With utmost pleasure, I should like to announce the formation of the Polish Festival Orchestra. The foundation of this orchestra, crowning a two-year period of extremely intense work, is also the realization of a dream I have harboured for twenty years.
     In order to explain the central idea of the PFO, I would first like to make clear why I decided to establish a new orchestra rather than using an already existing one. There are some dangers present in this project, but it also has its great advantages. In a relatively short time, a company of about sixty musicians must form a harmonious and perfectly functioning whole. The main advantage lies in the possibility of working out our own unique sound, to which each of the individually selected musicians willcontribute his passion and fresh attitude.
     A specially founded orchestra can be very precisely adapted to the character of the repertoire. In our case, the music calls for youthful spontaneity - Chopin wrote his Piano Concertos even before his twentieth birthday! Artistic passion and the earnestly declared willingness to work together on the music were, consequently, important criteria for the selection of the players. What I found most important, though, was the love for music common to all the members of the PFO.
     In the recent months, we have devoted plenty of time to the organisation of the tour, which will take place between 1st August and 24th November 1999. In 1996, after the final decision to embark on this project, our first thoughts concerned the musical aspects of the enterprise. We contacted world-famous experts - conductors, musicologists and instrumentalists - by whose experience in this field we hoped to profit.
     The tour itself, which has been planned "by a musician, for musicians", has, as a result, its own peculiar character. We are convinced that the tour, conducted in collaboration with the world's best agencies and concert organisers, will prove a fantastic experience.
     We would also like to express our gratitude to all those who have offered us advice, and those who have actively supported the project. Our special gratitude is due to all the European concert organisers and agencies, with which I have constantly cooperated for more than twenty years. We should like to give our thanks to the sponsors. I am particularly thankful to all the conductors with whom I have had the honour to perform Chopin's Piano Concertos ever since the early 1970-ies, and from whom I have learnt so much. Their knowledge will be of enormous help to me in conducting the PFO.
     At this point I would like to recall the names of all the conductors to whom I owe my gratitude: Daniel Barenboim (Orchestre de Paris 1979), Gary Bertini (RSO Stuttgart 1978), Herbert Blomstedt (Berliner Philharmoniker 1976), Henryk Czyż, Carlo Maria Giulini (Los Angeles Philharmonic 1978/79), Bernard Haitink (Concertgebouw Amsterdam 1977), Eliahu Inbal (RSO Hamburg 1977), Mariss Jansons (RAI Rome 1977), Jerzy Katlewicz, Herbert von Karajan (Berliner Philharmoniker Luzern, Salzburg 1980), Jacek Kaspszyk (London Philharmonic 1994), Kiril Kondrashin (Concertgebouw Amsterdam 1982), Jan Krenz (the German tour of 1976), Jerzy Maksymiuk (National Polish Radio and TV Symphony Orchestra, the Chopin Competition 1975), Andrzej Markowski (the Łódź Philharmonic 1983), Zubin Mehta (New York Philharmonic 1979), Riccardo Muti (London Philharmonia 1995), Grzegorz Nowak, Seiji Ozawa (Berliner Philharmoniker 1982), Marek Pijarowski (Wrocław, Warszawa 1974), Witold Rowicki (Warszawa, Antwerpia 1976), Esa-Pekka Salonen (Munich 1986), Stanisław Skrowaczewski (Minneapolis Orchestra 1978), Evgeni Svetlanov (Edinburgh Festival 1979), Tadeusz Strugała (Prague 1976), Karol Stryja (Katowice - the graduation concerto in 1977), Emil Tshakarov (Toronto 1977), David Zinman (Paris 1986).
     And, eventually, one little comment: even though I played my first concert on 27th May, 1963, my genuine, very active concert life only began in the season of 1975/76, when following the Chopin Competition I received numerous invitations to performances. The season of 1999/2000 is, then, my 25th artistic season and, with the 1270 concerts I have given so far, also my personal jubilee. I am glad that I can celebrate the season of my jubilee with You - my most excellent audience.

Krystian Zimerman               

1999, Polish Festival Orchestra; Produced by JMC Interactive Multimedia