In 1990, she
try teaching at the sides of her professor at the Fryderyk Chopin Music
Academy in Warsaw in the role of assistant....She made this choice in
order to live a bit more comfortably.
Despite having a large number of students with whom she enjoyed a very
good rapport, the pianist left the Capital to go work 200 kilometers
away in Bydgoszcz so she could create her own class, this time with
younger students who were between 15 and 19 years old.
In 1992, for reasons that remain unknown, she was asked to become the
dean of the High School of Music in Bydgoszcz. The task was
challenging, but she she jumped right into the work nevertheless.
As a dean, she was very active: she organized competitions, lectures,
master classes, conferences, and outings with the students.
She maintained excellent relationships with her students and received
good support from the administration. Her colleagues, on the
contrary, were rather more irritating than stimulating.
Today, most of her students have become soloists or teachers. Counted
among her students are a composer, an accompanist, a chamber music
player, and even a harpsichordist!
Some of her students now participate successfully in various national
competitions, festivals and concerts.
In 1995, with her professor of chamber music, Barbara Halska, she
created a master class. The class was held during vacation
time in the Polish town of Nowy Sacz, and was intended for young
pianists and string instrumentalists. The first edition
started off very well with 30 Poland participants and a few foreign
musicians. Throughout the span of two weeks, the students
gave between three and four concerts.
This master class still exists today and continues to develop and
flourish, but the pianist exchanged her position with a Swiss
colleague, thanks to whom she would leave to go to Geneva a few years
After having won a competition for the position of piano professor at
the Conservatoire Populaire de Musique (1999), the pianist swallowed
the bitter pill of the total contrast between music schools in
Switzerland and those in Poland (but perhaps Geneva is a bit of a
Initially, with her first students, she was completely
discouraged. She would understand later that she herself was
not the one responsible. There were quite a few reasons: a
lack of desire and motivation, parents getting divorced, soccer and
tennis lessons (they were more interesting), no interest in doing
She noted sadly that during her ten years of teaching in Poland, only
one of her students stopped studying piano in order to become a doctor,
whereas in Switzerland, in five years of teaching, about three students
abandoned their music studies each year. One would say that
things move around a lot in Switzerland, no?
She also noticed that the young amateurs who studied seriously truly
loved music. Perhaps this was because it wasn't their
profession...? In contrast, the young students in Poland
thought of music as more of an obligation. It was competition
and the desire to be the best that motivated them to study music.
In 2002, the pianist planned to reunite the two worlds of Polish and
Swiss musicians by means of a cultural exchange. She knew
that there was a certain risk of failure due to the enormous
differences in their levels, their motivation and their ways of
life. Nevertheless, she rose to the challenge, telling
herself that in any case, things needed to change soon in Poland as
well. In fact, with the improvement of the standard of
living, less and less students were interested in music...
She organized from A-Z herself the first exchange in June 2003 and
received financial aid from the Conservatoire Populaire de Musique.
First Exchange Concert at the Red Cross
Museum in Geneva
this time the Swiss students traveled to Poland and it was a wonderful
exchange. See for yourself!
Second Exchange – Excursion to the Lubostron
At the end of 2004,
she received a very interesting proposition from the CPM to give a
master class dedicated to the Mazurkas of Chopin. Fifteen
students from the CPM and a few professors shared the miracle of the
beauty of the Polish master's music. (To see the video, click on
on the sidebar.)
Exchange with Poland
Texts by Peter Minten, Director of the Conservatoire Populaire de
Musique in Geneva.
In June 2003, under the initiative of Joanna Maurer
Brzezinska and Klaus Maurer, a dozen Polish students from a music
school in Bydgoszcz, Poland came to Geneva for one week. They
put on a program of chamber music with a dozen students from the CPM,
who housed them while they were in Geneva. The fruit of this
collaboration was a concert given at a music festival, the “Fete
Musique,” as well as a concert performed at the Red Cross
From April 14th to April 21st of that year, the students from Geneva
did a counter exchange in Poland. 24 students, accompanied by
4 professors (Joanna Maurer-Brzezinska, Magali Dami, Eva Minten and
Klaus Maurer), were welcomed in Bydgoszcz by the families of the Polish
students, as well as by the Polish students' professors.
Half of the students were string instrumentalists and pianists who
worked with the Polish students on chamber music pieces; the other
half were young choir singers who collaborated with the
Polish school's children's choir. At the end of the trip,
there was a concert to present the work achieved. In
addition, an orchestra directed by Klaus Maurer, reuniting about thirty
Swiss and Polish students, accompanied the choir in Tadeusz Kassati's
“Codex bestiarum,” and also accompanied soloist students in
by Vivaldi for four violins.
The trip was full of various visits, including a tour of the city and a
breakfast hosted by the Mayor of Bydgoszcz. The
students also took Polish language classes, attended a university
hockey game (9-3 for the Genevan team), and visited the magnificent
city of Torun, not to mention all of the small activities that took
place among the families.
To go on such a trip was an enriching experience for the group –
students were struck by the warmth of the welcome from the Polish
families, by the cultural differences (especially the food...), and by
the easiness of playing music together despite a language
barrier. The professors noticed the fundamental differences
of teaching music in a school where all the students
participate in music classes the whole week long, right alongside their
general academic studies.
The project was organized by Joanna and Klaus Maurer, René
Meyer and Claire Barral, and supported by the service of cultural
affairs of the DIP, the City of Geneva and the SUISA
Peter Minten – April 2004
He accompanied the group during the first days.
About sixty students from the Conservatoire Populaire de Musique were
coming back from traveling during this time, some from the Midi in
France, others from Tuscany and Poland...
...2006 also marked the fourth exchange with the conservatory in
Bydgoszcz and the second trip to Poland. This time, it was students
from Matthias Ernst's wind ensemble who left with several string
instrumentalists (mainly cellists) to complete the ensemble.
Still under the direction of Joanna and Klaus Maurer, this time around
the project consisted in forming a large orchestra with 25 Genevan and
25 Polish students to interpret several pieces of Mozart. The
works performed included: the first movement of the symphony in G minor
and a concerto for the flute and the harp, under the direction of Klaus
Maurer with Sébastian Jacot as soloist; from John Williams, the
Wars suite under the direction of Matthias Ernst; and a special
production, imported from Geneva and staged in Poland: an orchestral
improvisation under the direction of Jean-Marc Aeschimann, professor at
the Jaques Dalcroze Institute, who worked everyday with the orchestra
in preparation for this moment of orchestral improvisation involving 50
This event, which was unimaginable even for the Polish students,
characterized the spirit of the exchange. In fact, the Polish
school is a music high school, where all of the students (ranging in
age from 7 to 18 years old) intend to become professional
musicians. In a certain way, the school is pre-professional,
and for one week our students immersed themselves in this stimulating
environment, living with the Polish students and accompanying them
throughout the day. A great competitiveness was born out of
such proximity and close contact.
Music training, conceived as personal development, without any
requisite professional ambition, taught in an institutional
environment but still considered to be an extracurricular activity,
does not exist at all in Poland. There are no music schools
in Poland as we conceive of them in Switzerland! There are,
of course, a certain number of professors who teach private lessons and
lend their services to people who are generally well-off, but musical
education in Switzerland is not considered as a public duty.
Such a confrontation of institutional cultures provoked passionate
exchanges between the Polish and Swiss students, some of which were
even broadcast by the Polish television.
The 25 students and professors from Geneva enjoying a walk
with their Polish hosts
Finally, we should point out the strong motivation at the root of such
a type of project: the motivation of the professors who launched it, as
well as that generated by the students as a result of their
experiences. One week of immersion in a foreign country, filled with
intense musical work and friends both old and new, playing in front of
a new audience, in a foreign place—such an experience certainly
durable traces and creates strong artistic and social emotions, the
motivational resources for the lengthy, drawn-out process that is
Such undertakings are only possible thanks to the generous involvement
of the professors who first conceive of the project and who are
intricately involved in its realization. It should be noted
that the professors are engaged in several different ways: by way of
their teaching, through their enthusiasm, and through the pursuit of
their own personal interests in addition to those of their
school. Financial means also had to be found, and if the
monetary demands on the students were able to be kept at a minimum, it
was thanks to the participation of the Fonds de solidarité des
the CPM who supported the Poland and Tuscan projects, and the support
of the City of Geneva and the State of Geneva. The financial
participation of the CPM was limited to a minimal contribution, but we
would not forget the vital support of our administration.
April 2006 – Peter Minten accompanied the group in Poland for 2
In 2005 the pianist hoped to enlarge the exchange for the year 2007, by
inviting Indian students to share their music and their culture
dream remains to be realized.
In 2011 new exchange: Switzerland (Genewa and Lausanne) Spain
(Pamplona-Navarra ) and Poland (Bydgoszcz). 15-22 juin.