Instruments of Polish laureates of the International Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competitions

The collection presents instruments played by Polish prize-winners and awardees of honourable mentions at subsequent editions of the Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competitions. Many of the violins are part of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage's Polish Collection of Violins administered by the Polish Union of Artist Violin Makers. Some were used by extraordinary musical figures such as Wanda Wiłkomirska, who had played an unlabelled instrument built after the Guarneri del Gesù model (inv. no. KIL-1) for much of her career, or Kaja Danczowska, who for thirteen years had played an instrument ascribed to Nicola Amati (inv. no. KIL-13). The best instruments in the collection were used by Polish participants of the Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competitions, including a few prize-winners. For instance, an 18th-century instrument ascribed to Pietro (III) Guarneri was played by Bartłomiej Nizioł and most probably Piotr Janowski when they won their respective first prizes in 1991 and 1967, and by Robert Kabara when he came in third in 1986. Some prize-winners would play private instruments, either their own or borrowed. Sometimes, just before the competition performance, contestants were lent high quality violins from private collections. Nobody would take record of the instruments; what is more, the violinists cannot remember them either. It took an assiduous search to locate the instruments for the purposes of this project. We are extremely grateful to the Owners of the instruments we managed to track down for granting us the possibility to photograph and inspect their violins. We hope you enjoy the fruits of our labour.