Józef Świder was born on 19th August 1930 in Czechowice, died on 22th May 2014 in Katowice.
He was the eldest of the five children of Jan and Helena née Wieczorek. His interest in music was cultivated in family home, where he learned the rudiments of organ playing from his grandfather Antoni Wieczorek and his father – who were both church organists. He subsequently deepened his musical knowledge under the supervision of Józef Borgieł, a recognized authority in music in Czechowice.
After having started his musical education at the secondary school in Pszczyna, Józef Świder moved in 1947 to Katowice, where he attended the Conservatory, studying with Prof. Stefania Allinówna in her piano class.
Two years later he began his studies at the Katowice School of Music PWSM simultaneously in three subjects, i.e. theory of music with Prof. Adam Mitscha, piano with Prof. Stefania Allinówna and composition with Prof. Bolesław Woytowicz. In 1953 he graduated in theory of music, in 1955 in piano and in 1955 in composition, receiving a degree with distinction.
From 1958 until 1958 he continued his postgraduate studies in composition with Prof. Bolesław Woytowicz in Cracow.
In 1966 he continued the supplementary studies at the Accademia Santa Cecilia in Rome with the Italian composer Goffredo Petrassi.
Simultaneously with composing Józef Świder started his educational activity. In 1953 – 1955 he taught at the Conservatory in Bielsko-Biała, in 1953 – 1961 the Conservatory in Katowice and after having graduated in 1952 started his career at the PWSM in Katowice, where he worked continually until 2006.
He moved up his career ladder at the PWSM, by becoming subsequently: doctor (1959), reader (1967), associate professor (1979), full professor (1988). He also performed many functions at this school, i.e.: dean of the Faculty of Composition, Conducting and Music Theory (1967-1972 and 1975 – 1991), the chair of the Institute of Composition and Music Theory (1990 – 1996), pro-vice chancellor (1972 – 1975).
His pupils were, among others: Aleksander Lasoń, Andrzej Dziadek, Wiesław Cieńciała and Jarosław Mamczarski.
Moreover he was a university teacher (from 1975) and director (1985 – 2000) of the Institute of Music Education at the Cieszyn branch of the University of Silesia.
Józef Świder was also a member (1971 – 1976) of the committee for the registration and conferment procedure for doctoral degrees at the PWSM in Warsaw.
Since his college days Józef Świder was involved with amateur and professional singing movement. As a member of jury participated in singing reviews and competitions (among others in the Adam Didur opera singers’ competition in Bytom).
From 1984 until 2012 he was professor of the postgraduate course for choir directors at the Akademia Muzyczna in Bydgoszcz.
He was for many years an active member of the Silesian branch of Polish Union of Choirs and Orchestras (PZChiO), holding the post of its artistic director from 1968 until 1975.
In the years 1979 – 1981 and 1982 – 1975 he was the chairman of the Katowice branch of Polish Composers’ Union (ZKP), being its member from 1958.
The composer’s output of Józef Świder includes over 200 pieces of choral music, three operas (Magnus, Wit Stwosz, Bal Baśni), several oratorios (among others Tryptyk Powstańczy, Legnickie Oratorium, Kantata Maryjna) and numerous instrumental works (among others Piano concerto, Concerto for soprano and orchestra, Concerto for 4 wind instruments, percussion and strings, Little symphony for wind orchestra, Suite for accordion and string orchestra, Ewokacje for piano and orchestra, Concerto for guitar and string quartet).
The composer’s works has been published by Polish and foreign publishing houses, like Polskie Wydawnictwo Muzyczne, Carus-Verlag, Verlag Dohr, Edition Ferrimontana (Germany), Gentry Publication (USA), Molenaar Edition (Netherlands).
Józef Świder was also the author of several translations and dissertations, among others about Arnold Schönberg, Albert Schweitzer, Christoph Willibald Gluck and Olivier Messiaen.
For his outstanding achievements, Józef Świder received many awards and distinctions. He was awarded, among others, with: Silver Merit Cross (1970), Golden Merit Cross (1974), Knight’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta (1979), Officer’s Cross of the Polonia Restituta (1994), the Prize of Polish Minister of Culture and Art of 2nd Degree (1972) and 1st Degree (1975), the Prize of Poland’s Prime Minister for artistic work for children (1986), the Prize of Minister of Education of 1st Degree (1986), the regional prize of the voivodeship of Katowice for the opera Wit Stwosz (1975), the Prize of the President of Katowice (1994), Prize of the Primate of Poland „Srebrna Piszczałka” (Silver Pipe)