Katarzyna Bartos

Are creative processes reflecting the personality of an artist? Examining Grażyna Pstrokońska-Nawratil’s music and personality

Henryk Elzenberg (1887-1967) came up with an idea that through creative processes we can see some reflections of personality of the artist1. He claimed that there are two aspects of personality: first, the original one (also called temperament or character) and second, social one (when temperament “meets” different circumstances and a person has to adjust). He wrote that artists have also third aspect of personality, creative one, seen through their output and the way they create. Although Elzenberg was not a psychologist, modern psychology is especially interested in so called psychology of creativity; researchers are checking which features of a personality are the ones that help to become creative, how the society, environment and school are shaping an artist etc.

But the question is: can we see some reflections of the temperament of an artist through his (or her) creative processes and output? Or is an artist showing different aspects of his (or her) personality when being around people and different when creating? To check that I would like to propose a paper in which I examined what kind of personality of a famous Polish composer Grażyna Pstrokońska-Nawratil (*1947) is seen through her creative processes and output. Then I will compare the results of that research with temperament test2 and conclusion from series of interviews in order to determine “social” personality3. The aim of the paper is to answer some questions, namely: Is the composer showing different aspects of her personality in music? Does she want to appear a different or better person through her works? Or is she the same in all of the aspects of her personality – from temperament, through social personality up to the one seen through her music?


1)  See H. Elzenberg, Osobowość twórcza artysty [Creative personality of an artist], in: Wartość i człowiek [The value and the human being], Toruń 2005.

2)  Because of the fact that personality tests are reserved for certified psychologists and psychiatrists, and they are designed to be used only for medical reasons, I chose a test from a book The New Personality Self-Portrait: Why You Think, Work, Love and Act the Way You Do by J.M. Oldham and L.B. Morris (version from 2012). It is based on classification system of personality disorders presented in the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV).

3)  Social personality was concluded after several interviews with different people that have known the composer (from her recent graduates to friends from 1970s).


Karol Lipiński Music Academy in Wrocław, Music Academy in Kraków, Poland

Is teaching assistant at Karol Lipiński Music Academy in Wrocław, Poland. PhD student of theory of music at Music Academy in Kraków, Poland. She was a scholar of Erasmus-programme (Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Wien). As a music theorist she gave lectures in Great Britain, Greece, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Serbia and Switzerland. Her musical interests are centered around contempo- rary music – its aesthetics, analysis and interpretation.