Andrzej Krzanowski, the third child of Emilia and Karol Krzanowski, is born in a hospital in Bielsko-Biała. Together with his two sisters, Jadwiga (1938) and Małgorzata (1947), he grew up in a house at ul. Żeromskiego 30 in Czechowice-Dziedzice.
Andrzej Krzanowski's parents – Emilia & Karol Krzanowski, image: family archives
View of Dziedzice (1950s), photo courtesy of Czechowice-Dziedzice Regional Chamber archives
Andrzej Krzanowski's family house, image: family archives
In the family, he was raised to be a priest. Until the last grade (high school graduation), it seemed that he would become one. He was a very dutiful altar boy. The accordion goes back to the orchestra founded in his elementary school by Mr. Brandys. Andrzej was very passionate about it and took additional tutoring with the Szwed family. After three months, he went through the entire coursebook material. Apparently, the organ players from Czechowice were relatives of our family. Perhaps this was the reason why Andrzej was so closely bound up with music.
I grew up in a small town with only two music teachers - one taught the violin and the other the accordion. I dreamed of becoming an accordionist.
[…] He was a boy just like the others. Lively and cheerful, kind and affectionate, very emotional and gentle in interactions. He studied well. He was a good friend […] Andrzej loved his accordion. He never refused to play at school and scout parties [...] His bond with the class teacher was not severed after graduation. He would come, share his successes, invite him to the academy's auditorium for his recitals ... Andrzej did not let his successes go to his head.
Characterized by eternal serenity and sincere cordiality in contacts with the people he met on his way, he drew his creative inspiration from the beauty of the surrounding world, and he tried to complement each musical statement with an expressionist idiom of poetics ...
For Krzanowski, who started his musical education by learning to play the accordion, this instrument became the subject of his first creative explorations and discoveries; allowing him to shape a world of sonic imaginations in a young, rapidly maturing talent whose creative passion led to the absolute pinnacle of his art and overcame stereotypes, his instrument gaining a new prestige in concert, solo and chamber music.
Krzanowski's interest in sound, its specificity, timbre and duration manifested itself before his studies, during his schooling. The first compositional samples showed the hallmarks of his later stylistics and the treatment of sound or their complexities as a different kind of continuum of continuous or repetitive sounds with fluctuating dynamics.
He started his work with sketches, creating the sound material and main motifs. He wrote quickly, the score was complete right away – with markings, arches, dynamics ... He wrote by hand, of course, and he heard the music within himself – computers were not the basic tool of that time. Different sizes of sheet music, a dozen pencils, a sharpener, good erasers and black pens were always within easy reach.
Henryk Mikołaj Górecki was for Andrzej a great authority and a great composer. Classes often took the form of long conversations about music, literature, art and life. Górecki allowed Andrzej true freedom in his creative activities, did not change them according to his own concept, and often did not even see the currently written score. But due to his strong and charismatic personality, he was a true master for Andrzej, leading him on the path towards truth, independence and honesty.
The accordion influenced my approach to sound. For sound as a continuous phenomenon that can be animated by appropriate technical means.
I am a child raised on television and radio. I browse through lots of poetry, which I sort according to my impressions. As I read, I can already hear certain specific pieces of music that should harmonize with this poetry. I put the text on an equal footing with the music.
Krzanowski was inspired by the sounds of the world around him: the timbre in which he grew up and which became the hallmark of his music. I'll tell you what it came from. Andrzej lived in Czechowice-Dziedzice. When I came to it for the first time, I was struck by the acoustics and the "chatter" of this small town. In the evenings, when it was already very quiet, I heard the prolonged whistles of the locomotives. The sirens of the refineries also rang out frequently, announcing the time of the second or third shift, sometimes a fire or other danger. Andrzej was soaking this "music" up since he was a child. He lived close to a refinery, close to a train station, an ambulance and a church. The sounds of alarms, bells and sirens "entered" him in a natural way.
Andrzej was open to such the avant-garde that could enrich his musical language, mainly concerning sound and timbre. The use of unconventional instruments such as sirens, flexatons, metal pipes, whistles or the use of e.g. extreme registers was not invented by him, of course, but was an important feature of his work.
My interest in music is by no means collective. There was no need to establish any "joint-stock company", any union in a relationship, only common interests, discussions. It was enough for us.
We were classmates. In Stalowa Wola, with some invisible thread, Krzysztof Droba wove us into a generation and it turned out that there are certain features of our work that made it possible to gather completely different artistic personalities into one group.
We all must have a master, and probably do. I loved Górecki's music, hence some of my technical and technical tricks, but I always tried to make it possible to subscribe to it, so I would not be called "the little Górecki", but be Krzanowski. From Lutosławski, I learned how to use the orchestra and chamber ensembles, but in a more watchmaking manner. I believe that we first must discover quantity, and then find some sort of individual path.
Through perhaps conscious psychological and social process of composing music for the accordion by Krzanowski, which was, after all, an instrument previously absent from the canon of European music, the composer broke through certain aesthetic barriers. There are no bad instruments. That was what Mozart could have said when he played the clarinet in the orchestra. After all, it was a folk instrument at that time. We all think with colors at the very beginning, from the cradle. And this accordion timbre is great when such an accordion master as Andrzej Krzanowski gets his hands on it ...
Music played a special role in Andrzej's family: musical values were intertwined with families in an inseparable knot. With the Krzanowski family, everything was family-musical as well as music-family. [...] In times of crisis, as well as art and family, the figure and work of Andrzej radiate with some enormous good. An artist and a man who - against the times - created music with love and created a loving family.
Andrzej Krzanowski, from the first years of his composing activity, strove to create his own "musical world". He used the achievements of the past and combined them with his own ideas, which he often "absorbed" from the world around him.
He was a visionary who certainly did not compromise in music. He gave off the impression of being a man who creates regardless of the surrounding reality, regardless of whether the work has a quick chance to materialize in the form of execution or not.
Krzanowski penetrated, enriched, broadened, (...) brought out new tonal, articulation and expression possibilities, and the critics emphasized this, discussed it, desiring to get away from the accordion using this accordion, informing, for example, that this accordion is used by Krzanowski to depict whether he imitated the poetics of electronic music. And Krzanowski, instead of treating it as an episode, a stage, highlighted accent (it would then be politically correct), he built his world out of it and around it (which could cause anxiety). He was eminently romantic in action.
Krzanowski (...) creates poetry from his music; (...) he fills his music with poetry, saturates it just as he fills poetry with his music. In its romanticism, Krzanowski's music is deep, warm and touching at the same time.
Anything that would not be forgiven at that time in Darmstadt (from 1984 he taught the accordion class at the Summer Courses for New Music there), during the famous festival.
First there was Andrzej - a cordial, warm man who thinks seriously about music. Only then did I get to know his music, which also turned out to be close to me. I said that I was looking for an antidote to post-serialism, to music dehumanized by Darmstadt, and here by Schaeffer. And Andrzej's work was such an antidote for me. It was a world of sounds (often new, such as the original spaces of accordion sounds) in the service of emotions and expression; dramatic, lyrical, always – something one could feel - honest.
When one looks at the list of Andrzej Krzanowski's works, the density and intensity of his scope are impressive. Symphonies, quartets, choral pieces, multimedia rehearsals, computer music are proof of its multiple possibilities, but accordion pieces - solo, chamber, in various sets and configurations, filling the space, ranging from virtuoso to those intended for children, indicate the field that Andrzej Krzanowski has chosen to practice. In this stubborn cultivation, he was representative of craftsmen, in the best sense of the word, e.g. of the Baroque period, who treated their profession as a task to be fulfilled, as a service to those who needed this activity.
He was undoubtedly an original music poet. He had a poetic kindness towards the world and people, tinged with a haze of melancholy, and at the same time cheerful - although he was certainly not an eccentric in the style of fin de siecle poets or rebellious, depressed existentialists.
All these more or less refined forms, more or less innovative compositional means served Andrzej Krzanowski to achieve the overarching goal: to influence the listener as much as possible, to convey emotions and reflection on life and passing, to move him or her.
You who never want to listen to me / Lower your foreheads when I start dying / In the gates of the grave I will forgive you everything / Even those wounds that do not want to sleep / You who do not want to see me anywhere / Open your eyes when I will start to leave / Because I leave the sources so clean / That only in death will you understand their brightness
Photos to Download
Andrzej Krzanowski at Trzcianka, 1976, archiwum rodzinne / family archive
Grażyna and Andrzej Krzanowski at the Music Encounters in Baranów Sandomierski, initiaded by Andrzej Chłopecki, 1978, Wacław Pintal
Andrzej Krzanowski (1), Julian Gembalski
Andrzej Krzanowski (2), Julian Gembalski
Young Andrzej in Czechowice-Dziedzice, archiwum rodzinne / family archive