TADEUSZ SZELIGOWSKI (1896 - 1963)
Tadeusz Szeligowski was born on 13th September, 1896 in Lwów (Lvov), a Polish town in Galicia, at that time under Austrian control. Lwów’s musical scene included a city opera known for high level presentations of the current repertoire (Verdi, Wagner), a symphony orchestra, the Music Society of Galicia as well as a conservatory of music. Leading musicians of the time such as Oscar Nedbal or Felix Weingartner frequently performed there.
Szeligowski’s first music and piano teacher was his mother. Later he attended the Lwów Conservatory and studied the piano under Vilem Kurz. Szeligowski’s further education included studies of law at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków (Cracow), where in 1922, he received the Doctoral Degree in that discipline. While in Kraków, he also studied musicology as well as composition with the well-known composer Bolesław Wallek-Wallewski. He found work as a repetiteur at the Kraków Opera and became familiar with operatic repertoire.
In 1923 he moved to Wilno (Vilnus), where he practised law and became involved in the musical life of the town. He worked closely with Reduta, a noted dramatic theatre, and composed music for several of its productions. At that time he also met Karol Szymanowski and became an admirer of his art. His experiences in Wilno made him decide to further his musical studies. Between 1929 and 1931 he lived in Paris and worked under the guidance of Nadia Boulanger and Paul Dukas. Szeligowski’s musical talent was noted by Boulanger and further developed by his immersion in the musical life of the French capital. He met there leading European composers such as Enesco, Honegger and Prokofiev, and experienced at first hand the latest compositions of Milhaud and Poulenc, ballet productions of Dyagilev’s famous company, as well as performances by Horowitz, Rubinstein, Heifetz, Paderewski and Toscanini. He became well acquainted with all the newest trends in European music, developing his compositional craft and a new sensivity to orchestral colour and the art of orchestration. His Paris compositional début with Zielone pieśni (Green Songs) was very well received.
Upon his return to Poland in 1931, Szeligowski decided to fully devote himself to music and composing. After a short period of work at the Poznan´ Conservatory he moved back to Wilno, where he taught at the local music school. After World War II and a short stay in Lublin, he settled in Poznan´, one of the leading musical centres of post-war Poland. In 1947, he was instrumental in the formation of the Poznan´ Philharmonic and between 1947 and 1949 served as its first director. From 1950 Szeligowski taught composition at the Poznań Conservatory (Państwowa Wyzsza Szkoła Muzyczna) and one year later also joined the faculty of the Warsaw Chopin Conservatory. Between 1951 and 1954 he was head of the Polish Society of Composers. His other significant achievements included the founding of the Poznań Musical Spring, an important festival of contemporary music, and bringing to Poznań the International H. Wieniawski Violin Competition. Tadeusz Szeligowski died on 10th January, 1963.