About Andrzej Krzanowski

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About Andrzej

About Andrzej

Andrzej Chłopecki, Program publication 63. International Warsaw Autumn Festival of Contemporary Music 2000

… When we look through the list of works by Andrzej Krzanowski, we end up impressed by the richness and intensity of the way he worked in his field. Symphonies, quartets, choral pieces, multimedia experiments, computer music – all these are proof of his diverse skills, though his accordion pieces – solo, chamber, in all sorts of arrangements and configurations, fill spaces starting with the virtuoso works all the way through to those written with children in mind point to the realm Andrzej Krzanowski chose for himself to operate in. In the resolute, stubborn process of becoming a baroque-era craftsman – in the best sense of this word's meaning – treating his mission as a challenge to be met, as a service to those who needed his creations. This was in an obvious way a romantic notion, regardless of how constantly he was becoming swamped by new commissions. In the 1980s, Andrzej Krzanowski travelled through Spain, France, Germany and Italy all the way to Japan, ever returning to his hometown of Czechowice-Dziedzice – another paradoxically romantic aspect of his personality.


Christine Kohler, statement recorded at a Seminar during the VII Alkagran 1997 Autumn Festival of Contemporary Music

As a student of the accordion, I was lucky enough to meet Andrzej Krzanowski at various courses and seminars. It was during an accordion playing course taking place in France in 1988 that I had the opportunity to work with Andrzej Krzanowski, someone who opened before me the gates to a new world of contemporary accordion music, using new techniques previously unknown to me. Up until then, my knowledge of accordion literature was limited to French, Russian and Scandinavian music. Polish accordion music of the 20th century was a brand new discovery for me. During these sessions, I discovered new accordion literatures. Andrzej Krzanowski then showed me his works and went to great lengths to explain the way they could be interpreted and performed. This was a remarkably fascinating experience. My interest in his music was so vast, that Andrzej Krzanowski invited me to come to Poland a year later. We became friends and I got to know both Andrzej and Grazyna, along with their wonderful family. 

His premature death came to me as a terrible shock. Perhaps it was his death which caused me to precisely learn Andrzej Krzanowski's music, then do something to honour his legacy. I moved to Poland for a year to study 20th century music and write a thesis about Andrzej's life. Intrigued by his music, I devoted a sizeable part of my work to him. Each analysis of his works was for me exceptional, allowing me to discover new ways of playing, studying the instrument and sound itself. Music that was in turn static and dynamic, always concealing a huge emotional payload. Andrzej Krzanowski's accordion pieces made wonderful use of the sound capabilities of clusters creating unique spacial moods which gave off the impression that some parts of the pieces were infinite. The path I have chosen in life is thanks to my meeting Andrzej Krzanowski. It was only thanks to his delicacy and openness that I caught the musical bug, my eyes wide open to vast regions previously completely unknown to me, all the things I had yet to discover.

            Perhaps it was his personality, his incredible gentleness which caused his music for me to always be something close to my heart, and Andrzej Krzanowski will for me be a model of a tutor patiently explaining to his students the uncharted worlds of music.


Paweł Szymański, statement recorded at a Seminar during the VII Alkagran 1997 Autumn Festival of Contemporary Music


I think we are still searching for ways to verbalise and classify that which is taking place. Perhaps it is the only way to approach an understanding of the phenomena surrounding us. In culture, these appear as the sorts of individual works and composing individualities which always evade attempts at classification. These are the phenomena which are the most mysterious and valuable to me. I think this is the case with Andrzej Krzanowski's works. As far as I remember, in 1983 in Krakow the words New Romanticism were uttered during a seminar. This was then assigned wholesale to a new generation which did not necessary fit this label. As to Andrzej Krzanowski, this in some sense applies. In terms of the Stalowowolska Generation, Andrzej was perhaps a composer who was less inspired by the avant-garde, the least likely to go searching for new sounds, new textures and unconventional playing styles. While this anti avant-garde attitude is visible in the works of the likes of Eugeniusz Knapik, in Andrzej's case this was never clear cut. And so here this classification once again slips from our grasp and no easy key can be found with which to access it. This is why I think it will always fascinate, trouble and provoke.


Magdalena Makaruk, statement recorded during a Seminar at the VII Alkagran 1997 Autumn Festival of Contemporary Music.

I met Andrzej Krzanowski during my studies. He was a friend who was a little younger than I. Years later, when I was working as a music editor for television, and he became the head of the Katowice section of ZKP, we met on a professional basis. In my opinion, he did a lot for the Silesian composers' community, especially for young composers. He had a wonderful and charming way of being, a gift for bringing people together, for securing their sympathy. Andrzej was not self-centred, keen to help young composers in reaching a wider audience with their work. This is why I believe this aspect of his activities should not be overlooked.


Ryszard Gabryś, introduction to a concert given in honour of Andrzej Krzanowski, Katowice, 26 10 2010

… He was a composer of truly highest European rank, an original representative, although informal, of a collective which was evidently present on the cultural map of the region and Poland – known as Generation 1951 or else the New Silesian Wave and the Stalowowolska Generation, named after the town where music festivals were hosted which allowed this group to emerge. Krzanowski emerges from this group not just with his remarkable accordion compositions, an instrument he managed to perfectly command as a concert performing artist and who discovered its sonorous sound qualities – which is why he was dubbed the Chopin of the accordion! Yet he was also involved in daring and aesthetically innovative multimedia explorations, series of his poetic Programmes, compositions designed for remarkable ensembles, his series of Reliefs, three remarkably pronounced string quartets and other chamber pieces, as well as symphonics. He died suddenly, unexpectedly twenty years ago – on 1 October, the International Day of Music. Chopin's name was once more used as a point of comparison. Andrzej Krzanowski and Frederic Chopin are bound by canon of artistic and didactic accordion literature and one more thing: a death so early and so painful. Both died at age of 39, even so Andrzej Krzanowski's achievements fascinate not only with the wealth of musical solutions, but with the very number of opuses – numbering some 120! He was closely tied to his region, his community, lecturing as an associate professor at the Katowice Academy of Music – where he composed, but was also intensively active: he lived a short life, though it was allegro con vigore. There is much to say and remember, yet I will end by stating that he truly lives on in our memories and still influences the rhythms of musical life in Poland, by being the patron of composing and accordion competitions named after him, and having his works featured, sometimes as obligatory pieces, in other peforming competitions.



Marek Andrysek

I often wonder who I would be today if it was not for Andrzej Krzanowski. Through the accordion, I flirt with his music, something I have been doing since early childhood. It is better when elegant sound matter surrenders to my interpretations, allowing me to feel fulfilment as an artist,  while kind audiences, filled with positive experiences, appreciates the charm of this music by applauding. What is less good is when the instrument does not listen to me, and I fail to understand the contents of some composition, being of the impression that I have made a terrible misalliance aspiring to become a member of the performers of a very elite, often difficult perception of creativity.

Well – aware of my subservient role as a performer – I do not surrender. Filled with focus for a composer I admire all his works – not just for accordion. They prove that it is possible to create music which is not pompous, but is honest, always awakening emotions. We owe Andrzej Krzanowski a debt of gratitude that he leaves behind so much though he never wanted anything in return. He never had time to enjoy what he created. So many of his works were premiered after his death and there are those which are still to be performed. He was a visionary who certainly did not accept compromises in his music. He gave the impression of being a man who creates regardless of what was happening around him, without minding whether his works would quickly be performed or not. I love this body of work, because it is thanks to him that I can play music which is real, which was not made for fame or money or cunning. In today's wild, commercialised world it seems to be one of the few, peaceful harbours.


Stanisław Krupowicz

I did not know Andrzej Krzanowski all too well. Before we met for the first ever time at the airport in Okecie on the way to Glasgow – which was in November 1988 – I knew a few of his compositions. Obviously this included those for the accordion, as well as his Programmes and a few orchestral pieces. I was most interested in his accordion compositions. They allowed me to realise that this instrument when properly used – which is always the case with Andrzej's works – can be an excellent partner for electro-acoustic sounds. This new and very modern sound, with the flexibility so characteristic of the accordion, is in many ways more interesting than the sounds offered by synthesizers of the time. Unfortunately, although I composed a lot of electro-acoustic works, I have not yet made full use of Andrzej's experiences of the time. But I will use them in the future. Programmes is certainly exceptional in Andrzej Krzanowski's body of work. Referring to radio broadcast genres, being a blend of radio play and radio theater with a dominant music component, they represent an original form of programmed music. Krzanowski includes the works of contemporary Polish poets, frequently containing strong political statements. The figure of the narrator (actor) is the dominant semantic element here, and the accompanying music decidedly goes beyond illustrative music, in culminating parts taking to the foreground. It is these fragments along with symphonic works which show technical mastery of Andrzej Krzanowski's compositional skills. 

            It takes a whole day to get to Glasgow. First by plane to London, and then a whole day on the train almost. This long journey was a chance for us to exchange a lot of ideas about things which interested us both. I remember his very animated, emotional and direct attitude to composing. I had the impression that my rather formalistic conceptions did not arouse in him much enthusiasm. Once we reached Glasgow, we became witnesses to premiere performances of our compositions commissioned by Third Eye Centre and developed by the Studio of Computerised Music at the University of Glasgow. Relief IX by Andrzej – for it is this work I am talking about – is as far as I know his first work using a tape generated by computer. And though he limited the use of computer to MIDI, this is a very interesting piece. The public thought so too. An interesting coincidence is the fact that Tylko Beatrycze – my composition performed during the same concert – is closest of all my works in terms of convention to Andrzej Krzanowski's Programme series. As we were saying goodbye in Glasgow (I extended my stay there by a few days), we arranged to continue our train conversation at a later date. We never managed to do it in time. I retain recollections of mere crumbs of that unfinished conversation... and his music.


Marcin Bortnowski, Andrzej Krzanowski – reflections

Andrzej Krzanowski's music has been with me for 30 years now. I encountered it when I was a child while I was learning to play the accordion – an instrument Andrzej Krzanowski brought into the realm of “high art”. It was that music which almost from the very start was for me a way I followed “deep inside”, and so where our world becomes the Universe, and reality Endurance.

A real shock and discovery of music anew for me was hearing the live radio broadcast of the Festival Poznańska Wiosna in 1989, when the Silesian Quartet performed III String Quartet by Andrzej Krzanowski. I couldn't understand that music then at all, but I felt it very deeply and it marked me in a way which lasts until today. 

Andrzej Krzanowski's music has been in me for 25 years and any time I wonder what makes it so powerful only very powerful words come to mind. Because it is not compositional technique, nor musical language innovation, nor the musical devices used, not all that which a composer must do to compose a work which define Andrzej Krzanowski's oeuvre. The power of his music is in its authenticity, its uncompromising quality and TRUTH which the composer was not ashamed or afraid of. This “great marine silence of the soul” which caused the world of Andrzej Krzanowski's music has been close to my heart for so long that its roots have grown ddep into me. But we must remember that in these roots there is a lot of what was “before” and what is “besides”. The full complement of sound is in it.

            Even if today for many these values are unimportant, and in music what matters is passing fads, which attract with that which is “new”, in two hundred years TRUTH will be the same as yesterday and today, and people will still long for that “great marine silence of the soul”. It will still “be present though so very distant” and it will be found in Andrzej Krzanowski's music.
            If only they dare.


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Dofinansowano ze środków Ministra Kultury, Dziedzictwa Narodowego i Sportu
pochodzących z Funduszu Promocji Kultury – państwowego funduszu celowego,
w ramach programu „Muzyka”, realizowanego przez Narodowy Instytut Muzyki i Tańca.