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Zygmunt Stojowski

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The pianist and composer Zygmunt Stojowski gained popularity both in his native Poland and in the U.S., and he shaped the musical cultures of both countries.
Stojowski was born in 1869 or 1870 in a small village, Strzelce; now in southeastern Poland, it was then part of the Russian Empire. He grew up with a facility for languages that would later allow him to serve as Tchaikovsky's translator in London, and Tchaikovsky was just one of the luminaries whose paths crossed his own. (Americans would greatly value his firsthand recollections of Brahms.) Stojowski studied with his mother and with local composer Władysław Żeleński, making his debut in Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37, when he was 17. He later studied with Paderewski and, in Paris, with Léo Delibes, and gained considerable renown in Poland and beyond; when the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra gave its first concert in 1901, Stojowski's Symphony in D minor, Op. 21, was on the program.
Four years later, Stojowski sailed for the U.S. at the invitation of educator and conductor Frank Damrosch, who had recruited Stojowski for the faculty of his new Institute for Musical Art in New York. This school would evolve in the 1920s into the Juilliard School. The dashing Pole seemed the epitome of European musical culture to American students, and Stojowski was in demand both at Juilliard and as a private teacher. Among his students were Arthur Loesser, Antonia Brico, and Gershwin specialist Oscar Levant.
Stojowski married the Peruvian pianist Luisa Morales Maceo, and the pair had three children whom he called his greatest compositions. Nevertheless, not only Stojowski's piano music, but also a substantial Violin Concerto in G minor, Op. 22, in the Dvorák vein, have been revived in the 21st century. Stojowski died in New York on November 5, 1946.

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