The International Festival ‘Music at Joseph Ignaz Schnabel's’ was established in 2009 on the initiative of Robert Relich, Mayor of Nowogrodziec. Since then, during a few days in May, the city has become the capital of so-called "classical" music. The patron of the event is a composer of a significant format born here. It is thanks to Schnabel that Nowogrodziec appears on the cultural map of Europe as an important centre, which gave birth to a prolific artist considered the father of the Silesian School of Composition.
For its music lovers, the Festival offers a true range of musical colours of the highest artistic standards. During the concerts you can hear works from the Baroque period, compositions from the Classicism period, music from the 19th and 20th centuries, as well as the latest works. 'Music at Joseph Ignaz Schnabel's' also promotes concerts of an ethnic character, as well as in the jazz trend.
During eleven editions of the Festival, Nowogrodziec hosted such distinguished conductors as Agnieszka Duczmal, Czesław Grabowski, Marek Pijarowski and Wojciech Rodek. With their vocal virtuosity, they delighted music lovers, for example: Affabre Concinui, Margaret Ferguson, Johanna Krumin, Olga Ksenicz, Stanisław Kuflyuk, Piotr Łykowski, Bogdan Makal, Ester Pavlů, Narjes Salmouna, and the organ craftsmanship of Birgit Wildeman, Gerhard Weinberger, Andrzej Białko, Andrzej Chorosiński. The Festival also boasts performances by other outstanding instrumentalists, among whom appeared: Aleksiej Archipowski, Bucharest Winds Ensemble, Santiago Cimadevilla, Jonasz Dziuba, Carolina Eyck, Valentin Ghita, Jacaras, Kevin Kenner, Ruth Pfundstein-Langes, Veranika Pradzed, Jasser Haj Youssef, Glass Duo, Motion Trio, Fraylachs Ensemble, Danza del Fuego, Moyzes Quartet, Yazcite, Igor Cecocho, Konstanty Andrzej Kulka, Jan Stanienda, Błażej Sudnikowicz, Gracjan Szymczak or Małgorzata Zalewska. The organisers invited the following orchestras to Nowogrodziec: Amadeus, Wratislavia, Leopoldinum, the Józef Suk Chamber Orchestra in Prague, the Sudeten Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra in Wałbrzych, the Chamber Orchestra of Zielona Góra Philharmonic Players, Cracovia Danza dance group, as well as the following choirs: the Chamber Choir of the Wrocław University of Technology, the Academic Choir of the Wrocław University of Technology and Con Brio Choir.
The artistic director of the Festival was Mariusz Monczak (2009-2011) and Piotr Rojek (2012-2013). Since 2014, Aleksandra Pijarowska has been supervising the artistic shape of the Festival. From the very beginning, the organization of the event is handled by the Municipal Centre for Culture and Sport in Nowogrodziec. Invaluable support during the first ten editions was cooperation with the Roman Catholic Parish of St. Peter and Paul in Nowogrodziec, where the vast majority of concerts took place.
Three editions of the Festival – the fourth (2012), the ninth (2017) and the jubilee edition – the tenth (2018) – turned out to be extremely important in the history of the Festival. The first one was part of a larger project financed from EU funds. The historic organ in the St. Nicholas Church in Nowogrodziec was renovated at that time. In connection with the commissioning of the second historical instrument, the programme of the Festival was enriched with organ music recitals. The ninth edition of the Festival was special for music lovers, residents of Nowogrodziec and organizers. We celebrated the 250th anniversary of the patron's birthday. It was a great opportunity to organize the first scientific session devoted to the life and work of Schnabel, entitled ‘Joseph Ignaz Schnabel and his epoch’. During the Festival’s weekend, outstanding researchers from Poland and the Czech Republic presented the current state of knowledge about this composer. Honorary care of the conference was taken by Prof. Anna Granat-Janki – Head of the Chair of Music Theory and History of Silesian Musical Culture at the Karol Lipiński Academy of Music in Wrocław. Moreover, the Festival and the Conference were part of the project ‘Joseph Ignaz Schnabel on the Borderland’, which was co-financed by the European Union within the framework of the European Regional Development Fund and the state budget via the Nysa Euroregion.
The jubilee, tenth edition definitely started a new quality, becoming exceptional for several reasons. The number of the Festival's events was increased. There were seven of them. The ‘Carnival of Animals’ – musical, theatrical and multimedia performance inaugurated a series of concerts for children and young people entitled 'Festival for Children'. In order to express our gratitude to Father Krzysztof Słabicki for his many years of hospitality, the Festival gave a gift in the form of a solemn Sunday mass, during which the ‘Harmonia’ Community Choir and the Chamber Choir of the Wrocław University of Technology, accompanied by an instrumental ensemble, performed in Moniuszko's repertoire. The jubilee edition of the Festival was crowned with an unprecedented event: a spectacle of light and sound – Carl Orff's ‘Carmina Burana’ under the baton of Maestro Marek Pijarowski. Music combined with laser projection and fireworks was a great attraction which gathered around three thousand music lovers from Nowogrodziec, the surrounding area and the whole Lower Silesia.
During last year's 11th edition, the new venue we moved into allowed us to expand our concert offer even further. We were able to propose as many as eight different Festival events to the audience, including a new series entitled ‘Young virtuoso’. Its aim is to promote outstandingly talented Polish young musicians, winners of prestigious competitions. Festival performances are a special prize for young virtuosos funded by the Mayor of Nowogrodziec, Mr Robert Relich. During the last edition we hosted the violinist Marcelina Sztekmiler, winner of the first prize in the Wanda Wiłkomirska Violin Competition of Polish Music.
So far, the Schnabel’s Festival has also become a stage for the presentation of young talented artists of the Wrocław Academy of Music. Students and their professors were regularly invited to Nowogrodziec. We hosted Alexander Mazur's Big-Band, teachers and students of the Vocal Department with an operetta by Heinrich Berté, as well as students of the Instrumental Department and Conducting. Additionally, the instrumentalists held workshops in Nowogrodziec under the supervision of professors of the Wrocław Academy of Music.
Honorary patronage over the previously organized editions of the Festival was held by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, Ioana-Gabriela Costache, Chargé d'Affaires a.i. Embassy of Romania in the Republic of Poland, the Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany in Wrocław Dr Helmut Schöps, the Consul General of Hungary in Kraków Dr Adrienne Körmendy, Bishop Stefan Cichy – Bishop of Legnica, Bishop Zbigniew Kiernikowski – Bishop of Legnica, Rector of the Karol Lipiński Academy of Music in Wrocław prof. dr hab. Krystian Kiełb, Rector of the Karol Lipiński Academy of Music in Wrocław prof. Grzegorz Kurzyński, Voivode of Lower Silesia Paweł Hreniak, Marshal of Lower Silesia Rafał Jurkowlaniec, Mayor of Nowogrodziec Robert Relich, Slovak Institute in Warsaw and Roman Catholic Parish of St. Peter and Paul in Nowogrodziec.
‘Music at Joseph Ignaz Schnabel's’ entered the second decade of its activity. It matures, grows up, changes its optics, sets goals more boldly and is not afraid to achieve them. Today, we are all witnessing the opening of new opportunities for the Festival, as it gained a new location which was handed over in April 2019. It is, completely revitalized former Evangelical church, now the Centre for Culture and Art ‘Muza’. The organizers hope that the building will meet the expectations of music lovers.