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Olga Iliwicka Dabrowska

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July 23, 1910 Łódź - December 26, 1979 Poznań

Winner 10th award III Fryderyk Chopin International Piano Competition in Warsaw (1937). Known on the concert circuit only by her maiden name Iliwicka – began her musical studies after World War I, when her family returned to Poland after having fled to Russia before the Germans. She began her musical formation under the private tutelage of Antoni Dobkiewicz, a student of Teodor Leszetycki. To a significant degree it is he who formed the future pianist developing her technical abilities and sensitising her to the beauty of the sound of the piano.

After graduating in 1928, Olga Iliwicka was accepted to the Chopin Music Academy in Warsaw, to advanced piano studies under Prof. Jerzy Żurawlew. She completed her studies with highest honours in 1931. The same year she made her debut in Łódź at a symphony concert where she awoke the avid interest of concert goers and press alike.

In 1932, Olga Iliwicka took part in the Second Chopin Competition, but did not place. Only five years later (in 1937) did her performance at the Third Chopin Competition get her noticed – the jury awarded her tenth prize. In 1933, she took part in the International Music Competition in Vienna, where she was honoured with a diploma commemorating her participation in the second stage.

Her concert career began to flourish in the 1930s when she performed as a soloist and in chamber concerts. She took part in musical performances that were broadcast live by Polish Radio. In 1934, she premièred Adam Wieniaski’s Piano Concerto – Henryk and Józef Wieniawski’s nephew.

She began her pedagogical career in 1932, as teaching assistant to Prof. Jerzy Żurawlew at the Chopin Music Academy in Warsaw. Two years later she was teaching her own classes on the intermediate and advanced levels at the aforementioned institution and taught until the outbreak of World War II.

She spent the war in Warsaw, supporting herself by giving private piano lessons and playing secret concerts. During the Warsaw Uprising (1944), she was captured by the Germans and sent to the Reich as a forced labourer. She returned home after the Nazi capitulation (1945), where she resumed her pedagogical work, initially at the Music Institute in Toruń, then at the State Music Academy in Sopot and finally, from 1951 to her death, at the Music Academy in Poznań.

She was highly praised for her wonderful interpretations of Chopin’s Second Concerto in F minor, Beethoven’s Fourth Concerto in G major, Franck’s Symphonic Variations, Szymanowski’s Variations in B minor op. 3, Liszt’s paraphrases as well as Bach-Liszt, Bach-Busoni and Debussy’s 6. With respect to her playing, music critics underlined her great technique, demonstrated by the ease with which she overcame the most difficult elements, and the maturity of her interpretation. In 1967, she was the first to perform Florian Dąbrowski’s (her husband) First Piano Concerto and in 1970, his Second Piano Concerto.

She served as a juror in the Ninth Chopin Competition, held in Warsaw in 1975.

- Stanisław Dybowski

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