Karol Kurpiński (1785–1857)
Anna Chamiec, miniature, after Józef Sonntag, from 1811–13, watercolour, gouache on ivory, signed ‘1973’, 74 x 50.
Collection: Muzeum Fryderyka Chopina, Warsaw [M/1362].
Karol Kurpiński—Polish composer, pedagogue, music activist, editor of the Tygodnik Muzyczny (the first Polish music periodical, 1820–1821) and conductor of the Teatr Narodowy [National Theatre] in Warsaw. The opera house in Warsaw in those times, directed by Karol Kurpiński, was oriented primarily towards the presentation of the latest works of European music theatre, often soon after their premieres. Also produced were operas from the previous century, by Gluck and Mozart, but it was contemporary repertoire that clearly dominated, especially the public’s favourite, Rossini, as well as Spontini, Auber, Boieldieu, Meyerbeer and Weber. The Romantic Der Freischütz appeared in Warsaw in 1826, five years after its Berlin world premiere. This opera made a great impression on the young Fryderyk, always interested in anything new. ‘Freischütz will cause a great stir in Warsaw’, he wrote to Białobłocki before the premiere, ‘[…] the Warsaw public, accustomed to the light songs of Rossini [...] will praise the work not so much from conviction as led by the voice of the experts, since Weber is universally praised […]’ [Sydow, i, 67].
On 3 March 1830, Kurpiński led the premiere of Chopin’s F minor Concerto with chamber orchestra in the Chopins’ drawing-room in Krasiński Palace, with the composer as soloist. On 17 and 22 March 1830, he conducted the orchestra in Chopin’s two public performances at the Teatr Narodowy.