Witold Maliszewski


Witold Maliszewski, composer and pedagogue. Born on July 20, 1873, in Mohylów Podolski, studied in Petersburg, first in the fields of mathematics and medicine, and later, in the years 1898-1902, composition at the Conservatory under Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakow. In 1908 he worked in Odessa as the conductor of the Musical Society, and in 1913 became the founder and first rector of the Conservatory, where he taught composition, harmony, and counterpoint. In 1921, in fear of the Bolshevik persecutions, he moved to Warsaw, undertaking pedagogical work at the Conservatory, and later the Fryderyk Chopin Postsecondary School of Music. He also filled the role of director of the Warsaw Musical Society, and was co-organizer and head of the jury at the 1st Chopin Competition in Warsaw (1927). His students included Feliks Łabuński, Feliks Rybicki, and Witold Lutosławski. Maliszewski's oeuvre includes four symphonies, the opera-ballets Borut and Syrena, religious works Missa Pontificalis and Requiem, as well as chamber, piano, and choir works and songs.

Witold Maliszewski, being interested in the compositional efforts of the 14-year-old Witold Lutosławski, first gave him private theory and composition lessons. With his encouragement Lutosławski undertook studies at the Conservatory, although officially Maliszewski taught only classes in musical form and counterpoint there. Lutosławski reminisced: "This was my only professor in composition. He had a true fatherly relation toward me. This was a man who was a rare example of spotless character. Believing that I am lacking in the area of music theory, he saw to that these shortcomings were taken care of. He simultaneously emphasized the need for me to compose with the utmost freedom [...]. I remember Maliszewski as an extraordinarily wise human being". He also admitted: "I took the most advantage from his lectures in musical form. Those lectures, for the basis of which he used Beethoven's Sonatas, are significant for me to this day. Their nature was derived from the psychology of musical reception". The master, however, being conservative in his views, admitted that he doesn't understand the music of his student, who notwithstanding completed studies with him and presented portions of the Requiem and Fugue as his diploma work

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