Katarzyna Kowalik: Harpsichordist, Early Music Specialist

Wanda Landowska (1879 - 1959) is well-known as a great harpsichordist, ambassador of ancient music and "mother" of 20th century harpsichord tradition. But not everyone knows that Landowska was an excellent pianist too. And I think almost nobody knows that Landowska was also a very talented composer.

Wanda Landowska studied composition at the Royal Academy of Arts in Berlin between 1896 and 1899 under the direction of Heinrich Urban, who was the teacher of Ignacy Jan Paderewski. In 1904 Landowska participated in the Wanda Landowska, karikaturcomposition competition announced by the Paris monthly magazine Musica, and obtained the special award for her Songs and the lost piano piece Feux follets.

Apart from the large amount of songs and piano solo pieces, Landowska created some larger forms, which are all unfortunately lost: Serenade for strings, Paysage triste for chamber orchestra, Oriental Rhapsody for piano and orchestra, Pologne Variations for two pianos. Moreover Landowska published her own arrangements of dances based on the other composers, such as Country Dances (originally Mozart's Dances KV 606), Chaine de Valses of Schubert, Valses Viennoises de Lanner, as well as her own virtuoso cadenzas for the piano concertos by Handel, Haydn and Mozart.

I thought that those musical treasures should definitely be presented to the public. In 2009, for the double anniversary of Wanda Landowska - the 130th of birthday and the 50th of her death - it was perfect excuse to arrange a special concert in the Fryderyk Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw. I had the opportunity and honour to present the forgotten face of Wanda Landowska, composer.


Wanda  Landowska (1908)
Wanda Landowska in 1908

Extracts recorded in the Fryderyk Chopin Academy of Music, Warsaw, 2009

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