Agnieszka Osiecka was a poet, a director and journalist. She authored over 2000 songs, skits and stage works. She was born on 9th of October 1936 in Warsaw, where she died on 7th of March 1997.
Table of Contents: | Debut at the STS (Student Satirical Theatre) | STS School | Okularnicy (Eggheads) | Working on the Film Set and at the Polish Radio| Private Life |Life After Life | Trivia | Works |
‘The poetess of broken colour’, as she was named by Jan Kott, wrote lyrics for songs which remain all time top hits in Polish popular music: Okularnicy (Eggheads), Kochankowie z Ulicy Kamiennej (Lovers From Kamienna Street), Nim wstanie dzień (Before Sunrise), Na całych jeziorach ty (On All The Lakes – Just You), Zielono mi (I Am Feeling Green), Małgośka, W żółtych płomieniach liści (In the Yellow Flames of Leaves), Diabeł i raj (Devil and Paradise), Nie spoczniemy (We Shall Never Rest), Polska Madonna (Polish Madonna), Niech żyje bal (Long Live the Ball), Nie żałuję (I Don’t Regret), Białe zeszyty (White Notebooks), Grajmy Panu (Let’s Play to The Lord). Her songs were performed by the most celebrated Polish singers, such as Maryla Rodowicz, Edyta Geppert, Sława Przybylska, Anna Szałapak, Seweryn Krajewski or Skaldowie.
She graduated from the Faculty of Journalism at the University of Warsaw in 1956. She debuted as a journalist in 1954 in the journal Głos Wybrzeża (Seaside Voice). During her further studies at the Directing Faculty at the National Film School in Łódź she wrote film reviews for Sztandar Młodych (Youth’s Standard) and cooperated with Nowa Kultura (The New Culture), Po Prostu (Just Like That), Literatura (Literature), Kultura (Culture) and Polska (Poland).
Between 1954 and 1972 she was associated with Student Satirical Theatre and chaired its artistic council. There, she debuted as a lyricist. Jarosław Abramow recalls the first text which Osiecka brought to their meeting. It was Ballada o malarzu (Ballad About a Painter).
When she finished [reading], silence hung in the air. She set next to Witek [Dąbrowski], who was wearing dark glasses and a dark sweater. Opposite him, Agnieszka looked like a bright morning. I looked at her fair plait, at her beautiful face, like that of a top school student and I was wondering where did she find all this melancholy which emanated from her poem. So much bitter maturity at the age of 19.
[Jarosław Abramow-Newerly, "Lwy STSu", Rosner & Wspólnicy Publishing house, Warsaw 2005]
Stanisław Młynarczyk wrote music to the words of Ballad About a Painter. The song was later performed by Danuta Kowalewska.
Agnieszka Osiecka managed to form an original style of writing songs and then imposed it on the whole STS – said Andrzej Drawicz - Agnieszka was ‘hidden’ in the STS for a certain time. (…) Yet, she always had good judgement for things and a brilliant intelligence; she was always able to find appropriate formulas for different situations (…) We wanted to be a theatrical–political journal. The effect would, however, be very mediocre if it wasn’t for her disputatious lyricism and warmth. Her colourful view on things made our every day.
[Andrzej Drawicz, "Wczasy pod lufą", Warsaw 1997]
Osiecka wrote 166 pieces for STS. Marek Lusztig, Edward Pałłasz and Maciej Małecki composed music to her lyrics. Music for Kochankowie z ulicy Kamiennej (Lovers From Kamienna Street) was composed by Wojciech Solorz.
This song made a huge impression on Jacek Kuroń [democratic opposition leader]. After many years he wrote:
I heard this song for the first time when our democratic movement literally died. Or even worse, we gave up; we did nothing besides vain politicking throughout the month of October. We assumed that Gomułka [the former communist party leader] had such solid support that we had no chance of success. This is why a song just like Lovers From Kamienna Street, a song about boys and girls who desire a beautiful love but live on the poor and dirty Kamienna Street, became a sort of epitaph for our movement. I think that when we listened to that song, many of us had a strong impression that the lyrics talked about us and our situation. Agnieszka [Osiecka] claimed that every human has a right to ‘beauty’. To date, I regard this song as a song about injustice, about hurting the common man, about the constant violation of human rights. It was Agnieszka’s manifest.
[Zofia Turowska, "Agnieszki. Pejzaże z Agnieszką Osiecką", Prószyński & Company Publishing House, Warsaw 2000]
The most recognizable song of the STS generation – Okularnicy (Eggheads) was published on a compilation disc ‘Wszystko co nasze program minimum’ (Everything that belongs to us – programme minimum) in 1963. Osiecka is the author of the lyrics, while Jarosław Abramow took care of the music. During the mundane era of Gomułka, Okularnicy (Eggheads) became an anthem for young Polish intelligentsia. Osiecka often emphasized that writing for STS was much more important for her education than both faculties from which she graduated.
In the late 1950s and all of the 1960s my friends taught me something important which I wasn’t taught at home: a social attitude. Andrzej Jarecki, a poet and my boyfriend of that time, called our songs “poetry of citizens’. Andrzej had something in common with Żeromski’s characters. But for him I wouldn’t have written Okularnicy (Eggheads), a song, which was the youth’s political anthem for years. This song has been translated several times but I find Elżbieta’s Czyżewska translation as the most accurate one. Her title is: ‘Eggheads’. In any case, Elżbieta would have been a perfect poet even if she had never written a word.
[Agnieszka Osiecka, "Rozmowy w tańcu", Tenten Publishing House, Warsaw 1992]
Osiecka, best known as a poet and lyrics author, was also a graduate of the Film and TV Direction Department at the National Film School in Łódź. During her studies she made nine etudes, including a documentary ‘STS 58’ (1959) devoted to Student Satirical Theatre. Yet, after she completed her studies she never directed again.
On the second or third year I understood that I would never become a director because I got into writing lyrics and articles at that time. What I love about writing is that you can do it all by yourself: in your tiny room, on the tram, under a favourite tree. To make a movie you need to have frenetic energy, health and the ability to cooperate with large groups of people. When I did my etudes this entire setting people up, giving orders, showing them where they should stand or how they should behave was simply a brutal ‘rape’ on my nature.
[Zofia Turowska, "Agnieszki"]
She did her student practice on the set of Niewinni czarodzieje (Innocent Sorcerers) by Andrzej Wajda and was a prototype for Agnieszka – a character from Man of Marble. Yet, her later film connections were rather casual and socially-based.
Janusz Morgenstern was my boss for a while, when I assisted him in his film ‘Jutro premiera’ (Tomorrow Is The First Night). There was whole bunch of the aces of Polish cinema involved: Krafftówna, Bardini, Holoubek, Dziewoński... something captivating! They all had tendency for clownish antics. My role was to wake everybody up and gather them on the film set and take care of discipline. Then, at 8am, Holoubek come and spoke to me in a loud voice : ‘Well, how do you feel, Miss Ziuta, after yesterday?’ All order disappeared instantly!
[Zofia Nasierowska, Agnieszka Osiecka, "Fotonostalgia", Wydawnictwo Prószyński i S-ka, Warszawa 2003]
She didn’t, however, split entirely with cinema. Songs with her lyrics can be found in films and TV series: "Prawo i pięść", "Gangsterzy i filantropi", "Czterej pancerni i pies", "Małżeństwo z rozsądku", "Noce i dnie", "Jan Serce".
Since 1961 she cooperated with Polish Television. Her "Przesada. Wodewil" was staged in a TV studio by Konrad Swinarski. They had cooperated earlier when Osiecka wrote songs for his re-make of Aristophanes’ ‘Birds’, a show that he staged at Teatr Dramatyczny in Warsaw in 1960.
Between 1963 and 1969 she worked as a journalist for Polish Radio. She had her own programme Radiowe Studio Piosenki (Radio Song Studio) that published more than 500 songs and enabled many present-day stars to be brought to a wider audience. She also cooperated with Olga Lipińska Cabaret and Pod Egidą Cabaret.
Agnieszka Osiecka was the wife of theatre director Wojciech Jesionka and later, of Wojciech Frykowski. Bogumił Kobiela and Krzysztof Komeda were witnesses at their marriage. Her second marriage lasted only 6 months, when she and Wojciech Frykowski decided to divorce in 1964. She has a daughter - Agata Passent, whose father is a well-known journalist. One of Osiecka's most significant relationships was with Marek Hłasko. Their affair started to develop in 1956. Osiecka was a 21-year-old student and STS’s author while Hłasko was already a very successful author thanks to great success of his storybook Pierwszy krok w chmurach (First step in the sky). They never married because Hłasko was prohibited from re-entering Poland by communist authorities. . Osiecka begged the authorities for permission for Hłasko to come back but didn’t succeed.
The boy whom I wanted so much didn’t have a car but day and night I dreamed about a green American Jeep from army surplus. He would cross the land, towns and villages and help people. Even today when I see a similar car, my heart beats faster.
[Agnieszka Osiecka, "Szpetni czterdziestoletni", Iskry Publishing House, Warsaw 1985]
They met for the very last time in April 1968 in Los Angeles. Marek Hłasko died in 1969. Osiecka received his typewriter and kept it on her desk till her death.
In September 2010 Agora Publishing House published a tome of letters between Agnieszka Osiecka and Jeremi Przybora from 1964-1966. Thanks to the permission of Agata Passent and Przybora’s son the correspondence of two people with a very strong secret relationship was presented to audiences. Some of Osiecka’s and Przybora’s lyrics (such as "Inwokacja" ("Bez ciebie") and "S.O.S" by Przybora and "Mówiłam żartem", "Na całych jeziorach ty" by Osiecka) were in fact a undercover messages exchanged between clandestine lovers.
Osiecka wrote her last songs and plays for Atelier Theatre in Sopot in 1994-1996. They were recognised by critics as the most interesting of her output. In 1997 she became a patron of Sopot Theatre. A concert hall of Polish Radio Channel III has been named after her.
The poetess never denied her alcohol problems and died on 7th of March 1997 as a result of cancer of the large intestine. She was buried at Powązki Cemetery.
The heritage of Agnieszka Osiecka is being looked after by the foundation Okularnicy (Eggheads), which was founded by her daughter Agata Passent. Among many other activities, the foundation is working on publishing consecutive tomes of Osiecka’s songbook.
In 1982 she won Coca-Cola's contest for a new slogan for the brand. Her Cocacola to jest to! (Coca-cola, this is it!) slogan remains very popular to date.
Some of the quotes from her songs became popular Polish sayings e.g. Zielono mi (I am feeling green) or Dziś prawdziwych Cyganów już nie ma (In a present day, there are no true Gypsies left)
Author: Janusz R. Kowalczyk, March 2014, translated with edits by W.O. March 2014.
"A ja wolę moją mamę" (music: Majka Jeżowska, performed by Majka Jeżowska)
"Ballada o pancernych" (music: Adam Walaciński, performed by Edmund Fetting)
"Ballada wagonowa" (music:Andrzej Zieliński, performed by Maryla Rodowicz)
"Będę czekać" (music: Michel Legrand, performed by Stenia Kozłowska)
"Bossanova do poduszki" (music:Jacek Mikuła, performed by Maryla Rodowicz)
"Cyrk nocą" (music: Jacek Mikuła, performed by Maryla Rodowicz)
"Czarodzieje" (music: Andrzej Zieliński, performed by Skaldowie)
"Damą być" (music:Jacek Mikuła, performed by Maryla Rodowicz)
"Diabeł i raj" (music: Katarzyna Gaertner, performed by Maryla Rodowicz)
"Dookoła noc się stała" (music:Adam Sławiński, performed by Łucja Prus)
"Dzikuska" (music:L. Bogdanowicz, performed by Violetta Villas)
"Dziś prawdziwych Cyganów już nie ma" (music: Andrzej Zieliński, performed by Maryla Rodowicz; Edyta Górniak)
"Ja mam szczęście do wszystkiego" (music:Lucjan Maria Kaszycki, performed by Hanna Rek)
"Jak pięknie jest umierać między gołębiami" (music: Andrzej Zieliński, performed by Grażyna Łobaczewska)
"Kiedy mi przyjdzie zasnąć na dłużej" (music:Violetta Villas, performed by Violetta Villas)
"Kochankowie z ulicy Kamiennej" (music:Wojciech Solarz, performed by Elżbieta Czyżewska; Sława
Przybylska; Anna Prucnal; Krystyna Tkacz;)
"Kolega maj" (music: Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski, performed by Ewa Bem)
"Komu weselne dzieci" (music:Katarzyna Gaertner, performed by Urszula Sipińska)
"Króliczek" (music: Andrzej Zieliński, performed by Skaldowie)
"Ludzkie gadanie" (music:Seweryn Krajewski, performed byMaryla Rodowicz)
"Małgośka" (music: Katarzyna Gaertner, performed by Maryla Rodowicz)
"Mechaniczna lalka" (music: Violetta Villas, performed by Violetta Villas)
"Mój pierwszy bal" (music: Franciszka Leszczyńska, performed by Kalina Jędrusik)
"Mówiłam żartem" (music:Jarosław Abramow, performed by Iga Cembrzyńska; Krystyna Janda)
"Na całych jeziorach - ty" (music: Adam Sławiński, performed by Teresa Tutinas; Kalina Jędrusik; Hanna Banaszak; Katarzyna Nosowska)
"Najpiękniejsza" (music: Seweryn Krajewski, performed by Seweryn Krajewski)
"Na zakręcie" (music:Przemysław Gintrowski, performed by. Krystyna Janda)
"Nie całuj mnie pierwsza" (music: Andrzej Zieliński, performed by Skaldowie)
"Nie ma jak pompa" (music: Jacek Mikuła, performed by Maryla Rodowicz)
"Nie spoczniemy" (music: Seweryn Krajewski, performed by Czerwone Gitary)
"Nie żałuję" (music: Seweryn Krajewski, performed by Edyta Geppert)
"Niech żyje bal" (music:Seweryn Krajewski, performed by Maryla Rodowicz)
"Nim wstanie dzień" (music:Krzysztof Komeda, performed by Edmund Fetting; do filmu "Prawo i pięść")
"Od nocy do nocy" (music: Waldemar Kazanecki, performed by Halina Kunicka; Edyta Górniak; do filmu "Noce i dnie")
"Odpowiednia pogoda na szczęście" (music and performed by Seweryn Krajewski)
"Okularnicy" (music: Jarosław Abramow, performed by Kazimiera Utrata; Zofia Kucówna; Sława Przybylska; Tadeusz Łomnicki)
"Polska Madonna" (music: Andrzej Sikorowski, performed by Maryla Rodowicz)
"Sing Sing" (music: Jacek Mikuła, performed by Maryla Rodowicz)
"Szaloną być" (music:Violetta Villas, performed by Violetta Villas)
"Sztuczny miód" (music:Krzysztof Paszek, performed by Barbara Krafftówna; Katarzyna Groniec)
"Śpiewam, bo muszę" (music: Andrzej Zieliński, performed by Skaldowie)
"Uciekaj moje serce" (music and performed by Seweryn Krajewski - do serialu "Jan Serce"; Stanisław Sojka)
"Ulica japońskiej wiśni" (music: Jerzy Satanowski, performed by Barbara Dziekan)
"W żółtych płomieniach liści" (music: Andrzej Zieliński, performed by Łucja Prus with Skaldowie)
"Weselne dzieci" (music: Katarzyna Gaertner, performed by Urszula Sipińska; Magda Umer; Krystyna Janda; Maryla Rodowicz)
"Wieczór na dworcu w Kansas City" (music:Andrzej Zieliński, performed by Skaldowie)
"Zielono mi" (music: Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski, performed by Andrzej Dąbrowski; Katarzyna Nosowska; Ania
"Kolory", songs (1963)
"Wyszłam i nie wróciłam", songs (1969)
"Dzień dobry Eugeniuszu", for children (1969)
"Listy śpiewające", songs (1970)
"Zabiłam ptaka w locie", novel (1970)
"Dixie", for children (1972, 1975)
"Wzór na diabelski ogon", (1974)
"Sztuczny miód", skits (1977)
"Imionnik z kwiatem", (1979)
"Wada serca", (1981)
"Na wolności. Dziennik dla Adama", dedicated to Adam Michnik, (1985, published 2008)
"Kolęda myszki", for children (1985)
"Żywa reklama", songs (1985)
"Szpetni czterdziestoletni", memories (1985, 1987)
"Szczególnie małe sny", for children (1986)
"Biała bluzka", storybook (1988)
"Ptakowiec", for children (1988)
"Śpiewające piaski", songs (1989)
"Czarna wiewiórka", novel (1989)
"Salon gier", novel(1990)
"Zabawy poufne", esseys (1990)
"Opisanie szopki", songs (1991)
"Rozmowy w tańcu", memories (1992)
"Na początku był negatyw", memories (1996)
"Wielki śpiewnik Agnieszki Osieckiej" (2004- )
Plays scripts (selection):
"Przesada. Wodewil" (1961)
"Niech no tylko zakwitną jabłonie" (1964)
"Apetyt na czereśnie" (1968)
"Dziś straszy" (1972)
"Sztukmistrz z Lublina" (1998)
"Darcie pierza" (1998)
"Pan Marimba" (1998)
"Pięć oceanów" - 5 CD - box with Osiecks'a songs
"Osiecka" - Katzrzyna Nosowska's album
"Czy te oczy mogą kłamać" - album by Raz, Dwa, Trzy
"Buty 2" - album by Maryli Rodowicz
1997 - Order of the Rebirth of Poland
1979 - Golden Cross of Merit