Andrzej Korzyński is a composer, arranger, and pianist, born on 2nd March 1940 in Warsaw. He is a pioneer of Polish electronic music and big beat and co-founder of the Rytm Youth Studio. He also composes music for theatre and film and has worked with Andrzej Wajda and Andrzej Żuławski.
In 1964, he graduated from the State High School of Music in Warsaw. He studied composition and conducting in Professor Kazimierz Sikorski’s class. For his diploma, he wrote a chamber opera using various modernist compositional techniques, including dodecaphony, but from the very beginning, he wanted to devote himself to popular music. During his studies, he accompanied the cabaret Manekin – a group of actors associated with the STS theatre. In 1963, together with his close friend Andrzej Żuławski, he went on a trip to Paris. There he discovered many recordings that were hard to find in the Poland under the communist regime, including Ray Charles’ albums, which changed his understanding of music no less than the achievements of 20th-century avant-garde composition, which he got acquainted with during his studies at the Warsaw Academy of Music. A year later he founded his first band, Ricercar 64. The group’s line-up consisted of: Adam Chyła – tenor saxophone, Edmund Dorman – double bass, Andrzej Korzyński – organ, leader, Janusz Sobiesiak – guitar, Jerzy Woźniak – drums, Bogdan Zołczyński – piano, Andrzej Żandarowski – guitar. As we can read in the Digital Library of Polish Songs: ‘It was a strange creation. It combined classical music with syncopated rhythms. The pieces sounded like preludes played on the harpsichord but in a big beat style.’
Andrzej Korzyński, on the recommendation of Ludwik Kurkiewicz, a lecturer at the State High School of Music, became the head of Student Music Magazine, a radio programme which promoted young music artists. This way he established many contacts, including Piotr Szczepanik, the performer of the composer’s first true hit – Yellow Calendars written in 1964 and first performed a year later. He is a three-time winner of the Radio Song of the Year poll – in 1965, 1966, and 1974. His songs have also been sung by Zdzisława Sośnicka (A Kto Się Kocha w Tobie), Maryla Rodowicz (Kasa Sex, Szparka Sekretarka, Do Łezki, Łezka), Irena Jarocka (Motylem Jestem), Krystyna Janda (Ballada o Janku Wiśniewskim), Marek Kondrat (Mydełko Fa) and Czesław Niemen (Domek Bez Adresu).
Big Beat - Marek Karewicz
Rytm Studio and Electronic Music
In September 1965, Andrzej Korzyński made an announcement on Polish Radio:
The Rytm Youth Studio starts its activity on the 1st Polish Radio Programme at 16:10 to 16:35, beginning with 1st October […] The studio is produced mainly with young people in mind; there will be 25-minute programmes in which everyone will find their favourite youth bands and favourite songs.
Rytm Studio’s programmes were broadcast from 1965 to 1973, from Monday to Friday. The last broadcast took place on 28th February 1973. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, novelties recorded in Rytm Studio were played. On Fridays, performers and big beat composers presented their musical fascinations. On Wednesdays, Roman Waschko, the first chairman of the Polish Jazz Federation, talked about rhythm and blues and the so-called light jazz, devoid of the influence of modern jazz and the third movement. Many journalists who shaped the Polish radio in the following years debuted on Rytm, including Maria Szabłowska, Piotr Kaczkowski and Andrzej Turski. It was extremely popular not only because of the new music that could be heard there but also because of the casual style of its presenters, which differed from the radio standards of the time.
Its creators – Andrzej Korzyński and journalist Witold Pograniczny – were the first to make the antenna of the 1st Polish Radio Programme and the recording studio of Polish Radio available to young musicians performing beat music. They recorded songs by all the rising stars: Marek Grechuta, Czesław Niemen, Czerwone Gitary, Breakout, Trubadurzy, Stan Borys, the Panas Sisters, Amazonki, Wojciech Gąssowski and others. The studio had a legendary band called Tajfuny, which featured a basic line-up of electric guitar, electric organ, choir, string orchestra and accompanying stage stars. Later the band became known as the Rytm Studio Orchestra. During the eight years of its activity, the studio recorded over 1300 songs.
A decade later, Korzyński was active in the Arp-Life electronic studio ensemble, which recorded lounge music. He combined disco and funk with elements of improvisation. The ensemble was founded by keyboard player Mateusz Święcicki and Ryszard Szumlicz, who played the drums; composers Andrzej Korzyński and Maciej Śniegocki were close collaborators. It was one of the first Polish bands in which keyboards were used. The musicians were mainly involved in creating music for theatre, film and television.
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Polish film soundtracks
Film music: from Żuławski and Wajda to Mr Kleks
In 1967, he composed the soundtrack for the debut productions of Andrzej Żuławski, his friend from primary school: Pieśni Trimufującej Miłości and Pavoncello. In their first joint production, we can already hear sounds typical of Korzyński’s film music – strong rock riffs, funky bass lines, polyrhythmic drums. In other fragments, he referred to dance rhythms, tango and waltz. These sounds were completely innovative in Polish film music and also aroused the interest of foreign audiences. Korzyński’s music corresponded in an interesting way with the compositions of Italian composers creating at the turn of the 1960s and 1970s, such as Ennio Morricone, Fabio Frizzi, Claudio Simonetti and others. In The Third Part of the Night, Żuławski asked him to create something that would resemble the music of Akira Kurosawa’s films, the sounds of Tibetan horns. Korzyński said in an interview published in Estrada i Studio:
In this film he wanted the music to be extremely expressive, even religious, and to achieve such an effect the whole thing had to be in low registers and based on long sounds. So we took two more guests and sang one sound in four. Later we played it twice as slow and it sounded like the murmur of Tibetan monks – it turned out to be music he liked very much. I think Andrzej worked with me for so long because I was inventing such different patents like these for him and he wanted to surprise at all costs. He was absolutely crazy about that.
The composer also collaborated with Żuławski on ten other films, including Devil, On the Silver Globe, Possession and Cosmos. He also wrote the soundtrack for Bird Talk, a film directed in 2019 by Xawery Żuławski based on a script by Żuławski’s deceased father.
Another filmmaker who owes the character of his films to Andrzej Korzyński’s music to a certain extent was Andrzej Wajda – they collaborated on six films. In a dedication on a French vinyl record with music for Man of Iron, Wajda wrote: ‘To Andrzej Korzyński, whose music brings my films success’.
He has also composed music for Academy of Mr Kleks and works by other Polish filmmakers, including Edward Żebrowski (Salvation), Janusz Morgenstern (S.O.S.), Jerzy Gruza (The Ring and the Rose) and Sylwester Chęciński (Take it Easy, Big Shar). Andrzej Korzyński was also active abroad. In 1969, he left for France on a contract with 20th Century Fox . A year later he composed the music for the film Germania 7 Donne a Testa directed by Paolo Cavallina and Stanis Nievo for Warner Bros. In 1973, he signed a contract for the soundtracks for 15 films with DEVA Studio, a state film studio in East Germany, in Potsdam-Babelsberg. Since 1986, he has worked with West German labels, including BAWARIA Studio and FILM POOL. He has also made music for TV series for SAT1.
For many years the work of Andrzej Korzyński was known only to film connoisseurs and music lovers who were passionate about film soundtracks. In 2012, his compositions were rediscovered by the renowned British label Finders Keepers, which dedicated four vinyl records to his work. Since 2015 he has been cooperating with the Polish record company GAD Records.
Originally written in Polish by Filip Lech, translated into English by P. Grabowski, December 2019
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