Jarosław Thiel is a graduate of the Poznań School of Talents. He studied cello at both the Academy of Music in Poznań and the Academy of Music in Łódź, Poland. Since 1997, he has been focused on historical performance. He completed his post-graduate studies in Baroque cello at the Universität der Künste in Berlin, having worked with Phoebe Carrai and Markus a Möllenbeck. Thiel has participated in master classes run by Christine Kypranides at the Dresdner Akademie für Alte Musik and has collaborated with the most important Polish ensembles specialising in early music. Thiel has been the first cellist with the Dresdner Barockorchester and a member of the Festspiel Orchester Göttingen led by Laurence Cummings since 2000. He also works with leading German ensembles, such as Cantus Cölln, Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, and Lautten Compagney. He regularly performs as a soloist and chamber musician in connection with festivals of early music world-wide. He currently teaches Baroque cello at the Academy of Music in Poznań and the Summer Academy of Early Music in Lidzbark Warmiński, Poland. In 2006 he was appointed Artistic Director of the Wrocław Baroque Orchestra.
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.”
Ignacy Feliks Dobrzynski was a contemporary of Chopin and studied alongside him in the composition class of Józef Elsner. However, their careers took very different avenues as Chopin travelled beyond Poland’s borders while Dobrzyński remained in the country. In Poland, he struggled as a composer with Warsaw occupied by Russian forces. Dobrzyński’s style is less audacious than Chopin’s. In his own compositions, he wrote under the influence of John Field and the wilder elements of Weber. His Second Symphony was written in 1834 for a competition in Vienna and then revised in 1862 when the composer replaced the slow movement with one written for his 1841 String Sextet. The work has four movements each connected to a Polish dance, which captures the passion and charm of the less known composer.
Józef Antoni Franciszek Elsner was a composer, conductor and pedagogue, born in 1769 in Grodków near Opole. He attended school at the Dominican convent where he sang in the monastery's choir as well as studying violin and basso continuo. He later attended the Jesuit St. Maciej Gymnasium, in Wrocław. In 1791 he moved to Brno to become a violinist in the local theatre orchestra. The following year he went to Lvov, where he had been appointed conductor of the imperial royal theatre where he held the post until 1795. In 1799 Elsner moved to Warsaw and settled permanently. Between 1799 and 1824 he headed the opera of the National Theatre. In 1814 he founded the Religious and National Music Society. Elsner also taught at Bogusławski's School of Drama for three years starting in 1814 and he served as a lecturer in theory and composition at the Elementary School of Music and Dramatic Arts from 1817 to 1821, the Institute of Music and Reciting from 1821 to 1826 and the Main School of Music from 1826 to 1831, three schools which he managed. The latter was the place where he educated a number of Polish composers, including Frederic Chopin, whose school certificate bore the following comment by Elsner, "a particular aptitude, a musical genius.” Elsner also taught at the Teatr Wielki's School of Singing and the Institute for Governesses between 1835 and 1839. Józef Elsner’s accomplishments in the field of music were recognized with the St. Stanisław's Order in 1823. Three medals were minted in his honour.
Alixandra Porembski, English Language Annotator