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Andrzej Czajkowski

FOLLOWING  ICARUS Stachura's "lifewriting". But not with words.  With sounds. These are particular features of Andrzej Czajkowski's  music.  The 25th  anniversary  of his  death  was  on 26th  June 2007. He was a great pianist. A real sensation of the fifties of the XX century. A musical genius, charismatic personality, tremendous repertoire, favoured by the outstanding pianists, great agents, travels, interviews,  records. Career. But still, the conflict between such a haughty personality and politically correct bourgeois coterie, hardly ever comes up  roses. It can be a lesson of humility, appreciation of the gifts of nature that are not indifferent. The drama of opposition between an individual and community has always accompanied a man. Sometimes  it can be a tragedy. In case of Andrzej Czajkowski it was a startling  tragedy.  Its meaning  is  symbolic  for  the  history  of  the  XX  century. He  was  one  of those who decided to run away.  From and to. Born  on  1st  November  1935 in  Warsaw in  a  Jewish  family he  suffered  the same lot as his kinsmen sentenced by  dehumanized mutation of  European  culture  to  reset  the  deepest layers of  memory concerning  contemporary  culture.  His lot was favourable  to some extent for he  saved his life  but on  the other hand  he lost all that is essential for a  child - the feeling of safety. So, deprived of that priceless capital in  his  childhood,  having  that  particular lot,  both  favourable and  ruthless, he fought it all his 46 years long life. He used to live at 1 Przejazd  street (now  there  is a fountain in front of "Muranow" cinema),  he  was  smuggled  from  the  ghetto  and  was  kept  in  several  places  in Warsaw. As a seven years  old child he lived in a wardrobe in a  stranger's flat. His grandmother was the only person who took care of him. She dyed his hair, eyebrows and eyelashes blond in order to  disguise him.  In  such  inhuman conditions he  had  to  get  used  to  his  distinctness, pain and fear. Little Andrzej had been left by his father  who established new family before the war. His mother left him staying in the ghetto, and that probably saved his life. She died in concentration camp in Treblinka. He grew up with the feeling of loss and  alienation. Due to unusual sensitivity of a musical genius his aware- ness of lacking the basis for emotional development was even greater. In 1945 he started his piano lessons at Emma Altberg in Lodz, and  five years later after two years course at famous Lazare Lévy, being  only fifteen, he won the Grand Prix of Paris Conservatoire. There are  some similarities with other rapid careers as for example the one of  Henryk Wieniawski who won Grand Prix  of the  same school  at the  age  of eleven,  Józef  Hofman,  Artur Rubinstain who  started  his se- venty two years long career as a teenager, and also Jascha Heifez,  Artur  Benedetti  Michelangeli,  Glenn  Gould,  Martha  Argherich  or  Georgij Sokolow. Young and world famous Czajkowski  came back  to Poland where  he studied the piano at  Prof. Stanislaw  Szpinalski  and composition at Prof. Kazimierz  Sikorski. He participated in the  5th  Chopin  Competition  in  1955.  A  year  later  he  appeared  at  a  very prestigious  Competition of  Queen  Elisabeth  of  Belgium  where  he won  the  third prize and  was  particularly  appreciated  by Arthur  Rubinstein one of  the  jury members.  Maestro Rubinstein  fascinated  with the personality of a young musician helped him later at his first  steps  to  the  pianists' Parnassus. In  the years 1956  - 1959 he gave  over  500  concerts  what  makes  an  amazing  average  -    a  concert almost every second  day! That record-seeking routine  was possible  due  to impossibly receptive  mind.  His  memory  become  legendary.  His repertoire was unparalleled, he learned the scores on the planes,  he  could  recite poems for  hours  (he knew  Hamlet    with  didascalia  by  heart), transcriptions  of quartets, symphonies or  operas  into  the  piano came in an  endless flow. The anecdotes  could be  multiplied.
His  career  seemed to be bed  of roses. But  instead of  enjoying  that  and getting inspiration Czajkowski started to walk on the thorns, gracefully and with perfection of a masochist; he played with his  pain,  derided it, confusing his surroundings and causing disgust. He broke  off relationships,  caused  nervous  breakdown of  his closest  friends,  played with their feelings, treated his career in a light-hearted manner. He provoked, mocked, behaved as an iconoclast. He was a re- bel. Did he have his reason? The trauma connected with his disturbed  childhood started to be a nuisance. And homosexuality, he had never  been ashamed of, on the other hand he dreamed of having a family  and  children.  Playing the  piano became  his livelihood. He  used  to  say that he liked it ("a bit resigned and patient"). And yet composing  become his true passion "that devoured him like the greatest love" as  he wrote in one of his letters to Halina Sander (a cult book consisting  of correspondence between Andrzej Czajkowski and Halina Sander  devil  guard.  -  Anita  Janowska,  devil  guard.  Letters  of  Andrzej Czajkowski  and  Halina  Sander,  published  by  PIW 1988,  the  first  edition;  and  by  Siedmiogród,  1996,  the  second  edition).  Czajkowski started creating his works early, but with age it dominated his life.  Giving up the feeling of  safety, he  had never  experien-ced before, he  did  not want to be a reasonable Dedalus, he  chose  "vabanque" flight of desperate Icarus. All his exuberant personality,  his peculiarity and individuality could be seen in his own music, not  in others' compositions he could not play whole - heartedly any more. What  is  Andrzej  Czajkowski's  music?  At  the  first glance  the  traces  of fascination with Bartok, Berg,  Prokofief,  Szostakowicz  or  maybe  Britten or Schönberg, for sure Lutos3awski and Serocki, can be noticed. But what is that music in its core, in its original and final aspect?  When listening to Sonata for clarinet, String quartets, Inventions for  the piano, The Seven Sonnets of Shakespeare, Concerto for the piano or Triem Notturno there is an inevitable impression of resemblance to Stachura's "lifewriting". Czajkowski had never been the avantgarde artist, he did not have the need to experiment as many other  artists  of  that  epoch.  His  life  was  an  experiment,  the  experiment  with his own sensitivity, endurance and resistance. In art he desired  to  settle  and strengthen  this  what  had  been  stolen  by  unfavorable  Providence to Czajkowski - the man and given back  to Czajkowski  - the artist in the form of  creative imagination. He could see clearly  things that most people do not  sense  and only few are able to perceive. Listening to his music we cannot guess the sources of inspiration  for the  creative  force that  real  giant possessed.  It  is  filled  with  compressed  emotions,  passion,  schizophrenic changes  of  mood; it  can be drawn with a whimsical, unruly or even shocking line; it is a  rough provocation. We cannot guess because thinking is here good  for nothing. "There are more things in heaven and earth ..." We can  only try  to  feel  that  kind  of  energy  which  remorselessly  pulled  the artist. It did not let him get reconciliation with the world, it made him  point, notice and judge  the disgusting, false and conformist face of  the world. As Hanna Krall put it shrewdly in her short story devoted  to  Czajkowski  and  entitled  Hamlet  :  "accusing  the  world  of  bare  existing, that  it dares  to  exist after  what it  had committed" ( Hanna  Krall - Proof of existence, edition I, 1995, and Regret, Swiat Ksiazki,  2007). Czajkowski was  fascinated with words  and theatre. He was  devoted  to theatre.  Knowing  that  he  was "incurable",  as  he  wrote  to Zygmunt Mycielski, he made his will and  bequeathed  his skull  to  Royal Shakespeare Company to be used as a skull of Hamlet's jester  Yorrick.  On his deathbed  he  finished  his  opus  magnum:  an opera  The  Merchant  of  Venice  (still  awaiting  its  premiere!).  Every  stage  performance of Czajkowski is full of theatre. It is the art of pain, the  pain  of  solitude  in  the  crowd  of  fellowmen,  the fellowmen  hurting  both with indifference and  obtrusive will to help. This is the art of giving in to pain, but also making an attempt to overcome it. Successfully? Kofta wrote" that what is good in us is wet. Blood. Sweat. And  Tears". Czajkowski's music is piercingly physiological. It is a dramatic, desperate  self-therapy after the time  of degeneration,  bestiality,  contempt  and  darkness,  the  time  of  inventing  scrupulously  entered  in the books items with ghastly label  "Death". After the  experience  of damned land. It is a confession of  a  child, longing for love.  The  child  Andrzej  Czajkowski  had  always  been.  Maciej  Grzybowski