Born: February 2, 1807; Romanov, Volhynia
Died: October 10, 1867; Warsaw, Poland
Polish composer Ignacy Feliks Dobrzynski was a slightly older contemporary of Chopin, and like him, also studied with Józef Elsner at the Warsaw Conservatory. Dobrzynski's initial musical training came from his father, who was a court musician in the service of Count Józef Illinski. Dobrzynski's Symphony No. 2 (1834) won a major Viennese composition competition, which helped make Dobrzynski's name in German-speaking lands; from 1847 to 1849 heRead more conducted successful tours in the waning days of the German confederation. Although he often visited Germany and made close contacts with German musicians, the majority of Dobrzynski's career was spent in Warsaw as a composer, pianist, teacher, and conductor. Dobrzynski also aggressively pursued the idea of establishing himself in the world of opera, though most of his efforts came to naught. Although he had completed his only opera, Monbar, or The Freebooters, by 1838, Dobrzynski was unable to raise a performance of it until 1863. From 1852, Dobrzynski served as director of the Warsaw Opera, but proved not to have the temperament for this high-stress position and was fired in 1855.
Dobrzynski went to his grave with the notion that Monbar, or The Freebooters, was the most important thing he had achieved in life, but posterity has come to regard his other output of some 70 opus numbers -- symphonies, choral music, chamber music, songs, and a lot of piano music -- as of far greater importance. Although he studied alongside Chopin in Elsner's class and, like Elsner, regarded him as a genius, Dobrzynski was painfully aware of what the public in Warsaw expected of him and remained a stubbornly post-classical stylist until about his opus 50 in 1846. Afterward the reins of classical form begin to loosen and his work takes on more of an original tone. Among his late works is an Introduction and Funeral March on the Death of Chopin (1861) and a number of notable works for piano; although Dobrzynski's music retained some currency in Poland throughout the remainder of the nineteenth century, after 1900 it began to fade from view. Read less