Polish Music Reference Center Newsletter Vol. 1, no. 9

News Flash!

Henry Gorecki’s “Kleines Requiem fur eine Polka, op. 66” has been selected as an “Editor’s Choice” (Robert Cowan) in the September ’95 issue of Gramophone. Also included in this Nonesuch 7559-79342-4 compact disc is the composer’s “Harpsichord Concerto” written for Elzbieta Chojnacka. The music critic states that “this is probably the most famous 20th c. harpsichord concerto after Falla’s and the most popular of Gorecki’s pieces after the Third symphony.

The last work on the recording is “Good Night,” a memorial to the late Michael Vyner, one of Gorecki’s staunchest supporters. “It is scored for alto, flute, piano and tam-tam with Dawn Upshaw intoning Hamlet’s `flights of angels’ in the closing movement.” Robert Cowan regards this CD as “one of the year’s finest modern-music releases.

For Your Information

The 38th “WARSAW AUTUMN” INTERNATIONAL CONTEMPORARY MUSIC FESTIVAL to be held from September 16th to the 23rd in Warsaw, Poland will be honoring composer Wlodzimierz Kotonski on his 70th birthday!

The world premiere of Kotonski’s “Symphony” will take place. The music group, “De Ereprijs” will also perform his “Concerto for electric guitar.

Other features of the festival:

  • Anton Webern after a half-century. Opus 29, 30 and 31 will open the festival.
  • Charles Ives’ “Universe Symphony,” reconstructed by composer Larry Austin, and performed for the first time in Europe, will close the festival.
  • Happiness and sadness of faith” will be represented by Kanczeli’s “Leben ohne Wiehnacht” and Tavener’s “We shall see Him as he is.”
  • “Boris Vian in opera.” Elzbieta Sikora’s chamber opera, “Wyrywacz serc.” is based on Vian’s “L’Arrache-Couer.”

The festival begins with the Sinfonia Varsovia conducted by Ed Spanjaard performing: Gija Kanczeli’s “Leben ohne Weihnacht: MorgengebeteWitold Lutoslawski’s “Jeux venitiens,” and Anton Webern’s “I Cantata, op. 29, Variations, op. 30 and II Cantata, op. 31.

Another chamber opera presented at the festival is Joanna Bruzdowicz’s, “Penal Colony.” Based on a story by Kafka, the opera has been revised and received its premiere in Warsaw in June.

Organ works by Hawel, Knapik, Gabrys and Gembalski will be performed by Julian Gembalski. Pianist Michael Kieran Harvey will present works by Paul GrabowskyFrank Zappa, Peter Macek, Lutoslawski, Kotonski, Vine and Harvey/Hewes.

The SILESIAN Quartet will perform string quartets of Krzanowski, Skrzypczak, Webern and Kanczeli, while the VILANOW Quartet will bring the string quartets of Krzysztof Meyer, Stephen Montague and Jukka Tiensuu.

Several premieres will take place: Hanna Kulenty’s “Going up,” Pawel Mykietyn’s “Eine kleine Herbstmusik,” Jaroslaw Siwinski’s “Pianrecerto,” Agata Pyzel’s “Two pieces for piano” and Romuald Twardowski’s “Symphony of the bells.

Other composers’ works scheduled on the program include Bela Bartok, Lars-Gunnar Bodin, Jan Bas Bollen, Hugues Dufourt, Szabolcs Esztenyi, Henryk Mikolaj Gorecki, Helner Goebbels, Bartlomiej Gliniak, Jacek Grudzien, Gija Kanczeli, Marzena Komsta, Oliver Knussen, Vanessa Lann, Peter Macek, Francois- Bernard Mache, James Macmillan, Tristan Murail, Michael Nyman, Krzysztof Penderecki, Zbigniew Penherski, Maria Pokrzywinska, Jean-Marc Singier, Bettina Skrzypczak, Pawel Szymanski, Wladimir Tarnopolski, Galina Ustwolska and Tadeusz Wielecki.

President of the Composers’ Union (ZKP) is Maciej Malecki. Chairman of the Program Committee is Olgierd Pisarenko. The festival is co-sponsored by Polish Radio S.A. Address of the Polish Composers Union is Rynek Starego Miasta 27, 00-272 Warsaw. Tel: 31-16-34; Fax: 31-06-07. Country code: 48. City code: 22.

Newest Releases

Martin Roscoe presents SzymanowskiPiano Works, Vol. 1 on the Naxos label 8553016. This was another Editor’s Choice in the September 1995 issue of Gramophone. Music critic Michael Oliver, compares this with the Martin Jones Vol. 1 (a two CD set of SZYMANOWSKI’s piano works). Although he likes both performances, he prefers the Roscoe/Naxos disc, because of the piano sound and very low price since it’s issued by single disc. He calls it “a bargain” and recommends it strongly.

Other New Releases of Piano Works:

  • Pianist Elzbieta Wiedner-Zajac includes works not only by Szymanowski, but also Lutoslawski and Zarebski. Dorian Discovery DIS 80121.
  • Pianist David Arden presents the Piano Sonatas and Four Preludes of Gorecki, and also Part and Ustvolskaya. Koch International 37301-2.


  • BBC Radio Classics BBCRD 9124. PanufinkSymphony no. 8 and SzymanoskiSymphonies nos. 3 and 4.
  • Audiophile Classics/Qualiton 101040. GoreckiSymphony no. 3 and ArutyunyanTrumpet Concerto. Slovenian Symphony. Anton Nanut, cond.
  • Sony Classical SMK 64507. Penderecki: Violin Concerto coupled with Hindemith. Stern/NYPO/Bernstein/Minnesota Orch/Skrowaczewski. Another rendition of the Lutoslawski “Dance Preludes.” Vanguard Classics 99042.

Composer of the Month

Wlodzimierz Kotonski

WLODZIMIERZ KOTONSKI was born in Warsaw on August 23, 1925. He studied with Piotr Rytel and Tadeusz Szeligowski at the State Higher School of Music in Warsaw (now the Chopin Academy of Music). In 1957- 61 he participated in the International Summer Courses for New Music in Darmstadt. He works with the Experimental Studio of Polish Radio and Television, and has worked in the studios of Westdeutscher Rundfunk in Cologne (1966-67), and the Groupe de Recherches Musicales ORTF in Paris (1970). In 1970-71 he was a DAAD scholar in West Berlin.

Since 1967 he has taught composition at the Academy of Music, becoming a full professor in 1983, and is head of the Electronic Music Studio there. He has lectured abroad, at the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm in 1971 and at New York State University in Buffalo in 1978. He was President of the Polish section of the ISCM from 1983-89.

Wlodzimierz Kotonski is the author of a monograph on a mountaineers’ theme from the Podhale region (1956) and also of a work “Percussion Instruments in Modern Orchestra” (1963) and of a monograph “Electronic Music” (1988) – all three published by PWM (Polish Music Publications).

He received an Award of the Second Degree from the Minister of Culture and Arts (1973) and also an Award from the Polish Composers’ Union (1976). On October 1st, 1982, on the occasion of International Music Day, Wlodzimierz Kotonski was decorated with the Officer’s Cross from the People’s State Council.

His compositions are well-known and have often been performed in Europe, Australia, Japan and also throughout North and South America. Although specializing in electronic music, he has written many orchestral scores, which have been commissioned and performed outside of Poland, e.g. “Concerto for oboe” dedicated to Lothar Faber; “Sirocco” commissioned by the Dallas Symphony and dedicated to Eduardo Mata; “Terra Incognita” performed at the Warsaw Autumn festival under the direction of Mario di Bonaventura. His compositions are frequently performed at the Warsaw Autumn festivals, most recently (1993) “Terra caliente” for tape and “Three rhythmic studies” for piano and “La gioia” for string orchestra (1991).


Born This Month

  • Zygmunt Krauze: Sep 19, 1938
  • Krystyna Moszumsnska-Nazar: Sep 5, 1924.
  • Andrzej Panufnik: Sep 24, 1914 – Oct 27, 1991
  • Ludomir Rozycki: Sep 8, 1883 – Jan 1, 1953
  • Tadeusz Szeligowski: Sep 13, 1896 – Jan 10, 1963


Died This Month

Tadeusz Baird died on September 2, 1981.
(ed. note: I am surprised that no work of Baird’s has been scheduled for the Warsaw Autumn festival. He was one of the founders of this festival (!) and is a respected and outstanding Polish composer of this century).