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About Witold Rowicki

Witold Rowicki was one of the leading Polish conductors of his generation and probably best known as the founder and longtime conductor of the Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra. He also revived the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra following World War II. On recordings Rowicki is often remembered for his collaborations with leading soloists, like pianists Martha Argerich, Sviatoslav Richter, and Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, and violinists, like David Oistrakh. But he was also a star in his own right, acclaimed for his interpretations of many standards in the repertory, in particular for the Dvorák symphonies. He was also highly regarded for his readings of the orchestral works of Polish composers like Szymanowski, Lutoslawski, Wojciech Kilar, and Grazyna Bacewicz. Rowicki conducted numerous orchestras across Europe, Asia, and the Americas and made scores of recordings, many still available on DG, EMI, and Philips.

Witold Rowicki was born in Taganrog, Russia, on February 26, 1914. He studied music at the Krakow Conservatory, graduating in 1938 as a talented violinist and violist. During the war he played both those instruments in the Krakow Philharmonic and taught violin at the conservatory.

In March 1945, with the Nazis out of Poland, Rowicki revived the Polish National RSO. Following the war he was appointed the director of music at the Polish Radio in Katowice. He relocated to Warsaw in 1950 and founded the Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra, which drew some of its players from a predecessor ensemble whose membership was decimated by the war. Rowicki served as the orchestra's artistic director and conductor from 1950-1955 and from 1958-1977.

During his 25 years on the podium there, he established the orchestra as one of the finest in Eastern Europe, attracted major soloists, and made numerous acclaimed recordings. But Rowicki was also active during this time as a guest-conductor of such ensembles as the Royal Concertgebouw, London Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia, Berlin Staatskapelle, and many others.

Rowicki was also active in opera, conducting performances at the Teatr Wielki Opera Centre in Warsaw, from 1965. After retiring from his Warsaw National Philharmonic post in 1977, Rowicki remained active as a guest conductor and eventually accepted the position of principal conductor of the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra (1983-1985). Rowicki died in Warsaw on October 1, 1989. Among his most acclaimed recordings is his Dvorák symphony cycle (recorded from the late '60s to early '70s), with the London Symphony Orchestra, available from 2010 on a six-disc Decca set.

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