In 2014, we celebrate two anniversaries of the acclaimed conductor, pedagogue and ambassador of Polish music. The artist would be celebrating his 100th birthday on 26th February, and on 1st October, 25 years pass since his death.
Witold Rowicki, photo: Zbyszko Siemaszko / Forum
A special website devoted to Rowicki was launched on 18th February, with an array of works out of which many had remained previously unpublished. The Polish-English witoldrowicki.com portal also features exhaustive biographic material, texts about and by the conductor (including the recently published Zapiski Dyrygenta, The Notes of A Conductor) and articles, notes and letters written by his close associates. The rich resources of the website also include unique posters and original performance reviews, as well as a photographic archive. The authors behind the website have also managed to access original telegrams, old notes with congratulations and even post cards from the conductor’s friends. They have created a special map which displays places of special importance in Witold Rowicki’s life. This includes countries he visited as part of his numerous musical tours.
The greatest resource of the website consists of gathered audiovisual materials. There are recordings of concerts conducted by Rowicki, radio broadcasts and interviews. A collection of videos includes interviews created especially for the project: Marian Gołębiowski, a long-time director of the National Philharmonic and the violin player Wanda Wiłkomirska recall their experiences of working with Rowicki.
The greatest treasure, though, among these recordings, are fragments of films recorded on 8mm film by the conductor himself. For decades, very few people knew about the existence of these mini-documents, wherein Rowicki recorded his family, his loved ones and his composer friends.
A separate section of the site provides information about various events that are taking place as part of the jubilee year. Upcoming concerts include a performance by the Orchestra of the National Philharmonic in Warsaw and by the Bamberger Symphoniker Orchestra in Bamburg. There are also book-launch evenings around the recently published Zapiski Dyrygenta (The Notes of a Conductor).
The audiovisual material was obtained from Polskie Radio, WFDiF, Polskie Nagrania and the artist’s family archive.
After the end of the second World War, Witold Rowicki became head of the Polish Radio in Katowice. He put together an ensemble of sixteen instrumentalists which formed the basic core of the future Great Symphony Orchestra of Polish Radio (nowadays the NOSPR). Until October 1947, Rowicki was artistic director of the orchestra, and after the return to Poland of Grzegorz Fitelberg, he was his subordinate. From 1948 until 1950, Rowicki conducted many of the orchestra’s performances across Poland, as well as in the Czech Republic, Romania and Hungary. In September, 1950, he was named the artistic director of the National Philharmonic in Warsaw, and he reorganised its symphonic orchestra. In July, 1953, Rowicki opened The Small Orchestra by the Philharmonic, with the aim of promoting music in workplaces, schools, and venues outside of Warsaw. He also initiated numerous concert series that would gain huge popularity: "Béla Bartók at the National Philharmonic", "Beethoven’s Symphonies”, "Tchaikovsky’s Symphonies”, "Brahms Symphonies", „Johann Sebastian Bach", "Karol Szymanowski", and "French Music”.
Rowicki was head of the National Philharmonic for 25 years, until his retirement. He performed some 400 concerts with its ensemble on 5 continents. Throughout the performances, Rowicki played a vital role in promoting Polish composers’ music across the world, with particular emphasis on the oeuvre of Karol Szymanowski.
Source: press release, AG, translated by Paulina Schlosser, 19/02/2014