Sochaczew, castle ruins

Sochaczew, castle ruins, lithograph by Casimir Stronczyński, in Widoki zabytków starożytności w Królestwie Polskim […] Atlas III, Gubernia Warszawska, 1851. Collection: Biblioteka Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego, Warsaw [Rps. 243].

The license is accorded by the owner.


The route to Szafarnia, where Chopin spent successive summers in 1824 and 1825, led through such places as Błonie, Sochaczew and Płock, and almost every stay at Żelazowa Wola included walks and trips to neighbouring towns and villages. Thus Fryderyk could have been a regular visitor to nearby Sochaczew. From letters to Tytus Woyciechowski, we learn that during his final visit to Żelazowa Wola, in the summer of 1830, Fryderyk accompanied Michał Skarbek on a trip to Sochaczew. Stationed there, in command of the 3rd Infantry Brigade, was General Piotr Szembek, a great music-lover and accomplished violinist. Planned at that time were further meetings in Sochaczew to play music together, but these plans were not realised before Chopin’s departure from Żelazowa Wola. However, shortly after his return to Warsaw, on 29 August 1830, Fryderyk received a surprise: a carriage was sent for him from the camp of the 3rd Infantry Brigade at Sochaczew. Chopin wrote of this in a letter to Tytus Woyciechowski: ‘Also, I was lately in Gen. Szembek’s camp once again. I should tell you that he always holds court in Sochaczew and he agreed with Michał that I would be taken to him. When, however, this did not come about, he sent his aide […] Czajkowski and they took me to him there’ [Sydow, i, 133]. General Szembek’s camp was probably set up in the former Dominican Sisters’ convent near the old Castle of the Mazovian Dukes, or, more precisely, its ruins. At the military camp to which Fryderyk was taken post-haste, the regimental orchestra played for him (to his approval, and even admiration), and the commander himself also showed his skills on the violin. Chopin, meanwhile, played his own compositions, including the Adagio from the F minor Piano Concerto. When the musical displays had ended, Fryderyk was driven back to Warsaw. From the letter in which he described the whole event to Tytus, we learn that he still managed to make it to an opera that evening at the National Theatre.