Language:  DEU | ENG

From an assessment of the artistic and didactic qualifications of Elzbieta Wiedner-Zajac prepared as part of a postdoctoral work to qualify as an instructor in piano:

“… After listening to all the available recordings (CDs), I have come to the following insights and conclusions: the selection of literature shows a clear Polish focus, which I found to be both commendable and rewarding. It gave interesting and expertly presented insights into the less well-known Polish piano literature. In all her recordings, Elzbieta Wiedner-Zajac demonstrates an absolutely professional … standard fitting for her qualifications… I would like to make special mention of the two additional recordings of works by Leschetizky and Paderewski, as well as the CD of “Masques” (mostly Szymanowski)… I find the works of Takács extremely impressive, while the Strauss and Lanner settings and the very original birthday song by Elzbieta Wiedner-Zajac are truly refreshing. All in all – extremely high level! …
Ms Wiedner-Zajac presented a very challenging programme on 29 November 03 at 11 a.m. in the Franz Liszt Room (Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, Szymanowski). In general the impression I gained from the CDs I had already heard was confirmed… The artist’s extensive artistic experience resonated through her performance… Once again, she revealed her considerable affinity for Polish composers. Overall, an extremely impressive achievement…"
Prof. Peter Efler (December 2003)
Professor of Piano
University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna

...a) On the sound recordings (CDs)

Just the first few interpretations on the CD “Musica Polonica” reveal Elzbieta Wiedner-Zajac’s musicality. Her skilled exploration of sound (Mazurek op. 5/2), dance bearing – even in the glittering passages – (Menuet op. 14/1), her narrative air (Krakowiak) and virtuosity (Caprice – Valse) are shown off to full advantage in her selection of piano pieces by I. Paderewski. The compositions of J. Zarebski too (Tarantelle op. 25 and Grand Polonaise F sharp major op. 6) – reminiscent of Zarebski’s teacher Liszt in its demands of the pianist – are masterfully presented.
In my view, the fact that Elzbieta Wiedner-Zajac’s love of Polish piano music also extends to less popular works may well contribute to her ability to appreciate and render the music of Chopin – as the Mazurkas on this CD prove – from a broader understanding.
The order of the pieces selected for the CD “Masques. Polish Piano Works” is informative. The CD starts with piano pieces by W. Lutoslawski and not only gives a chronological retrospective via Szymanowski to Zarebski, but also offers a cross section of Szymanowski’s stylistic progression: from the highly Romantic, very atmospherically played Préludes op. 1 to an increasingly post-Impressionistic sounding tonal structure in her phenomenal interpretation of “Masques” op. 34. In her performance of these three highly complex and artful pieces, she reveals not only extremely sensitive voicing but also impressively does full justice to the strong emotional contrasts in this music.
The informative foreword written by the pianist in the CD booklet is worth mentioning.
The “Danse Polonaise in B minor” by composer Maria Szymanowska is something of a rarity and is included as a live mix from the renowned Ruhr Piano Festival in 1997, alongside a waltz by Franz Schubert (B minor op. 18).
I would like to make special mention of the way Elzbieta Wiedner-Zajac makes the piano “sing”, which is shown to particular advantage for example on the solo CD “Erzählende Tänze” in the pieces by Schubert.
The other CDs also offer ample evidence of the previously mentioned talents of the pianist, complemented by a consistently well thought-out and extremely appealing selection of works.
Of all the other interpretations of the piano music of Ignacy Paderewski, Theodor Leschetizky, Franz Liszt through to Johann Strauss and Joseph Lanner transcriptions, I would mention the very humorously played Polka (1997) by Jenö Takács, which is dedicated to Elzbieta Wiedner-Zajac herself.
Unfortunately I am not familiar with the compositions written, according to her curriculum, during her college days and a 1999 composition “Fantasia on themes by Chopin and Schumann for piano", but the "Birthday song for Piano (2002), dedicated to J. Takács on the occasion of his 100th birthday” bears out that Elzbieta Wiedner-Zajac is both composer and pianist …

b) On the artistic offering at a matinée on 29 November 2003 (in the Franz Liszt Room at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna):

From the moment she stepped out, Elzbieta Wiedner-Zajac’s stage personality made her fascinating. She played the Intermezzo in E flat minor op. 118 by Johannes Brahms with the full range of expression. (…). Her interpretation of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Sonata in C minor op. 111 and especially Frédéric Chopin’s Grand Polonaise brillante précédée d’un Andante spianato op. 22 – performed with the very finest agogic accents and rhythmic finesse – and Karl Szymanowski’s “Serenade de Don Juan” from the “Masques” cycle op. 34 (see above) confirmed the impressions already gained from the various recordings.
Finally I would like to confirm that Elzbieta Wiedner-Zajac more than meets the requirements of the examination of her artistic qualifications as part of the habilitation process. This view is based both on her representative collection of CDs – a compendium of earlier releases – and on her additional performances, which in my opinion are equal to a habilitation document prepared specifically for this purpose.
Maria Nussbaumer Eibensteiner (December 2003)
Innsbruck Institute of Music Pedagogy
at the Mozarteum University Salzburg

Lesson observation on 19.1.2004 (9.30 to 12.30):

The atmosphere in the studio is very positive. The student is effectively “carried away” by a strong sense of personal commitment. Ms Wiedner-Zajac gives very precise answers to each question or line of reasoning presented by the student. The help she provides with problems is extremely effective. The student benefits greatly from her ability not just to formulate the desired result in words, but also to give a perfect demonstration of the sound and technique required. With weaker students, she recognizes what she can reasonably expect of them without compromising the important artistic demands.
Ms Wiedner addresses both the emotional side and intellectual aspects, where her own work as a composer has given her special insight. Her remarks on the formal and structural make-up of a piece are never dry or lacking in context. Her instructions are based on her rich experience, derived on the one hand from her many years of concert work, and on the other from her extensive teaching experience.
The candidate met every requirement of addressing individual parameters (absolute faithfulness to the text, questions of form analysis, instructions on counterpoint techniques, tempo conception, sound exercises, balancing the voices, rhythmic precision …).
 Prof. Alma Sauer (December 2004)
University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna
Piano preparation course

In conversation with the students of Elzbieta Wiedner-Zajac, one acquires a consistently positive image, which I shall explain in more detail below.
Both in artistic and in personal matters, she presented a picture of general enthusiasm to me. Various different aspects of Ms Wiedner-Zajac’s teaching receive praise from her students and are described in extremely positive terms. She has the gift of awakening interest and curiosity in her students and of helping them on their musical and evidently also personal way. Several students reported on her extremely competent way of addressing questions and problems and described her assistance as effective and practical. With her great personal dedication and her positive attitude, she succeeds in helping many of her students achieve an outstanding level of musicianship. Furthermore, Ms Wiedner-Zajac can draw on her extensive experience and on her stage presence to enrich her teaching.

I therefore have no doubt that Ms Elzbieta Wiedner-Zajac has the pedagogic/didactic skills to teach all aspects of piano.

Dagmar Furch, Deputy Chair (Vienna, 13. 03. 2004)
By proxy for the students
University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna