Conductor. Born on August 10, 1952 in Biała Podlaska.
Conductor. He has been the general director of the Grand Theatre in Warsaw and his work in Opera has been highly appreciated.
He studied conducting under Stanisław Wisłocki's supervision as well as the theory of music and composition at the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw. He graduated in 1975. The same year he made his debut at the Grand Theatre - the National Opera in Warsaw with a new performance of Don Giovanni by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The following year, he performed for the first part at the Düsseldorf Opera, where he was a visiting conductor for two subsequent seasons. In 1978, Kaspszyk was appointed the first conductor of the Polish Radio and Television Great Symphonic Orchestra, and in 1980 he was offered the post of musical director of this ensemble. Kaspszyk made a few European tournées and performed at well-recognised festivals with the Polish Radio and Television Great Symphonic Orchestra. In 1978, the artist won the 3rd Award at the Herbert van Karajan Conducting Competition in West Berlin. He performed in New York the same year.
In 1982, the conductor moved to London where he made his debut with the Philharmonia Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall. In 1983, Kaspszyk made numerous tournées with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. He also began working with the Capital Radio's Wren Orchestra and shortly after was appointed its first conductor. At this time, Kaspszyk performed regularly with orchestras based in London such as Philharmonia Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic and Royal Philharmonic, as well as the British orchestras, among others Halle, Royal Scottish National, BBS Scottish and BBC National Orchestra of Wales. He performed with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales in 1984 at the BBC Henry Wood Promenade Concerts (BBC Proms). Kaspszyk conducted many renowned orchestras on the European continent such as Wiener Symphoniker, La Scala Orchestra, Bayerische Rundfunk, Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester in Berlin, Orchestre de Paris, Orquesta Nacional de España, National Symphony Orchestra in Dublin, Chamber Orchestra of Europe (with which he toured Australia), as well as philharmonic orchestras in Oslo, Stockholm, Rotterdam and Prague. Between 1991 and 1995, he was the first conductor and music consultant of the Nord Nederland Orkest. In 1992, he was the main visiting conductor of the English Sinfonia. In 1993, his interpretation of 8th Symphony by Gustav Mahler in Athens, performed with the Athens Symphonic Orchestra and London Symphony Chorus, won wide recognition. Outside Europe, Kaspszyk performed in the United States (Cincinnati Symphony, San Diego Symphony), Canada (Calgary Symphony, Winnipeg Symphony), Japan (Yomiuri Nippon Symphony, Tokyo Philharmonic), Hong Kong Philharmonic and New Zealand Symphony. In 2004, the conductor made his debut in China with the China Philharmonic and Guangzhou Symphony with which he performs every year. He also performs with the National Philharmonic on a regular basis. Between 1996 and 1998, he was the first visiting conductor of this orchestra. In addition, Kaspszyk works with Sinfonia Varsovia. He also cooperates closely with the Warsaw Chamber Opera and the associated Warsaw Symphonic Orchestra.
Jacek Kaspszyk's achievements in the field of opera are highly appreciated. He conducted at many renowned theatres, such as Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf, Opera Comique in Paris (The Magic Flute by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart), Opéra de Lyon (A Midsummer's Night Dream by Benjamin Britten, Seven Deadly Sins by Kurt Weill), Opera de Bordeaux (Eugene Onegin by Pyotr Tshaikovsky), Royal Opera in Stockholm, English National Opera (Barber of Seville Gioacchin Rossini), North Leeds Opera (The Flying Dutchman by Richard Wagner), Scottish Opera (The Bat by Johann Strauss), Opernhaus in Zurich, Detroit Opera (The Haunted Manor by Stanisław Moniuszko), Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires (Ubu Rex by Krzysztof Penderecki) and Teatro de la Maestranza in Seville. He also conducted Turandot and Tosca at the Puccini Festival in Torre del Lago.
In 1998, he was offered the post of artistic and musical director and in 2002 the general director of the Grand Theatre - the National Opera in Warsaw. He conducted first performances of Don Giovanni, The Bluebeard's Castle and The Miraculous Mandarin by Béla Bartók, King Roger by Karol Szymanowski, Ubu Rex, Damnation of Faust by Hector Berlioz, Salome by Richard Strauss and Wozzeck by Alban Berg. He performed with the Opera ensemble at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow (2002), at the Beijing Festival (2002) and at the Sadler's Wells Theatre in London (2005). He also made three tournées with this ensemble across Japan. Since 2006, he has been cooperating with the Vilnius Opera for which he performed Wagner's The Valkyrie and Salome. They were presented at the festivals in Lublana and Rawenna (2007) and during the conductor's residence at the Israeli Tel Aviv-Yafo Opera (2008).
Jacek Kaspszyk has been recording for many record companies. The recording of Rossini's Il Signor Bruschino with the ensemble of the Warsaw Chamber Opera was very well received by the British critics, while Concerto lugubre by Tadeusz Baird with the participation of the Polish Radio Great Symphonic Orchestra of Katowice was honoured the Edison Award. With four London orchestras, Kaspszyk recorded the following works for Collins Classics: Modest Mussorgsky's Pictures at the Exhibition, Gustav Mahler's First Symphony, Richard Strauss's Also Sprach Zarathustra, Siergei Rachmaninoff's "Second Symphony", overtures to Giuseppe Verdi's operas (Philharmonia Orchestra), Johann Strauss's compositions and Franz Schubert's symphonies (London Philharmonic Orchestra), and Prelude for Orchestra by Giacomo Puccini (Royal Philharmonic Orchestra). Together with the ensemble of Grand Theatre - National Opera in Warsaw, Kaspszyk recorded Straszny dwór" / "The Haunted Manor (EMI Classics), which was awarded the platinum record, Ubu Rex (CD Accord) and Król Roger" / "King Roger (CD Accord). The latter was nominated for the 2006 Recording of the Year Award presented by BBC Music Magazine.
Since 2006, Jacek Kaspszyk has been the artistic director at the Wrocław Philharmonic Orchestra. He has combined this post with that of the musical director of the Polish Radio National Symphonic Orchestra in Katowice since 2009.
Jacek Kaspszyk became the artistic and musical director of the Grand Theatre - National Opera in Warsaw in 1998. He accepted the post only after it was offered the third time round:
The first proposal came in 1981, explains Kaspszyk in the interview for the Studio magazine in 1999. At that time, I was perhaps too young. It seemed to me that I would not be able to fulfil my artistic plans, and I did not feel like seeking compromise. In 1996, I was offered this post again. However, I refused for the second time for my vote wouldn't be the decisive one in the artistic matters.
It was only in 1998 that Jacek Kaspszyk noticed the opportunity to create a modern opera theatre in Warsaw which could, as he said, play a culture-forming role in this part of Europe.
The performances of European artists in Warsaw should give the Grand Theatre a European touch. Even though, the audience likes stars and acclaimed artists, it is impossible to base the entire activity of the Polish opera on them, believes Jacek Kaspszyk. The young and the most talented Polish singers must find their way to the Polish opera stage. They should be associated with this Theatre and their careers should start in here. The repertoire should be European as well. Polish music must be present at the Grand Theatre, however it needs to be treated in a unique manner. We do not have that many outstanding classic opera works. Contemporary artists have much more to offer in that respect. However, Polish contemporary music includes more than the works of Penderecki, Lutosławski, Górecki or Kilar. We have many exceptional young composers who should be given the opportunity to write operas for our Theatre. This is our chance and challenge.
In addition, we have been moving in the circle of Italian, German and Russian tradition for many years, said Jacek Kaspszyk in 1998. I would like to show the Anglo-Saxon and French tradition, including such masterpieces as Pelleas and Melisande by Debussy. Soon we will stage the first performance of Bartók's The Bluebeard's Castle and The Magnificent Mandarin, Britten's Peter Grimes as well as Madam Butterfly. Also, Rigoletto will return. While deciding on the repertoire, the following two items should also be combined: works of a fundamental significance to the music history and works which have always attracted the audience.
During Jacek Kaspszyk's term as an artistic director of the Grand Theatre - National Opera in Warsaw, thirteen first performances of operas were staged. For the commencement of his career at the Grand Theatre, Kaspszyk chose Don Giovanni by Mozart, the performance with which he made his debut at the Warsaw Grand Theatre.
It was quite a sentimental coincidence, said Kaspszyk in 1999. I have always felt attached to opera because it was my first assignment. It started my career. I must admit right away, however, that I have never limited myself to opera. I believe that a conductor should perform both opera and symphonic works for they represent two conducting practices that simultaneously complement and influence each other.
Among the first ten performances, there were such Polish compositions as Straszny Dwór" / "The Haunted Manor by Stanisław Moniuszko, Janek by Władysław Żeleński and Król Roger" / "King Roger by Karol Szymanowski as well as Ignorant i szaleniec" / "The Ignoramus and the Madman, an opera by Paweł Mykietyn commissioned by the Grand Theatre in Warsaw. Among the contemporary works, Roxanna Panufnik's opera entitled The Music Programme was performed, as well as Bartók's "The Bluebeard's Castle. The classical performances included Puccini's Madame Butterfly, Rossini's Tankred, Verdi's Don Carlos and Othello. While Eugene Onegin by Tshaikovsky and Pelleas and Melisanda by Debussy were among the most recent first performances. Out of Kaspszyk's declaration, only Peter Grimes by Benjamin Britten has not been staged so far. Apart from the first performances of operas, the stage of the Grand Theatre - National Opera in Warsaw hosted ballet shows performed by the Grand Theatre's ensemble, visiting ballet shows as well as other opera and concert events.
Author: Małgorzata Kosińska, Polish Musical Information Centre, Polish Composers Association, February 2002, updated: November 2009.