Maślanka Józef

Maślanka Józef

from Żabnica, born in 1937

Musician and instrument builder, Żywiec highlanders tradition passionate. He was born on March 7, 1937 in Żabnica, he lives in Bytom. He comes from a highlander family with artistic and musical traditions. From an early age he showed musical talents. In fact, it is the enchantment of highlander music – it comes back to memory – it began in Rysianka, where sheep were grazed. There, in the evening, I heard Jan Brzeg's shepherd at Hala Pawlusiej playing trumpet, and he got answer from a shepherd from Slovakia. The impression was extraordinary.

His first teacher was his father. He also collaborated with other outstanding musicians (with Jan Kawulok from Istebna, Wojciech Majerz from Jeleśnia), whose friendship meant a lot to him and was an inspiration. In the 1960s with Władysław Konior and Aniela Bednarz he founded a regional band in Żabnica. In 1966 accidentally he met Tadeusz Maślanka and on his instigation he joined the Regional Song and Dance Group Pilsko in Żywiec. He played violin, bagpipes, pipes and trombites in programs covering traditional shepherd melodies. Also – in the Pilsko day club – he started building instruments. He recalls that they started with Feliks Jankowski from a shepherd's trumpet and a horn they did not like. They dismantled them, cleaned them, torn out new elements, assembled them and played them. Soon he started working in the State Song and Dance Ensemble Silesia, with which he was associated for twenty-five years. He played traditional instruments, performed as a singer and dancer in a highlander's program, and learned to write notes. They even advised me, they wanted me to remain the original, but I wanted to write my own melodies, he says.

Together with the Pilsko and Śląsk bands he performed at many different events throughout Poland. He has performed in almost all European countries, as well as in America, Asia and Australia. He never forgot his roots – the family band of Józef Maslanka took part in a large number of reviews, winning awards and recognition of the audience. More than once she was present at the Festival of Folklore of Polish Highlanders taking part in the Beskidy Highlanders' Week of Culture. The musician also gave solo concerts, for example in Silesian schools.

Józef Maślanka makes corrections to many instruments, mainly violins and "heligonki" (kind of accordion); builds trumpets, bagpipes, squeaks and pipes – for groups of regional bands (including Pilsko, Jodły), for the silesian team, Polish diaspora bands, but also for museum collections and musicological institutes. His instruments, gathered in museums in Bytom, Żywiec, Szydłowiec, Łódź, as well as playing on them, many times awarded in significant competitions and reviews. In 1991 he was honored with the prestigious the Oskar Kolberg Award.

He is currently retired and spends more and more time in his home town of Żabnica. He still plays music, builds instruments, sews highlander hats and moccasins. He also tries to document old traditions – he collects old photos, information (especially about the music of the Żywiec region), old household appliances (grinders, mares, plows). He eagerly transfers his skills to his grandchildren.