The 1970s were the era of Tadeusz Strugała in the musical history of the Philharmonic. He was not only the General Director of this institution, its Artistic Director and Principal Conductor, but in 1976 he also took over Wratislavia Cantans, replacing Andrzej Markowski.

He combined musical talent with managerial skills. He brought great stars to Wrocław, educated the audience, knew how to fill concert halls, and took his orchestra out into the world. In addition to traditional, subscription-based symphonic concerts, a series of Chopin recitals, chamber, organ and choral concerts and the Young People’s Concerts were introduced, the latter a very interesting project for young listeners. In fact, all the concerts were combined in various series (Tadeusz Strugała invented about twenty of them), which made the audience more willing to come. The Philharmonic opened its doors four times a week.

Music lovers were also treated to great Polish and foreign artists. On the Wrocław stage   sensational cello virtuosos performed – Radu Aldulescu from Romania and Russians: Natalia Shakhovska, Viktoria Yagling and Daniel Shafran (he played an Amati’s instrument from 1630 and uniquely combined technical perfection with emotional expression), Argentine guitarist Manuel Lopez Ramos (compared with the legendary Segovia) and outstanding pianists – Garrick Ohlsson, Louis Kentner, Zoltán Kocsis and finally Krystian Zimerman, the star of the 9th Chopin Competition. Besides, Svetoslav Richter reappeared, who, as Ruch Muzyczny wrote in 1971, “would have flown through Poland again like a meteor, had it not been for the snare set in Wrocław by the apt management of our Philharmonic. The effect is overwhelming: the only concert of Svetoslav Richter in Poland – in our city!”
More such snares were set, so Wrocław also watched a parade of great conductors, including Robert Wagner (director of the Salzburg Mozarteum) and Kazimierz Kord. It is worth recalling that in December 1972, Kord staged Piotr Tchaikovsky'’ The Queen of Spades at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. He was the first Polish conductor on this prestigious stage. This tasty musical menu sometimes featured ideological nooks and crannies, like a symphonic concert dedicated to Lenin. Well, scholars from the University of Wrocław discovered in 1970 that Lenin came in Wrocław, and as all of Poland was celebrating the hundredth birthday of the leader of the revolution and the country was going through a propaganda frenzy (seeing Włodzimierz Ilyich on stamps, posters and rugs from Cepelia), Wrocław had to participate. Fortunately, the orchestra was led by Dmitri Kitayenko, winner of the prestigious Herbert von Karajan Conducting Competition in Berlin, so there was probably no major damage.

It would seem, from the perspective of today’s Poland, that symphonic music was a sphere free from interference by the communist authorities, but this is a mistake. There was even censorship of sheet music, and it was not until 1977 that the ban on performing works by composers working abroad – Andrzej Panufnik and Roman Palester, was lifted.
Fortunately, the window to the world was opening more and more and the Wrocław Philharmonic appeared on the foreign stages. Tadeusz Strugała considered his performance in 1972 at the Berlin Philharmonic with Józef Elsner’s Passio Domini Nostri Jesu Christi oratorio to be particularly prestigious. In an interview for the afternoon paper Wieczór Wrocławia he said: ‘It was probably the greatest event in the history of the Wroclaw Philharmonic. Of course, we were hoping for some success, but we didn’t expect it to be this full.”
Wratislavia Cantans flourished too. Strugała, having taken over the festival from Markowski, not only did not slow down its development, but boldly expanded the formula. “If an excellent orchestra or instrumentalist-virtuoso can and want to present themselves at the Festival in a repertoire other than oratorio and cantata, should they be forbidden from doing so?” – this is how the programming policy of Strugała was presented by Kazimierz Kościukiewicz, describing the phenomenon of Wratislavia Cantans.

In 1977, Strugała managed to enter Wratislavia Cantans on the exclusive list of the Association Européenne des Festivals de Musique (European Association of Music Festivals) in Geneva, and he used this fact by adding the adjective “international” to the festival name. Of course, it was only a confirmation of the facts, but how nice for Wrocław’s pride! The festival running time was getting longer, the number of concerts increased, opera performances and vocal recitals were included in the programme, and scholarly sessions were organized – Wrocław could not get enough of the music festival.
An important place on the Wrocław festival map was also occupied by two other projects managed by the Philharmonic – the Festival of Polish Contemporary Music and the Days of Organ and Harpsichord Music. Unfortunately, the first hints of the crisis were beginning to appear on the horizon.

Beata Maciejewska

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