There are people of very special merit. People of prominence, colourful birds, artists, creators in the broadest sense of the word, defiant visionaries, sagacious guides who blaze their own trails, tempting, yet inaccessible to most … These are the people who show us the beauty of this world, the many shades of dazzlement, be they vivid or subtle in their elusiveness, available within arm’s reach, yet so easy to miss. Endowed with a wonderful sensitivity, extraordinary talent and a flaming charisma, they fascinate, amaze and brighten up the world around.
Each encounter with such a person is a great privilege. Every time are offered a chance to interact with their art, exchange words with them, steal a glimpse of their creative process … these fleeting moments stay in our memory for long, perhaps forever, and can completely change they way we think about one thing or another, and enrich our humanity through experience and reflection.
Sometimes it is a moment of shock, a dramatic experience, that provokes uneasy or painful thoughts and prompts us to come face to face with oneself, if not some other person or thing. Sometimes is is a soothing moment that brings relief from the everyday hustle and bustle. And sometimes it is a joke which ignites a burst of laughter and sets us free from the routine and convention we are stuck in.
Without a shadow of a doubt, Jerzy Maksymiuk is this kind of wizard of reality. He sets its tone, can brighten it up with a brilliant thought, sophisticated concept, or extraordinary artistic creation. Phenomenally defiant, he contests the quotidian and celebrates life through art, infecting those with whom and for whom he works with his unbridled energy.
A great artist whose stellar career tells the story of an outstanding creative personality who never ceases to search and bring life to wonderful creations, who is impulsive in the most positive sense of the word, and who strives consistently to achieve his beautiful goals.
He made his presence known in the world of art for the first time when he won the I. J. Paderewski Piano Competition in Bydgoszcz in 1961. Eleven years later he founded the Polish Chamber Orchestra, one of the most important music ensembles in the nation’s history, and one of the best globally. He performed in the world’s greatest venues. Apart from recording for EMI, he made major albums featuring the music of Jarzębski, Chopin, Paderewski, Bacewicz, Górecki and Mozart for Polish music labels. In 1983 he took over at the helm of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, which he successfully led for eight years.
He has conducted the most wonderful ensembles internationally and recorded over 100 award-winning albums. He is a composer of chamber music, including vocal pieces, symphony works and film music. He is an artist that – fortunately – evades all definitions, who likes to go for the unorthodox, and with whom I have many beautiful memories that go back to the time when I had the privilege to co-transform his wonderful Polish Chamber Orchestra into Sinfonia Varsovia, which is such an important element of our musical landscape today. I also remember – among other things – the extraordinary night when he conducted Ignacy Jan Paderewski’s Polonia at the Teatr Wielki in Warsaw …
Maestro, my dearest Jurek! On this festive day of your milestone 85th birthday, please accept my heartfelt compliments and thanks. It is my hope that you will grace us with many more wonderful moments of emotion, amazement and great joy in the years to come.
Director, Polish National Opera, Teatr Wielki, Warsaw
The picture shows Jerzy Maksymiuk conducting The Voices of the Mountains concert at Teatr Wielki, Warsaw in 2019. Photo by Krzysztof Bieliński