Żywny was born in Mšeno, Bohemia, and became a pupil of Jan Kuchař. As a youth, during the reign of Stanisław August Poniatowski, he moved to Poland to become the music tutor to the children of Princess Sapieha. He later moved to Warsaw.
He was the first professional piano teacher of Frédéric Chopin, who received lessons from him between 1816 and 1822. Żywny instilled in Chopin a lasting love of Bach and Mozart. Chopin's piano skills soon surpassed those of his respected teacher. In 1821, eleven-year-old Chopin dedicated a Polonaise in A-flat major to Żywny as a name-day gift.
Żywny died in 1842, aged 85, in Warsaw.
Żywny wrote many pieces for piano, violin, as well as orchestral works, few of which are known or published today. They show refined mastery of the classical style, with definite romantic influences. Another influence on his music was Central European folk music.
- Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 5th ed, 1954, Vol. IX, p. 433
- Zdzisław Jachimecki, "Chopin, Fryderyk Franciszek," Polski słownik biograficzny, vol. III, Kraków, Polska Akademia Umiejętności, 1937, pp. 420–26.
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