Polish Music Reference Center Newsletter Vol. 2, no. 3

Event of the Month!

The third annual Paderewski Festival will be held in Paso Robles, California from March 22-24th. A series of concerts and tours of the wineries in the area, along with the famous Polish breakfast. Why Paso Robles you may ask. The great pianist Paderewski purchased a ranch in the area where he came each year for the famous baths and relaxation. He was the first in the area to plant almond orchards. Today wines under the Paderewski label are now being produced at his former ranch. A monument in honor of the town’s most famous resident is to be unveiled this year. For anyone not wishing to drive, bus tours are planned from Los Angeles, Yorba Linda and Van Nuys. For info call Florence Bean at (714) 831-6555.

In The News

Grammy Awards

Nominated for a Grammy for the best chamber music performance:

Chee Yun (violin) and Akira Eguchi (piano) for their rendition of Karol Szymanowski’s Sonata for violin & piano, op. 9 and Cesar Franck’s Sonata in a major.

Also nominated for the Best Polka Album vocal or instrumental:

Jimmy Sturr for “I love to polka.”

Best Sellers at Tower Records in February

Chopin Piano Concertos nos. 1 & 2 with Evgeny Kissin and the Moscow Philharmonic. RCA Victor (BMG 09026-68373) is a rerelease of recordings made in 1984 when the pianist was only twelve years old.

Also reported in Classical Pulse: “Concept albums from Hell” includes Mephisto Magic (London); Mozart at Midnight (Philips) and Penderecki Gala (Sony).

Leila Josefowicz, violinist, made her first recording debut performing the Tchaikovsky and Sibelius Violin Concertos with the Academy of St. Martin-in-the Fields/Sir Neville Marriner. Philips 446 131-2. Leila is a student of Robert Lipsett, assistant professor at the University of Southern California; School of Music.

Polkas On The Internet

The Polish-American Journal (Buffalo, NY) reports that “Polka home pages have started to emerge on the World Wide Web, with Chris Szymczak’s Polkanet page leading the way. Offering polka news, radio program listings, and sound files, you can actually listen to polka music on your properly equipped personal computer.”One can also find the “Polka Insider” and “Nancy’s Home Page.” A polka newsgroup, Alt.Music.Polkas, is growing with each week. Steve Litwin reported this news. You can find him at: http://www.spectra.net/~slitwin/.

The First Jazz Rondo Festival held in Slupsk, Poland last year was dedicated to the memory of pianist, Krzysztof Komeda, who died in a car crash in the U.S. several years ago. The winner of the First Competition In Jazz Composition was announced at this event. Marcin Malecki won in the “open” category for his jazz quintet titled, “Zawirowania” (whirls, swirls, spinning) and Maciej Ulatowski won in the “Jazz themes” category for “Rosiczka” (Honeydew), a Concerto for string bass.

Music Calendar Of Events

March 3, 1996: Polish-American pianist Chester Swiatkowski will appear as soloist with the Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra in Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G Major. Sunday evening. (310) 996-3260. Los Angeles, California

At The Kosciuszko Foundation In NY

March 10, 1996: “Le Gout Polonaise” at the Kosciuszko Foundation at 3:00 p.m. The Four Nations Ensemble, performing on period instruments, will present music by Haydn, Johann Schobert, Johann Wolfl, and Wilhelm Bach that makes use of Polish themes.

April 14, 1996: “Music of Lutoslawski, Chopin, Dobrzynski, Muczynski, Roussel And Thuille” performed by the ASPEN WIND QUINTET.

At The Lincoln Center In NY

March 1 through May 3, 1996: A festival of medieval, renaissance and baroque Polish music is being sponsored under the auspices of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Recitals and lectures will take place in the Bruno Walter Auditorium, 40 Lincoln Center Plaza, Manhattan.

March 1: Il Canto ensemble will present music of Waclaw from Szamotul, Leopolita, Gomolka, Pekiel and Bazylik. 3:00 p.m.

March 2: Il Canto in music of XVIth century anonymous composers, songs of Moniuszko, Szymanowski and contemporary Polish composers.

March 8: Lecture on “Polish Sacred and Secular Music of the Renaissance and the Baroque” will be presented by Ludwik Erhardt, editor in chief of the music journal, Ruch Muzyczny.

Chopin Birthday Concerts

Feb 22, 1996: Pawel Checinski, pianist, in a concert of favorite Chopin piano compositions at the Consulate of the Republic of Poland in Chicago. Sponsored by the Lira Ensemble.

Feb 25, 1996Gabriela Montero, bronze medal winner of the International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw, performed in San Francisco in a concert sponsored by the Chopin Foundation Council of San Francisco.

Feb 11, 1996: The concert of Grazyna Bacewicz’s Violin and Piano Sonatas performed by Arnold Belnick and Sergei Silvansky before a full house in Hancock Auditorium on the USC campus was a huge success! The audience loved the music of this outstanding Polish composer as well as the artists’ performance, applauding until the soloists returned to the stage to repeat the last number.You can hear this great performance on Cambria records CD-1052, available in your local classical record shop. Judith Rosen, author of our book on the life and works of Grazyna Bacewicz, was on hand to autograph her book.

Jan 28, 1996: The music of Karol Szymanowski (Six Kurpie Songs), Ludomir Rozycki (Nocturne for violin) and Walter Legawiec (“The Episodes” “Remembrance” and “To a lonely shepherd girl for violin“) was performed at the Polish Cultural Foundation in Clark, New Jersey. The Szymanowski choral works were performed by the Polish Singers Alliance Seventh Chorus with Walter Legawiec conducting. “The Episodes” to a text by Walt Whitman for chorus and piano (which received the Wassili Leps Award from Brown University) was performed by the New York Symphonic Chamber Chorus, with the composer conducting and Richard Hankinson, pianist.The cycle of songs “Remembrance” was performed by Mark Hoeler, tenor and Paul Kueter, pianist. The composer opened the program with two violin works.


The FIRST SAN FRANCISCO CHOPIN COMPETITION FOR YOUNG PIANISTS will be held on May 5, 1996. There are two age categories: I. Through 12 years old. II. From 13 through 15 years old. For more information contact the Chopin Foundation Council of San Francisco at 1290 Sutter St., San Francisco, CA 94109. Telephone: 415-474-2626 or fax 415-474-7149. Winner’s recital will take place on May 11th at 4:00 p.m.

Deadline for the CHOPIN PIANO COMPETITION sponsored by the KOSCIUSZKO FOUNDATION in New York is April 15th! FAX: 212-628-4552.

THE XI INTERNATIONAL HENRYK WIENIAWSKI VIOLIN COMPETITION will take place from October 12 – 27, 1996 in Poznan, Poland. Sir Yehudi Menuhin is honorary chairperson. Violinists of all nationalities born after October 12, 1966 are eligible. First prize: $20,000; Second: $15,000; Third: $10,000; Fourth: $5,000; Fifth: $4,000 and Sixth: $3,000. Competition fee is $100. Three hundred seventy six violinists from thirty countries and all continents have participated since the competition’s inception in 1935. For information fax the Henryk Wieniawski Musical Society in Poznan. From the U.S.: 011-48-61-52-89-91.

For All Music Lovers & Travelers

A Polonaise Music Festival in Poland has been organized for July 24 to August 1, 1996. A tour of the famous cities of Warsaw and Krakow has been combined with performances by Poland’s foremost artists in unique settings (royal castles, Gothic churches and salt mines). Krzysztof Penderecki will lead the SINFONIA VARSOVIA in concert at the Krakow Opera House. In other programs planned by the composer’s wife and composer Marta Ptaszynska, there will an evening of operatic arias performed by Poland’s best soloists; a concert by the award winner of the XIII Chopin Piano Competition in the Warsaw Philharmonic; a Mozart concert in the Royal Castle of Warsaw and Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” will be performed by the Warsaw Chamber Opera; an organ concert in a Franciscan Gothic church in Krakow ending with the grand finale by the IL CANTO ensemble in the renowned Wieliczka Salt Mines. For tour information call Pat Tours @ 800-388-0988.

The Duszniki Zdroj Chopin Festival will be held from August 2-10 in 1996. Last year marked the 50th festival held in this health spa. Artist director pianist Piotr Paleczny remarked that the number of excellent pianists who have taken part in these concerts could be used for a pianist’s encyclopedia.

Did You Know That?

There is a chamber music version of Chopin’s Piano Concertos that you can now hear on CD? Pianist Marek Drewnowski arranged the music for piano quintet and it is a Polish Radio release (MD01). It was reviewed in Ruch Muzyczny in the last November issue by Pawel Bagnowski. Artists featured are Kaja Danczowska and Robert Kabara, violins, Artur Paciorkiewicz, viola, Jerzy Klocek, cello and Andrzej Mysinski, bass.

COLOR STUDIES OF CHOPIN,” a film produced in 1944 by the Polskie Centrum Informacji (an organ of the former Polish government in exile in London) can be found in the archives of the Pilsudski Institute in New York. It features pianist Witold Malcuzynski with commentary by Olin Downes.

Recordings – Newest Releases

LutoslawskiChamber music. Accord/Allegro/201142

PendereckiSt. Luke Passion – Stabat mater; Miserere; In pulverem mortis. Magnificat – Sicut locutus est. Agnus Dei. Song of Cherubim. Veni creator. Benedicamus Domino. Benedictus. Tapiola Chamber Choir/Juha Kuivanen. Finlandia 4509-98999-2.

SzymanowskiConcertos for violin and orchestra, nos. 1 & 2.

GoreckiThree pieces in the old style.

BairdColas Breugnon.

Konstanty Kulka, violin/Polish Natl Radio Symphony Orch/ Polish Chamber Orch/Jerzy Maksymiuk. EMI Matrix CDM5 65418-2.

This was reviewed in Gramophone Mar ’96 issue. Music critic (MS) remarked, “It is something of a mystery that Szymanowski’s two fine violin concertos have not been integrated into the concerto repertoire in the same way that, say, the Bartok or Prokofiev works have – as RL has rightly pointed out in these pages, the Szymanowski `are among the most glorious and intoxicating works in the repertory.‘”

Reviewed In CD REVIEW Mar ’96:

Scharwenka (Philipp): Trios for piano, violin & cello, op. 110 & G, op. 112; Sonata for cello & piano in g minor, op. 116. TRIO PARNASSUS. MDG 303-0532-2;“These chamber pieces, represent the best of Scharwenka, which means they are very good.” is how Tom Vernier described them in the March issue of CD Review.

The Scharwenka brothers were born near Poznan, Poland in 1847 (Philipp) and 1850 (Franz Xaver). The family settled in Berlin in 1965. A century ago both brothers were famous as educators and composers. Today their compositions are rarely performed. They are listed in the encyclopedias as German-Polish. Their music is saturated with Polish themes and titles. Elan recently reissued the Scharwenka and Paderewski concertos. Gramophone Mar ’96 issue calls this a “welcome return.”

A new mail order source for music from Poland: Poland Import Export, 4216 Bettina Ave., San Mateo, CA 94403. Tel/fax 415-341-7359.

What caught my eye in this catalog was “Baroque Music in Poland” MCD 015. My favorite choral work, “Ad hymnos, ad cantus” by Szarzynski is on this recording.


Born This Month

  • Mar 01, 1810 – Fryderyk Chopin
  • Mar 03, 1922 – Kazimierz Serocki
  • Mar 06, 1875 – Karol Kurpinski
  • Mar 07, 1911 – Stefan Kisielewski
  • Mar 17, 1901 – Piotr Perkowski
  • Mar 21, 1936 – Marek Stachowski
  • Mar 28, 1954 – Pawel Szymanski

Composer Of The Month

Pawel Szymanski

Regarded in Poland as one of the most gifted composers of his generation. In listing some of the most outstanding composers of each generation in this century, we can begin with those born before World War I (Lutoslawski, Panufnik, Bacewicz, Palester), born in the 1920s (Baird, Serocki, Kotonski), in the 1930s (Gorecki, Penderecki), in the 40s (Bruzdowicz, Ptaszynska, Meyer) and in the 50s (Knapik, Krzanowski, Lason and Szymanski).

Szymanski was born in Warsaw, graduated from the Music Lyceum as a bassoon player and then entered the Academy of Music as a composition student of Wlodzimierz Kotonski. He also studied with Tadeusz Baird and under Roman Haubenstock-Ramati in Vienna. Although he visited Darmstadt three times, none of its influence remained with him.

Gloria for women’s choir and orchestra won first prize at the Young Polish Composers’ Competition in 1979. Another choral work, Lux aeterna for voices and instruments won a prize at the Stuttgart Int’l Bachakademie Competition for sacred music in 1979. Partita 3 was joint winner of the Benjamin Britten Composers’ Competition in 1988, while Quasi una sinfonietta was commissioned by the London Sinfonietta in 1990. Appendix for piccolo and ensemble (1983) is one of Szymanski’s most widely acclaimed works.

I am sure that the late Lutoslawski (who first told me about this shining star in Polish music) was instrumental in having Szymanski’s music published by his own British publisher, Chester Music of London. It is distributed in the U.S. by G. Schirmer, Inc.