Elżbieta Towarnicka (soprano) was born in Wrocław. She comes from an artistic family. Her grandfather, Piotr Towarnicki, was an organist. Her sister, Alina Towarnicka-Niedźwiedź, for years worked as prima ballerina at the Kraków Opera and Eugeniusz Towarnicki, a distant relative, wrote the popular coursebook Flute Course. Endowed with perfect pitch, she started to perform with the Kraków Opera (then known as the Kraków Music Theatre as well as the Opera and Operetta in Kraków) while still a student at the State Higher School of Music (now the Academy of Music in Kraków). Soon she started to sing the main soprano parts in such operas as Giacomo Puccini’s La Boheme and Tosca, Georges Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers, Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata and Rigoletto, Carl Maria von Weber’s Die Freischütz, Karol Szymanowski’s King Roger, Christoph Willibald Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice and Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas.

Even before graduating, Elżbieta Towarnicka became a prizewinner at the 1st All-Polish Adam Didur Competition in Bytom (taking 3rd prize and a prize for the best rendition of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s works awarded by the Main Board of the Polish Association of Music Artists). Her performances at this competition are the first recordings of hers that can be found in the archives of Polish Radio (some of them are included on this album). At that time that she made her first vinyl recordings.

At present Elzbieta Towarnicka works closely with all of the Polish philharmonic orchestras and leading Polish composers (including Jan A. P. Kaczmarek, Wojciech Kilar, Michał Lorenc, Krzesimir Dębski, and Krzysztof Penderecki). Foreign tours have taken her to Argentina, Belgium, Britain, Canada, China, Croatia, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Italy (with performances at the legendary La Scala), Japan, Lithuania, Macedonia, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine and the United States. She has produced an extensive catalogue of recordings, including Zbigniew Preisner’s Requiem for my Friend (several gold and platinum discs) and Ave Maria (with Marek Stefański and Jacek Ozimkowski), the latter being nominated for the ‘Fryderyk’ Award. She also recorded for The Song of the Katyń Families, an album by Henryk Mikołaj Górecki released to mark his 75th birthday. The CD features her and Andrzej Białko’s unsurpassable rendition of O Domina Nostra, Op. 55, for soprano and organ.

She has become known to a wider audience through film music and her long-lasting collaboration with Zbigniew Preisner. She has taken part in the recording of the soundtracks for such films as Decalogue, The Double Life of Veronique, Three Colours – Blue and Red (all by Krzysztof Kieślowski), Oliver, Oliver (by Agnieszka Holland), Weiser (by Wojciech Marczewski), Eminent Domain (by John Irvin), Quartet in 4 Movements (by Lucia Rikaki), and various others. Works by Jan Kanty Pawluśkiewicz also occupy an important place in Elzbieta Towarnicka`s repertoire (including Apimondia Mater, 1987; Vespers of Ludźmierz, 1992; Papusza’s Harps, 1994; Amat Vita, 1998; The Way, the Love, the Life, 1999; The Gardens of Josaphat, 2002; The Lord Passed through this World, 2005; Venetian Tales of Hell and Paradise, 2008; and The Joy of Charity, 2009).

Her CDs have sold many thousands of copies worldwide, placing her amongst the best and most successful of singers.

Wiktor Czajkowski

Translated by Tomasz Michta