Aleksander Bandrowski

22 April 1860 Lubaczow – 28 May 1913 Krakow

Born into the lower nobility in the Austrian part of Poland, by his full name he was called Aleksander Sas von Nowosielce Bandrowski ("von" because the nobilitation was by the Hapsburg Empire) – sometimes, thus, you'll read "Aleksander Sas-Badrowski".

He studied law in Cracow, and also studied voice.

He made his stage debut singing operettas. In 1878 he was singing baritone parts at the Józef Teksl Garden Theater in Łódż. When operettas were staged in Krakow in 1881, he performed under the pseudonym Barski in Offenbach's "Jeanne qui pleure et Jean qui rit". He then decided to dedicate himself to singing full-time, and joined the Lemberg Operetta House, performing also in Łódż and in Poznań.

He then decided to go for further vocal studies. He travelled to Milan, and there maestro Antonio Sangiovanni found out that his voice was really a heroic tenor. He then trained his voice with Luigi Salvi in Vienna, who prepared him for singing the heroic tenor parts of Wagner's works. After that training, Bandrowski's voice was characterized by unusual power and size, brightness, nobility and elegance. That kind of voice combined with his innate intelligence, physical beauty and the excellent way he carried himself made him an artist that the most famous opera houses dreamed of attracting.

Before returning to Poland, he performed in the German Theater in Prague under the pseudonym of Brandt. In December 1882 he accepted a contract in Lemberg (today Lviv); debut role: Faust.

From 1886 he began performances in foreign cities, including Berlin (Krolloper), Linz, Cologne (1887/88), Graz, Vienna, and Frankfurt am Main, where he was the principal heroic tenor for 12 seasons (1889–1901)

In that period, he sang at many opera houses in Europe, including La Scala. He gained fame as an unsurpassed singer of heroic parts like Tannhäuser, Lohengrin, Stolzing and Siegmund.

Ignacy Paderewski chose him to create the role of Manru at the Lemberg Opera on 8 June 1901. In Manru, Bandrowski created a character that was hailed as incomparable, wildly exciting and gorgeous, which words could not describe adequately (according to a critic of the Lemberg Courier). The Lemberg ensemble performed Manru at Krakow, Prague, Cologne and Warsaw. On February 14th, 1902 Manru was presented at the Met. This was the first time a Polish work had ever been presented at that famous opera house.

Mr. Von Bandrowski, the Polish tenor, who was especially engaged for the title role, made his first appearance before an American audience at the initial representation of [Manru] .... In addition to singing the leading part Mr. Von Bandrowski devoted much time and labor to the staging of the work, with which he had become familiar in his European appearances in it. This imposed upon him a heavy burden, but he came out of the ordeal successfully. He is a man of excellent stage presence, and his Manru has a large pictorial value.... As a singer the new-comer disclosed a voice of heroic proportions, somewhat tinged with a baritone quality in the lower register. In this it is like the typical German tenor voice. It would not be at all difficult to pick flaws in the singer's vocal method, but his faults are likely in the long run to do more harm to him than to his hearers. He sings in tune and with inspiring earnestness. His enunciation is clear and his treatment of declamatory passages good.... His impersonation of Manru has the approval of Mr. Paderewski....
New York Times, 21 February 1902
Bandrowski won hearts in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago and Baltimore.

After coming back to Europe, he performed mainly on Polish stages, creating the main roles in the operas of Władysław Żeleński. He was also an incomparable performer of the Polish lieder of Stanisław Moniuszko, Jan Gall, and Stanisław Niewiadomski.

In 1904 he moved to Cracow for good, and gradually stopped performing on stage. He worked as a professor of voice at the Conservatory and at the Music Institute. He wrote libretti to three operas: Bolesław Śmiały by Ludomir Różycki, Stara baśń by Władysław Żeleński, Twardowski by Bolesław Wallek-Walewski. He was also an accomplished translator, and translated many foreign works into Polish, including the Meistersinger of Nürnberg and the Ring of the Nibelungen. In 1907 he wrote a thematic analysis about the leitmotifs of Wagner's Ring. His free time he spent teaching his talented niece, the famous soprano Ewa Bandrowska-Turska.

Aleksander Bandrowski died in Krakow at the age of 53. Undoubtedly, his greatest achievement in the service of music was the popularization of the works of Richard Wagner in Poland.
Author: Zenon Swatek, Translation: Imogen Norcroft

Aleksander Bandrowski singsÉlégie (Massenet)
There's an old chestnut about two Galician emigrants who meet in New York. "I want to take English lessons", says one of them, "I need to polish my English". "Don't, don't!", replies the other: "Your English is Polish enough." Well, Bandrowski's French was certainly Polish enough...


Mapleson cylinders, live, Met, New York City, 20 February 1902
	Manru (Paderewski): Asa seh' ich vor mir blüh'n	(w. Scheff, Mühlmann)

G&T, Warszawa, December 1902
668C	Lohengrin (Wagner): Mein lieber Schwan                	2-22000
669C	Mondnacht (Gauby)                                 	2-22001
454z	Allerseelen (Lassen)                                  	22088
455z	Gdybym był młodszy, dziewczyno (Gall)			22089
456z	Walküre (Wagner): Winterstürme wichen dem Wonnemond	22090
457z	Zawód (Żeleński)					22091, Vic 61072
458z	Manru (Paderewski): Wie im Sonnenscheine		22092
459z	Czarowna cicha noc majowa (Gall)			22093
460z	Von ewiger Liebe (Brahms)				22094
461z	Pagliacci (Leoncavallo): Smiej się, Pajacu		22095 

Pathé, Lemberg, about August 1909
51802 	Wieczorna rosa (composer unknown)			51802
51803	Zawód (Żeleński)					51803
51808	Gdybym był młodszy, dziewczyno (Gall)			51808, 21113
51809	Manru (Paderewski): Wie im Sonnenscheine		51809
51810	Walküre (Wagner): Winterstürme wichen dem Wonnemond	51810, 21114
51811	Na cmentarzu (composer unknown)				51811
51812	Élégie (Massenet)					51812, 21115
51813	Siegfried (Wagner): Nothung! Nothung!			51813

Pathé, Warszawa, 1910?
51972	Tannhäuser (Wagner): Inbrunst im Herzen			51972, 21132
51973	Lohengrin (Wagner): Mein lieber Schwan			51973, 21132
Discography source: Gesellschaft für historische Tonträger, Wien
I wish to thank Imogen Norcroft for the translation, the research and different links.

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