NewsNov 23, 12:05 PM
by Marc Shulgold, Rocky Mountain News
Sebastian Wojtyszyn, a violinist with the Denver Symphony and the Colorado Symphony for for 31 years, was killed Tuesday night in a traffic accident. The Ukrainian-born musician was 61.
In addition to being a member of the first-violin section, Mr. Wojtyszyn was a respected maker of instruments, having built dozens of violins along with a handful of cellos and violas.
Mr. Wojtyszyn first studied violin at age 5, taking lessons from his father on a one-eighth-sized instrument.
After completing his violin studies in Poland in 1971, he came to the United States, joining his parents, who had moved to Philadelphia in the 1960s. A family vacation to Denver inspired the Wojtyszyns to move here permanently in 1972.
His first orchestral job came soon after, with the Honolulu Symphony.
In 1973, he joined the Denver Symphony. Around that time, he took up instrument-building.
“It was all there,” he told the Rocky Mountain News in an interview four years ago. “The teacher, the tools and the wood.” Mr. Wojtyszyn’s teacher reference was a nod to his father, a professional violin maker, who had built his son’s first instrument.
“My father told me, ‘The slower you work, the faster you’ll make a good violin,’ “ Mr. Wojtyszyn told the News.
Several of his instruments were acquired by members of the Albuquerque Symphony and other orchestras. David Waldman, a member of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, owns a violin built by Mr. Wojtyszyn’s father.
“Sebastian would always bring in his newest instrument for me to try out,” Waldman recalled. “Whenever we shared the same desk (in the orchestra), we’d always joke about how each of us was playing a Wojtyszyn.” Waldman marveled at his colleague’s dedication to music.
“He lived for playing in the symphony,” Waldman said. “He loved coming to work, never complained.”
Mr. Wojtyszyn admitted that playing brought him more joy than building instruments in a converted room of his Aurora home.
“It is wonderful to be one of the contributors to making all this great music,” he told the News. “That is why I do all this – it’s all for the beauty of music.”
Survivors include his wife, Agnes, of Poland; and a son, Mickel, 29, of Denver. A memorial service is being planned.
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