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Grzegorz Fitelberg

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Conductor, violinist, composer, born in 1879 in Dvinsk (Latvia), from the age of 12 studied violin performance under Stanisław Barcewicz and composition under Zygmunt Noskowski at the Music Institute in Warsaw. In 1904 he debuted as a conductor with the world premiere of his own Symphony no. 1. His initiative led to the creation of the Young Polish Composers' Impression Cooperative (Ludomir Różycki, Grzegorz Fitelberg, Władysław Lubomirski, Karol Szymanowski, Apolinary Szeluto, Mieczysław Karłowicz). Throughout his life Fitelberg was an ardent propagator of Polish music, and that of Szymanowski in particular, whose music he performed from Moscow and Petersburg to New York and Buenos Aires, in addition assisting young composers at the outset of their careers.

In 1935 he reorganized the Orchestra of the Polish Radio in Warsaw, bringing it to a world-class level, as testified by the gold medals accorded to the ensemble and the conductor two years later at a competition of orchestras in the World Exhibition in Paris. After the wanderings of the war years, Fitelberg returned to Poland to direct the newly created Great Symphony Orchestra of the Polish Radio in Katowice, which he lead from 1948 right up to his death in 1953.

Witold Lutosławski wrote the following about him: "In relation to young Polish music Fitelberg fulfilled the role of a true institutional propaganda, without which composers would find it difficult to develop their talents and obtain the necessary experience". In a conversation with Tadeusz Kaczyński, he admitted: "The dream of each composer entering professional life was to have Fitelberg himself take up the performance of his new works. [My] actual debut took place under no other conductor than Fitelberg. This was a performance of the Symphonic Variations in the Polish Radio, and later at [Cracow's] Wawel Festival in 1939".

Several further symphonic compositions of Witold Lutosławski received their world premieres under Grzegorz Fitelberg. They were: the Symphony no. 1 in 1948 in Katowice, String Overture in 1949 in Prague, Little Suite (version for symphony orchestra) and Silesian Triptych in 1951 in Warsaw.

The period of a closer relation between the two artists dates from the time of the world premiere of Symphony no. 1, which was highly valued by Fitelberg.

kt / trans. mk