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On the Chopin route

Płock was the first town that the 17 year old Frederick Chopin visited during his trip to Gdansk, in July 1827. . Although this Mazovian town was not exactly on the route of his journey, Frederick visited it because of the monuments that interested him. The document confirming the presence of Frederick in Płock, is the letter to the family that he wrote in the nearby Kowalewo and sent from the Płock post office.
Picturesquely spread on the high slope Płock lies on the Chopin route running through Mazovia. Today the primeval capital of Mazovia attracts not only because of the magnificent history and monuments that nearly two centuries ago Chopin admired.
Płock is filled with music. At the end of the 19th century Eugeniusz Gruberski and Wacław Lachman were creating here. Today numerous concerts and festivals, including classical music take place here. Festiwal Muzyki Jednogłosowej, Płockie Dni Muzyki Chóralnej (Płock Choral Music Days) or Letni Festiwal Muzyczny (Summer Music Festival) are just some of them. In the Chopin Year (2010), a guest of the Płock Symphonic Orchestra was, among others, the famous pianist Kevin Kenner (USA). In the collections of the Mazovian Museum there is a 16th century Płock fiddle the oldest of string instruments found in Europe.
Płock has a lot to offer. It is worth walking off the beaten track - just as Frederick did - and stay here for a little while longer to visit the town and feel its unique atmosphere... 
In the summer of 1827 the 17 year old Frederick Chopin visited Płock. At that time he was studying in Main School of Music in Warsaw and Professor Józef Elsner assessed his skills as "an outstanding talent". That year, in April his 14 year old youngest sister Emilia died because of tuberculosis, her Godfather was Ksawery Zboiński, the composer's father's friend.
During his summer trip to Gdansk Frederick stopped for several days in the property of Zboińscy, in Kowalewo, in the county of Płock. As it appears from the preserved letter, the host felt obliged to show the surrounding area to the guest. They started their trip to Gdansk from the historical Płock.
They entered the town on a chaise through the Bielski tract. Count Zboiński knew Płock well because his ancestors and relatives: Ignacy Zboiński (the Płock province governor), Maksymilian Sierakowski, Franciszek Zboiński were the Płock castellans for many years. Ksawery, a historian by education, became a guide of the young guest.
The Mayor of Płock with its 10 thousand inhabitants at that time was Florian Kobyliński - the president of the Commission of Płock Province – an administrative authority. An extended spatial plan of the town has been prepared then, where the central place was the building of a Classicist town hall built in a new place (1820-1825), the Old Market Square, The Canonical Market, Mostowa street and over ten other streets were paved.
In 1827 in Płock there were 484 houses: 127 wooden, other bricked or half-timbered. 485 craftsmen had their workshops. Płock inhabitants would stroll around two public parks: behind the Dominican monastery and in front of the builing of the Commission of Płock Province.
Chopin started his visit from the Old Market Square, the central point of the town where the new town hall stood, built according to the design of Jacob Kubicki (he also reconstructed the Warsaw Belweder). Young Chopin took notice of the church of St. Bartholomew, neighbouring with the town hall, the oldest among Płock parish churches, founded by King Kazimierz the Great and consecrated by the bishop of Płock, Klemens in 1356. The primarily Gothic structure was rebuilt in 1723 in the late Baroque style.
Going towards the Cathedral, Frederick and his guide probably passed the Provincial School, in which teenagers male were taught (today's St. Małachowski High School). Its chancellor was, at that time, Kajetan Morykoni the co-founder of Płock Scientific Society and School Mercy Association, supporting the poorest students.
Ksawery Zboiński told him about this very old school (today considered to be the oldest in Poland), created at the collegiate of St. Michael in approx. 1180, kept by the Benedictines, then canons regular, Jesuits until 1773, when it was taken over by the Commission of National Education.
The teacher in the school was Wojciech Szweykowski – future rector of the Warsaw University and a student of, among others, Wincenty Hipolit Gawarecki – a historian of Mazovia whose book entitled "Graves of Polish Kings in Płock" was published in 1827 in Warsaw, could have been known to Chopin. The book includes a drawing of the sarcophagus. In the foreword Gawarecki wrote: "Cracow, Poznań, Kalisz, Warsaw in the Crown and Vilnius in Lithuania, formerly Capitals of Kings and Dukes, take pride in tombs of monarchs who ruled the Polish lands. The national history did not refuse Płock this glory".
In times of Frederick Chopin in Małachowianka, the Płock Scientific Society, established on 3 June 1820 by the aforementioned rector Morykoni and the bishop Adam Prażmowski, initially had its registered office. On the initiative of the members of the Płock Scientific Society (TNP) in 1821 the Public and School Museum of Płock Province was created (now the Mazovian Museum), considered to be the oldest public Museum in the country).
Today the Mazovian Museum is famous for the biggest Art Nouveau art collection in Poland. In the collections Museum we can also find Chopin keepsakes, among others, a bronze cast of the project of Chopin monument the original of which is located in the Warsaw Łazienki Park. Designed in 1908, the cast (in 1:8 scale) comes from 1922, was made in a Roman foundry under the supervision of the master Wacław Szymanowski himself. The Museum also has an oil painting of Feliks Michał Wygrzywalski from 1910, picturing Chopin playing the piano.
The Provincial School was close to the theatre for 800 viewers, which was a cradle of the cultural life. Next to it there was the Bishops' Palace in which now Płock courts are located.
Young Frederick was interested in the cathedral, which was consecrated as early as in 1144 and rebuilt many times. The Royal chapel, arranged barely two years before, with the effort of bishop Adam Prażmowski, raised curiosity. This is where after a solemn funeral mass the black marble sarcophagus was placed decorated with Piast eagles (designed by Zygmunt Vogla) with the remains of two rulers: Władysław Herman and Boleslaus the Wry-Mouthed.
The Cathedral, constructed in the years 1126-1141 by the bishop Alexander of Malonne, rebuilt in the Renaissance period (1531-1534) and restored in the 1902-1903 period is the treasure of sacral architecture in Poland.
Opposite, within the walls f the Benedictine abbey and of the dukes castle a Diocesan Museum is currently located. Its collections are about 20 thousand exhibits of sacral art, among others, chalices, monstrances as well as the written pieces e.g. illuminated Płock Bible from the 12th century An interesting thing, connected with Chopin, is the piano from the composer's times, which "acted" in a well-known film of Alexander Ford "Youth of Chopin" from 1951.
At the post office, on 6 July 1827, on Friday (on Thursdays any mail from Warsaw was incoming) Chopin received the correspondence as well as sent a letter to his parents. On the envelope, and in fact on the fourth page of the letter, as then it was a custom to fold the sheet of the letter into an envelope, the address and the official stamp can be seen: PLOCK 8 IULI.
Frederick continued his journey to the Jeżewscy property in Rościszewo, stopping in the friendly manors. In his journey – up to Gdańsk – he was accompanied by: Ksawery Zboiński, Antoni Sierakowski and Ignacy Dembowski (a 17 year-old boy could not travel on his own outside the borders of the Kingdom).
He traveled to the Mazovian region again during holidays in 1828, which he spent in Sanniki, in the property of a befriended family of the Pruszaks.
Kowalewo, Piątek
Dearest parents and beloved sisters.
When my health serves as some dog and Mr. Zboiński has yellow eyes no more, as we leave for Płock , I would be mad, if I did not let you know of it. - Today, thus in Płock , tomorrow in Rościszewo, the day after tomorrow in Kikół, a few days in Turzyn, a few days in Kozłowo and a moment in Gdańsk, and back again! […] - And not a single letter from Warsaw; today in Płock am going to go through all the letters to find something, anything for me. […] I wonder how Baba is keeping. But what is it to do, they will not give the dog the meat, the dog has to fast and what more could it do but to go here and there and seek food? I am going after meat to Płock , because I reckon you knew not that the last package is waiting in Lato. Now again comes the long period of not writing! thus I will not trouble myself, because it is not easy to know where to look for me but I will, regularly, at every step write and let you know, where to address the letter so that I get it. -But as Mr. Zboiński says, we can write through Toruń, Schwetz to Kozłowo so that as we arrive we will already have a letter waiting for us. […]
I wanted to end you, sisters, a quick waltz but I have no time for composing because we will are setting off now; It is now morning, 8 (because we never get up before 7). The air is fresh, the sun shines on beautifully, the birds are chirping, there is not a stream because I would hear it otherwise but there is a pond and frogs are singing wonderfully! […]
Most devoted, F.Chopin. Sisters, bisous, bisous, bisous. [...]

Wykonanie: Kamikaze