Polish Music Reference Center Newsletter Vol. 4, no. 4


Winners Of The 1998 Kosciuszko Foundation Sembrich Voice Competition

VALERIAN RUMINSKI is the First Prize Winner in the 1998 Kosciuszko Foundation Marcella Sembrich Voice Competition, held in New York City Saturday, March 21. Ruminski, a 30-year-old student at the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia, was given his $1000 cash scholarship by Teresa Kubiak, in ceremonies at the Kosciuszko Foundation House that evening. In addition to the scholarship prize, Ruminski will be invited by Maria Foltyn, artistic director of the Stanislaw Moniuszko International Competition, to Warsaw, as her guest, to compete in that contest in October 1998. He will also be invited to perform at the Marcella Sembrich Opera Museum, the great singerís former studio, in Boltonís Landing, N.Y.

Second Prize was won by soprano Monika Krajewska, a student at the Yale University School of Music; and Third Prize by bass Wojciech Bukalski, a student at the Boston University Opera Institute. They received cash scholarships of $750 and $500 respectively.

Born in Lackawanna, N.Y., Ruminski earned his Bachelorís Degree in Voice at S.U.N.Y. / Buffalo, where Metropolitan Opera baritone Louis Quilico was among his teachers. His present teacher at the Academy of Vocal Arts is Bill Schuman. This May, Ruminski will appear in a production of Le Nozze di Figaro at the Academy, and during the summer will apprentice at the Santa Fe Opera Company, singing in Salome.

Some thirty contestants, ranging in age from 22 to 33, from all over the U.S.A. competed in the public auditions before a jury which included world-famous soprano Teresa Kubiak and other distinguished musicians and arts administrators. All were required to sings Polish songs and arias, by Moniuszko, Chopin, Karlowicz, Bacewicz, and others; the judges remarked on the high quality of preparation, and all those present at the auditions and the awards ceremony were thrilled that the Sembrich Voice Competition produced such fine results.

First presented in 1968, the Sembrich Voice Competition honors the great Polish soprano Marcella Kochanska Sembrich (1858-1935) who won world-wide acclaim as an opera singer (at the Metropolitan Opera here as well as throughout the globe), song recitalist, teacher, and generous supporter of many social programs, including relief for the victims of the San Francisco earthquake and African-American schoolchildren. She also founded the voice departments of the Curtis Institute and Juilliard School. Over the years, the Competition has attracted and supported such talents as soprano Barbara Hendricks and bass-baritone Jan Opalach.

Day With Women’s Music at USC

On April 4, 1998, the PMRC and the Department of Music History and Literature present a Day with Women’s Music Conference and Concert. Our special guest from Poland will be composer Hanna KULENTY, the talented author of “Mother of Black-Winged Dreams” — an opera premiered at the Munich Biennale in 1996. Kulenty’s music will be featured on the program of the concert. Another special guest will be Prof. Wojciech Marchwica of Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland, who will talk about Wanda Landowska, the renowned harpsichordist and world-famous performer. Prof. Marchwica is currently in the U.S., as the Skalny Visiting Professor at the Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester. This position is supported with a grant from Louis Skalny Foundation directed by Ewa HAUSER. The program of the conference and of the concert is included in a separate file. Click on the title to see it. Kulenty is also our Composer of the Month.

A REMINDER: Deadline for singers to apply to the III INTERNATIONAL STANISLAW MONIUSZKO VOCAL COMPETITION has been extended to May 1st! For more information & application form fax directly to the Competition Office at Teatr Narodowy in Warsaw, Poland. From the USA dial: 011-48-22-6920-742.

The PADEREWSKI piano, housed at the Polish Museum of America in Chicago, will participate in the Steinway Legendary Piano Tour, ìInstruments of the Immortals,î joining the grand pianos of Horovitz and Van Cliburn. For exact dates look up the Polish American Journal, March ë98 issue.

The Polish Composers Union (ZKP) is appealing to anyone who has in their possession any materials pertaining to Polish composers of this century to donate them to the Archives of Polish Composers of the 20th century at the Warsaw University Library at ul. Krakowskie Przedmiescie 22, 00-927 Warszawa. Tel: (48) (22) 620-0381, ext. 607.


The Karol Szymanowski Foundation in Poland has announced this yearís winners of the annual awards:

Stefania WOYTOWICZ, soprano, for her superb renditions of Szymanowskiís oratorio/cantata works and Jerzy GODZISZEWSKI, pianist, for his promotion of the composerís music throughout the world, specifically for his artistic recordings of Szymanowskiís piano music.

ZKP (Polish Composersí Union) awards for 1998: Composers Juliusz LUCIUK and musicologist Andrzej CHODKOWSKI, professor of the Institute of Musicology, University of Warsaw.

News Books and Publications

A new book, Chopin in Paris. The Life & Times of the Romantic Composer is just hot off the press! Written by Tad SZULC, author of the best seller on Pope John Paul II, it has been published in anticipation of the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Chopin’s death in 1999.

Superbly designed for the 1999 Chopin Year it makes for compelling reading “about an exciting epoch of European history, culture, and music – and about one of the great love dramas of the 19th century.”

The author, a former correspondent and bureau chief in Europe and Latin America for the New York Times, has written 18 books, including the prize-winning “Fidel” and “Then and Now.” He is scheduled to be in Los Angeles the weekend of April 24-26 for the Los Angeles Times Book Fair at UCLA.

Chopin: The Piano Concertos by British musicologist John RINK (and a former winner of the Wilk Prizes in Research in Polish Music) is now in paper back. $12.95 from Cambridge University Press.

Chopin w kregu przyjaciol. [Chopin in his circle of friends] Edited by Polish musicologist and Chopin specialist, Irena PONIATOWSKA. Warsaw, Neriton, 1996- Vol. 2.

Two books on PENDERECKI: The Music of Krzysztof Penderecki: Poetics and Reception: Studies, Essays and Materials. Edited by Mieczyslaw TOMASZEWSKI. Krakow. Music Academy, 1995.

Krzysztof Penderecki: Style et Materiaux. Paris; Kine, c 1997. 407 p. Barbara MALECKA-CONTAMIN. This is a doctoral dissertation defended in Paris.

If you want to know more about Christmas carols, look for Z koleda przez wieki: koledy w Polsce I w krajach slowianskich. [Carols through the centuries: carols in Poland and in the Slavonic nations.] Edited by Tadeusz BUDROWICZ, Stan KOZIARA and Jan OKON. Tarnow, 1996, 610p.

Alistair WIGHTMAN’s book, Karlowicz, Young Poland and the Musical Fin-de-siecle was reviewed by Mark Germer in the March 1998 issue of NOTES, the quarterly journal of the Music Library Association.

A new book on the history of the accordion in classical music by Henry Doktorski of Pittsburg, PA was reported on in the Polish American Journal of March, 1998.

GARLAND PUBLISHING (1-800-627-6273) is having a super sale. Some special bargains:

Szymanowski as Post-Wagnerian. The Love Songs of Hafiz, Op. 24 by Stephen C. DOWNES (a winner of the 1988 Wilk Prize for Research in Polish Music) has been reduced from $80 to $25. It belongs to the series of outstanding dissertations in music from British universities.

Another book in this category: Polish Seventeenth-Century Church Music by Delma BROUGH. Oxford U. 1981 (416p.) This book can now be bought for $10.

The Symphony 1720-1840 edited by Barry S. Brook of CUNY has also been reduced. Volume VII, The Symphony in Poland with an introduction by William SMIALEK (398 p.) Formerly $102 is now only $25!

The next book is not reduced, but still a good buy. Music at the Royal Court and Chapel in Poland, c 1543-1600 by Tomasz M. CZEPIEL (also a Wilk Prize winner). Oxford University, 1991, 432 pp, $95.

A future book? A new masterís thesis, Les influences de la musique folklorique polonaise dans líoeuvre de Henryk Wieniawski by Monica STERN was approved at the Sorbonne, Paris. The author utilized the vast archives of the Henryk Wieniawski Society compiled by the Society’s late director Henryk Grabowski.

A recent issue of a music theory journal, Music Theory: Explorations & Applications (Vol. VI, 1997) features an article about the music of Krzysztof Penderecki by R. Burkhardt Reiter, a graduate student at the school of music, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA. The article is entitled “Influences of the Arch Form in Relation to the Properties of Pitch Structure and Formal Design found Within Krzysztof Penderecki’s Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima.” For more information contact Duquesne University, School of Music, Robert Shankovich, Prof. & Director of Graduate Studies (tel: 412–396-6080).

An article entitled “The Polish School of Sonorism in its European Context” by Maria Anna Harley appeared in Crosscurrents and Counterpoints: Offerings in Honor of Bengt Hambraeus at 70, ed. Per Broman, Sweden, 1998. For more information contact Per Broman, the book’s editor. E-mail: Per.Broman@mh.luth.se

New Scores

You can now buy the music to the folk songs arranged by Henryk Mikolaj GORECKI for mixed choir a capella found on the Elektra/Nonesuch 79348-2 CD performed by the Lira Chamber Chorus. Boosey & Hawkes has “Broad Waters,” “My Vistula, Grey Vistula” and “Three Lullabies” with Polish text with pronounciation guide and an English translation.

A Sextet No. 2 for 2 clarinets, 2 horns and 2 bassoons by Franciszek LESSEL (1780-1835) has been published by Musica Rara. Score, 42p. + parts. Edited by Hanno Fendt.

Scores by composers Krzysztof PENDERECKI, Zygmunt KRAUZE, Krzysztof OLCZAK, Zbigniew PNIEWSKI, David RAKOWSKI and Jerzy SAPIEYEVSKI can be found at C. F. Peters Corporation.

Calendar of Events

APR 2: Chopin in Paris. An Authorís Evening with Tad Szulc. Kosciuszko Foundation. 7:00 p.m. Kosciuszko Foundation. 212-734-2130. 15 East 65th St., New York, NY 10021.

APR 3-4: 49th CHOPIN PIANO COMPETITION. Abbey Simon, jury chairman. Preliminaries and finals open to the public. $10 for Sat finals only.

APR 4: CONCERT OF NEW MUSIC by women composers, a part of DAY WITH WOMEN’S MUSIC, at Hancock Auditorium, USC Campus, Los Angeles, 8 p.m. The program includes four works by Hanna KULENTY: One by One for marimba solo, Still Life with a Cello for cello, A Fourth Circle for violin and piano, and A Sixth Circle for trumpet and piano. The last work is a world premiere. The concert presents also music by Marta PTASZYNSKA (Spider Walk for percussion), and Grazyna BACEWICZ (Sonata no. 4 for violin and piano).

APR 19: Chamber Music by PANUFNIK, MUCZYNSKI & Betsy SHRAMM. New Millennium Ensemble. 3 p.m. Kosciuszko Foundation. $15/12.

APR 21: The Music Gallery, Live broadcast over WNYC-FM 93.9, New York. Piotr FOLKERT, piano. An hour of music performance and conversation ìwith a Polish accentî hosted by John Schaefer.

Recent Performances

Pianist Veda ZUPONIC was the featured soloist at the 31st Annual Chopin Concert sponsored by the Polish Heritage Society of Philadelphia on March 8th at the Independence Seaport Museum.

Christopher WELDON, 1997 Kosciuszko Foundation Chopin Piano Competition winner performed CHOPINís Grande Valse Brillante and Piano Concerto no. 1 with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra on March 1st. The orchestra also performed LUTOSLAWSKIís ìLittle Suiteî and Tchaikovskyís ìLittle Symphony.î

The PENDERECKI STRING QUARTET performed at the Monday Evening Concerts at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art on March 16th. Music by Penderecki, Bartok and Lason.


Andrzej PANUFNIK: Symphony No. 10 (World premiere recording); Autumn Music; Heroic Overture and Sinfonia Sacra. Seattle Symphony Orch. Gerard Schwarz, cond. JVCC-6511-2.

CHANDOS has just released GORECKIís Concerto for harpsichord & strings (1980) (CHN 9590). This time with Catherine Perrin at the harpsichord and Yli Turovsky conducting the Montreal Music. Paired with Part and Schnittke.

On the LONDON Double Decker series we now have four of LUTOSLAWSKIís compositions. 448258-2. Concerto for Orchestra, Musique funebre, Paroles tissees and Variations on a Theme by Paganini for piano & orchestra.

Concert for the Prince of Poland is the title of a new recording of Vivaldiís music composed for Frederick Christian, Prince Elector of Saxony and Poland in 1740. Academy of Ancient Music. Andrew Manze, violin.

New recording by Anne-Sophie MUTTER: World premiere recording of Violin Concerto no. 2 with composer Krzysztof PENDERECKI conducting the London Symphony. DG 289 453 507-2.

Reviewed in Gramophone April 1998 issue

BACEWICZ Miscellaneous pieces for violin and piano. Wieslawa Szymczynska, v., Benedicte Haid, piano. CHAMBER SOUND CSCD 95011. First-rate performances and ideally balanced sound. The shorter items would make ideal encores, magnetic in their very brevity.î (Richard Whitehouse).

Karl RATHAUS (1895-1954). Polonaise symphonique, Concerto for piano and orch., Vision dramatique. Donald Pirone, piano. London Symphony Orch., Jo Ann Falletta. ìIn Pironeís capable hands, it leaves a strong overall impression. The remaining works have a mid-century stylistic anonymity, although the Polonaise would make a lively concert opener. ì (R.W.) KOCH INTERNATIONAL CLASSICS 373972.

For early music lovers

CANTUS C 9611: Musica Polonica – Eastern European music of the 17th century featuring works by Polish Baroque composers MIELCZEWSKI, ROHACZEWSKI, JARZEBSKI, and SZARZYNSKI. Recorded at the Walloon church in Amsterdam, July 1955 by In Stil Moderno.


Born This Month

  • Aleksander Glinkowski: April 4, 1941
  • Andrzej Krzanowski: April 9, 1951 – 1990
  • Antoni Szalowski: April 21, 1907 – March 21, 1973

Composer of the Month

Hanna Kulenty

Hanna KULENTY (b. 1961 in Bialystok, Poland) began her music education as a pianist in the G. Bacewicz Elementary Music School in Warsaw. From 1980 to 1986 she studied composition with Wlodzimierz Kotonski at the Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw. From 1986-1988 she did her post-graduate work in composition with Louis Andriessen, at the Royal Conservatory of Music in The Hague. She participated in the International Courses for Young Composers organized by the Polish Section of the ISCM, and the International Summer Courses of New Music at Darmstadt. The year 1985 was very important for her career: her composition for symphony orchestra, Ad Unum, received second prize at the European Young Composersí Competition, organized in Amsterdam by the European Cultural Fundation to celebrate the continentís unity. The theme of her work, a dissonant, dramatic and well-crafted study of convergence towards musical unity, was eminently suitable for this occasion. The same piece by the 24-year old composer, performed at the Warsaw Autumn Festival, elicited an enthusiastic response from Jan Weber, a very powerful music critic who warned Kulentyís male colleagues: Gentlemen, hear and tremble!

She has received numerous awards and commissions, including the DAAD scholarship to Berlin, Germany (for senior artists in many disciplines), and composition commissions and scholarships from the governments of Poland and Holland. Ms. Kulenty has taught composition at courses and seminars in several European countries; her music has been featured at festivals in Poland, Denmark, England, Germany and Holland. Her music is currently available on three CDs and has been broadcast and recorded in many European countries. In December 1996, the Hamburg Opera premiered her Mother of Black-Winged Dreams at the Munich Biennale. The opera explores the difficult subject matter of multiple personality syndrome and touches upon issues of suffering, child abuse, and gender relations. With the scenario penned by a Canadian writer who lives in Holland, Paul Goodman, the chamber work is structured as one huge arch of increasing tension, spanning the duration of the piece.

KULENTY’s compositional style has evolved during the years. Her earlier music, consisting of many layers of simultaneous “arcs” which begin at different points of their emotional trajectories and proceed at different speeds, often calls for vast instrumental resources (two symphonies, piano concerto, violin concerto). Her preferred medium has been the symphony orchestra which has the richest sound pallette, though recently she has written numerous chamber works. Commentators have often compared her orchestral style to Penderecki or Xenakis; she shares their flair for drama, expressive intensity, and relentless, layered rhythms. Formidable technical difficulties make One by One, for solo marimba a showpiece of instrumental virtuosity. This work was composed in 1988, published by PWM, and premiered at the Pascal Zavaro Festival, Paris, Radio France, in January 1991. Another solo work, Still Life with a Cello was commissioned by the Schleswig-Holstein Festival in Germany, composed in 1993 and premiered at the Festival by Polish cellist, Andrzej Bauer. This composition is a counterpart to the earlier Still Life with a Violin composed for Krzysztof Bakowski. Both pieces share a rhapsodic playfulness with time, and a selectiveness of pitch material, though the cello composition is somewhat more repetitive, with more regular rhythmic patterns.

The turn towards minimalism in recent works may be attributed to studying with Andriessen, most of whose students write “minimalist-oriented” pieces. Kulenty calls this phase in her works “European trance music” and often structures her compositions as single, powerful arcs. Good examples of this style are provided by A Fourth Circlefor violin and piano (1994) and A Sixth Circle for trumpet and piano (1995). The creation of these two pieces was supported with a scholarship from the Dutch government (Fonds voor de Scheppende Toonkunst). The melodic instrument in A Fourth Circle could be a violin, viola or cello; the work is most frequently performed in the violin version. It was premiered at the New Music Festival, Musikhost, in Odense, Denmark, in 1994; the main theme of the festival was “Three Polish Women: Bacewicz, Moszumanska-Nazar, and Kulenty.” A Sixth Circle for trumpet and piano, shares the melodic traits with its predecessor: microtonal inflections and long stretches of held notes in the trumpet, driving ostinati in the piano. Kulenty credits her intuition and the subconscious as the sources for the haunting sonorities and compelling emotional intensity of the music she creates. Whatever the explanation, the result certainly deserves our attention.