The Feliks Nowowiejski Academy of Music in Bydgoszcz was established on 1st October, 1974, as a branch of the State Higher School of Music (SHSM) in Łódź. Its opening filled a gap on the map of centers for higher education in music in the triangle formed by Gdańsk, Warsaw and Poznań. The School started supplying professionally educated musicians to various institutions in the Kujawy and Pomerania region (including the Pomeranian Philharmonic Hall, Opera Nova, a variety of orchestras and chamber music ensembles, as well as lower-tier music schools in Bydgoszcz, Toruń, Włocławek, Inowrocław, Grudziadz, Chełmno, and Chełmża). The demand created by these institutions in turn provided a stable setting for the School’s dynamic development.
The Bydgoszcz Branch of SHSM in Łódź was emancipated into an independent institution in 1979. It then received the name of Feliks Nowowiejski, the great Polish composer. Originally, it was divided into two main departments (the Faculty of Instrumental Music and the Faculty of Music Education) but the following year two further ones were added – the Faculty of Composition and Music Theory, in addition to the Faculty of Vocal Music and Drama – for a total of four. It has been operating in this form ever since. In 1982 the School was renamed the Feliks Nowowiejski Academy of Music. Its scope of study programmes has been expanding steadily, to include many emerging trends and new artistic professions, which has enabled the Academy to become and active participant in shaping contemporary musical culture.
During its forty years of existence, the Academy’s influence on culture has extended far beyond the region. Through international contacts, cooperation with recognized artists and educators, open workshops and seminars, concerts, research, and thanks to many prominent successes of its students and graduates in national and international competitions, the Academy has attained the rank of a major European center of artistic education. In testament to the Academy’s prestige, year to year the interest among young people in pursuing music studies in Bydgoszcz has been increasing.
The Feliks Nowowiejski Academy of Music offers a wide range of programmes in which students may develop their artistic talents. It trains composers, instrumentalists, singers, cantors, symphonic conductors, choir masters, teachers, sound engineers, and music theorists. The teachers are comprehensively selected and highly specialized. The Academy is open to the latest trends in education. These features make it a fit place both for proponents of teaching methods based on twentieth-century traditions as well as for advocates of historically informed performance techniques and the use of reconstructed early music instruments. Former reservations of the academia against genres of music that were not traditionally taught have all but vanished. Nowadays, students may freely develop their talents also in jazz and popular music.
Modern thinking permeates tradition. Tradition opens itself to modern thinking.
Before World War II, Bydgoszcz was seen primarily as a center of industry, commerce and services. Admittedly, there were musical institutions and associations here, such as the Bromberger Conservatory der Musik (founded in 1904 by Arnold Schattschneider and Wilhelm Winterfeld), the Municipal Conservatory of Music (founded in 1927 by Zdzisław Jahnke), the Ignacy Jan Paderewski Musical Society (founded in 1922), as well as several singing societies, but the range of their artistic impact was primarily local. In 1938, on the initiative of the Musical Society, the Symphony Orchestra was established, Alfons Rezler being appointed its director. Unfortunately, its activities ended as World War II broke out.
In February 1945, almost immediately after Bydgoszcz was liberated, the Municipal Conservatory of Music resumed work, which was possible as war-time damage to the city was not extensive, all the musical instruments had been preserved, and most of the teachers had survived the Nazi occupation. In April that year the Polish Radio Orchestra in Bydgoszcz was created, its artistic director being Arnold Rezler (the brother of the late Alfons killed during the September Campaign). Initially, it functioned as an 18-people chamber music ensemble, with a repertoire consisting mostly of salon music, although more musicians joined for more ambitious projects, so that symphonic pieces could be performed. A significant constraint on the orchestra’s development was its dependence on the radio station, both for its repertoire and its organization. For this reason, efforts to create an autonomous professional symphonic orchestra had not ceased until March 1946 – celebrations of the 600th anniversary of the foundation of Bydgoszcz. This is when the City Symphony Orchestra was formed. It was composed in large part of the musicians from the Radio Orchestra. Its directorship was also entrusted to Arnold Rezler, while the Musical Society provided organizational support. As the planned concert activities included the entire Kujawy and Pomerania region (Toruń, Włocławek, Grudziądz, Ciechocinek, Inowrocław) from the start of the season that followed the group began to operate as the Pomeranian Symphony Orchestra.
The Orchestra’s dynamically developing activity created a conducive environment for further projects aimed at the cultural and artistic revival of the local community. Thus, the system of symphonic concerts was reorganized, not only to increase the number of weekly performances but also to introduce an educational programme, with a view to acquiring large classical-music audiences. Along with making the artistic programme more attractive and systematically raising the artistic level of the orchestra, care was taken to include verbal commentary in the printed concert pamphlets. Talks on music were given by eminent scholars of music from Bydgoszcz and other Polish centers (among them Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz, Jerzy Broszkiewicz, and Zygmunt Mycielski). The new director of the orchestra, Mieczyslaw Tomaszewski (1949-1952), strove to have the orchestra nationalized. This goal was accomplished by Andrzej Szwalbe, who took over the Pomeranian Philharmonic Orchestra in the autumn of 1952. It became the State Pomeranian Philharmonic Orchestra in Bydgoszcz in 1953 and Andrzej Szwalbe remained at its helm until 1991 – for nearly forty years.
Andrzej Szwalbe proved to be a talented organizer of cultural life. His head was filled with ideas. He was willing to work hard, and he possessed extraordinary organizational and managerial talents. In 1953, he became the head of the Social Committee for Construction of the Philharmonic Hall. The construction of the Hall – architecturally similar to the building of the National Philharmonic Hall but with much better acoustics – took only four years. On 15th November, 1958, a special symphonic concert, broadcast by the Polish Radio, officially inaugurated the Orchestra’s operation in the new premises. From this point on, the musicians of the Bydgoszcz Philharmonic Orchestra have constantly increased their level of skill, recording albums and touring not only at home but also in other Polish centers and abroad. The fully professional orchestra, widely appreciated outside the region, and the concert hall with excellent acoustics became a magnet attracting to Bydgoszcz world-famous virtuosos of different instruments (including Arthur Rubinstein, Sviatoslav Richter, and Karol Małcużyński). Further motivation for international artistic exchange was given by the music festival organized annually since 1963, first under the name of the Polish Music Festival, and since its fifth edition in 1968 renamed as the Bydgoszcz Music Festival.
Another of Director Szwalbe’s initiatives was to establish Capella Bydgostiensis – a vocal-instrumental ensemble performing the music of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. At that time, it was a unique achievement on the national scale, so that music magazines (Ruch Muzyczny, Muzyka) immediately recognized this as an opportunity for reviving performances of early music in Poland. The first artistic director of Capella Bydgostiensis, conductor Stanisław Gałoński, arrived from Kraków. He was an enthusiast of rediscovery and restitution of forgotten works. The official debut took place in March 1962. In 1970, when Włodzimierz Szymański took over as director, the repertoire was widened to include Baroque and Classical music.
Yet another project, closely linked with the formation of Capella Bydgostiensis, was the international musicological congress and music festival Musica Antiqua Europae Orientalis (MAEO), held every three years since 1966. Andrzej Szwalbe described the main objectives of the event as “an opportunity for many a reflection, and an incentive to intensify work in order to save from oblivion valuable monuments of ancient art (…) of Central and Eastern Europe, (…) [and] getting a good understanding of the importance of these complex phenomena in the context of European culture”.
One more large culture-related project whose implementation involved Director Szwalbe was the construction of an opera building. The Opera Studio, established in 1955 on the initiative of the singer Felicja Krysiewicz, upon nationalization and conversion in 1960 into the State Musical Theatre of the Opera and Operetta in Bydgoszcz, continued to operate and develop despite having no premises of its own. Its performances were staged at the Polish Theatre, Chamber Theatre or at the Kinoteatr film theatre, whose stage neither had an orchestra pit nor sufficient rooms for the soloists, choir, ballet and orchestra. And yet, despite those difficult conditions, the Opera in Bydgoszcz saw the beginnings of the careers of many talented artists, such as Barbara Zagórzanka, Bożena Betley, Józef Stępień, or Florian Skulski. Opera soloists of the time also included the greatest of Polish opera stars – Delfina Ambroziak, Maria Fołtyn, Teresa Żylis-Gara, Bernard Ładysz, Wiesław Ochman, or Bogdan Paprocki. Work on the construction of the Opera House was initiated in 1973, to be completed only in 2006. The modern, imposing architectural complex is situated in a picturesque bend of the Brda River, in the city center. Thanks to the initiative of the current director, Maciej Figas, the Bydgoszcz Opera Festival has been held in its welcoming interiors since 1994. It has become one of the most important events of this kind in the country. Along with the MAEO festivals, the Opera Festival promotes the image of Bydgoszcz in Poland and in Europe.
Only one other piece was now missing from Andrzej Szwalbe’s puzzle – a higher school of music education whose graduates would contribute to the city’s musical institutions. A school which would help ensure organizational stability and steady improvement in the level of artistic productions by supplying professionally trained graduates. The first step in this direction was developing a music education programme at the then Higher School of Education (now Kazimierz Wielki University), and the second was opening the Bydgoszcz branch of SHSM in Łódź.
On 1st October 1974, following the consent of the Senate of SHSM in Łódź and its Rector, Prof. Zenon Płoszaj, and thanks to Director Szwalbe’s commitment of funds from the Philharmonic Hall, which was necessary for the start-up, the national authorities made the decision to create in Bydgoszcz a branch of the SHSM in Łódź.
Initially only the Faculty of Instrumental Music was launched, headed by Vice-Dean Mirosław Pietkiewicz, who became the first manager of the new branch. The first 25 students (selected from a group of nearly 80 candidates) started their programme on 11th November, 1974. Some instructors were recruited from among the musicians of the Pomeranian Philharmonic Orchestra, while others commuted from Łódź. The housing conditions were truly spartan. The branch had at its disposal only two spare rooms in the building of the Primary School in Libelta Street. Classes were held on the premises of the Philharmonic Hall, the State Primary School of Music and the State Secondary Music School. Fortuitously, one year later, in the wake of an administrative reform, the District Office in Bydgoszcz was liquidated, and its beautiful main office building, located opposite both music schools and adjacent to the Philharmonic Hall, was given over to the Bydgoszcz branch of SHSM in Łódź. Its renovation was carried out in two phases. The first involved essential structural work and replacement of all installations. It took two years. The second adaptation was carried out in 1979. The building was adapted to the specific requirements of music education, with particular emphasis on appropriate sound-proofing of the classrooms with sound-absorbing tiles, suspended ceilings, carpeting and soundproof double doors. The authors of the project (two architects, Ryszard Helak and Jerzy Szczygielski and an artist, Henryk Sobczyk), guided by the idea of preserving historic elements, maintained the Art-Nouveau character of the palace. The interiors are decorated in a style reminiscent of the Enlightenment, with Henry II furniture and silk linings on the walls. A bold idea at the time was to decorate the facade with the emblem of the Stanislav eagle with musical instruments at its base. Officials of the Communist Party were none too pleased that the head of the eagle was adorned by the royal crown. After several days they ordered its removal. Only in September 1981, on the wave of political thaw, did the eagle return to its place.
With the help of Director Szwalbe, the institution also received a two-storey townhouse located close to the Philharmonic Hall, in 14 Libelta Street. After the necessary repairs, it was converted into a student hall. The need to provide students with appropriate training conditions proved to be all the more urgent since the new Faculty of Music Education was added a mere year later (with Andrzej Lechnio as Dean). New teachers from Łódź, Poznań, Gdańsk and other centers were employed, and the number of admitted students gradually increased (despite imposing some necessary restrictions). In 1979 there were as many as 83 students in the Faculty of Instrumental Music and 38 in the Faculty of Music Education.
1978 saw the first graduates. On 20th May, the gala concert of the best graduates with the Pomeranian Philharmonic Orchestra (conducted by Józef Wiłkomirski) featured Anna Szymańska-Zająkałowa (flute), Lech Bartoszewicz (percussion) and Andrzej Fajfrowski (clarinet). In the academic year 1977-1978 the former Deputy Dean Mirosław Pietkiewicz was appointed Deputy Rector of the Bydgoszcz branch of the Łódź SHSM, and Zbigniew Lasocki became Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Instrumental Music.
In its early days, the School clearly had a very pronounced presence in the musical life of Bydgoszcz and the region, in a way legitimizing its own existence. Most of its graduates (around 90 percent) found employment in the Pomeranian Philharmonic Hall and Orchestra, Opera Nova, and music schools, satisfying the staffing demand in these institutions. The student orchestra was started already in the first year. Its public performances added to the range of concerts available in the city. The School’s artistic activity was also visible in student performances, during which solo and chamber music was presented, as well as recitals of invited eminent virtuosos (Rudolf Kehrer, Christian Favre, Halina Czerny-Stefańska, Piotr Paleczny, Tadeusz Żmudziński, Maria and Kazimierz Wiłkomirski).
1976 saw the start of a tradition of public lectures, given by the School’s own teachers and invited guests. Experiences, reflections, and research findings were shared with audiences by Ludwik Kurkiewicz, Joachim Gudel, Piotr Perkowski, and Franciszek Woźniak. The School’s Library team, headed by Irena Paul, organized an exhibition that marked the 150th anniversary of the birth of Ludwig van Beethoven and the 40th anniversary of the death of Karol Szymanowski. In 1978, the School established close cooperation with the Department of Culture of the City Hall of Inowrocław, which in effect brought the organization of the Inowrocław Organ Music Festival and a concert series, known as the Inowrocław Summer of Music.
After five difficult but very fruitful years of organizational work at the School, the situation became ripe for emancipating the Bydgoszcz branch from SHSM in Łódź.
On 27th November, 1979, by decision of the Council of Ministers, the State Higher School of Music was established in Bydgoszcz, as the 8th artistic institution of the kind in Poland. It was named after Feliks Nowowiejski – an outstanding Polish composer, conductor, organist and educator.
Until the formation of the School’s new authorities, in a short period of transition, the pro-tem Rector was Mirosław Pietkiewicz. In February the School’s senate was formed and Roman Suchecki was appointed the first Rector of the Academy of Music in Bydgoszcz. The ceremonial inauguration with the handing-in of the founding deed was held on 3rd March, 1980.
The first months of the operation of the youngest institution of higher music education in the country were primarily filled with concerted efforts towards expanding its educational offer and its structure, to include four main departments covering the major specializations of music education. In the academic year 1980-1981 the Faculty of Composition and Music Theory as well as the Faculty of Vocal Music and Drama started operating. The Faculty of Instrumental Music gained a sub-unit – the Center for Instrumental Music Education, where professionally active musicians could pursue academic degrees in an extramural system. On the initiative of Jerzy Dubrowiński, and thanks to his personal commitment, a professional Recording Studio was organized and supplied with the necessary equipment. Henceforth, the Studio has served the entire academic community by documenting concerts, opera performances, examinations, symposia and other events, first on audio tapes, then VHS cassettes, and now using digital technologies.
In addition to organizational and administrative issues, and ongoing teaching activities, the Bydgoszcz Higher School of Music intensified its artistic activity for the benefit of the local community. Between October 1980 and December 1981 there were seven student performances, two student recitals at the Pomeranian Philharmonic Hall, a concert of the Symphony Orchestra, a concert of graduates and a guest performance of a chamber music ensemble from France. Concerts under the name of Bydgoszcz Musical Tuesdays became a permanent feature of the city’s concert calendar on 24th February 1981, when they were inaugurated by Jerzy Godziszewski’s piano recital.
In April and May 1981 the first elections to the School’s collegiate governing bodies were held. In recognition of his involvement in developing the School during his first year in office, Rector Roman Suchecki now received the credit of trust from the academic community and remained in office for the following three years. This was extended for another term in the next election. Franciszek Woźniak became Deputy Rector and simultaneously Dean of the Faculty of Composition and Theory of Music. Andrzej Łęgowski was elected Dean of the Faculty of Instrumental Music, and Alicja Marczak-Faberowa became Dean of the Faculty of Vocal Music and Drama. Charge over the Faculty of Music Education was entrusted to Jerzy Dubrowiński. This was the composition of the College of Rectors which took the School into its period of maturity: following eight-year efforts of the School’s governing bodies, regional and municipal authorities, and Director Andrzej Szwalbe, the School acquired the status of an Academy of Music, becoming equal in rank to other such institutions in Poland.
The deed of renaming the School as the Feliks Nowowiejski Academy of Music in Bydgoszcz was signed on 1st December, 1981. The Latin motto Musica spiritus movens (“Music moves the spirit”) was placed on the frontage of the main building and the Stanislav eagle with a crown on its head was restored.
Nonetheless, this was not a favorable time for celebrating success. Less than two weeks later the Martial Law was imposed in Poland and the rector was forced to suspend the Academy’s activities. Lectures were in fact resumed on 25th January, 1982; however, the artistic activity was largely limited and for two consecutive seasons, until the end of May 1984, only six concerts took place (two symphonic and four Bydgoszcz Musical Tuesdays), which was a drastic reduction in artistic events compared to the previous years.
An extremely important achievement for improving the Academy’s progressively more difficult spatial situation was the acquisition of a complex of buildings at 3-7 Staszica Street and at 12 Kołłątaja Street in 1983. After carrying out the necessary repairs and adaptations, it became possible to offset the shortage of classrooms in the main building and increase the number of rooms in the student house. The construction of the concert hall in the inner courtyard was also started next to one of the walls of the adjacent residential building.
In the years 1982-1983 three additional chairs supervising the quality of education were established: the Piano Department, the Department of String Instruments and Chamber Music, and the Department of Conducting Music Ensembles. In 1984 the Postgraduate Choirmaster Programme was added. Its aim has been to enhance the professional qualifications of active choirmasters and managers of vocal-instrumental ensembles. In 1988, another Postgraduate Programme was started, namely that in Voice Production and Training, offering choirmasters additional specialist knowledge in sound formation in amateur vocal ensembles.
Other initiatives that appeared aimed to stimulate young people to intensify work on improving their performance techniques and give them an opportunity to gauge their progress against the skills of their peers. In March 1985 the 1st National Intercollegiate Chamber Music Competition for Wind Ensembles was organized, in June 1986 the 1st Collegiate Fugue Competition, and in October 1986, on the initiative of, among others, Jerzy Sulikowski, head of the Piano Department – the Ignacy Jan Paderewski National Piano Competition, reactivated after a 25-year interruption. Its first winner in 1961 was Jerzy Maksymiuk.
At the start of the academic year 1984-1985, the Academy’s concert activity began to recover and it gradually returned to its previous intensity. The number of student performances and other concerts organized by the Academy steadily increased. In 1986, selected students from the Faculties of Music Education, Composition and Music Theory and Instrumental Music formed the new Student Chamber Choir. The initiator of this project was Janusz Stanecki, who has also served as its chief conductor to this day. He has been instrumental in the Choir’s many successes at concerts, festivals and in competitions. It is also worth noting the superb preparation of the first opera performance (on 18th March, 1986) by the students of the Faculty of Vocal Music and Drama. After five years of training, a group of talented singers were educated, capable of singing the solo parts in Peter Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin. Also, on 26th January, 1983, the Faculty of Composition and Music Theory organized their first scholarly session, Tadeusz Szeligowski, which bore fruit in the form of a monograph titled Tadeusz Szeligowski: Studies and Memoirs, published in 1987 by the Pomorze Publishing House.
When in 1987 the composer Franciszek Woźniak became the Academy’s Rector, the academic and artistic activities gained even more momentum. In October, the Chair of Music Theory and Composition undertook, among much else, the task of organizing academic conferences – initially on a regional and national scale, but a dozen or so years later, an international one as well. In 1990, on the initiative of Edmund Heza, a Research Center was established. Its main tasks included collecting and documenting information on the musical culture of the Pomerania and Kujawy region (the information gathered there was later made available via the Internet as the “Music Archives of the Pomerania and Kujawy Region”) and initiating research in this regard. The first symposium on this topic was held in 1989, and since the year 2000 annual academic conferences bringing together researchers of regional music have become tradition.
An impetus for further academic activity turned out to be setting up the Academy’s Publishing House (February 1992). Such publishing series initiated by the first editor-in-chief Anna Nowak as ‘On research into the music and musical life of the Pomerania and Kujawy region’, ‘Composers’, ‘Conference proceedings’, ‘Bidgostiana’, ‘Studies and dissertations’, or ‘Thematic directories of musical works’ are continued to this day. The Publishing House allowed a rapid dissemination of research findings presented at conferences, along with results of more extensive research projects (including dissertations) through its Academic Journal. It also provided an opportunity for composers employed by the Academy to put their own works in print.
Students of composition, beside listening to their works during student performances, have opportunities for a more formal presentation of their creative achievements at widely announced public concerts. Starting from 1988, as part of Bydgoszcz Musical Tuesdays, a new series was introduced, known as Debuts – Young Composers of Bydgoszcz, which ensured professional level of presentation for the first performances of new compositions. This is a valuable source of auditory and technical experience for fledgling composers.
It was thanks to the efforts of Rector Franciszek Woźniak that an organ was built in the concert hall at 7 Staszica Street. The construction of this 26-register organ (2,068 pipes) with mechanical trackers, two manual keyboards, a pedal and swell box, fit for a wide repertoire, was undertaken by an experienced company run by Józef and Zdzisław Mollin from Odry, near Chojnice. The organ was completed on 5th October, 1992, when its full potential was demonstrated during the concert of Miroslaw Pietkiewicz, ushering in regular Thursday Organ Recitals.
This dynamic development in artistic activity was seen on the one hand in continuing earlier concert cycles, festivals, workshops and competitions, and on the other in new initiatives. In 1989, the Chamber Orchestra Accademia dell’Arco came into being. It is composed of the Academy’s current students and graduates who join and leave on a rotary basis. The main initiator of this project was Paweł Radziński, the current art director and soloist of the group. The orchestra’s premiere performance (then under the name of Accademia) was held on 30th June, 1989, to conclude a course involving the violin virtuoso Viktor Pikaizen.
In 1992, the Academy (with the Polish Association of Choirs and Orchestras and Center of Culture Animation in Warsaw) joined in the organization of the International Choir Festival Arti et Amicitiae – created on the initiative of Janusz Stanecki, the then president of the Bydgoszcz Branch of the Polish Association of Choirs and Orchestras. The main purpose of the event was establishing artistic contacts between Polish and foreign choirs to foster exchange of experiences, learning about each other’s cultures, organizing seminars and workshops for conductors, and engaging in joint vocal and instrumental music projects.
Openness to international contacts has also been one of the priorities of the Academy. In June 1990, a cooperation agreement was signed with the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Hamburg, which soon resulted in several performances given by German musicians in Bydgoszcz, as well as concerts performed by the students and teachers of the Academy in Hamburg. At that time, the Academy also hosted musicians from France, Japan and Italy.
Subsequent years at the Academy, led by Rector Antoni Poszowski, saw a continuation of these lines of development drawn earlier. It was a period of stabilization, calm and systematic work on projecting a positive image of the institution, a period of fine-tuning and solidifying the relatively recently formed organizational structure as well as optimal use of the premises that were found to be sufficient for the current needs after adapting the buildings in Staszica Street. All faculties acquired the rights to confer first-degree qualifications, and two of them (the Faculty of Instrumental Music and the Faculty of Choir Conducting and Music Education) could now also confer the second-degree qualifications in Instrumental Music and Directing Vocal and Vocal-Instrumental Ensembles.
The Academy’s concert activity was enriched with several new recurring festival initiatives. In May 1994 the first edition of the Student Piano Festival Forte-Piano took place. At the turn of September and October 1995 the first Bydgoszcz Festival for Winners of Music Competitions was held, and in June 1996 the first Jerzy Popieluszko Festival for Young Organists and Singers. Beginning in 1996, the Fugue Competition – originally organized internally for students of the Academy – gained the status of an international event.
The Faculty of Music Education proposed an educational cycle, designed to foster a taste for music among the youngest residents of Bydgoszcz. Organized since March 1994, the Sunday Music Mornings, prepared by students under the supervision of their teachers, were met with great interest and quickly gained a loyal, dedicated audience, attracting crowds of children with parents every month. It is worth mentioning that these meetings with the youngest music lovers also proved to be an excellent training ground for the musicians – future teachers of music, providing yet another valuable practical component to their education.
In January 1994 a remarkable performance of the student orchestra took place at the Pomeranian Philharmonic Hall. It initiated the tradition of Carnival Concerts, continued to this day, during which lighter repertoire is presented, more in line with the atmosphere of carnival, including symphonic pieces and operettas which may suit the tastes of a wider audience of music lovers.
The Faculty of Vocal Music and Drama began organizing opera workshops, for which excerpts of a selected opera were selected. In 1994, the students presented Henry Purcell’s opera Dido and Aeneas, in 1997 Eugéne Jonesco’s The Bald Soprano and Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, while in 1999, Die Fledermaus (The Bat) by J. Strauss.
The academic conferences organized by the Faculty of Composition and Music Theory since 1994 were included in the series Language-System-Style-Form. Consequently, the participating music theorists and musicologists were allowed greater freedom in choosing the topics for their papers which could be tailored to individual interests and ongoing research. In addition, there were also occasional monographic symposia on topics including the works of Karol Szymanowski (1992) and Bela Bartók (1996). Since the year 2000 the Center for the Musical Culture of the Pomerania and Kujawy Region has been giving specific thematic profiles to the academic sessions it organized (‘Vocal music…’, ‘The creators and organizers of music…’, ‘Music and the media…’, ‘The teaching of music…’), which has enabled a more systematic exploration of the history of the musical life of the city and region.
The Academy also expanded its network of international contacts and cooperation (including exchange programmes for students and teachers, concert projects, research, etc.) with three more centers in France and Italy. In June 1997, a cooperation agreement was signed with the Conservatoire National de Région de Strasbourg, and in April 1999 the Istituto Musicale Achille Peri in Reggio Emilia and the Fondazione Romualdo del Bianco in Florence. In subsequent years, the list of friendly foreign educational institutions was extended by the Academy of Arts in Banska Bystrica (Slovakia), the Faculty of Philology and Art at the University of Kragujevac (Serbia), the Academy of Music, Dance and Fine Arts in Plovdiv (Bulgaria), the University of Arts and School of Music in Nagoya (Japan), the Francesco Venezze Conservatorio de Musica in Rovigo (Italy), the Le Mirail University in Toulouse (France), the Anton Bruckner Privatuniversität in Linz (Austria), the Peter Tchaikovsky Ukrainian National Academy in Kiev, and the Jäzeps Vïtols Latvian Academy of Music in Riga.
At the beginning of the new millennium, during the term of office of Rector Jerzy Kaszuba, and then Rector Maria Murawska, the Academy had to face new challenges. Growing competitiveness of specialist music education, reflected in the creation of new departments at other centers (thus far absent in the educational profile of music studies focused essentially on training “classical musicians”), forced the Academy to extend its educational offer.
Since the end of the sixties (when the Faculty of Popular Music was established at the State Higher School of Music in Katowice in 1969), the only Polish institution training jazz musicians and popular singers was the Karol Szymanowski Academy of Music. That monopoly was broken only by the Academy of Music in Bydgoszcz. As a location, Bydgoszcz seemed to be a very good option because of earlier traditions in performing this kind of music. The Northern Chapter of the Polish Jazz Association had its office here, and the Pomeranian Jazz Autumn festival was organized here annually. Student clubs organizing jazz concerts were very active. In 2003, on the initiative of Deputy Rector for Artistic Matters Janusz Stanecki and Dean of the Faculty of Choir Conducting and Music Education Alicja Weber, the Academy’s Senate passed a resolution to run a new study programme: Directing Jazz Bands and Popular Music Ensembles. Consequently, the Department of Jazz and Popular Music was established, Andrzej Zubek being appointed its head. Nationally recognized jazz musicians (mostly graduates of the Faculty of Jazz and Popular Music in Katowice and instrumental faculties of other schools) were employed to teach jazz-related courses. In 2008, the Interfaculty Jazz and Popular Music Center was established. In 2010, the principal-study programme in Jazz and Popular Music was offered (since October 2013 also as a second-cycle programme), and in 2012, the Department of Jazz Music was created.
The Faculty of Conducting, Jazz Music and Music Education started its Center for Church Music in 2003, to offer a programme of professional education to future cantors. Its management was entrusted to Rev. Andrzej Filaber. In 2009 the Faculty added symphony conducting to its offer, giving candidates opportunities to learn from eminent practitioners of conducting (including Wojciech Michniewski). Students of conducting may also hone their skills by participating in the work of the Student Symphony Orchestra, the Pomeranian Philharmonic Orchestra and chamber music and symphonic ensembles from other music centers. In 2012, the course was expanded to a full, two-cycle Master degree study programme, and the following year the Department of Conducting was formed.
In 2002, composition students gained the opportunity to pursue their creative ideas in electro-acoustic music. This was thanks to the creation of the Sound Laboratory, on the initiative of Anna Nowak. The Laboratory is equipped with the latest software for electronic sound generation and digital sound editing.
The Faculty of Instrumental Music, in turn, opened its doors to musicians interested in the so-called historically-informed performance. The germ of a new organizational unit was the harpsichord class, opened in 1998 and led by Urszula Bartkiewicz. From the outset, Urszula Bartkiewicz set herself the goal of developing research and artistic activities related to early music. Since 1999, Polish and foreign specialists in historical (vocal, instrumental and choreographic) performing practices had been invited to seminars and symposiums, along with musicologists who supported practitioners with their research. Several concert musicians had undertaken permanent cooperation with the Academy, making it possible to offer regular programmes in music performance on historical instruments. In 2012 the Department of Harpsichord, Organ and Early Music was created – an upgrade from a separate organizational unit that had existed since 2006 under a similar name.
In 2008, on the initiative of Rector Maria Murawska, the Faculty of Instrumental Music launched a four-year doctoral programme for graduates of second-cycle studies in instrumental music. The programme requires that a student writes and defends a doctoral dissertation and prepares an extensive repertoire related to the written work, also recorded, upon which they earn the degree of Doctor of Musical Arts [Polish: doktor sztuk] in instrumental music.
As part of the Academy’s strategic plans to extend its range of educational opportunities, in 2006, thanks to the efforts of Rector Maria Murawska and Dean Violetta Przech, the principal-study programme in Sound Engineering was started at the Faculty of Composition and Theory of Music. In cooperation with the Polish Film Institute and with the involvement of EU and ministerial funding, the following facilities were outfitted with professional equipment for recording and editing sound: the Roman Suchecki Concert Hall (3 Staszica Street), the studio of the Concert Hall (20 Gdańska Street), the editing studio, as well as the film post-production studio and sound laboratory (7 Słowackiego Street). Experienced sound engineering professionals were employed, including Andrzej Lupa, Witold Osiński and Marian Szukalski. These developments made the new programme a success from its first edition. It has enjoyed tremendous popularity among young people to this day.
In its thirty years of existence, the highly appreciated Piano Department, whose teaching staff since its inception have been composed of world-renowned concert pianists, has trained many winners of international piano competitions. In 2005 Rafał Blechacz from the piano class of Katarzyna Popowa-Zydroń achieved a spectacular success in winning the first prize at the 15th Fryderyk Chopin International Piano Competition in Warsaw. Since then, interest in the Bydgoszcz piano school has dramatically increased. The Academy started seeing droves of young pianists in search of the ‘best recipe’ for interpreting Chopin’s music. For musicians from the Far East Bydgoszcz has become an important center of musical education. Dozens of students from abroad are currently studying here, most of them from China.
Due to the rapid growth in the student population, there was an urgent need to develop the Academy’s facilities. Efforts undertaken by Rector Jerzy Kaszuba and his successor Rector Maria Murawska were crowned with the acquisition of new buildings. The facility at 13 Warmińskiego Street became home to Jazz and Popular Music. The building at 20 Gdańska Street, originally acquired from Opera Nova, renovated and upgraded under a project co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund in the framework of ‘Priority Axis 3 – Development of social infrastructure’, in addition to classrooms and a ballet hall, contains a professionally equipped sound engineering laboratory and a concert hall with an orchestra pit, opened for use in October 2013.
The most talented graduating students can also present their skills at concerts with the Pomeranian Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, which is a return to the tradition of philharmonic concerts from the previous century. Since 2006, these concerts have become widely discussed artistic events.
Far-reaching artistic resonance, transcending the boundaries of the academic community, is also generated by the Youth Opera Forum – a student opera festival which started in 2008, and which accompanies the Bydgoszcz Opera Festival. Originated years before as an idea proposed by teachers in the Faculty of Vocal Music and Drama, it made flesh by Dean Marek Moździerz. Performances by Polish and international students provide them with an opportunity to develop further skills and acquire stage experience at the beginning of their artistic careers. Concerts of music by young composers as well as other forms of presenting musical achievements have a similar educational meaning, including an opportunity to observe the flowering of creative talents and artistic skills of students enrolled in the seven disciplines currently taught at the Academy.
The year 2004, when Poland became a member of the European Union, was a favorable moment for intensifying international cooperation with conservatories, academies and universities of music from different regions of Europe. The expanding teacher and student exchange under the Erasmus programme and joint artistic and academic projects have allowed the Academy to mark its presence on the map of European academic centers. As an organizer of international symposiums known as The Musical Work – Its Ontological and Epistemological Aspects, held since 2004 on the initiative and under the guidance of Professor Anna Nowak, the Academy has become a forum for exchanging academic ideas and artistic presentations of researchers, artists and performers of music from a number of European academic centers (including France, Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Latvia, and Russia).
Also outside of their teaching responsibilities, teachers of the Academy conduct research and engage in artistic endeavors. The Academy’s organizational units not only do original research, but also participate in large academic and artistic projects organized by other academic centers nationally and abroad, and prepare collective works and monographs printed by the Academy’s Publishing House. The knowledge and artistic experience preserved in these works is used for teaching and for new artistic projects which every year attract to the Academy’s concert halls listeners representing different circles, also those outside the academia. Public recognition goes particularly to large events such as the Festival for Music Competition Winners and the ‘Chopin Kaleidoscope’ – a large outdoor 12-hour series of concerts held in May 2010, commemorating the bicentenary of Chopin’s birth. As an organizer of nearly a hundred concerts a year, the Academy has become an important center of musical culture in the city and the Pomerania and Kujawy region.
In the elections of 2012, the post of Rector was once again entrusted to Jerzy Kaszuba. In the coming years, one of the main tasks of His Magnificence remains consolidating the Academy’s scattered buildings by constructing a new facility containing all of the services, as well as classrooms, an auditorium, etc., with enough surplus space to ensure undisturbed teaching and artistic activity at least for the next forty years.
The inscription on the front of the main building reads Musica spiritus movens. May music move the hearts of the authorities and charitable donors, so that the Feliks Nowowiejski Academy of Music continues to serve the local community and gain more recognition at home and abroad as an institution educating artists and organizers of contemporary musical culture.