‘One-of-a-kind and unique’ is how Fryderyk Chopin was described by his contemporary Ignacy Feliks Dobrzyński, himself also an extremely talented composer. ‘He has an individual style, an individual form, enchanting charm, some kind of new modulations drawn from higher – and perhaps even the highest – spheres,’ wrote Dobrzyński in 1865. ‘In a word, he has everything no one before him has either shown or even dreamed of in their works. He is solus et unicus. So placing any other name alongside Chopin’s is a vain endeavor.’
In the voices of artists from subsequent generations, from Józef Elsner, who saw Chopin as a ‘musical genius’, to Stanisław Moniuszko, Karol Szymanowski, Ignacy Jan Paderewski, to Witold Lutosławski – to name just a few – we find the same admiration, the same conviction about Chopin’s peerlessness. We shall no doubt never grasp this phenomenon, the secret of his music. But it seems that especially thanks to the recorded reflections of those who most deeply understand, from their own experience, the secret of the creative process – other composers – we come the closest to that grasp and understanding.
The statements of Polish artists, expertly and sensitively chosen by Mieczysław Tomaszewski, form a narrative of Fryderyk Chopin’s presence in and indispensability to culture. At the same time, the ‘one-of-a-kind and unique’ Chopin remains the most enduring and most important foundation of Polish music.