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(b. 1785, Włoszakowice - d. 1857, Warsaw)

Biography List of Works


Karol Kazimierz Kurpiński, born on 6 March 1785 in Włoszakowice (Wielkopolska), was a composer, conductor and teacher. He first studied music with his father, Marcin Kurpiński (1744-1803), an organist at Włoszakowice. At the age of 12, he became organist at Sarnow (Wielkopolska), where his uncle Karol Wański was a parish priest. In 1800 another of his mother's brothers, the cellist Roch Wański, took him to Moszkłw (Małopolska), the estate of Feliks Polanowski, an amateur composer who had a private orchestra of which Wański was a member, and in which the young Kurpiński played second violin. It was probably at this time (before 1808) that he composed his first opera, Pygmalion, now lost. In 1808 he became resident music master to the Rastawiecki family in Lwów, and in 1810 settled in Warsaw. With the help of Elsner he became deputy conductor and from 1824 principal conductor of the Warsaw Opera, a position he held until 1840. He taught music at the schools of drama (1812 and 1817) and singing (1835-40) which he himself had founded. In 1815 he became a member of the Warsaw Society of Friends of Learning, and was also a member of many musical societies in Poland and abroad, including the Societe des Enfans d'Apollon in Paris. He became Kapellmeister of the Polish royal chapel in 1819 and in the same year received a medal for his services to music. In 1820-21 he founded and edited the first Polish music periodical, Music weekly. He was decorated with the Order of St Stanislaw in 1823, when he also travelled to Germany, France, Italy and Austria in the service of music. He married Zofia Brzozowska (1799-1879), a singer in the Warsaw Opera.

Kurpiński was one of the most talented Polish composers before Chopin and helped to lay the foundations of a national style and prepared the ground for Polish music of the Romantic period. Gifted with exceptional creative originality, he contributed to the development of Polish opera, introducing new musical devices and achieving an intensified dramatic expression. Operas and polonaises form the largest part of his output. His operas were successful at the time and some, for instance The Castle of Czorsztyn, have not lost their appeal. Of his 24 stage works, nine survive complete and eight in part, while the rest have been lost. Although brought up on the Viennese Classics, Kurpiński followed the spirit of his times, combining the new achievements of European music with the folklore of his own country. He died on 18 September 1857 in Warsaw.


Chamber Music

Fantaisie en quatuor

Trio, for clarinet, violin and cello

Reverie over Wanda's tomb, for violin and piano - 1820

Nocturn , for horn, bassoon and viola, op.16 - 1823

Paysage Musical, for horn and bassoon, op.18 - 1823

Cavatina, for trumpet or trombone and piano - 1953

Orchestral Works

Grand Battle Symphony, op 15

Grand Fugue on the Song "Poland has not perished yet", arranged for piano - 1821

Potpourri, or Variations on National Themes, for piano and orchestra - 1822

Clarinet Concerto, arranged for clarinet and piano - 1950

Sacred Vocal Works

Six Masses, including "Country Mass" - 1821

Oratorio, for 4 voices, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, double bass, timpani and organ

Cantata Vocal Works

Cantata on the Anniversary of Napoleon's Coronation - 1810

Elegy on the Death of Tadeusz Kosciuszko - 1819

Cantata on the Unveiling of the Copernicus Monument - 1830


The Song of Warsaw - 1831

The Song of the Lithuanian Legionaries - 1831

Piano Music

A Dreadful Dream - 1820

Le reveil de J.J. Rousseau au printemps - 1821

Nine variations - 1821

Fantaisie for alto - 1821

Fantaisie, op 10 - 1823

Six Variations - 1823

Stage Works

Pygmalion, opera - c. 1800-08 (lost)

The Palace of Lucifer, opera in 4 acts - 1811

Mistress Marcin of the Harem, comic opera in 3 acts - 1812

The Charlatan, or The Raising of the Dead, opera in 2 acts - 1814

Jadwiga, Queen of Poland, opera in 3 acts - 1814

Superstition, or Krakovians and Mountaineers, or The new Krakovians, opera in 3 acts - 1816

Jan Kochanowski at Czarny Las, opera comique in 2 acts - 1817

Czaromysl the Slav Prince, opera in 1 act - 1818

Terpsichore's New Colony on the Vistula, ballet - 1818

The Castle of Czorsztyn, or Bojomir and Wanda, opera in 2 acts - 1819

Kalmora, or The Paternal Right of the Americans, melodrama in 2 acts - 1820

Mars and Flora, ballet in 1 act - 1820

The Foresters of Kozienice, opera in 1 act - 1821

The Three Graces, ballet - 1822

Cecylia Piaseczynska, opera in 2 acts - 1829

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Edited in July 2000 by Ewa Grzegrzulka. Updated on 28 June 2001.