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The A–Z of Marcel Chyrzyński


A for Academy, E for Ewelina, I for Inspirations, P for Pipes…

Marcel Chyrzyński, January’s COMPOSER OF THE MONTH, introduces us to his world and his music letter by letter.





A is for the Academy of Music in Krakow

I’ve been associated with the Academy for more than half my life. First I studied composition with Marek Stachowski on the Faculty of Composition, Conducting and Music Theory (1990–95), and since then I’ve worked there as a lecturer. I also gained my academic degrees at the Academy: PhD in composition in 1998 and Habilitation in music in 2010. Since 2014, I’ve also been director of the Institute of Composition, Conducting and Music Theory.


C is for Clarinet

My main instrument in school and one of my favourites. Hence the many works featuring this instrument in my oeuvre.


E is for Ewelina

My wife and my friend; the person dearest to me in the world. A musicology graduate, she is familiar with contemporary music and has a similar sensibility to me. I dedicated to her 'Extended Perception of Echo' for string orchestra.

F is for the International Festival of Krakow Composers

I made my debut at this festival (when it was still called ‘Days of Music by Krakow Composers’) in 1994 with a monographic concert featuring five of my compositions. In 2014, the Board of the Krakow Branch of the Polish Composers Union appointed me the new director of the festival.

G is for German shepherd

My beloved German shepherd dog Axa.


I is for Inspirations

The heritage of European culture, as well as Japanese woodcuts, Buddhism, Zen philosophy, the universe, life…

J is for Japan

One of my favourite countries. I’ve been fascinated by Japanese culture since the 90s. I love the sound of the shakuhachi flute and also the shamisenu and the koto. I’ve visited Japan several times.


M is for Marek

During my composition studies, Marek Chołoniewski introduced me to the secrets of electroacoustic music. We set up the ‘mc2’ group and played several successful concerts together.


N is for Nihonto

Besides pipes, I also collect nihonto – things connected with samurai weaponry. My collection includes items from the sixteenth century (armour and a tachi sword belonging to Master Norinaga) and the mid seventeenth century (a katana belonging to Master Kotetsu), as well as more than thirty tsuba (sword guards) from the Edo and Meiji periods (eighteenth and nineteenth centuries). Part of my collection was presented in the largest nihonto exhibition held in Poland: ‘Piękno wykute w stali’ [Beauty forged from steel] at the ‘Manggha’ Museum of Japanese Art and Technology in 2010.


O is for Opera

I’ve long been intending to write a chamber opera using acoustic instruments, electronics and video. But I’m still looking for a suitable libretto.


P is for Pipes

I don’t just smoke pipes; I collect them as well. I have more than 250 – mainly English, Irish, Danish, Italian, German, French and Old Chinese, as well as Japanese kiseru pipes. The oldest example in my collection is a Japanese kiseru from the eighteenth century.


S is for Stachowski

Professor Marek Stachowski was my master during my studies at the Academy of Music in Krakow. He taught me such things as shaping form (including within the context of the listener’s perception), employing and processing motifs, and taking care over the notation of a score. He was an open man, of exceptional intelligence and erudition, helpful, distinguished, but at the same time with a great sense of humour. I’ve dedicated two of my works to Professor Stachowski.

T is for Theatre

I’ve been associated with the theatre since 1998, when I wrote the music to Ramon del Valle-Inclan’s play 'Divine Words' (Pol. Słowa boże) for the Juliusz Słowacki Theatre in Krakow (dir. Bartosz Szydłowki). Since then, I’ve written the music to more than ten shows.

U is for Ukiyo-e

To date, I’ve written three works inspired by Japanese ukiyo-e woodcuts – pictures of the passing world: 'Ukiyo-e' for string orchestra (2012), 'Ukiyo-e No. 2', a concerto for flute and symphony orchestra (2015), and 'Ukiyo-e No. 3', a concerto for cello and symphony orchestra (2016). I am currently working on 'Ukiyo-e No. 4' for clarinet, French horn, piano and string orchestra, to a commission from the Karol Szymanowski Music Society in Zakopane. This work will be performed for the first time in July 2018 in Zakopane, and subsequently in Katowice, Daegu (South Korea) and Krakow.


W is for Wanderlust

I enjoy getting to know new countries and their cultures. On family and professional trips, I’ve visited many countries of Europe, North America and Africa. But I’m most inspired by Asian countries. I’ve visited China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and Japan.

Z is for the ZKP

I became a member of the Polish Composers Union (ZKP) in 1995 and was immediately granted full membership. Since 2002, I’ve been on the board of the Cracow Branch, and I’m also in my third term on the board of the ZKP (2005–2007, 2009–2011 and 2013–2019). In 2016, I was elected President of the Krakow Branch of the ZKP.




© PWM / photo Bartek Barczyk

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