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, Krys­t­ian Zimer­man, Roderyk Lange and Szabolcs Esztényi.


Pro­fes­sor Mieczysława Dem­s­ka-Trębacz, Ph.D.

last modified: 29/11/2017