Polish Music Center Newsletter Vol. 8, no. 9


Paderewski Honored By The Congress

A resolution presented on July 29, 2002 by Misters Hagel, Biden, Murkowski, Fitzgerald and Ms. Miluski to the U.S. Congress was passed. It recognizes the accomplishments of Ignacy Jan Paderewski as a musician, composer, statesman, and philanthropist and acknowledges the invaluable efforts of this pianist and great statesman in forging close Polish- American ties, on the 10th anniversary of the return of Paderewski’s remains to Poland. After his death, Paderewski was buried at the Arlington National Cemetery and his remains could only return to Poland when the country was free. The 1989 change of government allowed the ceremonial reburial to be conducted: Paderewski’s memorial is now in the crypt of the St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Warsaw, Poland. The 1992 ceremony of Paderewski’s “official” return to free Poland was attended by Pres. George Bush and Lech Wałęsa. [WW]

Warsaw Autumn And Vratislavia Cantans

The “Warsaw Autumn” International Contemporary Music Festival will be held from September 20-28th this year. I visited the Festival’s web-site, but only found the list of concert locations and the time for each day, but not the program itself. However, under composers one name came out, Roman Berger, and under performers that of Ursula Krygier. Evidently the web-site is still under construction.

The Wratislavia Cantans International Music and Fine Arts Festival, which brings together choral groups and chamber orchestras from around the world and presents masterpieces from the cantata and oratorio literature, is also scheduled for September, but their web-site is blank with no information. [WW]

10th Festival Of Early Music In Jaroslaw

Between 18 and 26 August 2002, enthusiasts of early music were offered a feast of great music and performances at the Festival in Jaroslaw (Carpathian Foothills area of southern Poland. The closing concert presented pilgrim songs of the 14th century, in a performance by Micrologus ensemble from Italy. The Festival was subtitled, “The Song of Our Roots” and also included concerts of music for organ, choir, soloists and ensembles performed by musicians from Greece, Italy, France, England, Poland, and Georgia. During the course of the festival special liturgical services were held incorporating early religious music into modern devotional practice. Moreover those who wished to learn how to sing and dance medieval music were offered special classes and seminars on a variety of subjects.

Complete Chopin In Illinois

On September 8 and 9, 2002, pianist Ian Hobson begins a nine-recital series titled “Evolution of a Genius: The Complete Solo Piano Works of Frédéric Chopin.” This historic series will take place at the Katherine Dunham Hall Theater at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and will feature over 200 works by Chopin. The compositions will be performed in general chronological order, to trace the development of the composer’s style and relate to events in his life. The other seven recitals are scheduled for November 18, 2002, January 22 and 23, 2003, March 19 and 20, 2003, and April 1 and 2, 2003. For more information, contact the SIUE Music Dept. at 618-650-3900 (888-328-5168, ext. 3900 toll free).

Ian Hobson is currently a full professor at the University of Illinois. He has recorded over thirty-five compact discs, including the complete Beethoven piano sonatas, and performs regularly in major concert venues and with major orchestras throughout the world. His international concert career was launched by winning the prestigious Leeds Piano Competition in 1981. Before then, he had garnered silver medals at the Artur Rubinstein Competition and Vienna-Beethoven Competition. Hobson has been hailed as “one of the finest pianists of his generation” (American Record Guide) and his playing has been compared to that of legendary performers such as Gieseking, Lhevinne, Richter, Rubinstein, and Schnabel.

Angela Lear At South Carolina

British pianist Angela Lear’s upcoming Lecture-Recital at the University of South Carolina School of Music on Tuesday, October 8, 2002 will feature live performances of several selected works and discussions of various aspects of Fryderyk Chopin’s piano compositions. Please see a copy of the programme for this event attached to this message (MS-Word for Windows and Adobe Acrobat “PDF” formats).

This Lecture-Recital is free and open to the public. It will take place at 7:30 P.M. in the Recital Hall of the School of Music, located adjacent to the Koger Center for the Arts on Assembly Street in Columbia, SC. Seating is limited; so please arrive early for an assured seat. For more information contact Prof. Charles Kenneth Moss at (803) 773-3684; http://classicalmus.hispeed.com/ or e-mail 1: ckmoss@earthlink.net or E-mail 2: charles.moss@saintleo.edu.

Trelinski’s Don Giovanni In L.A.

Mariusz Trelinski has been contracted to direct the new production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni scheduled for June 2003 by the Los Angeles Opera. The performance schedule is listed on the Opera’s website. Below is the link to the page. There is also a bio page for Mr. Trelinski on the Don Giovanni page. Hopefully, this will be the beginning of a wonderful relationship between Teatr Wielki and the Los Angeles Opera. For more information visit: http://www.losangelesopera.com/production/index.asp?productionid=154

California Dance Project

The California Dance Educators Association (CDEA) seeks input for a new database that will house comprehensive information on dance in California. Funded by the California Arts Council, the database will create an effective communications tool for the dance community, provide better understanding of the needs of the field, provide relevant and current data, immediate access for advocacy, and a statewide calendar of meetings and conferences.

CDEA asks that you complete a brief online survey and forward this request to others in the dance field– dancers, choreographers, teachers, companies, dance service and support organizations, schools (public, private and studios), musicians, composers, dance administrators, technical and production support, designers, suppliers, vendors, etc. Dance genres include, but are not limited to, ballet, modern, jazz, tap, world cultures, etc. The questionnaire will take no more than five minutes to complete and can be submitted by email, fax or regular mail.

If you are a part of the California dance community, your input is extremely vital. Please help by distributing the project information and web address to individuals and agencies in your local area. The survey may be accessed at http://www.cdeadans.org/dance.resource.project.html.

Leonardo And The Splendor Of Poland

An art exhibit “Leonardo da Vinci and the Splendor of Poland” is scheduled to run from 13 September to 24 November at the Milwaukee Art Museum (www.museumtix.com). According to the flyer the “exhibition of 77 paintings will tell the story of Poland’s most important private and public collections presented for the first time anywhere outside of Europe. Highlighted is Leonardo da Vinci’s `Lady with an Ermine,’ ca 1490, one of the undisputed masterpieces of Italian Renaissance.”

Several music events are planned in conjunction with the exhibit. On Friday and Saturday (Oct 11 & 12th) Karol Szymanowski’s “Stabat Mater” will be featured in the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra Concert Series, “Music Celebrates Art” and on Nov 1 & 2) the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra will be conducted by Stanislaw Skrowaczewski in the “Polish Virtuosos” Concert Series. On November 3, 2002 Polish and Italian music will be presented by the Rose Ensemble in the Early Music Series. [WW]

Paderewski At USC: September 17

Paderewski receives honorary doctorate from USC, 1923

“Paderewski: Portrait of a Musician” Exhibition will be on display at Alfred Newman Recital Hall Gallery, USC, Los Angeles, from 17 September 2002 to 10 January 2003. Culled from the extensive collection of materials held at the Polish Music Center at the USC Thornton School of Music, this exhibition chronicles the life and career of Ignacy Jan Paderewski, the musician-statesman who received an honorary doctorate from USC in 1923. Throughout his musical career Paderewski was actively lobbying for Polish independence; he collected funds to benefit the country, its soldiers and the victims of the war. His campaign resulted in Poland returning to the map of Europe; he then became the first Prime Minister of Poland and the first Polish delegate to the League of Nations. Paderewski’s compositions include songs, and piano pieces, an opera, Manru (1901), and a Symphony in B minor Polonia (1907). He also edited a 20 volume anthology of music by other composers, and Chopin’s complete works. However, his main title to fame was his talent as a virtuoso pianist; his music was partly preserved on piano rolls and transferred to CDs.

The exhibition presents the composer’s historical photographs from 1890-1930s, manuscripts, piano-roll recordings from 1910s, early editions of his music, samples of his editorial work (Chopin, Century Library), concert programs from American tours in 1920-24, advertisements for Steinway, Victor-Victrola, and the Aeolian Co., as well as books and recordings on LP and CD. Californian material linked to Paderewski includes documentation about his honorary doctorate from USC (1923), programs from his Los Angeles performances, and the Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles. The Exhibition is illustrated with excerpts from Paderewski’s speeches and period writings (poetry and music criticism). It is curated by Dr. Maja Trochimczyk (PMC Director) and Dr. Ljiljana Grubisic (Director of Communications at the Thornton School of Music, with a Ph.D. in Russian literature and ample music background).

The Exhibition is free, hours vary. The opening reception will take place on September 17, 2002; between 6:00 p.m.- 8:00 p.m. Following the reception you might attend a concert from the Thornton Music Masters Series, September 17, 2002. 8 p.m. USC Alfred Newman Hall, Cynthia Munzer, mezzo-soprano, Kevin Fitz-Gerald, piano and Peter Marsh, violin. A world-class opera veteran who has sung over twenty roles with the Metropolitan Opera Company, Cynthia Munzer joins Kevin Fitz-Gerald and Peter Marsh to perform chamber works and songs by Sergei Rachmaninov, Johannes Brahms, Richard Wagner and Aaron Copland.

News From The Polish Music Center

Dr. Maja Trochimczyk will be on a sabbatical leave in the fall 2002, working on a research project for which she received a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies, East European Committee. The project, entitled Sound Constructions: Image, Number, and Space in 20th-Century Polish Music,” is devoted to the use of non-musical imagery in Polish music after World War II, the compositional techniques and ideologies associated with this usage, and the similarities and differences between the approaches to this subject by Polish composers and their Western counterparts. The project is partly based on composers’ sketches and other material from the Polish Music Center’s collection, as well as on material held at the Sacher Stiftung in Basel and Polish archives.During Dr. Trochimczyk’s leave which will last until January 2003, a part of her duties will be taken over by Mr. Marek Zebrowski, Polish composer and pianist, currently teaching at UCLA (with over 20 years of previous experience at MIT and other Boston-area colleges). Mr. Zebrowski will prepare for publication two long-awaited books to be issued by the PMC this year: The Songs of Karol Szymanowski and His Contemporariesedited by Zofia Helman, Teresa Chylińska, and Alistair Wightman, and Józef Koffler by Maciej Gołab. In addition to supervising the production of the books by Bookmasters in Ohio, Mr. Zebrowski will also edit the Winter issue of the Polish Music Journal. As a composer-pianist himself, he will bring his insights to this project and is a welcome addition to our part-time staff.

The staffing of the PMC in the Fall 2002 semester will be completed by Mr. Przemysław Raczyński (Pshemek for short), a clarinet student of Polish descent, with a degree from Toronto, Canada, who will be the main office assistant and the managing editor of the Polish Music Newsletter. Unfortunately, due to his lack of experience and the part-time status of Mr. Zebrowski, certain projects and aspects of our activities will have to be left undone until the return of Dr. Trochimczyk from her leave in January 2002.

Books and Publications

Patti Music Company

Patti Music Co. of Madison, Wisconsin is a publisher of music scores and their latest catalog has many discounts. They have the Paderewski Edition and the National Edition by Jan Ekier of Chopin’s Complete Works, as well as the Peters Edition. You can also purchase the piano music of Godowsky, Gorecki (Piano Sonata), Hilary Koprowski, Jerzy Lefeld, Moszkowski, Panufnik, Scharwenka, Szymanowski and Tansman. They also have Chopin and Moszkowski Concertos in a two piano arrangement and the Lutoslawski “Paganini Variations” for two pianos. The Organ Music of the 19th Century, Book 12 is titled, “Polish Composers.” You can order online www.pattimusic.com or call 800-777-2884. [WW]

New Book About Ptaszynska

According to a review by Renata Pasternak-Mazur published in Nowy Dziennik,composer Marta Ptaszyńska hears colors. We have heard of composers being inspired by paintings, but this composer has a unique sense wherein different colors evoke different sounds in her head and vice-versa. I have met this immensely talented composer several times and believe this to be true in her case.

Unfortunately, the book about Ptaszyńska, published by PWM in Krakow in 2001 is in the Polish language only, so this leaves many out from enjoying the interview between the composer and writers Ewa Cichon and Marek Polony in “Muzyka to jezyk najdoskonalszy.” (Music is the most perfect of all languages). I learned one new thing about the composer from this article. When she was a music theory student she had to compose her own music for a performance because of lack of literature for her chosen instrument. The outstanding composer Grazyna Bacewicz was in the audience and heard the “Four Preludes for vibraphone and piano.” She encouraged her to transfer to a composition class and the rest is history. Witold Lutosławski also recognized her talent and she became a frequent guest in his home where the “suppers” turned into de-facto lessons in composition. Her composition, “La novello d’inverno” (Winter’s Tale) won First Prize at the International Rostrum of Composers at UNESCO in Paris in 1986.

Ptaszyńska is an accomplished percussionist and she was the featured guest composer and performer at the Polish Music Center’s Open House in October 1987. The program opened with a performance by the Early Music Ensemble, directed by James Tyler, of music by Jarzębski and Szarzyński, followed by Lutosławski’s Chain 1 performed by the Contemporary Music Ensemble under Donald Crockett. The second half of the program consisted of Marta Ptaszyńska’s music performed by USC students. Mark Nicolay, vibraphone and Mary Dropkin, harp played “Jeu-Parti” and soprano Milissa Carey was joined by Marcia Dickstein, harp and Pat Cloud, flute, in “Un Grand Sommeil Noir.” The climax of the program was the composer’s own rendition of “Space Model” for percussion wherein she performed successively from all four sides of the University Church, whose excellent acoustics enhanced the wonderful music.

Marta Ptaszyńska has lived in the U.S. since the 1970s and has taught music theory and percussion at several universities. She is currently professor of composition at the University of Chicago. Her compositions have brought her many prizes and many successful performances. Her latest children’s opera, Mr. Marimba has been sold out each season in Warsaw. The program cover reproduced below was designed by the composer’s daughter.

There is much more to be said about Marta Ptaszyńska. You can visit her web-site at www.presser.com and/or look into our composer sites. An extensive English language overview of her music, with an emphasis on her chamber works and color hearing was published by Maja Trochimczyk in a Canadian new-music journal called Musicworks(“Percussion, Poetry and Color: The Music of Marta Ptaszyńska.” Musicworks no. 74, Summer 1999). The publication included a CD with a recording of excerpts from Ptaszynska’s song cycle for voice, piano and percussion called Liquid Light. The cycle was performed in Los Angeles during a congress of the International Alliance for Women in Music at the California Institute for the Arts in Valencia, and, during another concert, for the Polish Music Center. [WW]

Polish Music Journal, Vol. 5, No. 1

The summer issue of the Polish Music Journal is currently in preparation and will appear at the PMC web site by the end of September 2002. The issue, subtitled “Bacewicz and Wilk Prizes 2001” will present the three prize-winning papers from the 14th Essay Competition for the Stefan and Wanda Wilk Prize for Research in Polish Music. The papers include Prof. Adrian Thomas’s study “File 750: composers, Politics, and the Festival of Polish Music (1951)” which received the 2001 Professional Prize and two student papers which shared the 2001 Student Prize ex aequo: Stanisław Dobrzanski’s “Maria Szymanowska and Fryderyk Chopin: Parallelism and Influence” and Katarzyna Grochowska’s “From Milan to Gdańsk: The Story of a Dedication.” In addition, the volume will also include a reprint of Judith Rosen’s brief monograph about Grażyna Bacewicz, issued as No. 2 in the Polish Music History Series (it is currently out of print), complemented by a new bibliography and the list of works of Bacewicz, as well as a bibliography and the list of the most important compositions by Maria Szymanowska.The Winter 2002 issue of the Polish Music Journal will be devoted to pianists-composers and will feature a number of reprints of 19th and early 20th century studies and articles not well-known to Polish researchers but of great importance from the point of view of the reception of Polish music in the U.S. [MT]


Paleczny’s Golden Disc

Piotr Paleczny received a Polish award of the Golden Disc for his recording of four Ballades and the Fantasy in F minor by Chopin. The recording is a part of the series of the National Edition of Chopin’s Compositions and was issued by BeArTon. This award is the second Golden Disc of the eminent pianist. He received his first Golden Disc in 2001 for a recording of Chopin’s Piano Concerti (no. 11 in the National Edition), with Jerzy Maksymiuk, conductor and Sinfonia Varsovia. Congratulations!!!


by Wanda Wilk

Fanfare Reviews

Reviewed in Fanfare the Sep/Oct 2002 issue:

Centaur CRC 2533 Szymanowski: 4 Mazurkas, Op. 50, Clementi and Schubert Sonatas. Gregory Sioles, piano.

Peter Burwasser begins his review with, “This recital gets major brownie points for the inclusion of music by Karol Szymanowski, the immensely gifted composer from the first half of the 20th century who, it seems, is slowly but surely gaining deserved acceptance by the public at large….it would be nice to hear the balance of the 20 mazurkas that Szymanowski wrote.” Too bad there is no clue about the soloist.

EMI 7243-5 & 74852-2 Penderecki: Symphony No. 2, Te Deum, Lacrimosa, Magnificat, Kanon. Penderecki, cond. Polish RSP of Krakow, Polish RNSO and Polish RSO.

According to Paul Rapoport this “is a compilation of performances released from 1973 to 1984.” He goes on to describe each work. He concludes with “Why these works were chosen is not apparent, and there are too many from just over 20 years ago, with none more recent than that. Representative they aren’t really, and among this composer’s best music definitely not, except for most of the Magnificat.”

Arthur Loesser in Recital. Marston 52036-2. Music by Paderewski & Godowsky among others.

Charles Timbrell highly recommends these two CDs, since they “will serve to introduce a new generation to the phenomenon that was Arthur Loesser (1894-1969), revered pianist, scholar, and teacher.” The pianist was a student of Sigismond Stojowski and wrote a “wonderful book,” “Men, Women and Pianos – A Social History .” (1954)

DUX 0270 Paderewski: Piano Miniatures; Sonata. Elzbieta Guzek, piano.

DUX is a Polish record company that has put out some excellent recordings. Alexander Morin found Ms. Guzek’s performance “quite pleasant listening” and having a sound technique. He described the sonata, one of Paderewski’s “few large-scale works” as never having become popular, partly because of its length and difficulty and partly because “for every good musical idea it contains – and there are many – there are other passages that are repetitive and uninteresting.” To each, his own.[WW]

Polish Music On The Acte Prealable Label

by Wanda Wilk

This is the second report in my study of recording companies and their Polish repertoire. This time the record company is Polish, so the majority of their music is that of Polish composers, although they do have some Bach, Beethoven and music of other countries. Acte Prealable was founded about five years ago by Jan Jarnicki, who lived in France for many years before returning to Poland.

As per their catalog, they “specialize in recordings that are hard to find. Through our label, music lovers may now hear a wide variety of unknown or forgotten Polish composers.” It is a unique label that is trying to fill in gaps in Polish music recordings by concentrating on music that hadn’t been recorded previously and that is why most of their records have the logo “world premiere recording.” Their French name means “first edition,” which fits very well. At least one work on the recording has to be a first-time recording.

I was immediately impressed with the selected repertoire that I saw in their catalog. Just the fact that they have started recording the complete works of Grazyna Bacewicz, an outstanding composer of the 20th century, won my heart. Her music has been recorded commercially many times. However, there are some works that have not, such as, the wind quintets, first and second string quartets, and the complete oboe works (Trio for oboe, harp & percussion, Trio for oboe, violin & cello; Sonatina for oboe/piano and Sonata for oboe/piano), and this is great news for Bacewicz afficionados! They get a five-star rating for this alone! There is still one Trio for oboe, cl & bsn (1948) that hasn’t been recorded, but neither has it been published.

They have several series started:

  • Grazyna Bacewicz (1909-1969). Complete Works. I, II, III,
  • The New Polish Music Panorama, I, II, III, IV, V
  • Feliks Nowowiejski (1877-1946). Piano Works, I, II
  • Marian Sawa (1937-). Organ Works I, II, III, IV
  • 20th c. Polish Piano Music.
  • Polish Choral Music.

It appears that they are recording the complete works of the following composers:

  • Marian Borkowski (1934-). Symphonic & Sacred Works.
  • Ignacy Dobrzynski (1807-1867). String Quintets & Sextet.
  • Wojciech Lukaszewski (1936-1978). Symphonic & Chamber Works.
  • Milosz Magin (1929-1999). Piano Works I.
  • Karol Rathaus (1895-1954). Complete String Quartets.
  • Romuald Twardowski (1930-). Chamber Works, Piano, Songs.
  • Wladyslaw Zelenski (1837-1921). Songs I

Other interesting titles include:

  • Polish Flute Sonatas.
  • Alexander Tansman 2nd Int’l Competition.
  • Composers’ Competition: Musica Sacra.
  • Virtuosi of the Accordion.
  • The Warsaw Tablature (17th century).

Acte Prealable also prides itself “in promoting new developments and trends in contemporary music.” Except for Piotr Grella-Mozejko (1981), here are some of the many names of young composers that I did not recognize: Marcin Blazewicz (1953); Renata Kunkel (1934); Renata Paciorek (1967); Maria Pokrzywinska (1954); Tadeusz Trojanowski (1958); Marcin Wierzbicki (1969); Piotr Wrobel (1977); Maciej Zielinski (1971); Maciej Zoltowski (1971).

I recognized many of the performers and composers’ names: Wilanow Quartet; Schola Cantorum Gedenansis Choir; Polish National Radio & TV Orchestra in Cracow and PNRTV in Warsaw; Also pianists Andrzej Dutkiewicz, Marcin Borkowski and Waldemar Malicki; organists Joachim Grubich and Adam Chorosinski [although there were many unknown (to me) organists playing in the four volume organ series, perhaps these were students of the great Polish organ masters]. I do know that many of the artists and composers are associated with the Chopin Academy of Music and the New Polish Music Panorama Series concentrated on the professors and students at the academy.Acta Prealable also features local Philharmonic orchestras, like from the cities of Szczecin, Koszalin and Czestochowa and Camerata Silesia and Camerata Vistula. Just because they are local ensembles or part of a music conservatory, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t matter. Take the case of our own USC Symphony Orchestra, which performed the famous Gorecki Third Symphony under the baton of the composer in 1997. Mark Swed, the Los Angeles Times music critic, called their performance better than any of the commercial releases and called the October, 1997 live performance as the “music event of the year in Los Angeles.” Add to these talented groups the fact that they are recording something that hasn’t been recorded before, and I call this a rare treat indeed!

My “Top Ten” List of titles I would like to have in my library would include:

  • The New Polish Music Panorama.
  • Franciszek Lessel. Complete Works.
  • Grazyna Bacewicz. Complete Works.
  • Polish Flute Sonatas.
  • Marian Sawa: Organ Works.
  • Bacewicz-Kilar-Szeligowski: Wind Quintets.
  • Ignacy Dobrzynski.
  • Polish Mass.
  • 21st century Polish Choral Music.
  • Kurpinski-Lessel

It was difficult to choose only ten titles, because there are still so many I would like to have and to hear. One reason for selecting the “Polish Mass” was because it includes the music of Poland’s best composer of choral music, Andrzej Koszewski, along with music by Borkowski, Luciuk & Twardowski. The organ works of Marian Sawa include the piece “Ecce lignum Cruces,” a title I’m familiar with from a USC student of organ from several years ago, who was looking for the music. He had heard it at a concert in Germany and couldn’t find it anywhere. Luckily we had the score in our archives at that time. He’ll be happy to know that now there is a recording of it. In fact it is in both Vol. II & IV.I became familiar with the name of Ignacy Dobrzynski many years ago when we received a dissertation on this composer from a musician in Poland. I also would like to hear Karol Rathaus’ music, as I only know him from a folk-song arrangement for 4-part voices (with English text), which I heard years ago at a local high school performance. I then learned that Rathaus emigrated to the U.S. in the late 30s, where he taught music in New York. It would be interesting to hear his three string quartets. I also recognized names like Slowinski, Olkusnik, Meyer (at one time president of the Polish Composers Union), Perkowski. I know nothing about Wojciech or Pawel Lukaszewski (who are featured on five CDs). I hope that the program notes contain biographies.

Composers Grazyna Bacewicz, Marian Borkowski, Andrzej Dutkiewicz, Henryk Mikolaj Gorecki, Wojciech Kilar, Andrzej Koszewski, Krzysztof Meyer, Joachim Olkusnik, Piotr Perkowski, Constantin Regamey, Wladyslaw Slowinski, Tadeusz Szeligowski, Alexander Tansman, Romuald Twardowski and Boleslaw Woytowicz, among others, have all been presented at the Warsaw Autumn International Contemporary Music Festivals at one time or another. No one can question the quality or calibre of their music. One of the Bacewicz CDs just received a favorable review by the International Record Revue.

The catalog also has recordings of non-Polish composers, which are “world premiere recordings:”

  • Scarlatti’s oratorio “Re di Polonia”
  • Johann Schobert. Sonatas for harpsichord & strings
  • Thomas Tellefsen (1823-1874). Piano Works in 3 volumes.
  • Album of music by Spanish composers.

I looked up to see who Tellefsen was and found that he was a Norwegian pianist and composer who lived in Paris and was a pupil of Chopin, as well as editor of Chopin’s works in Paris. Now I knew why his piano works were titled mazurkas, valses, polonaises, nocturnes, etudes and ballades.

All in all, I find Acte Prealable to be a unique label that indeed features rare, forgotten and never heard before works. For music students who research a particular composer it helps to be able to hear his/her complete ouevre and this is where one can find the missing links. You can visit this unique and important enterprise at www.kki.net.pl\~acteprealable [WW]

Recent Performances

Chopin In Los Angeles

Pianist Ying Zhang made her L.A. debut playing Chopin’s “Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise Brillante” and the Revolutionary Etude with the New West Symphony conducted by Boris Brott at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood (17 Aug).

Fifteen-year old Stanisław Drzewiecki played Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1 under the baton of Eduard Schmieder at Zipper Hall, Colburn School of Performing Arts as part of the Annual International Laureate Music Festival on 10 August (see review below), while Alexander Slobodyanik played Chopin’s Etudes Op. 25 in the International Piano Symposium at the same location on 16 August. [WW]

Drzewiecki: A Phenomenal Pianist At 15

by Maja Trochimczyk

I first heard about Stanisław Drzewiecki from my college friend, Małgorzata Polańska, the owner of DUX recording company in Warsaw, Poland. When I visited her office in the summer of 2000 to receive a donation for the Polish Music Center (over 30 CDs with Polish music recorded by her company), she said: “Maja, you have to know about this: there is this pianist, child prodigy, who is an absolute genius. I have never seen or heard such a talented youngster and he is so mature in so many other ways. A fantastic musician!” Malgorzata told me that something has to be done to promote Drzewiecki or, at least, to make his existence known to Americans. On the basis of her experience as a recording engineer specializing in classical music, she assured me that such great pianists, with such impeccable technique and profound musicality are rare even among mature musicians: to have all these gifts in such a young person was a true wonder. As a result, I put a notice or two about Drzewiecki’s prizes and successes into the Polish Music Newsletter, then I busied myself with other projects.

In the spring of 2002, however, I heard about Drzewiecki again: he was coming to California. Ms. Wanda Pressburger, a music lover and volunteer for a yong musicians’ organization (about which I will talk later) asked the PMC if there would be a possibility of a Drzewiecki recital at USC. In the middle of the summer, at the time of his visit, the University is not in session and our concert halls are being fixed and refurbished for the following year. Thus, I had to reluctantly decline the offer. I was quite delighted later on when I was informed by the ever indefatigable Vladek Juszkiewicz (through his email list) that Drzewiecki was going to give a concert in Los Angeles, appearing in one of the events of the International Laureates Music Festival (the fifth annual festival was held in Los Angeles between 18 July and 11 August 2002). Drzewiecki was to be the soloist in Chopin’s Concerto No. 1 in E minor, Op. 11, during a chamber orchestra concert on 10 August 2002, accompanied by the I Palpiti string orchestra conducted by Eduard Schmieder.

The concert took place at Zipper Hall of the Colburn School of Performing Arts – a new, strikingly beautiful concert hall located next to the Music Center in downtown Los Angeles and used for many chamber orchestra concerts and solo recitals. The program included also Mozart’s Adagio and Fuga in C minor KV 546, Schostakovich’s Chamber Symphony for String Orchestra Op. 110A, and Hindemith’s Minimax “Repertorium fur Militarmusik.” The orchestra, as I found out from the program of the festival, consisted of soloists and prize winners. The purpose of the orchestra and the festival is to bring together winners of prizes in international competitions to form an orchestra, work and tour together, record music and gain a valuable experience as musicians. The orchestra’s name “I Palpiti” means “the heartbeat” in Italian. The ensemble was founded in 1991 by its principal conductor, Eduard Schmieder, and has performed in the U.S., Europe, and Asia, including appearances at the Concertgebouw, and summer residences at Los Angeles and Beverly Hills. The members of the ensemble include young artists from Switzerland, Germany, Uruguay, Slovakia, Ukraine, Japan, Netherlands, China, Hungary, Austria, Uzbekistan, Canada, Spain, Bulgaria, Finland, USA, and Russia. During the concert, the orchestra’s performance of the Shostakovich was particularly moving and emotional, partly because of the dedication of the concert to the Victims of Terror everywhere, and the anti-Stalinist, grim message in Shostakovich’s dirge-like, sorrowful work.

Enough said of the orchestra, though: I was there to witness the marvel of its soloist. As I already knew, Drzewiecki began his piano education at the age of four, one year later he started learning to compose and made his solo debut in Moscow. At the age of six he went on his first concert tour to Japan, performing as a soloist in the first of the eleven piano concerti now found in his repertoire. At the age of seven he debuted with Sinfonia Varsovia playing a solo part in the Haydn Piano Concerto at the Lutoslawski Concert Studio of the Polish Radio in Warsaw. His concerts took him to ever more prestigious venues: Victoria and Albert Museum in London, Queen Elisabeth Hall in Vancouver, Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna, Estonia Hall in Tallinn, and numerous other locations in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain, Japan, and other countries. At the age of ten Drzewiecki released his first CD in Poland, following it with two others, all by DUX and all nominated to the prestigious Fryderyk awards for the best Polish music recordings. Drzewiecki’s next CD will be issued by SONY in September 2002. The young artist is also a prize winner: Grand Prix in European Television Concert at Alicante in 2000, 10th Eurovision Grand Prix for Young Musicians in Bergen in 2001. His other honors include the prestigious “Passport” of the Polish weekly “Polityka,” (an award given to the most promising young talent in many disciplines, previous winners include composer Paweł Mykietyn), and being placed on the list of People to Watch by the Time magazine in October 2000.

What explains the successes at such a young age is, to a certain extent, family background: his parents, Jaroslaw Drzewiecki of Poland and Tatiana Shebanova of Russia are both distinguished concert pianists and teachers. Stanislaw’s biography in the concert program (from which most of the current information was taken) reminds us that he is currently studying at the Szymanowski Music High School “under Professor Tatiana Shebanova’s supervision.” Simply speaking: Stas is studying with Mom. But even the most ambitious and well-meaning parents are not able to make a “child prodigy” from an ungifted child: here hard work encounters talent in a happy mixture that leads to the emergence of “genius.” The charming childishness of the young “genius of the keyboard” may be still seen in his biography which states that: “In his spare time, Stanislaw is a dedicated model airplane builder, paints landscapes, skiing, skating, plays Ping-Pong, writes books, and composes his own music.” Kids like to brag, that is certain: is playing the piano as well as he does not enough?

And play he does… The well-known and beloved Chopin concerto sounded fresh and youthful under Drzewiecki’s fingers. It is hard while listening to such a young musician, not to think that one witnesses a result of training and someone else’s musical vision coming to life through the young musician as a “vessel” or “medium” for someone’s else’s content. But Drzewiecki’s “ownership” of his interpretation of the Chopin concerto was indubitable. Joyful and exuberant with a youthful vitality in the outer movements, gently sentimental in the middle (a boy that young does not know much about heartbreaks so the darker tones of melancholy were missing), the Concerto sounded – I thought – as it could have sounded when played by the very young Ignacy Jan Paderewski. While the appearance was completely different, and the age, too, showed a gap of several years (Paderewski was not a prodigy and debuted at a much older age than Drzewiecki), I was struck by the notion of “charisma” – this rare and appealing gift that makes the person the center of attention wherever he or she appears among others. Paderewski was often described as “charismatic” and there are numerous accounts of his “magnetic” impact on his audiences. Though barely fourteen, Stas Drzewiecki seems already following this path. Of course, in music, there is no charisma without talent, without the astounding precision of performing technique or without a beguiling range of colors resounding from the black box of the piano. Drzewiecki’s sense of timing, his use of rubato and rhythmic flexibility provided the music with the feeling of freshness and an element of welcome surprise and delight that makes live performances so much more interesting than recording.

For comparison, after the concert I listened to the recording of the same Piano Concerto (in E minor, Op. 11) by Chopin. This version, with Grzegorz Nowak conducting the masterly Sinfonia Varsovia, (DUX 0199, recorded on a gold CD in 2000), was more controlled and featured somewhat slower tempi and a greater number of instrumental details. Of course, here we had a full orchestra, and not mere strings as during the live performance by I Palpiti. Chopin, so often criticized for being a “weak orchestrator” since he used his instruments so sparingly, really knew what he was doing when scoring the Concerto – not a single note by the wind instruments is out of place. During the concert I felt that something was missing from the music; after listening to the recording I realized that the problem was not with any aspects of the orchestra’s present musicians, but with those that were not there: the orchestra consists only of string players. This comparison convinced me that the current vogue to perform Chopin only with the string quartet or quintet for accompaniment is somewhat misguided as it removes an important element from the music.

The Drzewiecki CD includes also 12 Etudes from Op. 10 and 25 – a further proof of the young pianist’s musicality and gifts. Poland gave the world many wonderful pianists. In recent years, Piotr Anderszewski’s career has reached new heights. Anderszewski’s Mozart Concerti with the same Sinfonia Varsovia that had recorded Chopin with Drzewiecki, was recently singled out for praise by the Los Angeles Times. His recordings of Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations have delighted music critics and lovers worldwide. It would not be fair for Drzewiecki to be compared with his older colleague at this time. He is already “his own pianist” but there are ways of personal and musical maturity that he still has to reach. In the meantime, I would recommend that our readers seek out and get Drzewiecki’s recordings wherever they might be available. This is a pianist not to be missed!


Born This Month

  • 1 September 1900 – Kazimierz WILKOMIRSKI, cellist, conductor, teacher (died in 1990)
  • 5 September 1924 – Krystyna MOSZUMANSKA-NAZAR, composer
  • 6 September 1916 – Tadeusz DOBRZANSKI, composer and conductor
  • 7 September 1943 – Elżbieta STEFAŃSKA, harpsichordist
  • 9 September 1921 – Andrzej DOBROWOLSKI, composer (died in 1989)
  • 9 September 1923 – Andrzej BACHLEDA, tenor
  • 13 September 1896 – Tadeusz SZELIGOWSKI (died 10 January 1963), composer
  • 14 September 1937 – Jan ASTRIAB, composer
  • 14 September 1914 – Michal SPISAK, composer (died 29 January 1965, Paris)
  • 16 September 1895 – Karol RATHAUS, composer, pianist (died 21 November 1954, New York)
  • 16 September 1891 – Czeslaw MAREK, composer, pianist
  • 18 September 1919 – Edward BURY, composer and theory teacher
  • 18 September 1928 – Adam WALACINSKI, composer and music critic
  • 18 September 1883 – Ludomir RÓŻYCKI (died 1 January 1953), composer
  • 19 September 1938 – Zygmunt KRAUZE, composer and pianist
  • 22 September 1940 – Edward BOGUSLAWSKI, composer
  • 23 September 1912 – Irena PFEIFFER, composer, conductor.
  • 24 September 1914 – Andrzej PANUFNIK (died 27 October 1991), composer
  • 30 September 1942 – Andrzej DUTKIEWICZ, pianist and composer
  • 30 September 1947 – Jan OLESZKOWICZ, composer


Died This Month

  • 13 September 1977 – Leopold STOKOWSKI (born 18 April 1882), conductor and composer
  • 15 September 1895 – Jan KLECZYNSKI (b. 8 June 1857), pianist and music critic
  • 15 September 1944 – Bronislaw WOLFSTAHL, composer, pianist, conductor (b. 22 July 1883)
  • 18 September 1857 – Karol KURPINSKI (b. 6 March 1785), composer and conductor
  • 26 September 1944 – Seweryn BARBAG (b. 4 September 1891), musicologist.
  • 29 September 1954 – Alfred GRADSTEIN (born 30 October 1904), composer, and social activist
  • 27 September 1943 – Wacław GIEBUROWSKI (born 6 February 1878), priest, choral conductor and musicologist
  • 28 September 1939 – Halina SZMOLC-FITELBERG (born 25 December 1892), dancer (Diaghilev ensemble, Grand Theatre)
  • 28 September 1956 – Walerian BIERDAJEW, conductor and teacher (b. 7 March 1885)
  • 29 September 1861 – Tekla BADARZEWSKA-BARANOWSKA (b. 1834), composer of “The Maiden’s Prayer”