Michał Kleofas Ogiński

Michał Kleofas Ogiński (25 September 1765 – 15 October 1833)[1] was a Polish diplomat and politician, Grand Treasurer of Lithuania, and a senator of Tsar Alexander I.[2][3][4][5] He was also a composer of early Romantic music.[6][7][8]

Michał Kleofas Ogiński
Michał Kleafas Aginski. Міхал Клеафас Агінскі (F. Fabre, XIX) (2).jpg
Born(1765-09-25)25 September 1765
Died(1833-10-15)15 October 1833 (aged 68)
Known forMusic, diplomacy
Notable workFarewell to My Homeland
Spouse(s)Izabela Lasocka (1789–1802), Maria de Néri (since 1802)

Early lifeEdit

Michał Ogiński on a 1994 Belarusian stamp

Ogiński was born in Guzów in Mazovia (west of Warsaw) in the Kingdom of Poland.[1] His father, Andrzej, was a Polish-Lithuanian nobleman from the Ogiński family and Trakai governor of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Hence, some sources indicate that Michał Oginski was Lithuanian.[9][10] His mother, Paulina Szembek (1740–1797), was the daughter of Polish magnate, Marek Szembek, whose ancestors were Austrian, and Jadwiga Rudnicka, who was of Lithuanian descent. His first introduction to music arose during a visit to relatives at Słonim where Michał Kazimierz Ogiński had a contemporary European theatre that hosted opera and ballet productions. Michał Kleofas received an Enlightenment gentleman's education. He studied music with Józef Kozłowski and took violin lessons from Giovanni Battista Viotti and Pierre Baillot.[1]


Ogiński's tomb at Basilica di Santa Croce in Florence

Aged only 20, Ogiński was chosen as an envoy of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. He served as an adviser to King Stanisław August Poniatowski and supported him during the Great Sejm of 1788–1792.[11]

Great SejmEdit

In 1788 he received the Order of Saint Stanislaus[12] and in 1789 - the Order of the White Eagle, Poland's highest order. In 1790 he was dispatched as a diplomatic representative to the United Kingdom, where he met with Lord Mansfield who warned him about the danger posed by the tri-partite powers about to dismember the Kingdom of Poland.[13] After 1790, he was sent to The Hague as a diplomatic representative of Poland to the Netherlands and was Polish agent in Constantinople and Paris.[14][5][15] In 1793, he was nominated to the office of Vice-Treasurer of Lithuania.[5][11]

Kościuszko UprisingEdit

During the Kościuszko Uprising in 1794, Ogiński commanded his own unit.[16] After the insurrection was suppressed, he emigrated to Constantinople and later to France, where he sought support for the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.[11]

Napoleonic WarsEdit

At that time he saw the creation of the Duchy of Warsaw by the Emperor as a stepping stone to the eventual full independence of the Commonwealth. He dedicated his only opera, Zelis et Valcour, to Napoleon.[17] In 1810, Ogiński withdrew from political activity in exile and, disappointed with Napoleon, returned to Vilnius.[5][18] Adam Jerzy Czartoryski introduced him to Tsar Alexander I, who made Ogiński a Russian Senator. Ogiński tried in vain to convince the Tsar to reconstitute the former Commonwealth. Disillusioned, he moved abroad in 1815. He died in Florence in 1833.[11]


As a composer, he is best known for his polonaise Farewell to My Homeland (Pożegnanie Ojczyzny), written in 1794 in the Zalesie region (then part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, today in Belarus), on the occasion of his emigration after the suppression of the Kościuszko Uprising.[7][16][19] This piece, with its unreservedly melancholic melodies and fantasia-like passages, can be considered among the earliest examples of romantic music.[citation needed]

Ogiński admired French and Italian opera. He was a violinist, and played the clavichord and the balalaika. He began composing marches and military songs in the 1790s that gained popularity among the rebels of 1794. He composed some 20 polonaises, piano pieces, mazurkas, marches, romances and waltzes.[1]

Some of his other popular works and compositions include:

  • Opera Zelis et Valcour, ou 'Bonaparte au Caire' (1799).[1]
  • Treatise 'Letters about music' (1828).
  • 'Mémoires sur la Pologne et les Polonais, depuis 1788 jusqu'à la fin de 1815' ('Memories of Poland and the Poles, from 1788 until the end of 1815'), published in Paris.[20]
Monument of Michał Kleofas Ogiński in Maladzyechna, Belarus

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e Randel 1996, p. 649.
  2. ^ Lojek 1983, p. 10.
  3. ^ Karpińki 1989, p. 131.
  4. ^ Brett-James 1966, p. 40.
  5. ^ a b c d Marcinek & Chrzanowski 1996, p. 457.
  6. ^ Kielian-Gilbert 2004, p. 182.
  7. ^ a b Samson 1995, p. 148.
  8. ^ Wintle 2002, p. 116.
  9. ^ Konopczynski 1919, p. 61.
  10. ^ Cate 1985, p. 377.
  11. ^ a b c d Lerski 1996, p. 400.
  12. ^ Dunin-Wilczyński 2006, p. 195.
  13. ^ Pana Ministra 1938, p. 146.
  14. ^ Lennart 2007, p. 1853.
  15. ^ Ehrman 1983, pp. 10, 13.
  16. ^ a b J. Mikoś 1996, p. 190.
  17. ^ Załuski 1997.
  18. ^ Oginski 1829, p. 491; "In short, I felt," says Ogiński, "that Poland must be dependent either on France or Russia, and between the two, I saw a greater chance for its welfare, and greater hopes even of its recovering its nationhood under the sceptre of Tsar Alexander."
  19. ^ Klimaszewski 1984, p. 159.
  20. ^ Garlington 1865, p. 177.


  • Oginski (1829). "Oginski's Memoirs on Poland". The Foreign Quarterly Review. Treuttel and Würtz. 3.
  • Garlington, J. C. (1865). Men of the Time. A biographical dictionary of eminent living characters of both sexes. London: George Routledge and sons.
  • Konopczynski, Wadysaw (1919). "The Congress of Vienna". A brief outline of Polish history. Geneva.
  • Pana Ministra (1938). Rocznik Służby Zagranicznej Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej według stanu na 1 kwietnia 1938 (in Polish). Warszawa.
  • Brett-James, Antony (1966). 1812: Eyewitness Accounts of Napoleon's Defeat in Russia. St. Martin's Press.
  • Lojek, Jerzy (1983). "British Policy toward Russia and Polish Affairs, 1790-1791". The Polish Review. 28 (2).
  • Ehrman, John (1983). The Younger Pitt: The reluctant transition. Stanford University Press.
  • Klimaszewski, Bolesław (1984). An outline of Polish Culture. Warsaw: Interpress.
  • Cate, Curtis (1985). The War of the Two Emperors. New York: Random House.
  • Karpińki, Maciej (1989). The Theatre of Andrzej Wajda. Cambridge University Press.
  • Samson, Jim (1995). The Cambridge Companion to Chopin. Cambridge University Press.
  • Marcinek, Roman; Chrzanowski, Tadeusz (1996). Encyklopedia Polski. Wydawnictwo Kluszczyński.
  • Lerski, Jerzy Jan (1996). Historical dictionary of Poland, 966-1945. Greenwood Press.
  • J. Mikoś, Michael (1996). Polish Baroque and Enlightenment literature: an anthology. Slavica Publishers.
  • Randel, Don Michael (1996). The Harvard Bibliographical Dictionary of music. Cambridge University Press.
  • Załuski, Iwo (February 1997). "A Polish family in music".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  • Wintle, Justin (2002). Makers of Nineteenth-Century Culture: 1800–1914. Routledge.
  • Kielian-Gilbert, Marianne (2004). "Chopiniana and Music's Contextual Allusions". In Goldberg, Halina (ed.). The Age of Chopin: Interdisciplinary Inquiries. Indiana University Press.
  • Dunin-Wilczyński, Zbigniew (2006). Order Św. Stanisława (in Polish). Warszawa.
  • Lennart, Bes (2007). Baltic connections: archival guide to the maritime relations of the countries around the Baltic Sea (including the Netherlands) 1450-1800. Vol. 1. Brill.

External linksEdit