Marcelina Czartoryska

Marcelina Czartoryska


Marcelina Czartoryska (1817–1894)

Auguste Sandoz, reproduction of a lithograph signed ‘A. Sandoz, 1850’, 210 x 176.

Collection: Fundacja Książąt Czartoryskich, Cracow [Gab. Ryc. XV R.3621c.].

The license is accorded by the owner.


The pianist and teacher Marcelina Czartoryska, née Radziwiłł, came from a Polish aristocratic family. She was one of Chopin’s most talented pupils (she had earlier studied in Vienna under Czerny) and maintained frequent and friendly contacts with him. Chopin would invite her to his home for musical soirées; he was also a frequent guest in her salon, which was the venue for gatherings of Polish aristocrats and artists in exile. Chopin felt at home there and played many times for his fellow countrymen. Her contemporaries—from Liszt to Delacroix and Mickiewicz—unanimously praised her playing, as the most faithful reflection of the playing of her teacher. Sowiński wrote in his dictionary: ‘Princess Marcelina Czartoryska, a marvellous performer, seems to have inherited Chopin’s manner, especially in phrasing and accentuation’. [Eigeldinger 1986, p. 163]. Her public performances (Paris, London, Poznań, Lviv, Cracow) were always significant events. Marcelina Czartoryska, very devoted to her master, took care of him towards the end of his stay in Great Britain and accompanied him in the last moments of his life. Her name appears in the letters Chopin wrote from Britain to Wojciech Grzymała. ‘Duke Aleksander and his wife have arrived and wished to see me. – Although tired, I got on a train and caught up with them in Edinb.[urgh]. Duchess Marcelina just as kind-hearted as before. – I revived a little under their Polish spirit, it gave me the strength to play in Glasgow’ [1 October 1848 from Perthshire] [Sydow, ii, 276]. ‘Duchess Marcelina is so kind to me that she comes to the hospital almost every day’ [London, 17 and 18 November [1848] [Sydow, ii, 286]. Marcelina Czartoryska collected Chopin souvenirs, which she ultimately donated to the Muzeum Książąt Czartoryskich in Cracow.