Composers / Fryderyk Chopin / Places catalog

Apartment of Stefan Witwicki

Stefan Witwicki was born in Janów, Podolia, in 1801 and came to Warsaw in 1822. He took up work as a clerk at the Ministry of Education and wrote poetry in his spare time. Ferdynand Hoesick describes him as ‘reticent and pensive, he looked at the world around him with sadness, always held himself aloof, stood in the shadows and never put himself forward. There were few people who could have summed him up. […] In 1824, he published two volumes of Ballady i Romanse [Ballads and romances], of which he was later embarrassed and which he bought up wherever he could. In 1829, Stefan Witwicki published the dramatic poem Edmund, the product of a morbid fantasy along the lines of Werther. It was not a success’.

Popularity eluded Witwicki until he published Piosenki sielskie [Idyllic songs]. Fryderyk Chopin liked some of them so much that he set them to music. Apart from that, Chopin knew and liked Witwicki (in an 1848 letter to Julian Fontana, the young composer even numbered the poet among those with whom he was ‘in the closest harmony’) and could have visited him in his luxuriously furnished apartment on ul. Żabia (now plac Bankowy 1). Antoni Edward Odyniec commented on the decor in his Wspomnienia z przeszłości [Remembrances of the past]: ‘Witwicki did not live like a fellow man of letters of all. A manservant would meet us in the hallway, help us with our coats and open the door to the salon, where we would be received by our host. He would be elegantly attired and his greeting, while admittedly cordial, would merely convey a tone of common courtesy. Witwicki’s favourite English greyhound would jump into his lap and he would play with it for the brief duration of the visit’.

There can be no doubt that their innate charm, chic, subtlety and refinement of character, and also their inner calm, brought Witwicki and Chopin together.

Witwicki was musical, sensitive and passionate about national affairs. In 1831, after Chopin had left Poland, he wrote him an impassioned letter in which he urged him to write a Polish opera. ‘May you just constantly bear in mind nationality, nationality and again nationality’, entreated Witwicki. ‘This word is virtually meaningless for common writers, but not for someone of your talent. A native melody is like a native region. Hills, forests, waters and meadows have their own inner, native voice, although not every spirit can understand it. I believe that a Slavic opera, brought to life by a real talent, by a thinking and feeling composer, would shine like a new sun in the musical world […]. I have thought about this so many times, dear Fryderyk. I constantly rejoice in the expectation that you will be the first to be able to draw from the extensive treasury of Slavic melody. If you do not go down that road, you will be willingly renouncing the most beautiful laurels’.

Chopin did not follow those suggestions and never wrote an opera, although he did meet Witwicki again in Paris, when the poet emigrated there in 1832.

Witwicki maintained close contacts with Polish émigrés in Paris, especially Mickiewicz (with whom he eventually fell out after criticising Andrzej Towiański), for many years. He died before his time in Rome, in 1847.

Place Category
Antonin Manors / Palaces / Castles
Antoni Brzezina’s bookshop Publishers / Bookshops
Apartment of Dominik Magnuszewski Flats
Apartment of Stefan Witwicki Flats
Apartment of the family of Alfons Brandt Flats
Augsburg Evangelical Church of the Holy Trinity Churches / Places of worship
Belvedere Appearances
Bielany, Camaldolese monastery Churches / Places of worship
Blue Palace Manors / Palaces / Castles
‘Botanika’ Other
Brochów Churches / Places of worship
Brühl Palace Appearances
Buchholtz’s instrument store Other
Casimir Palace Flats
Chopin Monument in Łazienki Park Other
Czapski (Krasiński) Palace Appearances, Manors / Palaces / Castles
Dal Trozzo bookshop Publishers / Bookshops
Duszniki Zdrój Hotels / Inns
Dziewanowski home Flats
Engraving studio of Fr Izydor Józef Cybulski and Antoni Płachecki Education
Franciszek Klukowski bookshop Publishers / Bookshops
Fryderyk Chopin Museum Other
Fryderyk Skarbek’s apartment Flats
Gdańsk Hotels / Inns
Gładkowskis' apartment Flats
Golub Other
Holy Cross Church Churches / Places of worship
Home of Jan Matuszyński Flats
‘Honoratka’ Coffeehouses
Jabłonowski Palace Manors / Palaces / Castles
Jan Böhm’s townhouse Flats
Kalisz Other
Kikół Manors / Palaces / Castles
Kolbergs' apartment Flats
Kowalewo Manors / Palaces / Castles
Kozłowo Manors / Palaces / Castles
Krakow Other
Ludwik Dmuszewski’s house Flats
Magnus's bookshop Publishers / Bookshops
Marceli Celiński’s apartment Flats
Maurycy Mochnacki’s home Flats
Miss Kicka's Salon in Lubomirski Palace Manors / Palaces / Castles
National Theatre Appearances
Obory Churches / Places of worship
Obrowo Manors / Palaces / Castles
Ojców Other
‘Old’ Merchants' Hall Appearances
Patisserie Lourse Coffeehouses
Pieskowa Skała Other
Płock Other
‘Pod Kopciuszkiem’ and ‘Dziurka’ Coffeehouses
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Powązki Cemeteries
Poznań Other
Presbytery of St Jadwiga (Hedwig) parish church in Milanówek Other
Pruszak Palace Manors / Palaces / Castles
Residence of Józef Reinschmidt’s parents Flats
Rościszewo Manors / Palaces / Castles
Sanniki Manors / Palaces / Castles
Saxon Palace Flats
Saxon Post Office Other
Skating rink Other
Sochaczew Other
Sokołowo Manors / Palaces / Castles
Staszic Palace Manors / Palaces / Castles
Strzyżew Manors / Palaces / Castles
Szafarnia Manors / Palaces / Castles
Toruń Other
Turzno Manors / Palaces / Castles
Ugoszcz Manors / Palaces / Castles
‘U Brzezińskiej’ Coffeehouses
Viceroy's Palace Appearances
Vilnius (Wileński) Hotel Hotels / Inns
Visitandine Church of St Joseph Churches / Places of worship
Waplewo Manors / Palaces / Castles
Warsaw Other
Warsaw Charitable Society Appearances
Warsaw Conservatory Appearances
‘Wiejska Kawa’ Coffeehouses
Wieliczka Other
Wojciech Żywny’s apartment Flats
Wola Tollhouse Other
Wrocław Appearances
Żelazowa Wola Flats
Żychlin Manors / Palaces / Castles