In 1948, Sygietyński was entrusted with organizing and leading the “Mazowsze” ensemble. Sygietyński approached the task as a mission. He acted with passion, devoting himself completely to developing the ensemble’s repertoire. In her memoirs, Mira Zimińska-Sygietyńska writes that in the early days of the ensemble’s formation Tadeusz traveled around the villages “like crazy.” He had a gift for winning people over, so on every return home he brought more and more musical material… and newly recruited ensemble members. Most often, they were poor village children who, years later, described their stay in Karolin as a pass to paradise, to a world of whose existence they were completely unaware.
The professor, as he was called, brought out the lyrical character of folk songs in his compositions. He always removed himself into the background of his pieces, respectful of tradition. Some accused Sygietyński of falsifying the original, however none of his opponents was remotely close to Sygietyński’s success, who made every Pole hum songs previously confined to the heartland near Opoczno, Radom, or Kadzidło. No one has ever immortalized folk music to the degree achieved by Sygietyński and his wife did. The “professor” succumbed to this style to such an extent that today it is difficult to guess that Dumka o ptaszku, popular far and wide across Poland, was actually written in 1948 on a Jelenia Góra-Warsaw train, rather than under a thatched roof of some remote turn-of-the-century Mazovian village.
The concerts of “Mazowsze” under the baton of Tadeusz Sygietyński sparked waves of euphoria among audiences and delighted the critics. A compulsive smoker with a characteristic physiognomy, Sygietyński remained consistently modest and inconspicuous.
He left behind dozens of prepared pieces, which “Mazowsze” sings to this day. He fell ill at the time of the band’s greatest successes. “Dear all, I shall not last much longer” were the last words he wrote in the hospital. He died a few dozen minutes later.
Our thanks to the Polish Folk Song and Dance Ensemble “Mazowsze” song and dance ensemble for rendering their materials available for the purposes of this bio.