Gliński Mateusz

Mateusz Gliński - Personal data
Date of birth: 6th April 1892
Place of birth: Warszawa
Date of death: 2nd January 1976
Place of death:
Occupation: attorney, musician

Gliński Mateusz (6 April 1892, Warsaw – 2 January 1976, Welland), actually Mateusz Hertzenstein-Gliński (Hercenstein), he also used names Matteo, Matthew – attorney in Warsaw, prosecutor, violinist, pianist, organist, conductor, chief of orchestras, composer, musicologist, music historian, educator, writer, playwright, critic, publicist, reviewer, speaker, publisher, music activist, Chopinologist.

Born on 6 April 1892 in Warsaw (according to other sources, 5 May 1892) to a wealthy, assimilated Roman Catholic bourgeois family of Jewish origin, which provided him with a comprehensive and very thorough education. In 1909, he graduated from the Russian junior secondary school in Warsaw, given gold medal. After graduating from high school, he officially took the surname Gliński, although as a lawyer he used both surnames: Hertzenstein-Gliński. Then he started studies at the Faculty of Law at Imperial University of Warsaw.

At the same time, at the age of 17, he began studying violin at the Warsaw Music Institute (Conservatory). He showed outstanding musical abilities from childhood, quickly learned to play piano and violin, in his early youth he began composing. At the conservatory, he was a student of Stanisław Barcewicz in the violin class and studied music theory under Roman Statkowski and Józef Surzyński. During his studies, he played as a violinist in the symphony orchestra of the Warsaw Philharmonic conducted by Grzegorz Fitelberg. In 1913, he left for further, in-depth studies in Germany. There, at the Hochschule für Musik in Leipzig, he studied composition under Max Reger, musicology under Hugo Riemann, Arnold Schering and Artur Prüfer, and conducting guided by Artur Nikisch (conducting course at the Gewandhaus). He entered the milieu of German musicologists as an expert on Polish music. In 1914, he began the subsequent stage of music studies - in Saint-Petersburg. He was taught by such celebrities as Aleksandr Glazunov (composition), Maksymilian Steinberg (conducting) and Mikołaj Czerepnin (in the class of orchestral music). At the same time, he worked as a bank clerk.

He collaborated with widely read Russian music magazines. In the years 1914-1916 he wrote for Muzikalnoi Gazeta, then in the years 1916-1918 for Muzykalnyi Sovriemiennik. In the latter magazine, he published his first, very extensive, journalistic-historical article on the art of conducting entitled Istoria dirizorskikh sistiem, which became a fundamental contribution to the research on the history of world conducting. Gliński completed his studies in 1917 and at the same time made a highly successful debut in Saint-Petersburg as a conductor of a symphony orchestra.

In 1918 he came to Poland. Soon started practicing law as an apprentice at the Court of Appeal in Warsaw. In October 1919 he was appointed by the Ministry of Justice as a sub-prosecutor at the District Court in Łódź. However, on 7 March 1921 he resigned from this position  at his own request. Gazeta Sądowa Warszawska weekly, in issue 8 of 1921, reported that "Gliński Mateusz, the sub-prosecutor at the District Court in Łódź (residing in Warsaw, 117 Marszałkowska Street), has been accepted as a legal apprentice at the Court of Appeal in Warsaw.

In 1923, he was included in the list of attorneys of the Bar Association in Warsaw, and from then until the outbreak of the Second World War he ran his own law firm, located at 13 Kapucyńska Street in Warsaw. At the beginning of 1919, he started working as a journalist for Kurier Warszawski daily. Afterwards, for over a dozen years, he wrote regular music columns for Kurier Poranny daily, he also collaborated with the Kraków-based Ilustrowany Kurier Codzienny and the Paris-based magazine "La Revue Musicale (after the war he wrote for Polityka  and Życie Literackie weeklies, Ruch Muzyczny periodical, Sodalis Marianus and Paris-based Kultura monthlies, the Czech magazine Chopiniana Bohemica and others). In 1935–1939 he was also the author of entries for the Polish Biographical Dictionary, published by Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences (Polish: Polska Akademia Umiejętności; PAU) in Kraków.

In 1924, he founded his own monthly devoted to the musical life of the country, entitled Muzyka. He was its editor-in-chief for 14 years, i.e. until its final issue published in 1938. As part of Muzyka publishing activities, he published a number of valuable monographs, including: Muzyka polska (Poilsh Music) (1927), Romantyzm w muzyce (Romantism in Music) (1928), Muzyka współczesna, Taniec i muzyka taneczna, Instrumenty muzyczne (Contemporary Music, Dance and Dance Music, Musical Instruments) (1929). Until the closure of Muzyka, a total of over 100 extensive issues of the magazine had been published. The so-called biographical issues, inter alia Beethoven (1927), Chopin, collective monograph (1932), Alexander Scriabin (two editions: 1933 and 1934) and Karol Szymanowski (1937). Zygmunt Mycielski recalled his accomplishments: “Gliński knew how to ensure that the most outstanding Polish and foreign musicologists as well as composers and performers wrote for his monthly” [1.1]. Gliński's periodical was, apart for Muzyka Polska, the most important music magazine of a journalistic and musicological nature in interwar Poland

In mid-September 1929, Gliński took part, as one of the three official representatives of Poland, in the 3rd International Congress of Drama and Music Critics  held in Romania (on behalf of the Warsaw Union of Music Critics). In 1927, he represented Poland at the international music festival in Vienna. As a conductor, he went on two concert tours abroad. He was a guest conductor in Austria and Ireland. Gliński's talent was appreciated by such celebrated musicians as the dodecaphonist Józef Koeffler (who wrote about him in Express Poranny daily), Juliusz Kaden-Bandrowski (in reviews published in Świat weekly) and A. Pizzini, who wrote about Gliński's concerts in music criticism columns published by Radiocorriere in Rome in 1940s.

Gliński was also very interested in the role of radio and phonography in promoting music. In 1929 he organised recording of Kurpie Songs (Polish: Pieśni Kurpiowskie) op. 58 by Karol Szymanowski played by the Polish People's Band (Polish: Polska Kapela Ludowa) conducted by Stanisław Kazura. He wrote numerous reviews of vinyl recordings of Polish music and about concerts on radio. He wrote the lyrics of the popular song by Mieczysław Karłowicz, Sorrowful (Polish: Zasmucona), which was in the repertoire of many leading Polish opera singers of the time. in 1929, as a friend of Szymanowski and admirer of his music, he composed a Kurpie song for a mixed choir entitled Usyli mi śnurowankę, recorded in 1930. In 1935, Gliński's monograph entitled Józef Piłsudski i jego legiony w muzyce i pieśni (Józef Piłsudski and his legions in music and song). At the end of the 1930s, he founded and managed  the Polish section of the International Society for Contemporary Music - Societe Internationale de Musique Contemporaine.

In December 1939, he departed Poland, occupied by the Nazis [Germans - ed. note.]. Thanks to his many relatives and connections reaching far beyond Poland, he obtained permission from the German occupation authorities (with the support of the Italian embassy) to emigrate to Italy. He left Warsaw with all his belongings, a huge music library, valuable paintings, furniture, a Pleyel piano, Chopin souvenirs, the medical library of his wife Zofia, a specialist in childhood diseases. In fact, he evacuated the entire apartment at 6 Chopina Street.

At the beginning of 1940, he was in Rome. He settled in the Vatican and became a music advisor to the Holy See, a music reviewer for L'Osservatore Romano and a commentator on Vatican Radio. During his stay in Italy lasting over a dozen years, he became one of the leading figures in Italian musical life. In 1941, he published a monograph about the composer Asprillo Pecelli, the court musician of King Sigismund III Vasa (Asprilio Pacelli, insigne Maestro di Cappella della Corte Reale di Polonia 1570–1623). Two years later, his next book was published - on the history of Italian opera: La prima stagione Lirica italiana all’estero (1628) (1943).

In 1946 he reactivated in Italy his pre-war Muzyka magazine, this time in Italian with the title Musica. In the years 1946–1948 he was the artistic director of the cyclical concerts Un'ora di Musica (The Hour of Music), a concert institution cooperating with the instrumental ensemble which he conducted. A Vatican vocal ensemble Cantori delle Basiliche Vaticane took part in these concerts. Thanks to Gliński’s cooperation with the Italian radio (RAI), these concerts were broadcast and became very popular. In 1947 he published in Rome a collection of Pacelli's madrigals for mixed choir a capella Opera Omnia (Madrigali) (second edition in 1963). In the same year he represented Poland as a conductor at the Venice festival, and in 1950 at the Taormina festival in Sicily. In 1949 he organized and then managed the International Fryderyk Chopin Institute (Instituto Internationale Federico Chopin) in Rome. In 1953, the Ricordi publishing house in Milan commissioned and then published a book by Gliński about Lorenzo Perosi, an outstanding Italian priest-composer of sacred music, who died at that time.

In 1956 he left for the United States, where he gave a six-month series of lectures on Chopin at various universities. At that time he was injured in a serious car accident. After convalescence, he stayed in the United States. He became an organist at a church in Detroit. In 1957 he founded the International Chopin Foundation in Detroit. Then he taught musicology at several American universities.

That year he decided to move to Canada. There, in 1957, he reactivated the International Chopin Music Foundation Inc. (founded in Italy) and was its director until his death. In 1959 he organized the music department at the Assumption University of Windsor in Canada. In 1957 he published the composition Hymn do Polski na głos i fortepian (Hymn to Poland for voice and piano) based on Chopin's compositions. He settled permanently in Canada in 1958.

In 1960 he wrote in English the book entitled Chopin's Letters to Delfina Potocka (published in Windsor in 1961), and in Polish - Listy Chopina do Delfiny Potockiej – in 1973. In 1963, his play about Chopin (Chopin's Secret) was staged in Toronto in three acts. Two years later, the play was to be staged in Warsaw, but this did not happen because of Gliński's death [1.2]. In this play, he presented episodes from Chopin's life during his stay in Paris: artistic friendships, an affair with George Sand and complicated relationship with Delfina Potocka. The play ends with the death of the composer, who in the last moments reveals the secret of his genius. The work was published by PAX publishing house in 1975.

In 1973, Gliński visited Poland for the last time. He was collecting materials for the fourth chapter of his memoirs entitled Znów w Polsce (Again in Poland) - 1918/1940. Excerpts of these memoirs were printed on an ongoing basis by the Warsaw magazines Ruch Muzyczny  and Życie Literackie. After retiring, he settled in Welland, Canada, the city located in the centre of Niagara Municipality (Ontario). He founded the Niagara Symphony Orchestra and was its conductor and artistic director from 1965 till 1971, moreover, he set up the Chamber Orchestra Welland.

His musicological works were mostly about Chopin. He published Chopin's letters to Delfina Potocka in the professional journals, defended their authenticity, inter alia at the 1st International Chopin Congress in Warsaw in 1960. He wrote several books about Chopin: Chopin nieznany (Chopin unknown), Prawdziwa data urodzin Chopina (The actual date of Chopin’s birth), Religijność Chopina (Chopin’s religiosity), Sześć miłości Chopina (Chopin's six loves) and his main work - opus magnum - Listy do Definy (Chopin’s letters to Defina) which became a great sensation (published by International Chopin Foundation, New York 1972).

Gliński was intensively involved in creating works of music. composed an opera Orlątko (L’Aiglon) based on the play by Edmond Rostand (author of Cyrano de Bergerac), symphonic poem Ociemniały śpiewak (Blind singer), based on Ferenc Liszt’s manuscript which he found, a symphonic poem Wagram, dedicated to the Polish Cavalry Lancers of the Imperial Guard who took part in the victorious Battle of Wagram in 1809, orchestral suite Purcellina based on Henry Purcell's compositions (1934), Kurpie Songs (1938), Modlitwa Polaków na obczyźnie (Poles’ prayer in exile) (1941), liturgical piece Te decet hymnus (1944), but above all numerous piano miniatures and songs.

Mateusz Gliński died in Welland on 2 January 1976. On 14 September 1976, the urn with Gliński's ashes was placed in the catacombs at the Powązki Cemetery in Warsaw.

In 1976 he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Merit by the Chopin Society in Toronto. Gliński's wife Zofia (1914–2002) bequeathed the entire Gliński’s legacy, including his library and numerous memorabilia, to the Fryderyk Chopin Institute in Warsaw. In 1982, Oficyna Poetów I Malarzy (Poets’ and Painters’ Press) in London published Mateusz Gliński's Testament, written by his wife. In 1986, in the palace in Sanniki, the Mateusz Gliński Music Library was founded. The book collection donated by the widow of this outstanding Chopinologist includes publications on Chopin's life and many works by Gliński as well as encyclopaedias, books on the history of music in various languages, and a collection of periodicals.

Tomasz M. Lerski


  • “Dziennik Urzędowy Ministerstwa Sprawiedliwości” no. 7, 1 April 1925;
  • Fuks M., Księga sławnych muzyków pochodzenia żydowskiego, Poznań 2003;
  • “Gazeta Sądowa Warszawska” 1925, no. 8;
  • Gliński M., Chopin. Listy do Delfiny, New York – Detroit – Toronto 1973;
  • Gliński M., Czy Chopin był muzycznym kretynem?,  “Życie Literackie,” 12 November 1961;
  • Gliński M., Fałszerstwo stulecia? – O fotokopiach listów Chopina do Delfiny Potockiej, “Ruch Muzyczny” 1975, no. 22;
  • Gliński M., List do Redakcji (Niestrudzony Mateusz Gliński), “Ruch Muzyczny” 1960, no. 20;
  • Gliński M., List otwarty w sprawie konferencji w Nieborowie, “Życie Literackie,” 22 October 1961;
  • Gliński M., Prawdziwe dzieje ekspertyzy fotokopii listów Chopina do Delfiny, Welland 1973;
  • Grabowska T., O działalności Mateusza Glińskiego, “Ruch Muzyczny” 1963, no. 19;
  • Halski C., Mateusz Gliński (1892–1976). Wspomnienie pośmiertne, “Wiadomości Londyńskie” 1976, no. 21, p. 4;
  • Lerski T., Syrena Record – pierwsza polska wytwórnia fonograficzna – First Poland’s Recording Company – 1904–1939, New York – Warsaw 2004;
  • Lista adwokatów Izby Adwokackiej w Warszawie 1938, Warsaw 1938, p. 21;
  • Mateusz Gliński (1892–1976), “Rocznik Literacki” 1976, pp. 698–700;
  • Mateusz Gliński (1892–1976) [obituary], “Ruch Muzyczny” 1976, no. 2;
  • Mateusz Gliński (1892–1976) [obituary], “Życie Warszawy” 1976, no. 217;
  • Mechanisz J., Frywolne listy Chopina, “Polityka” 1974, no. 32;
  • Mycielski Z., Mateusz Gliński 1892–1976, “Rocznik Chopinowski” 1976/1977, vol. 10, pp. 11–12;
  • O Mateuszu Glińskim [recollections by Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz, Piotr Perkowski and Zygmunt Mycielski], “Ruch Muzyczny” 1976, no. 217;
  • Waldorff J., Poczciwy Matteo, “Polityka” no. 43, 26 October 1974.
  • Anna and Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz Museum in Stawisko: Mateusz Gliński’s letter to Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz, Rome, 1954; Mateusz Gliński’s letter to Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz, Rome, 30 November 1953; Mateusz Gliński’s letter to Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz, Windsor, 16 March 1960.

The first edition of the biography was published in: Słownik Biograficzny Adwokatów Polskich A–Ż, vol. III (died in 1945–2010), Warsaw 2018, pp. 117–120. 

Reprinted with the consent of the Supreme Bar Council.


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