Composers / Thomas Tellefsen / Places catalog
Princess Marcelina Czartoryska
The Czartoryski family was a powerful aristocratic house of extensive political and cultural influence in Poland. After the defeat of the 1830 uprising, two branches of the family moved abroad, to Vienna and to Paris, where they started to play an important role in cultural life.
Princess Marcelina Czaroryska née Radziwiłł (1817–1894) was regarded as a consummate pianist and interpreter of Chopin’s music. She studied under Carl Czerny in Vienna before moving to Paris, where in 1840 she studied with Chopin. That same year, she married Prince Aleksander Czartoryski, a cousin of the head of the French branch of the family, Prince Adam Jerzy Czartoryski.
After the death of Chopin, Princess Czartoryska continued her training with Tellefsen and became his faithful friend. In his letters, the composer mentions her and her husband numerous times, and it seems that in the musical context the princess was an important figure for him. It was at the family's magnificent Paris residence, the Hôtel Lambert, at 2 rue Saint-Louis-en-l’Île, that Tellefsen made his public debut as a concert pianist, in 1851.
Music at the Hôtel Lambert had a rich tradition, which can be divided into two categories. The first included large annual events with a mixed programme, advertised in newspapers as open to the public. Sometimes they were also held in one of the well-known municipal concert halls. Apart from annual concerts, Princess Czartoryska also initiated numerous musical soirées and matinees. These events were either of a private character, with an audience confined to the closest friends, or for a wider audience. Smaller musical performances took place regularly with a fairly stable audience and a varied repertoire. Such concerts were dominated by chamber music, especially by the Viennese Classics; in the extant archive material related to the programmes of concerts at the Hôtel Lambert from the 1850s, works by Mozart, Beethoven or Haydn appear every time.
Marcelina Czartoryska also initiated the creation of the Club des Mozartistes, one of many such associations established in Paris during the mid nineteenth century. Besides Tellefsen, the club's permanent members included Alard, Franchomme and Gounod. The Mozartists met on the first Friday of every month. Scant information remains about their meetings, which were of a rather private character, and about the pieces played there.
Before 1870, Princess Czartoryska returned to Poland, where she continued her musical activities in Cracow, performing, organising historical concerts and supporting the establishment of a music conservatory in 1888. She died in 1894 and was buried in Rakowicki Cemetery in Cracow.
Chopin Polonaise - a Ball in Hôtel Lambert in Paris, watercolor, Teofil Kwiatkowski (1849-1860), National Museum in Poznań. (creative commons).
Reproduction of lithographs depicting Marceline Czartoryska crowned.
Tittle page of 4 Mazurkas dedicated to Duchess Marcelina Czartoryska.