Polish Music Reference Center Newsletter Vol. 1, no. 8


Polish conductor Piotr Borkowski is among five finalists (from among thirty contestants) to have been selected for the position of Assistant Conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He is presently artistic director of the Philharmonic in the city of Olsztyn. The jury consisted of Seiji Ozawa, Leon Fleisher and Gustav Meier.

DEADLINE for the Vth KAZIMIERZ SEROCKI COMPETITION IN COMPOSITION is NOVEMBER 30th. Organized by the Polish Section of the International Society of Contemporary Music, the jury (Gilbert Amy, Zygmunt Krauze, Magnus Lindberg, Dieter Schnebel and Marek Stachowski) will meet in January, 1996 in Warsaw. Requisite: A piece for instrument or voice solo with string orchestra; no longer than 30 minutes. Registration fee: $15. Send to Polskie Tow. Muzyki Wspolczesniej, ul. Mazowiecka 11, 00-052 Warszawa. FAX: 011- 48-22-27-78-04.

THE XIIIth INTERNATIONAL CHOPIN PIANO COMPETITION will have one hundred-forty pianists representing a total of thirty- three nations (23 each from Poland and Japan) competing in Warsaw from October 1-22nd. Jan Ekier is chairman of the jury.

Composer Zygmunt Krause has been re-elected President of the Polish Section of the International Society of Contemporary Music. Honorary membership was bestowed upon composers Jozef Patkowski and Boguslaw Schaeffer and Zofia Serocki (widow of Kazimierz Serocki),

The future of the “WARSAW AUTUMN” INTERNATIONAL CONTEMPORARY MUSIC COMPETITION (September 15-23, 1995) is in jeopardy! At first the government reduced the festival’s budget in half. Now they say money will be fully available for this year’s festival, but there will be none for next year!?!

MORE MONEY PROBLEMS for music in Poland! Situation identical to that in the U.S. It seems that the arts suffer most under democracy and capitalistism! Several music programs have been cancelled in radio and TV. Only PROGRAM II remains, but it has been trimmed to two hours daily. New director is composer Edward Pallasz (b. 1936). A composer and teacher, Pallasz won I Prize in the Grzegorz Fitelberg Competition in 1976 for his Symphony “1976.” He has won numerous awards for his songs, theatre music, children’s radio programs, TV music spectacles, etc…

OTHER CUTBACKS IN POLAND: POZNAN OPERA removed Maciej Jablonski as artistic director for his over-ambitious plan of presenting Rossini’s “Semiramide.” Poland’s NATIONAL OPERA had to cutdown its repertoire. MUSIC IN OLD CRACOW festival had to be cancelled. The last concert of the POLISH RADIO ORCHESTRA & CHOIR was held on December 21st. It has been dissolved.

The new Minister of Arts & Culture, Kazimierz Dejmek, has renamed the TEATR WIELKI (Grand Theatre) in Warsaw to its original historic name of “TEATR NARODOWY” (National Theatre). It had been built by King Stanislaw August Poniatowski on November 19, 1765. At the same time he merged the National Opera, The national Theatre Institute, Teatr Wielki and Theatre Museum into one entity. A competition for the position of General Director (for five years) is taking place. The winner will be announced on January 1, 1996.

Much debate and criticism has ensued. The greatest one regards the liquidation and degradation of the self- sufficient institution, the NATIONAL OPERA, and of becoming merely a section of the TEATR NARODOWY.

Other controversy raging in Poland is associated with the use of Chopin’s first name “Fryderyk” by the Rock and Roll industry for a statuette equivalent to the “Oscar” award. Classical musicians (composers, artists and teachers) are vehemently opposed to this, citing a disrespect for Poland’s greatest composer.

Miroslaw Blaszczyk, conductor of the Bialostyk Philharmonic has received excellent reviews from New york critic Allan Kozin for his concert at Carnegie Hall with a smaller version of his orchestra, sponsored by Mid-America Productions. The program included the “Overture” to Moniuszko’s opera, “Bajka;” Gorecki’s Piano Concerto (with pianist Piotr Folkert); Lutoslawski’s “Little Suite;” and Schumann’s Fourth Symphony. The conductor favors performing as much music by Polish composers as possible. Too many times management has imposed and discouraged performances of Polish music by Polish orchestras in the past. Mr. Blaszczyk was the recipient of a special stipend in memory of the late Polish conductor, Artur Rodzinski, from the American Society for Polish Music founded by violinist Hanna Lachert of New York and composer Marta Ptaszynska of Pennsylvania. The stipend included a three month visit/observance with any of the American symphony orchestras that Rodzinski headed during his musical career in America. One of them was the Los Angeles Philharmonic which Mr. Blaszczyk visited last year. An excellent project, which unfortunately will not continue since the Society disbanded in June.

The SEATTLE SYMPHONY performed Gorecki’s III Symphony on May 22, 1995 at the Seattle Center Opera House. Amy Burton, soprano and Jonathan Sheffer, conductor. The Polish American community in Seattle enthusiastically supported the performance.


EMI CLASSICS has come up with a new MATRIX series in order to “open up new horizons to the music-lover who is looking beyond the standard repertoire.” Works by Polish composers Gorecki, Lutoslawski, Szymanowski and Penderecki are featured. The Washington Post states that although the music is “relatively unfamiliar, it is generally excellent. EMI’s presentation is good, including full texts and translations with the vocal works – a relative rarity with budget-priced discs and much-appreciated for hard-to-find texts in such languages as Finnish, Polish and Swedish.” Other composers in the series are Janacek, Berwald, Nielsen, Miaskovsky and Taneyev. For further information just call 1-800-ASK-TOWER.

CELLISTS are in for a treat this month with no less than ten new releases of music for this instrument on CD. Among the composers we find Szymanowski and Panufnik. ONDINE 827 (KOCH) features Schnittke’s Cello Sonata and a fantastic transcription for cello by the late cellist and teacher, Kazimierz Wilkomirski of Szymanowski’s Violin Sonata no. 9. David W. Moore marvelled at one of the “most effective sounding transcriptions I have heard from a violin original, played to the hilt by Gustafsson and Karkainen.” (In the July/Aug issue of American Record Guide). The Panifnik Cello Concerto, completed just before the composer’s death in 1991, and played by Rostropovich is sold as a “single.” ALLEGRO NMC 10.

A “most welcome reminder” of Chopin’s chamber music has just been released by SONY CLASSICAL SK 53112. Pamela Frank (vn), Yo-Yo Ma (vc), Emanuel Ax and Eva Osinski (pianos). [Piano Trio, op. 8; Sonata for cello and piano, op. 65; Intro. & Polonaise brillant, op. 3 (versions for pf, vc and pf, arr. Feuermann). The disc “offers what is thought to be the first recording of the latter in a solo-piano version, recently discovered by the Polish pianist-musicologist, Jan Weber. It is played here with spirited affection by Weber’s pupil, Eva Osinska.”

An All-Chopin release by Raoul Koczalski (“recorded in 1938 39 and splendidly transferred by Ward Marston“) is acclaimed by Dan Davis as “masterfully played with the whiff of authenticity that comes from studying with Karol Mikuli, a pupil of Chopin.” Biddulph LHW 022. (Classical Pulse August 1995).

A sample of the vast output of the film music of Wojciech Kilar (of “Dracula” fame) has been compiled on OLYMPIA OCD 602. Robert Seeley states in the August 1994 issue of Gramophone magazine that the “excerpts from ten films have been well-chosen by the composer and illustrate his versatility at writing in a variety of styles, though a glossy romantic streak (replete with lush strings and rippling piano) defines much of his work.” OLYMPIA OCD 602. A disc devoted to Kilar’s compatriot, Andrzej KORZYNSKI (OLYMPIA OCD 601) “may be less appealing melodically but there is a certain fascination in the way the four scores represent the reigning pop trends o f the decades in which each film was made (e.g. bossa nova and rock for the 1960s, funky disco for the 1970s and electronics for the 1980s).“The music to the film, “The Secret Garden” was composed by another Pole, Zbigniew Preisner, whose “delicate, chamber- like score for the enchanting remake casts a benign, magical glow over the whole film.” VARESE SARABANDE VSD 5443.

Gorecki is still one the best sellers with his III Symphony. New recordings of his music are constantly cropping up. Schwann catalog lists twenty of his scores, with half of them being choral works.

Opera News

Opera companies and directors please note that at least two great Polish operas ought to be presented in 1997 in celebration of the composers’ anniversaries.

  • The first: “King Roger” should be staged throughout the world on the 60th anniversary of Karol Szymanowski’s death. Best performance to date is still the London production from 1975/76.
  • The second: “Death of Don Juan” by the late Roman Palester should be staged for the 90th birthday anniversary of the composer on December 18, 1997. This opera brought First Prize to the composer (out of a total of seventy entries to the Society of International Contemporary Music) in 1963 in Bergamo. Since no second prize was awarded, the importance of the value of the First Prize is considerably increased. The Polish Music Reference Center has a copy of the score in its archives.


A correction to last month’s list!

In addition to birthday anniversaries of Chopin (185th); Paderewski (135th); Wieniawski (160th); and Szymanowska (205th) there are:

  • Karol Kurpinski (210th) born on March 6, 1785;
  • Karol Rathaus (100th) born on Sep 16, 1895;
  • Kazimierz Sikorski (100th) born on June 28, 1895;
  • Roman Maciejewski (85th) born on Feb 28, 1910;
  • Wlodzimierz Kotonski (70th) born on August 20, 1925;
  • Romuald Twardowski (65th) born on June 6, 1930;
  • Zbigniew Rudzinski (60th) born on October 23, 1935);
  • Krzysztof Baculewski (45th) born on December 26, 1950.


Died This Month

  • Michal Spisak (30th) (Sep 14, 1914 – Jan 1, 1965) and
  • Boleslaw Woytowicz (35th) (Dec 5, 1899 – Jul 1, 1960)
  • Henryk Wieniawski (115th) (March 31, 1880).