Konstancja Gładkowska-Chopin's Youthful Love
October 20, 2005
"This is a young, pretty person, who plays, because, perhaps unfortunately, I have my ideal that I have been faithfully serving for six months already without speaking to her, of whom I dream, in honor of whom is the adagio to my concerto..." This is the declaration of 19-year-old Chopin at a time when he was composing his two piano concertos. The "adagio" in question is the slow movement of the Concerto in F Minor-Larghetto.
Konstancja Gładkowska, a singer born in 1810 in Warsaw, displayed a musical talent from childhood. When she turned 16, she enrolled at the conservatory, where she was one of the most gifted and most beautiful students. She and Chopin met in the spring of 1829 during a concert of the Warsaw conservatory's soloists. Soon Frédéric wrote to his friend Tytus Wojciechowski about the ideal he'd been serving for six months, adding that "I say to the piano what I would usually be saying to you."
Their acquaintance lasted a year and a half. In the autumn of 1830 Chopin knew already that he would be moving abroad. On Oct. 11, 1830 there was a farewell concert at the National Theater, which featured Konstancja Gładkowska among other artists. She sang Rossini's aria which ends with the words "Oh, quante lagrime per te versai" (Oh, how many tears have I cried for you). Frédéric performed his new Concerto in E Minor op. 11. Konstancja inscribed these words in Chopin's album:
"That the laurels of renown might never come to wilt,
Leave you now Your closest friends and dearest family;
Strangers may esteem You more, reward you to the hilt,
But they surely cannot love You stronger than do we."
Years later, not without bitterness, Frédéric added, "They can, they can."
The grave of Konstancja Gładkowska (1810-1889) is located in the town of Babsk, approx. 60 km from Warsaw, beyond Radziejowice in the direction of Katowice.
Krystian Zimerman went there in 1999 together with his Polish Festival Orchestra on the eve of the inauguration of his legendary world tour, whose program included both of Chopin's piano concertos.