Poles mourn a prominent conductor

ThePolish conductor Jan Krenz died today, aged 96. He made his debut on 6th January 1946 with the Łódź Philharmonic and wielded considerable influence on the flowering of new Polish music after the war, especially the works of Lutosawski and Bacewicz.

From 1953 to 1967, he was chief conductor of the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, touring extensively to Russia, Mongolia, China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. From 1968 to 1973 he was Artistic Director of the Grand Theatre in Warsaw

Abroad he conducted Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra in Copenhagen from 1966-1968.In 1979 he was named General Music Director of Bonn, where he expanded the Beethoven orchestra to 122 musicians.

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  • I heard him lead as their new Generalmusikdirektor the Beethovenorchester in Bonn in 1980. He was old school and undisturbed by the weaknesses of a second tier orchestra.

  • I heard him on 19 October 1962 conducting the Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra at the Nottingham Albert Hall. The programme began with Michal Spisak’s Concerto Giocoso (1956), followed by Walk to the Paradise Garden (Delius), Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (Rakhmaninov – soloist Wladyslaw Kedra), and Tchaikowsky’s Fourth Symphony; all superbly played, and very exciting for a sixteen year old schoolboy only in his second season of serious classical concert-going. (Nearly sixty years later, I’ve never lost that initial excitement, I’m glad to say!) And a great occasion for Nottingham with its large Polish community, which turned out in force. (Many had served in the Polish Air Force during the War, based in Nottinghamshire, and had stayed on and married local girls.) Earlier in the year the Czech Philharmonic had come, conducted by Karel Ancerl, and the following February we were to hear the Hungarian State Symphony Orchestra conducted by Gyula Nemeth. I note from the programmes that all three concerts were promoted by the City of Nottingham Corporation, in association with Borsdorf and Company. Those were the days!

  • He conducted the Polish National Radio SO at a prom in about 1967. They played Lutosławski Jeux Venetiens and I think that the composer was present. Krenz also conducted the CBSO in the 1971/2 season.

  • A long and distinguished career in Poland and elsewhere, a great age and honored legacy. RIP.

    This was the first of Zimerman’s three versions: the second with Giulini; the third and best himself conducting the Polish Festival Orchestra in slow, serious readings that isprove weakness of orchestration Au contraire, there are con sordino, pizzicati, ranche de vache horn calls, and prominent woodwind.– ideal versions to stand with the best by Rubinstein’s first and Cortot’s second with Babirolli 1935 and live Mengelberg early1944 from French radio in occupied Paris, with announcements, vociferous audiencce, and Tchaikovsky’s Pathetique in what was Mengelberg’s last concert.

    A toe-curling E-minor on LP attributed to Carlo Vidusso has a buzz-saw senza rubato melisma in the adagio. Vidusso taught Michelangeli, who taught Pollini.

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