Founder of the Festival
“Music is not a separate field of art. It was created in a specific place and time. That is why it is worth to know what was going on in the world in that time.”
MAREK MARKOWICZ 1954-2005
Musician, art animator, founder of Zakopiańska Akademia Sztuki and Ensemble Festival. Passionate mountaineer, sailor, bee keeper and globetrotter who successfully combined these distant fascinations. Born February 17th, 1948 in Mieroszow as organist’s son. After few years, the family moved to Zakopane, where Marek and his siblings started their music education. He graduated in Cracow, in in class of double bass. He worked for Olsztyn’s Feliks Nowowiejski Warmia-Mazuria Philharmonic in 1975-1984. Then, 1984-1995, he worked as first double bass in Cracow Opera under direction of Ewa Michnik. In 1990’s he worked at “Merkuryusz” Press Club in Cracow, where he organized music life, by e.g. starting “La Rosa” early music band. Unfortunately, a serious car accident brought his double bass career to an end. Yet, he remained in proximity with music till the end of his days, since then as a manager of cultural events. He was the initiator of Groblicz Family International Violin Contest in Cracow that first took place in 1996. In 1997, he started and managed till his death – Zakopiańska Akademia Sztuki, which today carries his name and is led by his wife Barbara Markowicz and an outstanding violinist, Szymon Krzeszowiec. In 2004, after many attempts, he succeeded with inaugurating first edition of Princess Daisy Ensemble Festival at the Ksiaz Castle. He passed away August 5th, 2005 because of terminal illness, a few days before second edition of the Festival.
When I think of Marek Markowicz, I turn back to the first letters we exchanged…
It was in 1998, when he invited me to teach piano at his first major initiative, Zakopiańska Akademia Sztuki (ZAS). Since it was intended to put special emphasis on 20th century music, I had to admit I knew little about Poland’s modernist genius Szymanowski at the time; but I described my other various and widespread enterprises and fields of interest to Marek. To all this Marek answered in what he called his Afrikaner-Deutsch: “Am wichtigste ist, der Lehrer ein Renaissance-Mensch mus sein – und Sie sind.“ [“The most important for the teacher is a man of Renaissance to be, and you are.”]
Needless to say, the Renaissance style was also the way Marek spent his own days: very much alive, very much aware of the times, always curious, always on the move, and ready to open new avenues, learn new things.
He strongly believed there was a connection between different arts and crafts, and in a very Zakopane way, he also believed this to be connected to nature, philosophy, the Good Life, good fun. Marek introduced me to many aspects of Polish lifestyle (many hours after official teaching hours…) that, between us, we called: Marxism-Tobaccoism.
Like a true Renaissance man, he also had a great reverence for the Old Masters: it was Marek who brought Roman Totenberg back to Poland, who invited Ida Haendel and Henryk Mikołaj Górecki to meet with young participants of ZAS.
Always on the move! On the mountain paths of the Tatra mountains, walking fast with his long legs, puffing cigarette smoke – and even faster that time when we searched for a group of students in the thick fog on Kasprowy….Running down the steps of the hotel where ZAS was operating at the beginning; getting things organized for concerts, then standing in front of the audience, announcing the program with heart and good humor. Jumping behind the wheel of his Maluch car after ZAS 2003 and driving all the way from Zakopane to Pszczyna to show the castle there and explain his newest idea, which turned out to be his last one: Princess Daisy International Chamber Art Festival. When I close my eyes to see Marek again, he is always moving, always con moto ed agitato…
Except for that last visit I paid him in Cracow, July 2005. It was clear, something was seriously different, because Marek was sitting still. Soon after, Marek left us, but he left his mark behind: two high profile Festivals that contribute in a unique way to the cultural landscape of Poland today. Grateful and indelible memories in the hearts of those young people he helped to grow and progress.
And last, but not least, the next generation within his own family, Ania, Kasia, Marcin, who have turned Marek’s vision into reality that is here to stay. Marek would be happy and proud.
Renaissance: Rebirth. Permanently.
You do not meet too many people in your life, who you can call real Friends. Yet, Marek was one of them.
I was lucky to be able to co-create with him the Groblicz Family International Violin Contest in Cracow and Zakopiańska Akademia Sztuki. It is said that everybody can be replaced, yet without him, despite success, events which he organized either disappeared, like the said Groblicz Contest, or changed their image (Zakopiańska Akademia Sztuki).
Marek was a man of great imagination, heart, fantasy and enthusiasm. He loved the youth, whom he inspired with projects he prepared, and he also taught them how to appreciate beauty of the Tatra’s nature. Marek, I miss you so much – but I guess that’s just the way life goes.
Marek Markowicz – a man who gave back chamber music and Princess Daisy to Walbrzych.
I met Mr. Markowicz in 2003, when the mayor of the city at the time called me and told me that he was contacted by a gentleman from the area of Tatra mountains who had a “culture” idea. Therefore, he wanted to ask me to talk to Mr. Markiewicz.
That’s how it all started. When he came to my office, I saw a slightly older man, with greyish hair, simply dressed. Mr. Markiewicz told me about the charms of Ksiaz Castle, former estate of Hochberg family, which seemed perfect for chamber music concerts combined with chamber music master classes for gifted youth. He talked with great passion; he was convincing and knew a lot about the subject. He came to me with an almost ready project of a festival. He was the one who invited a world known violinist, professor Roman Totenberg, and many other virtuosos to add splendor to the first edition of the Festival. And thanks to endeavors of Mr. Markiewicz, since 2004, Walbrzych has become the festival city of chamber music.
During preparations for the first edition of the Festival, Mr. Markowicz proved to be a calm, convinced and resolute, but at the same time tactful and cultural of a person. He was very modest. He never bragged about being the founder of Princess Daisy Festival. I am certain that he put all his heart and more into what he did. Unfortunately, a serious illness took him away. And this is when I met Mr. Markiewicz as a wonderful father, thanks to his children, who not only took up preparations for the second edition of the Festival stopped by his death, but also made it grow.
I thank God that I met Mr. Marek Markiewicz, who is still present thanks to the Festival, but also because he taught me something good.
What was Marek like? Creative! He was intellectually restless. This was also the reason he came up with Groblicz Family International Violin Contest – his acquaintances and friends in Europe and America formed grounds of this unique idea. The very form of this event, which was supposed to be cyclical, was designed in a visionary manner.
Thirteen judges from all around the world assessed a selected group of young violinists in three stages. The finals of this contest took place in Juliusz Słowacki Theatre – the most representative venue of Cracow at the time. My little success is coming up with the name of the contest, which was changed by Marek from “Groblicz” to “Groblicz Family” – as this family line was quite big. We finished this achievement without any speeches but with a toast and with cigarette smoke that was a real intellectual incense.
“This restless man” did not stop there and a year later, he brought to life his other idea which was called Zakopiańska Akademia Sztuki. His love for the youth, who sometimes were loud and crazy, yet indefatigable at work, made him realize that these young creators need not only a stage experience, but also intellectual awareness, which was supposed to be given to them by Akademia, i.e. by its interdisciplinary program and a group of wonderful master class professors – music elite from all over the world.
We tried to come up with a form of advertisement which would promote this event, and here we also had to make a toast, without speeches, and the cigarette incense also had to be present. He was always smiling, and always commented on problems the same way: “We can do it, we only have to figure out how.”
“And what if… what if we made a festival at the Ksiaz Castle” – “What sort of festival?” – “Of chamber music” – and he did it! These cyclical events contrived by Marek – 15th Zakopiańska Akademia Sztuki and Princess Daisy Ensemble International Festival of Chamber Art – are the best proof of his lasting creativity, which we should make a toast for, with a speech… and a little bit of cigarette smoke, although their author passed away in 2005.