Andrzej Czajkowski
piano | Poland, °1935 - 1982
 
PIANO 1956 : Third Prize
The pianist and composer the world knew as Andrzej Czajkowski was born Robert Andrzej Krauthammer in Warsaw, Poland. He began his piano studies at the age of 4 with his mother, an amateur pianist, but with the onset of World War II, the family was forced into the Warsaw Ghetto and the lessons ended. Smuggled out of the ghetto in 1942 and given false identity papers with the name Andrzej Czajkowski, he went into hiding with his grandmother until the end of the war.

At the age of 9, Andrzej Czajkowski began formal piano studies at the State School in Lodz where his teacher was Emma Altberg. An extraordinary talent, he continued to the Paris Conservatory in 1948 becoming the youngest student ever admitted to the higher class of Lazar Lévy. His first public performance was in Paris in 1948 where he played Chopin and his own compositions. He graduated from the Paris Conservatory in 1950 with Gold Medals in sight-reading and piano performance at the age of 14.

Returning to Poland in 1950, Andrzej Czajkowski studied at the State Music Academy in Sopot under Olga Iliwicka-Dabrowska, and starting in 1951 at the State Music Academy in Warsaw under Stanislaw Szpinalski for piano and Kazimierz Sikorski for composition. He was awarded membership in the Polish Composers Union at the age of 15 after submitting his Suite for Piano. Of the Suite, Membership Committee Chairman Zygmunt Mycielski wrote, "Andrzej Czajkowski shows considerable composing talent through his musical inventiveness, which is remarkable for such a young boy. I can state the Czajkowski undoubtedly possesses a great talent, musicality, and originality."

In 1955, Andrzej Czajkowski won 8th prize in the Chopin Competition in Warsaw, and the next year, he took part in the 1956 Queen Elisabeth Competition, winning third prize, which launched his international career. Under the auspices of impresario, Sol Hurok, and with the considerable assistance of Arthur Rubinstein, huge concert tours followed. Starting in 1956, he continued his piano studies in Brussels with the Polish pianist Stefan Askenase, and in 1957, composition with Nadia Boulanger at the American Conservatory in Fontainebleau. It was at Fontainebleau that he completed a piano concerto dedicated to the American pianist John Browning.

In some recital programs, Andrzej Czajkowski slyly programmed his own compositions, including a Sonata (1958) by Uyu Dal. He also played with the major world orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic Orchestra under Dimitri Mitropoulos, Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Fritz Reiner and the Los Angeles Symphony under Jean Martinon, to name just a few. Several recordings were completed for RCA Victor and Pathé Columbia Records, adding to his busy schedule.

In 1960, he moved from Paris to London and started to divide his time between concert dates and composing. While this effectively ended his career as an international virtuoso, his remaining recital and concert dates provided a living and allowed him the time he wanted for composing and other interests such as Shakespeare's plays, playing bridge, and correspondence. This pattern of playing and composing continued until 1982, when his life was claimed by colon cancer. His opera, The Merchant of Venice, was finished less the last 24 measures of orchestration, which were completed by composer Alan Boustead.
Audio
Program
Final (31/05/1956)
Franz Liszt Fantasie et fugue in G minor
René Defossez Concerto for piano and orchestra
Sergey Prokofiev Concerto n. 3 in C major op. 26
Andrzej Czajkowski, piano
National Orchestra of Belgium, dir. Franz André
Relive the performances of Cello 2022
H.M. Queen Mathilde
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