Feliks Nowowiejski

(b. 7th February, 1877 in Wartembork – now Barczewo, d. 18th January, 1946 in Poznań)

Composer, conductor, virtuoso organist, teacher, organizer of musical life.

His music education started in a school of music in Święta Lipka (1887-1893). In 1893 he took the position of conductor for the Prussian Grenadier Regiment Orchestra in Olsztyn. In 1898 he began his studies at the Julius Stern Conservatory in Berlin, and since 1900 he continued his studies at the School of Church Music in Regensburg, the Max Bruch Academic School of Masters in Berlin and Berlin University. Meanwhile, in the years 1898-1900 he worked as an organist in St. James’ Church in Olsztyn, and taught in Krakow and Berlin. In 1919 he settled in Poznań.

Nowowiejski won artistic recognition as an organist-virtuoso, performing nationally and abroad, as well as a composer. He wrote oratorios. He is well-known for his music for Maria Konopnicka’s Rota [The Oath]. Rota is a patriotic song, very popular in the 20th century both among Poles living in the country and expatriates. With Nowowiejski’s music, it was first performed in Kraków on 15th July, 1910, to mark the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Grunwald.

Feliks Nowowiejski’s oeuvre includes, among other operas (The Emigrants, The Legend of the Baltic), oratorios (The Return of the Prodigal Son, Quo Vadis, The Finding of the Holy Cross with the famous Parce Domine), Missa pro pace, four symphonies (Symphony No. 1 in B Minor, Op. 12 ‘Seven colours of Iris’, Symphony No. 2, Op. 52 ‘Work and rhythm’, Symphony No. 3, Op. 53 ‘The Białowieża Symphony’, Symphony No. 4, Op. 58 ‘The Peace Symphony’ for three solo voices, narrator, mixed choir and orchestra), symphonic poems (Beatrice, Op. 17, No. 1, Nina and Pergolesi, Op. 17, No. 2, Elenais Death, Op. 17, No. 3), the overture for Polish Courtship, Cello Concerto, Op. 55, Piano Concerto, Op. 60, numerous organ works (including nine symphonies for organ, Op. 45 and four organ concertos, Op. 56), piano music, as well as many vocal and choral pieces (about 600 songs).

In 1935, in gratitude for the creation of numerous and valuable artistic works of religious importance Nowowiejski received the title of Papal Chamberlain from Pope Pius XI.

In the interwar period, the artist settled in Poznań. He visited Bydgoszcz several times as a conductor and composer: on 3rd April, 1921, when he conducted the choir in the opera Halka in Bydgoszcz, on 18th November, 1923, when he conducted a concert that marked the occasion of the fifth anniversary of regaining independence, and on 31st July, 1927 – during the unveiling of the first monument of Henryk Sienkiewicz in Poland, in the presence of President Ignacy Mościcki – when Nowowiejski conducted a concert performed by the Representative Orchestra of the 68th Polish Infantry Regiment and the combined choirs of Bydgoszcz and Poznań.