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Jan Krenz

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Conductor and composer, born on July 14, 1926 in Włocławek. He studied in Łódź under Kazimierz Wiłkomirski (conducting), and Kazimierz Sikorski (composition). Beginning in 1949 he collaborated with Grzegorz Fitelberg succeeding him in 1953 as artistic director of the Great Symphony Orchestra of the Polish Radio in Katowice. In the course of the fifteen-year period with the ensemble he became known as a passionate propagator of Polish (especially contemporary) music, both in Poland and throughout the world. He simultaneously introduced distinguished masterworks of foreign composers onto the stages of Polish concert halls. In addition, he played a significant role as the artistic director of the Teatr Wielki (Grand Theatre) in Warsaw.

Jan Krenz has revealed in a conversation with Elżbieta Markowska: "My ties with Witold Lutosławski consisted of the longtime contact with his music and relation with him as a person, which in time acquired the characteristics of an intimate friendship".

His collaboration with Witold Lutosławski began with a commission, which he submitted to the composer for a work to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Béla Bartók's death. This impulse lead to his Funeral Music. Lutosławski admitted: "Unfortunately, I was late for the tenth anniversary of his death Krenz wanted to begin the concert with a composition dedicated to the memory of Bartók. The world premiere of Funeral Music was only given two years later, under the baton of Jan Krenz."

The conductor presented Lutosławski's works often and with pleasure, feeling almost as if he was his ‘court conductor'. He had a strong emotional relation to the Trois poèmes d'Henri Michaux, a work which he conducted numerous times along with the composer. The audience of the 13th Warsaw Autumn was especially impressed by the Polish premiere of Livre pour orchestre (September 1969). Lutosławski held Jan Krenz's interpretations in high esteem, and said: "He is one of the performers which are of great significance to me".

Jan Krenz characterized the composer in the following manner: "I believe that Witold Lutosławski's secret was that he demanded the maximum from himself, and that he had a super-human will to realize his own potential. And he would do it with simplicity, without pathos or calculation for effect. For half a century I was a witness to his extraordinary life and compositional achievements - from the Symphonic Variations to the Symphony no. 4. I admired the immense vitality, creative potency, life energy and strength, with which he undertook the ever-new creative and conducting tasks. There was in him an eternal youth, constant creative ability, and enthusiasm - perhaps one that was masked, but also immense and authentic."

kt / trans. mk