Young Andrzej Panufnik decides to become an engineer.

Eventually, unable to put up with the unpleasantness and lack of inspiration at my dreary school, I announced to my parents that I wanted to move to the state engineering school to train as an aeronautical engineer, so that I could cease to be a financial burden to them as soon as possible.

Tomasz Panufnik realises the dream of his life – he opens a school for the construction of musical instruments in Warsaw.



Andrzej Panufnik begins to be involved in music again. He writes his first light compositions and achieves his first success – Panufnik’s foxtrots, Ach, pardon and Nie chcę więcej [I Want No More], performed by the comedian Adolf Dymsza at the poet Marian Hemar’s Revue become popular hits.

My family was overjoyed. My friends at school were agog that my music was to be sung in a real theatre, heard by thousands of people, and probably recorded.

On the day of the première, my parents, my brother and I went excitedly to the theatre. Arriving punctually and showing our tickets, to my astonishment, I was not allowed in: the show was for adults only. By law, the theatre could not admit anyone under eighteen. The commissionaire was unmoved that I had come to hear my own composition performed by the great comedian, Adolf Dymsza. Forlornly I trudged home alone and waited to hear my family's impressions.

Adolf Dymsza - Ach pardon



In February, Andrzej Panufnik is admitted to the Warsaw Conservatory to the percussion class. In that year he obtains his secondary school certificate ('matura') and in the autumn transfers to the composition class of Kazimierz Sikorski. He also attends Piotr Rytel’s harmony and counterpoint classes, as well as Valerian Berdayev’s conducting classes.

(...) my mother plucked up courage to approach the Rector of the Warsaw Conservatoire, Eugeniusz Morawski. He was more than helpful, perhaps influenced by the respect in which my father was held by musicians in Warsaw. Since I was still not knowledgeable enough to be accepted as a student of music theory, Morawski suggested that I should apply to study percussion. The entrance tests involved only the playing of some easy piano music, the main requirement being a strong natural sense of rhythm and a good ear.

Director Morawski’s plan worked perfectly. I passed easily. At last, aged seventeen, in February 1932, I again became a student at the Warsaw Conservatoire.

At seventeen



Panufnik makes his first attempts at serious composition: Piano Variations and Classical Suite.

I now plunged into my music studies at top speed. The normal pattern at the Conservatoire was to study basic musical knowledge for one year, followed by three years for harmony, three more for counterpoint, then two years for composition – a timetable which I considered ridiculously staid and slow.



Panufnik composes Piano Trio, his first surviving work.

The Piano Trio was my first serious achievemnt in composition. If I had given my works opus numbers, I would have designated it as Opus 1.

The young student from the Warsaw Conservatory also composes music for the film Warsaw Autumn directed by Eugeniusz Cękalski.

Tomasz Panufnik publishes his textbook The Technology of Violin Construction.



In July Andrzej Panufnik visits Karol Szymanowski in Zakopane.

Szymanowski was living in a simple, rather gloomy villa on the edge of Zakopane. He himself answered my rather timid knock and welcomed me in a most gracious and dignified manner.

We sat in armchairs in his drawing-room, in front of a low circular table on which stood a huge ashtray full of cigarette ends. The room was sparsely furnished with a primitive couch in one corner, covered with a rough, colourful rug, probably made by a local peasant, and a black, upright piano on which stood a few photographs, the largest of which was of Serge Lifar, the principal dancer and choreographer in Szymanowski’s ballet Harnasie, which had just been premièred at the Paris Opera.

Szymanowski did not talk to me about his current work, as I had hoped and expected, nor did he ask about my studies or what I was writing at the moment. Instead, he immediately burst into a tirade about his former colleagues at the Conservatoire. He angrily attacked them one after the other, using words such as 'brute', 'rascal', 'swine', 'pig', even 'son of a whore' – the worst words predictably being directed at Professor Rytel.



Andrzej Panufnik is awarded a diploma with distinction by the Warsaw Conservatory. He conducts his Symphonic Variations at a gala concert performed by the graduates (Witold Lutosławski gives a piano performance at the same concert).

After receiving his diploma, Panufnik presents himself for National Service at Dęblin.

Panufnik’s Piano Trio has its first performance on 10 December as part of the VII Broadcast of the Polish Society for Contemporary Music.



On 4 January the Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra performs Panufnik’s Little Overture, composed in 1936.

On 21 May Little Overture is conducted by Mieczysław Mierzejewski in the Warsaw Philharmonic Hall.

In September Panufnik leaves for Vienna, to study with Felix Weingartner.



In March, Austria is annexed (Anschluss) by Hitler’s Germany. Classes are suspended because of the annexation, and Panufnik spends a few days in Budapest. On his return to Vienna he witness the Nazification of Austria. Shortly after he decides to return to Warsaw.

The anti-Semitic campaign in Vienna was intensifying and the Jewish population becoming more and more frightened. To my horror, I heard about appalling physical violence against them, which the general population seemed simply to ignore. (...) Towards the end of the academic year, we were suddenly informed that Professor Felix Weingartner was to be replaced by a teacher sent from Germany. It was a terrible blow.

On 8 November Panufnik leaves Warsaw for Paris, where he continues to study conducting as a private pupil of Philippe Gaubert.



On 11 March Panufnik arrives in London, where he meets with Felix Weingartner. Panufnik starts composing his Symphony No. 1.

In June the composer returns to Poland. The whole family spends New Year’s Eve at their apartment in Ks. Skorupki Street in Warsaw.

With parents and brother

On 1 September Germany invades Poland and the Second World War begins.