The Fryderyk Chopin Society
Local Branch in Gdańsk
ul. Gnilna 3
The Society’s Local Branch in Gdańsk was established in the early 1950s thanks to the efforts of prominent members of the Tri City’s (Gdańsk, Gdynia, Sopot) music community committed to preserving Polish national heritage, of which the music of Fryderyk Chopin is part.
The founder of the Gdańsk Branch is Prof. Tomasz Szyfers, a teacher in a Gdynia music school. For ten years he and his wife ran the Branch. After that the Branch was relocated to Gdańsk where, until 2001, its consecutive presidents were teachers from a local secondary school of music:
Since 2001 president of the Society’s Gdańsk Branch has been Olga Walentynowicz
The directors of the above-mentioned schools have been very supportive. The administrative staff and teachers of the Gdańsk music school are always eager to offer help and assistance. Memberhip of the Gdańsk Branch mainly comprises teachers and students of the Tri City’s Music Academies.
The Chopin Society’s Gdańsk Branch commenced its activity by organising a competition for juniors testing their knowledge of the life and work of Chopin and of the interpretive tradition of his music. With time it was possible to organise concerts. Currently the Gdańsk Branch through the concerts it holds contributes in a significant way to the development of the Tri City’s musical culture.
A breakthrough in the Branch’s activity was the agreement it signed in 1998 with the Baltic Sea Culture Centre in Gdańsk, under which it could organise concerts in the renaissance Old Town Hall. In its Burgher Room, which doubles as a concert room, stands a new Steinway piano donated to the City of Gdańsk by a Polish lawyer living in Hamburg, Wincenty Broniwoj-Orliński. The Gdańsk Branch organises 10-12 concerts annually. The concerts (chamber music, recitals) are immensely popular with the people of the Tri City.
The artists who have appeared in the concerts:
- Music Academy professors – laureates of international piano competitions: Bogdan Czapiewski, Andrzej Jasiński, Bronisława Kawalla, Bogdan Kułakowski, Waldemar Wojtal and others;
- laureates of the International Chopin Piano Competitions in Warsaw: Halina Czerny-Stefańska, Philippe Giusiano (France), Jerzy Godziszewski, Barbara Hesse-Bukowska, Eugene Indjic (USA/France), Krzysztof Jabłoński, Ewa Pobłocka, Katarzyna Popowa-Zydroń;
- great individualities of the Chopin Competitions in Warsaw: Valentina Igoshina, Wojciech Świtała, Elżbieta Tarnawska;
- pianists who won honorary mentions at the 15th Chopin Competition: Jacek Kortus, Rieko Nezu;
- laureates of the Polish National Chopin Piano Competition, recipients of TiFC scholarships: Artur Pacewicz, Małgorzata Walentynowicz, Sławomir Wilk;
- laureates of other renowned piano competitions: Katarzyna Borek, Stanisław Drzewiecki, Rafał Łuszczewski;
- world-famous virtuosi: Bożena Harasimowicz-Haas (soprano), Konstanty Andrzej Kulka (violin), Roman Jabłoński (cello), Rafał Kwiatkowski (cello), Katarzyna Ewald-Alemany (cello)
The Gdańsk Branch is committed to promoting outstanding students of local music schools and talented young musicians, including Music Academy graduates attending post-graduate courses abroad. 2005 saw already the 7th Chamber Music Festival. Each time some 30-40 young musicians from Gdańsk take part in this two-day event. Another interesting project is The Young Musicians’ Stage. Under the project soloists and chamber ensembles give concerts called In Chopin’s Footsteps in places outside Gdańsk, e.g. Waplewo near Malbork. Some concerts are combined with a recreational programme (Kwidzyń, Gniew). This activity has resulted in the introduction of Chopin’s music into music school curricula. This has significantly raised the performance level of the Chopin Music Concerts by young pianists.
Since the 8th International Chopin Piano Competition in 1970 members of the Tri City’s musical community have been able to buy, on a subscription basis, tickets for competition auditions through the agency of the Gdańsk Branch Board.
In the fifty years of our activity we have aimed at bringing Chopin’s music to as many music lovers as possible. This ambitious task is possible because projects developed by our Branch have successfully competed for funds at annual grant competitions held by the Gdańsk City Office. We have implemented these projects in association with the Baltic Sea Culture Centre, the Stanisław Moniuszko Academy of Music in Gdańsk, a secondary school of music in Gdańsk, the music school complex in Gdańsk-Wrzeszcz and the Gdańsk Military School of Music.