He is to return at the end of this month; not empty handed, I expect’. On 15 May, he wrote to Woyciechowski again: ‘I can give another concert, because I haven’t yet played my Variations, and they, according to what Blahetka reported to me in his letter, came out recently, and Haslinger has gone with them to the Easter Fair in Leipzig. I expect that when Magnus returns from Vienna (for he travelled to Galicia to see to his own affairs, and from there he was to set off for Vienna), he will bring them to me’.
Chopin was definitely waiting for the Variations, dedicated to Tytus Woyciechowski, to arrive in early July that year. On 16 July, the Kurier Warszawski [Warsaw courier] reported: ‘The Magnus music shop has received a large shipment of music from Vienna. The Variations of Mr Szopę are among the many new and beautiful compositions there’. Henryk Nowaczyk argues persuasively that the ‘Mr Szopę’ (i.e. Chopin) impatiently waiting for his printed composition had in fact received it a couple of days – or even weeks – earlier, as he performed it at a benefit concert for the singer Barbara Majerowa on 8 July 1830 (‘The Kurier Warszawski reported that Mr Chopin played Variations of his own composition on the piano. The thunderous applause, thrice renewed, testified to the delight of the audience, with both the composition and the playing’) and suddenly left for Poturzyn for five days on 12 July – most likely to hand Woyciechowski, the dedicatee of the work, a printed copy of it.
Karol Magnus died a few years later, and his widow, Józefa Magnus, née Mrozowski, ran the shop. In 1897, his son, Wiktor Władysław Magnus, had a statue of Fryderyk Chopin erected in Duszniki.