On 1 March 2010 a new exhibition was opened in the Fryderyk Chopin Museum, which inaugurated the 2010 Chopin Year. Opening the museum to the public was one of the main events celebrating the 200th anniversary of the composer’s birth. With its exhibition space expanded by half, the museum, consisting of three branches (the Ostrogski Palace, Żelazowa Wola and the Chopin Family Drawing Room), hosted more than 300 000 visitors in 2010.
One of the museum’s key objectives is to enhance its holdings with new exhibits. New items are acquired through private sales, or on international antique auction market. Chopin memorabilia, in particular those that are considered lost, are searched for attentively.
The history of Chopin’s memorabilia loss is closely related to the tragic fate of the composer’s material legacy. His personal items were not saved in 1863, when not only the composer’s piano but also many other valuable objects held by his family were destroyed. Chopin’s legacy also suffered considerably during the war of 1939 – 1945, although many institutions and individuals were actively engaged in preserving the composer’s output. Recovering Chopin memorabilia scattered around the world as well as gathering knowledge on their current locations constitute the most important objectives of the museum’s mission.
The Fryderyk Chopin Museum holds the world’s largest collection of Chopin memorabilia. Its beginnings go back to the between war period and activities of the Fryderyk Chopin Institute, whose mission was continued after the war by the Fryderyk Chopin Society. However, it is believed that the foundations for the collection were laid as early as in 1899 by Jan Karłowicz, who established the Chopin Section at the Warsaw Music Society that year. The Fryderyk Chopin Society owns the main body of the collection of the Chopin Museum, which since 2005 has been operating within the framework of the Fryderyk Chopin National Institute.
No donor has contributed more to the expansion of today’s collection of the Fryderyk Chopin Museum than Marek Keller. He made his first donations to the museum in 1999 when he acquired Fryderyk Chopin’s autograph letters. Keller’s patronage allowed for enhancing the holdings with such fundamental items as, among others: Fryderyk Chopin’s 11 letters to Wojciech Grzymała written from Paris, Nohant and Chaillot between 1838 and 1849, and the composer’s two letters to George Sand written from Paris in 1846 and 1847, as well as Fryderyk Chopin’s letter to Marie de Rosières written from London in 1848.
In 1999 Marek Keller made a donation of 3 letters to the Fryderyk Chopin Museum, in 2000 8 letters, 9 letters in 2003, while 1 letter was received in 2005. Altogether, Marek Keller donated 21 objects of the highest value for Chopin heritage.
The cooperation with Marek Keller, established in 1999 by the then museum’s curator Hanna Wróblewska-Straus, has been enhanced ever since and resulted in donating 47 new objects to the museum’s collection in 2011.
Marek Keller’s financial support allowed the Fryderyk Chopin Museum to expand its collection over the most valuable items. In recognition of his merit, in 2003 Marek Keller was honored with the state decorations of the highest rank: the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland awarded by the President of the Republic of Poland and “Meritorious for Polish Culture” Decoration received from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.
Marek Keller, who lives in Paris and Mexico, is actively engaged in cultivating the national heritage in its broad sense. He manages the Juan Soriano y Marek Keller A.C. Foundation, which promotes the art of Juan Soriano, one of the most outstanding Mexican sculptors. Keller provided the Polish audience with the unique possibility of experiencing this artist’s works in a fantastic Juan Soriano’s Sculpture Garden in Owczarnia village near Warsaw, opened to the public in June 2009.
In 2011 another set of Fryderyk Chopin memorabilia acquired by Marek Keller is donated to the museum and joins the national culture’s pantheon. Such gesture cannot be overestimated. It is a memorable occasion for the museum to receive part of the Fryderyk Chopin collection documented for the last time before the Second World War and considered lost since then.
This priceless set consists of more than forty manuscripts and 19th century prints safekept by the composer’s family. Among them are: Fryderyk Chopin’s six letters written between 1845 and 1848 to his family and sister Ludwika. Although known in whole or parts from publications, this correspondence is of great significance. It was in these letters to his family that Chopin most fully recounted his everyday life, moods as well as daily struggles. All autographs will be read anew. It is assumed that the knowledge on Chopin will be updated by essential details.
The correspondence between Fryderyk Chopin’s student Jane Wilhelmina Stirling and his sister Ludwika Jędrzejewiczowa, written after composer’s death, constitutes a considerable part of the collection. These letters show how Stirling preserved the composer in remembrance through collecting his personal belongings, music manuscripts, correspondence, as well as portraits of Fryderyk Chopin commissioned after his death in order to be presented to his family. Sent from Paris to Warsaw, the items were then safekept by the composer’s sisters and their heirs. The other part of the correspondence between Jane Wilhelmina Stirling and Ludwika Jędrzejewiczowa has already been on view in the museum.
The moment of donating 47 new objects to the museum’s collection will add splendor to the opening of the exhibition “I trust there will always remain something to be done for him… (Jane W. Stirling). Marek Keller’s Donation to the Fryderyk Chopin Museum”, which will display the new items and highlight the efforts made to enrich the museum’s holdings. During the exhibition’s vernissage a piano recital will be performed by Marek Bracha together with interpretation of Jane Stirling letters to Ludwika Jędrzejewiczowa read by Maria Seweryn.
Donation by Marek Keller:
from Fryderyk Chopin to his family:
- My Dearest. Yesterday I received your letter forwarded from Paris …, the 1st of October ([Nohant], 1 October ), pp. 4 filled with writing.
- My Dearest. I received your last letter…, Paris. Friday 12th December (Paris, 12 December ), pp. 4 filled with writing.
- My Beloved. If one does not replay at once …, Started a week before Easter / and finishes on [word illegible, circled] / 19 April ([Paris, 28 March] – 19 April ), pp. 4 filled with writing.
- Dearest Children. I did not reply at once because I have been terribly busy..., Christmas. 1847 ([Paris, 26 December 1847 – 6 January 1848]), pp. 2 filled with writing.
- My Life. With regard to your books..., (Thursday 10 fevrier 1848, [Paris],10 February 1848), pp. 4 filled with writing.
- Dearest. I have not written for a long time…Friday 11 fevrier 1848 ([Paris], 11 February 1848), pp. 4 filled with writing.
- Envelope of Fryderyk Chopin’s letter to Justyna Chopin in Warsaw addressed Madame / Madame Chopin / par Berlin à Varsovie / en Pologne / Nowy Świat Street at the house of Mr. Barciński / next to Warecka street, near Bentkowski.
from Jane Wilhelmina Stirling to Ludwika Jędrzejewiczowa in Warsaw:
- Bien chère Amie votre lettre était attendue..., le 20 Mars 1850 ([Paris], 20 March 1850), pp. 8 filled with writing.
- Chère Amie. Je reçois à l’instant..., le 13 Juin 1850 ([Paris], 13 June 1850), pp. 2 filled with writing.
- Letter from Jane Wilhelmina Stirling to Ludwika Jędrzejewiczowa in Warsaw, Chère Amie. Il nous tarde d'avoir..., le 16 Juillet 1850 ([Paris], 16 July 1850), pp. 8 filled with writing, and an envelope.
- Chère Amie. J'ai été très désappointée..., Barnton House / Cramond. Ecosse (Barnton House. Cramond. Scotland [10 October 1850]), pp. 4 filled with writing.
- Je l'ai donné..., (Paris, [before 17 October 1850]), letter incomplete, the beginning and end missing, pp. 8 filled with writing.
- Bien chères Amies. Je ne peux pas..., Jeudi 17 Ocbre 1850 / Paris (Paris, 17-18 October 1850), pp. 6 filled with writing.
- Chère Amie. Je vous prie de m'écrire..., Maison Valin [?] / 81 [?] Avenue des Champs Elysées / 22 Ocbre 1850 ([Paris], 22 October 1850), pp. 4 filled with writing.
- Bien chères Amies encore un jour..., Mercredi le 30 Ocbre 1850 ([Paris], Wednesday 30 October 1850), pp. 8 filled with writing.
- Bien chère Amie Notre bonne Made..., Maison Valin / 69 Avenue des Champs Efysées / Paris le 4 Novbre 1850 (Paris, 4 November, 1850), pp. 8 filled with writing.
- Chère Amie. Merci bien de votre prompte réponse..., le 10 Novbre 1850 ([Paris], 10 November 1850), pp. 4 filled with writing.
- J'ai défait un des paquets..., Dimanche 24 Novbre ([Paris], Sunday, 24 November ), pp. 4 filled with writing, and an envelope.
- Bien chère Amie. Je veux finir..., Barnton House / Edinbourg Ecosse / 31 Decbre 1850 (Edinburgh, 31 December 1850), pp. 4 filled with writing, and an envelope.
- Bien chère Amie. Voilà bien long temps..., 12 Avenue Lord Byron / Beaujon. Paris / le 1er Mars 1851 (Paris 1 March 1851), pp. 4 filled with writing, and an envelope.
- Bien chère Amie. J'arrive chez la Csse Lanne [?], ([Paris, 14 June 1851]), pp. 4 filled with writing.
- Chère Amie votre souvenir nous est toujours..., 12 Rue du Châtean Neuf / St Germain en Laye / 23 Juillet 1851 ([St. Germain-en-Laye], 23 July 1851), pp. 4 filled with writing, and an envelope
- Bien chère Amie. Je pense avec plasir..., 12 Rue du Chateau [!] Neuf / St. Germain en Laye / Mercredi 17 Sepbre / 51 (St. Germain-en-Laye, 17 September 1851), pp. 10 filled with writing.
- Bien chère Amie. Je désir bien avoir..., 12 Rue du Château Neuf / St Germain en Laye / le 30 Sepbre 1851 (St. Germain-en-Laye, 30 September 1851), pp. 8 filled with writing.
- Bien chère Amie. Votre lettre m'est arrivée..., ([St Germain-en-Laye, 29 October 1851]), pp. 8 filled with writing.
- Bien chère Amie. Votre lettre m'est arrivée..., 3 Avenue Fortuna / Beaujon le 26 Novbre 1851 ([Paris], 26 November 1851), pp. 4 filled with writing.
- [...] il m'a repondu [sic!] „attendez un moment”!..., [Paris, after 6 March 1852], letter incomplete, beginning missing, pp. 4 filled with writing.
- Envelope of an undetermined letter from Jane Stirling to Ludwika Jędrzejewiczowa addressed Madame / Madame Jędrzejewicz.
- Letter signed with letter G to Mr. Fontaneille, mon [word illegible] ami ..., Lundi 28 av[ril?] , with the addressee’s note on p. 4 dated 17 août 1828, pp. 4 (including p. 1 and p. 4 filled with writing.)
- Letter to an undetermined person written on behalf of (?) Duchess Somerset, Parklane (park Lane?), Wednesday / 24: May. 48 (Wednesday. 24 May 48), pp. 2 (including p. 1 filled with writing.)
- Letter from Katherine Erskine to Ludwika Jędrzejewiczowa in Warsaw, Votre bonne lettre que je viens de reçevoir..., Paris le 19. Avril/50 (Paris, 19 [-24] April 18), pp. 6 filled with writing.
- Letter written in an undetermined hand to an undetermined addressee, undated, pp. 20 filled with writing.
- Written in an undetermined handwriting and in Jane Wilhelmina Stirling’s hand on a piece of paper torn out of a larger whole: Artôt / présente Madelle / Kologrivoff, undated, pp. 2 (including p. 1 filled with writing).
- By Katherine Erskine containing texts copied from the Bible, I do not know..., pp. 4 (including p. 1 – p. 3 filled with writing.)
- By Izabella Barcińska containing copies of Zygmunt Krasiński’s poems To Kajetan Koźmian and Kajetan Koźmian’s The Answer prepared on the basis of a magazine “Nowiny” 1855 no. 1, 1855, p. 3 and p. 4, pp. 4 (including p. 1 and p. 3 filled with writing).
- By Laura [Ludwika?] Ciechomska, a page with a note: Chopin’s Letters, pp. 2 (including p. 1 filled with writing).
- Signed LCiech, written in Laura’s or Ludwika Ciechomska’s hand: The following objects were returned to me / by Mr. Leopold Binental / on 8.XI.1930..., pp. 2 (including p. 1 filled with writing).
- Two drawings by an undetermined author on a sheet consists of 4 pages depicting a woman sitting on a monument, black crayon, (a drawing on p.1) and a man wearing a moustache, black boots, big turban on his head, standing on a pedestal, black crayon, (a drawing on p. 3, on p. 2 the drawing’s carbon copy is visible).
PRINTS OWNED BY FRYDERYK CHOPIN:
- Entry ticket for two persons for a dress rehearsal of the Symphonie militaire (Grande Symphonie militaire funèbre et triomphale op. 15) by Hector Berlioz, which took place on Sunday 26 July 1840 at the Salle des Concerts de la rue Neuve-Vivienne in Paris, p. 1.
Facsimile prints from the collection of Fryderyk Chopin:
- Fautes de Gravure dans les pages de la première édition des Cours de contre-point by Luigi Cherubini attached to “Revue et Gazette Musicale” 1836 no. 23, 5 VI, after p. 190 (within the text on pp. 185-194), p. 2.
- Three one-page letters: from Niccolò Paganini to Hector Berlioz, Paris, 18 December 1838; from Hector Berlioz to Niccolò Paganini, Paris, 18 December 1838; from Jules Janin to Hector Berlioz, [Paris, 20 December 1838, attached to “Gazette Musicale” 1838 no. 51, 23 December, after p. 516, p. 1.
- Signatures of renowned musicians published as a supplement to “Revue et Gazette Musicale” in the issue 1 out of 7 January 1844, pp. 8.