She first studied piano under Irena Wyrzykowska-Mondelska at the Poznań Music Academy and then under Zbigniew Śliwiński at the State High School of Music (Academy of Music) in Gdańsk, from where she graduated with honours in 1973. She then continued her studies at the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in 1974-75 in Vienna under Alexander Jenner. She perfected her skills by attending masterclasses run by Susanne Roche, Dieter Zechlin and Georgy Sebok.
She won first prize at the 4th Polish Festival of Young Musicians in Gdańsk (1974). She got to the semi-finals of the International Chopin Competition in Warsaw (1975), the Piano Competition in Terni in Italy (1975), and the ARD Piano Competition in Munich (1978).
And there it is, Popova-Zydroń didn't make it to the finals of the Chopin Competition, and she was the only intelligent, thinking Polish female pianist, playing not only at her teachers' bidding.
– wrote Piotr Wierzbicki after the Chopin Competition
Katarzyna Popowa-Zydroń has given concerts in nearly all Polish Philharmonic Halls under the baton of conductors such as Jerzy Katlewicz, Krzysztof Missona, and Wojciech Michniewski, as well as abroad, – in Germany, the Czech Republic, Russia, Bulgaria, Austria and Japan. She plays pieces ranging from Baroque to the music of the 20th century, with a special emphasis on Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Chopin, Debussy, and Bartók. She has also given several premiere performances of Polish contemporary works such as the 4th Piano Concert by Konrad Pałubicki with the Polish Baltic Philharmonic Orchestra under Wojciech Czepiel.
I was at a concert of Grigory Sokolov in Duszniki. He finished playing, fantastic, wonderful, he stood up and began to bow to the audience, still a little absent-minded. I felt stupid. What a bizarre ritual – I thought – that we sit sprawled in chairs, and the artist bows. For God's sake, we should stand up and bow to him.
– said Popova-Zydroń to Teresa Torańska.
As a chamber musician, she has performed with violinists – Krystyna Jurecka, Henryk Keszkowki, cellist – Małgorzata Kuziemska-Sławek and also singers such as Urszula Kryger, Piotr Kusiewicz, and Florian Skulski. She performed piano duets between 1979-83 with Jan Kulesza and between 1985-92 with Waldemar Wojtal. She has made numerous recordings for the Polish Radio archives (Pałubicki), the record company Accord in France (Julisz Zarębski) and the state television centre in Gdańsk (Chopin, Ferenc Liszt).
Katarzyna (Ekaterina) Popowa-Zydroń has been a teacher since 1970. At present she is a professor of piano at the Academy of Music in Gdansk and in Bydgoszcz (in 1995-96 she was also head of the Piano Department). Among her students are: Agata Nowakowska (3rd prize in the Ferenc Liszt Piano Competition in Wrocław in 1997), Katarzyna Borek (3rd prize at the Ignacy Jan Padereweski International Competition in Bydgoszcz in 1998), Marek Ruszczynski (3rd prize at the 3rd International Piano Competition in Andorra), Julia Stetkiewicz (3rd prize at the International Chopin Competition in Warsaw in 1998), Jarosław Kaliski (prize at the International Piano Competition in Bremen in 2005), Karolina Nadolska (Prizewinner of Chopin Competition in Marianskie Laznie in 2003), Rafal Blechacz (In October 2005 he unanimously won the 15th International Frederic Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw), Mischa Kozłowski (1st prize at the International Chopin Competition in Narew in 2006).
Moreover, she holds masterclasses, seminars and consultancies in Poland and abroad (for example, in Kitakyūshū Music Academy in Japan). She watches over gifted students studying in State Music Schools in Gdańsk, Toruń, Łódź, Poznań, Piła, Konin, Słupsk and Koszalin in classes and at periodical consultations. She collaborates with the Centre of Artistic Education in Warsaw. She has been a jury member for several Polish and foreign competitions.
She is the co-founder of the Gdańsk Society of Music Lovers (1996), which organizes the 'Musica nos unit' International Chamber Music Festival.
For her social activities, she has received the Duke Mściwoj Medal (1999), Medal of the Commission for National Education (2004), Medal for Merit to Culture – Gloria Artis (2005) and the Order of Polonia Restituta's Officer's Cross (2005) as well as the Minister of Culture and Art three times (1983, 1991, 1996).
The artist’s website: www.popowa-zydron.net
Author: Małgorzata Kosińska, the Polish Music Information Center, Polish Composers' Union, November 2007, update: July 2010, Translated by: Zuzanna Wiśniewska, August 2015