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Antoni Wit

In the latter quarter of the twentieth century, Antoni Wit was often called by critics one of the most underrated conductors of his time. Indeed, he had numerous acclaimed recordings to his credit and held distinguished conducting posts in Poland, but remained largely little known until the new century. Perhaps he had unwittingly impeded his career by championing the music of many contemporary Polish composers: Penderecki, Wojciech Kilar, Krysztof Meyer, Eugeniusz Knapik, and a long list of others. But then Wit's choice of repertory ultimately had been, and remains, broad, with particular focus on the works of Schumann, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Mahler, Rachmaninov, Bartók, Prokofiev, and a spate of others. Wit has made over 100 recordings, mostly for the Naxos label. He also teaches conducting at the Warsaw-based Frédéric Chopin University of Music. Antoni Wit was born in Krakow, Poland, February 7, 1944. He enrolled at the Krakow Academy of Music, where his most important teachers were Henryk Czyz (conducting) and Penderecki (composition). He had further training in Paris at the Ecole Normale de Musique with Pierre Dervaux, and then studied composition with Nadia Boulanger (1967-1968). From 1967-1969 Wit was an assistant to Witold Rowicki at the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra. After further studies in conducting at Tanglewood with Stanislaw Skrowaczewski and Seiji Ozawa in 1973, Wit was appointed artistic director of the Pomeranian Philharmonic Orchestra (Poland), holding the post from 1974-1977. Wit next served as director of the Krakow-based Polish Radio and Television Orchestra and Chorus from 1977-1983. During his tenure there, Wit premiered many important new works, including the Penderecki Lacrimosa (1980). From 1983-2000 Wit served as director of the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Katowice. It was with this ensemble that Wit has made most of his recordings. His 2000 Naxos CD of Messiaen's Turangalîla Symphony, with the National Polish RSO, received the Cannes Classical Award at Midem Classique 2002. During the 1980s and '90s, Wit also actively freelanced across the globe, conducting major orchestras in Berlin, Dresden, London, Dublin, Rome, Budapest, Barcelona, Tokyo, Montreal, and Mexico City. Wit also conducted the Orquestra Filharmónica de Gran Canaria from 1987, first as artistic director (until 1988), then as visiting conductor (1988-1992). From 2002 Wit has served as general and artistic director of the Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra. Among Wit's recordings is the 2008 Naxos CD of Volume 1 of the Symphonic Poems of Mieczyslaw Karlowicz. In 2008, his Naxos recording of Penderecki's Symphony No. 7, with the Warsaw National Philharmonic Choir and the Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra, was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of best choral performance.
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