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Grażyna Bacewicz

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Grażyna Bacewicz (1909-1969) was a composer with an individual, expressive style. She was also an excellent violinist, a very fine pianist, and a talented author. She studied composition at the Conservatory in Warsaw with Kazimierz Sikorski, violin with Józef Jarzębski and piano with Józef Turczynski. Graduating in 1932, she travelled to Paris to study with Nadia Boulanger, later returning there to work with Carl Flesch. Her compositional output covered many genres, from ballets to songs and choral works, but also ranging from symphonies, concerti, and chamber works to pieces for solo piano. In 1936 she became principal violinist in the Polish Radio Orchestra. She then toured Europe as a soloist in the two years leading up to World War II, later resuming her career as a concert violinist and pianist after the war. For many years, Grażyna Bacewicz held the post of Vice-President of the Union of Polish Composers. She also served as a judge in many prestigious international music competitions. Strong and sensitive, and exceptionally family oriented, Grażyna Bacewicz was also blessed with unusual charm, phenomenal energy and huge creative potential.

Grażyna Bacewicz became world famous and won numerous prizes for her compositions, which were regularly performed by the best musicians, and picked up for publication. She received enthusiastic reviews from music critics, among them Stefan Kisielewski, who noted the ‘passionate ferocity’ of her playing and described her concerto for string orchestra as ‘a rare piece of healthy and tasty music’.

This biographical story, based in large measure on letters and other family documents, has been brought to us first hand by the composer’s grand-daughter, the writer Joanna Sendłak.

Published: Oct 1, 2024


Section Chapter Authors
Early Life
1. Łódź Joanna Sendłak
Student Life
2. Warsaw Joanna Sendłak
3. Paris Joanna Sendłak
Professional Life
4. Belgium Joanna Sendłak
5. Return to Paris Joanna Sendłak
6. Russia Joanna Sendłak
7. India Joanna Sendłak
End Matter
Chronological History of Life and Work Joanna Sendłak
Selected Works Joanna Sendłak
References Joanna Sendłak
Further Reading Joanna Sendłak
Index of Names Joanna Sendłak