Wojciech Michniewski


He was born on April 4, 1947, in Łódź. Wojciech Michniewski studied conducting with St. Wisłocki (Honours Master’s Degree, 1972), music theory (Honours Master’s Degree, 1971), and composition with Andrzej Dobrowolski at the Academy of Music in Warsaw (now the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music). From 1973 to 1978, Wojciech Michniewski was closely associated with the Warsaw National Philharmonic, first as assistant-conductor, perfecting his skills in close collaboration with maestro W. Rowicki, and from 1976 as permanent staff conductor. In parallel, together with K. Knittel and E. Sikora, he formed the KEW composers’ group, prominently active in the 1970s, creating collective compositions and organizing contemporary music concerts. In 1974, he was prizewinner at the National Conducting Competition in Katowice. In 1977, he won First Prize and Gold Medal at the Milan’s La Scala Guido Cantelli International Conducting Competition, and in 1978, Bronze Medal at the International Ernest Ansermet Conducting Competition in Geneva. From 1979 to 1981, Wojciech Michniewski was artistic director of the Grand Opera Theatre in Łódź, and in parallel (until 1983), music director of the Modern Stage at the Warsaw Chamber Opera. In the years 1984-1987, he was permanent guest conductor of the Polish Chamber Orchestra in Warsaw, playing an important role in the transformation of this ensemble into the well-known Sinfonia Varsovia. From 1987 to 1991, he was managing and artistic director of the Poznań Philharmonic. After 1991, he decided to refrain from accepting permanent positions and is now exclusively guest-conductor. Wojciech Michniewski has conducted symphonic concerts and opera performances in the grand majority of European countries, in Asia, as well as North and South America. Apart from his vast classical repertoire, he is particularly valued for his interpretations of contemporary music. He has brought many world contemporary works to the Polish audience, while conducting the Polish premieres of works by such twentieth-century and contemporary composers as Adams, Andriessen, Balakauskas, Berio, Boulez, Denisow, Dusapin, Dutilleux, Ferrari, Glass, Grisey, Halffter, Hosokawa, Kagel, Kancheli, Kurtág, Ligeti, Mâche, Maderna, Maxwell-Davies, Messiaen, Nordheim, Nørgård, Nyman, Padding, Reich, Takemitsu. At the Warsaw Grand Theatre – National Opera, he recently prepared and conducted numerous world premieres of stage works by P. Mykietyn, E. Sikora, R. Panufnik, D. Jaskot, and A. Gryka, as well as the Polish premiere of H. Kulenty’s opera The Mother of the Black- Winged Dreams at the Wrocław Opera, world premiere of M. Ptaszynska’s opera The Lovers from the Valdemosa Cloister at the Łódź Grand Opera Theatre, and world premiere of E. Sikora’s opera Madame Curie.

In a radio conversation with Ewa Szczecińska, Wojciech Michniewski reminisced that he first met the composer around 1973, when he began his collaboration with the National Philharmonic. Their closer acquaintanceship enabled the invitation of Wojciech Michniewski several years later to perform Lutosławski’s Trois poèmes d'Henri Michaux alonside the composer. When asked about Lutosławski’s symphonies in the same interview, he replied: “I conduct the Third and the Fourth whenever the occasion arises, because I like them a great amount. One is outstanding, the other outstandingly beautiful”.
Several works by Witold Lutosławski under the baton of Wojciech Michniewski have been released on records; apart from the above-mentioned Trois poèmes, Somm Recordings issued a disc that includes the Novelette, Symphony no. 2, and Fanfare for Louisville, recorded during the Breaking Chains festival in 1997. Together with Sinfonia Varsovia, Michniewski recorded the Partita (with Krzysztof Jakowicz), Musique funèbre, Overture for Strings, Jeux vénitiens, and Interlude. This CD Accord release obtained the Fryderyk award in 1996. In addition, the Polish Radio CD Hommage à Lutosławski includes a recording of the Interlude.
On February 7, 2015, at a Chain 12 festival concert held at the Concert Studio of the Polish Radio, Wojciech Michniewski received the Year of Lutosławski Medal for his outstanding contribution to the dissemination of the composer’s heritage.