Daniel Wnukowski (vnoo-koff’-skee) is a Polish-Canadian pianist whose insightful interpretations of the classics are complemented by projects that shed light on overlooked corners of the repertoire, particularly those that connect with his Polish and Jewish cultural heritage.
Mr. Wnukowski has performed throughout the Americas, Europe, and Asia in many prestigious concert halls, including at the National Philharmonic in Warsaw, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Salle Pleyel in Paris, Wigmore Hall and the Barbican in London, the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome, and the Geidai University of the Arts in Tokyo. He has performed with orchestras including the Polish Radio Orchestra, Sinfonia Varsovia, Windsor Symphony, Orchestra Filarmonica Marchigiana, Poznań Philharmonic, and Arthur Rubinstein Philharmonic, and with conductors such as Jerzy Maksymiuk, Alain Trudel, David Amos, Tomasz Bugaj, Romolo Gessi and John Morris Russell. He is also an active chamber musician and duo pianist. His festival engagements include performances at the Festival Dei Due Mondi in Spoleto, Italy; the Pre-LSO Concert Series in London, UK; the Coppet Festival in Geneva, Switzerland; and the Euromusica Masterconcert Series and Uto Ughi Festival in Rome, Italy.
Mr. Wnukowski has an affinity for the music of Frédéric Chopin and other important Polish composers, and has performed at Chopin societies across the world in cities such as Paris, Rome, Vienna, Basel, Toronto, Tokyo, Detroit, Warsaw, Singapore, Duszniki Zdrój, and Buenos Aires, as well as with important Chopin festivals around the world including the International Music Festival ”Chopin and His Europe” in Warsaw, and the International Piano Festival Chopiniana in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In 2010, in commemoration of the Chopin bicentennial, Mr. Wnukowski performed the composer’s works worldwide, including in recital with soprano Aleksandra Kurzak in Poznań, Poland; in recital at the “Chopin in Autumn Colors” Festival in Antonin, Poland; at the unveiling of a new Chopin monument in Tokyo, Japan; and at the “Chopin by the Lake” monument at Singapore’s Botanic Gardens, among other celebratory engagements
The music of interwar Jewish composers also occupies a special place in Mr. Wnukowski’s repertoire, especially that of the generation of composers that came of age around the time of WWI and was decimated by the rise of Nazism. Mr. Wnukowski is the recipient of numerous scholarships and grants from the Canada Council for the Arts and other foundations for researching and performing the works of exiled and perished Jewish composers such as Szymon Laks, Władysław Szpilman, Viktor Ullmann, and Józef Koffler, whose recently published piano concerto was recorded by Mr. Wnukowski with the Polish Sinfonia Iuventus Orchestra conducted by Christoph Slowinski for release on the EDA label in 2017. Additionally, Mr. Wnukowski’s performance at the Austrian Parliament in remembrance of Holocaust victims targeted by Nazi Germany, was broadcast live on Austrian television for ORF-2.
This season he continues a focus on the music of Karol Rathaus, a Weimer-era composer whose music came to Mr. Wnukowski’s attention in 2016 through his work with Exil.Arte, a Vienna-based organization whose mission is to restore “degenerate” music. In February 2019, Mr. Wnukowski performs the composer’s Piano Concerto with The Orchestra Now conducted by Leon Botstein, as part of a Rathaus Festival presented by the Copland School of Music at Queens College, where Rathaus was on faculty; makes his Weill Hall recital debut in a program that includes the composer’s Piano Sonata No. 3, Op. 20; and releases an all-Rathaus recording of solo piano music on the Toccata label. Mr. Wnukowski will also be featured in a documentary on Rathaus produced by Michael Haas.
Mr. Wnukowski’s recordings include exiled composer Walter Arlens’ complete piano works (which Mr. Wnukowski edited for the Vienna-based publisher Doblinger) and chamber music with violinist Daniel Hope, soprano Rebecca Nelsen, and baritone Christian Immler for the Austrian label Gramola; works by Chopin and Szymanowski; and a DVD release of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue performed live on Polish television with the Warsaw National Philharmonic conducted by Jerzy Maksymiuk. His performances have been aired on radio and television stations throughout the world including CBC Radio, Oe1 ORF Austria, Polish Radio 2, Dublin City FM, Tuttoggi TV, Rai Uno, WGBH Boston, RSI Radio Svizzera and Last FM.
Mr. Wnukowski is a laureate of numerous international piano competitions. In 2000, he was singled out for his readings of Chopin’s music at the XIV Chopin International Piano Competition in Warsaw, and took first place at the National Chopin Piano Competition in Poland that same year, resulting in a government-awarded grant and many concerts throughout Europe.
Born in Ottawa, Canada, Daniel Wnukowski became interested in the piano at the age of 3, when he saw a grand piano with a clear glass cabinet and became fascinated with intricate details of a piano’s mechanism. He began piano lessons shortly thereafter and later studied at the Fryderyk Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw with Piotr Paleczny, at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore with Leon Fleisher and at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London with Ronan O’Hora and Graham Johnson. In 2006, he was awarded a scholarship to study at the International Piano Academy Lake Como.
Dedicated to giving back to the country that nurtured him as an artist, Mr. Wnukowski was awarded a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts to perform outreach concerts in remote, Indigenous communities in Canada with five other pianists as part of Piano Six – Next Generation. He is also a member of the Vienna-based Varietas Ensemble, which performs concerts for handicapped children.