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Karol Maciej Szymanowski

    Apart from Fryderyk Chopin, Karol Szymanowski, a pianist, pedagogue and writer, is recognised as one of the most talented Polish composers.

Szymanowski grew up in a family that loved music. His father played the piano and cello. His brother, in turn, was a pianist and sister a soprano singer. When he was seven, Szymanowski learnt at home and his interests revolved around learning music. His father and later Gustaw Neuhaus, a local music teacher, helped Szymanowki develop his musical skills. He was taught by Marek Zawirski and professor Zygmunt Noskowki. He was also inspired by Richard Strauss and Claude Debussy.

Both his opera called “King Roger” and novel “Efebos” are testimony to Szymanowski’s homosexuality. These works speak directly about this subject matter and are devoted to the pianist’s lover – Boris Kochno. Boris was a dancer from a noble Russian family. Although the novel “Efebos” burnt down in September 1939, one of the chapters, dedicated to his lover, survived. This chapter was published in Germany and soon Karol Szymanowski was presented with the Złoty Wawrzyn Akademicki Award for his artistic output in the 1930s.

Szymanowski’s homosexuality didn’t prevent beautiful women from falling in love with him. What might prove this is the case of Jadwiga Janczewska, Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz’s fiancée. She committed suicide in mysterious circumstances. The legend has it that her planned death in the Tatra Mountains was the result of a deep affection for Szymański.

“Atma” villa in Zakopane was the permanent composer’s residence from 1930. While suffering from tuberculosis and living in Zakopane, he directed the Academy of Music in Warsaw. He also went to Swiss sanatoria for treatment. Shortly thereafter, tuberculosis attacked his throat so that he couldn’t eat anything. He died on March 29th, 1937, during a sleep at the Du Signal clinic in Lausanne.

On the occasion of the 80th Anniversary of Szymanowski’s death, Magdalena Wiącek from the Academy of Music in Wrocław is organising an exhibition devoted to this great composer. The exhibition will comprise collections from the Library of Karol Lipiński Academy of Music in Wrocław.


translated by AN

Source: https://www.szymanowskiquartet.com/karol-szymanowski/

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