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Wanda Wiłkomirska (11 January 1929 – 1 May 2018) Aged 89

Wanda Wiłkomirska (11 January 1929 – 1 May 2018) Aged 89


Violinist who specialised in the works of her Polish compatriots

Wanda Wilkomirska Polish violinist

The great Polish violinist Wanda Wiłkomirska, who has died aged 89, was especially associated with the repertoire of her compatriots Karol Szymanowski, Krzysztof Penderecki – who write his Capriccio for her in 1967 – and Grażyna Bacewicz. She was also an advocate of other 20th-century repertoire, notably of Béla Bartók and Paul Hindemith, and felt an affinity with the British composers Frederick Delius, whom she considered an English Szymanowski, recording his three violin sonatas, and Benjamin Britten.

A recording of a 1967 performance of Britten’s Violin Concerto at the Royal Festival Hall with the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Witold Rowicki, won the German Critics’ award in 2012, as well as praise from Rob Cowan of Gramophone, who described Wiłkomirska as a distinguished exponent of the Britten: “She was clearly on top form … [and] movingly persuasive in the work’s many lyrical passages.”

A teacher, Irena Dubiska, once told her: “Wanda, if you cannot play well, play beautifully.” Wiłkomirska’s playing, on a violin made in 1734 by Pietro Guarneri of Venice, was intuitive, musical, silken-toned and conveyed musical structure – important in the playing of contemporary music.

Wiłkomirska was an international violinist of the highest level. In 1976 she played the Britten with the LSO at the Royal Festival Hall under Erich Leinsdorf, and later with the Royal Philharmonic and Hans Vonk (1981). She also performed at the Edinburgh festival under Kurt Masur. Her worldwide partnerships included performing with Leonard Bernstein, Otto Klemperer, Carlo Maria Giulini and Zubin Mehta, and with the Cleveland, Hallé, Royal Concertgebouw and New York Philharmonic orchestras.

© The Guardian

Read more: Wanda Wiłkomirska obituary: The Guardian