Karol Kazimierz Kurpiński (1785 - 1857)

Born in Włoszakowice on 6 March 1785, Karol Kurpiński began his musical studies under his father. At the age of twelve he had become organist at a church in Sarnowa, where his uncle was the parish priest. In 1800 the cellist Roch Wański took him to the estate of Count Feliks Polanowski outside Lviv, where the teenager played violin in the private orchestra. Around 1808 he wrote his first opera Pygmalion (now lost), then two years later settled permanently in Warsaw, becoming a conductor at the Warsaw Opera while teaching music at numerous prominent schools. From 1815 he was a member of many musical societies in Poland and abroad, including the Société des Enfants d’Apollon in Paris. He became Kapellmeister of the Polish Royal Chapel in 1819 and was decorated with the Order of Saint Stanislaus in 1823. He laid the foundations for a national style and set the course for future Polish composers – not least Chopin, whom he had met in 1828. He died in Warsaw on 18 September 1857.

Although his output was dominated by operas (the most famous of these being The Castle of Czorsztyn from 1819) and ballets, Kurpiński also wrote numerous cantatas and Masses – together with a handful of orchestral works (including a Clarinet Concerto) and chamber pieces.