Raoul Koczalski

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Raoul Koczalski playing for Welte-Mignon in 1925

Armand Georg Raoul (von) Koczalski (3 January 1884, Warsaw – 24 November 1948, Poznań) was a Polish pianist and composer, who fulfilled his promise (first shown as a child prodigy) to become one of the great pianists of all time.


Koczalski was taught first by his mother, then by Julian Godomski: having made a public appearance in 1888 (aged 4) his parents took him to play for Anton Rubinstein, who foresaw the possibility of a performing career. He studied at Lviv Conservatory, first with Ludwig Marek and then under Karol Mikuli, Chopin's favorite Polish student and assistant. At the age of 7 he gave concerts and at 9 he was playing in major European cities as a virtuoso. His thousandth concert was given in Leipzig in 1896, and by the age of 12 he had received awards such as the Order of the Lion and Sun, (from the Shah of Persia), the title of Court Pianist (from the King of Spain) and a medal from the Turkish Sultan. Even as a child he had a very extensive repertoire. During World War I he was interned in Germany.[1]

Koczalski was highly esteemed as a performer of Chopin in Germany, where he lived during the 1920s and 1930s. In that period he toured in France, Italy and Poland, but (despite many invitations) not in the United States of America. He was interned in Berlin during the Second World War, and in 1945 he went to live in Poznan, accepting a post as professor in the State Higher School of Music.[2] As a performer, the complete works of Chopin and the complete Beethoven sonatas lay at the core of a very extensive repertoire from the classical and romantic genres. He was considered one of the greatest interpreters of Chopin's music and one of the greatest pianists of his time, with a very liquid technique, smooth balance and interpretations that did not take the liberties of many of his contemporaries but which remained closer to the written score.[3] His Chopin recordings reveal him as the most compelling, authentic Chopin interpreter of all time although his reputation was substantially damaged by his refusal to give concerts in the USA and by the unsupported negative opinions of Arthur Rubinstein in his autobiography "My Many Years" Pub. Jonathon Cape,1980. His pupils included Detlew Kraus, Monique de La Bruchollerie, Hanna Rudnicka-Kruszewska, Wanda Losakiewicz and Irena Wyrzykowska-Mondelska.


Koczalski's compositions include nearly 200 published works, symphonic and chamber pieces, concertos, operas and ballets, piano compositions and songs.


In addition to his books, Koczalski wrote several press articles.



  1. ^ Article by Prof Karol Radziwonowicz.
  2. ^ Karol Radziwonowicz (external link).
  3. ^ Lyle Wilson: A dictionary of pianists. London: Robert Hale, 1985.

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