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Ryszard Wrzaskala: Biography

Ryszard Wrzaskala
1932 -
Region: British Columbia

Ryszard Wrzaskala

Born March 1st, 1932 in Znin, Poland, composer, arranger, symphonic conductor, teacher. Master of Music degree from the PWSM (State Advanced Institute of Music) in Wroclaw, Poland (1960).

He started his musical career in 1951 as a choral conductor in his high school and for varied cultural institutions in Legnica. From 1959 to 1965 he was a Musical Director and conductor for the Legnica State Symphony Orchestra (LOS). In 1964 he won the first prize in a Polish Radio Song Competition and moved to Warsaw, where he wrote and arranged for Polish Radio and TV. In 1967/68 he won third and fourth prizes, and a special distinction for the Milosé przyszla” for piano and symphony orchestra, in a competition organized by the above.

In 1968 he was nominated Music Director/Conductor of the world renowned National Dance Company of Poland “Mazowsze”, which he conducted in Australia, Austria, Eqypt, Italy, Lebanon, Syria and other countries till 1969, when he moved to Canada.

He is a recipient of the medal “For Distinguished Services to the Legnica Province”, and the “The International Who’s Who in Music Diploma” for distinguished services to music (April 1980, Cambridge, England).

In Canada, he played various night clubs, did some vocal coaching and arranging for Las Vegas, gave private piano lessons, taught music for the Vancouver School Board but (writes Melanie Minty in the Now newspaper) “his heart – and creative soul – is in composing. ...Wsrzaskala has written more than 200 songs in English and Polish, most of them arranged as instrumental pieces... He also received more than 30 distinctions and honorary mentions over the world, including two gold medals in the Netherlands’ Expo 2000 Song Festival for the Best Song and Best Arrangement of his song “Zelazowa Wola” and another gold in 2002 for the Best Canadian Song “Lonely Man” at the same festival.

In 1976 he wrote “Stanley Park” a piece for piano with orchestra, which was played by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Kazuyoshi Akiyama. In 1979 he was commissioned by the Delta Symphony Society to write a “Centennial Suite” designed to celebrate the Centennial Year of Delta, Richmond and Surrey. In 1994, with a song “You Are There For Me”, he represented Canada in the 31st International Song Festival in Sopot, Poland.

In 2002, Wrzaskala produced and released a CD “One Woman Man” that included 26 songs, and in 2005 a new instrumental CD – “20 Original Piano Pieces” which contains various styles: from classical to ragtime, pop, soul, jazz and blues. He also published a piano book under the same title. The latest work of Wrzaskala is a musical “Soul Food”, a semi-autobiographical love story about two musicians – a Polish conductor and a Jewish pianist. It starts in the communist Poland, and after many heartbreaking situations, ends happily in Canada. In December 2005 he was invited by the Teatr im.Modrzejewskiej in Legnica, Poland, to attend a premiere of the show POMNIK WDZIECZOSCI, based on the songs from his musical. He signed a two year contract with the theatre and was commissioned by the City Council to write a song about Legnica. Lana Hart, Firehall Theatre manager, who intends to produce SOUL FOOD in 2006, is enthusiastic about the composer. She compares his music to Rogers and Hammerstein... “He has made his years count. Not that awards and recognition can make the man, but this man can make music.” (NOW)

Dec. 2006