The picture of Grażyna Bacewicz, author: Benedykt Jerzy Dorys (1901-1990), 1948 / source: Biblioteka Narodowa (Polona)

Grażyna Bacewicz

(5 February 1909 – 17 January 1969) composer and violinist, born in Łódź, died in Warsaw. Initially she was taught the piano and the violin by her father – Vincas Bacevičius (Wincenty Bacewicz). From 1919 she continued her music education with Helena Kijeńska-Dobkiewicz at Łódź Music Conservatory, where she studied violin, piano and music theory. In 1923 she moved with the whole family to Warsaw, where from 1924 she attended Warsaw Conservatory, studying composition with Kazimierz Sikorski, violin with Józef Jarzębski, and piano with Józef Turczyński. Simultaneously she took up philosophy at the University of Warsaw; she resigned from this study, however, after one-and-a-half years; she also interrupted her piano classes. In 1932 she graduated from the Conservatory, obtaining two degrees - in violin and in composition. In the same year, thanks to financial aid from Ignacy Jan Paderewski, she received a scholarship to study composition at the École Normale de Musique in Paris with Nadia Boulanger (1932-33). She also took private violin lessons from Henri Touret. In 1934 she returned to Paris again to study with the Hungarian violinist Carl Flesch. Her first success as a soloist came in 1935, when she won the 1st honourable mention in the 1st International Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition in Warsaw. In 1936-38 she worked with the Polish Radio Orchestra in Warsaw, organised by Grzegorz Fitelberg, in which she was the concertmaster. Her work in this orchestra allowed her to develop her knowledge of orchestration. Before WW II she also gave frequent concerts, often with her brother Keystut, a well-known pianist, in Lithuania, France, Spain and other countries. Under the German occupation, she gave underground concerts and performed for the Central Council of Social Care (RGO). After the war, she continued giving performances until 1953, including recitals in Belgium, Czechoslovakia, the USSR, Romania, Hungary and France. Simultaneously in 1945 she began work at the State Music Conservatory in Łódź, where she taught theory and the violin. In the later 1950s she dedicated herself almost entirely to composition and teaching. From 1966 till her death, she taught composition at the State Higher Music School in Warsaw (from 1967 bearing the state title of professor). She frequently sat on the juries of violinist and composer competitions in Liége, Paris, Moscow, Naples, Budapest, Poznań and Warsaw. In 1955-57 and 1960-69 she was Vice-President of the Polish Composers’ Union. In the 1960s, she also wrote several novels and novelettes (still unpublished) and a collection of short stories: Znak szczególny [Birthmark] (“Czytelnik”, Warsaw 1970; 2nd ed. 1974).

Of Bacewicz’s immense output of compositions, many have frequently been awarded: in 1933, her Quintet for wind instruments (1932) won the 1st prize in the Aide aux Femmes de Professions Libres Competition for Composers; in 1936, the Polish Music Publishing Society granted her 2nd prize in a competition for her Trio for Oboe, Violin and Cello (1935) and an honourable mention for Sinfonietta for string orchestra; in 1949, her Piano Concerto (1949) received 2nd prize (the 1st was not granted) in the Frédéric Chopin Competition for Composers organised by the Polish Composers’ Union in Warsaw. In 1951, she was awarded 1st prize for String Quartet No. 4 (1951) in the International Competition for Composers in Liège; in 1956, String Quartet No. 5 received 2nd prize in the same competition. In 1960, the International Rostrum of Composers organised by UNESCO in Paris honoured her Music for Strings, Trumpets and Percussion (1958) with the 3rd prize - the highest among orchestral pieces; in 1965, her Violin Concerto No. 7 received the Belgian Government Award and a Gold Medal in the International Composers’ Competition in Brussels.

Grażyna Bacewicz also received many awards for her entire artistic output. Among others, she was granted the Warsaw City Music Award in 1949 for her compositions, performances, organisation of music life and teaching. In 1950, she received State Award, 3rd Class, for Concerto for string orchestra (1948); in 1951 - 1st prize at the Polish Music Festival for her festival works, in particular - for Violin Sonata No. 4 (1949); in 1952 - State Award, 2nd Class for Violin Concerto No. 4 (1951), the (already mentioned) String Quartet N. 4 and String Sonata No. 4; in 1955 – the Minister of Culture and Art Award for Symphony No. 4 (1953), Violin Concerto No. 3 (1948) and String Quartet No. 3 (1947); in 1960 – the Polish Composers’ Union Award for outstanding achievements in the field of composition; in 1962 – the Minister of Culture and Art Award, 2nd Class for Pensieri Notturni for chamber orchestra (1961). She was also decorated with the Order of the Banner of Labour, 2nd Class (1949) and 1st Class (1959), the Cavalier’s Cross (1953) and the Commander’s Cross (1955) of the Order of Polonia Restituta, and the 10th Anniversary Order of the People’s Republic of Poland (1955)., Małgorzata Kosińska, updated: May 2018 (iz)

Chamber works

  • Andante and allegro for violin and piano, 1934



  • Antique dance for violin and piano, 1950

  • Caprice No.1 for violin and piano, 1932



  • Caprice No.2 for violin and piano, 1933 or 1934



  • Caprice No.3 for violin and piano, 1946 Borrow

  • Concertino in 1st- 3rd position for violin and piano, 1945 Buy

  • Concerto for string orchestra, 1948 Buy


    instrumentation- violin I, violin II, viola, cello, double bass

  • Divertimento for string orchestra, 1965 Buy


    violin I, violin II, viola, cello, double bass

  • Easy duets on folk themes for 2 violins, 1945 Buy

  • Easy pieces for clarinet and piano, 1948 Buy

  • Easy pieces in 1st position for violin and piano, 1946 Buy

  • Easy pieces in 1st- 3rd position for violin and piano, 1949 Buy

  • Humoresque for violin and piano, 1953 Buy

  • Incrustations for horn and chamber ensemble, 1965 Buy

  • Legend for violin and piano, 1945

  • Lithuanian song for violin and piano, 1934

  • Lullaby for violin and piano, 1952 Buy

  • Masovienne danse for violin and piano, 1951 Buy

  • Melody for violin and piano, 1949 Buy

  • Oberek No.1 for clarinet and piano, 1949

  • Oberek No.1 for violin and piano, 1949 Buy

  • Oberek No.2 for violin and piano, 1952 Buy

  • Partita for violin and piano [II], 1955 Buy

  • Partita for violin and piano [I], 1934,

  • Piano quintet No.1, 1952 Buy

  • Piano quintet No.2, 1965 Buy

  • Polish dance for violin and piano, 1948 Buy

  • Quartet for 4 violins, 1949 Buy

  • Quartetto per 4 violoncelli, 1964 Buy

  • Quintet for wind instruments, 1932 Buy

  • Sinfonietta for string orchestra [II], 1935, instrumantation: violin I, violin II, viola, cello, double bass

  • Sinfonietta for string orchestra [I], 1929, instrumantation: violin I, violin II, viola, cello, double bass

  • Slavonic dance for violin and piano, 1952 Buy

  • Sonata No.3 for violin and piano, 1947 Buy

  • Sonata No.4 for violin and piano, 1949 Buy

  • Sonata No.5 for violin and piano, 1951 Buy

  • Sonata da camera for violin and piano, 1945 Buy

  • Sonatina for oboe and piano Buy

  • String quartet No.1, 1938 Buy

  • String quartet No.2, 1943 Buy

  • String quartet No.3, 1947 Buy

  • String quartet No.4, 1950 Buy

  • String quartet No.5, 1955 Buy

  • String quartet No.6, 1960 Buy

  • String quartet No.7, 1965 Buy

  • Suite for 2 violins, 1942

  • Suite for string orchestra, 1931

  • Symphony for string orchestra, 1946, instrumantation: violin I, violin II, viola, cello, double bass

  • The Stained-glass window for violin and piano, 1932 Buy

  • Theme with variations for violin and piano, 1934 Buy

  • Trio for oboe, clarinet and bassoon, 1948

  • Trio for oboe, harp and percussion, 1965 Buy

  • Trio for oboe, violin and cello, 1935 Buy

  • Wiwat for clarinet and string quartet, 1950

Piano works

  • 10 Studies, 1957 Buy

  • 3 Preludes, 1941



  • Allegro, 1929



  • Children's suite, 1933 Buy

  • Concert Krakowiak, 1949 Buy

  • Little Triptych, 1965 Buy

  • Prelude, 1928



  • Rondino Buy

  • Scherzo, 1934 Buy

  • Sonata No.1, 1945



  • Sonata No.2, 1953 Buy

  • Sonata [II], 1935

  • Sonata [I], 1930

  • Sonatina [II], 1955 Buy

  • Sonatina [I], 1933

  • Study in double notes, 1952 Borrow

  • Theme and variations 1924

  • Three Grotesques, 1935 Buy

  • Toccata, 1932

  • Trois pièces caractéristiques, 1932 Buy

Works for piano and orchestra

  • Concerto for piano and orchestra, 1949 Buy