Guzikow, Michał Józef
- Irena Poniatowska
(b Szkłów, [now Belorussia], Sept 2, 1806; d Aachen, Oct 21, 1837). Polish xylophonist. Born into a poor family of Jewish musicians, Guzikow was, in his early years, a street player of the dulcimer and flute. After an illness had weakened his lungs, he took up the xylophone. He improved the instrument, extending its range to two and a half chromatic octaves and placing the keys on straw rolls in order to amplify the sound. Within three years he had become a master of the instrument, and his concert performances in Kiev, Moscow and Odessa in 1834 aroused great admiration. Encouraged by Lipiński, Lamartine and Michaud, he set off on a concert tour of Europe. In May 1835 he played in Kraków, Warsaw and Lemberg, and subsequently in Bohemia and in Vienna, Berlin, Frankfurt, Paris and Brussels, always to enthusiastic audiences: Mendelssohn and George Sand were among those who were impressed by his playing. Guzikow’s concerts often featured a guest soloist, for example Kalkbrenner at a Paris concert in the Tuileries. Guzikow’s repertory consisted of his own works, particularly fantasias on Polish themes. He also played transcriptions of piano and violin concertos by Weber, Hummel, Hoffmeister and Paganini, whose ...