Gdansk March 23, 2006. Jerzy Maximyuk during a symphony concert as part of the celebration of Mozart’s Year at the Polish Baltic Orchestra.Photo: Forum / Adam Warzawa
He grew up in Białystok, where his family fled from Grodno during the war. As a young boy, he went to Warsaw in high school and completed his education there. He graduated from the Frederic Chopin University of Music (then the State High School of Music) in three fields of study: composition (1962), piano (1964) and procedure (1969).
It’s not a talent
While still a student, he won the important Polish national piano competition. Ignacy Jan Paderevsky. However, when asked if he was exceptionally talented, he replied that he was definitely more diligent.
– Since I came from Białystok, from Bujari, I knew that I had to do something, to overcome something, because I wanted to appear in a larger city – explained Jerzy Maksimuk on Radio Anna Sklska on Polish radio.
Undoubtedly, Jerzy Maxiuk’s greatest successes are: the conduct and development of the Polish Chamber Orchestra (1972-1982) and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in Glasgow (1983-1993). However, at the same time, he led many others with these bands, recorded albums and composed his own music.
Immediately after graduation, he got a prestigious job as conductor at the Great Theater in Warsaw, and then led the Warsaw Chamber Opera Orchestra, which turned into the Polish Chamber Orchestra. He worked with this team extensively and brought it to perfection, which was noticed and appreciated in the world.
– Neville Mariner helped us a lot – it so happened that he gave a concert in Poland and something happened to him, there was an orchestra, and he knew all this orchestra – recalled Jerzy Maksimuk on Anna Skolska on Polish radio. – When we played Bartok “Divertimento” he said: I played it too, but I could never achieve what I did. But how did we get it? We played a few sentences for half a year. That was the work – he added.
With POK, Jerzy Maksymiuk performed vocals in the most important concert halls of the world and recorded a series of albums for the EMI label, which at that time was a great tribute to the Polish band.
In 1983 he was invited to conduct the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in Glasgow, which performed on the BBC.
– I started working in an orchestra – Jerzy Maksimyuk said on Polish Radio. – I asked what can I do. The manager asked me: What do you want? To play the orchestra better. – OK. So, we will play the scales. The only orchestra in the world that plays scales. But see what the difficult element is – added the maestro.
His hard work, in this case, brought excellent results, represented by numerous concerts in prestigious venues and performances at the most important festivals (including in Poland during the “Warsaw Autumn” festival). He was also offered to run the English National Opera.
In addition to conducting orchestras, Jerzy Maksymiuk is also a composer of film music, including most of the films of Chislaw Petelsky, who was close to him (they lived side by side in Bialystok). Of the 200 films he has drawn, one of them is appreciated the most – Wojciech Jerzy Has.
– I wrote the music for the movie “Syrotechnic Under the Hourglass” and this was the only time the director did not suggest anything – said the composer.
In addition, Maksimyuk is a promoter of serious contemporary music – he co-founded the “Warsaw Autumn” festival and repeatedly presented the works of modern composers. He is known for his strong personality and colorful personality. Together with his wife, he became the hero of Tomasz Drozdowicz’s documentary “Maksymiuk. A Concert for Two” (2018).