Composers / Witold Lutosławski / Persons catalog

Krystian Zimerman

Pianist, born on December 5, 1956, in Zabrze, a student of Andrzej Jasiński from the beginning of his education until the obtention of his degree at the State Postsecondary Music School in Katowice (1976). In 1975 in brilliant style he became the winner of the 9th International Chopin Piano Competition. From this moment dates his international career, which confirmed him as a member of the world pianistic elite. Zimerman appears with leading world orchestras, records with conductors such as Herbert von Karajan, Leonard Bernstein, Seiji Ozawa, Pierre Boulez, Kiril Kondrashin, and Simon Rattle. Dissatisfied with the conductors' treatment of the orchestral parts in Chopin's concertos, he proposed his own understanding of the works when he created the Polish Festival Orchestra. In 1999, on the 150th anniversary of Chopin's death, he completed a historical tour in Europe and the USA, and made recordings of both concertos for Deutsche Gramophon.

Zimerman gives much attention to international presentations of the most valuable works of Polish music, devoting a special project to Grażyna Bacewicz, and remaining an ardent propagator of the music of Witold Lutosławski. In a conversation with Tadeusz Kaczyński, Zimerman relates: "To my discreet question about whether he wouldn't want to compose a piano concerto, Lutosławski answered: ‘Yes, I will definitely write one, because for several years I've had various ideas in that regard'". The Polish composer has for a long time planned writing the Piano Concerto, first with the idea of playing it himself, then with Witold Małcużyński as the performer. "I do not make it a secret that a rather strong inspiration was having Krystian Zimerman greatly interested by the work and him making it known to me in various ways - Lutosławski told Elżbieta Markowska. This served as a great incitement and occurred at a propitious moment, when my musical language had reached a completeness allowing for the achievement of such a task."

The Piano Concerto was created on a commission by the Salzburg Festival, and is dedicated to Krystian Zimerman. Its world premiere was given on August 19, 1988, in Salzburg, with the dedicatee as soloist and the Austrian Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by the composer. From this time the Polish pianist performed the composition numerous times, as one that is among the specially important works in his repertoire. Zimerman ascribes great value to the Year of Lutosławski and plans to perform Lutosławski's Concerto in Paris, London, and Berlin, among other cities. (kt/mk)