Elzbieta WIEDNER-ZAJAC Pianist / Composer
(Maiden name: Zając or Zającówna)
was born in Poland (Będzin). She has been living in Vienna since 1979.
She studied in Poland at the University of Music in Katowice and in Gdansk (piano with Professor Zbigniew Śliwiński), in the USA at the University of Michgan, Ann Arbor (piano with Professor György Sándor), and in Austria at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna (piano with Professor Dieter Weber).
Elzbieta Wiedner-Zajac has also written extensively about the piano. Her article on Polish composer Juliusz Zarębski (1854 – 1885) appeared already years ago in the book “Piano Music” PWSM – Gdansk, Poland: “Characteristics and importance of the piano music of Juliusz Zarębski to Polish music.”
Numerous prizes at national and international competitions – including several first prizes – in Poland, the USA, Italy and Spain heralded the start of her busy concert schedule, which has taken her to many of the countries of continental Europe, to Great Britain, Iceland and the Faroe Islands, and to Turkey, as well as Hong Kong, Southeast Asia, Japan and the USA.
Her performances at international festivals have taken the pianist to the Cardiff Festival of Music and the Ruhr Piano Festival, amongst others.
She has appeared several times in the Golden Hall at Vienna’s Musikverein, performing works for piano and orchestra by Frédéric Chopin.
Her interpretation of Karol Szymanowski’s Symphony no. 4 (“Symphonie concertante”), which the artist performed as soloist with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra in Reykjavik (in a broadcast performance) moved Witold Lutosławski to write her an excited congratulatory note. One of Elzbieta Wiedner-Zajac’s CDs (“Masques”) is dedicated to this great Polish composer.
Over the course of many years, the pianist has made many solo recordings for radio and television, including the television programme “The artistry of Elzbieta Zajac” which was produced in East Lansing, Michigan, and broadcast in ten states in the USA. Her numerous solo CDs were highly praised by the critics in international specialized periodicals (American music critic Raymond S. Tuttle wrote in Fanfare, the magazine for record collectors: “This is a true discovery”). In February 2010, her CD of compositions for piano and orchestra “Szymanowski, Paderewski, Chopin“ was presented by Radio Stephansdom in Vienna – in the “CD of the Day” series – together with recordings by Artur Rubinstein and Martha Argerich.
In April 2010 she participated in the research conference “Chopin and Vienna” – as part of the International Year of Chopin marking the 200th anniversary of the composer’s birth – at which she gave the lecture(moderated from the piano): “Chopins pianistic skills as reflected in his compositions and in his piano teaching” in the theatre at the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna. Professor Badura-Skoda (also a lecturer at the conference) highly praised this presentation.
Elzbieta Wiedner-Zajac has performed many premières and world premières in her concerts – above all of works by Polish and Austrian composers – including “Polka” by Jenö Takács (at the Ruhr Piano Festival), a piano composition written for and dedicated to her.
In 2002, the artist performed the piano music of Jenö Takács at numerous concerts throughout Poland and Austria in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the composer’s birth.
Together with her daughter, Beata (a ballet dancer with the Vienna State Opera Ballet), she occasionally puts on dance / piano performances (such as Fanny Elssler – on the 120th anniversary of her death, or Jenö Takács – “Dance Fantasy for Rosalia Chladek”).
Elzbieta Wiedner-Zajac has been regularly writing her own compositions since 1999.
Her debut concert as a composer was given at Vienna’s Alte Schmiede in March 2004.
Since then, her works have been performed in concerts around the world.
In 2007 she received honourable mention in the Jenö Takács composition competition, for her piece “Oh ferner Vogel…”, a vocalise for voice and piano (left hand alone). The composition was premièred at the award winners’ concert on 4th March 2008 at Esterházy Palace in Eisenstadt.
In 2012 she received an award in the 8th Harmonia Classica international composition competition, for her cycle “Temperamente” (Temperaments) for flute and piano.
In June 2013, in the Austrian National Library in Vienna, took place the concert “Komponistinnenporträt Elzbieta Wiedner-Zajac”; the artist played – piano solo and together with other musicians – her compositions.
Elzbieta Wiedner-Zajac is also very active as a piano teacher: she has given master classes and workshops at several universities in the USA. After completing her Polish habilitation (adjunct), she led a piano performance class at Danzig College of Music. She has frequently taught piano at the International Summer Academy in Lilienfeld (Lower Austria).
In 2007 and in April 2014 she gave master classes on the Faroe Islands, and she has been a piano Preofessor at the international “Vienna Music Seminar” since summer 2007. In Summer 2011, 2012 and 2013 she gave master classes and was jury member bei Youth Music Tour – Courses & Competitions for young chinese pianists in Vienna.
Between 1982 and 2009 Elzbieta Wiedner-Zajac taught piano at the Vienna University of Music and Performing Arts, and successfully completed the procedure to qualify as a university professor in the artistic subject of the piano in all its scope.
In June 2009 the University of Music presented an anniversary concert in her honour, celebrating her work as a composer and pianist; her university colleagues, students and she herself performed her compositions.
The artist is a member of the Austrian Composers’ Society, is on the board of the International Chopin Society in Vienna; she was four years long the chair of the Club of Professors at the Research Centre of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Vienna and is furtheron a member of the Club; she is also a member of the Leschetizky Society in Germany and a member of the Leschetizky Association in Bad Ischl.
In 2009 she received the “Golden Owl” award of the Club of Polish Intellectuals in Vienna – for services to culture.
The Republic of Poland awarded Elzbieta Wiedner-Zajac the medal “For Services to Polish Culture” and the Officer’s Cross “Polonia Restituta”. The Republic of Austria awarded her the Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and the Arts.
Further information about the artist can be found at: http://db.musicaustria.at/en/node/807689
Elzbieta Wiedner-Zajac’s compositions can be purchased at: