Wojciech Żywny

Wojciech Żywny


Wojciech Żywny (1756–1842)

Ambroży Mieroszewski (1801–1884), oil on canvas, 1829, reproduction: Mieczysław Karłowicz, Niewydane dotychczas pamiątki po Chopinie (Warsaw, 1904).

Original lost with the collection of Laura Ciechomska in Warsaw in 1939


Wojciech Żywny—pedagogue, violinist and composer of Czech origins. Fryderyk Chopin’s only piano teacher during the years 1816–1822. A great connoisseur and devotee of the music of Bach and Mozart, which he introduced into the repertoire of his pupil, thus arousing Fryderyk’s interest in their work. Chopin dedicated his youthful Polonaise in A flat major to his teacher. In letters addressed to his family and friends, Chopin never forgot to send his regards and respects to Żywny.

‘When writing about the Chopin family’, recalls Eugeniusz Skrodzki, ‘it is difficult not to mention the teacher of Fryderyk and the young ladies, so close to that family that he could almost be considered as belonging to it. That teacher was a native Czech, Żywny, apparently a former Austrian kapellmeister […]. During the modest name-day celebrations at the Chopins’, I remember Żywny always engulfed by manifestations of gratitude and respect’ [Czartkowski and Jeżewska, p. 12].

When painting portraits of the Chopin family in 1829, Ambroży Mieroszewski also produced a likeness of Wojciech Żywny, as Fryderyk informed Tytus Woyciechowski in a letter: ‘[Mieroszewski] captured his likeness admirably’.