Konstancja Gładkowska, the great love of Chopin’s youth, entered the world in this house on ul. Zakroczymska, which had previously belonged to wine merchant and Trade Tribunal judge Leonard Meringe, in 1810.
‘Fortunately, a Romantic young man’, according to Ryszard Przybylski in A Swallow’s Shadow, ‘did sometimes have two romances. Without – God forbid! – neglecting his homeland, for the sake of balance, in accordance with divine and human law, he also bestowed his feelings upon a maiden. […] Chopin’s girl was Konstancja Gładkowska. She was a singer, trained at the Warsaw Conservatory by Evasio Carlo Soliva. She made her operatic debut in 1830. Her voice graced the composer’s farewell concert in the capital, and her ambiguous verse embellished his album.’
Chopin’s feelings for Gładkowska were overwhelming. It can be said without exaggeration that she was to him what Maryla Wereszczakówna was to Mickiewicz. Chopin’s first admission of infatuation appears in a letter he wrote to Tytus Woyciechowski in 1829: ‘I already have, perhaps unfortunately, my ideal, whom I faithfully serve, not having spoken to her for half a year now, about whom I dream, with thoughts of whom the Adagio from my Concerto came to be, who this morning inspired the waltz that I am sending you’.
Chopin was eaten away by unrequited love even after he left Poland, and never more so than at the time of the November Uprising, when he was tormented by forebodings of what would happen to his loved ones caught up in it. ‘What is happening with her?’, he wrote heatedly in his diary in Stuttgart. ‘Where is she? – Poor thing! – Perhaps she is in the hands of the Muscovite! – The Muscovite pushes her – strangles – murders, kills her!’
Chopin corresponded with Gładkowska for a year after he had left the country. His feelings obviously faded and changed over time: ‘Her image’, he wrote in 1831, ‘is before my eyes! – it seems to me that I do not love her, and yet she does not leave my head’.
In January 1832, Gładkowska married Józef Grabowski. The couple had five children. In the 1840s, her eyesight started failing, and she was soon completely blind. Gładkowska died in Skierniewice in December 1889.