Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Tarczynski, Stanislaw Victor de (1882–1952)

by L. K. Paszkowski

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12, (MUP), 1990

Stanislaw Victor de Tarczynski (1882-1952), by Mina Moore, 1912-13

Stanislaw Victor de Tarczynski (1882-1952), by Mina Moore, 1912-13

La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria, H38782/887

Stanislaw Victor de Tarczynski (1882-1952), violinist, was born on 7 April 1882 in Warsaw, son of Jozef de Tarczynski, professor of the Warsaw Conservatorium, and his wife Bronislawa, née Bobinska. Brought up a Catholic, he was educated at a local high school and the Warsaw Conservatorium where he received his diploma with distinction and a gold medal. At the age of 20 he was engaged for a year as leading violinist with the Moscow Grand Opera. Returning to Poland, he joined the staff of a musical and literary periodical, Mloda Muzyka (Young Music). He later studied in Berlin and gave concerts in Dresden and Prague before being elected to lead the famous Ysaÿe Symphony Orchestra in Brussels.

When he was approaching international fame, one finger of Tarczynski's left hand became paralysed. Broken in health and spirit, he went to Egypt where he slowly recovered under the care of his sister and a Polish friend, Jadwiga Kilbach (d.1950), who accompanied him on a visit to Australia. Arriving in 1912, they were married on 16 March 1913 at the Lutheran Church, East Melbourne. Prevented by the outbreak of war from returning to Europe, Tarczynski reluctantly changed his status from tourist to immigrant and began playing the violin in Melbourne theatres. His wife taught languages in several private girls' schools and at the university; she was later a foundation member of the International Club of Victoria and a national vice-president.

Although Tarczynski's fingers never regained their previous flexibility, his achievements in Australia were remarkable. His composition Mazourka Melancolique was published in 1915 and he edited Kayser Studies for Violin, opus 20. In 1922-36 he taught at the Melbourne University Conservatorium of Music and at the Albert Street Conservatorium. He was regarded as one of the best teachers in Australia: many of his pupils were to achieve distinguished positions in the world of music. Tarczynski became the leader of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and virtually permanent leader of all touring opera companies in Australia and New Zealand which were associated with J. C. Williamson Ltd. For five years from 1936 he was leader of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. He was naturalized in 1940.

At his Mont Albert home, which he had designed in the style of a Polish landed gentleman's residence, with a spacious music room, Tarczynski entertained musicians, writers and painters. He had ability in drawing and his closest friend was Max Meldrum. Tarczynski loved to tell a story—clean and otherwise—and was well-known for his sense of humour and practical jokes. In his prime he had striking, blonde, shoulder-length hair, blue eyes, classical features and refined manners. He was 5 ft 4 ins (163 cm) tall, but stood erect and was well-proportioned. His English pronunciation was never perfect.

Survived by two sons and a daughter, Tarczynski died in Melbourne on 18 June 1952 and was cremated with Unitarian forms. A portrait by Max Meldrum is held by the family; another, by Norma Bull, was held by the artist. Meldrum's portrait of Jadwiga is in the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.

Select Bibliography

  • L. Paszkowski, Polacy w Australii i Oceanii 1790-1940 (Lond, 1962), published in English (Syd, 1987)
  • Australian Musical News, 5, no 3, Sept 1915, pp 1, 69, 86, and 43, no 1, July 1952, p 5
  • University of Melbourne, Calendar, 1926, p 60, 1935, p 88, 1936, p 89
  • Argus (Melbourne), 19 June 1952
  • Advertiser (Adelaide), 19 June 1952
  • Sun News-Pictorial (Melbourne), 19 June 1952
  • Age (Melbourne), 19 June 1952, 1 Oct 1966
  • Polish Weekly, 24 Aug 1963, 18 Mar 1978.

Citation details

L. K. Paszkowski, 'Tarczynski, Stanislaw Victor de (1882–1952)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/tarczynski-stanislaw-victor-de-8745/text15319, published in hardcopy 1990, accessed online 29 July 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12, (MUP), 1990

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2014

Stanislaw Victor de Tarczynski (1882-1952), by Mina Moore, 1912-13

Stanislaw Victor de Tarczynski (1882-1952), by Mina Moore, 1912-13

La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria, H38782/887