Polish-Soviet war, culminating in the Battle of Warsaw (13-15 August), known as 'the miracle on the Vistula'.

Concerts by Szymanowski, presenting the stage of his creative development not previously known in Poland, meet with a lukewarm reception in Warsaw.



The Treaty of Riga, signed on 18 March, ends the war against Soviet Russia.

19 June sees the opening of Tomasz Panufnik’s Factory of String Instruments in Warsaw’s Praga district. Stanisław Barcewicz plays at the concert organised to celebrate the opening.

The opening of my father’s new enterprise in 1921 was memorable for me because I experienced my first ride in a car. Driven by a supercilious chauffeur in a peaked cap, the brief journey was a deeply sensuous experience: the glistening brass and touch and smell of the leather seats excited me far more than the imposing new buildings with the name PANUFNIK in huge bas-relief letters over the roof.

Opening of the Tomasz Panufnik String Instruments' FactoryWith his brother Mirosław



Gabriel Narutowicz, the first president of the Second Republic of Poland, is assassinated at the Zachęta Art Gallery in Warsaw on 16 December.

Tomasz Panufnik’s company is declared bankrupt. Faced with financial problems, the father of the future composer withdraws from the enterprise, which is taken over by a toy manufacturer. Tomasz Panufnik goes back to working as an engineer at the Ministry for Agricultural Reform.

By then I was about eight years old. I saw almost nothing of my father, and not much more of my mother, who was, as ever, deeply immersed in her music, practising the violin for hours every day, in the evenings turning to improvise on her piano. The domestic ordering of the house bored her, and she did not enjoy social chit-chat with women friends.



Andrzej Panufnik starts private piano lessons with his grandmother, Henryka Thonnes. At that time, the boy idolises Jerzy Lefeld, who helps his mother to notate her piano improvisations.

The young professor of music, whose name was Jerzy Lefeld, was thin and tall with long arms and extraordinarily long fingers, which, I knew from shaking hands with him, were invariably icy. (...) If anyone asked me in those days what profession I expected to follow when I grew up, I would reply without hesitation, 'I want to be a Lefeld!'



Andrzej Panufnik begins his secondary education at the renowned private school, the Lorentz Gymnasium.

Each day I left home with a satchel on my back, proudly wearing my new uniform: a dark blue suit with two light blue stripes at the points of the collar, and four-cornered dark blue cap encircled by a light blue band with a stiff leather peak, different only in colour to the traditional Polish army cap.



Young Andrzej dreams of attending the Warsaw Conservatory, but his parents strongly oppose this desire.

By the time I reached the age of eleven, my grandmother had taught me enough on the piano to be able to play quite advanced duets by classical composers with her. However, practising on my own, I was lazy about my formal studies, spending most of my energy on improvisation, occasionally scribbling down new 'compositions'.



At the age of 12, Panufnik is admitted to piano class at the Conservatory. He is to study with the young Miss Comte-Wilgocka and with Wiktor Chrapowiecki.

My piano teacher at the Conservatoire was Miss Comte-Wilgocka. Her mother was a well-know Polish singer, her father was French. I thought she was magically beautiful with her small delicate features and black hair, and imagined that all French women looked like her. She dressed exquisitely and used a subtle perfume, unlike the Polish sweet flower scents. She always greeted me with a friendly smile, and was encouraging, patient and generous with her time. My two lessons a week with her were a great joy, and I soon began to feel that I was making real progress. However, as she was not a qualified teacher but just an advanced pupil at the Conservatoire, she was still under supervision from her professor, a particularly unpleasant character, whose bi-monthly presence at our lessons became a nightmare to me.

Tomasz Panufnik’s The art of violin construction. Studies on the making of string instruments, written back in 1908, appears in print.

With his brother Mirosław



Paralysed by stage fright, Panufnik performs very poorly at the final piano examination and is removed, with the annotation ‘no musical talent’, from the list of students.

As I went nervously into the large hall where my fellow pupils and their families were assembling, I met with a most alarming sight. A huge concert piano stood on a full-sized platform. Beside it stood a long table covered in green baize with two carafes of water and at least a dozen glasses. (...) I wilted into an appalling attack of stage-fright, suddenly hot, actually pouring sweat, so that my fingers slid all over the keyboard. The notes came out as if detached from me, refusing to sound as I wanted to play them.

Financial problems at home mean that Panufnik has to transfer from the Lorentz Gymnasium to the equally good but less expensive Mazowiecka school.

With his colleagues



Andrzej Panufnik contracts typhoid.

In my second year at the Szkoła Mazowiecka I fell dangerously ill with typhoid. I pleaded desperately not to be taken to hospital, and my mother, with the help of my paediatrician uncle, somehow managed to nurse me at home, despite the risk of infection to everyone around (except my brother who had survived the disease in his early childhood).



Another change of school – the worsening financial situation of the Panufnik household means that Andrzej has to move to the less expensive Municipal Gymnasium.

I now had to become used to smaller, more crowded schoolrooms, shabby and dirty. The windows looked out on a huge viaduct, so that it was easy to be distracted from the uninteresting lessons by an endless procession of passing trams, cars, horses, carts, pedestrians and pedlars.