The house of Pruszak of the Leliwa coat of arms came from Pomerelia, a historical region centred around Gdańsk. The first record of the family dates back to the early fifteenth century. Several generations worked hard to increase their wealth and raise their social standing. So much so that the Pruszaks fulfilled important state roles over the next few centuries. They settled in Greater Poland, Kujawy and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, as well as Pomerelia. The family first came to Warsaw in the mid eighteenth century. Józef Bernard Pruszak built a small palace, no longer extant, on the corner of ul. Marszałkowska and ul. Rysia, designed by Fontana. The multi-storey palace, flanked by two ground-floor annexes and surrounded by a garden, was inherited by Józef’s grandson, Aleksander Pruszak, who fathered two of Fryderyk Chopin’s childhood playmates, Konstanty (Kostuś) and Aleksandra (Olesia).
Chopin met Kostuś, who was almost the same age, at the Warsaw Lyceum and visited him and his family on ul. Marszałkowska in Warsaw and at the Pruszaks’ manor house in Sanniki, not far from the capital.
The Warsaw visits mainly took place on Sundays, when the young composer would come to the palace with a group of youngsters and they would all have fun putting on domestic plays. The exceptionally gifted young Chopin often played the leading part. Chopin also gave piano lessons to Kostuś’s sister Olesia for a while – and concocted plans to marry her to his friend Tytuś Woyciechowski, although nothing ever came of any of those designs.
Chopin was a frequent guest at the palace on ul. Marszałkowska, and after spending his 1828 holidays on the Sanniki estate, he found himself an alleged seducer. Chopin was the central figure in a moral scandal, suspected of fathering a child out of wedlock with one of the women who worked for the Pruszaks. He described the episode with a great deal of humour in several letters to Woyciechowski: ‘N. has brought misfortune upon a governess in a house on Marszałkowska Street. The miss has a child in her belly, and the countess, in other words, the lady of the house, no longer wishes to see the seducer. But the best thing is that they first thought that, that it seemed to all, that the seducer was me, since I spent more than a month in Sanniki, and I always went for walks in the garden with the governess. But I went for walks, and nothing more. She is not charming. I, duffer that I am, had no appetite, luckily for me’.
The situation was explained, and the real father even asked Chopin to be the child’s godfather.
About twenty years later, pianos were being made in the former Pruszak Palace, now owned by the company Krall and Seidler.