Stanisław Wyżykowski


Category I. Plastic arts, ornamentation, handicraft and folk crafts, music and dance folklore

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Stanisław Wyżykowski – hurdy gurdy maker, fiddler, designer and maker of folk musical instruments. He has performed throughout Poland and abroad. Constructing musical instruments is his genuine passion. He reconstructed the Polish hurdy gurdy thus initiating the instrument’s revival in our country.

Krosno, Podkarpackie Voivodeship, Pogórzanie (Polish Uplanders)

Stanisław Wyżykowski grew up in the atmosphere of love for music – each of the eleven siblings could play and sing. When he was a child, he would steal his father’s fiddle and study it by himself. Thanks to his enthusiasm and dedication, it only took him two years to complete the music school, which he started soon after the end of the second world war.

The artist built his first hurdy gurdy in 1967 after receiving a commission for the instrument from Stanisław Inglot – manager of the Krosno-based folk band ‘Stachy’, with which he appeared in concert in the subsequent years. The group performed its repertoire, comprised of around seven hundred melodies and tunes from the region of Podkarpacie, by ear.

Stanisław Wyżykowski did not dedicate himself seriously to the construction of hurdy gurdies until his retirement. A few years ago, he made two exceptionally precious and unique instruments: the organistrum, a mediaeval type of hurdy gurdy and the bass hurdy gurdy, of which he is the only maker in Poland. Besides hurdy gurdies, the artist constructs the skrzypce laskowe, surdynka – pocket-sized fiddle, basetla, dulcimer, double bass, viola da gamba and psaltery.

One of his most incredible performances has been the „airborne concerto for hurdy gurdy”, which he played while flying an ultralight trike. For several years, he directed the ensemble ‘Młode Staszki’ – he taught its members how to play the fiddle and the hurdy gurdy. An important part of his work has also been devoted to the passing of his knowledge on to the young instrument makers. One of his first pupils, who still continues the work of his master, was Stanisław Nogaj.

Stanisław Wyżykowski has won a plethora of prizes, his instruments have been exhibited in museums around the country and some of them have been used during the premiere of the film Pan Tadeusz and for recording the soundtracks of the films Ogniem i mieczem and Wrota Europy.