Aleksander Wielhorski - biography
Aleksander Wielhorski, a Polish pianist and composer, was born on 26 November 1890 in Zlobycze (Volhynia region), and died on 19 October 1952 in Bialystok. His first music lessons took place in Zytomierz. In later years, he studied law in Kiev, and in 1911 he commenced music studies at the Moscow Conservatory. Here he studied piano under Konstantin Igumnov and composition under Sergei Taneyev. It was then that he became known as an exquisite pianist and the author of a few published piano compositions. He completed the conservatory studies in 1913 being called "a liberated artist". Soon afterwards, he went on concert tours to Paris and London, "entrancing the audience with his deep, emotional playing". In 1914, on the invitation from Józef Hofmann, Wielhorski left for the United States to master piano playing under him. In 1919, he took up the position of a piano department professor at The Fryderyk Chopin School of Music in Warsaw. From 1929 to 1939 he also taught at the Warsaw Conservatory. Between the World Wars, he frequently performed in Polish towns and remote places, where he was involved in events organized by Ruch Muzyczny (the Music Movement). He took great pleasure in playing the Chopin Andante spianato and the Grande polonaise in E flat major, often juxtaposing this piece with his own composition Polish Fantasy, Op. 10. During World War II he gave underground concerts and taught at the Staatliche Musikschule in Warschau controlled by the Nazis. He was once captured by Gestapo, but later released. In 1946 he went on tour of the United States. After one of his performances a critic of The Chicago Sun wrote: "he is one of the greatest Polish musicians. The pianist manages an excellent technique, and performs the pieces requiring subtlety and poetry in an enchanting and singing manner. Wielhorski exhibited outstanding interpretations of Szymanowski's Preludes and Chopin's Mazurkas. His own pieces have a great deal of subtlety and glamour." Upon his return from the USA he took up the position of a professor of the general piano class at the The Higher State School of Music in Warsaw (today the Fryderyk Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw). His repertoire included almost all works by Chopin and many pieces by Polish composers, which he strove to promote. He would always end his recitals with a composition by Chopin, claiming that only they could give the right climax to his performance. He valued most his recitals at Zelazowa Wola, Chopin's birthplace. He wrote articles on Polish music, trying to attract attention to its interesting qualities. He composed over 60 opuses, comprising symphonic and chamber pieces, as well as pieces for voice (choir and solo songs) and piano. Unfortunately, a part of them was lost to fire during the Warsaw Uprising. For educational purposes, he edited and published several dozen pieces by various composers. One of his pupils was Bolesław Woytowicz.