Lawrence S. Gwozdz (//; Polish: [ɡvuɕt͡ɕ]; born April 1, 1953) is an internationally renowned American classical saxophonist. His artistic sensibilities have made him a champion of a broad array of compositions, from Baroque transcriptions to contemporary music.
Born to Polish-American parents in Niagara Falls, New York, Gwozdz achieved an international reputation for his success in revealing the qualities inherent in the classic saxophone as intended originally by its inventor, Adolphe Sax. He was a pupil and long time friend of saxophone pioneer Sigurd Raschèr.
Gwozdz's concerts have included major cities in Asia, Europe and North America: Beijing, Chicago, Leipzig, London, Los Angeles, Manchester, Prague, St. Louis, Warsaw, Zagreb, Zurich, and others. His festival appearances - the Yehudi Menuhin Festival, the International Chamber Music Festival of Le Touquet, Spoleto Festival USA - have received critical acclaim. His performance with I Solisti di Zagreb motivated the press to write, "Gwozdz uses his instrument with superiority and virtuosity" (Vjesnik).
Gwozdz's Carnegie Hall debut was described in Musical America as an "extraordinary performance of contemporary music" with "the kind of timbre Adolphe Sax most likely had in mind ... always with subtlety and taste" (The New York Concert Review). On television, Gwozdz appeared with famed organist Diane Bish on The Joy of Music, and has performed concerti and recitals on radio for the Dame Myra Hess series (Public Radio International), Czech Radio-Prague, Croatian Radio, Minnesota Public Radio, and other networks.
Gwozdz is active in promoting, performing, and recording contemporary music. Various composers - Samuel Adler, Walter Hartley, Zdenek Lukas, Armand Russell, Robert Starer, Roger Vogel, John Worley, and others - have dedicated new chamber works to him. Gwozdz has also premiered full saxophone concertos by American composers Stephen Dankner, Alan Theisen, and Randall Snyder.
Having been born with spina bifida, Gwozdz is also an advocate for arts for people with disabilities. Gwozdz is also known for his annotated translation of the book Das Saxophon by Jaap Kool from German into English. The book was published by Egon Publishers Ltd (Herts, England) in 1987.
On December 12, 2006 he won 7,300 dollars on the American game show Wheel of Fortune.
As professor of saxophone at The University of Southern Mississippi, he established a studio that continues to receive worldwide attention. His students have performed by invitation in major cities, including performances at Washington's Kennedy Center) as soloists, quartets, and as the Sax-Chamber Orchestra. Gwozdz's students have included:
- Harry Kinross White
- Alan Theisen
- Jonathan Bergeron
- Chris Condon
- Thomas Giles
- Stefan Hass
- Adam Muller
- Brian Kauth
- Dave Wozniak
- Brian S. Ransom
- Curt Altarac
- Patrick McLaughlin
The Sax-Chamber Orchestra is a unique ensemble of eleven saxophonists founded by Gwozdz in the 1980s. Under Gwozdz's baton, they have been active in promoting the saxophone as a concert medium for over twenty years. The S-CO has premiered several large works composed specifically for them, and have showcased these compositions at venues such as the World Saxophone Congress. The ensemble, whose musicians are auditioned yearly, all play using mouthpieces constructed from Adolphe Sax's original patents. The Sax-Chamber Orchestra comprises typical members of the saxophone family (soprano, alto, tenor, baritone) as well as the less common sopranino and bass saxophones.
- Raschèr International
- An American Concerto: Tribute to Sigurd Raschèr (1999) (with the Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic) Albany Records TROY 331
- Simply Gifts
- Hurricane (includes Stephen Dankner's Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra) (with The Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra)
- Special Hand'ling (2001) (music by George Frideric Handel arranged for saxophone, cello and harpsichord) Romeo Records 7216
- Glazunov and Erland von Koch: Concerti (with the Plovdiv Philharmonic)
- America Remembers (conducting the Sax-Chamber Orchestra)
- Parabolically Bach (conducting the Sax-Chamber Orchestra) Romeo Records