“Baird” is an old and still very popular surname in Scotland. The word is of French origin (de Barde – poet, bard) and came to Scotland around 1174. According to a legend, the Baird family obtained some land in Scotland, when a man bearing that name saved the Scottish king William I (ca 1142–1214) from an attack by a wild boar. The family had a coat-of-arms with an image of a boar and the motto “Dominus fecit”. The word “baird” refers to two meanings in Scottish English: [1] poet (or bard) and [2] beard. Tadeusz Baird was probably a descendant of some Scottish Baird, but no documents have been found to confirm this. We do know that his father, Edward Jan, was born in Poland in 1884, in Aleksandrów Kujawski (commune of Służewiec). His grandfather Józef (a railway worker) died in Warsaw in 1903. Tadeusz Baird also had Russian blood in him from his mother’s side. His mother, Maria Popov (born in 1894 in Yekaterinburg) was a daughter of Alexander Popov (director of a bank in Yekaterinburg) and Elisabeth née Shchepanov.

Tadeusz Baird with his fatherTadeusz Baird with his motherTadeusz Baird with his parents

Tadeusz parents met in Western Siberia, where they married in 1919 (in Tyumen). His father was a zootechnician, while his mother was a housewife. The young couple escaped from Siberia to Poland in 1924. Edward began to work as an animal breeding inspector and then head of the breeding department at the Central Farmers’ Association. In 1928 he graduated in agronomy from the Central School of Rural Economy and began an eleven-year-long period of working in public administration as the Head of the Animal Breeding Department at the Ministry of Agriculture (then Ministry of Agriculture and Agricultural Reforms). In the same year Tadeusz Baird, the only son of Edward and Maria, was born in Grodzisk Mazowiecki on 26 July. In 1931 the entire family moved to Warsaw, to a flat at 11 Lipska Street in the Saska Kępa borough. Tadeusz had contact with art in his family home. His parents were amateur musicians (his mother played the piano and his father the violin) and little Tadeusz would listen carefully to their joint music making.

Tadeusz Baird's parents

At the age of six he himself began to learn to play the piano and two years later he was already composing his first pieces (for piano, and for violin and piano). This is how Baird talked about his first musical experiences:

I was growing up in a home full of music. Not because my parents were professional musicians. On the contrary, my father worked for many years at the Central School of Rural Economy and at the Ministry of Agriculture; he was one of the founders of the Polish Zootechnics Society, so it would seem he was far removed from music. However, music was some real, inner need in the life of this hard-working man. He achieved a level of artistry, of skill, which was far above what is usually understood as the level of amateur musicians. The same applied to my mother, who played the piano incomparably better and more confidently than it was the custom for the so-called young ladies from good families at the time. Music was to be heard almost constantly at our home. There were some chamber concerts, there was always evening music-making. I was taught to read music by my mother, who used for that purpose piano transcriptions of Tchaikovsky’s Queen of Spades and Onegin, which she had brought to Poland from Russia (my mother was Russian).

A Life Not Only in Notes, tale 1 /fragment/, Polish Radio

Tadeusz Baird’s school years were marked by a charming episode – a “friendship” with his favourite cat. This is how Alina Baird described it:

As a child, he had a favourite cat, which used to walk him to school in Saska Street and then would wait for him in the bushes [...]. This cat [...] somehow sensed when he would be coming back, and waited for him and walked him home. It was very strange, but apparently true...



  • T. Baird, J. Zadrowska (ed.), M. Adamski (rec.), Życie nie tylko nutami pisane - cykl gawęd wspomnieniowych [A Life Not Only in Notes – A Series of Reminiscences[sound doc.], tale 1.