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Marek Czeslaw (1891-1985)

Biography of Marek Czeslaw:

Czeslaw Józef Marek was born on 16 September 1891 in Przemysl in the Subcarpathians near the city called at that time Lemberg (today Lviv) in the extreme south east of Poland. At that time this area around the “Vienna of the East” belonged to the Austrian Crown country of Galicia, a region with a large variety of population tribes. The artistic talents of the son of a music-loving lawyer and a gifted soprano became evident early; it was as a child that he wrote his first simple piano pieces that however are not preserved. His first piano instruction Marek received from 1900 from Hildegarda Schindler, then from Fryderyka Morecka and finally from Stanislaw Glowacki. Marek entered the Lviv conservatoire in 1908 where he received piano instruction from Natalja Loewenhof; also he studied harmony with Stanislaw Niewiadomski, an at that time well known composer, teacher and music critic. In students’ concerts, Marek played among other works compositions by Bach, Schubert, Beethoven, Chopin, Anton Rubinstein and Arensky. Due to his excellent achievements, he was as early as 1909 engaged as a piano teacher at the conservatoire. He remained in contact with Glowacki, through whom he was able to become acquainted to Karol Szymanowski’s sister. On Glowacki’s suggestion, Marek in 1910 entered the Imperial and Royal Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna where he first studied with Paul de Conne, Hermann Grädener, Eusebius Mandyczewski, Moriz Violin and Rosa Papier, but soon changed as a private student to the at that time already eighty years-old, world-famous Theodor Leschetizky (Polish Teodor Leszetycki), amongst whose students had been Ignacy Paderewski, Artur Schnabel, Ossip Gabrilowitsch, Mieczyslaw Horszowski, Benno Moiseiwitsch, Paul Wittgenstein, Ignaz Friedman and Mark Hambourg. On recommendation of Alexander Zemlinsky, he studied composition with Zemlinsky’s former pupil Karl Weigl. In his detailed memories, published in 1999 in the Winterthur-based Amadeus publishing house, Marek reports in close detail on his youth and his comprehensive, wisely built musical education. The years in Lviv and Vienna were essential stations on Marek’s way in acquiring an idiosyncratic musical language, and some of his most important pianos works stem from this early period until 1913. Even if they may be influenced by the post-romantic style surrounding the young musician at that time, the combination of exceptional pianistic dexterities and secure mastery of musical forms built the base of a distinct musical personality. Marek left Vienna in 1913 to continue his musical education in Berlin with Engelbert Humperdinck, but through an acute disease of Humperdinck’s this plan was shattered. Now the young musician turned to Hans Pfitzner who accepted him as a private student in Strasbourg. In 1914 Marek, just recently having been appointed professor at the Lviv conservatoire, was conscripted for war service, but soon exempted for reasons of health. Marek fled together with his parents from the Russian troops invading Galicia over the Carpathian Mountains and via Hungarian territory to Prague. There he was most friendly received by Zemlinsky, but still he decided to travel to Vienna without his parents and from there to Switzerland. On 6 January 1915 he arrived in Zurich where he should find his homeland for the remainder of his long life. In December 1915 he became acquainted with his future wife, the violinist Claire Hofer; the marriage followed some three years later. From 1916 to 1919 Marek worked at José Berr’s conservatoire. Around this time he regularly met up with Ferruccio Busoni, who had also emigrated to Zurich. From then on he became, apart from his concert and compositional activities, a private piano teacher. Because of the sickliness of his wife, Marek as early as 1924 abandoned his so very promising concert career and performed from then until 1944 only on the Swiss radio. In the autumn of 1929, he was appointed director of the conservatoire in Poznan, but resigned soon after because he had, basically since his studies at the Vienna Academy of Music, perceived the conditions at conservatories again and again as unsatisfactory. In 1932 he attained the Swiss citizenship. With the beginning of the Second World War, Marek’s compositional activities came to a standstill – now he concentrated entirely on instructing. With his Lehre des Klavierspiels for the first time published in 1972 and republished in an expanded form in 1977, his pedagogic capacities spread much farther than Europe.

CD's with Marek Czeslaw
The Eye of the Storm - Ferruccio Busoni’s Zurich friends and disciples

ArtNr. GMCD 7189

Czeslaw Marek - Chamber Works & Piano Music

ArtNr. GMCD 7362/63

Czeslaw Marek - Piano Works

ArtNr. GMCD 7364/65

Czeslaw Marek - Songs & Choral Music

ArtNr. GMCD 7366/67

Czeslaw Marek - Orchestral Works

ArtNr. GMCD 7360/61

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