2006: Zygmunt Stojowski

Thursday, October 12, 2006
Alfred Newman Recital Hall, USC (see AHF on campus map)
3616 Trousdale Pkwy, Los Angeles, CA 90089
Reception to follow the concert

Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Stojowski’s Concertstück for Cello and Orchestra

United University Church, USC (see UUC on campus map)
3616 Trousdale Pkwy, Los Angeles, CA 90089
Reception to follow the concert


 Paderewski Lecture: Stojowski Anniversary

From October 2006 PMC Newsletter

During the month of October we will honor a very unique Polish musician and an extraordinary patriot, Zygmunt Stojowski. The occasion is the 60 th anniversary of his death, falling on November 5th, 2006. Members of the Stojowski family, including his sons, Henry and Alfred, are expected to attend several events on the campus of USC, celebrating the legacy of their distinguished father. These will include concert performances of Stojowski’s music and a dedication of the Stojowski Room at the Polish Music Center. Our festivities culminate on Thursday, October 12 th, at 7:30 pm at the Newman Recital Hall with the 2006 Paderewski Lecture-Recital. The gala evening will present the British-born virtuoso, Jonathan Plowright, in an evening of piano music by Stojowski and Paderewski. Joseph Herter, Stojowski’s biographer, will deliver a lecture entitled “Zygmunt Stojowski—Composer, Pianist, and Pedagogue.” Last year, the Polish Music Center was a recipient of a generous donation of music manuscripts, correspondence, photographs, recordings, books, scores and other memorabilia from the Stojowski family. Known as the Zygmunt and Luisa Stojowski Collection, this invaluable treasure trove of materials will greatly enrich the unique holdings of rare manuscripts and other memorabilia related to Polish music that are held at the Special Collections Library on the USC campus.

I.J. Paderewski and Z. Stojowski on Paderewski’s estate in Paso Robles, CA. July 31, 1927. Photo: Private collection, Used by permission.

Already the research of the Stojowski Collection has enabled Mr. Herter to write the first comprehensive biography of Zygmunt Stojowski. The book, entitled “Zygmunt Stojowski: Life and Music” will be published by Figueroa Press later this year. This undeservedly forgotten virtuoso pianist and composer was born in Poland in 1870 and studied at the Conservatoire Nationale in Paris. By 1891 Stojowski became a student of Paderewski, and later one of his closest and most trusted friends, often vacationing in Paderewski’s villa in Switzerland or joining the great master during his frequent visits to Paso Robles, California. Stojowski moved to America in 1905 and settled in New York City. He continued to perform throughout North and South America and Europe, attracting highly favorable comments from the world press. Stojowski’s symphonic music was programmed by the most prestigious orchestras, including the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, and the New York Philharmonic. In England, Stojowski’s compositions were performed for Queen Victoria, and the venerable conductor, Sir Charles Halle, was one of many enthusiastic supporters. Stojowski’s fascinating encounters with the greatest musicians of his time included friendships with Johannes Brahms, Edward Elgar, Leopold Stokowski, and Pyotr Tchaikovski, who autographed (in impeccable Polish!) a photograph for Stojowski’s mother. Stojowski’s numerous concerts in the United States often featured collaborations with such great Polish artists as Marcella Sembrich, Józef Hofmann, Karol Szymanowski, and Paweł Kochański.

Zygmunt Stojowski was also a widely-respected pedagogue, who produced a crop of remarkable students. The film composer, Alfred Newman, one of the first women-conductors, Antonia Brico, and several great piano virtuosi, including Shura Cherkassky, Oscar Levant and Guiomar Novaes, were Stojowski’s students. Stojowski taught mainly in New York City at the school that eventually became the famous Julliard School of Music. For many years he also traveled extensively coast to coast, lecturing on Polish music for universities, music clubs, and various Polish organizations.

In addition to his musical achievements, we should also remember Stojowski’s tireless activities on behalf of his beloved homeland. As the most famous Polish musician residing in America during World War I, Stojowski lent his considerable prestige and influence to organize fund-raising concerts and special events to aid the cause of Poland. Teaming up with Paderewski and the great Metropolitan Opera star, Marcella Sembrich, Stojowski collected substantial amounts of money for the war-torn Poland, advocating for the cause of Polish independence at the highest levels of American society. Towards the end of his life, already suffering from cancer, Stojowski once again activated his political and social connections in America, trying to help Poland during the dark days of World War II. In numerous articles, public speeches, and telegrams—including a cable to President Roosevelt—Stojowski clearly articulated the dangers of appeasing the Soviets in Tehran and Yalta, and lamented the fate of Poland, observing with chilling accuracy that Poland’s valiant struggle against the German and Russian oppressors would only lead to a defeat in a cynical political arrangement among the Allies after the end of the war.

The Polish Music Center is proud to honor the memory of such a remarkable person.


Stojowski’s Music Resonates Throughout California

From November 2006 PMC Newsletter

The 2006 Paderewski Lecture-Recital on October 12 at USC commemorated Zygmunt Stojowski, one of the great early 20th century Polish pianists and composers. Stojowski arrived in America in 1905, when he was 35, and died in New York City on November 5, 1946. The Polish Music Center’s concerts this fall were devoted to presenting the legacy of this remarkable Polish-American on the 60th anniversary of his death.

Last year, a number of manuscripts, letters, photographs, concert programs and other memorabilia—known as the Zygmunt and Luisa Stojowski Collection— was donated by two of Stojowski’s surviving sons, Alfred and Henry. Shortly thereafter, Dean Cutietta and the Thornton School of Music invited the Stojowskis to come to USC and attend several concerts that featured Zygmunt Stojowski’s music. Not only Henry and Alfred—both in their late 80s—came to Los Angeles in mid October, but they also brought several other members of their families, representing four generations of the Stojowski family living on both the East and West Coast.

Celebrations on Wednesday, October 11 were launched at high noon, with a performance of Stojowski’s Concertstück for Cello and Orchestra at the United University Church on the USC campus. Doctoral student of cello, Lars Hoefs, and pianist Marek Zebrowski were heard in this rarely-programmed virtuoso composition.

After the concert, officials of the Thornton School of Music, including Deans Cutietta and Lopez, Director of Personnel, Dorothy Ditmer, Director of Marketing and Communications, Ljiljana Grubisic, as well as the Stojowski family and others moved to Stonier Hall for a gala opening of the new Stojowski Room at the Polish Music Center (pictured above). Among those present for the champagne toast were pianist Jonathan Plowright and author of a forthcoming book on Zygmunt Stojowski, Joseph Herter.

Dean Cutietta welcomed the Stojowski family and Henry and Alfred Stojowski spoke on their family’s behalf, sharing wonderful details about his father. A luncheon banquet followed at the Faculty Club, and afterwards Mr. Plowright and Mr. Herter were invited to a live radio interview with Martin Perlich on KCSN-FM. That broadcast also featured one of Mr. Plowrights brilliant recordings of Stojowski’s Piano Concertos.

The 2006 Paderewski Lecture-Recital took place on Thursday, October 12 at USC’s Newman Hall. Joseph Herter delivered a fascinating lecture on Zygmunt Stojowski, his studies in France, his friendship with Paderewski, his life in America, and his links to California. Afterwards, Jonathan Plowright gave a brilliant hour-long recital of works by Stojowski and Paderewski for the assembled audience. Plowright’s keen sense of style infused Stojowski’s Chant d’amour and Romance Op. 41 with gentle and noble passion, whilst his bravura technique dazzled and sparkled in Caprice Orientale and Variations on the Cracovian Theme. It was however the concluding work on the program— Paderewski’s massive Sonata Op. 21—that showed Plowright in absolute command of the instrument in this highly challenging and towering composition. A long and well-earned applause encouraged Jonathan Plowright to play an unusual encore—an arrangement of a Peruvian lullaby Stojowski made for his wife, Luisa Morales Macedo. Luisa, a distinguished pianist from Lima, married Stojowski in New York in 1918. The Lullaby was performed from a copy of the manuscript in the Stojowski Collection at USC.

Pianist Jonathan Plowright (right) discusses Stojowski’s music with his sons, Henry (center) and Alfred (left) Stojowski after the Paderewski Lecture-Recital.

Two days later, on Saturday October 14, Jonathan Plowright performed a program of works by Stojowski, Paderewski, and Szymanowski to a standing room only crowd at the Cass Winery in Paso Robles, California. This Central Coast town, famous for its great wineries, was a great resort town at the beginning of the 20th century and—from 1913 until the last years of his life—Paderewski was a frequent visitor in the area. Over a period of years, Paderewski bought thousands of acres of land in the Paso Robles area, planting grapes and cultivating fruit orchards. He considered himself to be a resident of California and maintained close links with the local community. Plowright’s recital was enthusiastically received by the Paso Robles residents, who have for several years longed to re-establish the tradition of a music festival in Paderewski’s honor in the town he had loved so dearly. With tremendous amount of good-will from the Cass Winery (who provided the venue, hosted the pianist, and coordinated all logistics), Cuesta College and Paso Robles School District (who consented to provide a Steinway concert grand for the occasion), and numerous individuals who volunteered with advice and assistance, this “Paderewski Reprise” was a resounding success. It is a great hope of the organizers that the tradition of featuring Polish music in California’s fastest-growing wine region will prosper in the years to come, continuing to attract the public from all corners of the Golden State.