Annual Chopin concerts begin in Łazienki Park

Paweł Kula

Monday sees the start of a 4-month celebration of Polish composer Frederyk Chopin with a series of concerts to be held in Łazienki Park in Warsaw.

Since 1959, Chopin concerts have been held at the foot of the Chopin monument in the park with eminent pianists performing every Sunday from May 7th until the end of September.

A monument to Fryderyk Chopin, destroyed during the Second World War and reconstructed after its end, was unveiled in the Royal Łazienki Park 60 years ago, on May 11, 1958. One of Warsaw's most iconic sculptures, it depicts Chopin sitting next to a willow tree.

An idea to commemorate the outstanding Polish composer was formulated soon after his death but was impossible to implement during the Partitions of Poland and Russia's negative attitude towards the plan. Finally, Tsar Nicholas I gave his consent to erecting the statue after yielding to the requests of Adelajda Bolska, a Polish prima donna.

A competition for the monument was won by the acclaimed sculptor, Wacław Szymankowski. It was to be erected in 1910, on the centenary of Chopin's birth, but work on the statute was delayed by controversy about the design, and later by the outbreak of the First World War.

The monument was finally cast in France and unveiled on November 14, 1926 in the western part of the Royal Łazienki, close to the Belweder Palace.

It was destroyed by the Nazi Germans on May 31, 1940, broken into pieces and sent to a foundry to be melted down. All replicas owned by Polish museums were also destroyed to make it impossible to rebuild the monument. Luckily, a replica was found in the ruins of a home owned by another Polish composer, Karol Szymanowski. This made it possible to reconstruct the monument and unveil it on its original spot in 1958.

There is an inscription on its base, which reads: "Statue of Fryderyk Chopin, destroyed and plundered by the Germans on 31 May 1940, rebuilt by the Nation. 17 October 1946."

Also engraved on the base are the words by outstanding Polish Romantic poet Adam Mickiewicz, which read as follows:

"Flames will consume our painted history,
Sword-wielding thieves will plunder our treasures,
The song will be saved..."