Maurycy Mochnacki

Maurycy Mochnacki


Maurycy Mochnacki (1803–1834)

Antoni Oleszczyński, steel engraving, 19th c., 183 x 155.

Collection: Muzeum Narodowe, Warsaw [Gr.Pol.2530].

The license is accorded by the owner.


Maurycy Mochnacki—literary and music critic, publicist, pianist, political activist. Before leaving Poland, Fryderyk Chopin moved among the young intellectual elite of Warsaw, which included Maurycy Mochnacki. Chopin befriended him in a musical context. Apart from his legal studies and journalistic work, Mochnacki studied piano at the conservatory and showed considerable talent. Fryderyk readily met with him to play music together and talk. This excellent journalist became renowned as an outstanding music critic, reviewing the Warsaw performances of various artists, including Chopin. Here is what he wrote in the Kurier Polski (20 March 1830) about a Chopin concert: ‘After a long wait, the day before yesterday Mr Chopin could be heard in a public concert. The large assembled audience greeted the young artist with thunderous applause. [...] No one will suspect us of nationalistic partiality or vainglory if we place Chopin in the elite group of the foremost fortepianists; [...] It is difficult to say what was uppermost in it [the F minor Concerto]—compositional talent or masterly execution. As well as originality, beautiful melody, bold and magnificent passages suited to the nature of the instrument, bedecked in vivid colours of fire and of passion, and the well-judged blending of all this into a single whole—such are the salient features of this work. [...] The land which gave him life with its song acted on his musical disposition and at times penetrates this artist’s works: more than one sound of his tones seems to be like a happy reflection of our native harmony. Under his hands, a simple mazur willingly gives itself up to changes and modulations, whilst retaining the proper expression and accentuation. In order to combine elegant playing and brilliant composing with such a beautiful simplicity of homespun song, as Chopin has imbibed it, one must have the requisite feeling, become familiar with the echoes of our fields and forests, hear the song of the Polish peasant’ [Czartkowski and Jeżewska, pp. 116–117].