Agnieszka Franków-Żelazny graduated from the University of Wrocław in 2000 with a degree in biology. That year, she founded the Kameralny Chór Akademii Medycznej (Medici Cantantes Choir at the Medical University of Wrocław). In 2004, she received a diploma from the Karol Lipiński Academy of Music in Wrocław, where she studied Music Education and was awarded a diploma in 2005 from the Vocal Department. During this time, she was honoured with the first prize in the National Contest for Choir Conductors. In 2006, she completed the Postgraduate Voice Production and Training Programme at the Academy of Music in Bydgoszcz. Since June 2006, Franków-Żelazny has been the artistic director of the National Forum of Music Choir. In 2008, she was awarded a special prize for conductors from the 39th Legnica Cantat National Choir Contest. Franków-Żelazny became the head of Polish National Youth Choir, which she also founded, in 2013. She completed course work at the Academy of Culture Leaders at the Economic University of Kraków, in 2014 and was distinguished with the Gloria Artis Bronze Medal for Merit to Culture. The following January, she was named the programme director of the Choral Academy of the National Forum of Music. In 2016, Franków-Żelazny was a music curator for the year that Wrocław served as the European Capital of Culture. The album DE PROFUNDIS – Polish Psalms of the 20th and 21st Century with the NMF Choir under her direction was awarded the Fryderyk prize for the best choral, oratorio and orchestra music, 2017. She currently works as an Associate Professor at the Academy of Music in Wrocław.
Stanisław Moniuszko was born in Ubiel, near Minsk, settled in Vilnius, and earned a living as a piano teacher, organist and conductor of the theatre orchestra. He began studying music with August Freyer in Warsaw and completed his training with Carl Friedrich Rungenhagen at the Berlin Singakademie. Moniuszko’s compositions include seven Masses, string quartets, several cantatas and over three hundred songs. A visit to Warsaw had been the inspiration for his opera Halka, which brought him national acclaim. After a European tour, during which he met Smetana in Prague and Liszt in Weimar, he served as director of Polish productions at the Wielki Theatre, in Warsaw. Work on his most popular opera Straszny dwór was affected by the political unrest that led to the January Uprising. Moniuszko consequently lost his position at the theatre and his opera was declared nationalistic by the tsarist censors. He was working on another opera at the time of his death, from a sudden heart attack, on 4 June 1872. His funeral was an event of national importance. Lennox Berkeley once wrote that Moniuszko’s music may “bridge the gap in Polish music between Chopin and Szymanowski.”
Alixandra Porembski, English Language Annotator