In a few years in the period between the two world wars, a wind band conducting class was formed at the Władysław Żeleński Kraków Conservatoire. Then, the crisis in the 1930s forced the authorities to close it. The teaching of the art of conducting, i.e. preparing young people to become conductors performing at concerts with symphony orchestras and opera performances, began at the Kraków Conservatoire in 1945.
As the post-war Krakow became home to a number of outstanding musicians, including conductors such as Walerian Bierdiajew and Artur Malawski, the School of Music, which was just being established in 1945 and had the ambition of becoming a school of higher education, commenced conducting classes taught by those very artists.
In 1957, the Conducting Department was created. It was headed, successively, by: Artur Malawski, Witold Krzemieński, Henryk Czyż, Krzysztof Missona, Jerzy Katlewicz and Tomasz Bugaj. At present, Rafał Jacek Delekta serves as the head of the Department.
Those fantastic conductors, aware of the unique nature of their profession, introduced a principle of only admitting to the Academy exceptional young people with already developed personalities and musical erudition who clearly displayed the characteristics required to perform that profession.
The teaching method designed for young conductors, which dates back to Artur Malawski and is successfully carried on by his successors, is characterised by an in-depth analysis of the musical work, meticulous approach to the transparency of the conducting technique, and a strong emphasis on thorough musical education of the future bandmaster. Conducting students complete the entire theoretical course together with the students of “Composition” and “Theory of Music”. A great emphasis is also placed on developing piano skills as well as the skills of playing other orchestral instruments. For over 60 years, the successive pedagogues have developed a teaching system based on the use of two pianos, on which piano reductions of musical compositions are played, and the subsequent application of those experiences in the students’ work with an orchestra. In the 1950s and 60s, students were given an opportunity to cooperate with Krakow orchestras (Philharmonic Orchestra, Polish Radio Orchestra and Opera Orchestra).
In the 1970s, a special orchestra composed of professional musicians was formed for the conducting students. Since 1990s, future conductors have been practising the acquired knowledge by working with the Academic Symphony Orchestra.
Owing to the proper development of students’ personalities, in the course of their studies the students themselves actively look for opportunities to improve their craft. They belong to the Student Research Group, form orchestras and ensembles comprised of their instrumentalist friends with whom they present chamber and symphonic music repertoire and prepare opera performances. They also cooperate with research groups from other faculties.
The performance of contemporary music plays an important role in the education of conductors. Artur Malawski, a conductor and composer, ensured that the music of his times had its place on concert posters. That tradition has been continued by the consecutive heads of the Department. They have encouraged students to take interest in contemporary composers’ works and the related problems.
At present, the Conducting Department is working towards expanding the model of education by introducing topics and problems the young conductors are likely to encounter when entering the current music market. Meetings are organised with outstanding conductors, including, for instance, guest conductors at concerts with the Krakow Philharmonic Orchestra (e.g. Krenz, Kord, Liebreich, Rajski, Pijarowski, Salwarowski or Zilm). Regular master classes (for instance with the orchestras of Krakow Philharmonic and Krakow Opera as well as Beethoven Academy Orchestra) are given by Gabriel Chmura, Jacek Kaspszyk, Colin Metters and Rafał Jacek Delekta.
Currently, our Academy offers conducting classes taught by the following professors: Rafał Jacek Delekta, Stanisław Krawczyński, Paweł Przytocki and Łukasz Borowicz. They are attended by13 students.
Bachelor’s degree examinations are held during concerts with academic orchestras and master’s degree examinations – with professional orchestras throughout the country.