Episode 100: Zelazowa Wola

Lyapunov: Zhelazova Vola, Op. 37

rc-zelazowa-200Zelazowa Wola. A 16th –century Baronial estate. A serene and peaceful park. A national historic site. A musical museum. A concert destination. And the place where the world beats a path to see where the ‘poet of the piano’ was born. Zelazowa Wola – Chopin’s birthplace.

A spot with special. almost superstitious pull to Poles. Chopin was indeed born in a wing of the manor house owned by Count and Countess Skarbek, though a few months later Chopin’s parents moved their growing family to the heart of Warsaw, 35 miles away. But the Chopins – and their precocious son - were frequent holiday guests. According to Polish historians, “In the summer, the piano would be taken out into the garden, where under the spruce or linden trees Fryderyk gave concerts.” A local peasant recalled: "It was resounding all over the orchard so that the people from the neighbouring villages came running and, as it happened, stood by the fence to listen to the guest from Warsaw".

Today, trees – and pianos – remain the story of Zelazowa Wola. The park surrounding the manor includes more than 500 species of trees and shrubs. Piano teachers make pilgrimages here to put “Chopin acorns” in the pockets of their promising students. Inside, there are three 19th-century pianos; outside, there’s a modern grand, where every summer, there is a daily Chopin recital, from soloists ranging from greenest amateur to the most established pro.

For Chopin’s 200th birthday, Garrick Ohlsson was broadcast live on Polish television, performing on the Pleyel piano in the manor house. For the ONE hundredth birthday, Russian composer Sergei Lyapunov wrote a symphonic poem titled Zelazowa Wola. Lyapunov said he wished to conjure up the "folk and musical atmosphere, surrounding the great musician in his childhood, perceiving his native land’s image in its purity and simplicity.” - Mike McKay & Benjamin K. Roe

Radio Chopin Episode 100: Zelazowa Wola

Lyapunov: Zhelazova Vola, Op. 37