Waldemar Gustaw Joseph Szelski passed away recently at the age of 70. His partner Carolyn Eadie has penned a tribute to Gustaw which we've published in full below.
Waldemar Gustaw Joseph Szelski - 29/11/1950 - 15/8/2021
Gustaw studied violin at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music with Carl Pini and Harry Curby. He completed his studies with Ladislaw Jasek and became leader of the Sydney University String Quartet (Lyric Quartet) and then went on to play with the Sydney & Melbourne Symphony Orchestras.
From 1978 Gustaw taught violin and free-lanced. He performed with orchestras, quartets, trios, recording for commercial studios including ABC radio. He backed many artists including Rita Hunter, Hephzibah Menuhin, Shirley Bassey, Frank Sinatra, Peter Ustinov, Marcia Hines, John Denver and Tommy Tycho.
Gustaw taught violin at Cranbrook School, Sydney Grammar, Central West Music Centre (now Mitchell Conservatorium) from 1984 to 1988 and Blue Mountains Conservatorium (1994 to 2000). He returned to teach at Mitchell Conservatorium from 2010 until his retirement in December 2015.
After settling in the Blue Mountains he formed groups at various times with other local musicians including Colin Dalby (dec), Georg Mertens, Gavin Tipping and Jamie Briton. Some of these were the Winbourne String Quartet, Tarantella Trio, Blue Mountains Trio, Eklektika & the Paganini Duo. As a member of the Tarantella Trio, Blue Mountains Trio & the Paganini Duo he undertook several interstate performing tours & in 1999 a tour of South Asia.
In the 1980's he helped form the Ars Nova Orchestra which is now known as Orpheus Strings. During that time he helped set up Blue Mountains Opera. From 1992 to 1998 with Cellist/Guitarist Georg Mertens he founded and published the Directory of Musicians and Artists in the Blue Mountains. The online version is now known as Blue Mountains Arts Directory.
He collaborated with composer and music historian Bill Coates during the 1990's in writing a book on the 31 note microtonal music. They received an Australian Arts Council grant to perform and workshop at music institutions throughout NSW. Following this they recorded 6 albums of music in the microtonal system.
As part of the Paganini Duo, Gustaw performed in the popular gypsy concert series at Jenolan Caves with Cellist/Guitarist Georg Mertens from 2003-Dec 2013. The Duo performed at thousands of weddings, events and functions at many iconic venues throughout NSW. Two of many notable occasions were the wedding of Roger Woodward and at a function for Gough Whitlam. They produced CD's that are sold worldwide and their music clips of concerts can be seen on YouTube. For further information visit the website: www.georgcello.com/gypsy.htm
In the late 1990's he helped set up the Lithgow Community Orchestra (now Lithgow City Orchestra). During that period Gustaw conducted, tutored, composed and arranged pieces for performance at local events throughout the Blue Mountains and Greater Lithgow Region. He was able to nurture the development of all members, no matter their age and skill level, to produce a cohesive and euphonious sound.
He remained their conductor until the end of 2020 when he decided "after 64 years of music it was time to hang up the spurs".
He will be remembered as a generous, charismatic and multi-faceted man who leaves behind a rich legacy among his loving family, friends and the musical community.