Jerzy Gert (1908-1968)

Jerzy Gert, byname of Józef Gaertner, a conductor and a composer, a son of Henryk, was born on 31st March 1908.

He got the musical preparation at his family home. Gert played the violin and the grand piano. He was a student of  the Neues Wiener Conservatoire and Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst where he got his education under the supervision of Hanns Eisler, Josef Polnauer, Arnold Schönberg as well as Alban Berg. After returning to Poland in 1933, Gert took up a job as a music director at a record company called ”Odeon” in Warsaw. What is more, he conducted the record company’s orchestra. He left for Lviv in 1939 where he worked as a conductor of the Lviv Philharmonic until 1941. Gert went into hiding after the Germans invaded Lviv. In 1943 he was first transported to the Krakow-Płaszów concentration camp and then to Mauthausen, St. Valentin. He lived to see the liberation in the Ebensee camp. Due to his extreme exhaustion, he was initially taken to the hospital in Austria only to be taken to Krakow at the end of 1945.

In 1947 Gert founded an Orchestra, while a year after a Choir of the Polish Radio was brought up to life. He managed both formations until his final days. Jerzy Gert held the position of an artistic director at two reputable institutions: the Musical Theatre in Krakow (1954–1957) as well as the Philharmonic of  Krakow (1957–1962) . Gert wrote music for 35 popular songs. Several of them became hits, including  ”Krakowskie kwiaciarki” . Additionally, he was an author of film music.

Jerzy Gert died on 5th June 1968 in Krakow. His tomb is located at the new Jewish cemetery in Krakow.

Read more: Krakowianie. Wybitni Żydzi krakowscy XIV-XX w., Kraków 2006

Photo courtesy of the Polish Radio archive.