Category Archives: Chopin’s Warsaw
This is a 14-stop guide – through interviews, stories, sound, and music – for the city of Warsaw. That’s where Polish-born composer Fryderyk (that’s how Frederic looks in Polish) Chopin spent his formative years, before he left to make it big in Paris. The tour was written and produced with Warsaw-based screenwriter, actor and British television presenter Anna Piwowarska. We created eight different language versions of the tour – the first of its kind ever commissioned by Poland’s capital. It won a Polish tourism award and was adapted into an award-winning short film – all part of Warsaw’s 2010 celebration of the 200th anniversary of Chopin’s birth.
Thanks to Madrid-based Polish photographer Łukasz Michalak for the pictures you see on this site taken on the set of the tour’s film version.
For this project, Anna and I wanted to bring the best of what documentary and radio features can do – intimate and memorable storytelling, provocatively mixed sound, meaningful musical scoring – to an audio tour. The result is a kind of historical documentary with direction, a walk guided by good stories and aural atmospheres.
Warsaw is in many ways the perfect place for an audio tour. It’s a city with a tumultuous history, a violent past where struggle nearly wiped away the visual evidence of entire eras. Our project guides visitors to a disappeared city that may be invisible to the eye, but it can be resurrected for the ear. Morever, Chopin’s Polish story is inherently a dramatic one. His entire childhood and youth was spent in Warsaw, it’s where he grew up before left his homeland forever – so the emotion in these places is palpable. Each stop evokes the inspiration of a very talented child and the sorrow of a past that can never be revisited.
Here’s 3 bits of the tour to sample:
1. An excerpt from Stop 3, Palac Kazimierzowski – the place where Chopin spent many of his secondary school years, and the time of his life when he overheard sounds that would change his music forever.
2. Stop 5, Sisters of the Visitation Church – a quick, fun stop at the place where young Chopin had the privilege of playing as his school’s official organist – and apparently he used to get a bit carried away with the role.
3. An excerpt from Stop 11, the Wessel Palace/Saxon Post Office – the place where Chopin got on a carriage out of Warsaw so he could make it big in Paris. He didn’t know then that he’d never return to his homeland again – at least not all of him (his body was buried in Paris, but his heart was smuggled back to Warsaw).