ŚLIWA Tomasz

musician – Kozioł player, musical instrument maker

23. 09. 1892 – 30.08.1976

Tomasz Śliwa was born in Perzyny near Zbąszyn and later lived in Chrośnica and in  Zbąszyn. He came from a peasant family with a musical and artistic background. When he was 18 years old he joined a band that played at village weddings, dances and harvest festivals. He was a versatile musician who played on the violin, the Mazanki (an instrument similar to the violin but with  3 strings), the Szierszeńkias well as on the Kozioł (both are types of Polish bagpipes) and that was not all. Already in his youth he was capable of making a few folk instruments. With time he became the most well-known folk musical instrument maker in the Wielkopolska Province. He became a long-standing teacher and educator of the young generations Ever since the establishment of the Musical Circle in 1950, and later the opening of the Stanisław Moniuszko State School of Music of the I Degree in Zbąszyn in 1959. Upon retirement in 1969 he was replaced by his pupil Zbigniew Mańczak. In the time between 1972-1975 and from 1978 onwards, the musical instrument lessons had been led by Henryk Skotarczyk (T. Śliwa’s first student and graduate of the school) along with his son Jarosław. In 1950, T.Śliwa built two types of Szierszeńki, one “blown” and the other “smoked”. They were made especially for his students as a form of preparation before they could play on the Kozioł. He also made the small-sized 3 string violin called Mazanki.

Already in the interwar period, T.Śliwa along with his bagpipe band represented their region at various state ceremonies, mainly in Poznań. His most productive concert undertakings, museum and exhibition activities, as well as educational projects came about in the 60’s and 70’s. He was part of the first nationwide Bagpipes Band Tournament that took place in Poznań, Biesady Koźlarskie in Nądnia near Zbąszyn, festivals and reviews in Poznań and Zielona Góra. He was a longtime collaborator and consultant, not to mention a guest of honor at these folk festivals.

As one of the most well-known and distinguished bagpipers in the Wielkopolska Province, he represented the region at the Presidential Harvest Festival, nationwide ceremonies and folk festivals in: Poznań, Płock, Kazimierz Dolny, Kraków, Warszawa, Mielec, Rzeszów, Zielona Góra, Opole. Additionally, he had performed abroad. He took part in folklore contests in the category: musical instrument making. His works have been presented on numerous occasions, for example at the “Exhibition of Modern Folklore in Wielkopolska” (Poznań 1963), at which he presented The Wedding Kozioł, The Common Kozioł, Sierszeńkis’ and Mazankis’.

The folklore instruments made by T.Śliwa can be found in the following museums: the Regional Museum in Zbąszyn, the Ethnographic Museums in Poznań and Zielona Góra, the Musical Instruments Museums in Poznań and Szydłowiec, as well as in some foreign collections.

T.Śliwa received numerous state and regional awards, medals and distinctions.


Author: Marian Pokropek, source: Radom Villages Museum, Translated by: Zuzanna Wiśniewska


Tomasz Śliwa - Melodia weselna, Warszawa 1949; „Muzyka źródeł” nr 5 – „Wielkopolska”, ©℗ Polskie Radio SA / Instytut Muzyki i Tańca, Warszawa 2012