Stefan Witwicki (1801–1847)
Teofil Kwiatkowski [?], lithograph, 19th c., 370 x 300.
Collection: Muzeum Fryderyka Chopina, Warsaw [M/1090].
Stefan Witwicki – poet and publicist, a good friend of Chopin’s.
On 22 September 1830, Chopin presented his E minor Concerto to the leading musicians of Warsaw in the drawing-room of his home on ul. Krakowskie Przedmieście, with a miniature orchestra including an incomplete wind section. Among the guests was Stefan Witwicki, who on 25 September wrote in the Powszechny Dziennik Krajowy: ‘I hasten to inform all friends of music and of home-grown talent of the pleasant news: Fryderyk Chopin has composed a second great Concerto. The day before yesterday, in his home, in the presence of his close acquaintances and the foremost masters and connoisseurs that our capital possesses, he rehearsed it for the first time with orchestra. Should I wax lyrical about this latest composition? I shall confine myself to just a word: it is the work of a genius. The charm and originality of its ideas, the fertile intelligence, the talent for scoring and the masterly execution delighted the listeners. […] The genius of Chopin has assured him of a rare and enduring renown’ [Zieliński, p. 179]. Witwicki gave Chopin a copy of his Piosnki sielskie [Idylls] (published in 1830) with dedication: ‘To Fryderyk Chopin – in adoration of his talent’. Chopin composed music to ten songs from this collection. The poet urged his friend to write an opera; on 6 July 1831 he wrote to Fryderyk from Vienna: ‘Dear Fryderyk, Permit me to recall myself to your memory and thank you for the lovely songs. Not only I myself, but everyone who knows them found them exceedingly appealing; and you would admit yourself that they are very beautiful were you to hear how your sister sings them. You must absolutely be the composer of a Polish opera; I have the deepest conviction that you are capable of becoming one and that as a Polish national composer you will open up for your talent an immeasurably rich field in which you will earn yourself exceptional renown. I only hope that you will always have in mind: nationality, nationality and once more nationality; it is almost a meaningless word for ordinary writers, but not for such a talent as yours’ [Sydow, i, 179]. In 1832, Witwicki emigrated to Paris, where he maintained frequent and warm contacts with Chopin. The composer dedicated to Witwicki his Mazurkas, Op. 41, which were published in Paris by Maurice Schlesinger in 1840.