*7 II 1944 Kraków
Antoni Wit is managing and artistic director of the Warsaw Philharmonic, which has been the national orchestra and choir of Poland since 2002. Previously, he directed the Pomeranian Philharmonic (1974–77), Polish Radio and Television Orchestra and Choir in Cracow (1977–83), Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra in Katowice (WOSPR, later NOSPR: 1983–2000) and Orquesta Filarmónica de Gran Canaria (1987–92). His work with each of those orchestras is now remembered as a period of intense artistic development and as the ensemble’s heyday. His concerts and recordings with the Cracow orchestra and choir proved important for Polish music; with those musicians, he frequently toured Italy, Germany, Great Britain, France and Spain. He was the NOSPR’s longest serving managing and artistic director. With that orchestra, he started regular recording work, foreign tours, television concerts and film soundtrack recordings. Among archive recordings and symphonic and oratorio concerts, pride of place was given to Polish music by historical and contemporary composers. Wit led many first performances of compositions by Krzysztof Penderecki, Witold Lutosławski, Wojciech Kilar and others.
Born and trained in Cracow, he studied conducting with Henryk Czyż, composition with Krzysztof Penderecki at the State College of Music, and law at the Jagellonian University. He then continued his musical studies with Nadia Boulanger in Paris. From 1967 to 1969, he was Witold Rowicki’s assistant at the Warsaw Philharmonic.
Second Prize in the International Herbert von Karajan Conducting Competition in Berlin in 1971 paved the way for a great international career. He has given performances in nearly all the major musical centres in Europe, both Americas, and the Middle and Far East, conducting such leading symphony orchestras as the Berliner Philharmoniker, Staatskapelle Dresden, Tonhalle Zurich, Royal Philharmonic, Philharmonia, BBC London, Montreal Symphony, NHK Tokyo, and many others. He has recently conducted the Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Staatskapelle Weimar (recording Richard Strauss’s Alpensinfonie for Naxos) and Japan Philharmonic Orchestra in Tokyo.
He has recorded nearly 100 discs for such labels as EMI-HMV, CBS, Naxos, NVS Arts, Pony Canyon and Polskie Nagrania. His 1985 release of Szymanowski’s Stabat Mater on EMI was acclaimed by British critics as one of the best recordings of the year. His reading of the complete Prokofiev piano concertos (with Kun Woo Paik as soloist) won the Diapason d’Or and Grand Prix du Disque de la Nouvelle Académie in 1993, while a recording of Messiaen’s Turangalîla symphony received the Cannes Classical Award (Midem Classique 2002). For the same label, Wit recorded Lutosławski’s complete symphonic works with the NOSPR. His first disc with the Warsaw Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra (Lutosławski, Meyer, Penderecki; CD Accord) won a ‘Fryderyk’ award from the Polish record industry (2002). In 2003, Wit recorded Chopin’s complete works for piano and orchestra with the Warsaw Philharmonic and the pianist Kun Woo Paik for Decca and led the world premiere of Wojciech Kilar’s ‘September’ Symphony, which was dedicated to him (CD Accord).
In 2004, Antoni Wit received the Classical Internet Award and was nominated for a Grammy for Penderecki’s St Luke Passion (Naxos). In 2005, he recorded Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 and Penderecki’s Te Deum, conducted the first performance of Kilar’s Sinfonia de motu, led the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra in accompanying young pianists during the final stage of the 15th International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition and received another Grammy nomination for a recording of Penderecki’s Polish Requiem (Naxos). In 2006, he won three ‘Fryderyks’ for his CD recordings and a special ‘Gold Fryderyk’ for his lifetime achievements.
For the best performance of a Polish work at the Warsaw Autumn International Festival of Contemporary Music, Wit has twice won the Orpheus Critics’ Award (1984, 1996). ‘For outstanding artistic creations and the popularisation of Polish music at home and abroad, reaching millions of listeners worldwide’, in 1998 Polish Radio awarded him its Diamond Baton.
Antoni Wit also teaches conducting at the Fryderyk Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw.
In 2005 and 2007–2010, he appeared in the ‘Chopin and his Europe’ festival in Warsaw.