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Karol Szymanowski - World-Famous Composer

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Karol Szymanowski (1882 - 1937), the world-famous composer and pianist, born in Tymoszowka, in the present-day Ukraine, then a part of Poland, spent most of his life travelling across Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and the USA. Composing the musical works and performing them was both his passion and the way for earning his living. It was due to tuberculosis, the illness he had suffered from since childhood, that Szymanowski arrived in Zakopane. First, he came here in 1894, then in 1913-1914. In 1930 Szymanowski settled down in Zakopane and spent a few years living in ''the Atma Villa'', the typical highlander house which is nowadays a museum devoted to him.

Fascinated by the highlander folk music of the Tatra Mountains, Szymanowski decided to compose the ''Harnasie'' ballet, which is regarded as the largest classical music work based on the highlander music motifs. Szymanowski expressed his enthusiasm for the Polish Highlander folk music also in one of his articles saying that: "My discovery of the essential beauty of Górale (Polish Highlander) music, dance and architecture is a very personal one; much of this beauty I have absorbed into my innermost soul." He felt at home here surrounded by those he loved: the mountains, friends and the highlanders. His home was visited by such outstanding personalities as Artur Rubinstein, one of the greatest piano virtuosos of the 20th century, Serge Lifar, one of the greatest 20th century male ballet dancers, and Jaroslaw Iwaszkiewicz, famous Polish poet. Szymanowski actively and willingly participated in the life of Zakopane – not only by giving concerts but coming to the highlander folk parties and receptions. When in 1935 Szymanowski left Zakopane and went on a European tour, he hoped to come back here. However, he did not. Two years later he died from tuberculosis in a sanatorium in Lausanne, Switzerland. The Association named after Karol Szymanowski is seated at the Atma Villa and is responsible for promoting his music. Of a variety of music events held two are worth mentioning: Karol Szymanowski's Music Days (the beginning of July) and concerts held at the composer's death anniversary (in March). Thus, it is a good idea to visit Zakopane at the times these events are held to get familiar with Szymanowski's music works.

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