Polish Music Center Newsletter Vol. 13, no. 9

PMC News

Stojowski In Print

Polish Music History Book Series just added a new title: Zygmunt Stojowski: Life and Music by Joseph A. Herter. This book is the first comprehensive biography of this long-neglected and undeservedly-forgotten virtuoso pianist, pedagogue and composer. Mr. Herter’s book provides many fascinating insights and details of Stojowski’s colorful life, his close association with the most important musicians of his era, including Brahms, Casals, Elgar, Massenet, Nikisch, Stokowski, and Tchaikovsky, among many others. The book also traces the careers of many illustrious students of Stojowski, including Shura Cherkassky, Oscar Levant, Alfred Newman, and Guiomar Novaes, and provides a comprehensive catalogue of Stojowski’s compositions. More information on Zygmunt Stojowski: Life and Music by Joseph A. Herter at the Polish Music Center Website: ../pmhsbooks/historyser.html

Moniseur Chopin Review

If music be the food of love, play on…

The Geffen Playhouse stage in the heart of Westwood was transformed in many ways during the month of August. The props—a heavy mixture of claret-colored drapery, a fireplace dotted with vases and various objects d’art and a rosewood grand piano placed center stage—changed the theatre setting into a reasonable semblance of a nineteenth-century boudoir of a Parisian aesthete. The other—and more important transformation—took place when Hershey Felder strolled up the aisle and briskly walked to the piano. Sporting a mane of hair modeled on an early Daguerreotype of Chopin and a fancy frock coat, Felder took possession of his theatrical surroundings like a habitué on intimate terms with the space. Within a few seconds, the audience impatiently waiting for the show forgot the setup and was mesmerized to hear Frederic Chopin speak and play his works.

A lesson—purportedly given on 4 March 1848—was a but a dramatic device to narrate the life of Chopin, beginning with his early Warsaw years, continuing on to his triumphs in Vienna, and his two decades of exile in Paris. Throughout the two-hour spectacle, Felder was able to maintain a delicate balance of personal charm and touching snobbery, as he portrayed Chopin en intimité, sharing with the audience the secrets of his circle of friends and foes. Felder’s artistic insight into Chopin’s compositions was ably conveyed through witty remarks and live performances of several of Chopin’s best-known compositions.

The most successful moments of the show came about when the mixture of music and Chopin’s complex personality soared above the realization that this is only a spectacle. The subtle sounds of Nocturnes, wistful Mazurkas and fiery Polonaises and Felder’s impeccable delivery of Chopin’s lines produced another miraculous transformation. The audience became a witness to something that might have happened well over a century ago, and the spirit of Chopin was suddenly and vividly present in our midst. Towards the end, in a virtuoso sequence of “question and answer” segment, Felder deftly handled numerous questions from the audience, attempting to answer them in a way Chopin might have done himself. It was here that Felder’s depth of research into Chopin’s life and personality proved truly admirable. The performer had clearly immersed himself in the subject by thoroughly studying Chopin’s correspondence as well as the lives of Chopin’s intimate friends. Fully in character and in command of the moment, Felder was convincing and entertaining, and his timing of various ripostes was quite impeccable.

Such level of inspiration is, of course, difficult to sustain, and some of the directorial decisions (a film clip of a country maiden dancing to a poorly choreographed sequence or a recurring glimpses of a candelabra with flickering candles) were, at best, an unwelcome distraction. Pacing (especially of the opening) and the occasionally glib or facile conclusions about some of Chopin’s works were also at odds with the generally admirable qualities of the show. In the end, however, the familiar figure of Chopin escaped unharmed by attempts to revive it, gaining on this occasion more fans for the contemporary hero of the show, who also portrayed Gershwin on stage and plans to tackle a thorny personality of Beethoven next. Summarizing Hershey Felder’s performance in Monsieur Chopin one could happily continue the quote used in a title of this review from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night uttered by love-hungry Duke Orsino: “Give me excess of it!” Would more music ever cure an obsessive love? Not likely, for this show played to a house full of hungry and eager fans.



Preisner Premiere

On September 4th, during the Hellenic Festival in Greece, a concert of music by Zbigniew Preisner will be presented in the Herod Atticus Theatre (pictured at left). The program will feature film music born out of the long and rich collaboration between Preisner and director Krzysztof Kieślowski, including the themes from La Double Vie de Veronique and Trois Couleurs: Bleu, as well as the world premiere of Preisner’s newest work for orchestra, choir and soloists, Silence, Night and Dreams. Panayiotis Panagopoulos from Kathimerini, an English-language newspaper in Greece, has this to report about the piece to be premiered, and the composer:

Sung in Latin and English and based on texts from the Old Testament’s Book of Job and St Matthew’s Gospel, as well as words by Pope John Paul II and the Polish poet Zbigniew Herbert, the lyrics of the title song are written by Krzysztof Piesiewicz, Polish lawyer, screenwriter and politician.

At the press presentation, Preisner said that he drew his inspiration for the large-scale piece by looking at the world around him as it is today. “There is a lot going on that is not necessarily for the best,” he said. “Walking around Athens, I think it is a metaphysical experience to be walking in the footsteps of ancient philosophers and it gets me thinking about the fall of ancient civilizations. I don’t want to see the same happening to ours. Music and culture cannot really change things dramatically, but we have an obligation to speak up.”
[Kathimerini, July 30, 2007]

[Above photo of Herod Atticus Theatre from www.odyssei.com]

Kentucky-Katowice Opera

The Opera Theatre of the University of Louisville, Kentucky and the Karol Szymanowski Academy of Music in Katowice, Poland are expanding their exchange program this year by putting on a bi-continental production of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro [The Marriage of Figaro]. The two schools have conducted exchanges since 2003, but this is the first time they have attempted to cast a single production with a mix of students from both institutions. Aided greatly by communication and shipping technologies, the organizers and cast members have been preparing for months. The production will go up for two shows in Kentucky on November 9 and 11, and then in January it will move to Katowice for performances there. Bass-baritone Nathan Wilson, who will sing the role of Figaro, is pictured above.

Debate Over Manuscripts

After they had been stashed in many hiding places during WWII, two original manuscripts by two of Germany’s greatest composers, W.A. Mozart and L. van Beethoven, came under the proud protection of the Jagiellonian Library in Kraków. A debate between Poland and Germany over the rightful ownership of these precious pieces of history has been a contentious one for the last 15 years. Recently, the Associated Press was given a rare glimpse of the documents – read the subsequent article at: www.journalnow.com. Another article available here:   news.independent.co.uk

Jazz In Poland

In his interview with Polish-born jazz singer Grażyna Auguścik, Howard Dukes, a staff writer for the South Bend Tribune, touches on a common misconception about the music scene in Poland: that jazz is not particularly popular in Poland. “Poland and jazz music don’t appear to be a natural fit at first glance… Auguścik says, however, that the central European country has a vibrant jazz scene. ” Read the complete article here: www.southbendtribune.com.

The jazz scene in Poland is thriving for both listeners and players. Poland hosts some of the longest running jazz festivals in Europe. Also, Polish jazz musicians are some of the most highly praised in the world, especially by their colleagues from other countries. None other than Dave Brubeck, the famous pianist and composer of “Take 5,” and Nigel Kennedy, the quirky and highly lauded British classical violinist turned Kraków resident and jazz devotee have sung the praises of the skills amongst Poles.

Spisak International Music Competition

The 1st Michał Spisak International Music Competition will take place in Dąbrowa Górnicza from 16 to 27 September 2007. The idea to organize the competition was initiated during the Michał Spisak Festival, which was held in Dąbrowa Górnicza in 2005, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the death of this outstanding Polish composer (pictured at right), who was born in Dąbrowa Górnicza. In 2006 the 1st Michał Spisak National Polish Competition was held. The competition covered three disciplines: viola, violoncello, double bass and was held in three rounds. The 3rd and final round was with the accompaniment of the orchestra – the Chamber Orchestra of Zagłębie Dąbrowskie working at the Zagłębie Palace of Culture in Dąbrowa Górnicza. The competition was open and addressed to musicians under 29 years of age.

The 1st Michał Spisak International Music Competition this in Dąbrowa Górnicza is organized September by the City of Dąbrowa Górnicza as well as the Karol Szymanowski Music Academy in Katowice, which provides content-related supervision over the Competition. Like the National version, the competition will cover 3 separate musical disciplines: oboe, clarinet, bassoon and will be held in three rounds. The 3rd final and round will be with the accompaniment of an orchestra.
The competition is open to musicians born after 16 September 1978. No more than 21 competitors in a given discipline can be admitted to the 1st round, no more than 10 competitors in a given discipline to the 2nd round, and no more than 4 competitors in a given discipline to the 3rd final round. The competition will be accompanied by an Inaugural Concert and a Laureate Concert. Dean of the Vocal-Instrumental Department at the Karol Szymanowski Music Academy, prof. Zygmunt Tlatlik, has been appointed the Artistic Director of the Competition. The Jury of the Competition will be comprised of outstanding musicians from Poland and abroad.
The Honorary Committee of the Competiton is composed of great Polish composers, such as Krzysztof Penderecki, Wojciech Kilar, and Jan Krenz, as well as directors of philharmonics and musical theatres, rectors of music academies from the whole of Poland.

More information is available at http://www.konkurs-spisak.pl/indexen.html

New Chopin Book

The National Frederic Chopin Institute has released a new Chopin-related book. Written by Marita Albán Juárez and Ewa Sławińska-Dahlig, it is titled Polska Chopina [Chopin’s Poland] and serves as an illustrated guide through places in Poland historically related to Frederic Chopin. The descriptions are organized according to region and include information about the circumstances of Chopin’s visit or stay. The largest section of the book is devoted to Warsaw, where Chopin spent the first twenty years of his life. The identification of some of the common places could possibly allow the reader to create a sightseeing route, following in Chopin’s footsteps. For more information please visit the National Frederic Chopin Institute’s website; the book should be available from the online shop soon.

“Fontana – In The Shadow Of Chopin”

On the 1st of September, the Palace of Radziejowice in cooperation with National Chopin Institute in Warsaw has organized a premiere concert entitled “Julian Fontana – In the shadow of Chopin.” In the historical palace, situated approximately 60 km from Warsaw, pianist Hubert Rutkowski (pictured at left) will perform forgotten pieces of Fontana and works of Chopin. The music will alternate with fragments of Fontana’s correspondence, read by an actor from the National Theatre in Warsaw. The concert will be preceded with the lecture of Magdalena Oliferko about the hero of the evening. Rutkowski has also recorded a world premiere album featuring the works of Fontana in March 2007, which will be released on Acte Prealable. See below: Discography

Workmen On Stage At Łódź Opera

36 million Polish zloty has been earmarked for the renovation of one of Poland’s leading operatic stages – the Opera in Łódź. The restoration and refurbishing of the opera began August 9th and is expected to take until 2010. Works started with the stage, which – according to the opera management – is archaic and needs to be updated to comply with modern theatrical requirements. The new audience will seat 1015, including special places for handicapped viewers. Stage and audience repairs should be completed in time for next year’s season. A facelift for the whole building and renovation of the backstage is to take another two years. The Łódź Opera, which opened in November 1945, initially as a musical stage (and Poland’s only operetta stage until 1947)  intends to keep going, though on a smaller scale, throughout the construction.

[Article from Polskie Radio]

Poles In Amsterdam

Young Polish composer, member of the Polish Composer’s Union’s Circle of the Young, Anna Maria Przydworska won a competition for the scholarship enabling her to attend the Gaudeamus Muziekweek in Amsterdam, Holland. The competition was organized by The British Music Society represented by Stephen C. Trowell, and is specifically geared for Eastern European composers and musicologists. The festival takes place between September 3 and 9 and on September 7 the “de ereprijs” ensemble will perform a piece by young Polish composer, Marcin Stańczyk, Spirit Cage(2006).

For more information about the festival please visit the official website of the festival.

Chopin Meets Gaming

A new game aimed at bringing the beauty of Chopin’s music to the gaming community will be released on XBOX 360 by Tri-Crescendo this fall. Called “Eternal Sonata,” the concept for the game was developed by Tri-Crescendo’s president, Hiroya Hatsushiba, out of his love for the great composer’s music. It will be available to North American gamers on September 17.

[Information for this article from www.siliconera.com]


Tomasz Biernacki Awarded

Tomasz Biernacki, who is the artistic director of the Gliwice Music Theater, has won the 3rd edition of the Luigi Mancinelli Conducting Competition in Orvietto, Italy. In addition to receiving the First prize, he also was awarded the special prize awarded by the Nice Opera. This was the second time that Biernacki has taken park in this competition; last year he received the second prize.

Tomasz Biernacki was born in 1974 and debuted as an opera conductor with the Gliwice Music Theater in 2002. The list of honors gathered by Biernacki includes First prize in the Spoleto Conducting Competition in 2004 and First prize at the Bela Bartok International Competition in Cluj, Hungary.
Photo by Tomasz Zakrzewski ©2004

For more information about the conductor please visit his official website: www.tomaszbiernacki.com.

Fitelberg Int’l Conducting Competition Update

By Gary Fitelberg

The verification round of the 8th Grzegorz Fitelberg International Competition for Conductors [Międzynarodowy Konkurs Dyrygentów im. G. Fitelberga] has been completed. The Verifying Committee of the Jury Committee was chaired by Maestro Marek Pijarowski.  By the closing date of entry for the competition (April 30th , 2007), 209 applications had been submitted with DVD’s or videotapes.  All of the candidates in the competition represented 41 nations. On the basis of the videotapes 40 candidates were invited to participate in the competition.  These individuals include the following: Ivan Arboleya-Montes (Spain); Andrea Battisoni (Italy); Anja Bilmaier (Germany); Svetoslav Borisov (Bulgaria); Lin Chen (China); Marlin Chii Kuan Chen (USA); Chi-Bun Jimmy Chang (United Kingdom); Alexandre Clerc (Switzerland); Rodrigo De Carvalho (Brazil); Marzena Diakun (Poland); Luke Dollman (Australia); Hikaru Eibahra (Japan); Kevin John Eidusei (Germany); James Feddeck (USA); Tomasz Golka (Poland); Mate Hamori (Hungary); Ksenio Jarka (Russia); Yordan Kamdzhalov (Bulgaria); Ulrich Kern (Germany); Ghun Kim (USA); Keundo Kim (Republic of Korea); Sergy Kiss (Russia); Stanislov Kochanovsky (Russia); Shizuo Kuwahara (USA); Maja Metelska (Poland); Sean Newhouse (USA); Yannick Paget (France); Jan Sebastian Perlowski (Poland); Jiri Petrdlick (Czech Republic); Eduardo Portal (Spain); Danius Povilionis (Lithuania); Daniele Rustioni (Italy); Mirko Schipillitti (Italy); Ewa Strusinska (Poland); Viswa Subbaramean (USA); Jin Daniel Suh (Republic of Korea); Barbara Szarejeko (Poland); Eugene Tzigane McDonough (USA); Seungup Yoon (Republic of Korea); Michael Alexander Young (USA)

There are also five alternates available: Marcin Dobrzanski (Poland); Yuriy Kulchytskyy (Ukraine); Sviatoslava Luchenko (Ukraine); Sasha Makila (Finland); and Yi An Xu (China).

The Grzegorz Fitelberg International Competition for Conductors is affiliated with the World Federation of Music Competitons and is noted as one of the most prestigious international conductor competitions. The competition will be held at the Silesian Philharmonic in the following stages:

1st Stage – 17th -20th November 2007
2nd Stage – 21st -22nd November 2007
3rd Stage – 23rd November 2007
Laureate Concert November 25th 2007

For more details, visit the official website of the Competition, www.konkursfitelberg.art.pl, or the Silisian Philharmonic website, www.filharmoniaslaska.pl.


Warsaw Autumn Festival

The 50th edition of the Warsaw Autumn Festival will take place in Warsaw between September 21 and 29, 2007. This year’s Festival is possible under the honorary patronage of the President of the Republic of Poland, Lech Kaczyński and the President of the City of Warsaw, Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of one of the world’s largest and most extensive festival of new music, several special projects have been planned. A “50 years of Warsaw Autumn” DVD, including archival interviews with composers and other video clips, and a new internet website at www.warsaw-autumn.art.pl are in creation, Polish television is preparing an anniversary special about the Festival, and the Polish Postal Service is releasing a special anniversary stamp.

The international aspect of the festival will be particularly emphasized this year through performances of artists from around the world and commissions from foreign composers. Among the composers who wrote music for this year’s edition are: Roman Berger, Marek Chołoniewski, James Dillon, Szabolcs Esztényi, Georg Friedrich Haas, Toshi Hosokawa, Jerzy Kornowicz, Aleksander Lasoń, Onute Narbutajtė, Uroš Rojka, Bettina Skrzypczak, Martin Smolka, Ewa Trębacz and Lidia Zielińska. There will be concerts with elements of theater and electronic media, using new sound distribution technologies as well as coordinated light and video projections.

As usual the festival utilizes most of Warsaw’s performance venues and some unusual concert spaces: National Philharmonic, Chopin Music Academy, Royal Castle, Polish Radio Lutosławski Concert Studio, Contemporary Art Center, Musicology Institute of the Warsaw Univeristy, Warsaw University Libary, EXPO XXI Hall and many others.

In all there will be five symphonic concerts, six chamber orchestra performances, one chamber opera staging, nine small ensemble concerts and nearly twenty accompanying events. There will be twenty-two world premieres during the festival. On September 27 in the Warsaw Royal Castle there will be special anniversary ceremony.

For more information including a complete calendar of concerts, please visit Polish Music Information Centre website, www.polmic.pl. The updated official website of the festival should be also available soon.

Wratislavia Cantans 2007

The 42nd edition of the Wratislavia Cantans festival will take place in Wrocław and the vicinity between September 6 and 16. The program of the festival includes works written in the medieval times up to 21st century compositions, including Polish premieres of the contemporary works. The festival will also see the premiere of a work commissioned for the occasion from Agata Zubel, a composer from Wrocław. Also performed will be the freshly discovered pieces of early music. The festival promotes the past and present cultural tradition of the Lower Silesian region. Artists invited this year come from all around the world, including: Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Sweden, Great Britain and Italy. Among the celebrated stars there will be: Paul McCreesh, Sir John Elliot Garner, Rinaldo Alessandrini with Concerto Italiano, Konrad Junghänel with Cantus Cölln, Dietrich Henschel, Jakob Lindberg, Jacek Kaspszyk, RIAS-Kammerchor and Nicholas Daniel.

For a complete list of artists and to view a detailed calendar of concerts please visit the official website of the festival: www.wratislavia.art.pl.

“Chopin in the Colors of Autumn”

The 26th International Festival “Chopin in the Colors of Autumn” will take place between September 7 and 16 in Antonin, Kalisz and Ostrów Wielkopolski. For the last 25 years, Chopin Festivals in Antonin have been held annually in the third week of September. The Festival commemorates the two visits Chopin paid to the Antonin Palace in the years of 1827 and 1829. The first edition of the festival took place in 1982 on the 155th anniversary of Chopin’s first visit to Antonin. Traditionally, opening symphonic concerts are held in Ostrów Wielkopolski.

This year the artist roster includes: Wojciech Nentwig (Poland) – host, Viola Łabanow (Poland) – piano, Tomasz Bugaj (Poland) – conductor, Sylwester Smulczyński (Poland) – tenor, Rostislav Krimer (Belarus) – piano, Robert Szpręgiel (Poland) – baritone, Kalisz Philharmonic Orchestra (Poland), Poznań Philharmonic Orchestra (Poland), Mateusz Szmyt (Poland) – cello, Marcin Koziak (Poland) – piano, Krzysztof Jabłoński (Poland) – piano, Krystyna Pietranek – Kulis (Poland) – host, Kevin Kenner (USA) – piano, Justyna Stępień (Poland) – soprano, Jerzy Artysz (Poland) – baritone, Jan Popis (Poland) – host, Ingolf Wunder (Austria) – piano, Ines Walachowski – piano, Igor Kratchenko – cello, Dorota Lachowicz (Poland) – mezzo-soprano, Banu Sözüar (Turkey) – piano, Anna Walachowski – piano, and Adam Makowicz (Poland) – piano.

For more information please visit the webpage of the Culture and Art Centre in Kalisz, www.ckis.kalisz.pl .

Sinfonia Varsovia Festival

The 7th edition of the “Sinfonia Varsovia for the City” will take place in Warsaw between September 1 and 10. This year marks the first edition to honor Franciszek Wybrańczyk, who passed away not long ago. The world class artists invited this year include: Arto Noras – cello, Daniel Hope – violin, Agata Szymczewska – violin (winner of the 13th International Wieniawski Competition), Anna Gutkowska – violin (winner of the 1st International Baltic Violin Competiton), and soloists of the National Theatre-Grand Opera – Iwona Hossa – soprano, Anna Lubańska – mezzosoprano and Robert Gierlach – baritone. The Sinfonia Varsovia orchestra will be conducted by Jacek Kaspszyk, Michał Dworzyński, Jerzy Maksymiuk and Krzysztof Penderecki.

For detailed information about the orchestra and the festival please visit the Sinfonia Varsovia website, www.sinfoniavarsovia.org.

Bydgoszcz Music Festival

The 45th edition of the Bydgoszcz Music Festival will take place between September 11 and October 5. The fact that it is organized during the 2007 Szymanowski year, coinciding with the 125th birthday and 70th anniversary of the composer’s death, inspired the title of this year’s edition: “Karol Szymanowski and Masters of the 20th Centruy Music.” During the festival there will be performances by not only the best Polish artists and ensembles but also esteemed guests from around the world. Performing ensembles include: Sinfonia Varsovia, Kraków Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir, Kraków Polish Radio Choir, Opery Nova Choir, Berliner Cappella, Szymanowski Quartet, Ciurlionis Quartet from Wilno, and Pomeranian Quartet. Conductors include: Krzysztof Penderecki, Jan Krenz, Paul Esswood, Marek Pijarowski, Tadeusz Wojciechowski and Zygmunt Rychert. Soloists include: Artö Nores – cello, Anne Akiko Meyers – violin, Julian Gembalski – organ; Piotr Paleczny, Denis Michałkow, Jerzy Godziszewski – pianists; and Zofia Kilanowicz, Bożena Harasimowicz, Ryszard Minkiewicz and Adam Kruszewski – vocalists. The majority of the concerts will take place in the Pomeranian Philharmonic Hall.

For the complete program of the festival please visit the Pomeranian Philharmonic website: www.musica.pl.

Silesia Sonans

The European Organ Music Festival “Silesia Sonans” takes place in Jelenia Góra and is centered around the beautiful organ at the Polish Army Garrison Church in Jelenia Góra. The opening concert will feature Andrzej Chorosiński with a short solo recital followed by Gwendolyn Bradley, world class soprano and soloist of the Metropolitan Opera, accompanied by the Dolnośląska [Lower-Silesian] Philharmonic conducted by Michał Nesterowicz. Between September 1 and 9 there will be performances by the following organists: Anders Uibo (Estonia), Fabrice Pitrois (France), Udo Witt (Germany) and Jean-Christophe Geiser with Kairn Richter – alto (Switzerland).

For more information please visit the official website of the festival, www.silesiasonans.pl.

Sacrum Profanum Festival

After presentations of music by composers related to Vienna (2004), Russia (2005) and France (2006), compositions of American artists will resound during this year’s fifth edition of the Sacrum-Profanum Festival. Among the compositions presented by leading musicians from all over the world, there will be works by composers such as George Gershwin, Charles Ives, Steve Reich, Leonard Bernstein, Elliot Carter, John Adams, Philip Glass, John Cage and Miles Davis.

Outstanding artists from Poland and other countries will perform from the September 16 to 23.   Kraków will be host to Marc Minkowski, Leszek Możdżer, Tomasz Stańko, Paul Hillier, along with acclaimed ensembles London Sinfonietta, Schönberg Ensemble, Asko Ensemble, and Theatre of Voices. There will also be performances by renowned Polish musicians – Marek Moś, Maciej Grzybowski, the Royal String Quartet, Kwartet Śląski, AUKSO, Sinfonia Varsovia and others.

The central concept of the Sacrum-Profanum Festival is presentation of masterpieces of instrumental and vocal and instrumental music based on geographic origin. Concerts feature monographic reviews of the works of particular composers of the 19th and 20th centuries according to their ethnicity.

For more information and a detailed program please visit the official website, www.biurofestiwalowe.pl.


Melisma Features Szałowski & Penderecki

By Gary Fitelberg

The German Melisma label offers us a most intriguing CD featuring two Polish composers: Antoni Szałowski and Krzysztof Penderecki. The CD is entitled “Stimmungen eines Fauns Miniaturen für Klarinette” (Melisma 7170-2). It features Szałowski’s Sonatina for Clarinet and Penderecki’s Drei Miniaturen [Three Miniatures] as performed by clarinetist Heiner Rekeszus and pianist Erika le Roux.

Antoni Szałowski (Warsaw, April 21, 1907 – Paris, March 21, 1973) was a Polish composer who, in his youth had studied violin but soon became more interested in piano, conducting, and composition. Szałowski studied with Pawel Lewicki and Kazmierz Sikorski at the Warsaw Conservatorie, but in 1930 he received a government grant which enabled him to study in Paris. He was a student of Nadia Boulanger at the École Normale de Musique de Paris from 1931-36.

Szałowski’s first three string quartets were met with much success, but his Overture for Orchestra (1936) was his first well-known work. Most of his works were written for strings. Szałowski is mostly known today for his Sonatina for Clarinet and Piano (1936) and other chamber wind pieces, thought there are sill occasional performances of his Overture. Szałowski’s Sonatina for Clarinet and Piano was composed in 1936, the year he became president of the Association of Young Polish Musicians in Paris. The Sonatina has unmistakably French qualities. In fact, it is a highly characteristic example of Polish-French neoclassicism, as it combines elements from the idiom of Karol Szymanowski with the humor and spirit of the Parisian group of composers known as “Les Six.” The music for this piece is available through Chester music publishers.

During World War II, Szałowski lived in hiding and with financial difficulties and was sought by the Nazis, but he managed to still compose several works. Szałowski suffered a heart attack and soon died when trying to lift his wife who had slipped on the floor.

Krzysztof Penderecki (born November 23, 1933 in Dębica) is a Polish composer and conductor of classical music, can be considered one of the most famous and leading Polish composers of his time. His works include four operas and eight symphonies, as well as numerous other orchestral works, concertante pieces, choral and vocal works, instrumental pieces, chamber and instrumental works.

After taking private composition lessons with Franciszek Skołyszewski, Penderecki studied music at Kraków University and the Academy of Music in Kraków under Artur Malawski and Stanisław Wiechowicz. Upon graduating in 1958, he took up a teaching post at the Academy. It was during his studies in 1956 that Penderecki composed his aphoristic Three Miniatures, embarking on a harmonically more radical journey. With the propensity for bitonality, the Three Miniatures leave the beaten path of the kind of folkloristic idiom prevalent in Poland at the time.  These three in no way hint at the radically innovative sound experiments found in Penderecki’s Emanations for Strings, composed only two years later. The contrapuntal mastery of the pieces with their constant change in meter, the expressiveness born of clashing dissonance and the variety of sophisticated tonal resource invite comparison with another piece for solo clarinet composed in the same year.

Penderecki’s early works show the influence of Anton Webern and Pierre Boulez (he has also been influenced by Igor Stravinsky). Penderecki’s international recognition began in 1959 at the Warsaw Autumn Festival with the premieres of the works StrophenPsalms of David, and Emanations, but the piece that truly brought him to international attention was Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima, written for 52 string instruments. In it, Penderecki makes use of extended instrumental techniques (for example, playing on the “wrong” side of the bridge, bowing on the tailpiece). There are many novel textures in the work, which makes great use of tone clusters (notes close together played at the same time. The work was originally titled 8’37”, perhaps in a nod to John Cage, but Penderecki changed the title after his publisher suggested he give it a more colorful name.

Around the mid-1970s, while he was a professor at the Yale School of Music Penderecki’s style began to change. The Violin Concerto No. 1 largely leaves behind the dense tone clusters with which he had been associated, and instead focuses on two melodic intervals: the semitone and the tritone. Some commentators went so far as to compare this new direction to Anton Bruckner. This direction continued with the Symphony No. 2, “Christmas” (1980), which is rather straightforward from a harmonic and melodic standpoint for a composer who had been one of the most experimental in Europe. It makes frequent use of the tune of the Christmas carol “Silent Night.”

In 1980, Penderecki was commissioned by the Solidarity movement in Poland to compose a piece to accompany the unveiling of a statue at the Gdańsk shipyards, which would commemorate those killed in anti-government riots there in 1970. Penderecki responded with the Lacrimosa, which he later expanded into one of the best known works of his later period, the Polish Requiem (1980-84, revised 1993). Here again the harmonies are quite lush, although there are moments which evoke his earlier work in the 1960s. His tendency in recent years has been towards more conservative romanticism, however, as seen in works like the Cello Concerto No. 2 and the Credo.

Some of Penderecki’s music has been adapted for film soundtracks. Portions of the 1971 Cello Concerto have been used in both The Shining and The Exorcist. In 1991 the Main Street Preachers used a sample of Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima in the intro of their single You Love Us (Heavenly Version). More recently, director David Lynch made extensive use of Penderecki’s music in his 2006 film Inland EmpireKosmognia also is featured on the soundtrack to Lynch’s 1990 film Wild at Heart.

This is a very rare recording of the music of Szałowski as well as a welcome addition to coverage of Penderecki’s oeuvre. Together they offer a view of Polish composers in the twentieth century, covering both the first half and second half respectively.

[Sources for this article: Polish Encyclopedia of ComposersGrove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Melisma website: www.melisma.de]

Szymanowski On Naxos

Szymanowski piano and violin music 
Karol Szymanowski: Violin Sonata in D minor, op. 9; Lullaby, Op. 52, “La berceuse d’Aitacho Enia”; Myths, Op. 30; Romance in D major, Op. 23; Nocturne and Tarantella, Op. 28; King Roger, Op. 46: Roxana’s Song (arr. for violin and piano)
Miriam Kramer, violin; Nicholas Durcan, piano
Naxos 8.553685

I hadn’t been aware of Miriam Kramer previously, but she plays with a gorgeous tone and seems well nigh flawless. This disc includes all of Szymanowski’s music for violin and piano, which gives it an advantage over several other releases that are less complete. Considering its bargain price, it becomes an immediate first choice for anyone wanting Karol Szymanowski’s violin music. This covers his career from earlier works vaguely reminiscent of Scriabin and German late romanticism to Debussy and Stravinsky with bits of Middle Eastern influences. Perhaps the best work is also the longest, the sonata. The Notturno and Tarantella is spectacular, while Pawel Kochanski’s transcription of the ‘Song of Roxanne’ from King Roger is a fine short work.

Notes and recordings are very satisfactory and Nicolas Durcan accompanies well.
— Review by Carl Bauman, American Record Guide, July/August 2007

[Complete review taken from the Naxos website]

Janaki Trio Plays Penderecki

Janaki String Trio: Debut 
Krzysztof Penderecki: String Trio; Ludwig van Beethoven: String Trio in C minor, Op. 9 nr 3; Barabba: String Trio; Lefkowitz: Duet for Violin and Viola; Penderecki: String Trio (live performance) Janaki Trio: Serena McKinney, violin; Katie Kadarauch, viola; Arnold Choi, cello
Yarlung 62376

Janaki String Trio brings together three friends and virtuoso musicians whose passion and commitment captivate their audiences as they tackle their music with freshness, energy and maturity. Founded at The Colburn School of Music in Los Angeles in early 2005, the group soon won the 59th Annual Coleman Chamber Music Competition, and in March 2006, the threesome came to national attention as the first string trio ever to win the Concert Artists Guild International Competition. The Trio also garnered the inaugural BMI Foundation Commission Prize.

[from the Yarlung website]

Plowright Reviews

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

The recording of Paderewski’s music performed by the 2006 Paderewski Lecture-Recital artist, Jonathan Plowright, has recently received warm reviews from several British publications.

Jonathan Plowright has added this collection of works by the composer/prime minister to his continuing recorded exploration of the Polish romantic repertoire, tackling the Sonata Op. 21, which Paderewski admitted was ‘extremely difficult’, with dazzling confidence […]
— Review by SP in the Observer

You can also find a review by Claire Rogers featured on the BBC website.

Fontana Premiere Recording

Julian Fontana (1810-1869) – Piano Works 1
[Chopin’s Disciples (V)]

Fontana: Premiere Fantasie Brillante sur des motifs de la “Somnambule” de Bellini Op. 14; A la Mazurka; Caprice Op. 1 No, 1 “Marche funebre”; La Havanne – fantasie sur des motifs Americains et Espagnols pour le piano Op.10; 12 Reveries sur piano en deux suites Op. 8; Elegie Op. 7; Trois Mazourkas pour le piano Op. 21; Souvenirs de l’Ile de Cuba. Deux Fantasies pour le piano Op.12; Ballada Op. 17
Rutkowski Hubert, piano
Acte Prealable AP0160


Kulisiewicz In Song

On August 19th, the New Julliard Ensemble, led by Joel Sachs, performed a concert of modern music as a part of the Summergarden festival at the Museum of Modern Art. The evening’s program consisted of Jukka Tiensuu’s Ember, Andy Vores’s Umberhulk, and Paul Schoenfield’s Camp Songs. According to New York Times reviewer Anne Migette:

Paul Schoenfield’s “Camp Songs,” a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2003, the most powerful work of the evening… Artists approaching the Holocaust often reach for the elegiac. Mr. Schoenfield turned to bitter, biting parody: five poems by Aleksander Kulisiewicz, a Polish political prisoner who lived through World War II in the concentration camp at Sachsenhausen… The composer used a range of vernacular styles — tango, klezmer, cabaret — to create music about the banality of evil: melodious on the surface, rich beneath it and deliberately obscene when harnessed to lyrics about burning corpses and camp abuse.
[New York Times, August 21, 2007]

For more information on poet and musician Aleksander Kulisiewicz (pictured above), see the 2nd article in the August 2003 PMC Newsletter.


Born This Month

  • 1 September 1900 – Kazimierz WIŁKOMIRSKI, cellist, conductor, teacher (died in 1990)
  • 5 September 1924 – Krystyna MOSZUMAŃSKA-NAZAR, composer
  • 5 September 1938 – Piotr LACHERT, pianist, composer, pedagogue
  • 6 September 1916 – Tadeusz DOBRZAŃSKI, composer and conductor
  • 7 September 1943 – Elzbieta 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 – Michał SPISAK, composer (died 29 January 1965, Paris)
  • 16 September 1895 – Karol RATHAUS, composer, pianist (died 21 November 1954, New York)
  • 16 September 1891 – Czesław MAREK, composer, pianist
  • 18 September 1919 – Edward BURY, composer and theory teacher
  • 18 September 1928 – Adam WALACIŃSKI, 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 BOGUSŁAWSKI, composer
  • 23 September 1912 – Irena PFEIFFER, composer, conductor.
  • 24 September 1914 – Andrzej PANUFNIK (died 27 October 1991)
  • 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 KLECZYŃSKI (b. 8 June 1857), pianist and music critic
  • 15 September 1944 – Bronislaw WOLFSTAHL, composer, pianist, conductor (b. 22 July 1883)
  • 18 September 1857 – Karol KURPIŃSKI (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 – Waclaw 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”