Katowice - Grzegorz Fitelberg International Competition for Conductors
November 10–24 2023
Grzegorz Fitelberg was a violonist, composer and the most highly regarded Polish conductor. Witold Lutosławski was right when he wrote „Without exaggeration it may be stated that Fitelberg made a large contribution to Poland’s composing heritage. He was a pivotal figure in promoting young Polish music, whithout whom creators of the time would not have been able to develop their talents and gain necessary experience”.
In 1906 – 1953, Fitelberg gave 189 concerts presenting Polish contemporary music. Most of the first performances of Karol Szymanowski’s works were were performer under his baton. He brought to the stage the music of such Polish composers as Bolesław Woytowicz, Roman Palester, Witold Lutosławski and Grażyna Bacewicz, while introducing Polish audience to the works of Albert Roussel, Paul Hindemith, Arthur Honegger, Darius Milhaud and others.
What kind of conductor was he? „Brilliant in rehearsals”, reminisced Karol Stryja. „In concerts, however, he was… he was plagued by stage fright. (…) it used to happen that, in certain movements with a complex score, he would get confused and, as we used to call it, just waved the baton about. He always prepared the orchestra well in rehearsals, though, and no catastrophe ever occurred.” „Standing on rigid legs with feet apart, he would tuck the elbow of his left arm tight against his side and lift his middle finger up unnaturally. The palm of his right hand, holding the baton, was facing u pall the time and looked as if it was growing up of his chest. Ecen though the condavtor himself was in a way an embodiment of the rhythmic element, the movements of his right arm (left one remaining predominantly motionless) somehow failed to match his internal movement and were often strangely vague and hardly comprehensible”, recalles musician and composer Kazimierz Wiłkomirski.
These observations were aptly summed up by conductor Jan Krenz: „Fitelberg at the conductor’s stand… was not your average conductor. His technic was so peculiar, so unique to his personal style. (…) While some criticised it as being vague, I thought that his style was a proof that manual skil lis not everything. (…) He reached great musical peaks, his eyes radiated musical emotion, his whole being spoke – he conducted with his entire body”. Fitelberg’s famous words, „I detest the atmosphere of non-enthusiasm” are well remembered by everybody.