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Warsaw music festival pays tribute to pianist Czajkowski

PR dla Zagranicy
Roberto Galea 18.08.2015 12:15
The “Chopin and His Europe” Festival, now in its fourth day in Warsaw, is paying tribute to the late Polish pianist and composer Andrzej Czajkowski.
Polish pianist Maciej Grzybowski. Photo: chopin.nifc.plPolish pianist Maciej Grzybowski. Photo: chopin.nifc.pl

Czajkowski was born in Warsaw 80 years ago and died in Oxford in 1982.

The programme of Tuesday’s concert includes three of his works: the String Quartet, Trio Notturno Op. 6 and “Ariel”, a cycle of three songs for mezzo-soprano and instrumental ensemble, with the performers including Poland’s Meccore String Quartet, the pianist Maciej Grzybowski, who has done a great deal to promote Czajkowski’s music, and the mezzo Urszula Kryger.

Andrzej Czajkowski is among the most remarkable personalities in 20th-century Polish music.

Born in 1935 as Robert Andrzej Krauthammer, he started taking piano lessons at the age of four but soon after the outbreak of World War II, his family was forced into the Warsaw Jewish Ghetto.

Smuggled out of the Ghetto in 1942 and given false identity papers with the name Andrzej Czajkowski, he went into hiding with his grandmother. After the war, he studied piano in Łódź and Paris, graduating from the Paris Conservatory in 1950.

Having returned to Poland, he continued his studies in piano and composition. In 1955, he won 8th Prize at the Chopin Competition in Warsaw, followed a year later by the Third Pize at the Queen Elizabeth Competition in Brussels.

He subsequently developed an international career which included tours with the New York Philharmonic and the Chicago Symphony.

In 1960, Czajkowski moved from Paris to London and started to divide his time between concert performances and composing. He died of cancer in 1982 at the age of 46. In his will he donated his skull to the Royal Shakespeare Company, asking that it be used as a prop in a production of “Hamlet”. The skull was first used by actor David Tennant in 2008.

Actor David Tennant with Czajkowski's skull in 2008's production of Hamlet. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

In 2013, Czajkowski’s opera “The Merchant of Venice” was premiered at the Bregenz Festival. Last year, it was staged at the National Opera in Warsaw. (mk/rg/rk)

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