Krzysztof Komeda (Krzysztof Komeda-Trzciński, born Krzysztof Trzciński), jazz composer, pianist and medical doctor. Born 23 April 1931 in Poznań, died 23 April 1969 in Warsaw.
Komeda started to learn the piano at the age of seven and took part in his first jam session at the age of nineteen, during a stay in Krakow. While a student at the Medical Academy in Poznań he first played with Jerzy Grzewiński's Dixieland Band and then, in 1952-1954, with the Melomani. Upon graduation in 1955 he joined a Poznań laryngological clinic and, in order to hide his passion for jazz from his colleagues, he started to use the name Komeda. In 1956 he set up the Komeda Sextet, a combo which included Komeda, Jerzy Milian, Stanisław Pludra, Józef Stolarz, Jan Wróblewski and Jan Zylber, and whose debut took place at the opening of the Poznań division of the Polish Television. The Sextet's first major success at the 1st Jazz Festival in Sopot in 1956 was followed by a silver medal at the 6th International Youth Festival in Moscow in 1957. That year marked also the start of Komeda's lifetime co-operation with Roman Polański.
In 1958 Komeda moved to Krakow and joined Jazz Believers. Later that year he performed at the 1st Jazz Jamboree Festival, an annual event he would not miss until 1967. He also set up his own Trio, its make-up frequently changing and including Jan Byrczek, Roman Dyląg, Adam Skorupka, Tadeusz Federowski, Adam Jędrzejowski, Andrzej "Fats" Zieliński, Jan Zylber and Rune Carlsson. At the same time Komeda headed a Quintet (himself, Czesław Bartkowski, Tomasz Stańko, Maciej Suzin or Janusz Kozłowski and Michał Urbaniak) and a Quartet (himself, Carlsson, Stańko and Dyląg). In 1961 he was involved in the cabaret Tingel-Tangel as a pianist and composer.
In 1962 the Krakow Jazz club honoured Komeda with its Złoty Helikon award, while readers of the "Jazz" magazine voted him Jazzman of the Year.
Komeda played concerts in Poland and abroad, in Switzerland, East and West Germany, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. His first trip to Scandinavia in 1960 resulted in a series of annual tours. He did a number of recordings for radio and different labels. In 1965 he took part in the prestigious project of the German jazz promoter and critic, Joachim Berendt. In January 1968 Komeda went to the United States to work on the scores for Rosemary's Baby and The Riot. While in Los Angeles, he had a serious accident in December that year, and was transported to Poland on 18th April 1969. He was buried at the Powązkowski Cemetery in Warsaw.
Major films with music by Komeda:
Author: Małgorzata Kosińska, Polish Music Information Center, Polish Composers' Union, June 2008.
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