Performing a Nation: Chopin Statue and Concerts in Warsaw’s Łazienki Park

Humanities Seminar
Event Format
In person
CGIS S354, 1730 Cambridge St

Except for a pandemic-induced two-year hiatus, weekly summer concerts have been taking place around the statue of Fryderyk Chopin in Łazienki Park in Warsaw, Poland for 65 years. These concerts, exclusively featuring Chopin’s works, serve multiple purposes. They afford young musicians exposure, as performers include both seasoned and new musicians. They allow Varsovians and visitors alike to experience Polish culture, rain or shine, at no cost. With listeners assembling around the statue, the concerts function not only as a reminder of Polish history but also perform and reaffirm Polish identity. This talk will consist of three parts: the impetus leading to the erection of the statue and the numerous hurdles that had to be overcome, its destruction during World War II and subsequent reconstruction, and its historical and symbolic significance since 1959, when Chopin concerts began to take place around the statue.

While there are numerous statues of Chopin in Poland, the one in Łazienki Park is the most famous, recognizable, and dramatic in its history. Almost half a century elapsed between its conception in Russian-partitioned Poland and its unveiling in independent Poland in 1926, and its advent was a multinational endeavor that spanned both world wars. The statue, destroyed by the Nazis in 1940 and rebuilt in 1958, has several elements: a seated Chopin, a stylized willow tree with an eagle’s head, a pedestal and a basin. Additionally, there are two inscriptions on the monument (one quoting Adam Mickiewicz’s Konrad Wallenrod) that remind one of foreign plundering while emphasizing Poland’s tenacity. 

Refreshments will be provided.



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