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Adam Wroński

Adam Wroński (born in 1850 or 1851, died in 1915) – a Polish violinist, conductor, composer, pedagogue and music activist.

He initially studied violin, piano and theory of music at the Music School of the Imperial and Royal Technical Institute in his home city of Kraków, and subsequently at the Vienna Conservatoire. As a professional violinist, during his army service he found his way into the 70th Vienna Infantry Regiment orchestra, led by Michał Zimmermann, from whom he learnt the art of instrumentation. It was here that he enjoyed his first artistic successes – he was quickly promoted to assistant bandmaster and, in 1867, the ensemble under his baton won first prize at the Exposition Universelle in Paris. He subsequently became head of the 40th Kraków Infantry Regiment military orchestra and over several years, after many efforts, he expanded to a full symphony line-up.

The full symphony orchestra established by Wroński contributed greatly to the development of musical life in the Kraków of the time – it presented to the audiences contemporary music and supported a non-professional movement. From the moment it became a full-time orchestra of the Old Theatre (at that time run by Stanisław Koźmian), it regularly accompanied the plays and performed independently during intervals. On Wroński’s initiative, the orchestra cooperated regularly with the Kraków operetta house, then under the leadership of Kazimierz Hofman.

In 1875, following the example of Vienna’s Strauss family, the composer founded his own dance orchestra in Krynica (the so-called spa orchestra). It soon became one of the highlights of the baths seasons at the spa. Years later, the Krakow musicologist Józef Reiss recollected the unique atmosphere of Wroński’s Krynica concerts as follows (an extract of an article from 1936):

 At six in the morning [the orchestra] began (…) its concert with a “Prayer” and then diligently devoted almost the entire day to the guests’ pleasure with a varied programme of a great artistic value. So there was a march to start with, then an overture or a fantasia, followed by dances interweaved with some lyrical miniatures. The execution was impeccable since Wroński took great care in selecting the musicians; they – especially the violinists – were often virtuosos, graduates of foreign conservatoires.

The audience listened with great satisfaction: often crowds came to the concerts. As soon as the sounds of the waltz resounded, Wroński himself would take the violin into his hands and, turning towards the audience, would emphasize the fruitiness of cantilena and electrify the listeners with beautiful sound and rhythmical élan[1].

In 1882, due to the regrouping of the armed forces in Galicia, the 40th Infantry Regiment – together with its military orchestra – was moved to Rzeszów. Meanwhile, a new symphony orchestra was quickly being organised from scratch in Kraków (none other than Władysław Żeleński is said to have actively supported this initiative). Wroński was appointed to the post of orchestra director and showed great commitment in beginning to complete the instrumental line-up. The thus established Municipal Orchestra, partly joined by the Krynica musicians, operated for four years before it was unexpectedly dissolved due to financial reasons in 1885.

Soon after this event, Wroński left Kraków and began, inter alia, to propagate Polish music in smaller cultural centres of Eastern Galicia, such as Kolomyia and Sambir, where he headed local music societies (this played a significant role in activating local cultural life but also in maintaining Polish national identity in the eastern borderlands). At the same time he did not lose touch with Krynica, where he regularly conducted the spa orchestra during summer concert seasons. From 1897, he also conducted the theatre orchestra in Lviv.

In 1907, he briefly returned to Kraków and became director of the orchestra and music school of the “Harmonia” Friends of Music Society. A year later he moved to Lviv again, where he was appointed director of the opera and operetta house. Having resigned from this post, he became the president of the Music Society in Stryi.

He died in Krynica eighteen months after the outbreak of the First World War.

Adam Wroński was a prolific composer, and at the same time an excellent melodist, which earned him the nickname “the Polish Strauss” (nota bene, the same nickname was also given to another representative of Polish music covered by the digitalisation of the “Łańcut Musicalia” project, Leopold Lewandowski, who was active in the second half of the 19th century in Warsaw). Among Wroński’s 250 works, one can find overtures, fantasias, marches for orchestra, violin and piano miniatures, solo and choral songs and also examples of stage music (the Maciek Samson operetta, among others). A great part of his oeuvre is taken up by dances for piano, orchestra or smaller ensembles, including waltzes (e.g. the popular Na falach Wisły waltz), gallops, mazurkas, polonaises, polkas, krakowiaks etc. It is noteworthy that Wroński’s series of krakowiaks entitled Znad Wisły received a prize at a composers’ competition held under the patronage of Duke Konstanty Lubomirski in 1904.

Mirosław Płoski
Translated by Xymena Pietraszek-Płatek
Proofread by Ben Koschalka

[1] Józef Reiss, Polski Strauss. W 20-lecie śmierci Adama Wrońskiego (The Polish Strauss: The 20th Anniversary of the Death of Adam Wroński), „Orkiestra” 1936, No. 2 (65), pp. 20–22.


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