Polish Music Center Newsletter Vol. 13, no. 8

Szymanowski Year

Composers On Szymanowski

Because of his influence on the future generations of composers who would emanate out of Poland and profoundly impact the music of the 20 th century, Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937) has been given the posthumous honorary title of the Father of Modern Polish Music. His inspiration can be felt far and wide and throughout many generations, as is evinced by the many composers who have written compositions based on his style and in his honor. Two such composers are Joanna Bruzdowicz (b. 1943) and Peter Paul Koprowski (b. 1947).

Bruzdowicz deposits her scores at USC, December 2003. Photo by Darren Schenck.

Joanna Bruzdowicz is a Polish composer currently living in France. Her 1st String Quartet “La Vita” was inspired by the life and music of Karol Szymanowski and dedicated to him. This piece was featured in the Agnes Varda film, The Vagabond. A true citizen of the world and champion of Polish music, Ms. Bruzdowicz was the founder and President of the Frederic Chopin and Karol Szymanowski Society of Belgium and Vice-President of the International Federation of Chopin Societies. During the Year of European Music (1985) she organized a concert devoted to “forgotten Europe,” which featured works by Szymanowski, Shostakovich, Dvorak and Bartók. Ms. Bruzdowicz was also the second composer (after Witold Lutosławski) to offer her original scores to the Polish Music Center’s Manuscript collection; in 2003 she donated several more of her scores (pictured at right in Special Collections) when she visited USC to give the Annual Paderewski Lecture.

Avant-garde composer Peter Paul Koprowski, born Piotr Paweł Koprowski in Łodż, Poland in 1947, has lived in Canada for a large part of his life but his music is deeply rooted in the Polish tradition. According to the Canadian Music Centre’s Influences of Many Musics project, “In [Ancestral Voices (1996)] for string orchestra, Koprowski incorporates stylistic elements from past composers who, in his words, “have profoundly influenced the development of my writing,” such as Polish composer Karol Szymanowski.” When he was 16 years old in 1966, Koprowski completed a piece entitled In Memoriam Karol Szymanowski for orchestra, and then revised it again in 1977. Though revised, it has been performed continually since its first draft. The composer’s biography is available from the University of Western Ontario website and the Canadian Encyclopedia. (Koprowski is pictured above, observing a rehearsal of his Épitaphe par l’Orchestre in Ottawa, Canada in 1999, from www.nac-cna.ca.

TVP & Szymanowski

TVP [Telewizja Polska] has created an interactive multimedia website in honor of the Year of Szymanowski: v1.itvp.pl/szymanowski. The website includes many informative aspects, such as interviews with musicians about Szymanowski’s life and works, an interactive timeline that connects important years in Szymanowski’s life with the political, social and musical atmosphere of the time, descriptions of different areas of the world where Szymanowski lived, etc. Please visit this in-depth site for more information, which is available in Polish and English.

Summer Concert In Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Chapter of the Kosciuszko Foundation (NY) announces its third annual Summer Concert, taking place Sunday, August 19, starting at 3:00 PM, at the Ethical Society Building in Philadelphia. This year’s concert is dedicated to Karol Szymanowski in honor of this Year of Szymanowski on the 125th anniversary of his birth. The concert features noted virtuosi and Szymanowski scholars, Blanka Bednarz, violinist and Matthew Bengtson, pianist, performing a musical program drawn from a cross-section of Szymanowski’s works, including Etudes, Op. 4; Myths for Violin and Piano, Op. 30; Masques, Op. 34; and Mazurkas, Op. 50.

Blanka Bednarz performs regularly as part of the Atma Trio and together with Sinfonietta Polonia, a unique orchestral training program based in Poznań, Poland. Closer to Philadelphia, Dr. Bednarz is Professor of Music at Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA, where she is also concertmaster of the Dickinson Orchestra.

Matthew Bengtson is a pianist, fortepianist and harpsichordist with a special interest in Karol Szymanowski’s music. His 2002 recording, The Complete Mazurkas of Karol Szymanowski, presents the subject of his doctoral dissertation, which was honored with the 2003 Stefan and Wanda Wilk Prize for Research in Polish Music from the Polish Music Center.

On this auspicious occasion, the national Kosciuszko Foundation joins the Philadelphia Chapter in honoring this seminal figure of 20th century music by cosponsoring the event. The Philadelphia Chapter also gratefully acknowledges support from the Cierpik Fund administered by the Kosciuszko Foundation, Swift Mailing Services and the Szyszko Family, Julia Bakery and the Parkway Corporation.

Kosciuszko Foundation Summer Concert and Reception
Sunday, August 19, 3:00 PM 

Ethical Society Building (1906 S. Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia, PA 19104) tickets : $35/$15 for students  in advance; $40/$20 for students at the door
call for tickets: 267-987-5347 or 215-752-9270
for information: 215-752-9270

PMC News

Fall Harvest Of Polish Music And Culture

In the coming months Polish music will resonate throughout the Golden State. A great wealth of concerts and other cultural activities are planned, which the local Polish community should enjoy to the fullest, actively participating in the rich offerings that dot the fall calendar.

The month of August will be under the auspices of Frederic Chopin. The romantic story and music of Poland ‘s greatest composer will be deftly portrayed in a play, Monsieur Chopin . This production will run from August 9 through August 26, 2007 at the Geffen Playhouse in West Los Angeles. Monsieur Chopinis written by Hershey Felder and directed by Joel Zwick whose film, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, was highly acclaimed world-wide. Hershey Felder—an actor, pianist, composer and Harvard scholar—traveled across the world to study Chopin’s life and manuscripts, and lived in Chopin’s still existing residences. This play is guaranteed to provide illuminating insights even to those of us who are already very familiar with Chopin’s music.

The month of September will culminate with a celebration of another of Poland ‘s great pianists, composer, and statesman, Ignacy Jan Paderewski. The 2007 Paderewski Reprise concerts will take place on Sunday, September 30, in Paso Robles—a charming spa town in the Central Coast region—where Paderewski owned thousands of acres of vineyards and almond groves. Two exciting programs will be presented at the Paso Robles Inn historic Ballroom: a noontime concert featuring winners of a youth piano competition, and a 4 p.m. concert of works by Paderewski, Stojowski, Meyer, and Chopin, performed by internationally acclaimed artists. Judging by the overflowing crowds flocking to the Paderewski Festival in the past, you may want to book your tickets and finalize your travel plans as soon as you can. Please see paderewskireprise.comfor more information; tickets are available through the Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce at 805-238-0506.

Several exciting events are planned for the beginning of October, which is celebrated locally as the Polish Heritage Month. At noon on October 3, a free concert of Polish music will be presented during the Music at Noon program at the United University Church on the USC campus in Los Angeles. This concert will include the American premieres of works by Krzesimir Dębski, Wojciech Kila , and Krzysztof Meyer. The performers will include faculty and students of the Thornton School of Music.

Only a day later, on October 4, the legacy of Paderewski in California will be recognized officially at the unveiling of the Paderewski Monument at the University of Southern California. The ceremony will begin at 5 p.m. right outside of the Music School building. A high-level delegation, including Poland ‘s First Lady, Madame Maria Kaczyńska, the Minister of Culture, and Poland ‘s Ambassador to the United States are expected to attend. This momentous event offers an exciting opportunity for local Polish-Americans to celebrate the first monument commemorating a Polish national in Southern California. Coordinated by the Polish Music Center at USC, the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Los Angeles, the Polish-American Congress, and the Polish-American Historical Association, fund-raising for this important project continues. Contributions from many members of the local Polish community are still needed, for we have not even began to match the incredible generosity and superhuman efforts of Paderewski on behalf of his beloved Poland in her hour of need during the days of World War I. Please see www.usc.edu/dept/polish_music/PaderewskiMonument.htm or call 213-821-1356 for information about donating to this worthy cause.

Still on October 4, at 6 p.m., the annual Paderewski Lecture-Recital will be presented at the Newman Recital Hall on the USC campus. This year, the music of prominent Polish composer Krzysztof Meyer (pictured at right) will be featured. Krzysztof Meyer, a professor of composition at the Hochschule für Musik in Cologne, Germany, is also a noted pianist and author of several books, including a two-volume biography of Witold Lutosławski , and a world-famous biography of Dmitri Shostakovich. During this year’s Paderewski Lecture-Recital, Mr. Meyer will not only speak about his compositions but also perform his Piano Sonata Op. 5. Both events—the Paderewski monument unveiling and the concert that follows—are free and open to the public. More information is available by calling 213-821-1356.

November is the month when we observe Poland ‘s Independence Day and also gather to celebrate the great legacy of modern Polish theatre. Gospels of Childhood —an extraordinary theatrical event presented by Teatr Zar —will be on stage as a part of the UCLA’s International Theatre Festival. Several performances are scheduled at the Freud Playhouse from November 27 until December 2. Under the direction of Jarosław Fret, Gospels of Childhood is a spectacle of great acting and emotional power, likely to leave unforgettable impression on the entire audience.

Please mark your calendars to include all these events on your “must-do” list. Consider inviting your non-Polish friends and neighbors as well. There is no better way to express your support and pride in our shared heritage than to contribute in person and in deed to the rich harvest of Polish music and culture on display throughout California this fall.



Intrada German Premiere

On August 4, Piotr Moss’ composition Intrada for orchestra will have its German premiere at the young.euro.classic Festival. It will be performed by Penderecki’s Beethoven Academy Orchestra under the direction on Łukasz Borowicz in the Great Hall of Berlin Konzerthaus, one of the most prestigious concert halls in Europe. This all-Polish contemporary program will also include Krzysztof Penderecki’s Concerto for flute and chamber orchestra (1992) with Łukasz Długosz on flute and Henryk Mikołaj Górecki ‘s 3rd Symphony “Symphony of Sorrowful Songs,” Op. 36 (1976), featuring Wioletta Chodowicz, soprano.

The Beethoven Academy Orchestra was created in 2003 under the name of Chamber Orchestra of the Kraków Music Academy (later the Chamber Orchestra Quadriga), to serve as the festival ensemble at the 53rd Junger Künstler Bayreuth Festival. The core of the orchestra was pulled from the most talented students from the Kraków Music Academy. Thanks to efforts of Krzysztof Penderecki and Elżbieta Penderecka, the orchestra changed its name to Beethoven Academy Orchestra in 2005. Please visit their official website to find out more about the ensemble.

The young.euro.classic is an orchestral festival hosting the world’s top youth orchestras. The artistic board of the festival consists of such artists as Daniel Barenboim, Hans Werner Henze, Gidon Kremer and Kent Nagano.

Górecki UK Premiere

The U.K. premiere of the 3 rd String Quartet “Pieśnie śpiewają” […songs are sung] by Henryk Mikołaj Górecki was performed by the Kronos Quartet on July 29 in the famed Barbican Hall in London . The quartet was written in 1999 and it took 8 years to finally perform it in the UK.

Without any question, ‘…songs are sung,’ for me, is one of the most lyrical, poignant and far-reaching works ever written for string quartet. The music consoles as it faces, unflinchingly, the deepest aspects of life. It is music so personal that in its performance one feels the audience listening in to one’s very own soul and life.
David Harrington of the Kronos Quartet
[from Barbican Hall website]

The 3rd String Quartet was dedicated to Kronos Quartet, which also performed two previous quartets by Górecki, with the following words: “To KRONOS Quartet, who for so many years patiently waited for this Quartet” The 2nd String Quartet was written in 1991.

Penderecki In NY

Polish composer and conductor, Krystof Penderecki will be featured in Saratoga, NY this August. According to the AlbanyTimes Union:

In a rare American appearance, the eminent Polish composer comes to Saratoga to conduct his Symphony No. 2 [on August 17]. A prominent musical voice in post-war Europe, Pendercki’s [sic] most famous pieces include ‘Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima,’ and ‘A Polish Requiem.’ For his SPAC appearance, he seems to have chosen a piece with a lighter theme: The symphony’s subtitle is ‘Christmas.’ (Other Penderecki works can be heard during the concurrent Saratoga Chamber Music Festival.) Charles Dutoit leads the balance of the program, which features the Grieg Piano Concerto with Emanuel Ax.
(Joseph Dalton, Times Union, July 26, 2007)

Find out more information about this Philadelphia Orchestra concert here: www.philorch.org.

The “other Penderecki works” to which the Times Union refers is the Sextet for clarinet, horn, string trio, and piano. On Sunday, August 19th at 2:15 p.m. at the Saratoga Chamber Music Festival, Kirill Gerstein and Jean-Yves Thibaudet – pianos, Rachel Ku – viola, Chantal Juillet – violin, and members of The Philadelphia Orchestra will perform a program entitled “Russian Romance and Polish Passion.” The other pieces that will be played are Rachmaninov’s Vocalise and Symphonic Dances for two pianos. For more information about the concert, visit www.spac.org.

New Director For Kraków Phil

In our June 2007 newsletter, we reported that the Kraków Philharmonic was actively seeking permanent management, and now it seems that search is over. Adam Klocek (pictured at left) has been appointed the director of the Kraków Philharmonic. It is not yet clear if Klocek also will be the chief conductor of the orchestra, but he will start his new job in August.

Thirty-four year old Klocek was born in Kraków. He graduated with a cello performance degree from the Kraków Music Academy then continued his studies in Cologne and Berlin with Boris Pergamenschikow. He is a laureate of competitions in Munich and New York. He plays a Stradivarius cello from 1717. For the past two seasons he served as the artistic and general director of Kalisz Philharmonic. Last year he was also appointed the Principal Guest Conductor of the Arizona Symphony Orchestra.

According to Ludwik Erhard from Ruch Muzyczny:

…Adam Klocek is an outstanding musician. But does he have enough experience leading such a big institution? I doubt it. We, unfortunately, do not have a school to develop such talents. Maybe in Kraków Klocek will have a proficient manager? Otherwise it will be an experiment which may be a success, or maybe not.”
[paraphrased and translated by Daniel Kamiński]

Placido Domingo & Kraków Opera

Placido Domingo, famous opera star and director of National Opera in Washington and the Los Angeles Opera, has become an honorary patron of the Kraków Opera. Kraków Opera has tried for two years to secure Domingo’s support, but due to the low quality of artistic productions to date, the hopes were not very high. Unexpectedly, the decision from the tenor came on July 23 and talks about future projects are in motion, including the potential organization of one of the editions of his Operalia Vocal Competition in Kraków. It is possible that Domingo will take part in the opening celebrations for the new opera house in Kraków; the estimated date for the opening is May/June 2008, but it has already been postponed 3 times.

Szpakiewicz at LACMA

On August 5th, 2007, Sundays Live will present a Cello and Piano Duo Concert at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The concert will feature former USC artists, Polish-born cellist Marek Szpakiewicz and Ukranian-born pianist Nadia Shpachenko. The program consists of Ludwig van Beethoven – Seven Variations on a Theme from Mozart’s Magic Flute, Op. 46; Dmitri Shostakovich – Cello Sonata in D minor, Op. 40; John Corigliano – Fancy on a Bach Air; and Astor Piazzolla – Le Grand Tango.

The 2003 winner of the prestigious Mu Phi Epsilon International Competition and an internationally acclaimed performer, Marek Szpakiewicz recently has been working as a film orchestrator for Polish composer Jan A.P Kaczmarek. One of their collaborations, Finding Neverland, received the 77th Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2005. Their most recent work, Evening, stars Meryl Streep, Glenn Close, Claire Danes and Toni Collette, and is in theaters now.

Sundays Live presents chamber music concerts by premier artists from Southern California and around the world. The one-hour concerts are presented in the Leo S. Bing Theater of the LACMA and are broadcast on KCSN 88.5 FM and streamed at kcsn.org.

August 5th, 2007, 6 p.m.
Leo S. Bing Theater – Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Free admission

Drzewiecki’s New Project

After the success of the “Mozart for 1-2-3 pianos,” a CD which was recorded with Sinfonia Varsovia, conducted by Michael Zilm, Stanisław Drzewiecki will record “Bach for 1-2-3-4 pianos.” The CD will include the following works: Concerto no. 7 in F minor for piano and orchestra, BWV 1056; Concerto no. 19 in C Minor for two pianos and orchestra, BWV 1060; Concerto no. 23 in C Major for 3 pianos and orchestra, BWV 1064; and Concerto no. 24 in A Minor for 4 pianos and orchestra, BWV 1065.

Stanisław Drzewiecki will be joined by Tatiana Shebanova, Jarosław Drzewiecki and Andrzej Jasiński on pianos and the “Concerto Avenna” orchestra conducted by Jerzy Maksymiuk. The project has the support of Vattenfall, a European energy company, and Bluthner pianos. “Bach for 1-2-3-4 pianos” will be recorded in Polish Radio’s Lutosławski Concert Studio on four specially prepared grand pianos provided by Bluthner.

Paderewski Plays On

Although player pianos have long since been removed from their place of prominence in saloons and private parlors, the corresponding piano rolls that once “allow[ed] a reproducing piano to replicate ‘the light and shade of a sensitive pianist’” are still of great value to many people, as they give us a connection to the talent and musicality of a former age. “‘Last Year the American Public Paid over a Half Million Dollars to hear Paderewski Play’ claimed a 1923 ad for The Aeolian company, which had then acquired the pianist’s exclusive services. This New York company was the leading manufacturer of both the software (Duo-Art piano rolls) and the hardware (the elaborate reproducing pianos required to play them).” (from “A life of their own,” an article by James Cockington in the Sydney Morning Herald, July 18, 2007) The Polish Music Center has a beautiful collection of these piano rolls that feature the unmistakable sound of Paderewski.

Polish E-Library

Kujawsko-Pomorskie, a region in Northwestern Poland, has created an online digital library. Currently the digital edition contains a wealth of over fourteen thousand items including books, music, periodicals, manuscripts, maps and other visual items such as postcards, posters and reproductions. The project is coordinated by the Main Library of the Kopernik University in Toruń and is financed mainly from the funds provided by the European Union. To visit the library website please go to kpbc.umk.pl, where you will be able to select either a Polish or an English interface. To be able to use some of the resources you need to create a user account and download additional software.


Académie Des Beaux-Arts Honors Moss

In July 2007, the French Académie des Beaux-Arts announced that the distinguished Polish composer Piotr Moss (b. 1949) will be honored by them with an award for outstanding accomplishment of creative activity.  The presentation of the award will take place on November 14, 2007 in the historic headquarters of the Académie in Paris. This one of many awards that the composer has received in France, including the Order Chevallier des Arts et des Lettres.
Photo by Joeseph Herter


Kaczka Twice Lauded

Polish flutist Krzysztof Kaczka, along with Perry Schack on guitar as duoArtus were honored with the special award for performance of an Astor Piazzola composition at the 15th IBLA Grand Prize World Music Competition in Ragusa Ibla, Sicily. The competition is organized by IBLA Foundation from New York.

Also, recently Krzysztof Kaczka won the 4th prize in the category of wind instruments at the V Concorso Internazionale di Esecuzione Musicle Citta di Padova.


Duszniki Zdrój Chopin Festival

The oldest Polish piano festival, the Chopin Festival in Duszniki Zdrój, will kick off on Friday, August 3 with a recital by one of the most renowned young pianists: Olga Kern, 1st prize winner at the Van Cliburn Piano Competition.

This year’s festival will be divided into national days. The second day will be filled with performances of Polish musicians – pianists, Joanna Domanska and Andrzej Tatarski, and Chamber Orchestra AMADEUS under the baton of Agnieszka Duczmal with soloists Wojciech Switala and Andrzej Bauer(August 4). In the following days classical music enthusiasts will have an opportunity to listen to music performed by representatives of Russia: Tatiana Kolesova and Ilya Rashkovsky (August 5), China: Rachel Cheung and Chu -Fang Huang (August 6), Korea: Yeol-eum Son and Sun- Wook Kim (August 7), Ukraine: Alexander Gorlatchand Alexander Gavrylyuk (August 9), and, last but not least, France, Jean-Frederic Neuburger and Michel Dalberto (August 10).

On Wednesday, August 8 the festival will stage just one recital – by pianist Jan Gottlieb Jirasek – and a traditional candlelit concert, Nocturne featuring the many artists invited to Duszniki Zdrój. The festival will come to a close on Saturday, August 11. This last day will include appearances by Mihaela Ursuleasa and Alexander Kobrin. Throughout the festival young pianists will take part in master-classes conducted by Professors Jacques Rouvier and Daejin Kim.

For more information and a detailed program please visit the official website of the festival.

[Information for this article provided by www.infochopin.pl]

Chopin And His Europe

The 3rd edition of “Chopin and His Europe” Festival will take place in Warsaw between August 15 and 31. Subtitled “Around the Great Romanticism, from Mozart to Stańko,” this year’s festival will feature not only music of Chopin but also music that influenced Chopin or has been influenced by Chopin. The festival will host some 200 artists, including: Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra, Sinfonia Varsovia, Concerto Köln, Orchestra of the 18th Century. Conductors will include: Antoni Wit, Jacek Kaspszyk, Tadaaki Otaka, Frans Brüggen. Featured pianists: Nelson Freire, Stanisław Bunin, Peter Donohoe, Lilya Zilberstein, Kevin Kenner, Roland Pöntinen, Nelson Goerner, George Emmanuel Lazaridis, Gilles Vonsattel (both for the first time in Poland) and Hinrich Alpers. Also in the program of the festival is a concert outside of classical genre performed by Japanese jazz pianist, Makoto Ozone and Tomasz Stańko.

During two of the concerts, the Chopin Institute will present new recordings of Chopin music from the cycle performed on the period piano played by Colleen Ka Ling, Wojciech Świtała and Tatiana Shebanova.

The concerts will take place in the National Philharmonic and National Opera and will be recorded for broadcast on Polish Radio.

For a detailed program of the festival please visit the Chopin Institute website.

Old Jazz Meeting

The 37th edition of the “Old Jazz Meeting – Golden Washboard 2007” Festival will take place in Iława between August 10 and 12, 2007. The competition/Festival is dedicated to traditional jazz. It was established in 1965 and, though it has morphed through different forms, it continues today with the original intention. This year there are 5 jazz ensembles competing for the “Golden Washboard” award:

  • BIG BAND MAŁOPOLSKI from Przytkowice near Kalwaria Zebrzydowska
  • HOT SWING from Kraków
  • IKS from Rzeszów
  • SMALL BAND from Giżycko

They will be judged by the jury led by Krzysztof Sadowski and consisting of Jerzy Bojanowski, Janusz Szprot, Mikołaj Lipowski, Sławomir Wierzcholski, and Aleksander Pałac – secretary. There are three awards: “Golden Wasboards ” for the best ensemble, the “Best soloist,” and a special award for the best blues performance.

There will be numerous concerts and multimedia presentations during each of the festival days. For more information about the festival and for the detailed program go to www.zlotatarka.pl.

Tzadik Poznań Festival

The Tzadik Poznań Festival is dedicated to Jewish art. Events include concerts of klezmer and jazz music, film screenings and meetings with artists. The festival takes place in an old synagogue which for a few days will transform from a local city swimming pool to a place of cultural exchange. The festival takes place between August 9 and 11 and at the center of events is the music connected to John Zorn’s recording company, Tzadik. The artists include: Zakarya – Klezmer Quartet from France, John Zorn with Electric Masada combo, and the Jarosław Bester Quartet (previously Cracow Klezmer Band), one of the best klezmer bands in Poland. For a program of the festival, visit www.multikulti.com.

Forum Musicum Festival

The 5th edition of the Forum Musicum International Festival will take place in Wrocław between August 2 and 25. The focus of the festival is the music written between 1600-1800. Works are performed on period instruments and according to period performance practices. The audience will hear six distinctive programs which will be performed by internationally acclaimed artists in various churches around Wrocław.

To find out more about the festival, artists and for detailed program information, please visit the official website of the festival.

Music In Old Kraków

The annual Music in Old Kraków Festival will take place between August 15 and 31. During the 17 festival days there will be concerts by soloist, chamber groups and symphony orchestras. Each concert is hosted by a different venue depending on the mood of programmed music. The venues include Kraków’s churches, galleries, museums and concert halls. This year’s artists include: The Hilliard Ensemble, Symphonisches Orchester Ginheim, Capella Cracoviensis, Ida Haendel, Grigorij Zyslin, Kaja Danczowska, the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, and the Kraków Philharmonic Orchestra, among many others. For more information about the festival and a detailed schedule of the concerts, please visit the official website of Capella Cracoviensis.

Valldemossa Chopin Festival

This Chopin Festival in the Carthusian Monastery in Valldemossa has a long standing tradition, as it was organized for the first time in 1930. The festival features piano recitals each Sunday in August. Chopin’s works are interpreted by renowned pianists, as well as by young artists who are just now entering into the world of great art. The musical part of the festival is accompanied by exhibitions and installations by avant-garde artists as well as performances complementing the musical events and continuing the “romantic” tradition of George Sand and Frederic Chopin. To find out more about the festival, artists and for detailed program information, please visit www.festivalchopin.com.


Plowright Plays Paderewski

Paderewski: Piano Sonata, Variations & Fugues
I. J. Paderewski: Sonata in E flat minor, Op. 21; Variations and Fugue on an original theme in A minor, Op. 11; Variations and Fugue on an original theme in E flat minor Op. 23
Jonathan Plowright, piano
Hyperion CDA67562

On July 30th, our 2006 Paderewski Recitalist, Jonathan Plowright, released his most recent recording. The Hyperion Records website describes his offering thus:

Approaching 150 years since the birth of Ignacy Jan Paderewski (1860–1941) there remains a certain ambivalence about his legacy. Should he be judged primarily as a pianist or as a composer-pianist? The three works on this disc make the strongest possible case for the latter. The large-scale Piano Sonata in E flat minor, Op 21, is a powerful, turbulent work, showing the composer’s affinity with Rachmaninov in its passion and extreme technical difficulty, contrasting on occasion with writing of affecting simplicity.

The brilliant Jonathan Plowright is the ideal apologist for this music—a keen advocate of the Polish Romantic repertoire, possessed of the highest qualities of technique and interpretation.

One Of America’s Best Violinists

Skowronski Plays! ~Avec et Sans~ Volume II, Live in Concert
Ernest Bloch: Nigun –Improvisation; Carl Engel: Sea-Shell; Arthur Honegger: Sonatine for two solo violins; Darius Milhaud: Duo for two solo violins; and Karol Szymanowski: Dance of the Mountaineers [Taniec z Harnasiow] from Harnasie and Sonata in D minor
Vincent P. Skowronski, violin; Karen Hughes, violin; Saori Chiba, piano; Donald Isaak, piano
S:CR-08 (CD Baby)

Vincent P. Skowronski‘s new recording, “Skowronski Plays! ~ Avec Et Sans~ Volume II, Live in Concert” has been reviewed in the July/Aug 2007 American Record Guide by Joseph Magil. The review is excerpted below:

This disc… culled from live recitals, has no weak performances. The opening Nigun [by Ernest Bloch] is a very intense, polished performance that grabs you by the ears and just doesn’t let go. There is some roughness here and there, but only because Skowronski is a violinist who takes risks, and here they really pay off. He shows us that he is a prime example of the old eastern European school of string playing

…Szymanowski’s Dance [of the Mountaineers] opens with a plaintive Lento molto tranquillo section with lovely impressionist harmonies in the piano that is followed by a boisterous Vivace assai section. The Sonata in D Minor, with Donald Isaak, is a very accomplished work. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard it before, and it is so good. Noble melodies flow through I; II is a sweet Romanza with a playful, pizzicato middle section; and III is a virile Allegro molto, quasi presto. Skowronski doesn’t make a single misstep in his countryman’s music, giving each movement just the right shape.

On a good day, Skowronski is clearly one of the best violinists in America.

I strongly recommend this recording for the works by Bloch and Szymanowski, and it’s nice to have some recorded examples of the Honegger and Milhaud duets.

Lutosławski Piano Duo

Lutosławski Piano Duo
Witold Lutosławski: Wariacje na temat Paganiniego; Igor Stravinsky arr. Victor Babin: fragments from the ballet Petruszka; Francis Poulenc: Sonata; Mauricio Kagel: 9 Capriccio
Emilia Sitarz and Bartłomiej Wąsik – pianos
Polskie Radio PRCD 884

The Lutosławski Piano Duo is one of the foremost piano duos of the young generation in the world. Both pianists are graduates of the Frederic Chopin Music Academy in Warsaw as well as the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Rostock. They garnered international acclaim in 2000 when they won the 6th International Piano Competition “Konzerteum” in Greece. This success was followed by a Grand Prix and special awards at the 13th International Piano Duo Competition in Lithuania in 2004. In 2006, the duo won the 1st prize and a special award at the 10th International Contemporary Music Competition in Kraków.
This CD, recorded in 2006 and containing works by Lutosławski, Poulenc, Stravinsky and Kagel is the phonographic debut of the Lutosławski Piano Duo. You can find out more about the pianists at their official website.

Brzezińska On Claves

Villa Lobos: Piano Music
Heitor Villa-Lobos: Suite Floral, Op. 97; A Prole do Bebê [The Baby’s Family], No. 1;
Suite for piano, Book 1: “Bonecas” [The Dolls]; A Prole do Bebê [The Baby’s Family], No. 2; Suite for piano, Book 2: “Os bichinhos” [The Little Animals]; and Choros No. 1, “Tipico”
Joanna Brzezińska – piano
Claves CD50-2709

“We learned about [Joanna Brzezińska] through her performances of Chopin’s music, the cherished composer from her native country. But it was Heitor Villa-Lobos that she decided to immortalize in her first recording for Claves Records. Joanna Brzezinska has a particular affinity for this unique Brazilian composer; her playing wonderfully conveys the sensuality, sweetness and brazen impetuosity of his music. A Prolé do Bebê, the cycle that is at the center of this recording was inspired by infants. but [sic] is to be consumed without moderation by parents! All sorts of dolls imaginable are brought to dance here – porcelain dolls, paper-mâché dolls, as well as clay and caoutchouc dolls and more. A voyage in every sense of the word!”

[From the Claves website]

To find out more about Joanna Brzezińska please visit her official website.

Chopin Recordings

Chopin: Scherzi, Impromputs
Frederic Chopin: 4 Scherzos, 4 Impromptus, Canzone
Eugen Indjic – piano
Calliope CAL9368

Eugen Indjic is the winner of the 4th prize at the 8th International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw in 1970. He was a pupil of Mieczysław Münz, Artur Rubinstein and Witold Małcużyński. In addition to masterful performances of Scherzos and Impromptus, this CD includes a Canzona, which is a transcription of one of Chopin’s songs done by Giovanni Sgambati. It is very rarely performed and has never been released as a recording.

[Paraphrased from Józef Kański’s review in Ruch Muzyczny]


Anderszewski In NAPA

Reviewer L. Pierce Carson called the pairing of Danish violinist Nikolaj Znaider and Polish-Hungarian pianist Piotr Anderszewski the “double-barreled musical blast” that ended the Festival del Sole in Napa Valley, CA, on July 22nd. For this concert, Znaider and Anderszewski joined forces with the Russian National Orchestra, Antonio Pappano, conductor. The program consisted of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto, Bartok’s Piano Concerto No. 3, and Rachmaninov’s Symphony No. 2.

Carson, a reviewer from the Napa Valley Register, praises Anderszewski’s contribution to the event, saying:

Anderszewski’s Bartok was refined but dramatic… There was a wonderful improvisatory feel to much of it, and most appealing was the pianist’s caressing of second movement phrases that pointed up the lovely lyricism of this score. The Adagio Religioso was beautifully played and most affecting. Orchestral accompaniment was characteristically idiomatic — the partnership of soloist and conductor worked extremely well.

Read the entire article here: www.napavalleyregister.com/articles.


Franciszek Wesołowski

One of the foremost Polish music theoreticians and educators, Franciszek Wesołowski has died on July 31 at the age of 93. He was a professor at the Łódź Music Academy, from which he received a Honoris Causa Doctorate in 1999. He was especially dedicated to research of early music, and his works in this field were published in Poland and abroad. He was the author of the standard method books used in Poland to teach harmony and music theory in music schools. As a composer he wrote for organ, choir and voice with piano.


Born This Month

  • August 4, 1879 – Józef REISS, musicologist, Polish music expert (d. 1956)
  • August 7, 1935 – Monika (Izabela) GORCZYCKA, musicologist (d. 1962)
  • August 8, 1946 – Mieczyslaw MAZUREK, composer, teacher, choral conductor
  • August 8, 1897 – Stefan SLEDZINSKI, conductor, musicologist
  • August 10, 1914 – Witold MALCUZYNSKI, pianist, student of Lefeld
  • August 11, 1943 – Krzysztof MEYER, composer, musicologist
  • August 17, 1907 – Zygmunt MYCIELSKI, composer, writer
  • August 18, 1718 – Jacek SZCZUROWSKI, composer, Jesuit, priest (d. after 1773)
  • August 20, 1889 – Witold FRIEMAN, composer, pianist
  • August 21, 1933 – Zbigniew BUJARSKI, composer
  • August 22, 1924 – Andrzej MARKOWSKI, composer and conductor
  • August 23, 1925 – Wlodzimierz KOTONSKI, composer
  • August 28, 1951 – Rafal AUGUSTYN, composer, music critic
  • August 29, 1891 – Stefan STOINSKI, music etnographer, organizer, conductor (d. 1945)
  • August 30, 1959 – Janusz STALMIERSKI, composer


Died This Month

  • August 15, 1898 – Cezar TROMBINI, singer, director of Warsaw Opera (b. 1835)
  • August 15, 1936 – Stanislaw NIEWIADOMSKI, composer, music critic
  • August 17, 1871 – Karol TAUSIG, pianist and composer, student of Liszt (b. 1841)
  • August 21 1925 – Karol NAMYSLOWSKI, folk musician, founder of folk ensemble
  • August 22, 1966 – Apolinary SZELUTO, composer and pianist
  • August 23, 1942 – Waclaw WODICZKO, conductor (b. 1858), grandfather of Bohdan, conductor
  • August 27, 1865 – Józef NOWAKOWSKI, pianist, composer, student of Elsner, friend of Chopin
  • August 29, 1886 – Emil SMIETANSKI, pianist, composer (b. 1845)