The Fryderyk Chopin Society of Warsaw is the main Chopin centre with international impact. It continues the activities of the Warsaw Music Society’s Chopin Section established in 1899.
In 1934 a group of politicians, musicians and publishers, including Józef Beck, Mieczysław Idzikowski, Janusz Jędrzejewicz, Emil Młynarski, Stanisław Niewiadomski, Karol Szymanowski and August Zaleski, came up with the initiative to establish a Fryderyk Chopin Institute. In the following year the Institute started collecting autographs, books, sheet music, gramophone records and photographs. They formed the basis of the future Museum, Library, Record Library and Photo Library. The Institute also published the Chopin magazine. In 1937 the Chopin Institute started work on publishing The Complete Works of Fryderyk Chopin.
World War II disrupted the Institute’s activities which were resumed in 1945. Five years later the Institute was renamed The Fryderyk Chopin Society. In 1953 the Society and its Museum, Library, Record Library and Photo Library relocated to Ostrogski Castle and remained there until 2005. In the period 1953-2005 the Society also administered the cottage in Żelazowa Wola, Chopin’s birthplace, and the Chopins’ Drawing Room in the Czapski Palace (previously the Krasiński family’s property) at 5 Krakowskie Przedmieście str. in Warsaw.
The Fryderyk Chopin Society’s areas of activity include research, publishing and organisation of concerts.
In the years 1949-1961 the Society, in association with the Cracow-based Polish Music Publishers (PWM), published The Complete Works of Fryderyk Chopin edited by Ignacy Jan Paderewski, Ludwik Bronarski and Józef Turczyński. In 1967-1992 the Society and PWM published the first nine volumes of The National Edition of the Works of Fryderyk Chopin edited by Prof. Jan Ekier.
In 1956 The Fryderyk Chopin Society started publishing Rocznik Chopinowski (Chopin Annual). So far twenty five issues have been released. From 1985 till 2002 the Society published seven issues of Chopin Studies containing the English translations of some of the articles included in the corresponding issues of the Annual. The Society’s publishing efforts also include a few dozen posters advertising Chopin-related events, The Collection Catalogue and a great number of catalogues listing objects displayed at exhibitions held until 2005. In association with Polish Music Publishers, the Chopin Society published The Catalogue of the Works of Fryderyk Chopin compiled by M. Chomiński and Teresa D. Turło. In 1999-2000 the Society, together with the Gdańsk-based publisher Romega, published 10 volumes of Chopin’s facsimile manuscripts to mark the 150th anniversary of the composer’s death.
The Society’s activities included the organisation of international music events – the International Chopin Piano Competitions, the Grand Prix du Disque Frédéric Chopin Record Competitions (launched in 1985), master classes in Chopin music interpretation, scientific symposia (1960, 1986, 1989) and exhibitions in Japan, the Czech Republic, Belgium, Hungary, France, and in the USA (1960-1999). The Society provided support, on a permanent basis, to young pianists by holding (from 1967) annual National Polish Competitions whose participants competed for Fryderyk Chopin Artistic Scholarships. The Society made a significant contribution to the organisation of Chopin festivals and competitions in Poland and abroad. It established the International Federation of Chopin Societies (1985), the International Fryderyk Chopin Foundation (1988) and the Alliances Internaionale d’Association et d’Amis de Frédéric Chopin (1995).
Under the agreement signed in 2005 by the Fryderyk Chopin Society, the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and the National Fryderyk Chopin Institute, the Institute has taken over a large part of the activities previously conducted by the Fryderyk Chopin Society, whose current focus is on the promotion of Chopin’s legacy. This includes the organisation of concert cycles in Warsaw’s Royal Łazienki Park, in Sanniki, Brochów and Podkowa Leśna as well as of the annual music festival in Powsin near Warsaw, the International Chopin Piano Competition for Amateurs and the Record Competition Grand Prix du Disque Frédéric Chopin.
The following persons have served as Presidents of the Board of the Fryderyk Chopin Institute / Society: August Zaleski (1934-1939), Bolesław Woytowicz (1939 and 1945), Adam Wieniawski (1945-1949), Władysław Kowalski (1949-1951), Stanisław Dybowski (1951-1952), Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz (1952-1955), Stanisław Szpinalski (1955-1957), Zbigniew Drzewiecki (1957-1965), Teodor Zalewski (1965-1968), Kazimierz Sikorski (1968-1981), Elzbieta Artysz (1981-1986), Barbara Hesse-Bukowska (1986-1991), Tadeusz Chmielewski (1991-2001) and, since December 2001, Kazimierz Gierżod.