Janusz Piotrowicz - Full Biography

Janusz Piotrowicz was born in England of Polish refugees.  Cradled in music, he was able to read and play music before recognising the written word, beginning piano lessons aged two with his Mother.  He was born into a family rich in music-making tradition: his Mother was actively involved in singing and producing Polish Opera and National Dance; his Father had created Vistula, the Polish Refugees’ Orchestra.  By the age of five he was giving fund-raising recitals for war invalids and orphans, and made his Rome début aged seven in the presence of Pope John XXIII.  He would always include his own compositions in his concerts: each piece narrating a story around some historic event or personality.  Around this time he wrote a sonata for piano and began composing his ‘Grunwald’ Symphony, based on Polish-Lithuanian history.  His childhood involved extensive travel, enabling him to absorb the richness and diversity of European culture, and at every opportunity he would give a concert.  The piano thus became for him a direct extension of his very being – a means of communication and expression on the most intimate of levels.  His family imbued in him a knowledge of his cultural heritage – their own background, as survivors of the European Holocaust, providing another dimension to his childhood.  It was therefore a fitting tribute to their own suffering when in 1994 he was invited to perform to 5,000 people at the Chopin Memorial in the Royal Łazienki Park, Warsaw, on the 50th Anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising

Aged eleven, as a pupil of Małcużyński, he gave a series of concerts in various Polish cities, which led to his being offered a Polish Peoples’ Republic Scholarship to the Warsaw Conservatoire several years before the customary age of entry.  Instead, he accepted the Provost’s Scholarship to Eton College, where he was elected the first Honorary Music Scholar in the history of the school.  Predominantly self-taught and gifted with an innate musical understanding far beyond his years, he was described as a ‘comet’ by his tutors.  He mastered all the major symphony and oratorio repertoire, and the complete works of Chopin, while still at school, and launched his own orchestra, the Eton Philharmonic, with a programme of Mozart, initiating his personal practice of conducting all rehearsals and concerts from memory.  In his final year at school, he made his London recital début with Chopin’s 2nd and 3rd Sonatas and the Brahms Paganini Variations, and on his final evening as a schoolboy he performed Rachmaninov’s Third Piano Concerto at Windsor Castle

At eighteen, already of graduate status, he was elected a Foundation Scholar at the Royal College of Music, where he received, in addition to three scholarships for postgraduate research, two Fellowships and was honoured with the Worshipful Company of Musicians’ Medal, awarded to the most distinguished student of his generation.  He also staged five cycles of the complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas and Concertos, distributed between England, Poland and the USSR, performed Rachmaninov’s Third, Beethoven’s Emperor and Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concertos in London, and won the Nawrocki Prize for the most poetic interpreter in the Warsaw International Chopin Piano Competition

He has toured in Austria, Denmark, Italy, Poland, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Canada, the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mauritius, and throughout the UK, giving up to 300 performances a year, and presenting three-part epic recital programmes, which have included Chopin’s Four Ballades, Four Scherzi, Twenty-four Preludes and Twenty-seven Etudes.  His pianistic heritage, in the Rachmaninov, Paderewski, Horowitz and Neuhaus traditions, has enriched the poetic warmth and exuberant virtuosity of his playing, which is characterised by a translucent sound manifesting a tonal palette of endless colouristic contrasts, the result of many years of highly focused work on sound quality.  His personal style combines serene spirituality, nobility of feeling, and an infinite tenderness and delicacy of expression in quiet meditation, juxtaposed with a near-infernal, shattering emotional energy and rhythmic drive, whereby entire performances display mosaics of minuscule details in which each note gleams and sparkles with an abundance of tonal colour, communicating warmth of profound intensity and presenting an offering of creative mastery

Reviews - as pianist

"exquisite musicianship … miraculous dexterity … enthrallingly beautiful … magical tonal mastery … a velvet touch …     a Master Poet of the Piano"     Il Tempo, Rome

"his recital could have been retitled a poetry recital"    Fairfield Halls, Croydon


"pure magic … this was not just a performance, but a meditation, a labour of love"    Standard, Ontario

"white hot intensity … caressingly tender … nobility evoked with unerring artistry … the absolute refinement of piano playing"    The West Australian

"sensitive, keenly intelligent and admirably free from over-emphasis, with the dazzling runs and roulades soft as pearls rather than hard and bright like diamonds"     Faro de Vigo, Spain

"his renderings – quite different from those given by others regarded as Chopin specialists – are, from a technical, stylistic and conceptual point of view, valuable illustrations of how pianists should (if they are able) interpret Chopin’     J.P. Comesana, Spain

"a commanding figure – his complete mastery of technique and self-discipline were put at the service of the music … it was an education in listening … a performance in the tradition of Richter"    Taupo Times, New Zealand


The Oxford Times wrote after his recital at All Souls College of Beethoven’s Hammerklavier and Liszt’s B minor Sonatas:

"infinitely musicianly … alive to the constructional virtues, not less than the emotional content, keen understanding of the prophetic writing in this sonata … ability to penetrate into the vast landscape of Beethoven’s creation … infinite depth and breadth of expression … authoritative, magisterial"

Reviews - as conductor

These same characteristics are the essence of Piotrowicz’s work as a conductor: an overwhelming blazing intensity and searing spiritual energy, infused with fierce intellectual perception, manifesting itself in sculptural finesse and burnished radiance - the hallmarks of his art.  Conducting symphony and choral concerts, in the Nikisch, Toscanini and Willcocks traditions, has always been a life’s passion shared equally with the piano.  He is founder and conductor of the Orchestra of the World (L'Orchestre du Monde).  His Royal Albert Hall series has included performances of Bach's Mass in B minor, Dvorak's New World Symphony, Tchaikovsky 5 and Beethoven 5.  Other recent highlights include Tchaikovsky's Pathétique and Rachmaninov 2 with the Hallé, Brahms 1 and 4, Tchaikovsky 4, Shostakovich 10 and Sibelius 1 with the Orchestra of Opera North, and the complete Beethoven Symphony Cycle with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London.  Following his performance of Mahler 1 and Shostakovich 5 with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, the Yorkshire Post wrote: “Our lasting memory will be of the sheer unremitting power Piotrowicz unleashed”

"With the finale we were plunged into a raging torrent of emotions as Piotrowicz directed a powerhouse of a performance which was unrelenting in its forward thrust, and at the end, with all passions spent, the bald chord for winds and brass was equivocal, leaving one wondering what, exactly, the composer was trying to tell us.  This was spine-tingling stuff.  The Royal Philharmonic was on top form, responsive and alert to everything Piotrowicz demanded of them"    (Royal Albert Hall) Music Web International

"Janusz Piotrowicz has something of a reputation for generating high octane performances and this was already evident in the opening work ...  Come the Violin Concerto he met his match in Alexandra Soumm, but it made for a perfect match, for this was one of the finest performances of the work I have ever heard.  It positively sizzled, but not at the expense of the lovely Mendelssohnian lyricisms.  The three component parts of orchestra, conductor and soloist were interpretively at one ... many interpretations of the Pastoral take a fairly relaxed view of Beethoven’s rustic world; Piotrowicz’s countryside, however, was a place of colour-heightened vibrancy - this country tour kept moving, there being a sense of constant latent energy that helped breathe new life into an old favourite"    Music Web International


"Rarely will you hear the anger and bitterness of Shostakovich's Tenth Symphony unleashed with such unremitting force and acerbity.  It took the Orchestra of Opera North to the edge of their combined virtuosity, strings digging deep into their instruments to match the power of the brass blow for blow, percussion capping the enormous climaxes.  The Allegro was taken just about as fast as any orchestra could tackle, but it worked in adding that final tingle factor.  It was a powerhouse approach ... though in the moments when the composer looked forward to peace, the woodwind floated beautifully as if suspended on air"    Yorkshire Post


"Fresh and spontaneous ... atmospheric contrasts … were especially ravishing ... the Andante Religioso was sublime … celestial surrealism ... power and introspection ... a profound performance"    The Guardian


"He conducted an account of Tchaikovsky’s Pathetique Symphony that dragged the last drop of suffering from the music"    Yorkshire Post

"A faultless piece of conducting … flawless interpretation and control … absolutely electrifying… this man is a gift to any orchestra"    Darlington and Stockton Times

"The fluidity of his style allows tremendous freedom for the imagination of the players to soar – it is very operatic"    Miklos Perenyi

"It was one of the most moving, gripping and elegant manifestations of what music can express"    Baroness Cox – House of Lords

"I have never heard the B minor Mass sound so magnificent; it had everything – drama, lyricism, lightness, grandeur, clarity – and throughout it was sublime"    Professor Robert Griffiths – L’Université de Grenoble

"In 30 years of playing in Bach’s B minor Mass all over the world, this is the finest performance I have ever taken part in"    Brian Pollard, Principal Bassoon, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, speaking of L’Orchestre du Monde’s Royal Albert Hall performance 1988


Janusz Piotrowicz follows the philosophy of the Shaolin Temple in China through the rigorous disciplines of Qi Gong and Gong Fu, and his polymathic passions include the study of European History, Heraldry, Mediaeval Architecture, Babylonian and Egyptian Civilisations, Aboriginal and Renaissance Art, Mayan and Aztec Culture, Classical and Oriental Languages, Law, Theology, Laughter, Railway History, Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Who, The Munsters, and walking in the solitude of the Salzkammergut, whose lakes and mountains were a source of inspiration for Schubert, Brahms and Mahler


The World Trust

The witnessing of human degradation and suffering - seen particularly on tours of Southern Africa, where he visited Soweto during the apartheid era - led Janusz to create The World Trust in 1987, which has supported over fifty causes in forty countries as a result of his concerts around the world

L'Orchestre du Monde

Created in 1987 from the world’s finest musicians, to promote and support humanitarian causes across the globe, Janusz conducts his Orchestra in annual London concerts. His Royal Albert Hall début with L’Orchestre du Monde and Chorale du Monde, in a performance of Bach’s Mass in B minor, was described as: ‘sublime … the finest within living memory’

Ripon International Festival

RIF is a three-week September festival, now in its twenty-first year, of which Janusz is Co-Founder and Artistic Director, which presents symphony, concerto and choral concerts in Ripon Cathedral and the Royal Hall, Harrogate, and extensive programmes of chamber music, jazz, folk, world music, drama, celebrity writers and puppetry, in a variety of historic and atmospheric venues in North Yorkshire

L’Orchestre du Monde

Quantum House

22 - 24 Red Lion Court

Fleet Street


Registered Charity No. 1003265

© 2021 by LODM

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