Zbigniew Drzewiecki (1890–1971) – pianist and pedagogue, one of the leading figures of the Polish pianistic world in the twentieth century. Following his studies in Vienna he debuted in Warsaw in 1916. He was a valued interpretator of Chopin and one of the first Polish performers of music by Debussy, Ravel, and Prokofiev. An important place in his repertoire was reserved for the music of Karol Szymanowski, with whom he maintained a friendship (becoming the dedicatee of two his Mazurkas).
He worked to popularize new music by Polish composers. From 1931 he took up pedagogical work at the Warsaw Conservatory, as well as in Cracow and Lviv, and contributed to musical life as a critic and publicist. After the war he co-organized the State Postsecondary Music School in Cracow, where he filled the function of rector, while continuing work in Warsaw. He was organizer of the First International Chopin Pianistic Competition, and served as jury member (1927-1965) and leader. His pupils included several dozen concert pianists, among them many future laureates of competitions and valued pedagogues. He described his rich and colourful life in the book A Musician’s Memoir.
At a concert of the PWM Edition in Cracow on July 22, 1946, Zbigniew Drzewiecki gave the premiere of Witold Lutosławski’s Folk Melodies. The collection of 12 pieces based on melodies from the collection of Jerzy Olszewski was created for purposes of teaching, and was used by generations of music school students. Regardless of this usage, the collection has gained popularity among concert pianists for reasons of its high artistic value.
Zbigniew Drzewiecki and Witold Lutosławski worked together on the forums of various organization, including the Polish National Committee of the International Music Council (IMC) created at UNESCO in 1956. (kt / trans. mk)