Raoul Koczalski / public domain; source: (Wikimedia Commons)
(3 January 1884 – 24 November 1948) pianist and composer, born in Warsaw, died in Poznań. He received his first lessons of music from his parents. He continued his studies of piano in Saint Petersburg with Anton Rubinstein, in Warsaw with Julian Gadomski and in Lwów (now Lviv in Ukraine) with Ludwik Marek and Karol Mikuli. In the latter centre he also studied instrumentation with Henryk Jarecki and composition with Karol Mikuli. He was also a student of musicology and philosophy at the University of Paris.
As a pianist he made a debut at the age of 4 and quickly made his name as a child prodigy. As a token of admiration he was given the Premier Prix d’Enfant, a prize awarded by the conservatory in Paris and several titles of court pianist, from the King of Spain, the Shah of Persia and the Sultan of Turkey. He gave concerts (about 4600) in Poland, Germany, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Austria, Yugoslavia, Luxembourg, Romania, Switzerland, Estonia, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Norway, England, Bohemia, Hungary, Italy and other countries. His repertoire included compositions by Johann Sebastian Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven, Fryderyk Chopin, Franz Liszt, Anton Rubinstein, Ignacy Jan Paderewski etc. His playing style was characterised by impeccable technique, subtle phrasing and a broad dynamic palette. He was particularly praised for his interpretation of Fryderyk Chopin. He also wrote a book about the problems of interpretation of Chopin’s compositions. Koczalski left behind a number of recordings for such labels as Columbia, HMV, Muza, Odeon, Polydor and Pearl CD. Apart from his concert performances, he was also active as a teacher of piano at the State Higher Schools of Music in Poznań and Warsaw. In recognition of his achievements he was posthumously honoured with the Order of Polonia Restituta.
Koczalski’s creative output is expressed in a variety of line-ups and genres. His orchestral works include symphonies, a symphonic poem and concertos for violin, cello and piano. He only has a few samples of instrumental chamber pieces to his credit: trios for piano, violin and cello. His most substantial body of compositions (about 250) is dedicated to songs with texts by such authors as Dante Alighieri, Juliusz Słowacki, Zygmunt Krasiński, Kazimierz Przerwa-Tetmajer, Alexander Pushkin, Mikhail Lermontov, George Byron, Paul Verlaine, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Rainer Maria Rilke and Stefan Zweig. His piano works comprise preludes, rhapsodies, fantasias, sonatas, suites, nocturnes, etudes, mazurkas and waltzes. He also wrote several operas.Koczalski became composing almost as early as he began playing the piano, but he later destroyed most of his youthful legacy. His orchestral works stand out for their qualities of colour and sound. Stylistically, his dramatic works hark back to the Romantic historical opera, whereas his works for piano, especially written in his later years, are full of virtuosity and reminiscences of the music by Franz Liszt.
Source: Dziura Witold, Koczalski Raoul, in: Encyklopedia muzyczna PWM, Dziębowska Elżbieta (ed.), vol. 5, Polskie Wydawnictwo Muzyczne, Kraków 1997, pp. 119-120.