Grazyna Bacewicz, a Polish composer and violinist, was born in Lodz in 1909. She began her musical studies in 1928 at the Warsaw Conservatory. Having studied piano and violin with Józef Jarzebski, and composition with Kazimierz Sikorski, Bacewicz graduated in 1932 summa cum laude as a violinist and composer. Bacewicz was granted a scholarship to study violin and composition at the Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris, France. During the German occupation, Bacewicz performed concerts of her music underground. After the war in 1945, she took up a professorship at the State Conservatoire of Music in her hometown, Lodz. At this time, she was shifting her musical pursuits more fully towards composition.
Bacewicz was considered a master of orchestration, and one of the most important figures in contemporary Polish music. Many of her compositions specifically feature the violin. Her body of work includes a radio opera (Przygoda Krola Artura, 1959), three ballets, six symphonies, and other orchestral works, several concertos, sonatas, numerous chamber works, and a cantata which combines, “neoclassical tendencies with modern techniques.”
Composition finally became Bacewicz’s sole occupation from 1954 until her death in 1969 in Warsaw. Her incredible body of work has been recognized and awarded a number of times. Some of her achievements include First Prize at the 1933 'Aide aux femmes de professions libres' Association Competition in Paris for Quintet for Wind Instruments, First Prize at the International Composition Competition in Liege for String Quartet No. 4 in 1951, and the 1949 City of Warsaw Music Award for achievement as a composer, virtuoso, organizer and teacher. Grazyna Bacewicz is the second Polish female composer to have achieved national and international recognition, and she continues to be remembered for her bold musicianship, and impressive repertoire.
Research by Anita Gosevska, program note by Allison Lehman. Narrated by Allison Lehman