Płock, view on Tumskie hill

Becoming a musician

Tadeusz Paciorkiewicz, 1934

Tadeusz during his studies at Bishop’s Organists School. Płock, 1934 /photographer unknown/

Learning at the Organist School absorbed me very much, and for the four years I was an exemplary student. To demonstrate this, let me just say that I hardly ever went home for holidays or vacations. Instead, I stayed in Płock to practice passionately, taking advantage of the fact that the instruments were not occupied. No wander that doing so throughout the period of my studies, I was a much better student than all of my colleagues. Unfortunately, I had to cope with a permanent shortage of funds, a problem that never ended. Although in the second year of my studies I began to earn my food by playing and singing at chapels, first at the St Joseph Hospice for the Elderly, and then at the Chapel of the Holy Trinity Hospital, I failed to pay my tuition starting from the second year on, and I studied on credit. I wasn’t removed from the school, however, perhaps because as a student, I had excellent results.

Tadeusz Paciorkiewicz, 1934

Tadeusz practising in Bishop’s Organists School. Płock, 1934 /photographer unknown/

The task of the Bishop’s Organists School in Płock was to educate future parish organists. During the four years of study, the school taught the rudiments of such musical subjects as organ and piano playing, and theoretical subjects such as the principles of music, solfege, harmony, music forms, history of music, Gregorian chant, choir conducting, etc, in addition to the specific vocational subjects. In the third year, I started to think about what I would do after completing the studies. In no event did I want to become an organist at some country parish, as was the best scenario for a young graduate of our school. I didn’t wait until I finished my studies, but I went to the Warsaw Conservatory. Mainly, I wanted to see Professor Bronislaw Rutkowski. At the Conservatory, I procured the data on the program requirements for the entry exams to the organ class. I had to pass two exams: the piano and the organ. So, I concentrated all my efforts and diligence on preparing for the entry exam at the Warsaw Conservatory, in addition to preparing for the diploma exam at the Bishop’s Organists School. The results of my hard work were good: from among the forty candidates, I was the only one to be admitted to the fourth year of study, while other graduates of similar musical schools were admitted to the first or the second year. This beginning was encouraging. It was 1936.

Now I had to face new problems: I needed a place to live, food, an instrument to practise, money to pay my tuition, clothes and other things. I asked the Conservatory’s secretary office for a certificate to attest that I had passed the entry exams and I went to see my brother Alfred to ask him for financial assistance. At that time, he worked as a doctor in Daleszyce near Kielce. He appreciated the fact that I had passed the difficult exam and that I was admitted to the leading Polish music school. My brother was proud of me. He bought me a new suit immediately, and gave me some money to pay the first installment of my tuition. Unfortunately, his assistance ended at this point. He was a young doctor then, and he was still furnishing his house and his surgery. For this reason, he could not afford to help me more. Anyway, he helped me a lot. I looked around my new environment and got acquainted with my new colleagues, especially with Franciszek Wesołowski who had been a student for one year already. Then, I started to organise my new life. Wesołowski gave me the address of an honest elderly couple who lived in 14 Freta Street. I stayed with them and my sister Maria paid my rent.

…the War

/Written by the composer in Warsaw, Poland, on November 20, 1995/