Karol Kurpiński

Karol Kurpiński (1785–1857) was a Polish composer, conductor and pedagogue. He was a representative of late classicism and a member of the Warsaw Society of Friends of Learning (Towarzystwo Warszawskie Przyjaciół Nauk, TWPN).
Born in Włoszakowice, Karol began his studies under his father, Marcin Kurpiński, an organist. At the age of 12, he became an organist at a church in Sarnowa, Konin County, near Rawicz, where his uncle Karol Wański was a parish priest. In 1800 his other uncle, the cellist Roch Wański, took him to the estate of count Feliks Polanowski near Lviv, who had a private orchestra of which Wański was a member, and in which the young Kurpiński played the violin.
There, around 1808, Kurpiński composed his first opera, Pygmalion. In 1810, he settled in Warsaw. With the help of Józef Elsner, he became a conductor of the Warsaw Opera, a position he held until 1840. He taught music at several prominent schools including one he founded. In 1815, he became a member of many musical societies in Poland and abroad, including the Société des Enfants d’Apollon in Paris. He became Kapellmeister of the Polish royal chapel in 1819 and in the same year received a lifetime achievement award for his services to music. In 1820, he founded and edited the first Polish music newsletter. He was decorated with the Order of Saint Stanislaus in 1823.
Kurpiński was a romanticist and one of the most revered composers before Chopin who he met in 1828. He helped to lay the foundations of a national style and prepared the ground for Polish music of the Romantic period particularly Chopin. He contributed to the development of Polish opera, introducing new musical devices and achieving a novel mode of expression.
He died in 1857, in Warsaw, aged 72.

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