Roman Maciejewski

Life - Family and youth (Berlin/Leszno)

Documents preserved in the family archive show that Maciejewski’s ancestors on his mother’s side came from Lithuania. After the fall of the November Uprising his great-grandfather managed to get to Paris, where he began apprenticeship as a tailor. After returning to Poland (around 1841), he settled in the village of Kaszczor near Leszno and married Magdalena Rągiewicz. He adopted a pseudonym, Woitechus Zgaiński (a reference to his origins: “from Lithuanian gaje”, i.e. groves). His son Antoni (1846–1922) ran a farm in Radomicko, but also had a talent for music (he played the violin). His children from his second marriage, to Emilia Hoffmann, included Bronisława, Roman Maciejewski’s mother. She too was a talented violin player, and was even educated musically in Warsaw (in 1901–1904) and then in Germany. After graduating from the Berlin Conservatoire (having studied violin with Alexander Kűster), she remained there as a teacher-répétiteur.

The family history of Maciejewski’s father is less well documented. The great-grandfather came from Kujawy (Kuyavia), from where he had to flee because of repressions following the January Uprising. He settled in Kruszwica, where his son Ignacy married Apolonia Różańska. Their son Józef Maciejewski learned to be a tailor in Berlin and even graduated from the Berlin Tailoring Academy. In 1909 he married Bronisława Zgaińska, who had been teaching him violin – he was passionate about music.

Their first son Roman was born on 28 February 1910 and was apparently named after Bronisława’s extraordinarily talented Warsaw pupil Roman Jasiński, who went on to become a pianist and a music critic (this is mentioned by Krzysztof Bilica in “Sylwetka Romana Maciejewskiego” in Muzyka polska 1945–1995, Kraków 1996, pp. 147–154). Roman was followed one year later by Jadwiga (teacher), two years later by Zygmunt (actor, polyglot, translator) and in 1923 by Wojciech (radio director and cultural activist).

Given such interests of his parents, little Roman simply had to become acquainted with music. His first teacher was his mother, who began to teach him how to play the piano. Fortunately, Roman turned out to be very talented, which is why he was enrolled at Berlin’s Julius Stern Conservatoire and at the same time at the Kőnigliche Vorschule (1916–1919).

The hardship of life in Berlin at a time when the First World War was raging across Europe prompted the family to return to Poland in 1919. They settled in Leszno, where Roman began to attend the Jan Komeński School for Boys. At school he immediately became involved in various artistic events – for example, as an accompanist during various celebrations, an organist at the Church of St. Nicholas, and even a conductor of a boy scout choir. All these activities earned him a scholarship from Count Krzysztof Mielżyński, which enabled him to go to Poznań to continue his musical education.