The history of Stanislaw Moniuszko's Music Schools

Łódź in the 19th century was an industrial city. It grew from a little town of 428 inhabitants in 1800 to a big city of 314 000 inhabitants in 1900. There were numerous textile factories here so there was work for many people. The city was thriving.

Wealthy people educated their children and musical education was an important part of it. There were private lessons. But ambitious and musically talented young people attended music schools. And here,
at the end of the 19th century the history of our school starts.

1898 – January 1st 1940

In the first half of the twentieth century there were: Tadeusz and Ignacy Haniccy Music School (1898-1901), Maria Bojanowska Music School (1903-1912), Helena Kijeńska Music School (1912-1917), Helena Kijeńska Music College (1917-1922), Helena Kijeńska Music Conservatory (1922 – 1940).

The Conservatory was closed at the beginning of the World War II and all its assets and property were moved from the premises in 9 Traugutta Street, where the school was based, to the Poznański Palace in 32 Gdańska Street.

1940 – 1944

The property of the Conservatory was used by German occupation authorities and Städtische Musikschule was opened. The school taught young German people throughout most of the World War II.

January 1945

As soon as on January 19th 1945 Łódź was liberated from German domination musicians from Łódź met
in order to reactivate the Conservatory of Music. The meeting took place in the apartment of Helena Kijeńska and her husband Antoni Dobkiewicz in 6-go Sierpnia Street number 30.

The Ministry of Art and Culture nominated Kazimierz Wiłkomirski as the first headteacher
of the Conservatory. Helena Kijeńska became his deputy. The Conservatory was based in 32 Gdańska Street in the Poznański Palace with the proviso that the ground floor is to remain available to the School
of Theatre

April 1st 1946

The Secondary School of Music was officially opened by the decree of the Minister of Art and Culture dated February 1st 1946 number 1706/IV/306/WF/85. Kiejstut Bacewicz became the headteacher.

On April 18th the Music Conservatory was also opened and the academic year started.

The school had 409 students including 362 students of the secondary school and 47 students
of the Conservatory.

1946 – 1950

In the country ravaged by the World War II, Łódź became the centre of growing culture and science.
All music schools, which were in the process of establishing, carried great responsibilities. Philharmonic Orchestra and Hall, The Radio, The Operetta were being established and developed. Artistic community flourished. However they all suffered acutely from the lack of well educated musicians. It was an obstacle on the way to become an important music centre. All of the above shaped the School and its history in the first years.

In the first year the School had 165 students in the instrumental department, 136 in the vocal department and 14 students in the educational department. There were 45 teachers. The School Chronicle reports that from the start the School took great part in the cultural life of Łódź. Our students participated in numerous events, including the famous presentation Krakowiacy i Górale directed by Leon Schiller in the Polish Army Theatre (Teatr Wojska Polskiego).

Until the end of the school year 1949/50 all the courses took 6 years, later it was changed to 5 years.


These were hard years for Łódź. Warsaw, the capital of Poland which was in the process of intensive growth and reconstruction after the World War II, took over a lot of cultural institutions. A lot of remarkable musicians, music teachers and artists moved to Warsaw too.

The school had to adjust to the new situation in terms of its organisation and curriculum. Late 1950's and early 1960's was time of stabilization. It was also time of outstanding artistic accomplishments. Fragments of operas were staged by Władysław Raczkowski, those were: G. Puccini Madame Butterfly, J. Offenbach Tales of Hoffman , S. Moniuszko The Haunted Mansion (Straszny Dwór), W. A. Mozart Requiem and Stabat Mater by K. Szymanowski.

The headteachers were Franciszek Wesołowski (1950-1953) and Karol Mroszczyk (1953-1962).


In 1962 Kazimierz Dębski became the headteacher and he carried on until 1981. Continuing work of his predecessors, together with teachers, he strived to reach the highest possible level of teaching, to raise teachers' qualifications and to educate extensively students both in terms of subjects of the curriculum and the extracurricular ones. The result was that students took part in many competitions, auditions and concerts. That was the time of a successful vocal group Bel Canto with their varied repertoire. At the same time there was the group Kanon Rytm which played light music. Its sheer existence was a sensation in those times.

Artistic achievements of the students while Kazimierz Dębski was the headteacher were truly impressive. These are the most important projects undertaken by the school choir, orchestra and soloists:

  • 2nd act of the opera The Haunted Mansion (Straszny Dwór) S. Moniuszko (1964)
  • the pantomime Wierchy A. Malawski (1966)
  • the opera Flis S. Moniuszko (1966)
  • Tańce Połowieckie from the opera Kniaź Igor A. Borodin (1966)
  • the oratory Song of Forests (Pieśń o lasach) D. Shostakovitch (1967)
  • the opera Dido and Aeneas H. Purcell (1969)
  • the cantatas Milda and Crimean Sonnets (Sonety Krymskie) S. Moniuszko (1972)

On September 1st The School (Państwowa Średnia Szkoła Muzyczna) was officially given the name
Stanisław Moniuszko. A year later the competition Getting to know “Śpiewniki Domowe” by Stanisław Moniuszko was organised in order to honour the patron.

There had been many years of efforts to acquire separate premises for the school. Those finally became
a success. In 1974 the School got its own premises in 19 Jaracza Street where earlier there had been the Henryk Wieniawski Primary State School and The Secondary Music School. Moving the School to the new building created new possibilities and the Primary Music School was opened. Difficulties and challenges
of moving to the new premises and organising the school proved that the school community was united. The headteacher, the teachers, the support and administrative staff, students and parents all had their part in settling in the new building and the full growth of both the primary and secondary schools. At the time the primary school lasted 6 years for younger children and 4 years for the older ones, the secondary school – 5 years. The school was renamed and from now on it was called The Primary and Secondary Music State School (Państwowa Szkoła Muzyczna I i II Stopnia).

1981 – 2004

In those years the School was managed by : Stanisław Zajdel (1981 – 1982), Wiesław Konarzewski (1982 – 1989) , Bożenna Krasnodębska (1989 – 1991), Elżbieta Arendarska (1991 – 1994) and again Bożenna Krasnodębska (1994 -2004).

At this stage of the School history it was incessant strife to reach and maintain the highest level of teaching combined with concern for harmonious growth of the students. The School organized many concerts. Despite the numerous changes of the headteachers, the School consistently realised guidelines and principles laid out by the first headteachers, especially by Kazimierz Dębski, who held his office for almost 20 years.

In 1990 The Primary State Music School was opened. Apart from music lessons, it also realised the curriculum of a primary school years 1 – 8 . This led to formation of The Association of Music Schools (Zespół Szkół Muzycznych) - by the decree of the Minister of Art and Culture number 32 dated July 9th 1991. ZSM consisted of: Primary Music School, Music School (department for children that lasts 6 years,
and department for young people that lasts 4 years), Secondary Music School (instrumental department that lasts 6 years and vocal department that lasts 4 years). An importanteventinthe history ofthe Schoolwasthe celebration of50th anniversary during theschool year1995/1996. On this occasion,the school receiveda flag fundedby the city.

The changes of the political system that took place in Poland in the late 1980's and the early 1990's embraced all the areas of the social and economical life, including culture and education. One of the unwelcome effects of the changes were problems with the school premises. As a result, after 26 years
of residing in the building in Jaracza Street, the School moved to 20 Rojna Street to the building which was previously occupied by a primary school. The difficulties did not discourage the school community. On the contrary, they triggered off even greater energy used to realise new projects. Increased activities of the soloists, different music formations, the school orchestra and the choir led to the Łódź premières of the following : Magnificat A . Vivaldi (1999), Requiem A. Zwierzchowski (2001), Credo K. Penderecki (2003). There were also many other concerts in which the following were performed: Stabat Mater G. B. Pergolesi (2001), the concerto version of the opera The Haunted Mansion (Straszny Dwór) S. Moniuszko (2002),
The Harpsichord Concerto and Ad Matrem H. M. Górecki (2003), Krzesany and Exodus W. Kilar (2004) and many others.

In 1990's possibilities arose to give concerts abroad. The choir Con Vigore represented the School during concerts in Germany, Spain, Switzerland, France and Italy. It also successfully participated in competitions, one of them was in Trelev in Argentina (1995). The school orchestra also cooperated with foreign institutions which resulted in concerts in Switzerland (1996) and in Stuttgart in Germany (1999).


At the next stage in the history of the Stanisław Moniuszko Association of Music Schools in Łódź the School was managed by the headteacher Wiesława Cieśla (2004-2010). Since 2010 the responsibilities of the headteacher have been held by Małgorzata Bosek. It has been time characterized by extraordinary dynamism and mapping new directions of development for the School.

The Association of Music Schools organizes many competitions and various events. Some of them were initialized in the years 2004 – 2010 and others increased their coverage from regional to nationwide.

To name a few ZSM St. Moniuszko have held: Emma Altberg National Piano Competition, Włodzimierz Skowera National Competition of the Percussion Classes, Grażyna Bacewicz National Competition for String Chamber Ensembles, "Closer to the Warsaw Autumn Festival" National Knowledge Contest, Franciszek Wesołowski National Harmonic Competition, National Scientific and Methodological Conference
on Harmony and many other competitions, workshops and seminars with regional scope.

In 2008 The Association of Polish Musicians "Pro Arte" was created at the S. Moniuszko Association of Music Schools. Its educational objectives are implemented through both individual and group musical activities.
In September 2010 Public Secondary School was also opened.

On September 1st 2009 the Jazz Faculty was opened (for secondary students years 4-6 of the instrumental department and classes 1-4 of the vocal department).

Thanks to the efforts of the previous headteacher Wiesława Cieśla, a project of expansion
and modernization of the School was created. The project includes the construction of a concert hall,
a chamber and all the necessary facilities. Małgorzata Bosek, the current headtecher, has had the project updated. Full documentation has been prepared and the necessary building permission has been granted.

A lot has been done thanks to Mrs Bosek as far as the infrastructure is concerned: the building including the roof was newly insulated, new windows were fitted, central heating was modernised, This was funded
by the Environmental Protection and Water Management Fund and the state budget.

The School had The gym, the library, some toilets and the eurhythmics hall were modernized. Some rooms were adapted and changed into classrooms. Outside the school, a playground and a safe parking place were built.

One of the primary objectives for the previous headteacher Wiesława Cieśla and the current – Małgorzata Bosek have been enriching and renewing the School's instrumental resources.

Thanks to obtaining funds from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage under the various operational programs and using its own funds the School bought a lot of costly instruments, which enable our students to develop their skills. In the period of 2004-2015 the School purchased instruments and accessories for approximately 1 000 000zl.

All teachers, supported by the management, ensure all-round development of students. In the school concert calendar, there have been more premières: R. Ray Gospel Mass (2005), Double Concerto for guitar, bandoneon and string orchestra A. Piazza (2005), Song of the unification of Europe Z. Preisner (2005), Gloria K. Grzeszczak (2006), Lichtspiele in der Oberkirche A. Zagajewski (2010) and many other interesting musical events, including Coronation Mass W.A. Mozart (2004), Mass K. Dębski (2006), Christmas Oratorio C. Saint-Saens (2006), Symphony in g minor KV 183 W.A. Mozart (2008), Carnival of the Animals C. Saint-Saens (2009), as well as joint projects with the orchestra and choir of Grażyna and Kiejstut Bacewicz Academy
of Music: Holy Mass in f minor A. Bruckner (2010) and the oratorio Finding St. Cross F. Nowowiejski (2011).

Since 2012, every year, students of the secondary school have taken part in the Festival Szalone Dni Muzyki (Mad Days of Music) in the National Theatre in Warsaw. The themes of the Festival have been so far: Russia, France and Spain, America, and in 2015 Passion of Heart and Soul.

There have been vocal project such as: Opera Gala in the Filharmonic Hall in Łódź in 2012, musical The Blue Castle in Teatr Nowy in 2013, the show Ale opera (Such an Opera!) in the museum Biała Fabryka (The White Factory Museum) in 2015.

Our students had the opportunity to present their talents in the Youth in Łódź series (Młodzi w Łodzi). Filharmonic Hall have hosted not only students of the secondary music school. Since 2010 talented students of the primary music school have had their concerts there once a year. Jazz faculty students have been presented in the Wytwórnia Club.

Furthermore, cooperation with foreign countries has expanded: the mixed choir and the orchestra performed in Germany during the festival "Eurotreff" (2004, 2005, 2015)

There have been excellent concerts with Filharmonica della Citta del Tricolore from Reggio Emilia in Italy
in 2009 and 2012.

Children’s choir took part in festivals in Greece and Bulgaria.

In 2013 and 2014 mixed choir from the secondary school took part in workshops and concerts in Germany, Czech Republic and Poland.

Another international project resulted in students of the instrumental faculty of the secondary school giving concerts in Syddansk Musikkonserwatorium – Danish National Academy of Music in Esbjerg in Denmark in 2014.

In 2015 the headteacher Małgorzata Bosek signed the act of cooperation of our school with Eberhard-Ludwigs-Gymnasium in Stuttgart

Preparing students for concerts and the process of teaching are well balanced by our teachers. Since the school year 2012/2013 our school among 17 others have realised a pilot program of changes in the music schooling. This year we are also testing the program of assessment in points. Both pilot programs have been introduced by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.

In the area of general education fin 2011-2013 for years 1-3 we implemented a European Union project “Every child is different” (Każde dziecko jest inne) under the operational program Human Resources.

In the seventy years of existence of the institution many outstanding young musicians completed the Secondary School of Music. Among them there are excellent musicians, singers, composers, music teachers and also students of the Academy of Music in Łódź. Their artistic, creative and teaching achievements, involvement in the shaping and development of Polish music culture confirms the principle that the most important thing in everything we do is passion.

Compiled by M. Dowlasz
Reviewed by M. Schubert, Ł. Pawlata

Translated by Katarzyna Kucza