At a ceremony on Thursday, which coincided with the opening of the 2015/26 academic year at the Music University, the Dean of the Piano Department Professsor Anna Jastrzębska-Quinn spoke of Zimerman’s outstanding achievements which have placed him alongside such Polish piano virtuosos of the past as Ignacy Jan Paderewski, Józef Hofmann, and Artur Rubinstein.
“Your performances of works by Polish composers have made them appreciated worldwide and your interpretations of Chopin have become an unattainable model for other pianists,” she said.
Anna Jastrzębska-Quinn also recalled Zimerman’s spectacular victory at the International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw forty years ago this month.
Evidently moved, Zimerman looked around the audience and said that he could see many people “far more deserving of the honour that I have been given”.
He offered special words of thanks to Andrzej Jasiński, his professor, whom he described as “the most important figure in his life”.
Addressing the students of the Music University, he said: “Your path leads you from an instrumentalist to a musician, from a musician to an artist, and from an artist to a human being.”
In a formal citation, Professor Piotr Paleczny, himself a distinguished pianist, referred to the three conditions of beauty according to Saint Thomas Aquinas.
“The first is integrity, that is the perfection in life; the second proportion, in other words harmony, and the third – clarity. In my view, the personality and creative art of Krystian Zimerman fulfil all these conditions to the highest degree,” he said.
Krystian Zimerman was born on 5 December 1956 in Zabrze. He started studying the piano with Andrzej Jasiński, who remained his teacher until 1976. His victory at the Chopin Competition, at the age of 19, skyrocketed him to international stardom, with an instant flow of invitations from leading orchestras and top conductors. Particularly acclaimed for his interpretations of Romantic music, Zimerman also excells in the contemporary repertoire. He was the dedicatee and first performer of Witold Lutosławski’s Piano Concerto.
A resident of Switzerland, he has dual Polish-Swiss citizenship. (mk/rg/rk)