The hurdy gurdy is a musical instrument dating back to the 11th century history, with the ORGANISTRUM considered to be its prototype. This instrument was created in the Benedictine abbey in Cluny, and the first low relief depicting the hurdy gurdy comes from the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. In Poland, the hurdy gurdy appeared in the 17th century and it gained extraordinary popularity in the nineteenth century. At that time it was a symbol of itinerant hurdy gurdy players, poets, soothsayers, singers, beggars and blind people. This instrument played an important role in sacred music, it was one of the favourite instruments of the aristocracy, and later also found its way to ordinary people. In Podkarpackie, the hurdy gurdy was reconstructed in the 1960s by Stanisław Wyżykowski, who was a carpenter and musician. Thanks to his efforts, this instrument has returned to musical practice in Poland again. As a child, Stanisław Wyżykowski heard the story of this instrument and already then he knew that someday he would »bring it back to life«. He made his first hurdy gurdy for the »Stachy Band«, and his subsequent instruments found their way into the hands of professional musicians. He also reconstructed an ORGANISTRUM, and designed and produced a bass hurdy gurdy to be used by two people. He made over 200 hurdy gurdies. Several of his instruments are in the Hall of Tradition in the House of Culture in Haczów. The Haczów workshop of the Master was reconstructed in the Folk Architecture Museum in Sanok, where workshops and concerts have been held since 2018. He passed on his knowledge about the construction and playing of the hurdy gurdy to his student, Mr Stanisław Nogaj, who is also very passionate about this instrument. For years they have been building hurdy gurdies together and working for the development of the hurdy gurdy in Poland. One of the initiatives that can be recognized as unquestionably a valorisation of the intangible cultural heritage was the implementation of the original project of Mr Stanisław Nogaj entitled »Hurdy gurdy - reactivation of crafts, music, traditions« as part of a scholarship of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. These were nationwide hurdy gurdy workshops in the reconstructed Workshop of Mr Stanisław Wyżykowski in the Museum of Folk Architecture in Sanok, showing the centuries-old hurdy gurdy tradition and a vision of development for the future.

The information and photos included in this article are from the Brochure "POLSKA - PODKARPACKIE VOIVODESHIP. INTANGIBLE CULTURAL HERITAGE" prepared by Rzeszow Regional Development Agency – ARTISTIC project partner.