Wanda Wiłkomirska, the outstanding and most famous of all Polish violinists, comes from a notable musical family. Indeed, the first steps in her learning violin were taken under the guidance of her father. Her violin studies resulted in her graduating in 1947 from the Łódź Academy of Music, where she studied under Irena Dubiska. This was followed by her graduation from the Ferenc Liszt Music Academy in Budapest in 1950, where she studied under Ede Zathureczki. She later perfected her violin technique in Paris under the guidance of Henryk Szeryng, and in Warsaw under Tadeusz Wroński, who assisted her in preparing for the Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition in Poznań.
Wanda Wiłkomirksa went on to win prizes at competitions in Geneva (1946), Budapest (1949), Leipzig (1950) and Poznań (1952). Her success in these competitions, along with her splendid performances with the Warsaw Philharmonic brought her much acclaim in Poland and abroad. A significant moment in her career proved to be her "musical union" with Witold Rowicki – the prominent conductor and co-founder of Poland's National Philharmonic. In 1955, Wanda Wiłkomirska performed at the inauguration of the rebuilt Philharmonic concert hall on Warsaw's Jasna Street. That same year, she was awarded the status of that orchestra's soloist and gave many performances around the world with such conductors as W. Rowicki, S. Wisłocki and A. Wit. A turning point in her career was the 1961 performance, with the National Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by W. Rowicki, of Karol Szymanowski's Concerto No. 1 at New York's famous Carnegie Hall. Her talent came to the notice of the most famous American impresario of that time – Sol Hurok (manager of such stars as I. Stern and D. Oistrakh), who introduced her to the enthusiastic U.S. and Canadian markets. From that moment on, she would make regular annual visits to America to perform recitals and symphonic concerts. In 1968, she began regularly recording for the Connoisseur Society record company in New York, for which she made 12 albums. Two of these won awards, namely "Best of the Year" (1972) and the Grand Prix du Disque (1974). She has also recorded with the biggest phonographic companies, such as: Deutsche Grammophon, EMI, Philips and Naxos. Naturally, she has also recorded for Polskie Nagrania.
In 1969, Australia became another position on the map of her artistic conquests, when she toured that country for the first time, giving 37 performances. These interpretations won her great acclaim and she received further recital and concert proposals from Australian symphonic orchestras. In 1973, she was the first violinist to perform a solo recital in the newly built Sydney Opera House.
She has given recitals and performed symphonic concerts in probably all the most famous halls, including: Carnegie Hall, the Lincoln Center, Salle Pleyel in Paris, Gewandhaus, the Royal Festival Hall, the Piotr Tchaikovsky Hall in Moscow and the Berlin Philharmonic Hall. She has performed with the New York Philharmonic, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Hallé Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, the Leipzig Gewandhausorchester, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and the Berliner Philharmoniker, with such celebrated conductors as: Paul Klecki, Pierre Boulez, Paul Hindemith, Leonard Bernstein, Otto Klemperer, Zubin Mehta, Sir John Barbirolli, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Kurt Masur and Erich Leinsdorf. Indeed, it was her performance of Benjamin Britten's Violin Concerto, conducted by Leinsdorf, which accompanied the 1976 inauguration of the famous Barbican Hall in London. In 1986, following the overthrow of apartheid, she accepted an invitation to perform in South Africa, this resulting in new contracts for upcoming seasons. From that point in time, her name has been known on all continents, from Sydney to San Francisco, from Capetown to Reykjavik.
Wanda Wiłkomirska has also worked with Polish symphonic orchestras, performing at the inauguration concerts of new philharmonic halls in Rzeszów, Szczecin and Wałbrzych. She is not one to shun performances in small towns, a fact that has won her a host of warm admirers among music lovers.
Another important artistic activity is her chamber music. She has often performed in a piano trio, accompanied by her sister Maria at the piano and her brother Kazimierz on the cello. As a chamber musician she has also played with such stars as Krystian Zimerman, Gidon Kremer, Martha Argerich, Kim Kashkashian and Misha Maisky. She has performed at such festivals as: "Bravo Maestro", Gidon Kremer & Friends in Kuhmo, and Martha Argerich & Friends in Bochum.
The artist is often invited to take part in music festivals in Edinburgh, Vienna, Salzburg, Paris and Warsaw.
Among the broad range of her activities, a very important role is played by her premiere performances of Polish contemporary compositions. The most notable of these include the first performances of such works as: Grażyna Bacewicz's Violin Concerto No. 5 (1951) and Violin Concerto No. 7 (1979), Tadeusz Baird's Expressions (1959), Augustyn Bloch's Dialogues (1966), Krzysztof Penderecki's Capriccio (1968), Zbigniew Bargielski's Violin Concerto (1977), Zbigniew Bujarski's Violin Concerto (1980), Roman Maciejewski's Sonata (1998) and Włodzimierz Kotoński's Concerto for Violin and Orchestra (2000).
In 1982, during martial law, Wiłkomirska emigrated from Poland and settled in the Federal Republic of Germany. In 1983, she accepted the chair of music professor at the Heidelberg-Mannheim Hochschule für Musik. Since that time, teaching has become her great passion and an opportunity to share her instrumental skills and experience as a musician with the next generation of virtuosos.
Wanda Wiłkomirska is often a jury member at violin competitions, such as those held in: Moscow, Tokyo, London, Munich, Vienna, Graz, Hannover, Gorizia, and in Poland, in Poznań, Kraków, Łódź and Lublin.
Though now retired, she is still full of vitality and enthusiasm to perform, and in 1999 was appointed professor at the Sydney Conservatory of Music. She is also very much engaged in master classes in Poland, Japan, Switzerland, Italy, Finland, Austria, Germany and Australia.
For her artistic achievements she has been awarded the Polish National Prize first and second degree, the Order of Commander’s Cross of Poland's Rebirth, the Order of Commander’s Cross with Star, as well as being awarded a medal by the Polish expatriate community of Australia and a prize by the Karol Szymanowski Foundation.
Wanda Wiłkomirska performs on a violin crafted by Pietro Guarneri in 1734 in Venice.
POLSKIE NAGRANIA, 2006