Jerzy Waldorff

A music critic, a social activist, a writer, a commentator, a person full of passion and charisma. He described himself as “a guard of national memory”. This was who Jerzy Waldorff was. He was born on 4 May in 1910 in a small village in Kujawy as Jerzy Preyss and he was also brought up there. He finished law and music studies. As a twenty-five-year old man, he moved with his mother and sister to Warsaw – the city where he stayed for the rest of his life.

“Waldorff” was at first his nickname, but he liked it so much, that at last he changed his real surname. During his career he worked as a music reviewer in “Kurier poranny” and in “Prosto z mostu”, a music commentator for Polish Radio, a columnist in weeklies “World” and “Politics”. He was also working for a weekly “Przekrój”. He is the author of twenty books devoted mainly to classical music like “Polihymnia Secrets” which became a music alphabet for a few Polish generations. Waldorff also popularized music culture on TV, radio and press.

In the time of war Waldorff was involved in working in the Welfare Council and the underground. He was preparing communiqués from ally bugs. At the end of the war he came to Łódź but he had to leave it because he was accused of being a pre-war propagator of fascism and anti-Semite. These accusations were connected with one of his books “Sztuka pod dyktaturą” in which he described Mussolini’s merits to development of Italy. This work did not give him any glory and for the rest of his life he had to justify (explain) it.

Jerzy Waldorff has huge services to the community and monument protection. On his own initiative Karol Szymanowski Museum in Zakopane and Theatre Museum in Warsaw were established. Thanks to him, the Palace of Radziwiłła Dukes in Antonin. He contributed to bring the remains of Stanisław August Poniatowski to Poland. He also initiated arising two monuments of Ignacy Paderewski and Józef Piłsudski in Warsaw. The undertaking which was the most connected with him was establishing Social Welfare Committee which later was named after him. Waldorff was also an initiatotor of the first Cemetery Collection which next became a big, annual event. When Jerzy was alive, 1000 monuments were renovated at the Cemetery. In 1996 Waldorff got the title “ Warsovian of the Year”. He was also honoured with the Captain Cross with a star order of rebirth of Poland for outstanding merits for Polish culture.

For all his life Waldorff was not particularly involved with the Church. That is why, after his death, on 29 of December 1999, Warsaw Curia did not allow to say a mass in any church in Warsaw. The celebrations took part in the Great Theatre and the funeral chapel in the Old Cemetery where the body of Waldorff was buried. His partner and love of his life Mieczysław Jankowski was buried with him.