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Meet Marek Zebrowski of Polish Music Center, Thornton School of Music, USC

Today we’d like to introduce you to Marek Zebrowski.

Marek, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I was born in Poland and left for the US as a child. I studied music (piano & composition) in Poznan (Poland), Paris and Fontainebleau (France) and Boston (US). As a pianist, I’ve concertized around the world; my compositions were performed and recorded in several countries. I’ve also been active as an academic, having taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Massachusetts-Boston, and UCLA. Besides these activities, I’ve been a writer (several books on film and music; contributing editor for the Boston Book Review), meteorologist (mainly during my years at MIT in Cambridge, MA) and worked in film music industry as composer.

My association with the Polish Music Center at USC began in 2002 when I came in to edit a few books that the Center was planning to publish; I was appointed PMC Director and Curator in 2004 and continue in this position to this day.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
No road in this world is completely straight or smooth; traveling and changing places/friends/workplaces–as I have throughout my life–always required adjustments and the capacity to embrace new challenges and make the best of them.

Please tell us about Polish Music Center, Thornton School of Music, USC.
Founded in 1984 by Wanda and Stefan Wilk, USC Polish Music Center at the USC Thornton School of Music was officially opened on 23 January 1985. Its archival collection began with gifts of manuscripts by Witold Lutosławski and Stanisław Skrowaczewski. Currently, the PMC Manuscript Collection holds well over 200 works by leading Polish composers, including Grażyna Bacewicz, Tadeusz Baird, Joanna Bruzdowicz, Zygmunt Krauze, Hanna Kulenty, Szymon Laks, Krzysztof Meyer, Krzysztof Penderecki, Marta Ptaszyńska, Bogusław Schaeffer, Witold Szalonek, Alexander Tansman, Romuald Twardowski and Lidia Zielińska, among others.

In addition to the Manuscript Collection and the Paderewski Archive, PMC collections also include the Henryk Wars/Henry Vars Collection (donated by his widow Elizabeth in 2005), Zygmunt and Luisa Stojowski Collection (donated by his sons in 2006), Bronisław Kaper Collection (donated by his agent in 2007), and Roman Ryterband Collection (donated by his family in 2015). These unique archives include original manuscripts, printed scores and books from the composers’ own libraries, as well as personal letters, photographs, concert programs and posters, as well as rare recordings.

PMC directors have included Wanda Wilk (1985-1996), Dr. Maja Trochimczyk (1996-2004), and Marek Zebrowski (since 2004). The PMC Library holds approximately twelve thousand items, including about 3,500 music scores, 2,500 books about Polish music and musicians, as well as periodicals (such as Ruch Muzyczny, Muzyka, Jazz Forum, and Polish Music among others), and various reference materials (encyclopedias, dictionaries, concert and festival programs). The PMC sound library has over 1500 CDs, 1000 LPs and 700 tapes as well as historical piano roll recordings, including those made by Paderewski. Other unique items include artwork, concert posters, and other art objects.

Besides being a library, museum and research institution, since 1994 the PMC publishes its monthly Newsletter online with information about Polish music and musicians worldwide. USC Polish Music Center also organizes several annual concert series, presentations and conferences on the USC campus and all around California, including the Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
There is no good answer to this question… We know that starting over is–in most cases–either very difficult or practically impossible. Therefore, all of our actions taken every single day throughout our lives must proceed from the thought that we need to make the best, and the most fully considered decision, precisely because starting over is not an option.

Contact Info:

  • Address: Polish Music Center, Thornton School of Music, USC
    840 West 34th Street
    Los Angeles, CA 90089
  • Website:
  • Phone: 213.821.1356 or 213.740.9369
  • Email:

Image Credit:

Photographs courtesy of the Polish Music Center, USC. All rights reserved

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