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Composer Romuald Twardowski dies at 93

14.01.2024 10:10
Prominent Polish composer Romuald Twardowski has died at the age of 93.
Romuald Twardowski
Romuald TwardowskiPhoto: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0

The Ministry of Culture and National Heritage described Twardowski on the X Platform as “a great personality in Polish music, whose output included several hundred compositions – operas, orchestral and chamber works, as well as choral works, which occupied a special place in his oeuvre”.

Born in 1930 in Vilnius, Twardowski spent his childhood and youth there,  studying the violin during the German occupation, and piano and organ in the post-war years. In the years 1946-1950, he served as organist in the city’s St John’s Church, the post that Stanisław Moniuszko, the father of Polish national opera, held a century earlier.

In 1957, Twardowski completed a five-year course in composition at Vilnius Conservatory. He soon moved to Warsaw to continue his studies at the State Higher School of Music. In 1963 he won a competition for a grant to study in Paris with Nadia Boulanger.

The 1960s and 70s were among the most productive years in Twardowski’s career.  Several of his works for the stage were produced in Łódź and Warsaw (Tragedy or Story of John  and Herod, the ballet The Naked Prince, Lord Jim, The Sorcerer’s Statues). His symphonic and choral works won prestigious awards, including the Grand Prix in Monaco, First Prize at the Prague Spring, and Second Prize at the Composers’ Rostrum in Paris. He was an indefatigable promoter of Polish music. In the 1980s he was a forerunner in establishing cultural contacts with Lithuania, Armenia and Georgia. His operas from that period, notably Maria Stuart and History of St Catherine, produced in Poland, Germany, Yugoslavia, Finland and Czechoslovakia, were an overwhelming success.  In 2006, Twardowski received the Ignacy Jan Paderewski Award from the  Music Association in Washington. He also held several high Polish state distinctions and awards for outstanding artistic achievements.

According to critics, Twardowski’s music, even though very modern, is at the same time highly accessible, full of inner drama and possessing an individual stamp. His vast choral output in particular constitutes a lasting contribution to the treasure trove of Polish national culture.