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The Ostaszewskis

The Ostaszewskis, of the House of Ostoja, originate in the Ciechanow region of Mazovia, to the north west of Warsaw. The first mention is of Jakob z Ostaszewa in 1424. At the beginning of the eighteenth century one branch of the Ostaszewskis moved to Wzdow, in the Sanok lands, and in 1794 Wladyslaw Michał Ostaszewski acquired a number of further estates in the region, including Jablonka, Iwonicz (which later passed to the Załuskis) Klimkówka and Sieniawa.

Emma Ostaszewska

Teofil Ostaszewski was born in Wzdow in 1807. In 1848 he married Emma Załuska (see The Załuskis), second daughter of Karol and Amelia Załuska – the latter being the eldest daughter of Prince Michał Kleofas Ogiński. Teofil was a pharmacist, collector of books and manuscripts and a music lover. Emma, 24 years his junior, had inherited her grandfather’s talent for music. She was a gifted pianist, who studied under Karol Mikuli, the Principal of the Lwow Conservatory of Music, and former pupil of Chopin in Paris. Their three sons, Adam (1860-1934), Stanisław (1862-1915) and Kazimierz (1864-1948), played violin, cello and piano respectively, and often performed as a trio.

Adam was also a poet and an inventor. He built his own observatory, as well as an aircraft, which he flew: the first Pole to do so. Stanisław Januszewicz’s book in Polish about Adam Ostaszewski, his life and his works, Leonardo ze Wzdowa, was published by Krajowa Agencja Wydawnicza of Rzeszów, Poland, in 1984. He also published some fantastic notions about the nature of the Universe, which, according to his theory, was a gigantic mountain in Antarctica. Towards the end of his life his eccentricities, with which he even fooled the sages of the Academie Royale in Paris, turned to madness.


Emma Ostaszewska
Kazimierz Ostaszewski
Kazimierz Ostaszewski
in theatre costume

His brother Stanisław, by contrast, led a prosaic and simple life who exploited his estate at Klimkówka, a few kilometres from the Załuskis’ Iwonicz. He was a gifted cellist who died in 1915, and his younger brother, Kazimierz, composed a Funeral March for him, which was played at his funeral by the local band.

Although Adam and Stanisław were trained musicians, Kazimierz was not, for reasons no longer known. Although he could neither read nor write music, he was a brilliant improviser who played only by ear. He composed prolifically, mostly lightweight salon pieces, which were written out for him by his uncle Karol Bernard Załuski (see The Załuskis), or by his daughter Jolanta (see Compositions of the Ogiński Dynasty). He also bred racehorses and contributed to equestrian journals. He was twice married: the first time – fraudulently – to the Marquise Alexandrine de Boishebert, the illegitimate daughter of Tsar Alexander II. This created a scandal whose repercussions reached the Vatican. His second – legal – wife was Hélène Pio de Saint-Gilles (see Tales from my Family Tree 3).


 Adam, Stanisław & Kazimierz Ostaszewski

Adam Ostaszewski married Maria “Nunia” Chłapowska. Their only son, Wojciech (1900-75), spent virtually all his life practising law in Kraków. Between the Wars he composed and published some 40 piano pieces, ranging from short vignettes to large-scale rhapsodic compositions in a style somewhere between Debussy and Brahms (see Compositions of the Ogiński Dynasty).

Stanisław Ostaszewski married Aniela Sękowska. Their fourth child, Izabela (b.1910) trained in Breslau (now Wrocław) under Bronisław Pozniak as a concert pianist. As Iza Ostoia, she embarked on a career in the mid-1930s with piano recitals that evinced the highest praise and most glowing reviews during the four years that effectively constituted her concert career. Her future prospects, however, were cut short by the outbreak of World War 2, which she spent in Kościan, western Poland, illegally teaching music under the Nazi occupiers. After the War she married Bogdan Zieliński, and spent the rest of her active life in Kościan, teaching the piano and giving occasional concerts.


Adam, Stanisław &
Kazimierz Ostaszewski

Jolanta (1908-2002) was the daughter of Kazimierz Ostaszewski and his second wife, Hélène Pio de Saint-Gilles. Due to a series of circumstances, including the outbreak of World War 2, she had an unsettled life, often finding herself in the wrong place at the wrong time. She was a gifted pianist and violinist trained (twice – for a very short while) by Charles Münch. She ended up in Paris, where she worked as a teacher. In 1972 she married Georges Coulant.

Michał Ostaszewski (b.1972) is the grandson of Izabela Ostaszewska’s brother, Józef. He trained as a trumpeter at Warsaw’s Karol Szymanowski Music Lyceum, the Fryderyk Chopin Academy of Music, and at the North Carolina School of the Arts in the USA, where he worked with a number of orchestras and gave solo performances. On his return to Warsaw he joined the Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra as a trumpeter, and returned to running his recording studio.

Jolanta Ostaszewska Michał Ostaszewski
Jolanta Ostaszewska Michał Ostaszewski