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Wanda Wiłkomirska

Polish violinist and teacher Wanda Wiłkomirska was born into a musical family in Warsaw on 11 January 1929. After learning violin with her father, she studied at the Academy of Music in Łódź with Irena Dubiska and at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest with Ede Zathureczky. She performed in Paris and was invited to study with Henryk Szeryng. She won competition prizes in Geneva, Budapest, Leipzig qnd Poznań - the Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition, where she won joint second prize. Honours included the 1953 and 1964 Polish State Awards for music.

She gave first performances of much contemporary music, including works by Krzysztof Penderecki, Grażyna Bacewicz, Włodzimierz Kotoński and Tadeusz Baird, and performed in more than fifty countries.

Married to Mieczysław Rakowski, a journalist and communist party official who later became Polish Prime Minister, Wiłkomirska defected to West Germany and taught in Mannheim. She later settled in Australia, teaching at the Sydney Conservatorium and in Melbourne at the Australian National Academy of Music, but also continued to work in Europe.

Playing a 1734 Venetian violin by Pietro Guarneri, she recorded for the Connoisseur Society, Deutsche Grammophon, EMI, Naxos, Philips and Polskie Nagrania.

She played at a number of important occasions - Szymanowski's Violin Concerto No 1 at the inauguration of the rebuilt Warsaw Philharmonic Concert Hall in 1955 and Britten's Violin Concerto at the inauguration of London's Barbican Hall in 1976. She was the first violinist to give a recital in the newly-built Sydney Opera House in 1973.

Wanda Wiłkomirska died on 1 May 2018, aged eighty-nine.

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