Beskidy Piano Workshop
The Beskidy Piano Workshop was created in 2002, inspired by a pedagogue of the Piano Department at the Academy of Music in Katowice – Professor Czeslaw Stańczyk – as the chain link of cooperating piano courses, based on the same organizational sheme. The Workshop was organized out of institutions, in the beautiful private estate the House under Shingles in Rycerka Górna and functioned relatively briefly, only till 2005. Despite of a short period of time of only 4 years – overall six editions of the course took place. The seventh edition, planned for 18-26 February 2006, was canceled by the organizer.
Organizational system of the Workshop, created by Pawel Skrzypek and Czeslaw Stańczyk during the Musical Meetings in Podlasie in 1998-1999, finally introduced at the Warsaw Piano Workshop in 2000 as well as taken over by the Gold Country Piano Institute in Nevada City, California in 2003, assumed allocation of each participant’s repertoire between three lecturers and everyday, individual lesson of each participant with different lecturer and different position of repertoire. Overall 119 pianists participated six editions of the Workshop. [click here to see complete list of participants].
In its final shape since 2004, the faculty of the Beskidy Piano Workshop was Prof. Czeslaw Stańczyk, Prof. Jerzy Sulikowski from the Academy of Music in Bydgoszcz and Gdansk and Pawel Skrzypek. There were two assistants for special didactic tasks – Zofia Antes from the Chopin State School of Music in Warsaw and Adam Podrez from the State School of Music in Bielsko-Biała. Prof. Czeslaw Stańczyk was an Artistic Director of the Workshop. Classes were made also by guest lecturers: at the third edition in February 2003 by Prof. Stefan Wojtas from the Music Academy in Kraków (piano solo) and at the fourth edition in September 2003 by Prof. Maria Szwajger-Kułakowska from the Academy of Music in Katowice (piano chamber music). In two first years (2002 and 2003) course took place twice a year – in February and in September. In 2004 and 2005 – once a year – only in February. So it had a character of winter course and altogether with beautiful scenery of the Żywiec Beskidy mountains had a very special, unique flavor. Location of the House under Shingles, which was the center of the Workshop, in one of the side, mountain valleys of Rycerka Górna village, put this flavour deeply in the memory – both of participants and lecturers of the Workshop. Participants were accommodated in surrounding, guest houses, where they were provided excellent meals and possibility to practice on upright pianos specially brought for this purpose. All pianists practicing till the late night had three grand pianos in the House under Shingles for their disposal as well. Paths to reach the House from places of the accommodation led through mountain meadows, many times in drifts and high snow, often in the darkness of the long February evening. It was giving special emotions and adventures to the flavour of the Workshop. Both participants and lecturers attended also mountain trips in autumn and winter, led by an assistant of the Workshop and the same time the Beskidian Guide – Adam Podrez.
During the Workshop, numerous concerts of participants and lecturers were held in the House under Shingles. Two final participants’ concerts – in 2004 and 2005 – took place in the concert hall of the Żywiec Castle. Lecturers also had presented serious programs in the House under Shingles. Here the piano recital by Pawel Skrzypek during the Fifth Workshop in February 2004, presenting the complete set of four Chopin’s Ballads can be mentioned. There were also guests’ concerts. Among them the recital by Tomasz Lupa given during sixth Workshop in February 2005 was an important event, when pianist brilliantly performed complete cycle of seven Bach’s Toccatas. Also completely unusual concerts took place in Rycerka. Such certainly was a short concert of chamber choir, compound of the participants' group under direction of the other participant – Michael Tierra from Santa Cruz, California. It was organised in September 2003 during the Fourth Beskidy Piano Workshop. In that concert the transcription for choir of well-known Horowitz interpretation of polyphonic Scarlatti’s Sonata B minor K.87, specially prepared for this occasion by Michael Tierra, was performed invoking enthusiasm among singing pianists.
Another tradition of the Workshop were lectures and quizzes. Lectures related to the problems of interpretation were led by lecturers, assistants and guests. Good example was a lecture by Zofia Antes dedicated to Inventions of Bach given at the Third Workshop in February 2003 as well as a lecture by Adam Podrez dedicated to interpretation art of Vladimir Horowitz given at the Fifth Workshop in February 2004. Lectures given in Rycerka by Professor Stańczyk quickly became famous in students’ circles of the time. There were also several quizzes dedicated to theoretical problems and knowledge acquired during lectures. These written tests, always prepared by Professor Stańczyk, consisted of choosing the right answer among three possible, were not only extremely valuable, but also created a competitive atmosphere and became a fantastic form of entertainment.
The Beskidy Piano Workshop was conducting a scholarship activity as well. It was connected with exchange of the most interesting participants in the frame of the group of workshops, together with the Warsaw Piano Workshop and the course of the Gold Country Piano Institute. So in the Beskidy Piano Workshop it was possible to get the scholarship covering participation in some of the courses belonging to the group; from the other hand the Workshop welcomed participants who won scholarships in cooperating courses to participate in the BWP. Founder and coordinator of the Scholarship Exchange Program was a BWP lecturer, director of the Warsaw Piano Workshop as well as artistic director of the Gold Country Piano Institute, Professor Pawel Skrzypek.
The Beskidy Piano Workshop granted eight scholarships. The scholarship laureates were (in chronological order):
Katarzyna Hajduk – in the 1st Workshop, 2002;
Ewa Tytman – in the 2nd Workshop, 2002;
Maria Daroch – also in the 2nd Workshop, 2002;
Karina Komendera – in the third Workshop, 2003;
Marcin Kowalczyk – also in the third Workshop, 2003;
—— in the fourth Workshop 2003 scholarship was not awarded;
Joanna Żabierek – in the fifth Workshop, 2004;
Karina Komendera – also in the fifth Workshop, 2004;
Tomasz Konieczny – in the sixth Workshop, 2005.
This is how the Artistic Director of the Beskidy Piano Workshop, Professor Czeslaw Stańczyk defined this unique piano course in the brochure published by the BWP:
“Purpose of the Beskidy Piano Workshop is to work on current and new repertoire, to check – at concerts and in concert halls – compositions already prepared, but also to extend musical and artistic horizons. That is why an important accent of our work in Rycerka are everyday, common meetings of all the participants. We listen together how colleagues perform and we discuss about their appearances, we play tapes and records with concerts of great masters of piano and we share our reflections about their art, while listening to lectures we gain new knowledge, during seminars and tests we present our views. The Beskidy Piano Workshop has established close cooperation with the Warsaw Piano Workshop. This cooperation, natural through the similar composition of faculty, also complementary by objectives and artistic programs, results among others with exchange of scholarships granted to the best participants of both meetings”.
It is possible only to express sorrow, that so unusually colorful, and fortunately well commemorated by photographers, piano course has been closed so early and hasn’t been continued. Six editions of the Beskidy Piano Workshop, popularly called by young pianists Rycerka, certainly constitutes very valuable position in the history of Polish courses of piano interpretation.