Elżbieta Kasznia


Category I. Plastic arts, ornamentation, handicraft and folk crafts, music and dance folklore

Field of activity:
singer and folk artist, singing instructor, embroiderer, paper-cut artist, tissue-paper flower artist

Rozogi, Green Kurpie (Kurpie Zielone), Warmińsko-Mazurskie Voivodeship

Elżbieta Kasznia is an outstanding singer and folk artist from the Kurpie Green Forest (Kurpiowska Puszcza Zielona), traditionally rich in folklore. She was born in Rozogi in 1957 into an ethnic Kurpie family. She studied the local song repertoire with her aunts, neighbours and other singers who cultivated the traditional customs of the region. Her first public performances took place in the early 1980s when she became a member of a folk ensemble. She has performed as a soloist since 1988. Her repertoire features traditional tunes and songs from Kurpie, which are characterised by interesting literary texts, that she performs in their original dialectal and melodic versions.

As a singer, Elżbieta Kasznia has been a laureate at a plethora of presentations, festivals and competitions of folk music in such places as Kazimierz Dolny nad Wisłą, Szczecin, Nowogród, Myszyniec, Ostrołęka, Orzysz, Węgorzewo, Szczytno and Olsztyn, from which she came with a basketful of prizes, awards and honourable mentions. She could be heard on Radio BIS performing in the Szymanowski Anniversary Year and at Teatr Polski (Polish Theatre) in Warsaw in the production of Wielkanoc na Kurpiach (Easter in Kurpie). She has appeared in concert throughout Poland and abroad, e.g. in Germany (Rudolstadt Folk Festival), Hungary and Ukraine.
Her interpretations of tunes and songs have been featured on CD albums dedicated to folk music. In her repertoire she has several hundred songs. Her performances have been broadcast by Radio Olsztyn in such regular programmes as Raz na ludowo (Folk for once), Polak śpiewa (Polish singing) and Tradycje Kurpiowskie w Rozogach (Kurpie traditions in Rozogi).

Elżbieta Kasznia has taken part in innumerable workshops, where she taught traditional arts and crafts from the region of Kurpie, such as artistic Kurpie-style papercutting, arranging flowers made of tissue paper or crepe paper, and embroidering elements and accessories of folk costumes. She makes paper-cuts in the shape of lilies, trees of life, as well as animal, plant and anthropomorphic (the so-called Kurpie couple) motifs. She makes multi-coloured Easter palms, which are part of an inimitable climate of the Palm Sunday festivities in Kurpie. In 2005, she represented the province of Warmia and Mazury (Masuria) at a folk event in Italy, where she showcased the process of making Easter palms and decorative tissue-paper flowers.

She also embroiders traditional folk costumes. She is one of the most distinguished and recognisable artists from the Kurpie Green Forest (Kurpiowska Puszcza Zielona). Always wearing her Kurpie costume, she is an eager and active participant of a variety of events, shows and fairs organised throughout Kurpiowszczyzna (Kurpie Land), where she passes on her skills to the younger generations of folk enthusiasts. She conducts regular workshops and classes of folk singing teaching children, adolescents and adults at the Community Centre in Rozogi.

For her activities and accomplishments, Elżbieta Kasznia has been awarded with numerous prizes, medals and other forms of distinction, including the Jurand statuette for her merits to Szczycieński Poviat (District of Szczytno, 2001), the First Prize in the category of vocal soloists at the Forty-Third National Festival of Folk Bands and Singers (Ogólnopolski Festiwal Kapel i Śpiewaków Ludowych) in Kazimierz Dolny nad Wisłą (2009) and the honorary medal ‘For Merits to Polish Culture’ (2010). She was a double winner of the Grand Prix at the Sixth Folklore Days in Orzysz (Orzyskie Dni Folkloru, 2010) and at the Kurpie Fair (Jarmark Kurpiowski) in Myszyniec in the same year. In 2017, she received the Kurpik statuette in the category of Cultural Heritage Preservation. In 2018, she won the First Prize at the International Folk Culture Fair (Jarmark Folkloru Kultury Ludowej) in Węgorzewo and qualified for the festival in Kazimierz Dolny nad Wisłą. Her other laurels include the Second Prize at the National Festival of Folk Bands and Singers in Kazimierz Dolny nad Wisłą (2018), the Second Prize at the Fourth Tournament of Genuine Musicians (Turniej Muzyków Prawdziwych) at the Philharmonic Hall in Szczecin (2018), the First Prize at the Forty-Third International Folklore Fair (Międzynarodowy Jarmark Folkloru) in Węgorzewo in the category of ‘Master and Pupil’ and qualification for the festival in Kazimierz Dolny nad Wisłą (2021), the Second Prize at the National Festival of Folk Bands and Singers in Kazimierz Dolny nad Wisłą in the category of ‘Master and Pupil’ (2021), the First Prize at the ‘Sycamore at the Roots of Culture’ (‘Jawor u Źródeł Kultury’) competition – Radio Olsztyn (2021), a Special Prize – Sycamore at the Roots of Culture in Tokarnia (2021) and the First Prize at the ‘Sycamore at the Roots of Culture’ competition – Radio Olsztyn (2022). She has also been a double winner (in 2017 and 2019) of the First Prize at the ‘Anna Kordecka Kurpie Village Handicraft’ (‘Rękodzieło Wsi Kurpiowskiej im. Anny Kordeckiej’) competition.

Elżbieta Kasznia is a member of the vocal group Klonowskie Kurpsianki, with whom she has released a CD album titled Kurpiowskie Pieśni Leśne (Kurpie Forest Songs).

She maintains a steady collaboration with the Mazury Museum (Muzeum Mazurskie) in Szczytno, the Regional Centre for Kurpie Culture (Regionalne Centrum Kultury Kurpiowskiej) in Myszyniec and the Community Centre (Gminny Ośrodek Kultury) in Rozogi.


Karolina Lewandowska-Zając