Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra concert set for Wednesday

October 24, 2004

The Warsaw Philharmonic, the National Orchestra of Poland and one of Europe's most prestigious orchestras, will perform Wednesday at Centre College.

The first musical performance of the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra took place Nov. 5, 1901, in the newly-opened Philharmonic Hall. The artistic director and principal conductor of the Philharmonic Orchestra, Emil Mynarski, conducted this inaugural concert. The soloist was the world-renowned pianist, composer and future statesman Ignacy Jan Paderewski. The program of this historic concert included Paderewski's Piano Concerto in A minor and works of other Polish composers, such as Chopin, Moniuszko, Noskowski, Stojowski and Eleski.

The first three International Chopin Piano Competitions (1927, 1932, 1937), in which the orchestra participated, were held in the hall, as well as the first International Wieniawski Violin Competition (1935) and the first Public Festival of Polish Arts (1937). Those events showed Warsaw's active participation in European musical life.

After 38 uninterrupted years of prosperity, the outbreak of World War II brought a temporary halt to the activities of the Philharmonic. The concert hall was bombed and partially burnt in the first days of September 1939, and completely destroyed by the end of the war. The orchestra lost 39 of its 71 players.


On Feb. 21, 1955, the rebuilt Philharmonic Hall in Jasna Street was re-opened, with a large hall of over 1,000 seats and a 433-seat hall for chamber music. On that day, the Warsaw Philharmonic received the title of the National Philharmonic of Poland. This represented the stature that the Philharmonic had achieved in Poland as the leading institution of its kind in the country. It also provided new opportunities and challenges for the future.

As of January 2002, Antoni Wit has taken over the position of the general and artistic director of Warsaw Philharmonic, The National Orchestra and Choir of Poland. Maestro Wit is one of the most highly regarded Polish conductors. He studied conducting with Henryk Czy and composition with Krzysztof Penderecki at the Academy of Music in Cracow, and subsequently continued his studies with Nadia Boulanger in Paris. He also graduated in law from Jagiellonian University in Cracow. Immediately after having graduated, he was engaged as an assistant at the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra by Witold Rowicki. Wit is the winner of second prize at the Herbert von Karajan International Conducting Competition in Berlin, and of many state awards.

Today, both the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir have world-wide popularity and appreciation. The orchestra has made over 100 tours on five continents. It has performed in all major concert halls, applauded by audiences and critics for its charismatic music making. It has taken part in many international festivals - in Vienna, Prague, Bergen, Lucerne, Berlin, Montreux, Moscow, Brussels, Florence, Bordeaux and Athens.

Each season, the philharmonic presents over 80 symphony concerts, more than 50 chamber concerts and a special series of concerts for children, featuring the orchestra as well as guest symphony orchestras and chamber ensembles, both Polish and foreign. The philharmonic also organizes music programs throughout the country, especially for schools and smaller cultural centers to promote classical music and educate the young generation.

At present, the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra has 108 instrumentalists and the choir has 95 members.

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