Józef Pitoń is a dancer, singer, storyteller, and populariser of Gorol (editor’s note: Polish highlander) folklore. He won the Kolberg Prize in 2004.
He was born in 1932 in Kościelisko into a traditional Gorol family. He graduated from primary school there, then from high school in Zakopane before studying in Kraków. He was fascinated by Gorol tradition and folklore from his childhood – dance, music, singing and dialect – and he passed on his artistic sensitivity, love for and attachment to Podhale region’s culture, nature and people to younger generations. He has been active in the amateur folklore movement since 1952 in regional artistic groups: initially in Kościelisko and Kraków (he was a co-founder of the Skalni song and dance ensemble). From 1967 to 1997, he was a member of the Klimek Bachleda band, which operates in the Podhale region in Zakopane. From 1970 onwards, he was also its artistic director. He also taught dance and singing in the Bartus Obrochta ensemble in Zakopane and at summer folklore courses for the Polish community in Lublin, Opole, Nowy Sącz, and Sanok. He taught dance, singing and dialect to the France-based groups Karliki and Wieliczka. For two years he performed in a Gorol music band in Chicago.
Józef Pitoń is considered to be one of the best raconteurs of the Podhale region. Since the 1960s, he has conducted talks at camps, schools and boarding houses. Since 1969, he has participated in ‘Sabałowe Bajanie’ in Bukowina Tatrzańska, where he won 20 main awards. Many of his tales have been published in print, for example, Moje Bajdy (My Tales), Naski Świat (Our World), Holni Ludzie (Holny People), and Roki Lecom (The Years Pass).
For many years, he has been a juror for dialect contests, reviews of regional groups, and Gorol and brigand dance contests held during the Gorol Carnival in Bukowina Tatrzańska, as well as during the Żywiec Festival and the International Folklore Festival of the Mountain Lands in Zakopane.
In 1976 he won the main prize in the National Traditional Folk Dance Competition in Rzeszów. The Klimek Bachleda ensemble led by Józef Pitoń was awarded the Oskar Kolberg Prize in 1976.
Józef Pitoń has been an active participant in the artistic community of the Podhale region since 1957. He has won numerous awards during his many years of artistic and popularising activity (among others, he received the titles of ‘Meritorious for the Land of Kraków’, and ‘Meritorious for the City of Zakopane’, the Award of the Minister of Culture and four Golden Ciupagas (Golden Shepherd’s Axes) at the MFFZG in Zakopane).
Article from www.nagrodakolberg.pl., translated into English by P. Grabowski, May 2020