The musical excerpts featured on this narrative are taken from an emotionally charged mid-1960’s era recording I heard a few days after my dream experience in 1974, performed by violinist Wanda Wilkomirska. I have listened to countless Chaconne interpretations since then, but her passionate, straightforward and rather unrefined version, with its air of almost spinning out of control in some sections, remains one of my all-time favorites.
Ms. Wilkomirska was born in 1929 into a musical family in Poland, and her father Alfred was her first teacher. She completed her violin studies in Budapest in 1950 and began her long and distinguished career as in internationally acclaimed soloist, playing as many as 164 concerts a year. In 1981, after martial law was declared in Poland, she chose to leave her home country to live and teach in Germany and Australia. She settled in Australia and returned to Poland late in life, after listening to Chopin at a New Year’s Eve party in Sydney.
Throughout her life, she never forgot her roots or her dedication to bringing classical music to the smaller towns and cities that often have few cultural resources. As she explained during a 1980’s radio interview, “I can’t refuse a small city, because people have ears there!”
Ms. Wilkomirska passed away in 2018, in Poland.