The Heritage of the University

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Fryderyk Chopin (1810 - 1849)
Fry­deryk Chopin (1810–1849)

The Fry­deryk Chopin Uni­ver­si­ty of Music in War­saw is among the old­est and largest schools of music in Poland, as well as one of the old­est in Europe. It inherit­ed a near­ly two-hun­dred-year-old tra­di­tion of pub­lic music teach­ing in War­saw. His­tor­i­cal­ly, the University’s most mem­o­rable date is the year 1810. Two impor­tant events took place that year: the birth of Fry­deryk Chopin, patron of the school, and the per­mit for the found­ing of the School of Dra­ma, attached to the Nation­al The­atre by Woj­ciech Bogusławski. The school, meant for actors and singers of the the­atre, was trans­formed into a col­lege of music under Józef Elsner — a well-known com­poser, con­duc­tor and teacher. In 1821 the school took the name of “The Insti­tute of Music and Recita­tion” or “The Con­ser­va­to­ry” and became a divi­sion of the War­saw Uni­ver­si­ty Depart­ment of Fine Arts. It pro­vid­ed full musi­cal edu­ca­tion. In 1826 the insti­tute was divid­ed into two units: The Main School of Music, func­tion­ing with­in the uni­ver­si­ty frame­work, and The Dra­mat­ic and Vocal School, com­pris­ing pri­ma­ry and sec­ondary edu­ca­tion. Between the years 1826 and 1829, Fry­deryk Chopin stud­ied at the Main School of Music. Towards the end of the sec­ond year of Chopin’s stud­ies his teacher, Józef Elsner, declared his mem­o­rable opin­ion of him as an “extra­or­di­nary gift, a musi­cal genius”.

Ignacy  Paderewski (1860-1941)
Igna­cy Jan Paderewski

The school under­went numer­ous changes inevitably con­nect­ed to the his­to­ry of the coun­try and city. All of the nation­al upris­ings aimed at the occu­py­ing rulers con­se­quent­ly restrict­ed or elim­i­nat­ed cul­tur­al insti­tu­tions. Thus, when the Uni­ver­si­ty of War­saw was dis­solved in 1831, Elsner’s Main School of Music also ceased to exist. This was one of the repres­sive mea­sures which fol­lowed the Novem­ber Upris­ing. Thir­ty years lat­er, in 1861, the her­itage of the Main School of Music was tak­en over by the Apoli­nary Kąt­ski Insti­tute of Music, which exist­ed until 1918. When Poland regained inde­pen­dence, the school was nation­alised and given the name “Con­ser­va­to­ry”. It exist­ed and func­tioned unin­ter­rupt­ed until the out­break of World War II. Dur­ing the Nazi occu­pa­tion, under the name of Staatliche Musikschule in Warschau, the school fol­lowed the cur­ricu­lum of the pre-war con­ser­va­to­ry. The 1944 War­saw Upris­ing result­ed in the destruc­tion of the school’s build­ing in Okól­nik Street. In 1946, after the Sec­ond World War, the school was grant­ed the name of “The High­er State School of Music” and was housed in the man­sions of Ujaz­dowskie Avenue. The present edi­fice of the school in Okól­nik Street was erect­ed between 1960 and 1966. In 1962, the school was grant­ed full aca­d­e­mic sta­tus and the right to con­fer MA diplo­mas in all dis­ci­plines of music. A branch of the school was cre­at­ed in Białys­tok in 1974, which was trans­formed into the FCAM Out-Of-Town Depart­ment in 2007. In 1979, the school took on the name of its patron becom­ing The Fry­deryk Chopin Acad­e­my of Music. At present the name has been changed into The Fry­deryk Chopin Uni­ver­si­ty of Music. 

The War­saw school is proud of its out­stand­ing alum­ni (many of them have been involved in edu­ca­tion­al activ­i­ty). Though the fig­ure of Fry­deryk Chopin pre­dom­i­nates, there are numer­ous oth­er musi­cians of inter­na­tion­al renown. Among them are: Igna­cy Jan Paderewski, Zyg­munt Noskowski, Mieczysław Karłow­icz, Grze­gorz Fitel­berg, Ludomir Róży­cki, Mikalo­jus Kon­stan­ti­nas Čiurlion­is, Graży­na Bacewicz, Witold Lutosławski, Ste­fan Kisielewski, Michał Kon­dracki, Jan Mak­lakiewicz, Artur Malawski, Andrzej Panufnik, Piotr Perkowski, Bro­nisław Szabel­ski, Antoni Sza­łowski, Zbig­niew Turski, Paweł Klecki, Ste­fan Śledz­iński, Bohdan Wod­iczko, Antoni Sza­l­iński, Wan­da Landowska, Jerzy Lefeld, Stanisław Szpinal­ski, Józef Chwed­czuk, Feliks Rączkowski, Bro­nisław Rutkowski, Józef Jarzęb­ski, Euge­nia Umińska, Tadeusz Wroński, Kaz­imierz Czeko­towski, Benedykt Górecki, Lud­wik Kurkiewicz, Janusz Urbański…

Ada Sari (1886-1968)
Ada Sari (1886–1968)

The iden­ti­ty of the school has been carved in con­stant dia­logue with the achieve­ments of oth­er cul­tur­al cir­cles. The school’s grad­u­ates have been aid­ed by the teach­ers who came to War­saw from oth­er regions. The tra­di­tions of the War­saw school have been devel­oped by Stanisław Moniuszko, Władysław Żeleński, Alek­sander Michałowski, Józef Tur­czyński, Zbig­niew Drzewiecki, Ire­na Dubiska, Wale­ri­an Bier­dia­jew, Win­cen­ty Laski, Józef Karol Lasocki, Hen­ryk Czyż, Stanisław Wisłocki, Tadeusz Szeligowski, Witold Rudz­iński, Tadeusz Baird, Hieron­im Feicht, Antoni Karużas, Marger­i­ta Trom­bini-Kazuro, Maria Wiłkomirska and Tadeusz Wiłkomirski, Arnold Rezler, Mieczysław Sza­leski, Ada Sari, Wik­tor Bré­gy. Part of the university’s her­itage is the strong cur­rent of Chopin­is­tics and Chopinol­o­gy. Its grad­u­ates are the edi­tors of Chopin’s works: Jan Kleczyński, Igna­cy J. Paderewski, Józef Tur­czyński, Jan Ekier. In piano class­es of Józef Tur­czyński, Zbig­niew Drzewiecki, Stanisław Szpinal­ski, Hen­ryk Sztomp­ka, Marg­e­ri­ay Trom­bini-Kazurowa, Jan Ekier, Piotr Paleczny the prize-win­ners of Chopin Com­pe­ti­tions were edu­cat­ed. Hon­orary degrees were con­ferred upon the fol­low­ing for their spe­cial con­tri­bu­tion to musi­cal ped­a­gogy: at the War­saw Nation­al Con­ser­va­to­ry — Józef Hof­man (1934), at the Fry­deryk Chopin Acad­e­my of Music — Regi­na Smendzianka, Stanisław Wisłocki (1997) and Bogusław Madey (2004).

Witold  Lutosławski (1913-1994) Doktor Honoris Causa
Witold Lutosławski
Dok­tor Hon­oris Causa

One of the speci­fic fea­tures of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Music is its open­ness. Per­haps the geo­graph­i­cal loca­tion and met­ro­pol­i­tan func­tions of War­saw, the cap­i­tal of Poland, are one of the rea­sons why it has attract­ed musi­cians rep­re­sent­ing such a vari­ety of artis­tic for­ma­tions. It was here that Jerzy Żurawlew, Pro­fes­sor at the War­saw school, estab­lished the Inter­na­tion­al Chopin Com­pe­ti­tion in 1927 and sev­er­al grad­u­ates of the pre-war con­ser­va­to­ry were among the win­ners: Jan Ekier, Bolesław Kon, Witold Małcużyński, Stanisław Szpinal­ski and Hen­ryk Sztomp­ka. In the inter­war peri­od they were joined by the High­er State School of Music and FCAM grad­u­ates: Bar­bara Hes­se-Bukowska, Fou Ts’Ong, Andrzej Cza­jkowski, Piotr Paleczny, Janusz Ole­jniczak, Takashi Yamamo­to. Oth­er inter­na­tion­al com­pe­ti­tions have also been orga­nized at the Uni­ver­si­ty, i.e., the Inter­na­tion­al Tadeusz Wroński Com­pe­ti­tion for Solo Vio­lin, the Inter­na­tion­al Organ Com­pe­ti­tion, the Inter­na­tion­al Wan­da Landowska Harp­si­chord Com­pe­ti­tion, the Inter­na­tion­al Witold Lutosławski Cel­lo Com­pe­ti­tion.

Karol  Szymanowski (1882 - 1937)
Karol Szy­manowski

The War­saw Uni­ver­si­ty of Music con­tin­ues to main­tain very inten­sive con­tacts with oth­er music com­mu­ni­ties, as attest­ed to e.g. by the school’s per­ma­nent co-oper­a­tion with many Euro­pean music acad­e­mies with­in the Socrates/Erasmus Pro­gram and also with sev­er­al non-Euro­pean schools. The Uni­ver­si­ty has par­tic­u­lar­ly close rela­tions with Soai Uni­ver­si­ty (Osaka) and Keimyung Uni­ver­si­ty (Daegu). It is also a mem­ber of sev­er­al inter­na­tion­al music school fed­er­a­tions: Asso­ci­a­tion Européen­ne des Con­ser­va­toires, Académies de Musique et Musikhochschu­len (AEC) and the Asso­ci­a­tion of the Baltic Acad­e­mies of Music (ABAM).

The Fry­deryk Chopin Uni­ver­si­ty of Music has dis­tin­guished peo­ple of par­tic­u­lar mer­it in the art of music with hon­oris causa doc­tor­ate degrees. Among them we can find: Nadia Boulanger, Kaz­imierz Siko­rski, Ste­fan Śledz­iński, Artur Rubin­stein, Igor Bełza, Witold Lutosławski, Andrzej Panufnik, Tadeusz Wroński, Jean-Pier­re Ram­pal, Krzysztof Pen­derecki, Jan Ekier, Witold Rudz­iński, Mścisław Ros­tropow­icz, Regi­na Smendzianka, Ste­fan Sutkowski, Placido Domin­go, Jerzy Semkow, Joachim Gru­bich, Andrzej Jasiński, Synn Ilhi, Chris­ta Lud­wig, Bernard Ładysz, Guy Bovet, José Anto­nio Abreu, and Krys­tian Zimer­man.


Pro­fes­sor Mieczysława Dem­ska-Trębacz, Ph.D.

last modified: 11/01/2017