Renovated Chopin memorial unveiled in London
PR dla Zagranicy
The Duke of Gloucester has unveiled a restored Chopin memorial at London’s Southbank Centre, by the entrance to the Royal Festival Hall.
The Wednesday event was, in fact, a re-unveiling ceremony as the composer’s bronze statue was first unveiled on site in 1975, by the Duke’s mother, Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester.
The statue, designed by Bronisław Kubica, was removed for safe keeping during building works in the mid 1980s and subsequently went missing. It was only last year that it was found, seriously damaged, thanks to efforts by the Polish Heritage Society in the UK.
It then was transported to Poland and restored to its former shape by the sculptor Robert Sobociński.
Duke of Gloucester described Chopin as “one of Poland's greatest heroes” and recalled his recent visit to the Vatican for ‘the beatification of another Polish hero’ [Pope John Paul II].
Referring to the statue’s turbulent history over the past 36 years, the Duke said: “I'm rather horrified to hear that this statue was removed and I congratulate those who tracked it down and had it polished up again so that those who see it will be reminded of Chopin's contribution to the civilisation of the world and the great esteem in which he is held – not just by the Polish people but by everybody,” he said.
The director of the Southbank Centre Alan Bishop recalled that the statue was a gift from Poles to the British people in recognition of the two countries common struggle against Nazi Germany during the Second World War, while Greg Hands MP, representing the British Government, described it as an expression of very close and deep bonds between Poland and Britain.
Among those attending the ceremony were also the Polish ambassador Barbara Tuge-Erecińska and the Deputy Mayor of London Richard Barnes.
Chopin made two visits to England and Scotland towards the end of his life. There are three blue plaques in London commemorating his places of residence and concert venues, including the one in 99 Eaton Place where the composer gave his first London concert, on 23 June 1848. (mk/pg)