Christian Danowicz was born in 1983 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. At the age of four, he moved with his family to France. His father was his first violin teacher. He is a graduate of the Conservatory in Toulouse where he studied with Gilles Colliard. He completed his Master’s studies at Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw, under the tutelage of Julia and Krzysztof Jakowicz, in 2010. The same year, he completed a Bachelor’s Degree from the opera and symphonic conducting class of Antoni Wit. He now studies conducting under the direction of prof. Tomasz Bugaj, at Fryderyk Chopin University. He is also pursuing doctoral studies at the Wroclaw Academy of Music under violin professor Jaroslaw Pietrzak. Danowicz is a laureate of the Tadeusz Wronski International Solo Violin Concourse in Warsaw and received first prize in the chamber music competition of the Duxbury Music Festival, in 2010. Since 2010, he has held the position of concertmaster of the NFM Leopoldinum Orchestra, in Wroclaw. He performs regularly as a soloist and conductor with the ensemble, and as a member of the Leopoldinum Soloists Trio, he received a scholarship to study for one year at the Escuela Superior de Musica Reina Sophia in Madrid, in the chamber class of G. Pichler.
Jakub Jakowicz, born in Warsaw in 1981, studied violin at the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music under his father Krzysztof Jakowicz and legendary Polish violinist Tadeusz Wroński. In 1998 Krzysztof Penderecki invited him to play at the Penderecki Festival in Kraków, where he performed under Jerzy Maksymiuk. In 2001, Jakowicz made his debut with the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Pinchas Steinberg, performing Karol Szymanowski’s First Violin Concerto. He became a member of the Zehetmair Quartett, an ensemble founded by the Austrian violinist and conductor, Thomas Zehetmair, in 2006. The quartet’s album performing compositions by Béla Bartók and Paul Hindemith received the Diapason d’Or de l’Anneé Award in 2007. In 2014, the ensemble was honoured with a prestigious Paul Hindemith Award. Jakowicz is a first-prize winner of violin competitions in Lublin, 1993, Wattrelos France, 1995 and Takasaki Japan, 1999. In 2001, he was one of the three winners of the International Rostrum for Young Performers in Bratislava, organised by the European Broadcasting Union and International Music Council UNESCO. He received the Polish-Japanese Foundation award for the most promising young generation violinist in 2002, the “Passport” Award of “Polityka” magazine in 2003, and the Orpheus Prize at the International Festival of Contemporary Music, in 2007. He has completed a doctorate and currently serves as a lecturer at the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music.
Regarded as Grażyna Bacewicz's opus magnum, The Concerto for String Orchestra was written in 1948 and was first performed by the Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra under Grzegorz Fitelberg on 18 June 1950. Nearly the same age as Witold Lutosławski, she like her contemporaries dreamt of making Polish music an integrated part of the contemporary European music scene. Bacewicz had enjoyed success before the war, as a composer and violinist, and a scholarship from the legendary Jan Paderewski made it possible for her to go to Paris and study with Nadia Boulanger. Due to the Concerto’s success, Bacewicz received the State Award of the 3rd degree in 1950, and in 1952 the piece was performed in concert by the National Symphony Orchestra in the United States. In 1956, it was played by the Orchestre National de la Radiodiffusion et Télévision Française under Jean Martinon at the 1st Warsaw Autumn International Festival of Contemporary Music. The work is considered "one of the finest examples of neoclassicism in Polish music." Following the Festival, the composer wrote, “I disagree with those who maintain that once a composer develops her own style, she should stick to it. I find such an opinion totally alien; it impedes further development and growth. Every composition completed today will belong to the past tomorrow.”
Andrzej Panufnik composed his Concerto for violin and strings in 1971 on commission for Yehudi Menuhin, who also performed the premiere on July 18, 1972, in the Guildhall building in London during the City of London Music Festival. The piece was inspired by Yehudi Menuhin’s skill as a musician and is dedicated to the composer’s wife Camilla. In the work, the violin is treated as a human voice and plays such a prominent role, that Panufnik decided to write the accompaniment using a string orchestra rather than a symphonic one. When the composer described the work prior to its first performance he said, “I treated the violin as a singing instrument, and I think this is still a valid approach… Therefore, even though I kept my self-imposed discipline of sound organisation, I chiefly constructed long and uninterrupted melodic lines. In order to strongly expose the solo part and maintain its main role I chose a small orchestra set, which consisted only of string instruments.” The atmosphere of the Violin Concerto is emotional and nostalgic. References to Polish folk music can clearly be made out in many moments of the composition and researchers of Panufnik’s compositions also claim that it has references the music of Karol Szymanowski.
Karol Szymanowski wrote his Second String Quartet in 1927, and it was first performed by the Warsaw String Quartet on May 14, 1929. In the autumn of that year, Quatuor Kréttly presented the new work at a concert of the Association of Young Polish Musicians in Paris. Szymanowski was born in 1882 to a noble Polish family in Ukraine. In 1901 he moved to Warsaw for further study, taking lessons from both Zygmunt Noskowski and Marek Zawirski. Together with Fitelberg, Rózycki and Szeluto, Szymanowski established the group known as ‘Young Poland in Music’, in order to publish and promote new Polish music. Early influences included the music of his Chopin, Wagner, Strauss, Reger and Scriabin. He also greatly admired Debussy, Ravel and Stravinsky. Having heard Les Noces during a trip to Paris in 1921, he was inspired to write a series of works drawing on the folk-music of the Tatra mountains in southern Poland. The Tatra folk elements are found throughout many his compositions, including the Second String Quartet.
Wojciech Kilar, is recognised among Poland’s leading composers of symphony, oratorio and chamber music, as well as numerous movie soundtracks. His work Orawa written in 1986, takes its name from the Carpathian region of the Polish-Slovak border. In an interview in Kraków in 1997, Kilar said, “Orawa is the only piece in which I wouldn’t change a single note, though I have looked at it many times… What is achieved in it is what I strive for - to be the best possible Kilar.” The composition is the most popular of Kilar’s works and has lent itself to a variety of arrangements. Kilar studied in Kraków and Paris, where he perfected his distinctive neo-classical avant-garde style. His greatest success came after his score to Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula received the ASCAP Award from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Producers in Los Angeles, in 1993. In 2003 he won the César Award for Best Film Music written for The Pianist, at France's 28th César Awards Ceremony.
Alixandra Porembski, English Language Annotator