Friday, February 12, 2016

Chopin Monuments Around the World IV - Asia (Vol. 7, No. 2)

Let us continue the tour of Chopin monuments around the world by visiting Asia. In the previous installments we have visited Poland, Europe, and both Americas:


Again, as in Chicago and Warsaw, and a couple other places, we start with the visionary sculpture by Waclaw Szymanowski, that graces the Warsaw Lazienki Park. This time, it has been copied in Japan. 

The city of Hamamatsu houses an exact full-size replica of Waclaw Szymanowski's statue from the Lazienki Park. Apparently, Hamamatsu is the sister city of Warsaw; there are many  piano makers and other companies located in this city, such as  Honda Motor Company, Kawai Pianos, Yamaha, Sony, Suzuki Motor Company and Hamamatsu Photonics. Kawai and Yamaha pianos would have a vested interest in promoting Chopin's music. Copying the monument from Warsaw is such a wonderful tribute to Polish culture!


Photo from Wikimedia Commons

From the most traditional Art Nuveau image by Szymanowski, we move to one of the most unusual monuments of Chopin, built in Shanghai. It is abstract and looks from the back like a monumental assemblage of a set of piano keys.  The front reveals a face of chopin amods the vertical linear patterns.  This monument was designed by  Lu Pin, a Shanghai-born  sculptor who graduated from Warsaw's Academy of Fine Arts. It is the tallest of all Chopin monuments. 

According to a report in a Shanghai paper from the statue's unveiling, "A seven-meter high bronze-made statue of Chopin, highest of its kind in the world, is set up in the Zhongshan Park of Shanghai, attracting many passers-by. This statue is a gift from Poland in memory of Chopin."

Photo from Baza Wiedzy website


From the heights of abstraction, we land in the Shanghai Botanical Gardens at a moment of cosy home music making. A natural size, ground-level scene greets visitors to the Singapore Botanic Gardens; it is placed on a pathway near the Symphony Lake. This sculpture was designed by Polish sculptor Karol Badyna.  It is hard to guess who the woman on the right is, listening to Chopin's pinao performance, on a weirdly truncated upright piano with a large music book. Judged by the hair style it could be his sister, Ludwika, or his one-time beloved Konstancja Gladkowska... 

The inscription, on a page at the foot of Chopin's chair, reads: 

"Frederick Chopin (Szopen) 1810–1849 / The Most Eminent of Polish Composers /  This sculpture is a gift of the people of Poland to Singapore, in memory of music's greatest tone poets / Made possible by the generous support of: /  Halina and Miroslaw Pienkowski and the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Singapore / October 2008."

Chopin Monument in Singapore. From Pinterest

The known portraits of his sister, Ludwika Jedrzejewicz, show her with the hair piled up. The one of his beloved Maria Wodzinska does not show the curls above the ears and has a flat, smooth appearance. Only the singer Konstancja Gladkowska could qualify, with her mass of curls and a top-knot. The similarity to the portrait on the right below is remarkable (portraits from NIFC website in Poland).  In other portraits, however, George Sand, also has curls and a knot on the top of her head, a popular 19th century hair style, so this issue is not resolved yet. 

L: Maria Wodzinska (1819-1896). R: Konstancja Gladkowska (1810-1889) 

Another issue of interest about the Singapore sculpture is the music content carved in the score in front of Chopin. hopefully, some readers who went to the Singapore Botanical Gardens in Singapore will be able to help identify this work.

Is this the third of only three Chopin monuments in Asia? Probably not, but these are all that I found. All prove the unending love of Chopin's music around the world.  

Japan in particular, abounds in popular images of Chopin, in cartoons, films, and video games, such as the following from the game called "Eternal Sonata:"

You do not like it? See what this Chopin can do! Pure magic...

Meanwhile, there are more and more Chopin statues and monuments that can be found...
This one, from the Central Park in Radom, Poland, appears to be a mid-20th century modernist invention (found on Pinterest). 

Is it really much better than the cute, purple cartoon boy with a clock, snapping music notes out of his fingers?

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