Zbigniew Drzewiecki 1946-1952

Zbigniew DRZEWIECKI (1946-1952)b Warsaw 8 April 1890, d Warsaw 11 April 1971

Rector of the State Higher School of Music [PWSM] (1945-52)
Pianist, teacher, editor and music critic

Studied at the Wiener Akademie für Musik with K. Prohaski and privately in Vienna with M. Prentner. Made his debut as a pianist on the 2nd February 1916 in Warsaw, giving a recital consisting of the works of Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Schumann, Chopin and Liszt. He was one of the first Polish pianists to perform the works of Scriabin, Debussy, Ravel and Prokofiev; in the eyes of conservative critics he gained a reputation of an enthusiast and propagator of ‘modernism’ and ‘dadaism.’ The music of Szymanowski found a special place in his repertoire. The composer and the pianist were friends, they also shared a passion for bridge. Szymanowski dedicated to him two Mazurkas Op. 50: No.7 and 8. Drzewiecki also propagated the works of other Polish contemporary composers: Szałowski, Palester, Kondracki, Szabelski. He mastered his musical technique with Paderewski in Morges. As music critic, he published articles in Muzyka of M. Gliński and Muzyka Polska of K. Regamey, after the World War II – in Ruch Muzyczny. He wrote particularly about the piano music of the 20th century, including the works of Bartok, Berg, Szymanowski, Koffler or Palester, and about the performances of Chopin’s music. He recommended simplicity and moderation as well as equilibrium between the expression and form in the interpretation of Chopin’s music. In 1930 he became Prorector of the Warsaw Music School renamed later into the Academy. In 1931 he took over the function of its rector after Karol Szymanowski. Among his students were: F. Blumental, J. Ekier, R. Etkinówna, B. Kon, H. Czerny Stefańska, Fu-Tsung, L. Grychtołówna, A. Harasiewicz, R. Smendzianka, J. Olejniczak, among the present faculty members of the Krakow Academy: M. Szmyd-Dormus and E. Wolak-Moszyńska.

In the spring of 1945, with a circle of collaborators, he began to organize the Higher School of Music (the present Academy of Music). Its inauguration took place on the 31st of August. The aim of the academy – said its first rector in the inaugural address – was “comprehensive education of composers, conductors, virtuosos and theoreticians, (…) teachers prepared to work at music schools of all levels”, but also “academic work on designing and improving the methods of teaching, aspiring to the creation of Polish musical style.” Among the faculty members of the Krakow school were: R. Palester, S. Wiechowicz, A. Malawski, J. Hoffman, A. Rieger, H. Sztompka, E. Umińska, B. Rutkowski, B. Romaniszyn, H. Zboińska-Ruszkowska, W. Kaczmar, M. Dziewulska, S. Kisielewski. 131 students were admitted for the first postwar academic year. Many of them – due to the break caused by occupation – were not properly prepared for the studies and thus participated in preparatory courses covering all theoretical subjects, called ‘zero level courses’. Classes took place in a few rooms at 8 and 9 Basztowa Street. At the beginning of the academic year 1948/49 the Academy moved to a more spacious location at 24 Warszawska Street.

In recognition of his accomplishments, Drzewiecki received National Prize of the 1st degree (1950, 1952), and in 1955 he was honoured with the Polonia Restituta Cross.

Leszek Polony