I love it when the ordinary becomes extraordinary for no rhyme or reason. For me, although every single excursion that we did throughout our one week Polish trip was phenomenally memorable, there are two events that will forever stand out in mind and resonate joy within my being.
Deciding to break one blog into two parts, today's post relates to my soul-felt Warsaw experience, which I hope I may encourage you to do for yourself in the summertime while in the capital.
My Heart Skipped a Beat
While creating our Polish itinerary, I knew that one of my priorities was for us to enjoy a Chopin recital somewhere, somehow. For me, that was a given. How could we visit Poland and not appreciate and become one with Chopin's music? That would be ludicrous!
We learned that organizing Chopin concerts has been a long tradition throughout
Poland (makes total sense to me!). Through our research, we became familiar with "Chopin and His Europe" International Music Festival which is one of the annual cultural events of the summer in Poland (for reference purposes check out:
My heart sang when I learned that the Roman Catholic Church of the Holy Cross (Kościół Św. Krzyża), one of Warsaw's most notable Baroque churches located in Krakowskie Przedmieście Royal Avenue, offered a Chopin recital at 10:00pm on an Erard piano by Szymon Nehring.
What made the recital location ideal for me was the fact that the Church of the Holy Cross houses the urn containing the heart of the Polish-French pianist and composer Frédéric François Chopin.
His heart, perfectly preserved in what appears to be cognac, rests inside a crystal urn. That vessel was, in turn, encased in an urn made of mahogany and oak. It was brought to his beloved homeland in 1879, as he had wished, by his elder sister Ludwicka from Paris, where the rest of his remains lie in the Père Lachaise cemetery. After dying at the early age of 39 as an exile in Paris, and after being smuggled past Russian border guards, an urn containing the musical genius' heart was immured in a pillar.
So much history. So much symbolism of Polish national pride under one roof. It was a date.
Home is Where the Heart Is
We decided to visit the Church of the Holy Cross early that same day as the concert for we felt that it would be good to view it in broad daylight. A beautiful church in its own right, it dates back as early as the early 1400's when a small wooden chapel of the Holy Cross was erected in the same location. Back then, it was located well outside the city limits, but by the 17th century it had become one of the main churches in the southern suburb of Warsaw which had become Poland's capital in 1596.
Soon we came across the second pillar on the left hand side of the main nave where Chopin's heart is preserved. It is placed behind a tablet bearing his likeness specially carved by Leonardo Marconi. I was elated for we were in this temple of national character, the Church of the Holy Cross, and we were so close to Chopin's heart, the symbol of his soul.
Sitting Next to Poland's Musical Heartbeat
Night descended upon us after a full day of sightseeing, and I was ready and eager for my Chopin concert. I have always enjoyed classical music, and I have been to quite a few classical concerts throughout my life, but never had I sat next to a composer's heart before! The church was dimly lit, and although it was practically full, there was no sound other than any thoughts roaming in one's head. And then, the concert began.
For an hour I was completely immersed in the moment. Often, I would glimpse over to where Chopin's heart was and I would think, "Wow! I am sitting right next to Chopin's once-beating-heart which allowed to him to live on this planet and grant him the chance to express his creativity, and leave its byproduct for someone like me to fully enjoy under these circumstances!" Yes, I may sound a bit melodramatic, but this is how I experienced my Chopin recital. I loved it.
For me, his heart is an object of intense curiosity, and his music is very emotional, and when one meets the two under a beautiful sacred house, such as the Church of the Holy Cross, one gets a feast for the heart, eyes and soul. For that one hour I was in heaven.
Please join us for our next BESPOKE travel blog post part 2 when we share how I lit up, metaphorically speaking, while we learned about manufacturing matches.
Until then, happy reading and safe travels!
P.S. I listened to some piano sonatas by Chopin while writing this blog post.