Biography in English
Jacek Cygan, born on July 6, 1950 in Sosnowiec. A poet, songwriter and author of librettos. Throughout his career on the entertainment scene of Poland, he wrote over a thousand of song lyrics for the most acclaimed artists and performers.
Jacek Cygan is a graduate of the Emilia Plater High School in Sosnowiec. He holds M.S. degree from the Department of Cybernetics of the Military Academy of Technology in Warsaw.
He made his first steps as a songwriter and performer within the milieu of the student culture. In the 1970s he cofounded “Nasza Basia Kochana” the band with which he won annual (1976) Festival of Student Song in Kraków. Ever since he cooperated with numerous leading Polish composers, singers and vocalists such as Grażyna Łobaszewska, Edyta Geppert, Edyta Górniak, Maryla Rodowicz, Jerzy Filar, Seweryn Krajewski, Krzesimir Dębski, Włodzimierz Korcz, Andrzej Zaucha and Ryszard Rynkowski. Songs with his lyrics five times won Grand Prix at the National Festival of Polish Songs in Opole. In 1994, his song performed by Edyta Górniak, received Second Prize at the annual Eurovision Festival in Dublin.
Another chapter on the list of Cygan’s creative achievements are songs for children. For ten years he hosted TV and stage variety show “Dyskoteka Pana Jacka” (“The Discoteque of Mr. Jack”) which was extremely popular among young audience and TV viewers. In 2011, his book for children “Cyferki”(Small Number) came to the bookstores.
Jacek Cygan published three volumes of his poems: „Drobiazgi liryczne” (Lyrical Oddments), Oficyna Literacka Publishers, Kraków, 1995; “Ambulanza”, Bonobo Publishers, Warsaw, 2005; “Pies w tunelu” (Dog in the Tunnel), Iskry Publishers, Warsaw, 2011. The last two received prestigious literary awards. Some poems from the “Ambulanza” volume were included into the “Anthology of Italian Poets – “Floriregio”, published in Florence in 2008.
In April 2016, SENFKORN Publishers in Görlitz released Jacek Cygan’s selection of poems (in German) titled “Zeit Reisen” (A Journey in Time), translated by Dagmara Kraus with an introduction by Tomas Schultz.
June 2017 brought publication of selected poems in the French language titled „LES VITRAUX” („Stained Glass”), translated by Elżbieta Jogałła (Austeria Publishers in Kraków).
In April 2020 Austeria released J. Cygan’s selection of poems in the Czech language: “TU I TAM / TADY A TAM - Wiersze / Básnĕ” (“Here nad There”) translated by Renata Putzlacher – Buchtova and Agnieszka Buchtova.
For the past twenty years Cygan has worked with Leopold Kozlowski of Kraków, the last surviving klezmer of East Galicia. Their joint artistic effort resulted in the show “Rodzynki z migdałami” (Raisins with Almonds) staged in synagogues and concert halls throughout Poland and Europe. Cygan translated – from the Yiddish language – few dozens of old Jewish songs. In 2006, all were included into the separate anthology.
In 2009, he published (Austeria Publishers in Kraków) a book „„Klezmer – Opowieść o życiu Leopolda Kozłowskiego – Kleinmana” (Klezmer – the Life Story of Leopold Kozłowski – Kleinman). In April 2010, this book was awarded with the distinction of the „Kraków Book of the Month”. in June of that year, the book received Literary Award of the Raczyński Library in Poznań as „The Book of Spring 2010”.
In 2012, it appeared in Germany as “Der Letze Klezmer” (translated by Paulina Schulz, published by Metropol Verlag in Berlin). Also in 2012, Jacek Cygan translated thirty songs of the legendary Cracovian bard and poet Mordechai Gebirtig from Yiddish into Polish. The book of those translations (“Bądź mi zdrów, Krakowie” – Blajb gezunt mir, Kroke) was released by Austeria Publishers.
Cygan’s translation works also include monumental verbal/ musical forms like “Messiah” by G. F. Handel or the musical „Notre Dame de Paris” by L. Plamandon & R. Cocciante.
He is the author of the theatrical play „Kolacja z Gustawem Klimtem” (The Supper with Gustav Klimt). In 2014, it premiered on the stage of STU Theatre in Kraków.
Theatrical play „Supper with Gustav Klimt” was translated into German by Roman Frankl. Premiere performance took place on May 21st, 2016 at the Pygmalion Theatre in Vienna as „Abendessen mit Gustav Klimt”. It was directed by Nicolae Vladulescu and major roles were performed by Geirun Tino, Madeilene Steinwender, Elisabeth Vanca.
In 2019, STU Theatre in Kraków put onstage another play of Jacek Cygan titled “Błękitne krewetki” (“Blue Shrimps”) which author himself defined as the play for two actresses and songs. Premiere show took place on March 31, 2019, and was directed by Krzysztof Jasiński with musical score by Krzysztof Herdzin. Main roles were played by Beata Rybotycka, the star of STU Theatre, and Alicja Wojnowska, undergraduate student of Theatrical Academy in Kraków.
October 2014 brought another book by Cygan (Znak Publishers) „Życie jest piosenką” (Life is a Song) with forty of his song lyrics supplemented by stories of their origins. Its continuation is the book titled „Odnawiam dusze - Piosenki, ludzie czas” (I Renew the Souls – Songs, People, Time) where Jacek Cygan presented the history of how his forty seven songs and their musical interpretations concept had emerged. This book was released by ZNAK Publishers in October 2019.
The publication was followed by his self-directed show “Cygan w Polskim – Życie jest piosenką” (Cygan in the Polski – Life is a Song) staged at the Polski Theater in Warsaw. The show has been successfully performed for six years.
In February 2016, ZNAK Publishers in Kraków released selection of short stories by Jacek Cygan titled “Destiny, Luck, Coincidence”. The book is enriched with the photographs by Leszek Mądzik.
June 2019 brought the book titled simply “Jacek Cygan” as part of the series “Książka do pisania” (The Book to be written). It was developed by Tadeusz Nyczek.
In 2017, to commemorate quincentenary of Reformation, at the request of the bishops of the reformed evangelical church as well as the lutheran church in Poland, Jacek Cygan and the composer Stanisław Szczyciński created “Cantata of Reformation”. Its first performancce took place on October 31, 2017 in the Reformed Evangelical Church in Warsaw. Subsequently this work was presented at numerous venues, among them at the Church of Peace in Świdnica.
In 2013, Jacek Cygan was awarded with the “Gloria Artis” Silver Medal for his outstanding merits to the Polish culture. He is also the Bachelor of the “Order Uśmiechu” (The Order of Smile), the only distinction in the country bestowed by the children. It was presented to him at the primary school in Sosnowiec – Niwka, the same Cygan had attended in his early years.
In November 2014, the City of Sosowiec awarded Jacek Cygan with the title of its Honorary Citizen.
During VIIth Dell’Arte Festival in Kotlina Jeleniogórska (Jelenia Góra Valley) in August 2019, Jacek Cygan received an honorary title of the “Ambassador of Karkonosze” awarded by the Związek Gmin Karkonoskich (Union of the Karkonosze Communities).
In September 2019 Jacek Cygan was awarded the title of “Polish Speech Master”. The ceremony was located at the Malbork Castle.