Agnieszka Osiecka (9.10.1936 – 7.03.1997) She was a poet, writer, author of theatre and television screenplays, film director and journalist. Most importantly, however, she was a prominent Polish songwriter – the author of lyrics to over 2000 songs, and even today she is considered an icon of Polish culture.
Agnieszka was the only child of Wiktor Osiecki, a pianist and composer, and Maria Osiecka, a scholar. She spent her early years in the small town of Zakopane in the Tatry mountains, where Wiktor Osiecki used to play piano at the Watra Restaurant. After World War II the Osiecki family moved to Warsaw and settled in the Saska Kępa borough. The small flat, number 3 at 25 Dabrowiecka St., soon became Agnieszka Osiecka’s favorite place to work. She lived there almost her entire life, and a commemorative plaque has been placed on the building by the Okularnicy Foundation.
Agnieszka was exceptionally gifted. She completed her coursework much more quickly than other students and graduated from Marie Curie-Skłodowska High School in 1952. She trained as a swimmer at Legia Sports Club, and studied journalism at the University of Warsaw (1957-1961) and film-directing at the prestigious Film, Television and Theatre School in Łódź (1957-1961). She quickly realized that she posessed neither the organizational talent nor the ability to manage big groups. She preferred the outcome of her work to depend mostly on her own efforts so she dropped film-directing and started writing. Osiecka published esays and articles in the student press during her university years. She joined the famous Student Satirical Theatre (STS) in 1954 and wrote 166 political and lyrical songs for this company. She used to say „I am a journalist, that is why some of my songs are reports which rhyme“. She served on the the artistic board of the STS Theatre until it closed in 1972.
Nineteen sixty two marked her debut on Polish National Radio. Kalina Jedrusik, the famous Polish actress, sang Agnieszka’s lyrics „My First Ball“ to the music of Franciszka Leszczyńska. One year later, at the first Festival of Polish Song in Opole in 1963, Agnieszka achieved a major success winning the main prize and six other prizes for her songs: „Piosenka o Okularnikach“, „Białe małżeństwo“, „Czerwony kapturek“, “Kochankowie z ulicy Kamiennej“, „Solo na kontrabasie“, and „Ulice wielkich miast“.
She was now recognized as a prominent young poet, and the Polish National Radio offered her a job to create and lead a team to broadcast „The Radio Song Studio“. There she met many talented composers, and during the seven years of its existence the team managed to record and play 500 new songs and introduce young, upcoming singers who later became stars of the Polish music scene including Ewa Demarczyk, Maryla Rodowicz, Łucja Prus, Wojciech Młynarski, and the Alibabki and Skaldowie bands.
In addition to her song writing, Agnieszka also worked on theatre and television productions. Together with composer Adam Sławiński they wrote a series called „Listy śpiewające“ („Singing Letters“). Her first major theatre show „Niech no tylko zakwitną jabłonie“ („Let the Apple-trees Bloom“) was staged at the Ateneum Theatre and became an instant success. She liked to try different literary genres: monodramas, collages, musicals, novels, short stories, children stories, plays for children (including one opera for children), radio shows, poems and even advertising.
Agnieszka Osiecka’s lyrics were set to music by a number of outstanding Polish composers: Krzysztof Komeda, Seweryn Krajewski, Adam Sławiński, Zygmunt Konieczny, Katarzyna Gaertner, Jacek Mikuła and many, many more. The best singers and actors wanted her to write for them. Among her favorite performers were Maryla Rodowicz, Kalina Jędrusik, Magda Umer, Seweryn Krajewski and Krystyna Janda.
Agnieszka’s incredibly complex and curious personality compelled her to travel, correspond with interesting people, and také photographs throughout her adult life. She was rather scared of stability never strove to achieve it. Agnieszka Osiecka and her partner, the famous journalist Daniel Passent, had their only child, a daughter, Agata Passent, in 1973.
The Masurian Lake District, especially the tiny village of Krzyże and the forester’s lodge in Pranie were among Agnieszka Osiecka’s favorite places in Poland. She liked to vacation there in the 1960s and 1970s with a group of upcoming Polish intellectuals and artists. The coast of the Baltic Sea was also an important place for her. As a student she worked there for one of the local newspapers and in the autumn of her life she wrote for the Atelier Theatre in Sopot. She was a frequent visitor to the Halama writers’ retreat house in Zakopane, in the Tatry Mountains.
Agnieszka Osiecka published numerous books and released many records (see the full list at www.okularnicy.org.pl). She is considered one of the most important, prolific and gifted persons in postwar Polish culture and history. Agnieszka Osiecka died on March 7, 1997 after a few years of struggle with colon cancer and alcoholism. She is buried at the Powązki Cemetary in Warsaw.
The Agnieszka Osiecka Okularnicy Foundation was founded by her daughter shortly after the poet’s death. The Okularnicy Foundation promotes Agnieszka Osiecka’s work, runs the Poet‘s Archive, organizes annual singing competition „Let us Remember Agnieszka Osiecka“, manages the Internet archive (www.archiwumagnieszkiosieckiej.pl), and publishes books.
The Okularnicy Foundation (The Nerds‘ Foundation) is named for and created in honor of Agnieszka Osiecka, a great Polish poet, writer and author of almost two thousand song lyrics. The name of the Foundation stems from a popular Polish song entitled „Piosenka o Okularnikach“, „ Song About Nerds“ (written in the 1960s for a student cabaret stage) in which Osiecka in a satirical and lyrical way described the difficult fate of young intellectuals living in Poland. The Okularnicy Foundation is a non-profit organization based in Warsaw, Poland. It was created in 2002 after Agnieszka Osiecka‘s death. The Foundation was established by Agata Passent, the poet‘s daughter. Members of the board of trustees as well as the Foundation‘s committee are friends of Agnieszka Osiecka or experts on Polish poetry and songwriting.
The Foundation holds as its general purpose the protection and popularization of Agnieszka Osiecka’s works. The Okularnicy Foundation promotes the genre of polish literary song through such initiatives as:
The Foundation benefits from public and private grants. All members of the board and committee perform charity work for the Foundation. Wonderful volunteers (true nerds!) help with everyday work. Board of trustees: Agata Passent, president and CEO, Maciej Taborowski, Teresa Drozda. Foundation Committee: Adam Sławiński ( Chairman), Jan Borkowski, Maryla Rodowicz, Krystyna Janda, Magda Umer.