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Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra (Symphony Orchestra)

Born: 1935 - Warsaw, Poland
Revived: 1945 - Katowice, Poland

Considered the leading Polish orchestra, the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra in Katowice fulfils the role of a cultural ambassador representing Poland on the international art scene. In recent years the opportunity to present Polish works of art were among others concerts in Brussels (Europalia 2001 - Poland), Vienna (opening of the Polish Year), Düsseldorf (Days of Polish Voivodeship in Nordrein Westfalen), Madrid (gala concert of Polish Year in Spain), Rome (commemoration of the 70th birthday of H. M. Górecki), Kiev (opening of Polish Year in Ukraine), Paris (gala concert of Polish Year in France 'New Poland') and London (opening of Polish Year in Great Britain - Polska! Year). The orchestra were honoured to cooperate with some of the greatest composers of the 2nd half of the 20th century presenting first performances of their works.


Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra (= PNRSO) in Katowice was founded in 1935 in Warsaw. The orchestra was created and led by Grzegorz Fitelberg until the outbreak of World War II. In March 1945 Witold Rowicki revived the orchestra in Katowice. In 1947 the orchestra was taken over by Grzegorz Fitelberg who had come back to Poland. After his death in 1953, the orchestra was headed by Jan Krenz, Bohdan Wodiczko, Kazimierz Kord, Tadeusz Strugała, Jerzy Maksymiuk, Stanisław Wisłocki, Jacek Kaspszyk, Antoni Wit. In September 2000 Joanna Wnuk-Nazarowa became the General and Programme Director. Between 2001 and 2007 the Artistic Director of PNRSO was Gabriel Chmura. In January 2009 Jacek Kaspszyk became the Music Director and Michał Klauza the Associate Conductor. The title of the first Guest Conductor of PNRSO was accepted by Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, Honorary Conductor by Jan Krenz and Artistic Advisor by Jerzy Semkow.


The orchestra has recorded more than 198 compact discs for many Polish and foreign labels (Decca, EMI, Phillips, etc.) and made numerous archival recordings for the needs of Polish Radio. For the Naxos label they recorded among others complete works of Witold Lutosławski (9 CD’s), all symphonies of Tchaikowsky, most of Penderecki's (I-V), Gustav Mahler's (except for VIII), as well as works of Kilar, Wieniawski, Moszkowski and Górecki and for Chandos Records they made a three record album with music of Mieczysław Weinberg. Recorded by PNRSO K. Penderecki's Credo, H.M. Górecki's Symphony No. 3 and W. Kilar's Missa pro pace were released on DVD and SACD by Polish Radio as “The Sacred Triptych”.

For phonographic achievements the orchestra was honoured with numerous prizes among others Five Piano Concertos by Prokofiev under direction of Antoni Wit with the soloist Kun-Woo Paik were awarded the Diapason d'Or and the Grand Prix du Disque de la Nouvelle Académie du Disque 1992 and the recording of Turangalila Symphony by Olivier Messiaen under Antoni Wit was awarded the 2002 Cannes Classical Award. Recently a record for DUX with works of Krzysztof Penderecki (Capriccio for violin and orchestra, De natura sonoris no. 2 for the piano and orchestra Resurrection) with participation of PNRSO as well as soloists Beata Bilińska and Patrycja Piekutowska conducted by the composer received prestigious Midem Classical Award 2008 in the category of Contemporary Music.


Many renowned conductors and soloists have performed with the PNRSO in Poland and abroad. Among them were: Martha Argerich, Leonard Bernstein, Rudolf Buchbinder, James Conlon, Plácido Domingo, Pierre Fournier, Nicolai Gedda, Barbara Hendricks, Julius Katchen, Leonidas Kavakos, Wilhelm Kempff, Kevin Kenner, Paweł Klecki, Kirill Kondrashin, Marguerite Long, Witold Lutosławski, Charles Mackerras, Mischa Maisky, Neville Marriner, Kurt Masur, Shlomo Mintz, Ivan Monighetti, Garrick Ohlsson, Kun-Woo Paik, Krzysztof Penderecki, Maurizio Pollini, Hermann Prey, Ruggiero Ricci, Mścisław Rostropowicz, Artur Rubinstein, Jerzy Semkow, En Shao, Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, Isaac Stern, Henryk Szeryng, Yan Pascal Tortelier, Pieter Wispelwey, Krystian Zimerman and Nicolai Znaider.


The orchestra has toured almost all European countries (regular tours in Great Britain and Germany), Americas as well as Japan, Hong Kong, China, Australia, New Zealand, Korea, Taiwan enjoying recognition of reviewers and audience. In its post-war history PNRSO has toured abroad 175 times, almost always including Polish music in its program. In March 2010 National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra held the first in its history tour to the countries of Persian Gulf. (Quatar, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates). During the journey musicians of the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra with participation of winners of Chopin Competitions - Krzysztof Jabłoński and Philippe Giusiano presented all Frédéric Chopin's works for orchestra. The tour was included in international celebrations of Frédéric Chopin Year.


In recent years PNRSO conducted projects encountered with enthusiasm:
- Marathon of works of H. M. Górecki organized by PNRSO on the occasion of celebration the composer`s 70th birthday, constituted the survey of works of the Katowice composer. The Marathon covered 18 concerts during which during which all published works of Henryk Mikołaj Górecki were performed
- Drive to Kilar`s music took place on the 60th anniversary of the composer's departure from Lvov. To express honour for achievements of Wojciech Kilar the Orchestra conducted a significant journey. Its route was from the Composer's home town, via Rzeszów, Kraków and Katowice to the Monastery Jasna Góra in Częstochowa. During the journey the orchestra performed at railway stations of cities connected with the Composer, presenting his most famous pieces.
- Musical Sea Voyage on board of the most beautiful Polish sailing-ship - Dar Młodzieży, the PNRSO musicians visited Latvia, Estonia and Finland in order to present in capitals of those countries both Polish works and compositions of Latvian, Estonian and Finnish composers. The tour finished in the concert at Kościuszko Square in Gdynia.
- Kilar's Day during three concerts in Katowice and one in Jasna Góra, PNRSO presenting the works of Wojciech Kilar celebrated 75th birthday of Maestro.
- Górecki•Penderecki Festival it was the very important artistic event organized on the occasion of Henryk Mikołaj Górecki’s and Krzysztof Penderecki’s 75th birth anniversary. During 6 concerts works represents all stages of their music output from vanguard to the most contemporary works were performed.
- PNRSO was the initiator of the project to the participation of which it invited one of the best interpreters of the Baroque music Helmuth Rilling, established by him Gächinger Kantorei Stuttgart as well asthe soloists: Carolina Ullrich, Anja Schlosser, Dominik Wortig and Simon Kirkbride. The accompanying Singers Group of the City of Katowice Camerata Silesia as well as National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra supported by the musicians of Bach-Collegium Stuttgart working also within established from Helmuth Rilling’s initiative Internationale Bachakademie in Stuttgart performed the monumental oratorio Messiah by Georg Frideric Handel. The concert gave splendour to the 250th anniversary of the composer’s death in 2009. The second concert performed by the same artists was the presentation of J.S. Bach’s cantatas.

PNRSO is also the organizer of biennale Festival of World Premieres - Polish Modern Music, whose third edition took place in March 2009.

Artistic Directors

Grzegorz Fitelberg (1935-1939)
Witold Rowicki (1945-1946)
Grzegorz Fitelberg (1947-1953)
Jan Krenz (1953-1967)
Bohdan Wodiczko (1968-??)
Kazimierz Kord
Tadeusz Strugała
Jerzy Maksymiuk
Stanisław Wisłocki
Jacek Kaspszyk (1980-1982)
Antoni Wit (1983-2000)
Gabriel Chmura (2001-2007)
Jacek Kaspszyk (Music Director - 2009-Present)
Michał Klauza (Associate Conductor - 2009-Present)

Source: Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra Katowice Website; Naxos Website
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (August 2010)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Bohdan Wodiczko


BWV 82 [w/ baritone Andrzej Hiolski]

Recordings of Arrangements/Transcriptions of Bach’s Works




Jan Krenz


A. Berg: Violin Concerto ("To the memory of an angel") [w/ violinist Henryk Szeryng]

Links to other Sites

Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra of Katowice (Official Website) [English/Polish]
Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra ( [English/Polish]

Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra Biography (Naxos)

Biographies of Performers: Main Page | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
Explanation | Acronyms | Missing Biographies | The Sad Corner


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Last update: Monday, May 29, 2017 17:13