Cylkow Henryk

Henryk Cylkow - Personal data
Date of birth: 1866
Place of birth: Warszawa
Date of death: 1945
Place of death: Kraków
Occupation: composer; barrister; music journalist
Related towns: Warsaw, Krakow

Cylkow Henryk (1866, Warsaw – 1945, Kraków) – barrister in Warsaw, composer, music journalist.

Born ca. 1866 in Warsaw. He was the son of Isaac (1841–1908), a rabbi, preacher, translator, Doctor of Philosophy and Hebrew philology; grandson of Aron Moses Cylkow (1813–1884), a Talmudist; brother of Louis (1877–1934) landscape painter active mainly in France who studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków under the guidance of Józef Mehoffer,

In 1891, Cylkow graduated from the Faculty of Law at the Imperial University of Warsaw. Until 1939, he ran his own law firm at 11 Miodowa Street in Warsaw.

He was active as a journalist writing about political and social matters. In 1919, together with Henryk Nusbaum (1849–1937), he wrote an open letter protesting against the provisions of the minority treaty, signed during the Versailles Peace Conference in 1919, which sanctioned the influence of the Orthodox Jews on the life of the Jewish community in Poland. In this memorandum, published in the press on 19 July 1919, he wrote, inter alia:

„ We bear a deep and bitter grudge against the statesmen participating in the Versailles Congress, for the humiliating imposition on the Polish nation under peaceful conditions, of the clauses regarding national and religious minorities. You have stopped the process of advancement and bringing out of the unimaginable ignorance several million Jews living in Poland, because you completely halted the influence of the socialized and civic-minded followers of Judaism on the dark masses of co-religionists. To the German language, which is used by the Jewish masses only because of the religious fanaticism, you granted the privilege of development on Slavic soil, and you have strengthened the ground for the development of German culture in Poland. We, the progressive Jews and we, citizens who love our homeland, most solemnly protest against it, since our hopes for the improvement of relations, after the fall of the criminal state of the tsars, you have completely dispelled.”

Cylkow was a prolific and esteemed composer, created many works, primarily piano pieces. In 1921, his symphonic overture After the Battle (Polish: Po Bitwie) won the 2nd prize at the Leopold Kronenberg musical competition. A few years later, he published a series 5 Pieśni, in 1929 Mazurek nr 1, then, in 1930, five mazurkas of the folklorist nature in the spirit of Karol Szymanowski, published by Gebethner and Wolff. In the subsequent years, 5 preludes for piano, dedicated to Lucyna Robowska were printed by Gebethner and Wolff in Warsaw, and by the Akord publishing house in Vienna, also Trzy pieśni na głos accompanied by piano and verses by Adam Mickiewicz, which became well known. These were: BurzaPolały się łzy and Strzelec (published by Gebethner and Wolff). Cylkow also composed a cantilena for violin to the adagio from a sonata by L. van Beethoven, Op. 27 No. 2. Also published in the “Muzyka” Music Library (Polish: Biblioteka Nutowa) (in the number 64) – his Mazurek op. 19, awarded 2nd prize in the Composition Competition of the "Muzyka" monthly magazine in 1930. In 1936, he composed Musical Fables (poetry with music). He also wrote music for other well-known literary works, as well as symphonic works. He was active as a musicographer and music journalist.

Cylkow published popular science dissertations in book form: in 1916,  Rozwiązanie problemu Fermata (Wielkie Twierdzenie matematyka Pierre’a de Fermata, sformułowane w 1637, jeden z najtrudniejszych problemów matematycznych z zakresu teorii liczb) and Próba odcyfrowania mickiewiczowskiego proroctwa: „A imię jego czterdzieści i cztery”, formulated in a kabbalistic context, published in 1939. In March 1934, the record company "Syrena Record" recorded two songs by Cylkow to the words of Mickiewicz – Burza op. 17 and Strzelec from the same opus. They were performed by the Warsaw opera tenor Edward Wejsis with piano accompaniment by Mieczysław Mierzejewski.

Cylkow died in in Krakow 1945, where he arrived after the fall of the Warsaw Uprising. Cylkow's compositional works are in the collections of the Jagiellonian Library in Kraków.

Tomasz M. Lerski


  • Information from Professor Tadeusz L. Błaszczyk;
  • Kunnert K., Lista strat kultury polskiej: 1939–1945, Warsaw 1998;
  • “Kurier Warszawski” from 19 July 1919, no. 263;
  • Lerski T., Syrena Record – pierwsza polska wytwórnia fonograficzna – Poland’s first recording company – 1904–1939, Warsaw – New York 2004;
  • Olszewicz B., Lista strat kultury polskiej (1 IX 1939–1 III 1946), Warsaw 1947;
  • Żydzi polscy. Dzieje i kultura, Warsaw 1982.

The first edition of the biography was published in: Słownik Biograficzny Adwokatów Polskich A–Ż, vol. III (died in 1945–2010), Warsaw 2018, pp. 66–68. 

Reprinted with the consent of the Supreme Bar Council.


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