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Andrzej Kurylewicz,

composer, pianist, trumpeter, trombonist and conductor, b. Nov. 24, 1932 in Lwów (Lvov), d. April 13, 2007 in Konstancin. He started piano lessons at the age of six at a music school in Lwów. After the war, in 1946-50, he studied piano at the Music Institute in Gliwice and the Secondary Music School in Cracow. In 1950-54 he studied piano with Henryk Sztompka and composition with Stanisław Wiechowicz at the State Higher School of Music (now the Music Academy) in Cracow; he was, however, expelled from the academy for playing jazz music (which was then prohibited). In 1954 he played the piano in the MM 176 ensemble, and in the following year he founded his own quintet, which was later transformed into the Polish Radio Organ Sextet in Cracow (it gave performances till 1962). In 1969, Kurylewicz made his debut as a composer of film music (Powrót [The Return], dir. Jerzy Passendorfer, 1959-60). As an instrumentalist and conductor, he gave performances in many countries of Europe, in the United States, Canada and Cuba. In 1964-66 he directed the Polish Radio and Television Orchestra in Warsaw. In 1969, together with his wife Wanda Warska he opened an artistic club in Warsaw, in which concerts, poetry evenings and exhibitions are regularly held. Simultaneously, in 1969-78 he was the leader of the "Formation for Contemporary Music", which played music combining modern jazz with European musical avant-garde. Kurylewicz gave concerts with his ensemble all over the world. He also wrote several compositions for that band. Since 1980 he has also composed classical compositions. In 1987-91 he was on the Managing Board of the Polish Composers' Union. In the late 80-ies and early 90-ies he collaborated with the State University of Kansas in Lawrence.
Kurylewicz has received numerous awards: in 1978 he won 2nd prize at the 2nd Festival of Polish Television Art in Olsztyn for his music to the TV series Polskie drogi [Polish Pathways] (dir. Janusz Morgenstern, 1976-78), in 1979 - a prize of the 6th Festival of Polish Feature Films in Gdańsk for music to the film Lekcja martwego języka [A Lesson of a Dead Language](dir. Janusz Majewski, 1979), and in 1981 - a prize in the International Competition for Works for the Radio and TV "Prix Italia’ 81" in Siena - for music to the film Droga [The Highway] (dir. Ryszard Ber, 1980). He was also granted the Polish Radio and Television Award (1965), the City of Warsaw Award (1978) and the Medal of the City of Warsaw (1997). In 1984 the City of Wilhelmshaven granted him the title of Stadtkünstler.


Andrzej Kurylewicz was a pioneer of jazz music in Poland. He paid a high price for his passion for jazz: he was expelled from the Cracow Academy, where he studied piano and composition in 1950-54. In that period, the communist state authorities viewed jazz as a destructive product of the global imperialism and therefore prohibited its performance. Kurylewicz did not give up, though, and he used the opportunity during the political thaw in the later 1950s to set up the Polish Radio Jazz Ensemble in Cracow, of which he was the leader till 1962. His interest in bringing jazz and contemporary classical music closer together inspired him to found another ensemble - the "Formation for Contemporary Music". His work with this ensemble in1969-78 (as a composer and instrumentalist) brought him success and recognition in Poland and abroad. His work as a jazz pianist, but also an outstanding jazz trumpeter and an excellent trombonist was highly appreciated. Towards the end of the 1970s, he abandoned jazz and dedicated himself almost exclusively to composing classical music. In 1981, his String Quartet No. 1 was performed at the “Warsaw Autumn” festival. In 1987, he was elected member of the Managing Board of the Polish Composers’ Union, a function that he held till 1991. He has recently also performed as a classical pianist, presenting works by Karol Szymanowski and Frédéric Chopin.

literatura wybrana

Grzenkowicz Izabella Kurylewicz Andrzej In: Encyklopedia Muzyczna PWM [PWM Music Encyclopaedia] (biographical section ed. by Elżbieta Dziębowska), vol. “klł”, PWM, Kraków 1997
Lipowski Mikołaj Ł. Kurylewicz in memoriam, "Jazz Forum" 2008 nr 1-2, s.24-25
Thomas Adrian Kurylewicz Andrzej In: The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Second Edition (ed. Stanley Sadie), vol. 14, Macmillan Publishers Limited, London 2001