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Born in Tarnów into a family with musical traditions; his grandfather and uncle were organ builders in Tuchów, and his father, Michał Krogulski, was a piano teacher, organist and organiser of music clubs. He was also the future composer’s first music teacher. By the age of nine, Józef was already giving public performances in and around Tarnów. In one concert, on 16 March 1825, the young virtuoso played Johann Nepomuk Hummel’s Concerto in A minor. That performance was even noted in the Warsaw press. Before long, Józef ’s father decided to travel to Warsaw, where the boy would have the chance to display his talents on more illustrious concert platforms. In June 1825 Krogulski performer in private homes in the capital, and on 19 June he gave his first public concert at the Conservatory. The programme, besides compositions by Hummel and Kalkbrenner, included Józef ’s own fantasies.
Towards the end of August 1825, the young virtuoso set off on his first concert tour, via Greater Poland and Silesia to Berlin and Dresden, where he performed in front of King Frederick Augustus I of Saxony. Krogulski also performed in Leipzig, and in Weimar he was briefly a pupil of Hummel’s. Little more than a year later, in October 1826, after just a few weeks in Warsaw, Krogulski embarked on another concert tour, via Puławy, Lublin and Zamość as far as Lviv and Kiev. In December 1827 he returned to his native Tarnów.
In 1828 he moved to Warsaw permanently, enrolling at the Main School of Music. Initially he learned thoroughbass with Karol Kurpiński and then with Józef Elsner. During that time, he wrote his first more mature works, published in the music store of Karol Ludwik Magnus: Taniec polski (‘Polish dance’), Mazur, Anglez i galopada (‘Anglaise and galopade’) and Taniec polski militarny (‘Polish military dance’), as well as works that later gained particular recognition: the Fantasy and Variations in G minor La bella Cracovienna, op. 1, the Quartet in D major, op. 2, the Piano Sonata no. 2 in A minor, op. 3 and the two piano concertos.
His performance on 15 December 1830 at the National Theatre marked the beginning of Józef Krogulski’s patriotic activities. He composed such works as the Mazur wojenny (‘Military mazur’), to be sung with piano accompaniment, Marsz narodowy (‘National march’) and Batalia (‘Battle’), which was a sort of medley of patriotic songs arranged for piano.
In December 1831, after the Main School of Music was closed down, Krogulski began giving private piano lessons to pay for his continued studies with Elsner. A year later, he set up a non-feepaying singing school attached to the Institute of St Casimir on Tamka Street. During that period, he wrote his first religious compositions. From 1836 he ran his own choir attached to the Piarist church. That ensemble’s repertoire included sacred works by Krogulski himself: masses, hymns and cantatas. Besides amateurs, artists of the Warsaw Opera and pupils of Karol Kurpiński’s School of Singing also took part. Soon afterwards, the composer founded another free school to train singers with the Piarist choir. Graduates of that school included Ignacy Marceli Komorowski and Maurycy Karasowski, while others later founded their own singing schools in the provinces. From 1834 Krogulski was also associated with the Merchants’ Hall in Warsaw, for which he gave public performances as a pianist and wrote sacred works. He was also involved in the work of an organisation supporting musical artists who had fallen on hard times, founded in 1837 by his good friend Józef Cichocki. On 17 January 1838 the composer married Ludwika Katarzyna Gargulska. Their two daughters died in infancy.
Krogulski’s sacred opus magnum is undoubtedly his Good Friday oratorio Miserere, which he completed in April 1841. Exhausted by hard work and worsening tuberculosis, he confided in his close friend Józef Mikołaj Wiślicki: ‘I’ve fulfilled my undertaking, now I can die in peace’. He departed this world less than a year later, on 9 January 1842, in Warsaw. He was buried in Powązki Cemetery. Krogulski’s oeuvre contains around a hundred sacred and secular works, more than thirty of which were published during the composer’s lifetime, mostly in the music stores of Warsaw publishers. His manuscripts and prints are held in the Jagiellonian Library in Cracow, the Library of Warsaw Music Society and the National Library in Warsaw. A large collection of copies of his works is also held in the Juliusz Słowacki Municipal Public Library in Tarnów.
Based on a biographical note by Mariusz Lesław Krogulski posted on the website portalmuzykipolskiej.pl
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