We met when we were still in secondary school. There was this harmony teacher – Mr Aleksander [Aleksander Jarzębski (1910-1962)]. He was a man who wanted to do more and who saw more than an ordinary teacher. He suggested he would give us extra harmony classes, teaching us things that were not in the curriculum. And we got to know each other better during those classes, this was the beginning. I can no longer remember what Tomek wrote at the time, but our teacher organised a school concert presenting our works.
Later on, at the State School of Music, there was this Englishman on a scholarship, John Tilbury, who studied piano. We became friends. He had access to the latest musical literature and urged us to found an ensemble presenting this music. We were interested in this as composers, he as a pianist. He showed us minimalist works, among others. One day he said: ‘Let’s do a concert.’ It was also at that time and an experimental studio was launched at the Polish Radio.
Józef Patkowski was older than we were, but it wasn’t a huge difference and he was very open to everything new. We went to him with a suggestion of a concert and he made the studio available to us, because he had such possibilities. We also organised concerts at school. John Tilbury was the driving force behind all this, because he had the knowledge we didn’t have and the scores he got from England. One concert, another concert at the Studio and suddenly the word spread, because at that time all Polish culture was open to new things and people flocked to the Studio; of course, the crowds were not as big as those at a football match, but still lots of people came. We gave several concerts – we meaning Tomek, John Tilbury and myself. In addition, we invited our instrumentalist friends and wrote pieces especially for these occasions. At some point I think it was John Tilbury who said that we should have a name. And we began to think about one. Finally, John said: ‘What about Musical Workshop?’ And this is how ‘Warsztat Muzyczny’ came into being.
Tomek’s repetitions really bothered people, they resented them. This music was – I’m looking for a word but all words seem banal to me... – it was tiring. I personally wasn’t tired, but it could be perceived like that – not only when listened to. He [Tomasz Sikorski] was a kind of, again too strong a word, a kind of mental masochist, not physical, but he really was like that. This was manifested in very straightforward situations, when, for example, instead of turning on his heel and leaving, and not arguing with policemen, he would argue with them. And he would go everywhere, making complaints everywhere. He was right in many respects, but when he made a scene at a restaurant or café, this certainly wasn’t right. He would go and make these complaints, all the time.
He was probably tormented by himself, when he was left alone, he would begin to write, to compose these sounds. I’m holding back a bit, because I believe that explaining music, getting to know somebody through music is somewhat deceptive, because these are usually stereotypes that somebody wrote this music, because he suffered mentally, because he had some problems – it’s hard to prove that.
But this music was irritating, that’s for sure. My attitude was different, but the audience must have been really affected. Especially by these persistent repetitions.
Tomasz Piotrowski, Symbol i symbolizowanie w muzyce Tomasza Sikorskiego [The Symbol and Symbolising in Tomasz Sikorski’s Music], Warsaw 2008.