*9 X 1924 Toruń, †15 IX 2011
Regina Smendzianka – winner 11th award IV Fryderyk Chopin International Piano Competition in Warszawa (1949) – was born into a family of amateur musicians. She began playing piano at age four. At six years of age she was already taking regular lessons with Maria Drzewiecka: initially privately but after two years within the Pomeranian Music Association Conservatory in Toruń. She began performing publicly at age eight. In the winter of 1934 she took part in the Competition for Young Talents in Warszawa, she won an award and a diploma of merit.
At age 12 (1936) she became a student of Prof. Heryk Sztompka’s, at the aforementioned Conservatory in Toruń. Two years later (1938), she performed with an orchestra for the first time, performing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto in C major. The outbreak of World War II interrupted her musical studies in Toruń.
In 1939, The young pianist’s family moved to Kraków, where Regina Smendzianka kept up her general education in secret and worked to help with the family finances.
After the German capitulation, in 1945, Smendzianka became a student at the State Music Academy in Kraków under Prof. Henryk Sztompka. She received her degree with highest honours in 1948. Shortly thereafter she began intensively developing her concert career, performing with the Kraków, Katowice and Warszawa philharmonic orchestras. In June 1948, she won first prize in the National Elimination Chopin Competition; one year later, she won the 11th award at the Fourth Chopin Competition in Warszawa. For the following five years (1950-55), she perfected her skills under the tutelage of Prof. Zbigniew Drzewiecki.
In her career as a virtuoso, spanning over half a century, Regina Smendzianka performed in 33 European countries, North and South America, the Middle and Far East. She performed as a soloist with all national orchestras as well as symphonies in Berlin, Leipzig, St. Petersburg, Cologne, Tokyo, Helsinki, Mexico City, Caracas, Havana, Teheran, Milwaukee and others. She worked with such conductors as: Zecchi, Kondraszyn, Kegel, Conta, Sanderling, Martinon, Mata, Rowicki, Krenz, Wisłocki, Czyż, Kord, Wit, Katlewicz, Fitelberg, Skrowaczewski and others. She joined orchestras on tours of Belgium, Switzerland, England, Canada, the USA, Bulgaria and Holland. She participated in many international music festivals in England, Bulgaria Austria (Wiener Festwochen), Yugoslavia, Romania, Japan, Germany and Poland (Warszawa, Kraków, Słupsk, Duszniki, Antonin, Bydgoszcz and others).
The pianist’s substantial repertoire includes piano music of all styles and from all epochs – from baroque through contemporary. A generous selection of Chopin’s works have a favoured place in her concert programmes as do the works of other Polish composers (including Lessl, Janiewicz, Ogiński, Krogulski, Moniuszko, Zarębski, Paderewski, Pankiewicz, Melcer, Szymanowski, Lutosławski, Malawski, Bacewiczówna, Łuciuk, Meyer, Palester and Baird).
Regina Smendzianka’s discography includes several dozen recordings done by Polish and foreign labels (Polskie Nagrania „Muza”, Deutsche Grammophon, Camden, RCA Italiana, CNR Holland, Pony Canyon, Bellwood, Koch). Recorded are: Chopin’s (Concerto in F minor, complete waltzes, polonaises, nocturnes, Fantasie in F minor, Barcarole in F major, Berceuse, Tarantella, Ecossaises, mazurkas, etudes), Moniuszko, Schubert (Sonata in A major, Op. 120, Moments Musicaux, Op. 94), Łuciuk (Lirica di timbri), Bacewiczówna (II Sonata, 10 Etude, Mały tryptyk), Paderewski (Fantazja polska), Franck (Symphonic Variations), Bach (Concerto in A major), Mozart (Concerto in C minor), Malawski (Symphonic Etudes) and Françaix (Concertino).
In 1964, the pianist began her pedagogical career – initially at the National Music Academy in Kraków (to 1968), and later at the Chopin Music Academy in Warszawa (1968-1996). In 1972-73, she served as rector of the Warszawa institution. She conducted master’s courses in Germany, France, Denmark, Finland, Japan, Mexico, Venezuela and others. She sat in the juries of international music competitions in Warszawa (Chopin Competition – 1970, 1980, 1995, 2000), Salerno, Tokyo, Moscow, Helsinki and others. Aside from all these activities, she authored a book entitled “How to Play Chopin – an attempted response” (2000) as well as numerous articles regarding musical performance.
In 1988, the artist established her own foundation (The Regina Smendzianka Foundation), the goal of which is to support Polish musical culture (by, among other activities, financing prizes, in the form of new instruments, for talented young Polish pianists, those who win the highest honours in piano competitions).