Jan Szymański


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

Field of activity:

Łowicz Land

Jan Szymański – soloist, instrumentalist, fiddler. His repertoire is mostly composed of obereks, kujawiaks, kujons and Łowicz-style polkas. He practises the Łowicz-based custom of barabanienie during religious ceremonies.

Albinów, Łódzkie Voivodeship, Łowickie (Łowicz Land)

Jan Szymański has been noted not only for the uniqueness and richness of his repertoire, but also for the incredible precision and clarity of sound, a legacy inherited from the older generations of Łowicz-based musicians.

He played his first wedding party on his fiddle when he was 14. At that time he was hailed as Janko the Musician (referring to a character from a classic Polish novella). In his youth, Janko fell in love with the fiddle head over heels – he was fascinated with every aspect of the instrument: its sound, the touch of the bow, the smell of the resin… Later on, he also learnt how to play the clarinet and the saxophone.

Music fills up and infuses Szymański’s everyday life. He nurtures and upholds the traditions of the Łowicz style by playing solo and as a member of folk bands at harvest festivals, various types of parties, dancing events, and by teaching at workshops and offering regular classes addressed to long-term pupils. He is a member of the Władysław Stanisław Reymont Amateur Regional Ensemble in Lipce Reymontowskie, with which he has promoted Łowicz Land in Poland and abroad, including Austria, Lithuania, Slovakia, France and Germany. His music graces the regional festivities, festivals, contests, and he appears at folk rituals and other shows and presentations.

Both as a soloist and a band member, he is a regular participant and frequent prizewinner at the leading traditional music events in Poland. His trophies include the coveted ‘Baszta’ (‘Castle Tower’) won at the famed National Festival of Folk Bands and Singers hosted by the town of Kazimierz Dolny nad Wisłą.

In recognition of his outstanding success in passing down the traditions and musical folklore of Łowicz Land, Jan Szymański has been awarded the Honorary Medal ‘Distinguished Cultural Activist’, the Honorary Medal ‘For Merit to Polish Culture’ as well as the Bronze and Silver Crosses of Distinction.

He affirms that he will perform well into the future because music does not only enable him to have contact with people but also makes him feel alive. Music is his second love after his wife.