*2 X 1952 Wrocław
Winner of Sixth Prize in the 8th International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw (1970), Janusz Olejniczak began learning piano at the age of six. After moving to Warsaw, he was taught at primary and secondary schools of music by Luiza Walewska. From 1967 to 1969, he trained under Ryszard Bakst and Zbigniew Drzewiecki. In 1967, he took part in the ‘Concertino Praha’ International Competition for Young Performers, where he reached the final. At the age of seventeen (1979), he performed in the International Young Performers’ Tribune in Paris, which qualified him to take part in a concert during the MIDEM 1970 record fair in Cannes. That same year, he won Sixth Prize in the 8th Chopin Competition in Warsaw. Two years later, he won Fourth Prize in the International Alfredo Casella Competition in Naples.
From 1971 to 1973, he studied piano in Paris with Konstanty Schmaeling and Witold Małcużyński. On returning to Poland, he completed studies with Barbara Hesse-Bukowska at the State College of Music in Warsaw (1974), before pursuing post-graduate studies with Victor Merzhanov in Warsaw and Paul Badura-Skoda in Essen (1977–1978).
He has performed in nearly all the countries of Europe, and also in Japan, both Americas, Australia and Cuba. He has taken part in international music festivals in Duszniki, Warsaw, Mariánské Láznĕ, Nohant, Aix-en-Provence and elsewhere. He has worked with such conductors as Witold Rowicki, Kazimierz Kord, Jerzy Maksymiuk, Marek Pijarowski, Charles Dutoit, Grzegorz Nowak and Andrzej Markowski. In 1997, he gave the world’s first performance of Giya Kancheli’s Valse Boston for piano and orchestra. He has also played as a chamber musician with violinists, cellists and singers.
Olejniczak has made many recordings for radio and television stations in Poland, France, Slovakia and Japan. For record labels (Polskie Nagrania ‘Muza’, Wifon, Tonpress, Selene, Camerata, Pony Canyon, Opus 111, CD Accord), he has recorded works by Rameau, Mozart, Liszt, Chopin (Fantasy on Polish Airs, both piano concertos, Sonata in B flat minor, Rondo in E flat major, Barcarolle, Berceuse, mazurkas, polonaises, nocturnes, etudes, ballades, scherzos and other works), Schubert, Prokofiev, Kilar (Piano Concerto), Górecki (Piano Concerto), violin miniatures with Kaja Danczowska and a recital of Polish songs with Stefania Toczyska.
He performed in Andrzej Żuławski’s film about Chopin La note bleu, and he recorded the soundtrack to Jerzy Antczak’s film Chopin. A Desire for Love and Roman Polanski’s film The Pianist.
He teaches piano at Cracow Academy of Music and gives piano masterclasses in Poland, Canada and Japan. He has sat on the jury of piano competitions in Poland and abroad.
In 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012, he performed in the ‘Chopin and his Europe’ festival in Warsaw.
He has recorded two discs released by the Fryderyk Chopin Institute in the series ‘The Real Chopin’:
Chopin’s music fascinates Janusz Olejniczak with what he describes as its ethereal, elusive character: ‘It’s like a bird of paradise, which keeps slipping through your hands. Only occasionally do you succeed in grasping its essence, in getting close to it. It offers limitless possibilities for interpretation, allows you to pursue continual work on your own aesthetic, on shaping your tastes, and to arrive at a different perspective on the same work – an individual and continually new approach. In Chopin’s music, there is something that makes you want to play the same passage differently every time, to sculpt the same phrase over again. When performing Chopin’s works, you need an integral conception. But I forge the final creative vision while playing. My humility with regard to Chopin prevents me from adopting a single version, from stating that a particular passage is absolutely the best in that very form. So I continually have to try again’. Janusz Olejniczak was appointed to the Programme Committee of the Fryderyk Chopin Institute in December 2003.