Composers / Fryderyk Chopin / Routes
Fryderyk Chopin spent his entire childhood and adolescence in Warsaw. For several years after their marriage, in 1806, Mikołaj and Justyna Chopin frequently had to move with their employer, Countess Ludwika Skarbek, between Warsaw and Żelazowa Wola, where she had her estate. Ludwika (b. 1807), their eldest child, entered the world during one of their stays in Warsaw, and Fryderyk, the future great composer, was born in Żelazowa Wola in either 1809 or 1810. Chopin’s date of birth has been a topic of speculation for a century. What is known for certain is that the Chopins moved to Warsaw permanently in the autumn of 1810, as Mikołaj had been offered work as a contractual French teacher at the Warsaw Lyceum.
The young couple and their two children first moved into Jan Böhm’s townhouse at ul. Krakowskie Przedmieście 7 (according to the numbering now used). That is where their next child, Izabella, was born.
Soon afterwards, the family moved to the Saxon Palace, as this was the main building of the Warsaw Lyceum, with which Mikołaj was to be permanently associated. Many Lyceum teachers lived in the wings of the palace. This is where the Chopins’ youngest child, Emilia, was born. It is also where young Fryderyk’s musical genius first manifested itself.
When the Lyceum moved from the Saxon Palace to Casimir Palace, in March 1817, all the teachers and their families had to move with it. The Chopins occupied apartment 18. This was on the second floor of the central part of what is now known as the ‘former vice-chancellor’s building’. Their neighbours included Samuel Bogumił Linde, the rector of the Lyceum, and the large Kolberg family. Fryderyk became close friends with the young Kolbergs.
Chopin spent almost all his formative years in Casimir Palace. Tragedy struck the family in 1827, when the youngest of the siblings, Emilia, died of tuberculosis. The Chopins moved out of the apartment, which now held too many painful memories, and into Krasiński Palace at ul. Krakowskie Przedmieście 5. This was Chopin’s last Warsaw address. It was from here that he took his baggage to the Saxon Post Office on 2 November 1830 before setting off for the Wola Tollgate, where he boarded the mail coach and left Poland forever.
Apart from the addresses of where Chopin resided, this route follows, albeit less literally, four more places associated with him and his family: Powązki Cemetery, where his parents and sisters are buried; Holy Cross Church, where his heart is kept in an urn; the Chopin monument in Łazienki Park; the Fryderyk Chopin Museum on ul. Okólnik, where his symbolic presence can be felt everywhere.