The 10th Grzegorz Fitelberg International Competition for Conductors




On Monday 27th November, when people will gather at Warsaw Philharmonic for the repeat of the Fitelberg Competition winners’ concert, the Silesian Theatre will present yet another interesting event accompanying our Competition. The Silesian Theatre in Katowice, which also partnered the Fitelberg Competition in previous years – will stage a directed reading (with music instruments!) of Artur Pałyga’s text The Conductors, based on Jerzy Waldorff’s Devils and Angels. The spectacle, directed by Mateusz Znaniecki, stars the director himself, as well as Karina Grabowska and Bartłomiej Błaszczyński.


Jerzy Waldorff (1910-1999), a music critic, columnist and writer, whom his biographer M. Urbanek called “the last baron of communist Poland” – gained enormous popularity owing to his outstanding sense of humour, his sharp tongue, his language stylised on Old Polish speech style and abounding in elements derived from the world of prewar landowners and artistic bohemia, which the communist regime did everything to eradicate. He took advantage of his popularity to promote the social campaigns he initiated, upholding the memory of great figures and events in Polish culture (e.g. raising money to save the old tombs in Powązki Cemetery, buying back Karol Szymanowski’s Villa Atma in Zakopane to establish the composer’s museum, buying a historical tenement in Poznań for the Museum of Instruments, collecting donations for the Theatre Museum, and the initiatives of erecting monuments to I.J. Paderewski in Warsaw’s Łazienki Park and to J. Piłsudski near Warsaw’s Belweder Palace). In his writings and articles, he consistently promoted the music of K. Szymanowski and numerous forgotten Polish composers of the 19th and 20th centuries. His column Music Has Charms to Soothe the Savage Breast appeared in the “Polityka” weekly until the end of his life. His radio broadcasts became the basis for his most popular book The Secrets of Polyhymnia (translated into many languages, 8 editions by 1997) – which introduced readers to the world of music in an accessible and humorous form.


In 1971, he published his Devils and Angels (3 editions by 1988). It is a book about conductors, oscillating between a paean and a near-lampoon, written with Waldorff’s characteristic passion, uncompromising attitudes and sharp tongue. The heroes of Waldorff’s book are people of flesh and blood, lively figures strongly rooted in the world around them. As becomes a true journalist, Waldorff gives them no preferential treatment, and the angels of music not infrequently turn out to be its devils…


The chapter dedicated to Grzegorz Fitelberg begins like this: “Writing about an artist who was the conductor of my youthful years is a very difficult subject for me. It was under his baton, so to speak, that I entered the ring to join the fight for new music. (…) When I settled in Warsaw, I did not miss a single concert that he conducted at the Philharmonic. How to express in words that aura of admiration that he was surrounded with in our eyes? How to reflect the ardour of our enthusiasm on paper?... Grzegorz Fitelberg, along with Karol Szymanowski, were the commanders-in-chief at the headquarters of the campaign waged against the conservative circles for the reform of music in Poland…” The chapter ends with these words: “True enough… One may live for many years close to a person and be sure that we knew him inside out – always poised and energetic, rather cool, never showing any weakness or strong emotion. And then it turns out that he was quite a different man.



27th November 2017, Monday, 6 pm

The Silesian Theatre, The Malarnia (Paint Shop) Stage, Katowice


The Conductors

Directed reading with music instruments.

Text by Artur Pałyga, based on Jerzy Waldorff’s Devils and Angels: director: Mateusz Znaniecki.

Cast: Bartłomiej Błaszczyński, Karina Grabowska, Mateusz Znaniecki