Sheffield Philharmonic Orchestra Blog

Henryk Czyz
June 2, 2008, 2:37 pm
Filed under: Classical Music, Uncategorized

Henryk CzyzLearning that our wonderful string section were going to play a piece by Czyz, ( and on the not unreasonable assumption that some people may feel a trifle uninformed about the aforementioned composer) I hastened to glean a few gems for the blog. As usual, Wikipedia is the first stop, but Mr Czyz’s name appears in red (no article). Even Google scores a disappointing number of hits, most of which refer to someone else. So I consult a knowledgeable source who seldom lets one down. “Well” he says “Apart from being the sort of chap you want to get on a triple word score in Scrabble, I can’t tell you much, but it’s his 85th birthday the weekend of the concert”. Great! Fantastic! We’ll invite him over, put him up in the Rutland, have a party. I decide there and then to write the missing Wikipedia article. Progress is slow and so far the article is no more than a ‘stub’ ( ‘Henryk Czyz b Grudziadz 16th June 1923 d Warsaw 16th Jan 2003, (puts paid to the party idea). My puny effort does, however, refer the reader to a more helpful source from which I have extracted much of what follows and who kindly gave us permission to use their picture.

He started as a law student and then changed track and graduated in music aged 29. He studied composition and conducting, initially with the Stanislaw Moniuszko Opera and moving on to most of the prestigious Polish orchestras in turn. He established an international reputation with concerts all over the world. Two recordings deserve special mention, Raj i Peri by Robert Schumann and Krzysztof Penderecki’s St Luke Passion. He was a great champion of modern music, especially by Polish composers. His television programmes were particularly popular in this respect.

He wrote a number of books which our musical director says are wonderful. Sadly, a quick search through Amazon and would suggest that they are currently unavailable and even if you find them, they have not been translated into English (unless he wrote ‘Bistatic Radar Polarimetry – Theory & Principles!). Perhaps some ‘out of print’ translations are available through libraries.

Reading through other articles, I failed to find much more. What there is tells of a very warm, energetic and multi-talented man. A much loved teacher and champion of causes. A broadcaster and author, composer, conductor and politically active Music Union representative.  As the Polish Music Centre puts it “A Renaissance figure”.

He wrote his poignant Canzona di Barocca in 1983 and it was our privilege to give its first Sheffield performance at the Broomhill festival on June 15th.


Afterthought. Looking through the list of Czyz’s publications, I was reminded of the Polish visitor who went to have his eyes checked at SpecSavers. The optometrist indicated the penultimate row on the reading chart     c  z  w  l  b  p  d  j  z   “Can you read that?” she asked. “Of course I can” he replied “He’s my uncle”.


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Your completely right with this one!

Comment by House

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