Warsaw, Plac Krasińskich, on the right-hand side stands the building of the Teatr Narodowy [National Theatre], coloured steel engraving by Nasi after drawing by Friedrich Christoph Dietrich, first half of 19th c. Collection: Muzeum Fryderyka Chopina, Warsaw [M/1258].
The Teatr Narodowy on Plac Krasińskich [Krasiński Square] was the largest and most important national theatre; it functioned until 1833. It is unlikely that any of the artistic events of the 1820s escaped the attention of the young Chopin, who had the opportunity of admiring the art of many Polish and foreign virtuosos, such as Maria Szymanowska, Johann Nepomuk Hummel, Stephen Heller, Niccolò Paganini, Karol Lipiński and Henriette Sontag. The boards of the national theatre also saw performances by Chopin’s friends and colleagues from the conservatory, including Ignacy Feliks Dobrzyński. The theatre was a place in which Chopin regularly encountered his youthful love, the singer Konstancja Gładkowska, at shows and rehearsals, and also heard her sing. Chopin’s first grand public concert in Warsaw took place in the Teatr Narodowy on 17 March 1830: ‘The universal wish of music lovers is to be granted: Mr Szopę (Chopin), so rightfully adored, whose talent is compared by connoisseurs with the foremost virtuosos, is shortly to give a piano concert at the National Theatre, performing works of his own composition’ (Kurier Warszawski, 8 March 1830). The programme included the Concerto in F minor, Op. 21 and the Fantasy on Polish Airs, Op. 13, performed with the accompaniment of an orchestra led by Karol Kurpiński. Another performance with similar repertoire took place a few days later, on 22 March 1830, and Chopin’s last, farewell concert in Poland was held on 11 October 1830. Each of the young virtuoso’s recitals attracted several hundred people to the Teatr Narodowy.