Janusz Olejniczak was born on October 2, 1952, in Wrocław. He began studying piano at age six in Łódź. After moving to Warsaw, he was taught by Luiza Walewska. Then from 1967 to 1969, he studied under Ryszard Bakst and Zbigniew Drzewiecki. In 1970 he won Sixth Prize at the 8th International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw, and since that time has been a highly regarded interpreter of Chopin’s music. He continued his studies from 1971 to 1973 in Paris with Konstanty Schmaeling and Witold Małcużyński. In 1972 he won a prize at the Alfredo Caselli piano competition in Naples. Olejniczak then completed his education with Barbara Hesse-Bukowska at the State College of Music in Warsaw, and pursued post-graduate studies with Victor Merzhanov, in Warsaw, and Paul Badura-Skoda in Essen. In recognition of his outstanding musical achievements, Janusz Olejniczak received the Officer’s Cross of the Polonia Restituta in 2000 and the Gloria Artis Gold Medal in 2005. He was appointed to the Programme Committee of the Fryderyk Chopin Institute in December 2003.
Olejniczak has recorded two discs released by the Fryderyk Chopin Institute in the series The Real Chopin. His albums have won four Fryderyk awards from the Polish phonographic industry and the Album of the Year Award in 1995 from the magazine Studio. Chopin’s music fascinates Olejniczak, he has described its character as, “A bird of paradise, which keeps slipping through your hands. Only occasionally do you succeed in grasping its essence, in getting close to it. It offers limitless possibilities for interpretation, allows you to pursue continual work on your own aesthetic, on shaping your tastes, and to arrive at a different perspective on the same work – an individual and continually new approach. In Chopin’s music, there is something that makes you want to play the same passage differently every time, to sculpt the same phrase over again. When performing Chopin’s works, you need an integral conception. But I forge the final creative vision while playing. My humility with regard to Chopin prevents me from adopting a single version, from stating that a particular passage is absolutely the best in that very form. So I continually have to try again.”
Tomasz Strahl graduated in 1989 from the cello studio of the Chopin Music Academy in Warsaw under Kazimierz Michalik and studied chamber music with violinist Krzysztof Jakowicz. He continued his studies with Tobias Kühne at the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Vienna. Strahl received 1st Prize at the Academic Cello Competition in Warsaw in 1987 and 1st Prize at the 5th Nicanor Zabaleta International Music Competition in San Sebastián in 1991. In 1993, he performed Witold Lutosławski's Cello Concerto for the composer and has appeared at the prestigious Brucknerhaus in Linz. In 1994 he received a grant from the Polish-Japanese Foundation JESC. Strahl received the title of Professor in June 2001 and the Golden Cross of Merit in 2002. In 2005 he gave a series of lectures and concerts at the prestigious International Academy Vienna-Prague-Budapest. Strahl received the Fryderyk Prize of the Polish recording industry in 2003. He currently serves as a professor of cello at the Music Academies in Warsaw and Łódż.
Alixandra Porembski, English Language Annotator