Romantic Era virtuoso pianist and composer Frédéric Chopin, nicknamed The Poet of the Piano, is remembered as the inventor of the instrumental ballade. The legendary composer mostly created solo piano masterpieces but also experimented with piano concertos and chamber pieces. He was influenced by Bach, Mozart, and Polish folk music.
Władysław Szpilman was a Polish pianist of Jewish descent. He was a popular performer on Polish radio and in concert in the 1930s. He was also a prolific composer. He survived the Holocaust and was the central figure in the 2002 Roman Polanski film The Pianist. His son, Andrzej Szpilman, is also a composer and music producer.
Arthur Rubinstein was a Polish-American pianist counted amongst the greatest pianists of all time. He had an extensive career spanning eight decades, during which he earned much international acclaim. He played music performed by several illustrious composers and is especially remembered for his interpretation of Chopin’s music. Renowned pianists François-René Duchâble and Avi Schönfeld were his students.
Polish concert pianist and conductor Krystian Zimerman, noted for his interpretations of Romantic music, is counted by many as one of the greatest pianists of his generation. In 1975 he became the youngest winner of the International Chopin Piano Competition. A supporter of contemporary music, Zimerman has performed a wide variety of classical pieces, toured widely and made several recordings.
Ignacy Jan Paderewski was a Polish musician who went on to become the third Prime Minister of Poland after being a spokesman for Polish independence for a long time. He also played a significant role as the nation's foreign minister in 1919 when he signed the Treaty of Versailles, an important event that marked the end of World War I.
Josef Hofmann was a Polish-American composer, pianist, inventor, and music teacher. From 1927 to 1938, he served as the director of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, USA. As the director of the institute, Hofmann was instrumental in recruiting musicians like Efrem Zimbalist, Marcella Sembrich, Fritz Reiner, and Isabella Vengerova. Among his pupils were Abbey Simon and Shura Cherkassky.
Polish composer and pianist André Tchaikowsky started his concert career as a student. A great admirer of Shakespeare, Tchaikowsky‘s compositions include the settings of seven of Shakespeare's Sonnets, the opera titled The Merchant of Venice, and songs from The Tempest. According to his wishes, Tchaikowsky’s skull has been used as a theatrical prop by the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Karol Szymanowski was a Polish pianist and composer best remembered for his opera King Roger, which was composed between 1918 and 1924. An internationally recognized composer, Karol Szymanowski is the recipient of some of the highest national honors such as the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland and the Order of Polonia Restituta.
Emanuel Ax is a Soviet Union-born American classical pianist best known for his collaboration with cellist Yo-Yo Ma; Ax's collaborative efforts alongside Yo-Yo Ma earned him five Grammys between 1986 and 1996. Ax has also earned a couple of Grammys for his solo performances. He is also the recipient of other awards like Avery Fisher Prize and Echo Klassik Award.
Natalia Karp was a Polish pianist and Holocaust survivor. During World War II, Karp and her sister were sent to the Kraków-Płaszów concentration camp where she was ordered to play the piano by SS functionary Amon Göth on his birthday. Impressed with her performance, Göth spared her and her sister. Karp survived the war and continued playing into her 90s.
Waclaw Kieltyka is a Polish composer and musician. He is best known for founding the popular death metal band Decapitated where he is the lead guitarist. Over the years, Waclaw Kieltyka has also contributed to the success of other bands like Lux Occulta, Sceptic, Vader, and Hypocrisy.
Krzysztof Komeda was a Polish jazz pianist and film music composer. He is best remembered for his collaboration with popular filmmaker Roman Polanski; he worked as a composer for many of Polanski's films like Knife in the Water and Rosemary's Baby. Krzysztof Komeda's 1965 album Astigmatic is often counted among the most prominent European jazz albums of all time.
Moritz Moszkowski was a pianist, teacher, and composer of Polish-Jewish descent. He achieved popularity during the late 19th century and was well respected by his peers. Moritz Moszkowski is credited with teaching future composers like Ernest Schelling, Joaquín Nin, Carl Lachmund, and Joaquín Turina.
Wanda Landowska was a Polish pianist and harpsichordist who is credited with reinvigorating the popularity of the harpsichord through her performances, writings, teaching, and recordings in the early 20th century. In 1933, Wanda Landowska became the first person to record Goldberg Variations, which were originally composed by Johann Sebastian Bach for keyboard, on the harpsichord.
Anna Maria Jopek is a Polish vocalist, improviser, and songwriter. She achieved national prominence when she competed in the 1997 Eurovision Song Contest where she represented her country with the song Ale jestem. Over the years, Anna Maria Jopek has been successful, winning awards such as Michel Legrand's Personal Award among others.
Theodor Leschetizky was a Polish composer, pianist, and professor. A child prodigy, Leschetizky performed a Czerny piano concerto, at age 11, with Franz Xaver Wolfgang Mozart conducting. He had his own students at age 15 and by the time he was 18, Theodor Leschetizky had become a well-known virtuoso. He composed over a 100 characteristic piano pieces during his career.
Misia Sert was a pianist best remembered for hosting a popular artistic salon in Paris, France. She was also a model who often posed for popular artists, some of whom were her friends. Her life and career inspired a musical titled Misia, which was only released as a cast album in 2015.
Piotr Anderszewski is a Polish pianist and composer best known for his chamber music. He studied piano at the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music and the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music. He has given recitals at many famous venues, including the Royal Festival Hall and Carnegie Hall. He is a recipient of the Gilmore Artist Award.
Polish pianist Mieczyslaw Horszowski was introduced to the piano by his pianist mother. A child prodigy, he had already mastered Bach by age 6. He later moved to the US, where he played with the NBC Symphony Orchestra and also performed twice at the White House.
Polish pianist Ignaz Friedman is best remembered for his renditions of Chopin. Apart from performing in over 2,800 concerts, he also penned 100 piano pieces, including Fantasiestücke. At the onset of World War II, he moved to Australia, where he lived and performed till his death.
Karl Tausig was a Polish virtuoso pianist and composer. He is generally regarded as one of the greatest pianists of all time. The son of a pianist, he was introduced to the instrument at an early age. He studied under Hungarian Romantic pianist Franz Liszt and thrived under his mentorship. Sadly, the brilliant pianist died an untimely death at 29.