These Benches in Warsaw Play Music When You Press A Button
Chopin's Last piano | | © Adrian Grycuk / WikiCommons
Frederic Chopin is a national treasure in Poland. In Warsaw, there is a huge statue of him in Łazienki Park, plus a museum dedicated to him and many concerts are held all year round playing the music of Poland’s most famous composer and pianist. But the coolest sight (or should that be sound) of all, is this series of “Chopin benches” which are scattered throughout the streets of central Warsaw.
In an innovative tactic, the Chopin’s Warsaw Initiative placed these musical benches at various points throughout the city back in 2009. This means while walking through central Warsaw, you can listen to Chopin almost whenever you want since a Chopin bench is never far away. You can sit on these Chopin benches and relax; press the button and each bench plays a different Chopin melody.
Where are the Chopin Benches?
In total there are 15 musical Chopin benches that have been placed at key sites around central Warsaw. Each bench actually has a map which shows all the locations of the other benches. Plus you can pick up a guide to Chopin’s Warsaw at either the Chopin Museum or from the Tourist Information Office. To make things easier for you, here is a full guide to the location of every Chopin bench.
- Krasińskich Square – Chopin once performed here at this square in front of the palace.
- Miodowa Street – “Honey Street” was where Warsaw’s artists and performers used to meet in cafés. Frederic Chopin visited such venues almost every day.
- Kozia Street – During Chopin’s times, this little street had a café called “U Brzezińskiej,” which was Chopin’s favourite place.
- Music Conservatory – Chopin studied music here.
- Wessel Palace – In November 1830, when Chopin headed east to Vienna and Paris, this was the place where his journey began.
- Radziwiłł Palace – At the age of 8, Chopin made his first ever public music performance here.
- Saxon Palace – Chopin’s father worked for the Warsaw Lyceum, which was located inside this palace.
- Saxon Garden – As a child, Chopin spent a lot of time here with his family.
- The Visitationists Church – This is where Sunday Mass took place ,and Chopin played the organ here.
- Kazimierzowski Palace – The Chopin family lived here in 1817.
- Czapski Palace – The Chopin family also lived here, settling in an apartment in 1827, which allowed Chopin to have his own room with his piano.
- Chopin Statue in the Royal Baths Park – The most famous Chopin statue is here, with a nicely placed bench nearby opposite the Gate in the Ujazdowskie Alley beside the Belweder Palace.
- The Holy Cross Church – According to legend, Chopin’s heart is in this church.
- Zamoyski Palace – Another palace which has a Chopin bench, but it has a sad history: There was an attack on Chopin’s sister here, and one of his pianos was destroyed here.
- Gniński – Ostrogski Palace – This palace is by the Chopin Centre and Museum.
About the Chopin benches
Each Chopin bench has been placed in a location that, clearly, is in some way connected to his life. The benches are made of cast iron and polished black stone. To play the music of Chopin, you simply press the silver button on each bench. The benches were designed by Polish Professor Jerzy Porębski. As well as a map of all the Chopin sights, there is some information on each bench in English and Polish. For those with smart phones and tablets, the benches also have a QR code which can be scanned in order to gain access to more Chopin music, information on him and some photographs.
What compositions are played by each Chopin bench?
Here is the full list of exact Chopin compositions played at each bench, so you can head to the venue of your favourite Chopin piece:
- Krasińskich Square – Mazurka in A minor Op. 17 No. 4
- Miodowa Street – Mazurka in A minor Op. 68
- Kozia Street – Song Merrymaking
- Music Conservatory – Waltz in E-flat major Op. 18
- Wessel Palace – Grande Polonaise in E-flat major Op. 22
- Radziwiłł Palace – Rondo in C minor Op.1
- Saxon Palace – Mazurka in B-flat major Op. 7 No. 1
- Saxon Garden – Nocturne in B major Op. 9 No. 3
- The Visitationists Church – Largo in E-flat major (op. posth.)
- Kazimierzowski Palace – Waltz in E minor (op. posth.)
- Czapski Palace – Waltz in D-flat major Op. 64 No. 1
- Fryderyk Chopin Statue in the Royal Baths Park – Polonaise in A major Op. 40 No. 1
- The Holy Cross Church – Funeral March from Sonata in B-flat minor Op. 35
- Zamoyski Palace – Etude in C minor Op. 10 No. 12
- Gniński – Ostrogski Palace – Ballade in F minor Op. 52
And there’s one extra Chopin bench…
Anyone arriving or leaving Warsaw by air will be aware that the city’s main airport is also called the “Frederic Chopin Airport.” A sixteenth Chopin bench is housed in the departure section of the airport. See if you can find it…
Chopin Airport © Northern Irishman in Poland
Videos of Chopin’s benches
So be sure to check out Chopin’s benches on your trip to Warsaw. If you want a preview of how they sound, check out these videos by a few video bloggers: