Maria Bilińska-Riegerowa

Maria Bilińska-Riegerowa (1911-1969) – pianist and pedagogue. She made her debut as a 13 year old playing Mozart’s Concerto in c minor in her home city, Rzeszów, in 1924. She studied under Edward Steuremann and Zbigniew Drzewiecki. Her participation in the 3rd International Chopin Piano Competition won her an honorary mention diploma. According to many, "she belonged to the most outstanding of Polish pianists, undeservedly left in the shadows". Her son, Stefan Rieger, remembers that "Chopin was her ‘daily bread’, which she did not hesitate to share with others, even during the occupation, at concerts organized in conspiration in Cracow and Warsaw".

In the postwar period (1945-1969), Maria Bilińska-Riegerowa was a Professor at the State Postsecondary Music School in Cracow, and from 1964 she led her own class in piano. One of her students remembers that "She taught us to dislike falsity and pretence, claptrap and shallowness, instilling in us a love for beauty and purity of intention". Disinclined to compromise with the "People’s" government, she was not able to travel abroad and could only give concerts at home, appearing in the majority of Polish cities with leading conductors. She gave the Polish premiere of Bela Bartók’s Piano Concerto no. 3 (1950), receiving enthusiastic reviews. She made numerous radio recordings, from which only several remain: the recordings of pieces by Chopin, Schubert, Szymanowski, Field, and Debussy which were salvaged from the ravages of time filled one CD, issued in 1995. Together with her husband Adam Rieger, also a valued pianist and pedagogue, she prepared numerous piano pieces for the PWM Edition.

At the PWM Edition concert in Cracow on January 26, 1948, Maria Bilińska-Riegerowa gave the world premiere of first of Witold Lutosławski’s Two Studies, composed in 1941. (The first radio performance was transmitted in 1947 by the Dutch Radio.)

kt / trans. mk