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Andrzej Dobrowolski (Composer)

Born: September 9, 1921 - Lwów (Lvov), Poland
Died: August 8, 1990 - Graz, Austria.

The Polish composer and teacher, Andrzej Dobrowolski, studied during the war organ with Bronisław Rutkowski, clarinet with Ludwik Kurkiewicz and singing with Stefan Belina-Skupiewski at the Warsaw Conservatoire. From 1945 to 1951 he continued his studies with Stefania Łobaczewska (theory) and Artur Malawski (composition) at the State Higher School of Music in Cracow.

From 1947 to 1954 Andrzej Dobrowolski taught theory at the State Secondary Music School and at the State Higher School of Music (now Academy of Music) in Kraków (Cracow). Subsequently, from 1954 to 1976, he was associate professor of theory at the State Higher School of Music ((now Academy)) in Warsaw, where (from 1964) he also taught his own composition class. From 1976, after his state nomination to the academic title of professor, he was a lecturer at the Hochschule für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Graz, where he taught classes in composition and electronic music. From 1979 he also held the post of dean at the Department of Composition, Theory and Conducting at that academy. He was general secretary of the Polish Composers' Union for many years.

Andrzej Dobrowolski was also engaged in the activity of the Experimental Studio of the Polish Radio in Warsaw as well as the Institut für Elektronische Musik at the Hochschule für Musik in Graz. In 1969 he was decorated with the Gold Cross of Merit. In 1971 he received the Minister of Culture and Arts Award, in 1972 - the Award of the Polish Composers' Union for all his artistic achievements, and in 1990 - the Johann Joseph Fux Music Award of the Government of Styria.

Andrzej Dobrowolski wrote a theoretical study entitled Metodyka nauczania harmonii w szkołach muzycznych II stopnia [Methodology of teaching harmony in secondary music schools] (PWM, Cracow 1967).


Andrzej Dobrowolski's early works such as the Trio (1956) show that he had fully absorbed the rhythmic style and harmonic language of neo-classical composers, and his Suita dziecięca (‘Children's Suite’, 1953) for piano duet uses superimposed bitonal triads and modal harmony as well as folk rhythms typical of the period. With the influx of avant-garde ideas into Poland after the cultural thaw of 1956, Dobrowolski rapidly developed an interest in serial theories, in block sonorities and in the spatial distribution of instruments; he explored these with logic and intellectual rigour, qualities he also demonstrated as a teacher and encouraged in his students. The titles of his works may seem rather stiff (for example, Music for Strings, Two Groups of Wind Instruments and Two Loudspeakers, 1967), but the anagrammatic title of the chamber work Krabogapa of 1969 (based on the players' initials) reveals a deep-rooted playfulness and humour. These attributes can best be seen in the entertaining Music for Three Accordions, Harmonica and Three Percussion, operating within a sound-world which, as in many of his compositions, owes much to his work in the electronic studio and to his admiration of Stockhausen's works from the electronic studio of WDR, Cologne. This interest in electronic and computer music continued throughout Dobrowolski's career (see below).

The predominant structural process in Dobrowolski's orchestral music of the 1960’s and 1970’s was that of abrupt juxtapositions of textural blocks of sustained homogenous sonority or agitated, brittle figurations (as in Music for Orchestra No.3, 1973). The outbursts of rapid, screaming wind, shimmering percussion and brutalistic clusters are qualities he shares with other Polish composers, but he is rarely as uninhibited as Serocki or as adventurous as Lutosławski. Rather, within his chosen gestural types, he was concerned to explore pitch collections and, within a highly schematized use of the 12 notes, he was fond of tight but expressive chromatic bundles and arabesques in the manner of a permutated B–A–C–H motif. Rather surprisingly, he was also fond of illuminating the triadic possibilities inherent in his system. The passacaglia became a favourite form for Dobrowolski and his Music for Orchestra No.5 (1979) amply demonstrates his mature handling of pitch organization and form. His later works became more personal and inwardly expressive, as in the Music for Orchestra and Oboe Solo (1985), a dark and urgent work in which the earlier abstract use of sound has given way to something more profound and dramatic.

Electro-acoustic Music

When in 1958 one of the world’s first studios of music for tape - the Experimental Studio of the Polish Radio - was founded in Warsaw, Andrzej Dobrowolski was one of its first users. Together with Włodzimierz Kotoński, Zbigniew Wiszniewski and Bogusław Schaeffer, he played a key role in the history of Polish music for tape, determining the directions in which it developed until the 1970’s. Andrzej Dobrowolski’s first work in which he applied the new electro-acoustic technology was Music for Tape No. 1 recorded in the Experimental Studio of the Polish Radio in 1962. The input sound material was derived from a variety of sources, which was a new idea, as the earlier pieces from the Warsaw Studio had been based on homogeneous sound material. Dobrowolski used polytones from generators, piano chords, voices and the sounds of the piano resonating box into which individual vowels were exclaimed. Despite such heterogeneous sources, Music for Tape No. 1 is characterised by a unity and integrity of sound, which is distinctly “electronic” in character. This is due to the identical structuring processes to which the composer submitted all the sounds collected on the tape. The publication of the score of this piece by PWM Edition was an extraordinary event: works for tape usually exist only as a unique studio recording and are virtually never published as a score. Music for Tape No. 1 was performed, or rather - played back - twice at the Warsaw Autumn Festival (in 1962 and 1963). Virtually each subsequent electronic piece by Andrzej Dobrowolski was later presented at that festival, almost invariably becoming a major event in the programme. In 1966, Music for Magnetic Tape and Solo Oboe inaugurated a series of pieces which combined a “live” performer with music from loudspeakers. This work was followed by Music for Strings, Two Groups of Wind Instruments and Two Loudspeakers (1967), Music for Tape and Piano (1971), Music for Tape and Double-Bass (1977), Music for Tape and Bass Clarinet (1980). S for S, Electronic Music from 1973 was purely electronic; finally, in 1988, Dobrowolski wrote Passacaglia für TX in which the almost 70-year-old composer applied computers.

Electro-acoustic works were by no means the dominant of artistic expression for Andrzej Dobrowolski. Throughout his life, he made use of various musical genres, but even in the field of purely symphonic music one can hear in his works “electronic” sound which he created by breaking the conventions related to the traditional sound structure of the orchestra.


Symphonic Variations for orchestra (1949)
Overture for symphony orchestra (1950-1951)
Concerto for bassoon and orchestra (1953)
Symphony No. 1 (1955)
Trio for oboe, clarinet and bassoon * (1956)
Eight Studies for oboe, trumpet, bassoon and double-bass pizzicato (1958-1959)
Music for Magnetic Tape No. 1 * (1962)
Music for String Orchestra and Four Groups of Wind Instruments * (1964)
Music for Magnetic Tape and Solo Oboe * (1965)
Music for Strings, Two Groups of Wind Instruments and Two Loudspeakers * (1966-1967)
Music for Orchestra No. 1 * (1968)
Krabogapa for clarinet, trombone, cello and piano * (1969)
Amar. Music for Orchestra No. 2 * (1970)
Music for Magnetic Tape and Solo Piano * (1971-1972)
Music for Solo Tuba (1972)
Music for Orchestra No. 3 * (1972-1973)
S for S (Study for Synthi) for tape (1973)
A-LA. Music for Orchestra No. 4 * (1974)
Music for Mixed Choir, Two Groups of Wind Instruments, Double-Basses and Percussion * (1975)
Music for Magnetic Tape and Solo Double-Bass (1977)
Music for Three Accordions, Mouth-Organ and Percussion * (1977)
Pas. Music for Orchestra No. 5 * (1978-1979)
Music for Magnetic Tape and Solo Bass Clarinet * (1980)
Music for Orchestra No. 6 (1981-1982)
Musik für Grazer Bläserkreis for 8 trumpets, 8 horns, 8 trombones, 2 tubas and percussion (1984)
Music for Orchestra and Solo Oboe (1984-1985)
Flüchten - music for chamber ensemble and reciting voice to a text by Wilhelm Muster (1985-1986)
Music for Orchestra No. 7 (1986-1987)
Passacaglia für TX [1st version] computer music for tape (1988)
Passacaglia für TX [2nd version] computer music for tape (1989)
String Quartet * (1989)

Metodyka nauczania harmonii w szkołach muzycznych II stopnia [Methodology of teaching harmony in secondary music schools], PWM, Kraków 1967
Wpływ festiwali "Warszawska Jesień" na rozwój życia muzycznego w Polsce [The Influence of “Warsaw Autumn” Festivals on Music Life Development in Poland], "Muzyka" 1975 nr 3

Source: Oxford Music Online (Grove) (Author: John Casken) [accessed: July 17, 2011]; Polish Music Information Center Website
Contributed by
Thomas Braatz (July 2011); Aryeh Oron (August 2011)

Andrzej Dobrowolski: Short Biography | Arrangements/Transcriptions: Works | Recordings

Links to other Sites

Andrzej Dobrowolski (Polish Music Information Center) [English/Polish]



Ludomira Stawowy: Dobrowolski Andrzej. In: PWM Music Encyclopaedia (biographical section ed. by Elżbieta Dziębowska), vol. “CD” (PWM, Kraków 1984)
C. Neunteufl: ‘Gespräche mit steirischen Komponisten: Andrzej Dobrowolski’, Mitteilungen des steirischen Tonknstlerbundes, lxxxviii (1985), 206-14 [interview]
T. Zielinski: ‘Passacaglia i Muzyka nr 6 Andrzeja Dobrowolskiego’, [Passacaglia and Muzyka nr 6 by Dobrowolski], RM, xxix/15 (1985), 3-4
K. Baculewski: Polska tw
órczosc kompozvtorska 1945–1984 [Polish composers' output 1945-84] (Krakow, 1987)
Krystyna Jaraczewska-Mockałło: Dobrowolski Andrzej. Katalog twórczości i bibliografia [Catalogue of Works and Bibliography] (Akademia Muzyczna w Warszawie, Warszawa 1996)
Andrzej Chodkowski: Dobrowolski Andrzej. In: PWM Music Encyclopaedia (biographical section ed. by Elżbieta Dziębowska), vol. “CD – Supplement” (PWM, Kraków 2001)

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Last update: ýAugust 26, 2011 ý21:17:52