Maria Olszewska

As we approach Mother’s Day here in North America, today we take a brief look at Maria Olszewska, mother of composer Witold Lutoslawski. Born in the summer of 1882, she lived to be 85 years old.

Maria studied medicine as a young woman. She met her future husband while at school in Zurich. Jozef, her husband to be, was the brother of one of her fellow students.

Her family had a large estate in Podolia. Her father was a mathematician who taught in the neighbouring schools and, being a forward thinker, sent his daughters to school abroad. In 1904, she obtained her medical degree.

In 1915, the Lutoslawski family started their journey to flee Poland from the oncoming Prussian forces. It would eventually lead them to Moscow where Jozef was imprisoned for his political activities. In 1918, Jozef and his brother were killed ( and Maria was left with a family to raise.

Finally able to return home after the war, she attempted to run the family estate in Drozdowo for a few years before settling in Warsaw. Maria returned to medicine and continued working as a physician. In addition, she worked at translating books from English, mainly books for children. She also served as a City Councilor for the City of Warsaw.

While the suffering and hardship of WWI should be enough for anyone to have to live through, Maria then had to endure the capture and death of one of her sons during WWII.

She lived with her son, Witold, and his wife, Danuta, in Warsaw until she passed in 1967.


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Filed under Mothers of Composers

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