Feliks Nowowiejski was born on February 7th in Barczewo. At the time, the Polish state did not exist and its lands were divided between Russia, Prussia and Austria. He was the fifth child of Katarzyna née Falk and Franciszek Nowowiejski. Katarzyna came from the Polish Butryny and barely spoke German. Franciszek, of an old Barczewo family, was a tailor.


 Barczewo. Kościół parafialny pw. św. Anny

Akt urodzenia


Feliks enrols in the Barczewo Elementary (Elementarschule).


Lista uczniów klasy IV Knabenschule w Wartemborku z 1884 roku


The boy’s parents enrol him in the Święta Lipka music school, Masuria, where he learned singing, organ, violin, piano, horn and cello, and was introduced to the secrets of harmony. He often performed and improvised on the organ during church services in Święta Lipka’s monastery. His mastery of this instrument sets him ahead of the other students. Embedded deep in his mind are the archaic melodies and texts of the Polish sacred chants sung by the Święta Lipka pilgrims, their echoes found in Nowowiejski’s later works.


Uczniowie szkoły w Świętej Lipce. Górny rząd – pierwszy z prawej stoi Feliks


In 1893 Feliks leaves Święta Lipka and moves in with his father in Olsztyn. As a professional musician, he joins the East Prussian Grenadier Regiment orchestra, where he plays various instruments, including the cello. Here he enjoys some renown as a promising musician and composer, performing also in amateur bands at private events. In Olsztyn he writes the now lost youth symphony.


Fragment książki adresowej miasta Allenstein


Nowowiejski begins a half-year course at the Stern Conservatoire in Berlin. His organ classes start on April 1st, under the Royal music director, Otto Dienel. He also frequents theory, counterpoint and Gregorian chant classes, sings in the church choir, performs in public presenting organ music (on Berlin’s largest instrument) and his orchestral works.

He directs the Sisters of Mercy choir at St Hedwig’s hospital [St. Hedwig Krankenhaus].

He sends his Pod sztandarem pokoju [Under Freedom’s Flag] to a composers’ competition in London. Winning the first prize sets the young composer on the path to international fame.


Spis studentów Konserwatorium Sterna (Bericht Stern’s Conservatoriums der Musik 48. Studienjahr 1897/98)

Pod sztandarem pokoju – wydanie z 1898 roku


On October 1st 1898, after returning to Olsztyn and owing to the support of the local dean, rev. Józef Tischner, he begins to work as a church organist at St Jacob’s. However, soon he applied to Bishop Andrzej Thiel for a further education studentship.

 Panorama miasta i koszar nad jeziorem Długim


Begins a three-month course (January 15th to April 16th) in Regensburg’s College of Church Music and Musical Education, aiming to develop his knowledge of sacred music. After completing the course, he returns to Olsztyn, where he immediately sets out to prepare for more studying.

Opinia Michaela Hallera, Ratyzbona 1900

In April he is admitted to the Master School at the Music Conservatoire by the Royal Academy of the Arts of Berlin. There, he learned composition with Max Bruch.

On October 1st he officially resigns from the organist post at St Jacob’s.


 Z rodziną, początek XX wieku. od lewej stoją: Gregor Erdmann(mąż Teresy), Feliks, Maria (siostra), Rudolf (brat), Bernard (brat), Leon (brat). od lewej siedzą: Teresa (siostra) Erdmann z synem Rudolfem, Katarzyna (matka), Franciszek (ojciec), Franciszek (brat). Poniżej: Edward (brat)


He enrols at the Frederick William University in Berlin to supplement his music education with courses in literature, musicology and aesthetics.

 Feliks Nowowiejski ok. 1900


On March 4th, he receives the G. Meyerbeer prize for his oratorio Powrót Syna Marnotrawnego [The Return of the Prodigal Son] and Uwertura romantyczna [Romantic Overture].


Strona tytułowa partytury

Pismo zawiadamiające o przyznaniu nagrody, Berlin 1902

The prize, given to the most talented composition students, requires the winner to embark on an artistic journey and send two further new compositions. Nowowiejski left the Frederick William University in September he began a two-year journey to Austria, Belgium, Bohemia, France, Germany and Italy. Visiting those most important European music centres allowed the young artist to meet the most prominent contemporary composers, including G. Mahler, C. Saint-Saëns, P. Mascagni, R. Leoncavallo and L. Perosi. The works composed in that time include the symphonic poems Beatrice and Nina.

Karta pocztowa z autografem cytatu z Quo vadis i dedykacją


L. van Beethoven’s Fist prize at Bonn, for the orchestral overture Swaty polskie [Polish Wedding] (Prize funded by I. J. Paderewski).

In Rome, he composes oratorio Quo vadis.

He establishes relations with musicians in Poland: Emil Młynarski and Aleksander Rajchman.

He visits his brother Rudolf in Carthage.


Partytura Swatów Polskich

Feliks i Rudolf, Kartagina 1903


In May he wins a second G. Meyerbeer Prize, for his Symphony in A Minor and Symphony in B Minor. This time, he uses it to fund returning to the Master School and Bruch with whom he continued to study until 1906. In those years, he expands his knowledge of composition, organ playing, and conducting. Access to a community of musicians, great art, and the works of other authors, enrich the creative imagination of the composer.



First important concert devoted to his works in Frakfurt.

The oratorio Znalezienie św. Krzyża [The Finding of the Holy Cross] is composed.

He establishes closer relations with Polish people living in Berlin.

Karta pocztowa z podróży Feliksa do Polski


Nowowiejski graduates from the Master School at the Music Conservatoire by the Royal Academy of the Arts of Berlin.

He spends all free time managing and leading Polish choirs. He composes patriotic and religious songs for expatriate choirs.

Nowowiejski’s first performances on the Polish soil – in Lviv and Warsaw. The Lviv debut included the Symphony in B-Minor, performed under the composer’s baton, and Znalezienie Św. Krzyża, under Mieczysław Sołtys.

During the Warsaw concert devoted to his symphonic works, he presents: the Symphony in B-Minor, overture Swaty Polskie, symphonic poem Nina, fragments of the opera Busola [Compass], and choral songs.



Quo Vadis premiered in Aussig near the Elbe river (currently Ústí nad Labem).

First prize at a Chicago composers’ competition, for the cantata Piotr Skarga for choir, orchestra and organ; and First prize at the ‘Echoes’ composers’ competition in Lviv for the cantata Pochód żałobny Kościuszki na Wawel [Kościuszko’s funeral procession to Wawel] for a cappella choir.

 Program koncertu rodzeństwa Marii, Edwarda i Feliksa Nowowiejskich


Joins the jury at the fifth congress of the 12th District (e.g. Brandenburg) of the Singers Associations Union in Berlin (27/06).

Competes for a post of the artistic director of the Kraków Music Society. In September he takes the office, with a responsibility for managing the city’s concert life and determining the shape of the repertoire.

He leads regular symphonic concerts. In addition to the traditional repertoire, he popularises contemporary works, paying particular attention to Polish music.

Aside from working for the Society, he appears abroad as a conductor, organist, and performer of own works. He also engages in teaching, running a private musical theory and practice course.

A great success of Quo Vadis at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, under J. Schoonderbeek (in October) and composer himself (in December) marks a beginning of multiple European performances of this work.

 Program koncertu i wieniec laurowy


By composing Rota [The Oath] to M. Konopnicka’s text (original title: Hasło [The Motto]), he joins the celebrations of the 500th Anniversary of the Grunwald victory. On July 15th he takes part in the unveiling of the Władysław Jagiełło monument, funded by Ignacy Jan Paderewski. Despite the difficulties caused by the Prussian police, he organises a congress of Polish choirs which jointly perform Rota under the Grunwald Memorial. The song soon becomes one of the most powerful Polish patriotic chants.

First prize for the song Zgasły już [They Have Already Faded] at the Lviv competition for the 100th anniversary of Chopin’s birth.


 Kopia autografu Roty

Karta pocztowa – autograf Roty


Nowowiejski marries Elżbieta Mironiuk, a pianist and student of the Kraków Conservatoire.

They later have five children: Feliks Maria – painter, founder and member of the 4 F+R art group, Wanda (died in 1915), Kazimierz – pianist, music journalist and populariser, Adam – studied agriculture, Jan – pianist.

Feliks Maria, first son, is born.


Feliks i Elżbieta

Z synem Feliksem Marią

First prize in Arras (France) for small organ works.

First visit to the Polish seaside, to Krynica Morska. From that time Nowowiejski becomes a musical proponent of the sea and the coastal lands. One of the most popular Polish operas, Legenda Bałtyku [The Legend of the Baltic Sea] counted amongst the composer’s favourite works.

In the summer (May to September) he leads concerts in Dolina Szwajcarska, a popular Warsaw leisure spot.

Program Koncertu, Lwów 1911


He conducts Quo Vadis in New York’s Carnegie Hall. Following this, the composer’s name appears on concert posters in all great American cities.

Daughter Wanda is born.


Program Quo vadis

Karta pocztowa


The oratorio Znalezienie św. Krzyża is published.

A lack of support from the Polish music world leads him to turn to Berlin in a search for a better and more independent environment in which to compose.

„Przegląd Muzyczny” 1913, z. 24


He resigns as the Kraków Music Society director, leading a leaving concert on April 4th.

He leaves for Berlin to, as he officially announced, work as a professor of composition at the Klindworth-Scharwenka Conservatory.

As the war breaks out, Nowowiejski’s career plans falter, and he, as a subject of the Prussian king, is conscripted to the Prussian army as a member of the Berlin garrison orchestra.

First prize at the ‘Echoes’ composers’ competition in Lviv for the choral work Danae.

Merit at the Singers Associations Union’s composers’ competition of the Grand Duchy of Posen, for the choral work Zawsze i wszędzie [Everywhere and Always].


Program koncertu

Pamiętnik z X. Walnego Zjazdu Kół Śpiewackich w Poznaniu 28 i 29 czerwca 1914


Daughter Wanda dies.

Nowowiejski makes efforts to find a job in German and Austrian music institutions.



Another son, Kazimierz, is born.

A number of short artistic trips take place.



Return to active music life: Nowowiejski gives a few concerts of own works, as well as works by other Polish composers. The concerts were boycotted by the German authorities, and a performance of February 2nd was interpreted by the German music world as a pro-Polish manifestation.

Numerous patriotic songs, including Marsylianka Wielkopolska [La Marseillaise of Greater Poland] and Hymn do Bałtyku [Baltic Anthem].


Program koncertu, Berlin 1918



Son Adam is born.

Communicates with the Warmia Referendum Committee, leading a campaign promoting the incorporation of Powiśle, Warmia and Masuria to Poland. Between 1919-22 he organises a number of concerts in central Poland and the abovementioned regions, where he appears as a conductor and accompanying pianist; Hymn Warmiński „O Warmio moja miła” [Warmia’s Anthem ‘Oh Warmia’] is composed in that time.



Program koncertu plebiscytowego


Towards the end of the year he moves to Poland, and after a short stay in Warsaw, he settles in Poznań.


Feliks Nowowiejski z żoną Elżbietą i synami Feliksem Marią, Kazimierzem, Adamem i Janem, Poznań 1936



On October 16th, he becomes the director of the Faculty of Sacred Music at Poznań’s National Music Academy and School (renamed Poznań Conservatoire). Together with Fr. Wacław Gieburowski, they shape the organisation and programme of the faculty. At first he lectures in harmony, counterpoint, choral harmony and instrumentation, from 1923 he is employed as organ teacher.

In the autumn, he creates the National Choir of c. 500 singers.

Feliks Nowowiejski i Wacław Gieburowski

Nowowiejski z Chórem Narodowym, Aula UP 1922 rok


Nowowiejski organises organ recitals in Poznań.

He becomes the artistic director of the male choir ‘Echo’, collaborating also with the ‘Harmonia’ Singing Society and the ‘Rota’ choir. As an organist, he accompanies the Cathedral Choir, and begins to work on the artistic boards, competition juries, and the choir congress and conference boards for the Greater Poland Singers Associations Union.

The collaboration with singers leads to an increased number of choral works: at first to adaptations of patriotic and folk songs, later to original compositions such as Testament Bolesława Chrobrego [Bolesław Chrobry’s Testament], Missa pro Pace, Kantata o bohaterze [Cantata About a Hero].

First prize at the Paris composers’ competition for Entrée Solennelle, Marche and Prélude.

Son Jan is born.



On November 28th, the three-act opera Legenda Bałtyku [The Legend Of The Baltic Sea] is premiered in Poznań’s Grand Theatre. The opera becomes extremely popular in Poland, becoming one of three works described as national operas.

First prize at the competition for the 25th anniversary of the ‘Harmonia’ Singing Society, for madrigal Dwie wisienki [Two Little Cherries].


Plakat z premiery Legendy Bałtyku

Autograf cytatu z Legendy Bałtyku


Merit at the ‘Lviv Academic Choir’ Singing Society jubilee competition, for the madrigal Jaś zakochany [Johnny in love].

Merit at the competition for the 5th anniversary of the ‘Echo’ Choir in Poznań.

Chór. im. Feliksa Nowowiejskiego z Tarnowa Podgórnego z wizytą u kompozytora, Poznań-Piątkowo 1925


Nowowiejski resigns from his teaching posts at the Poznań Conservatoire – from now on composition and concert performances are at the centre of his artistic activity.


Śpiewak 1937 nr 10

Feliks Nowowiejski z orkiestrą Konserwatorium Poznańskiego, Aula UP 1927

He enters a permanent collaboration with the Polish Radio, with which he continued to work until its last audition in 1939. Podczas konferencji prasowej w Rozgłośni Poznańskiej Polskiego Radia, „Antena” 1936 nr 39


Opera-ballet Malowanki ludowe [Folk Drawings] premiered in Poznań’s Grand Theatre.

Kompozytor pośród wykonawców podczas premiery Malowanek Ludowych


Ballet Tatry [Tatra mountains] premiered on February 27th at Poznań’s Grand Theatre.


Fotografia ze spektaklu, Poznań 1929

Program baletu, Poznań 1929

Psalm 136 – Ojczyzna [Homeland] premiered at the First Panslavic Singers Congress, by a choir of over a dozen thousand singers led by the composer, and the Poznań Stadium.

An organ concert involving improvisation in Prague.


Podczas Wszechsłowiańskiego Zjazdu Śpiewaczego

Podczas Wszechsłowiańskiego Zjazdu Śpiewaczego


Deprived of a regular income, he decides to offer private lessons to patch up the home budget.



Nowowiejski’s reputation in Poland grows, as does his popularity and renown abroad.

Artykuł z „Kuriera Poznańskiego” 1931

Recenzja T. Z. Kasserna

Concerts devoted to his works in London.

Distinguished with honorary membership of The Organ Music Society of London.

Program koncertu w Londynie


The Organ Symphonies are written between 1920-1933.

Strona tytułowa autografu partytury pierwszej symfonii organowej


Visit and concerts in Paris. Nowowiejski’s works become part of the repertoire of prominent virtuosos, such as Marcel Dupré.

He conducts city philharmonic concerts in Poznań, promoting contemporary music (including works by M. Ravel, A. Roussel, I. Stravinsky, S. Prokofiev, T. Z. Kassern, S. B. Poradowski).

He continues this work until 1939, gaining great appreciation amongst the critics and acclaim of the public.


Artykuł o kompozytorze w paryskiej prasie



Pope Pius XI bestows upon him the title of a Papal Chamberlain (Cameriere d’Onore di Spada e Cappa) for his contributions to religious art.


Dokument nadania godności Szambelana Papieskiego

W stroju Szambelana Papieskiego

Given the State Music Award in Warsaw, in recognition of his rich and multifaceted artistic activities.

2nd prize at the Warsaw Polish Radio competition, for the cycle 5 Pieśni z Podbeskidzia Śląskiego [5 Songs from Silesian Beskids]


Some of the most important song cycles are written, including Róże dla Safo [Roses for Sappho].


Karta pocztowa Marii Pawlikowskiej-Jasnorzewskiej do Feliksa Nowowiejskiego, 1936



Sketches the 2nd and 3rd Symphonies (the latter finished in 1940 in Kraków).

Symphonic concerts in Warsaw, Kraków, Gdynia, and Lviv.

Receives an honorary medal of the Unification of Polish Vocal and Instrumental Ensembles.

Double prize at the composers’ competition in Warsaw for Preludium and Chorale for organ solo.

Program koncertu we Lwowie, 1935

Spends summers in Białowieża, where, enchanted by the beauty of the forest, he composes Teka Białowieska [Białowieża Portfolio].


 Białowieża 1937


On November 11th he receives the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta.

 Dokument nadania Krzyża Komandorskiego Orderu Polonia Restituta


Legenda Bałtyku [The Legend Of The Baltic Sea] premiered in Warsaw Opera.

His organ concerts are met with good critical reviews and public acclaim.



Program koncertu z 13 grudnia 1937 roku


W towarzystwie S. B. Poradowskeigo i chóru Harmonia


2nd Symphony Praca i rytm [Work and Rhythm] premiered at the Poznań Music Festival.

The Cello Concerto is written.

Last performance of the oratorio Quo Vadis in the composer’s lifetime, in Freyburg (Switzerland).



Spring concert in Rome.


In November he secures his manuscripts and deposits them in the Raczyński Library in Poznań.

Kantata o bohaterze [Cantata about a Hero] and the Spes mea Mass are written.

Stays in the hospital of the Order of St Elisabeth.


Autograf utworu Feliksa Nowowiejskiego Procesja do stóp św. Elżbiety z dedykacją: w Szpitalu SS. Elżbetanek w Poznaniu podczas wojny strasznej 1939.Na pamiątkę szan. i drogiej Pani W. C. (Wiesławie Cichowicz)


Early in the year he leaves Poznań for Kraków, where he lives until the end of the war.

He composes Obrazki słowiańskie na fortepian [Slavic Pictures for the piano], a number of solo songs, and a new edition of the 8th Organ Symphony

Rysunek autorstwa Kazimierza Nowowiejskiego


His last works are written, including the 4th Symphony Symfonia Pokoju [Symphony of Peace] (a cantata to the words by Jan Kasprowicz) and the Piano Concerto.

Cerebral haemorrhage resulting in right side paralysis prevent the composer from further creative work.

U państwa Rogalskich w Krakowie 1941


In August he returns from Kraków to Poznań.

He re-establishes his social circle and tries to encourage performances of his works.



Feliks Nowowiejski dies on January 18th.




On January 22nd he is buried in the Crypt of Eminent Residents of the Wielkopolska Region in St. Adalbert Church in Poznań.





opr. Iwona Fokt


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