Biography

Schaeffer reveals the workings of contemporary music, its ‘system,’ combining traits of Cage, Stockhausen, Kagel, Penderecki, and… Schaeffer—Bogusław Schaeffer himself.

Bogusław Schaeffer (b. June 6, 1929 in Lviv, d. July 1, 2019 in Salzburg) was a Polish composer, musicologist, playwright, graphic artist, philosopher, and teacher. Having studied composition under Artur Malawski at the State Higher School of Music in Kraków, and musicology under Zdzisław Jachimecki at the Jagiellonian University, in 1959 he completed his formal musical education, learning from Luigi Nono. He himself taught composition at the Academy of Music in Kraków and at the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst ‘Mozarteum’ in Salzburg.
In addition to music, his output includes drama. Author of about forty plays altogether, repeatedly staged in Poland and abroad and translated into more than a dozen languages, he personally directed some of them. His graphic scores, related to music to a varying degree (and to a small extent to drama), have been exhibited in galleries around Europe and the United States. A modern man of Renaissance, a classicist and an avant-gardist at once. An impostor, a trickster, and a genius at that. An esteemed professor, and at the same time an outsider. A composer who has both developed a cult following and faced seclusion. He reminisced: ‘Mister Kazimierz Serocki and Mister Jan Krenz visited me, my wife, and our one-year-old child in the tiny room that we had gone to so much trouble to rent. They were simply delighted that Schäffer (sic!), who wrote about new music, could compose too’. And vice versa, one might add. Schaeffer’s interdisciplinary oeuvre is a repository of threads of modern art seen as tradition in a constant state of emergence.
Music lovers, composers and musicians, the youngest ones included, could thus proclaim: ‘Schaeffer is us!’

Bogusław Schaeffer’s Spring Music for viola (D. Stanisławska) and piano (A. Manijak)

About Schaeffer

Bolesław Błaszczyk,
cellist in the MozART group

‘If Schaeffer didn’t exist, somebody would have to invent him, for he is an icon of creative experimentation opening up new territories to music’.

Monika Pasiecznik,
critic, curator

‘the history of Western music is nothing but a succession, or parallel trails, of ever novel orders: dodecaphony, serialism, aleatorism, electronic music, spectralism, microtonality, et cetera. Bogusław Schaeffer contributed to creating many of these solutions, took part in a good deal of them, and transplanted others to the Polish ground. … As Stefan Kisielewski rightly said years ago, Bogusław Schaeffer is the father of new music in Poland; and, one might add today, in a world where nihilistic postmodernism betrayed music—its one true guardian. He is his generation’s only remaining composer that is sincere and complete in devotion to the idea of new music’.

Marek Frąckowiak,
founder of the AUREA PORTA Friends of the Arts foundation

‘What is characteristic of Schaeffer’s dramas and musical compositions is that they leave a whole lot of space for improvisation. But still, wherever the artist goes, where he or she ends up turns out just as Schaeffer predicted. It’s brilliant that his creative intentions never fall apart. Consequently, they are very exact’. ‘We are handing over the artistic oeuvre of Bogusław Schaeffer to artists and scholars, accepting its creative reinterpretation and inclusion into new contexts. We believe it is only through such treatment that art can retain its vital character and become a dynamic space for social and cultural action and reaction. Also, this is how Bogusław Schaeffer understands and treats art, him being, after all, the originator of artistic experiments and meetings that redefine music, theatre, or dance’.

Patryk Zakrocki,
musician

‘Reading classical graphic scores with children—that would be fun! Schaeffer’s graphic scores are just perfect for that! His little drawings are so expressive one can play them and dance them at the same time’!

Awards and distinctions

1959, 1964 - awards at the Grzegorz Fitelberg Competition; respectively for Monosonata for six string quartets (1959) and Quattro movimenti for piano and orchestra (1957), and Little Symphony: Scultura for orchestra (1960) and Collage and Form for 8 jazzmen and orchestra (1963).

1962 - award at the Artur Malawski Competition; for Musica ipsa for orchestra of low-pitched instruments (1962) and Four Pieces for string trio (1962).

1971, 1972, 1980, 2001 - Award of the Minister of Culture and Art.

1977 - Award of the Polish Composers’ Union, Award of the City of Kraków.

1987 - award at the Festival of Polish Contemporary Plays in Wrocław; for dramaturgical work.

1998 - Alfred Jurzykowski Foundation Award.

1972 - Knight’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta.

2013 - the Meritorious for Warsaw distinction.

2019 - Grand Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta; for outstanding achievements in the field of culture (posthumously).

Schaeffer Non Stop

Schaeffer Non Stop is a unique mobile application based on one of the most famous graphic scores by Bogusław Schaeffer.

Take a look at the Schaeffer Non Stop app
Bogusław Schaeffer

Once, in a music store, I marked the drawer with new music. Two years later I saw my mark undisturbed. Nobody had looked into the drawer. Only the price had been changed 18 times to smaller and smaller.

Aurea Porta - Friends of Art Foundation

The Friends of the Arts AUREA PORTA Foundation was founded in 2001 by Marek Frąckowiak (a schaefferian actor). Krystyna Gierłowska, its creative director, and Ewa Złotowska, its president, with a little help from friends-of-the-Friends-of-the-Arts, continue the work he started, among other things by taking care of Bogusław Schaeffer’s legacy (archive). They host their beloved stakeholders in Marszałkowska street socrealistic district’s premises with a sgraffito terrace.