Wednesday, May 27, 2009

TRAVEL – NEWS FROM POLAND: Poland prepares for Chopin Bicentennial

Plans are well under way for a year of celebrations to mark the upcoming bicentennial of one of Poland's favorite native sons – Frédéric (Fryderyk) Chopin.  

The Polish Sejm, or Parliament, has declared 2010 the Year of Fryderyk Chopin, and special concerts, recitals, conferences and other events will honor the great Romantic composer, who was born near Warsaw in 1810.  

The prestigious International Chopin Competition for pianists will mark its 16th edition in October 2010. Held every five years, the competition draws scores of young musicians from all over the world.  

Warsaw's Chopin Museum, with the world's largest collection of Chopin documents and other artifacts, will undergo a total redesign, modernization and expansion.  

A lavishly illustrated new guidebook - "Chopin's Poland" has already been published this year. It leads visitors to dozens of sites in Warsaw and elsewhere around the country where the composer lived, dined, studied, performed, visited and even partied.  

"Actually, Chopin doesn't need to be promoted, but we hope that Poland and Polish culture can be promoted through Chopin," said Monika Strugala, who is coordinating the Chopin 2010 program under the aegis of the Fryderyk Chopin Institute, a body set up by the Sejm in 2001 to promote and protect Chopin's work and image.  

The son of a Polish mother and a French émigré father, Chopin was born in a manor house at Żelazowa Wola, about 30 miles, west of Warsaw, and moved to Warsaw as an infant. The manor is considered by many as a Chopin shrine and is undergoing extensive renovation as part of bicentennial preparations. Since the 1930s it has been a museum and center for concerts. 

– Staś Kmieć