Polish Music Newsletter Vol. 18, no. 1

2011: Year in Review


2011 was named the year of scientist Marie Curie-Skłodowska and poet Czesław Miłosz by the Polish government, in honor of the 100th anniversary of the second Nobel Prize awarded to Curie-Skłodowska (in the field of Chemistry) and the 100th anniversary of Miłosz’s birth. Both were giants in their respective fields and, although both lived most of their lives abroad, they remained strongly connected to Poland. More at krakowpost.com

Opera Circle of Cleveland celebrated its 15th Anniversary Season during 2010/2011 then performed Szymanowski’s Krol Roger in Oct.

The Silesian Chamber Orchestra celebrated its 30th Anniversary in April

Conductor, composer and pianist Jerzy Maksymiuk celebrated his 75th birthday with Sinfonia Varsovia, an ensemble that he has led and recorded with for many years, in May

The Poznań Music Academy celebrated its 90th anniversary

The 70th anniversary of the death of I. J. Paderewski (June 29, 1941) was celebrated with concerts and other events around the world—see a full listing in the July 2011 Newsletter

Celebrations of the100th birth anniversary of Władysław Szpilman were inaugurated in Sosnowiec on July 6, exactly 11 years after the composer and pianist died in Warsaw—details are available at: www.szpilman.pl. Polish Radio organized a commemorative series of events called The Pianist of Warsaw [Pianista Warszawy] preceding Szpilman’s birthdate of December 5

2011 marked the 100th anniversary of the Institute of Musicology at Jagiellonian University in Kraków

The Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra celebrated its 110th anniversary in Nov.— President Komorowski decorated Maestro Antoni Wit with the Commander’s Cross of the Polonia Restituta and unveiled a commemorative plaque honoring Ignacy Jan Paderewski in the main lobby of the Philharmonic

Oct. 30 marked the 25th anniversary of Maestro Andrzej Markowski’s passing, which was celebrated by the Warsaw Philharmonic and Kraków Philharmonic orchestras

Awards & Honors

The jury of the Witold Lutosławski Society awarded the 2011 Lutosławski Scholarship to young Polish composer Marcin Stańczyk

Composer Paweł Mykietyn (left) won the Best Music category at the 13th Polish Film Awards “The Eagles” for his score for Essential Killing, a film by Jerzy Skolimowski, which also won Best Film, Best Director and Best Editing

Minister of Culture and National Heritage, Bogdan Zdrojewski, awarded the following people with Gloria Artis Awards in 2011—Gold Medals: Russian conductor Valery Gergiev, musicologist Professor Mieczysław Tomaszewski, the Fryderyk Chopin Society in Warsaw and the President of the Chopin 2010 Celebrations Committee, Waldemar Dąbrowski, Bronze Medals: Polish composer Paweł Łukaszewski

In March, jazz pianist Leszek Możdżer was named “Man of the Year” in the first annual MocArt Awards presented by RMF Classical Radio and his album Kaczmarek by Możdżer went platinum. He was later given the “Ignacy Jan Paderewski medal” of the Polish Army Veterans Association of America [SWAP]

Polish Minister’s visit to Thornton

Poland’s Ministry of Culture and National Heritage distributed 86 of its annual “Młoda Polska” grants to young artists, nearly half of which were for projects in music—a list of all grantees and their projects is available at www.mkidn.gov.pl

The Poznań-based duo of violinist Sandra Haniszewska and guitarist Tomasz Kandulski triumphed at the international guitar competition of the 13th International Guitar Festival “Niccolo Paganini” in Parma, Italy

Marek Grucka, a young composer from Katowice, received the First Prize at the National Composers’ Competition hosted by the Silesian Philharmonic in Katowice, and his work Z tamtych dni [Days of the Past] for orchestra and chorus was premiered shortly thereafter by the orchestra

Bogdan Zdrojewski, Poland’s Minister of Culture and National Heritage, received the 2011 Lewiatan ‘Władysław Grabski’ Award, given by the Polish Confederation of Private Employers ‘PKPP Lewiatan’ in recognition of his strong leadership that was “not only sensitive to the needs of Polish culture but also to the needs of business community and to the Minister’s ability to build a relationship between these two areas”

TVP Kultura presented its 6th annual “Cultural Guarantee” Award (Classical Music Category) to composer Aleksander Nowak for his piano concerto Król Kosmosu znika [King of the Cosmos Disappears]. Concerto for Orchestra, Threads and Piano], and his chamber opera Sudden Rain

The jury of the first Krzysztof Penderecki Composers’ Competition awarded the First Prize ex-aequo to Natalia Cherniy from Wrocław for Beautiful strings, and Kamil Cieślikowi of Gdańsk for Music for Strings (no other prizes were awarded)

Julie-Anne Hamula won the Annual Marcella Kochanska Sembrich Vocal Competition organized by the American Council for Polish Culture

2011 winners of the prestigious Annual Polish Composers’ Union Award [Nagroda ZKP]: Marta Ptaszyńska (left)—composer, Andrzej Rakowski—acoustician, Zbigniew Skowron—musicologist

In the music section, the 2011Cyprian Kamil Norwid Prize was awarded to Alicja Knast, Curator of the Chopin Museum in Warsaw

Violinist Soyoung Yoon of South Korea won the 2011 International Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition


FOCUS! 2011 FestivalPolish Modern: New Directions in Polish Music Since 1945 at the Juilliard School of Music, New York – including the World Premiere of Hanna Kulenty’s Brass No. 4 (2007) for tuba solo on Jan. 25

The prestigious 16th annual Other Minds Festival of New Music in San Francisco featured Polish composer and vocalist Agata Zubel (b.1978)

The National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra [NOSPR] presented its annual Festival of Premieres in Katowice in March—featuring new works by established artists such as Zbigniew Bargielski, Krzysztof Meyer, Grażyna Pstrokońska-Nawratil, Piotr Moss, and Krzesimir Dębski, as well as younger composers like Aleksander Nowak, Maciej Jabłoński, Justyna Kowalska-Lasoń, and Mikołaj Górecki

The Unsound Festival-New York—organized in collaboration with the Sacrum Profanum Festival in Kraków—presented the New York debut of one of Europe’s great chamber orchestras, Sinfonietta Cracovia

25th Warsaw Music Encounters Festival [Muzyka Warszawskie Spotkania], organized by the Warsaw branch of the Polish Composer’s Union (ZKP) in cooperation with Polish Radio, S.A., was held in May

The International Karol Szymanowski Festival took place in August in Beijing, China, with the theme “Karol Szymanowski – an artist before his time”

The Transatlantyk International Film and Music Festival—created and directed by Polish film composer, Jan A. P. Kaczmarek—happened for the first time in Pozńan, Poland in August. Festival juries named Norwegian composer Matthijs Kleboom the “Transatlantyk Young Composer of 2011” and gave violinist Agata Szymczewska the “Transatlantic Chopin Award for the Most Promising Artist of the Year,” while Dawid Rudnicki won the Transatlantyk Instant Composition Contest

Celebrating their 60th and 80th birthdays respectively, Polish composer Rafał Augustyn and Danish composer Ib Nørholm will be the central figures of the 2011 Rudersdal Sommerkoncerter Festival

The 49th Bydgoszcz Music Festival in Sep. and Oct. honored Henryk Mikołaj Górecki (1933-2010) with performances of some of the greatest ensembles from Poland and abroad

The 3rd International Chamber Music Festival ‘Muzyka na szczytach’ [Music in the Heights] in Zakopane presented excellent chamber ensembles of all genres from around Europe

16th Festival of Polish Composers in Bielsko- Biała was held in memory of its former patron, Henryk Mikołaj Górecki, and focused on the theme of “Polish composers of film music”

The International Festival of Films about Music KAMERaTON celebrated the film music of Krzesimir Dębski and held concerts with some of the best Polish jazz and classical musicians

The first edition of the Actus Humanus Festival happened in Dec. in Gdańsk, offering audiences true masterpieces of early music linked with the Christmas season, played by the world’s leading performers of historic music


A petition called we are more, intended “to contribute to a strengthened recognition of the role of arts and culture in the development of our European societies” by influencing the EU budget for the next ten years (2014-2020) was launched

Polish Radio’s 3-year rental contract for their unique Lutosławski Studio S1 to a musical theatre group, and the expected practical eviction of the resident Polish Radio Orchestra, caused an uproar among many musicians, music lovers, and critics—the following petition was written against the action

The international tour of the I, Culture Orchestra—comprised of young musicians from across the Eastern countries of the European Union—was were initiated by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, the cultural wing of the Poland’s Foreign Ministry.

The Polish Composers’ Union (ZKP) and the Institute for Music and Dance organized the First Conference on Polish Music, held at the National Library in Warsaw in May, the results of which were published as the 2011 Raport o stanie muzyki polskiej [Report on the State of Polish Music]

A new website dedicated to the life and works of Polish composer Karol Szymanowski was launched: www.karolszymanowski.pl

For the 2011/2012 season, the Warsaw National Philharmonic invited composer and conductor Paweł Łukaszewski (b. 1968) to be composer-in-residence, a program that was initiated only in 2010, with Paweł Mykietyn serving as its first honoree

The Polish Society for Contemporary Music organized a series of discussions on wide-ranging topics with composers, entitled “Contemporary Music Does Not Bite” [Muzyka współczesna nie gryzie]

Initiated by a performance by the Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra,  the “Poland-Germany: 1000 Years of Art and History” exhibit at Berlin’s Martin-Gropius-Bau explored the spiritual and scientific development of Poland and Germany and revealed a shared cultural past of the two bordering nations. Some 250 paintings, 30 sculptures, 60 historical volumes, 80 manuscripts, 60 etchings, 70 documents, 100 craft items and150 photographs, film, music, and printed matter were on display from Sept. 2011 to Jan. 2012

The 2011/12 season marked the beginning of Krzysztof Urbański’s four-year Music Directorship of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, making him the youngest Music Director of any major North American orchestra

Organized by singer Elżbieta Zapolska, the President of the Maria Szymanowska Society, the First International Maria Szymanowska Conference took place in Paris in Sept.

On Nov. 17, a meeting concerning jazz education in Poland took place at the Institute of Music and Dance (IMiT) in Warsaw


Fulfilling one of the many opportunities afforded to her as the Grand Prize winner of the 2010 Chopin Competition in Warsaw, Yulianna Avdeeva performed with the New York Philharmonic in Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall on Jan. 4

Polish bass Andrzej Saciuk (b. 1933) ended his 57-year opera career on Jan, 11, singing Skołuba in Stanisław Moniuszko’s The Haunted Manor at the Grand Opera in Łódź, Poland—in the same role and on the same stage where his career began

On Jan. 23, the String Orchestra of New York City (SONYC) presented an all-Polish program of: Sonata by S. Szarzyński, Quartet Op. 9 for string orchestra by S. Noskowski, Concerto for String Orchestra by G. Bacewicz, and Sinfonietta for strings by K. Penderecki. Hosted by the Kosciuszko Foundation

Throughout  2011, the Grand Theatre in Poznań [Teatr Wielki im. Stanisława Moniuszki w Poznaniu] celebrated its “Year of Women” [Rok Kobiet] by presenting 10 new opera stagings, each of them telling a story of a different female protagonist—the premiere of Komedia o niemej żonie [Comedy of a Mute Wife] (1953) by Tadeusz Zygfryd Kassern (1904-1957) was featured

In Feb., the 2005 Chopin Piano Competition winner Rafał Blechacz gave a mini-tour of six locations throughout North America

World-renown jazz vocalist Aga Zaryan performed songs including texts from the 1944 Warsaw Uprising and poet Czesław Miłosz with Michał Tokaj in a special presentation at the Kosciuszko Foundation in New York

Multi-Grammy Award-winning violinist Joshua Bell ended his February performance at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center at California State University, Long Beach, with four encores featuring works by Chopin and Wieniawski

Pianist Daniel Barenboim gave a free, surprise recital of Chopin’s music in the Turbine Hall at London’s Tate Modern Museum of Art (left) in April, celebrating his new all-Chopin recording series with Deutsche Grammophon

Throughout the month of April, Polish-Hungarian pianist Piotr Anderszewski and German violinist Frank Peter Zimmermann went on a recital tour of Europe, performing repertoire by Szymanowski, Schumann and Beethoven

Polish music was performed throughout the world in celebration of the beatification of Pope John Paul II, announced in May—see the May 2011 Newsletter for a full listing

Polish jazz reed player Mikołaj Trzaska and his Trio ‘Ha-Tichona’ [inner ear (Hebrew)] performed throughout Poland and the UK in May

Chicago’s Lira Ensemble presented an evening of beautiful music by Ignacy Feliks Dobrzyński, “The Polish Mozart,” in May

The Wrocław Philharmonic Choir was the first Polish choir to perform at the legendary BBC Proms Festival in 2009, and that sold out performance led to an immediate re-invitation to appear at the 2011 festival

World renowned folk music ensemble Dikanda toured the Central and Eastern US in Sept.

Impressed with the breadth and the artistic quality of last year’s Możdżer+, bassist Marcus Miller hosted one of this year’s biggest jazz shows in Poland, Marcus+ at the 2011 Solidarity of Arts Festival

Polish soprano Aleksandra Kurzak made her debut at the Los Angeles Opera in the role of Fiordiligi in Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte

Mezzo-soprano Marta Wryk and pianist Magdalena Baczewska—two Polish-born musicians now based in New York—performed a recital featuring the music of Grzegorz Fitelberg and Witold Lutosławski at the Kosciuszko Foundation in Oct.

There was an outpouring of memorial concerts marking the 1-year anniversary of the passing of one of the most important composers of Polish contemporary music, Henryk Mikołaj Górecki—see the Nov. Newsletter for details

Sinfonia Varsovia performed in the prestigious Salle Pleyel in Paris with conductor Grzegorz Nowak and pianist Rafał Blechacz

PMC News

The Paderewski: The Modern Immortal exhibit— which displayed items from the PMC’s Paso Robles Collection highlighting Paderewski’s connections to music, politics, family life, California, and Polish history—was on display at the Treasure Room of Doheny Library on the USC campus through May

Featuring scores and recordings by the youngest generation of Polish composers, the New Voices in Polish Music Collection was launched in February (right) and now includes scores and recordings by: Wojciech Blecharz, Tomasz Jakub Opałka, Artur Żuchowski, Jakub Polaczyk, Justyna Kowalska, Stanisław Bromboszcz, Agata Zubel, Ewa Trębacz, Jarosław Kapuścicnski, Mateusz Ryczek, Barbara Kaszuba, and Maciej Jabłoński

On March 26 in USC’s Newman Recital Hall, the PMC presented a concert featuring trend-setters in Polish contemporary music. Entitled “Polish Music: the New Generation,” it highlighted music by young Polish composers living in the U.S., performances by outstanding young musicians from L.A. and Seattle, and a keyboard improvisation by filmmaker and Polish music enthusiast, David Lynch

New Generation Concert 2011
Composers and performers, including filmmaker David Lynch, at the New Generation Concert. USC Newman Recital Hall, Los Angeles, 26 March 2011

Rio de Janeiro-based virtuoso violinist Jerzy Milewski and his wife, pianist Aleida Schweitzer, were invited to California to perform the Toast to Paderewski fundraiser in Paso Robles as well as concerts in Anaheim and La Mesa

From June 22 to July 4, three winners of the 2010 Paderewski Youth Piano Competition in Paso RoblesJordan Adams (16) and Madeline Anderson (15) from Monterey, and Evan Lin (14) from San Luis Obispo—traveled to Poland on an all-expenses-paid 12-day musical exchange at Jagiellonian University in Kraków and the Paderewski Centre in Kąśna Dolna (see a full report in the July 2011 Newsletter)

Paweł Łukaszewski was highlighted in the 2011 Paderewski Lecture-Recital, with music performed by baritone Dan Gibbs, soprano Sewan Howsepian Salmasi, pianist Grace Chung, and the Vocal Ensemble of the Polish Music Center with Maestro Nick Strimple. The composer came to Los Angeles on a travel grant from the Adam Mickiewicz Institute‘s 2011 “Kultura Polska Na Świecie” [Polish Culture Worldwide] program to work with students from the USC Thornton School of Music and deliver his lecture, entitled “My Sacred Music – Composer’s Credo”

Our friends and partners at the Polish Music Information Centre in Warsaw recently sent us another priceless gift—the Sound Chronicle of the 2009 Warsaw Autumn Festival

The 2011 Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles presented one of the most impressive artist lineups to-date, including: Leszek Możdżer, Eduard Kunz, New West Guitar Group, and the Cuesta College North County Chorus—see an overview in the Dec. Newsletter

A long-time friend of the Polish Music Center, Vladek Juszkiewicz (below), help facilitate two important manuscript donations at the end of the year: MUZYKA JESIENNA [Autumn Music] for chamber string orchestra (1988) by Prof. Marek Jasiński and STRING QUARTET No. 2 by Paweł Mykietyn


Krzysztof Penderecki’s Powiało na mnie morze snów… Pieśni zadumy i nostalgii [A Sea of Dreams has Fallen on Me… Songs of Reverie and Nostalgia] for vocal soloists, choir and orchestra was performed by Wioletta Chodowicz (soprano) Agnieszka Rehlis (mezzo-soprano), Mariusz Godlewski (baritone), the Choir of the Warsaw Philharmonic, Sinfonia Varsovia, and conductor Henryk Wojnarowski. The premiere was part of the final gala of the Chopin 2010 celebrations, hosted by Valery Gergiev on Jan. 14 in Warsaw

On March 26, the World Premiere of a newly commissioned work by Roxanna Panufnik (b.1968)—Let me in (2010) for 12 solo voices—was premiered by Chanticleer in Oakland, CA

On March 12, the world-renowned Penderecki String Quartet premiered Piotr Grella-Możejko’s work Acheron in a program entitled “Strong Strings” in Edmonton

From March 25 – 27, NOSPR held its 4th annual “Festival of Premieres – Poland’s Latest Music” [Festiwal Prawykonań – Polska Muzyka Najnowsza] in Katowice, featuring premieres by: Aleksander Kościów, Dariusz Przybylski, Grażyna Pstrokońska-Nawratil, Justyna Kowalska-Lasoń, Maciej Jabłoński, Mikołaj Górecki, and Aleksander Nowak

Composer Marcin Stańczyk had several premieres in April and May, including Spectacle in two unfulfilled acts—a collaborative work for ballet co-written with Paulina Załubska, Artur Zagajewski and Krzysztof Knittel—and the opera Le teste scambiate [The Switched Heads]

The Fundacja Nowa Orkiestra Kameralna (FNOK) organized Muzyczne pejzaże Czesława Miłosza [The Musical Landscapes of Czesław Miłosz], a concert of specially commissioned works by Joanna Bruzdowicz, Barbara Kaszuba, Ryszard Osada, Jarosław Siwiński, Romuald Twardowski, and PMC Director Marek Żebrowski were performed by the Warsaw Camerata Orchestra on June 26 in Warsaw. Composers were. Five more Polish composers—Paweł Mykietyn, Agata Zubel, Wojciech Ziemowit Zych, Aleksandra Gryka and Dobromiła Jaskot (above)composed music for “Made in Poland—Miłosz Sound” that was performed at the Sacrum Profanum Festival in Sept.

In celebration of the 200th anniversary of the events described in the Polish epic poem Pan Tadeusz, the premiere of Koncertu Jankiela [Jankiel’s Concerto] by Academy Award-winner Jan AP Kaczmarek was performed by Sinfonia Varsovia at the National Philharmonic in Warsaw

The World Premiere of Paweł Mykietyn’s Symphony No. 3 for alto and orchestra was the highlight of the all-day inaugural concert celebrating Poland’s ascension to the Presidency of the EU Council. It was performed by the Warsaw National Philharmonic under the baton of Reinbert de Leeuw, with Jadwiga Rappé as soloist

Two Mice and a Cat, a one-act operetta with music by Dariusz Przybylski, was premiered at the Lehár Festival in Bad Ischl, Austria, by members of the Jan Kiepura Musical Theatre

As usual, the 2011 Warsaw Autumn Festival of Contemporary Music featured a host of World Premieres by composers of all ages—for a full listing, see the Sept. 2011 Newsletter

During the 46th International Festival Wratislavia Cantans in Wrocław in Sept.,Lamentationes by Paweł Łukaszewski (above left) and Phylakterion by Paweł Szymański (above right) had their World Premieres

In Sept., the World Premiere of …et seul le silence après eux by Piotr Moss was given as part of the French festival Septembre musicale de l’Orne

Stanisław Skrowaczewski’s latest composition, Music for Winds—co-commissioned by the USC Thornton School of Music—received its World Premiere on Oct. 30 at USC

In Oct., Wojciech Kilar’s new work Lumen for a cappella choir was premiered by the Polish Chamber Choir at the European Parliament in Brussels, and his Piano Concerto No. 2 was premiered by Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra in Katowice (NOSPR) and pianist Beata Bilińska

The month of November will feature several World Premieres of music by Mikołaj Górecki: the Silesian Quartet performed Overture for String Quartet at the Silesian Composers’ Tribune in Katowice,  the Silesian Philharmonic Orchestra performed Nocturne for Orchestra at the Katowice Cathedral, the Amadeus Orchestra of the Polish Radio under the baton of Anna Mróz will performed Pożegnanie [Farewell] for string orchestra at the Concert Hall of the Mickiewicz University in Poznań

Polish composer Joanna Bruzdowicz conducted the World Premiere of her latest work, Lella-Oratorio Profane, at the Opera House in Bastia, Corsica, on Nov. 9

World Premiere of the new work by Polish composer Krzysztof Meyer, entitled Imaginary Variations, was commissioned and performed by violinist Janet Packer at the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Chicago—this work will be given its West Coast premiere during the PMC’s Festival of Premieres on March 23-24, 2012 at USC

Commissioned by the Baltic Opera, the World Premiere performance of Madame Curie by composer Elżbieta Sikora and librettist Agata Miklaszewska took place at the UNESCO Auditorium in Paris on Nov. 15


The Polish American Historical Association has published The Polish American Encyclopedia, the definitive reference work on Polish American history and culture. Edited by James S. Pula and published by McFarland Publishers, the Encyclopedia is comprised of over 1,200 entries

The Polish Music Information Centre (POLMIC) in Warsaw has published Electronics Meets Challenges of the 21st Century, a book documenting the Polish-Norwegian conference on new technology that took place from Sept. 2010 at the Fryderyk Chopin Music University

A new book celebrating the 100th birthday of Stefan Kisielewski (1911-1991)—a noted twentieth century Polish composer, writer and politician—was written by Małgorzata Gąsiorowska and published by PWM Editions

The Muzykalia XI / Judaica 3 journal discussed the relationship between music of the Holocaust and the processes of memory as it is expressed in music and musicology

Seeking the Infinite – The Musical Life of Stanisław Skrowaczewski, the composer-conductor’s first full-length biography, was published by Frederick Edward Harris Jr.

The latest issue of Quarta—the English language version of Kwarta by PWM Editions—featuring composer Marcel Chyrzyński (b. 1971) was published


Pianist Katarzyna Borek’s recording Ignacy Jan Paderewski—Works for Piano Solo debuted in March. This album was produced by the Young Poland 2010 Prize program of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage

CD Accord continues its Witold Lutosławski – Opera Omnia series with the release of Vol. 3 (ACD 166), featuring Preludes and Fugue for 13 string instruments (1972) and Double Concerto for oboe, harp and chamber orchestra (1980) performed by the Wrocław Chamber Orchestra “Leopoldinum” – Ernst Kovacic, cond. Wrocław Philharmonic – Nicolas Daniel, cond. and oboe soloist; Lucy Wakeford – harp

Part of DUX Records’ “Young Composers in Tribute to Fryderyk Chopin” series, Dariusz Przybylski’s Works for Orchestra recording (DUX 0721) featuring the Aukso Chamber Orchestra and Sinfonia Iuventus was released to great critical acclaim

Pianist Krystian Zimerman returned to the recording studio after a five-year absence to celebrate the 100th birthday of the foremost female Polish composer of the 20th century, Grażyna Bacewicz, on the prestigious Deutsche Grammophon label (DG CD 4778332)

Leszek Możdżer’s highly anticipated album Komeda was released on ACT Records (ACT 9516-2), many selections from which were later performed at his appearance at the 2011 Paderewski Festival

The Royal String Quartet’s recording of Górecki’s three String Quartets was released on Hyperion Records (CDA 67812) to great critical acclaim

Featuring pianist Anna Brożek, the World Premiere recording of the entire catalogue of Roman Maciejewski’s Complete Piano Mazurkas —called “the pearl of Polish piano literature” by Stefan Kisielewski—was released in July on Sarton Records (003-4-2, 2CD)

The Wrocław Philharmonic and DUX Records released Hanna Kulenty – Music 4, performed by the Wrocław Chamber Orchestra Leopoldinum with conductor Ernst Kovacic (DUX 0823)

Tenor Piotr Beczała’s Slavic Opera Arias, performed with the Polish Radio Orchestra conducted by Łukasz Borowicz, was released on Orfeo Records (C814101A)

Among its other World Premiere new recordings, the Acte Prealable label released Zygmunt Stojowski: Complete Works for Violin and Piano with Irena Kalinowska-Grohs – violin and Barbara Pakura – piano (AP0249)

A project of violinist Joanna Kurkowicz, the Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra and its Artistic Director Łukasz Borowicz, Grażyna Bacewicz – Violin Concertos Nos 2, 4 and 5 was released in June (Chandos 10673)

Lutosławski: Vocal Works (Muzyka Polska. Vol. II) was released on Chandos Records (CHAN 10688)

Internationally acclaimed British pianist Jonathan Plowright released his Homage to Paderewski (Hyperion CDA67903)—modeled after a1942 album of sixteen pieces by the same title—with informative liner notes from music historian, Joseph A. Herter

Soprano Aleksandra Kurzak released GIOIA!, her impressive debut on the prestigious Decca Records label (Decca 0289 478 2730 6)

We Remember…

Dr. Jadwiga Paja-Stach – musicologist and Lutosławski expert (d. Jan. 11)

Dr. Tadeusz Przybylski – musicologist and a Salesian priest (d. Jan. 23)

Prof. Maria Zduniak – Polish music historian (d. March 11)

Krystyna Skrowaczewski – wife of conductor-composer Stanisław Skrowaczewski (d. Aug. 26)

Prof. Regina Smendzianka – piano professor at the Chopin Music University in Warsaw (d. Sept. 15)

Irving Geller – former Assoc. Concertmaster and first violinist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic (d. Nov. 16)

Dr. Małgorzata Perkowska-Waszek – musicologist and Paderewski scholar (d. Dec. 27 – more below)

More 2011 Highlights

Cultural Aspects of the Polish Presidency of the E.U. Council by the Polish Music Center & Cultural highlights of the Polish Presidency of the E.U. Council by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute – also, watch a video of highlights on Youtube

2011 Polish Music Year in Review by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute

Classical Music in 2011 by Jacek Hawryluk of Polskie Radio (published in Gazeta Wyborcza)

In Memoriam

Dr. Małgorzata Perkowska-Waszek

Dr. Małgorzata Perkowska-Waszek, one of world’s leading scholars and researchers specializing in the life and career of Ignacy Jan Paderewski, died in Kraków on 27 December 2011 after a long illness. She was 61 years old.

Born on 29 July 1950 in Poznań, Dr. Perkowska’s studied at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków. Her doctoral thesis, Geneza i historia utworów Paderewskiego w świetle nieznanych źródeł [The Genesis and History of Paderewski’s Compositions in Heretofore Unknown Sources], inaugurated Dr. Perkowska’s lifelong research of Poland’s great pianist, composer, statesman and humanitarian. Since 1974 she worked for the Paderewski Center for Research at the Jagiellonian University, which later became the University’s Institute of Musicology. For many years she served as Director of the Center for Documentation of Polish Music in the 19th Century and as Senior Researcher at the Institute of Musicology.

Dr. Perkowska’s contributions to the history of Polish music included her work on the edition of the Complete Works of Paderewski as well as a number of books devoted to various aspects of Paderewski’s public and private life. As Editor-in-Chief and author of detailed source commentaries to the (so far partially published) twelve volume edition of Paderewski’s Complete Works, Dr. Perkowska oversaw the publication of volumes covering Paderewski’s piano compositions, chamber music, the Piano Concerto and Polish Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra, as well as Paderewski’s Songs for Voice and Piano.

During her over thirty years of research, Dr. Perkowska’s scholarship and expertise were amply demonstrated in such titles as Diariusz koncertowy Paderewskiego [Paderewski’s Concert Diary], Za kulisami wielkiej kariery: Paderewski w dziennikach i listach Sylwina i Anieli Strakaczów [Behind the Curtain of a Great Career: Paderewski in Diaries and Correspondence of Sylwin and Aniela Strakacz], and Ignacy Jan Paderewski o sobie. Zarys biografii wzbogacony listami artysty [Ignacy Jan Paderewski About Himself. A Biographical Sketch Enriched by the Artist’s Correspondence]. Author of countless articles for Muzyka, ISME Journal, Muzykologia krakowska, Musica Iagellonica, Polish Culture, Echo Krakowa, Dziennik Polski, and Polskie Wydawnictwo Muzyczne, she also co-authored several books and articles with her colleagues and friends. Dr. Perkowska wrote entries on Paderewski for the PWM Music Encyclopedia, the Polish Biographical Dictionary, The New Grove Dictionary, and for Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, among others.

The list of Dr. Perkowska’s unfinished projects is just as long and impressive. History of Paderewski’s Compositions in Heretofore Unknown Sources—a 500-page book based on her doctoral thesis—is on top of the list of her manuscripts that will have to await publication. Another typewritten manuscript of similar size, I. J. Paderewski—listy do ojca i Heleny Górskiej [I. J. Paderewski—Letters to His Father and Helena Górska] and two smaller books covering the thematic index of Paderewski’s compositions and a text on Paderewski’s last years, were also left in a typescript. Most recently Dr. Perkowska worked on a biography of Apolinary Kątski, annotated diaries of Aniela Strakacz, and on a catalogue of works by her father, Piotr Perkowski (1901-1990), who was a prolific composer, respected educator, and dedicated musical activist.

Dr. Małgorzata Perkowska-Waszek, PMC Director Marek Zebrowski, and USC Libraries Dean Catherine Quinlan. Photo courtesy of USC Libraries

Dr. Perkowska travelled worldwide to lecture on Paderewski and Polish music of the late nineteenth century. She also served on several committees and boards, including the 2001 Paderewski Anniversary Honorary Committee at the invitation of Poland’s Minister of Culture and National Heritage. In the mid 1980s, Dr. Perkowska travelled to California to meet with Anne Appleton-Strakacz and Helena Liibke, two persons closely connected to Paderewski during the last two decades of his life. Dr. Perkowska’s lasting friendship and creative collaboration with Anne Appleton-Strakacz led to a number of discoveries and unique insights into lesser-known aspects of Paderewski’s daily life that later surfaced in Dr. Perkowska’s writings on the subject. Her last visit to the Golden State in November of 2010 coincided with the festivities celebrating Paderewski’s sesquicentennial at the Polish Music Center in Los Angeles, and the annual Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles. Dr. Perkowska delivered the 2010 Paderewski Lecture at the University of Southern California and opened an exhibit devoted to Paderewski at the Doheny Library at USC (pictured at right). She later travelled to lecture in Paso Robles and visited Anne Appleton-Strakacz in northern California.

Brilliant yet modest and always warm and cheerful, Dr. Perkowska was an exceptional individual who inspired others with her knowledge, openness, and good nature. In her own, quiet way, she motivated and encouraged everyone around her throughout her life. Dr. Perkowska was also a strong supporter of the Polish Music Center and a close personal friend. Although she retired from the Institute of Musicology over a year ago, she continued her tireless work of spotlighting Paderewski and his great legacy in music and politics. It was, in a large part, thanks to her and her circle of friends in Poland and California that a monument to Paderewski was erected and dedicated at the Institute of Musicology in Kraków in June 2011 in commemoration of Paderewski’s seventieth death anniversary (pictured at left and above). As it turned out, it was the last public function that Dr. Perkowska was able to participate in before her life was cut short by illness right after Christmas.

Funeral ceremonies took place January 2, 2012, at the Rakowicki Cemetery in Kraków. Together with all her friends and colleagues from around the world and the academic community worldwide, we pay the highest tribute to this outstanding human being and extend our condolences to her husband, Ryszard, and to her surviving family.

[Photos of Dr. Perkowska courtesy of Caria Tomczykowska, Tyson Gaskill and Krysta Close]

PMC News

Recent Donations (Nov-Dec 2011)

  • The last few months of 2011 brought a veritable flood of goodwill towards the Polish Music Center—we received many interesting and truly unique donations from our friends all over the world. As always, these are gratefully accepted and will be proudly displayed on our library shelves. We look forward to sharing them with students and researchers who continue to rely on our ever-growing collection of music, books, recordings, memorabilia related to Polish music.
  • We received the CD Kaczmarek by Możdżer from pianist Leszek Możdżer with a handwritten dedication to the Polish Music Center. It was presented to us by the artist in person, on the occasion of Mr. Możdżer’s concerts in California in November 2011.
  • Wiesław Dąbrowski, a documentary filmmaker and president of the Ave Arte Foundation in Warsaw donated the following items to the Polish Music Center during his November 2011 visit in California:
    • Program booklet for a gala concert honoring the 150th anniversary of Paderewski’s birth, including a DVD of the concert and a CD of Paderewski’s performances of works by Chopin;
    • Michał Urbaniak—A New Yorker By Choice (DVD);
    • Stolica Magazine, No. 7-8 – July/August 2011, containing your article “Kim był Paderewski” [Who Was Paderewski]
  • Mr. Dąbrowski’s report from the 2011 Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles was aired worldwide on TV Polonia in December.
  • On the occasion of his visit to the 2011 Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles, Mirosław Banach, Wicestarosta [Deputy Supervisor] of the Tarnów District, presented the PMC with a rare sheet of postage stamps from Poland commemorating Paderewski’s sesquicentennial, beautifully framed. This gift will add to the unprecedented collection of Paderewski-related memorabilia held at the PMC.
  • Danuta Amerio, niece of composer Tadeusz Zygfryd Kassern, donated the book Tadeusz Zygfryd Kassern—Indywidualne odmiany stylów muzycznych XX wieku [Tadeusz Zygfryd Kassern—Individual Varieties of Styles in 20th Century Music] published by the Moniuszko Music Academy in Gdańsk and Rhytmos Publishing in Poznań in 2011.
  • Vladek Juszkiewicz (right), director of the Polish Film Festival in Los Angeles arranged with the composer the donation of the manuscript of String Quartet No. 2  by Paweł Mykietyn (left) to the Polish Music Center. The composer made this donation during his visit in Los Angeles for the 2011 Polish Film Festival. This is yet another very important acquisition to our ever-growing collection of manuscripts by contemporary Polish composers.
  • We are also very grateful for Vladek’s rare DVD footage covering the 1997 Los Angeles visit of Henryk Mikołaj Górecki and his friend, Andrzej Bachleda and their performance at Wanda Wilk’s house. It is a truly priceless record of a historic visit and it will be one of the greatest treasures of the Polish Music Center library.
  • Conductor and Warsaw Representative of the Kosciuszko Foundation, Joseph A. Herter, presented the Polish Music Center with the following items:
    • A DUX 0839 CD recording of works by Piotr Moss, including his Symphonie Concertante, Adagio III for Orchestra, and Portraits—Concerto for Piano and Orchestra
    • A commemorative program of the November 5, 2011 concert given by Warsaw National Philharmonic on the 110th anniversary of the program inaugurating the orchestra’s first public performance in Warsaw
  • Composer Krzysztof Meyer hosted PMC Director Marek Zebrowski for a short visit in Germany in late December 2011. Maestro Meyer donated to the Polish Music Center the following CD recordings of his music:
    • Complete Piano Sonatas, a 2 CD set containing: Aphorismen, Op. 3, Sonata No. 1, Op. 5; Sonata No. 2, Op. 7; Sonata No. 3, Op 13; Sonata No. 4, Op. 22, Sonata No. 5, Op. 32, Quasi una fantasia, Op. 104; and Sonata No. 6—Sonata breve—Op. 106, performed by Christian Seibert on the EDA Records label
    • String Trio, Op. 81; String Quartet No. 11, Op. 95; and String Quartet No. 12, Op. 103, performed by Kwartet Wilanów on the Acte Préalable APO 146 label.
  • Composer Romuald Twardowski met with Director Zebrowski at the Chopin Music University in Warsaw in December 2011. After a wide-ranging conversation on music and their beloved City of Wilno, Maestro Twardowski presented the Polish Music Center with a recording of his Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, performed by the Chamber Choir “Kyiv” led by Mykola Hobdych and recorded on the Acte Préalable (APO 193) label.
  • After Director Zebrowski’s visit at the Presidential Palace in Warsaw in December 2011, Minister Maciej Klimczak, Undersecretary of State at the Chancellery of the President of the Republic of Poland (pictured at right), presented the Polish Music Center with the commemorative program booklet of the June 29, 2011 concert at the Presidential Palace. The concert honored the 70th anniversary of Paderewski’s death. Both the program booklet (with texts in Polish and English) and the recording of Paderewski’s Symphony in B minor, Op. 24 by Sinfonia Varsovia led by Jerzy Maksymiuk represent an important addition of modern Paderewski-related memorabilia to our library.
  • Composer Paweł Łukaszewski presented the Polish Music Center with the following items in December 2011:
    • A recording of Requiem by John Rutter, performed by soprano Justyna Stępień, Musica Sacra Choir of the Warsaw-Praga Cathedral and the Łomża Chamber Philharmonic conducted by Jan Miłosz Zarzycki (Musica Sacra Edition CD 034)
    • A brochure published by the Międzynarodowe Towarzystwo Muzyki Polskiej im. I.J. Paderewskiego w Warszawie [International I. J. Paderewski Music Society in Warsaw] authored by Stanisław Ryszard Domański, summarizing the Paderewski Conference in Warsaw in June of 2011
    • A Polish Post Office first-day-of-issue envelope, stamp and postmark celebrating the 150th anniversary of Paderewski’s birth
    • A Marian Sawa commemorative coin, minted by Musica Sacra
  • Cellist Jan Kalinowski and pianist Marek Szlezer (also known as the Cracow Duo) donated in November 2011 the following recordings, featuring their performances of music by Aleksander Tansman and Fryderyk Chopin:
    • DUX 0697 CD recording of works for cello and piano by Aleksander Tansman
    • DUX 0755 CD recording of chamber works by Fryderyk Chopin
  • The Cracow Duo also organized a festival of music by Zygmunt Stojowski in Kraków during the month of November 2011, during which Dir. Zebrowski and Lars Hoefs presented a recital of works for cello and piano and a lecture about Stojowski and Paderewski.

  • From violinist and conductor Tomasz Radziwonowicz, we received 2 CDs with very interesting selection of almost exclusively Polish repertoire:
    • Fryderyk Chopin – Works in Chamber Version, including Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in E minor (piano and string quintet); Largo for String Quintet; Introduction and Polonaise, Op. 3 (solo piano version); and Prelude in C-sharp minor, Op. 45. Performers include pianistTomasz’s brother, Karol Radziwonowicz, and the I Solisti di Varsavia chamber ensemble. CD-S-004 (1998)
    • Sinfonia Viva Orchestra and the Andrzej Jagodziński Trio in performance of works by Mozart, Karłowicz, Kilar, Kazanecki, Komeda, and Dębski.

As always, we thank all our donors and friends. Dziękujemy!


Year of Men

As 2011 was the Year of Women at the Grand Theatre in Poznań, 2012 will be the Year of Men [Rok Mężczyzn], when audiences will witness nine premieres devoted to stories of nine male characters. Besides such traditional works as Hamlet, Eugene Onegin and Swan Lake, contemporary works will also be premiered. The world premiere of the opera, Dzień Świra [The Day of the Crazy Guy] by Hadrian Filip Tabęcki, will take place on January 29.  Another world premiere, Slow Man by Nicholas Lens, is scheduled for July. The Poznań Opera will also present Demetrio, Król Roger, Ożenek [Marriage], and The Angel of Odd. Co-productions with international partners are planned, including Teatro Argentino de La Plata (Buenos Aires), ABAO (Bilbao), Israeli Opera, and Teatro Amazonas (Manaus). Polish Music Information Center is the media patron of the series.

[Source: polmic.pl]

Krauze Premieres

The World Premiere of Zygmunt Krauze’s new work Canzona for wood, brass, percussion and string instruments will take place in Amsterdam’s Muziekgebouw on January 12, 2012. The work was commissioned by and will be performed by the Asko|Schönberg Ensemble—current ensemble-in-residence at the Muziekgebouw—with conductor Reibert de Leeuw and violin soloist Monica Germino. Canzona will share the program with other premieres by Louis Andriessens, Andries van Rossem and Steve Reich. The concert will be live broadcast by Dutch Radio 4 (NTR).

According to the website of the Asko|Schönberg Ensemble:

Anna Girò, a high-profile singer and composer’s muse of Antonio Vivaldi, is portrayed by Louis Andriessens in La Girò. This violin concerto, performed for the first time in the Netherlands, features the versatile violinist Monica Germino who plays the solo violin part while also narrating and singing about Anna’s experiences with Vivaldi and her dreams. Andries van Rossem has translated the ‘stylised ecstasy’ of the Dutch carillon into a brand-new concerto. Musical logic predominates in the music of this devotee of Mondrian and Mark Rothko. Zygmunt Krauze created the homogenous soundscapes of his ‘muzyka unistycna’ inspired by the paintings of Strzeminski. Pairs of musicians weave enthralling patterns in Steve Reich’s Double Sextet.

Thursday, 12 January 2012 | 8:15 p.m.
Krauze World Premiere – Asko/Schoenberg Ensemble
Muziekgebouw – Piet Heinkade 1, 1019 BR Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Tickets: €21-26, muziekgebouw.nl

Another premiere of music by Krauze was given at the end of last year. Krauze’s one-act opera Pułapka [The Trap]was given its World Premiere by the Wrocław Opera on December 17, 2011. The libretto was created by Grzegorz Jarzyna and Zygmunt Krauze based on Tadeusz Rozewicz’s drama of the same title.

Pułapka was performed by the Orchestra and Choir of Wrocław Opera with the following soloists: Franz: Mariusz Godlewski, Łukasz Rosiak; Father: Radosław Żukowski, Wiktor Gorelikow; Mother: Elżbieta Kaczmarczyk-Janczak, Barbara Bagińska; Otla: Aleksandra Kubas; Max: Jacek Jaskuła; Felicia: Joanna Moskowicz, Iwona Handzlik; Shoemaker: Rafał Majzner, Edward Kulczyk; Józia/Shoemaker’s wife: Dorota Dudkowska. Musical Director: Tomasz Szreder, Stage Director, Set Designer: Ewelina Pietrowiak, Costume Designer: Malgorzata Sloniowska, and Choir Master: Anna Grabowska-Borys.

[Sources: press releases, askoschoenberg.nl, muziekgebouw.nl, opera.wroclaw.pl, Photo: culture.pl]

Pałłasz Premiere

The World Premiere performance of the opera Ja, Kain [I, Cain] by Edward Pałłasz, with libretto by Joanna Kulmowa, will be held on Saturday, January 7, 2012 and repeated on January 11. It will be performed by the vocalists and instrumentalists of the Warsaw Chamber Opera during its Festival of Chamber Operas of the 20th and 21st Centuries (more on this event in the Festivals section below).

Ja, Kain features the following singers: in the role of First – Jan Monowid, as Second – Andrzej Klimczak, as She – Alexander Biskot, Magdalena Smulczyńska, Eve Puchalska, and as the Voice – Justin Reczeniedi. The production is directed by Jitka Stokalska, with musical direction by Tadeusz Karolak and scenery by Marlena Skoneczko.

[Sources: polmic.pl, operakameralna.pl, Photo: Jarosław Budzyński / Archiwum WOK via rp.pl]

Błażewicz Premiere

December 1, 2011 was the first day of the inaugural edition of the International String Quartet Competition in Radom (results listed below in the Awards section)—it was also the day of the World Premiere of a new piece by Marcin Błażewicz (b. 1953). After an introduction by Janusz Ekiert, Błażewicz’s Concerto for string quartet and string orchestra was performed by the hosts of the Competition, the Radom Chamber Orchestra and conductor/Artistic Director Maciej Żółtowski, with the Wilanów Quartet. Also on the program were Alexander Glazunov (1865-1936) – Theme and variations and Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) – Octet E flat major op. 20.

[Sources: pwm.com.pl, rok.art.pl, Photo: fundacjabrucknera.com]

L.A. Premiere For Gatonska

On January 31, 2012, pianist Kathleen Supové will perform the Los Angeles premiere of Michael Gatonska’s A Shaking of the Pumpkin, as a part of the prestigious Piano Spheres series. Also on this program of Los Angeles premieres: Anna Clyne – On Track (video by Joshue Ott), Lainie Fefferman – Barnacles, Carolyn Yarnell – The Same Sky (video by Eric Wenger), Neil Rolnick – Digits (video by R. Luke DuBois).

Kathleen Supové is one of America’s most acclaimed and versatile contemporary music pianists, known for continually redefining what it means to be a pianist/keyboardist/performance artist in today’s world. In addition to her compelling virtuosity, she is also known for her boundary-breaking ways of breaking the wall between performer and audience. After winning top prizes in the Gaudeamus International Competition for Interpretation of Contemporary Music, she began her career as a guest artist at the prestigious Darmstadt Festival in Germany. Since then, Ms. Supové has presented solo concerts entitled The Exploding Piano, in which she has championed the music of countless contemporary composers—minimalists, postminimalists, and experimentalists. The most notable are Frederic Rzewski, Louis Andriessen, Terry Riley, Chinary Ung, Giacinto Scelsi, Iannis Xenakis, John Adams, and Alvin Curran, as well as younger composers including Randall Woolf, David Lang, Nick Didkovsky, Eve Beglarian, Daniel Bernard Roumain, John Zorn, Carolyn Yarnell, Phil Kline, Lukas Ligeti, Kitty Brazelton, Aaron Jay Kernis, Mary Ellen Childs, Michael Daugherty, Marti Epstein, Patrick Grant, Eleanor Sandresky, Dan Becker, Elaine Kaplinsky, Dafna Naphtali, Jed Distler, Nicholas Brooke, Lois V Vierk, Marita Bolles, Gene Pritsker, Robert Carl, Rob Zuidam, Belinda Reynolds and many others. She is also involved in commissioning projects with even younger, emerging composers such as the iconoclastic Michael Gatonska, singer/performance artist Corey Dargel, composer/video v.j. Peter Kirn, and Gameboy composer Bubblyfish. [Continue reading bio at www.supove.com]

January 31, 2012 | 8:00 pm
Kathleen Supové @ Piano Spheres
Zipper Concert Hall – The Colburn School
200 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Info – Piano Spheres: 323.692.8075, info@pianospheres.org
Tickets: pianospheres.org

[Sources: press release, pianospheres.org]

Polita Premiere

On December 4, film makers from the entire world and other guests of the 2011 Plus Camerimage Festival in Bydgoszcz, were the first viewers of the musical Polita by Janusz Józefowicz and Janusz Stokłosa. Polita is a cinematic musical based on the biography of one of the greatest stars of silent cinema, Pola Negri, whose original name was Apolonia Chalupiec. The lead role is played by Natasza Urbańska (right), and the role of her lover—Rudolf Valentino—is played by Stefano Terrazzino.

The creators of the musical are publicizing their undertaking as the “first 3D musical in the history.” The director of the musical, Janusz Józefowicz, said in the press conference that using both virtual decorations and real set design gives a possibility of creating an unlimited number of actors and extras.

The idea for the musical came seven years ago and preparations for its realization have been in process for over a year in the Warsaw studio where Oscar-nominated Cathedral by Tomasz Bagiński was created, among other projects.

Józefowicz says that the main point of the musical is reminding the Polish and international audience about a large number of Hollywood actors and actresses of Polish descent. In Communist Poland a woman as wealthy as Pola Negri wasn’t an example the Communist Government was willing to propagate. Her name was generally ignored, perhaps because of her performances in German silent-era films, even after the German film industry was taken over by the Nazis.

The cost of the undertaking will be about 3,5 million PLN, which will be one of the most expensive stage productions in history of Polish cinema.

It will be premiered on December 3 during the Plus Camerimage Festival in Bydgoszcz. The following performances will take place in the Łuczniczka Hall, the only venue in Łódź that is spacious enough to fit 22-meter high stage construction.

“Bydgoszcz was the only city in Poland that was willing to support out initiative and this is why we decided to organize our premiere performance here. Pola Negri herself was in a way connected to Bydgoszcz. Her mother lived here for some years, in a house that Pola purchased for her,” says Józefowicz.

Pola Negri was an international star of silent cinema. She debuted in Slave of the Senses (1914). She also played in many Polish and German movies. In 1923 she emigrated to Hollywood, where she starred in Spanish Dancer, Hotel Imperial, and Forbidden Paradise, just to name a few. She was believed to have love affairs with Charlie Chaplin and Rudolf Valentino.

[Source: rmfclassic.pl]

Muzyka Nowa On WQXR Q2

Inspired by the outpouring of local and international attention around the recent one-year anniversary of Henryk Mikołaj Górecki’s passing, Q2 Music—New York Public Radio station WQXR’s online portal for contemporary classical music—offers an in-depth exploration of Polish contemporary music from January 16-22. Entitled Muzyka Nowa, this online festival of Polish music will range from 20th Century greats Lutosławski, Penderecki and Górecki, to lesser-known and emerging Polish composers such as Krzysztof Wołek, Agata Zubel and Aleksander Nowak. Muzyka Nowa is presented by Q2 Music in association with the Polish Cultural Institute New York.

Festival highlights include:

  • An audio stream of the In Memoriam Henryk Mikolaj Gorecki concert, recorded at (Le) Poisson Rouge in New York City in November 2011 in front of a sold-out audience
  • Two full-day, 24-hour marathons of contemporary classical Polish music during the week
  • Polish-born, NYC-based composer Jakub Ciupiński (right) plays D.J., exploring the breadth of Polish contemporary music in 2 curated sets:  The Holy Trinity of Contemporary Polish Music and Poland’s New Wave
  • An interview with Henryk Mikołaj Górecki’s son, the Texas-based composer Mikołaj Górecki
  • Highlights from Warsaw Autumn Festival and UNSOUND Kraków, as well as UNSOUND New York and the 2011 Focus! Festival at Juilliard

For a full listing of programs, visit wqxr.org.

[Sources: press release, wqxr.org]

Penderecki: Composer Portrait

On January 20-21, the Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra will present a “Composer Portrait” concert celebrating one of the greatest living Polish composers, Krzysztof Penderecki. Soloists for this concert will be Olga Pasiecznik – soprano, Alberto Mizrahi – tenor, Thomas Bauer – baritone, and Daniel Olbrychski – recitation, with Mr. Penderecki himself on the conductor’s stand. Also performing will be the National Philharmonic Choir, prepared by prof. Henryk Wojnarowski—this choir is involved in the preparation and premiere of nearly all of Penderecki’s works for choir.

Krzysztof Penderecki and his music are amongst the most recognizable symbols of Polish music around the world. This “portrait” concert will feature three songs of a “municipal” nature, celebrating the anniversaries of the foundation of 3 great cities: Hymn to St. Daniiła, written on the occasion of the 850th year of Moscow (1997); Hymn to St. Adalbert, written for the millennium of Gdańsk (1997); and the Cieszyń Choral, dedicated to the 1200th anniversary of the legendary founding of Cieszyń (2010). Audiences will also hear the more rare Three Chinese Songs, and the deeply poignant Kadisz [Kaddish] (including text from 15-year-old poet Abram Cytryn, who was murdered by German Nazis), dedicated to the memory of the victims of the Łódź ghetto and the Poles who saved Jews during the occupation—soloists Pasiecznik, Mizrahi, and Olbrychski also gave the premiere of this work in 2009. Also on the program are the Psalms of David and The Awakening of Jacob.

Before Friday’s concert at 6:30, there will be a presentation by Polish Radio “Dwójka” editor Eva Szczecińska, who is passionate about contemporary music—she will talk about the vocal and instrumental works of Krzysztof Penderecki and present excerpts of selected recordings.

Friday, 20 January 2012 | 7:30 p.m. (repeat: Jan. 21 | 6:00 p.m.)
Composer Portrait: Krzysztof PENDERECKI
Warsaw National Philharmonic Concert Hall
Jasna 5, Warsaw, Poland
Tickets: filharmonia.pl

[Source: filharmonia.pl]

Polish Jazz In Budapest

Over three days, this year’s Jazz Showcase in Hungary offers a rich overview of jazz’s most exciting projects of recent years. Poland is represented by three intriguing groups, who will perform on the first day of the festival, January 13.

Nikola Kołodziejczyk (right) presents his Stryjo project, with Maciek Szczyciński on double bass, Michał Bryndal on drums and Kołodziejczyk on piano. Kołodziejczyk was born in Kraków in 1986, received a classical education in piano performance and composition, later joining Kazimierz Chludek’s ensemble. He has won a number of prizes and scholarships, presenting a style of jazz that is upbeat and experimental, with elements of folk and mystical sounds.

The Maciej Obara Quartet premiered its first album “Equilibrium” at Wrocław’s Jazztopad Festival in November 2011. The quartet project is the latest in many musical projects initiated by top-tier jazz musician Obara (left), whose career has boasted collaborations with Polish jazz legend Tomasz Stańko and New York-based saxophonist Antoine Roney. The Maciej Obara Quartet is compoased of Maciej Grabowski on bass, Krzysztof Gradziuk on percussion and Dominik Wania on piano. Their sound has been called a new look at musical energy, placed in a harmonic context, with a European rhythm.

Marcin Wasilewski Trio (right) is among the most recognizable names in Polish contemporary jazz. The trio was started up by Wasilewski and Sławomir Kurkiewicz in Koszalin in 1990 as secondary school students, creating the Simple Acoustic Trio together with percussionist Michał Miśkiewicz. They’ve won prizes and critical acclaim all over the world, also recording in New York City with prominent local musicians, creating a sound characterised by a great deal of energy and exciting interaction between all three members.

For a full program of the Jazz Showcase, visit: mupa.hu.

[Sources: culture.pl, polinst.hu]

Int’l Chopin Competition – Hartford

The 2012 edition of the Chopin International Piano Competition in Hartford, CT has been announced Artistic Director Krystian Tkaczewski (left). The application deadline is: February 2, 2012. The Competition has three categories: “Junior” (up to 12 years old), “Young Artist” (up to 17 years old) and “Professional” (up to 32 years old). The Jury will consist of internationally renowned musicians from Poland, USA, Brazil, Austria and Japan.

Amongst other monetary and engagement prizes, opportunities for winners may include a performance in New York’s Carnegie Hall.

All details can be found at www.chopincompetition.org.

[Source: press release]

KF Vocal & Piano Competitions

The Kosciuszko Foundation Sembrich Voice Scholarship Competition honors the great Polish soprano Marcella Kochanska Sembrich, who made her Metropolitan Opera debut in its brand-new building in 1883. After an enormously successful career, the popular singer founded the vocal programs at both the Juilliard School and Curtis Institute. Previous winners of the competition include Barbara Hendricks and Jan Opalach. Applications for the 2012 Sembrich Vocal Competition are due on FEBRUARY 13, 2012—the Competition will take place on March 9-10, 2012, beginning at 10 a.m. Auditions take place at The Kosciuszko Foundation House, 15 E 65 Street, NYC; they are open to the public, and no ticket is required. 

The Kosciuszko Foundation Chopin Piano Competition was established in 1949, in honor of the hundredth anniversary of the death of Frederic Chopin. The inauguration took place at the Kosciuszko Foundation House in New York City, with Witold Malcuzynski as guest artist, and Abram Chasins, composer and music director of the New York Times Radio Stations, presiding. Over the years, many outstanding musicians have been associated with the competition including Van Cliburn, Ian Hobson, and Murray Perahia. Today the Kosciuszko Foundation Chopin Competition continues to encourage gifted young pianists to further their studies, and to perform the works of Polish composers. Applications for the 2012 Chopin Piano Competition are due on MARCH 12, 2012—the Competition will take place on April 13-14, 2012.

[Sources: press release, thekf.org]

Lutosławski Scholarship

The Board of the Lutosławski Society announced the competition for the 2012 Lutosławski Scholarship. The grant in the amount of $10,000 will be given to one Polish student or graduate of any music academy or university in Poland, or any composer, conductor, solo performer, or singer. The scholarship can be used for additional study or participation in master classes abroad.

Applicants should submit their CV and biography as well as school or university diploma, as well as plan for studies abroad (naming the professor and school the applicant wants to attend) and two letters of recommendation from faculty members of the university. The deadline for all applications is 25 January 2012 and they should be sent to:

Towarzystwo im. Witolda Lutosławskiego
ul. Bracka 23
00-028 Warszawa

The envelopes should be marked with the heading: Stypendium im. Witolda Lutosławskiego 2012

[Source: lutoslawski.org.pl]

Naziemiec In San Diego

The Polish Art Salon in San Diego [Zarzad Polskiego Salonu Artystycznego w San Diego] invites you to their first meeting of 2012, featuring L.A. favorite Karolina Naziemiec on vocals and viola, with friends Sabine Pothier – piano and Ken Wild – bass. The concert will include jazz standards, classical music and carols. It will take place on Jan. 14 at 7pm at the residence of Renata Ochabska and Zdzislaw Juchum in La Mesa.

Watch a TVP Polonia special on Karolina Naziemiec on Youtube.

Saturday, January 14 | 7pm
Karolina Naziemiec in recital – Polish Art Salon in San Diego
Residence of Renata Ochabska and Zdzislaw Juchum
4518 Mayapan Dr.
La Mesa, CA 91941
RSVP by Jan. 12 (seats are limited) – email Jerzy B. at  jbaranki@aol.com
Tickets: $25, purchase at the door with a check (payee: Henry Wlodkowski) – no cash!
Potluck dinner to follow


1st Int’l String Quartet Competition, Radom

The first edition of the International String Quartet Competition in Radom was held from December 1-4, 2011. It is a unique competition in Poland, which promotes the highest and most difficult form of chamber music. The competition was organized on the foundation of more than 15 years of string quartet festivals held in Radom.

The following ensembles qualified for participation in this year’s competition: Adamas Quartet (Austria), Airis Quartet (Poland), Kwartet Apotheosis (Poland), Kwartet Arkados (Poland), Kwartet Contré (Poland), Dudok Quartet (The Netherlands), Luzern Quartett (Switzerland),

Kwartet Nocturnum (Ukraine), Kwartet Risveglio (Poland), and Kwartet Tesseris (Poland). From amongst these groups, the following winners were chosen:

[Sources: pwm.com.pl, rok.art.pl, Photo at right: Konrad Urbański via coolturalnyradom.pl]

Fitelberg Nat’l Composition Competition

On December 17, 2011, winners in the Grzegorz Fitelberg Polish National Competition for Composers (an accompanying event to the Grzegorz Fitelberg International Competition for Conductors) were announced. The jury was comprised of composers Eugene Knapik (Chairman), Mirosław Jacek Blaszczyk and George Kornowicz. Amongst the 37 submitted compositions that met Competition regulations, the following prizes were decided upon unanimously:

  • First prize: Joanna SzymałaContinuum for orchestra
  • Second prize: Arthur SłotwińskiCreed for orchestra
  • Third prize: Adam Porębski Unireum for orchestra

The winning work by Joanna Szymała will be given its World Premiere by the Henryk Mikołaj Górecki Silesian Philharmonic on 27th January 2012, during a concert entitled “Karol Stryja in memoriam”.

[Sources: polmic.pl, konkursfitelberg.pl]


Chamber Operas Of The 20th & 21st Centuries

During the 2011/2012 season, the Warsaw Chamber Opera is celebrating its 50th season of productions with a Festival of Chamber Operas of the 20th and 21st Centuries. Although the company is often known for its stagings of operas by Mozart or earlier composers, this current Festival explores a different facet—WCO’s dedication to commissioning and performing new works from living composers. Managing and Artistic Director Stefan Sutkowski, who also founded the company, describes the Festival thus:

From the very beginning, the Warsaw Chamber Opera has commissioned Polish composers to write operas that have been given their premieres and numerous performances at the WCO. Over more than forty years (1962–2008), thirteen such works have been produced.

Of course, it is impossible to revisit all the works performed years ago, for a variety of reasons. But we do return to three works by Bernadetta Matuszczak. Prometheus was premiered in 1986, for the opening of our Theatre, and we will now be giving its premiere with a different cast and a slightly different group of directors. Quo Vadis also features a number of changes, whilst Crime and Punishment is unaltered. [upcoming Crime and Punishment performances: 15, 16 , 17 March 2012]

Among the operas, or rather chamber stage works, played in the past to be performed again in this festival is Zygmunt Krauze’s Balthazar (premiere 2001). [upcoming Balthazar performances: 26 , 27 , 28 March 2012] Also premiered during the first decade of this century were Leoš Janáček’s Jenůfa (2004), in the original version from 1904, Viktor Ullmann’s Der Kaiser von Atlantis (2005), Igor Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress (2010) and Benjamin Britten’s The Burning Fiery Furnace (2010).

Our festival will be inaugurated by the premiere of a spectacle comprising three works by Francis Poulenc: the two vocal-instrumental works La voix humaine and La Dame de Monte-Carlo and the ballet Aubade woven between them.

In October last year, Krauze’s Polieukt was given its premiere [upcoming Polieukt performances: 5, 7, 9 March 2012], with Jorge Lavelli directing, Ruben Silva as musical director and stage design by Marlena Skoneczko. One should also number among the premieres Józef Koffler’s Matrimonio con variazioni (2009) never previously performed in Poland. [upcoming Matrimonio con variazioni performances: 20 , 22 , 24 February 2012],  Since this work was miraculously saved from the ravages of war in a copy of the piano reduction with a German text, a new libretto was written by Joanna Kulmowa and the work was orchestrated by Edward Pałłasz. Receiving its premiere during our festival will be Pałłasz’s opera I, Cain, to a libretto by Kulmowa, with Jitka Stokalska directing, Tadeusz Karolak as musical director and stage design by Marlena Skoneczko. [I, Cain premiere: 7 January 2012 performances: 9 , 11 January 2012

I hope that this set of operatic works, representing a very wide period of time and placing prominent composers alongside their less well known, but equally interesting colleagues, will arouse your curiosity. It is Polish music that will dominate. This accords with our interests and also reflects the high standard of Polish compositional output during the period in question.

[Source: operakameralna.pl]

Book Excerpts

Simply Madeleine: The Memoir of a Post–World War II French Pianist

By Madeleine Forte
AuthorHouse – September 22, 2011 – 152 pages
ISBN: 6×9 Paperback (978-1-4634-3384-0) | 6×9 Hardcover (978-1-4634-3383-3)

Pianist Madeleine Forte’s story is one of obstacles and successes, of extraordinary talent, and of a long and fascinating life of international study and performance. Born in Vichy-controlled French Algeria during World War II, she began learning to play the piano at an early age and was soon performing publicly. She made her debut in Vichy at thirteen while studying with Alfred Cortot and Wilhelm Kempff. As a young woman, she went to boarding school in Algiers and Paris, continuing her musical studies in Poland. She married young, and the marriage fell apart not long after the birth of her first son, Yann. As she continued to travel, studying and performing, she struggled to establish herself as a professional artist. She studied with Rosina Lhévinne and Martin Canin in New York, married again, and became a professor of music at Boise State University. Her second marriage brought another son, Olen, and lasted fourteen years. After her second divorce, she moved to Connecticut, where she met Allen Forte, her third husband. They collaborated on several artistic projects and performed all over the world.

Her memoir tells the story of how a little girl with a big talent overcame myriad challenges and found the courage to achieve artistic success and personal happiness. Now a Fellow of Silliman College at Yale University, Madeleine Forte’s love of Poland and Chopin has led her to record Chopin’s music and welcome talented Polish students into her piano studio. For more information on Forte, please visit her web page at www.madeleineforte.com.

Simply Madeleine: The Memoir of a Post–World War II French Pianist is available at www.authorhouse.com, www.amazon.com, and www.barnesandnoble.com.Below is an excerpt from this vivid memoir, reprinted her with permission of the author.

Part II: Poland, February 1964 – April 1965

Ever since Diaghilev and his Ballets Russes, Parisians had suffered the Slavic Craze. And I was one of them. I had always thought to study with a Russian or Polish teacher, and there was a lot of dreaming about Chopin. When I arrived at the train station in Warsaw, there was a welcoming committee waiting for me: the Cultural Attache and a few French students. They invited me for coffee, and offered me a few suggestions, I learned, for example, not to order orange juice, as the prices were exorbitant. Not all aspects were so welcoming-it was February, and the weather was freezing. I had left a very sophisticated life in Paris, where my father was an attorney and we had all the luxuries. While waiting for a space at the Dziekanka dormitory, on Krakowskie Przedmescie, I had been assigned a room at the Hotel Bristol–quite an unexpected treat. One day, while I was seated at the restaurant, eating a fashionable steak Tartare with lots of onions and a raw egg, a dark young man knelt in front of me, repeating “Una donna, una donna.” I was rather amused, and struck up a conversation-a difficult one, since I was speaking French and English and he would answer in Italian. A few minutes later, the conductor Igor Markevitch, whom I knew in Paris, happened to walk past. He explained that the handsome young man at my knees was a Bulgarian violonist and librarian in his orchestra and that he should hurry up because the orchestra bus was to leave in fifteen minutes for a concert in Lodz. Another young lady and I were naturally invited to join. I had not been twenty four hours in Poland that I was already on tour (…though only as a tourist).

No need to say that I sat behind the bus driver with my Bulgarian and received a marriage proposal. His buddies were already shouting congratulations. Unfortunately, I had to refuse that lovely opportunity, as a marriage in Poland was not in my plans. Thinking about it now, I imagine what my life would have been like with him-I could have been surrounded by many loving Bulgarian children and grandchildren.

My new teacher at the Chopin Academy Zbigniew Drzewiecki was much stricter than Cortot. He was very difficult, but he had a certain sense of dry humor, and after you got used to it, it was all right. He spoke French with me, which helped, but I also learned Polish at the university. His approach was a priori, it was not good. You could never please him. He saw me at the movies one day at 8 p.m.; I was to have a lesson with him the following day at 8 a.m. He said it was atrocious, just because he disliked the idea of me being at the movies with friends 12 hours before.

He was quite old—another antique. I think it was nice for me to have all those older teachers including my aunt—each with one foot firmly in another century. Drzewiecki wanted to explain to me the Polish rhythm of the mazurka and the polonaise because he felt that, as a French person, I didn’t understand anything. He used a cane since he had a bad leg. He would dance with me and the cane; even though I was more worried about the cane than about the rhythm, eventually I got it. He taught me the mazurka and the polonaise, and I felt it in the body; people use this method for little children. He always wanted a deeper tone: He said the French were too superficial. Of course at that time I was very young, and I had very fast fingers; it is possible that I was playing too fast. It got in the way a little bit once in a while, and he didn’t like that at all.

I remember one day, before an important performance, I had a fever. But when you’re an artist, whether you have a fever or not, you go. So I went to play the whole program for him. He asked me how I felt, and I said, “Not too well, Sir, I think I have the flu.” And he said “Today, you were very good. From now on, I want you to be sick before you play concerts.”

I was to play Liszt Concerto no.1 in Eb Major with the Warsaw Philharmonic conducted by Jean-Baptiste Mari from the Concerts Lamoureux in Paris. My fever was gone. It was the biggest event of my career. My teacher Drzewiecki, always so critical, had been very satisfied with the rehearsals. He had nothing to say. When came the time of the performance, I walked past the violin section and settled on my bench. I felt super-charged thanks to the welcoming audience. It was going very well, the musicians were superb, the sound was rich and the tempo perfect. Just before the French horn entrance, suddenly I felt panicky: would I enter properly? I did, but afterwards, Maestro Mari told me that my eyes, wide open, had been transfixed on his baton, and that for one second I had made him nervous too! We had a standing ovation, and I could hear screams from the balcony: all my friends were there, cheering and asking for encores which I offered generously.

As a French girl in Communist Poland, I was a curiosity, and along with my gregarious nature, this meant solid friendships. So I was learning a lot of Polish. My teacher was impressed, but he was so nasty. He managed to say, “If you do not learn a lot of great Polish piano, at least you are learning a lot of the Polish language.” He was very sharp, and he made me mad. Once I didn’t go back for a whole month because I was really furious. But now I am grateful to him and cherish these memories. I learned a lot from him the hard, Eastern European way, where you never hear about any problem or indisposition. Polish, Russian teachers really work on your ego, and you become more and more humble. It was tough but it was great. And when I returned to Paris everyone felt that I had improved a lot.

“Autumn of Warsaw” 1964

Witold Rowicki had reorganized the National Orchestra of Poland to give it its present-day, modem dimension. The permanent conductor then was Stanislaw Wislocki who looked like a double of President Kennedy. His wife Isabella Wislocka was a celebrated architect, and both of them were like godparents to me, invited me to their home, came to my concerts, and gave me general advice. Since I was all alone in Poland with a difficult teacher, it sweetened my life as a student. They encouraged me to listen to the works of Polish composers Grazyna Bacewicz, Witold Lutoslawski, Karol Szymanowski, Krzysztof Penderecki, Kazimierz Wilkomirski, and others. It was my first exposure to really contemporary music.

Warszawska Jesien—Autumn of Warsaw—was quite an extraordinary event, musicians came from all over the world. I religiously kept all the programs of music works by Grazyna Bacewicz, Witold Lutoslawski, Boleslaw Szabelski, Artur Malawski, Kazimierz Serocki, Tadeusz Baird, Krzystof Penderecki, conducted by my friend Stanislaw Wislocki. The following day the selected composers were Ferenc Farkas, Bela Bartok, Pal Kadosa, Zoltan Kodaly, Augustyn Bloch, Romuald Twardowski. An homage to other foreign composers came with works by Gunther Schuller, Walter Piston, Aaron Copland, Paul Hindemith with the Pittsburg Symphony conducted by William Steinberg. Then came Arnold Schoenberg, Henri Pousseur, Igor Strawinsky, Charles Ives, Henri Dutilleux, Iannis Xenakis, so many more, a truly international feast. My friends and I had to steal time from our demanding piano practice, I had to conceal the time I spent at the concerts from my teacher Drzewiecki.

It was my good fortune to meet the Chopin Museum Curator, Krystyna Kobylanska. The Chopin Museum was located inside the Palace Ostrogskich next to the Chopin Academy. When I visited the museum for the first time, early in February, the month of my arrival in Warsaw, a charming lady opened the door to me. We started a conversation in French. She was most cultivated and knowledgeable, probably the greatest Chopin scholar of all time, and we stayed in close contact until her unfortunate illness and passing last year.

Soon after meeting Kobylanska, the offices of the Warsaw Philharmonic suggested my name for a performance of Chopin Concerto in E Minor with the Lublin Philharmonic. They asked me if I knew it: of course I did, I said. That wasn’t quite true—I knew it in my head, but not yet in my fingers. So I practiced frantically. In the train to Lublin I was reading the pages of the third movement, which was very shaky in my mind. My train companions were intrigued and asked me questions. Maybe they thought that I was a spy. After all, it was 1964-Communist times! At the station I was surprised not to find any welcoming committee. I sat on my luggage to wait. It was already eleven at night when I saw two men, a bit tipsy, a few meters from me. They were the last people on the platform. I went over to them- they were indeed from the Philharmonic, but they had not recognized me because, according to my photo, they had expected a tall pianist and not a petite woman. I am short and I have always looked younger than my age. On a photo at the piano my long arms gave the impression that I was a tall woman!

Very tired, I collapsed on my bed in the hotel room. The next morning the rehearsal was also to be a children’s concert. The last pages were not in my fingers, so I locked my practice room and played with enormous strength and anxiety. Angry knocks at my door alerted me that something was wrong: it was my conductor Marian Lewandowski threatening to fire me unless I appeared immediately on stage. The poor children had been waiting for twenty minutes and were starting a riot!

The night performance was a great success. Polish audiences were appreciative. There was no meat on their plate, but so much music in their hearts! Even street cleaners would go to concerts. One could right away feel their great love for music and musicians, and they were not ashamed to cry when a musician would move them. My audience clapped in rhythm. In Eastern Europe it means that music lovers need more music. As an encore I played a Chopin Waltz. Surprisingly an orchestra musician came up to me afterwards: he had been very pleased with my rendition of the Chopin Concerto, but if I would permit him a criticism-and I did-there it was: I had played the Waltz like a German waltz, I had to lighten up. I remembered his advice later, and nobody ever complained!

After the performance in Lublin my roommate from Dziekanka, my dorm in Warsaw, invited me to spend Christmas in her home town. After she had sung the beauties of Zakopane I was excited to visit. I had never seen snow or been to mountains. I arrived by bus; Agnieszka was waiting for me in her little grey coat and cap, only her smile showing through the woolens. We walked to the inn where she had found lodging for me. The house did not have any heat. I had never been so cold in my life. The first day I stayed in bed in my room where a cheerful little stove was singing and throwing joyful flames. I decided to read a book on Chopin that Aunt Sonia had sent me from Paris. Deer peeked in my window. I was in ecstasy, despite the freezing temperatures. Even to go to the bathroom I kept my fur coat on. The water was so cold that I intended to imitate the cat and cautiously clean only the tips of my fingers.

The second day I ventured outside the house. I found a brook and knelt to taste the snow—such a strange and delightful feeling. I filled my lungs with air so pure that it made me a bit dizzy. Then Agnieszka arrived for the long walk she had promised me. Soon we were in the evergreen forest. There was total silence, total isolation. The trees looked black against the snow. It was exciting and frightening to be just the two of us in that immensity. I felt myself retreating to the world of my childhood books of legends; I half expected Tristan and Isolde to appear behind a giant tree. Very soon the sky became red, and then totally dark. My feet were wet inside my suede boots—an elegant French leather not made for a Polish forest. When we ran back to the inn, my cheeks were so red and so cold that the people inside gave me strong vodka; they said it would protect my lungs from “holes.” The alcohol revived me; I was alive again, but my first thought was to go to bed near my comforting stove.

The next day we attended the slalom competition, but I could not stay very long as my fingers were like ice inside the gloves. A mountaineer gave us a ride in his sleigh with puppies on our knees that looked like teddy bears and kept us warm. In town I bought for Yann a mountain outfit entirely hand-embroidered by a peasant woman, who also sold me the Zakopane hat and stick. Agnieszka and I sat on high chairs in a coffee shop for cheese pastries and mountain tea. We visited the cemetery, whose wooden sculptures were a very elaborate example of folk art. Several famous Polish people had found their resting place in that quiet retreat.

When I returned to Zakopane in 1996, I felt a little tug at my heart. Nothing had changed…except that I had chosen the lovely month of May!


Worldwide Release Of Slavic Heroes

Slavic Heroes
Arias by Tchaikovsky, Moniuszko, Szymanowski, Borodin, Dvorak, and more
Mariusz Kwiecień – baritone, Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Lukasz Borowicz – conductor
Harmonia Mundi HMW906101

Mariusz Kwiecień’s journey to the top of his profession has been remarkably rapid and assured for a young man from Kraków who arrived in New York at the age of 23. The Met’s current Don Giovanni, Polish baritone Mariusz Kwiecień has won over audiences in many of the world’s greatest opera houses with his powerful interpretations. For his first solo recital he employs his mellifluous and burnished voice to great effect in Polish, Russian and Czech arias which are very close to his heart. A collection of operatic gems, familiar and rare, including the electric final scene from Szymanowski’s King Roger, which joins Giovanni as his favorite role. [from Harmonia Mundi UK]

This highly-anticipated debut recording by Mariusz Kwiecień is currently the highlight of the month at Harmonia Mundi. Read a review by Tim Ashley in The Guardian

[Sources: harmoniamundi.com, guardian.co.uk]

New Różycki

A CD review by Gary Fitelberg

Ludomir Różycki – Violin Concerto, Op. 70, Works for Violin & Piano
Ewelina Nowicka – violin, Pola Lazar – piano, Michał Krężlewski – piano, Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, Zygmunt Rychert – cond.
Acte Prealable AP 0219

Acte Prealable, the leading label promoting Polish music and musicians, brings us a World Premiere recording of Polish composer Ludomir Różycki’s Violin Concerto, Op. 70 (1944) as well as his works for violin and piano.

Ludomir Różycki was one of the elite and famous composers of Mloda Polska (“Young Poland”) consisting of Grzegorz Fitelberg (who founded the group under the sponsorship of Prince Władisław Lubomirski), Apolinary Szeluto, Karol Szymanowski and Mieczysław Karłowicz, who later affiliated himself with the group.

At the end of WWII in Osieczany near Kraków, where Różycki had taken refuge after the Germans crushed the Warsaw Uprising, he penned his Violin Concerto—a fiery two-movement work, saturated with pure passion, whose first movement Andante was both reflective and lyrical; while the second Allegro deciso movement, vibrant and energetic, was highly virtuostic in character. Unfortunately, the composer left the orchestral part of this piece only in the form of a piano reduction.

It was only in the 21st century that the director of the Polish Baltic Philharmonic, Zygmunt Rychert, took interest in Różycki’s work, and based on the composer’s cues contained in the piano reduction, edited the score of the Concerto by adding more character and depth that were reminiscent of Różycki’s earlier orchestral works.  An accomplished and excellent violinist, Ewelina Nowicka, has superbly mastered the Concerto’s solo part which is expressed through her passionate and eloquent interpretation.  The CD is a harmonious reflection of the cooperation between both musicians.

Ludomir Różycki was born on September 18, 1883 in Warsaw and died January 1, 1953 in Katowice in Poland. He was a son of a professor at the Warsaw Conservatory, where he studied piano and composition. He completed his studies with distinction, and then continued his studies in Berlin at the Academy of Music under Englebert Humperdinck. He began his musical career as a conductor of opera and professor of piano in Lwów in 1907. It was while in Lwów that he began to compose. Subsequently he moved to Warsaw where he composed many more works in a number of different genres.

As a favorite student of Zygmunt Noskowski, together with his colleagues in Mloda Polska, he had high expectations in Polish musical circles.  Różycki became the most celebrated Polish composer after Monuiszko, and who was actually the creator of the Polish National Ballet.

His ballet Pan Twardowski was the first Polish large-scale ballet to be performed abroad, being seen in Copenhagen, Prague, Brno, Zagreb, Belgrade and Vienna, and being performed over 800 times in Warsaw. His eight operas included Casanova and Eros i Psyche, the latter having its world premiere in Wroclaw in 1917.

Mloda Polska paved the way for the development of Polish music. It is indeed extremely difficult to comprehend why this group of illustrious composers has only recently begun to attract attention from the mainstream musical circles; especially in the concert halls and stages of Poland.

Ewelina Nowicka, a composer and violinist, exhibits her unique talents by bringing this piece to the forefront of violin concertos.  Born in Gdańsk, she graduated with honors in violin and violin–related training from the class of Prof. Petru Munteanu at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Hamburg, Germany. During 2007–2009, she was enrolled in postgraduate studies, perfecting her violin playing skills under Prof. Katrin Scholz at the Hochschule für Künste in Bremen, Germany. Currently she is participating in the master class Konzertexamen of Prof. Katrin Scholz.

She has won many prestigious awards at international and national violin competitions, i.e. she received an award from the Hessian Radio, Frankfurt am Main, Germany; the second prize at the International Violin Competition at Goch (1997); the first prize at the National Chamber Music Competition in Wrocław (2001); the third prize at The Elise Meyer Competition in Hamburg (2003); and finally, the third prize at the Moderne Solo Streicher Competition in Bremen, Germany (2008).

At the age of 16, she made her solo debut with several orchestras, i.e. the Polish Baltic Philharmonic, Polish Chamber Orchestra “Amadeus”, Sinfonia Varsovia, Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra in Katowice, Lviv Philharmonic, Jihočeská Komorni Filharmonie in České Budějovice, Hamburger Klassik Philharmonie, Orchesterakademie in Düsseldorf and others.

No one can do justice to the Różycki Violin Concerto as can an excellent master of violin such as Ewelina Nowicka, along with her accompanists on the works for violin and piano —Polish pianists Pola Lazar and Michał Krężlewski—who lend their special talents and touch. Ewelina Nowicka and Pola Lazar regularly collaborate together as the Nowicka-Lazar Duo, and they have proven once again on this disc that they are perfectly in synch.

Gary Fitelberg is a musicologist, music critic, historian and expert on Mloda Polska.

New Łukaszewski Recording

Full of Grace – Songs to the Virgin Mary

Settings of the Ave Maria and other Marian songs by Pawel Lukaszewski (b.1968), Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943), Bob Chilcott (b.1955), Robert Parsons (C.1535-1572), Tomás Luis De Victoria (C.1548-1611), Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971), Anton Bruckner (1824-1896), Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959), Robert Franz (1815-1892), Johannes Brahms (1833-1897), Michael Praetorius (C.1571-1621), Jan Sandström (b.1954), and Einojuhani Rautavaara (b.1928)
Fairhaven Singers, Ralph Woodward (conductor)
Guild Music Records GMCD 7380

[Sources: guildmusic.com, facebook.com]


Szymanowski In Spain

A project promoting the music of Karol Szymanowski in Spain took place in two important cultural institutions in Madrid: the Royal High Conservatory of Music (Dec. 2) and Teatros del Canal (Dec. 4). The Royal String Quartet performed the following program: Karol Szymanowski – String Quartet No. 1 in C-major, Op. 37; Claude Debussy – String Quartet g-moll, Op. 10; and Karol Szymanowski – String Quartet No. 2, Op. 56. The Royal String Quartet performance was part of a series of concerts dedicated to the music of Karol Szymanowski, during which the Sinfonia Varsovia as well as the Madrid ORCAM orchestra also performed.

Between1903-1905 Karol Szymanowski was based in Berlin. It was here that he met Richard Strauss, by whom he was very much inspired. In 1914, whilst traveling across Europe, he became fascinated by impressionism, especially the music of Claude Debussy, which also came to influence his work. He would also later write of the “new sounds” which he heard in Paris.

The Madrid program incorporated two Szymanowski quartets and a piece by Debussy in order to highlight these European influences. The concert also aimed to show the varied influences that Szymanowski had from people such as violinist Paweł Kochański and subcultures such as the Polish Highlander folk traditions as well as the composer’s opennness to new musical forms and styles.

The Royal String Quartet has gained a reputation as one of the most dynamic young string quartets in the world. They have won numerous awards. A review in The Strad magazine included the following comment: “I most clearly remember the Polish Royal Quartet whose playing is characterized by musical intelligence and finesse.” The Daily Telegraph also mentions: “Their concert was proof of the unique versatility of this talented quartet…”

In April 2007 the Royal String Quartet found itself among the three finalist quartets nominated for the prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society award. They have released six albums to date. In January 2009 the group’s first international album was released, which featured two Szymanowski quartets as well as the relatively unknown Ludomir Różycki quartet. The album gained positive reviews in BBC Music Magazine (Record of the Month – February 2009), as well as The Strad, Gramophone and Le Monde de la Musique. The quartet’s most recently released album also featured the compositions of Henryk Mikołaj Górecki. It gained rave reviews in the Polish press (Gazeta Wyborcza, Dziennik, Newsweek), as well as in important world press periodicals, such as: Gramophone (Editor’s Choice), BBC Music Magazine (5 stars), Diapason (5 stars), and The Strad.

This project is organized by the Kwartesencja Assosciation, Royal Music Conservatory in Madrid, Teatros del Canal, and Polish Institute in Madrid, and co-financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland.

[Source: culture.pl, Photo credit: Łukasz Pepol via royalstringquartet.pl]


Born This Month

  • 1 January 1927 – Juliusz LUCIUK, composer, musicologist
  • 1 January 1872 – Tadeusz JARECKI, conductor (d. 1955)
  • 1 January 1911 – Roman TOTENBERG, violinist and pedagogue
  • 2 January 1894 – Artur RODZIŃSKI, conductor, music director (d. 1958)
  • 2 January 1907 – Henryk GADOMSKI, composer and conductor (d. 1941, Auschwitz)
  • 3 January 1885 – Raoul KOCZALSKI (d. 1948), pianist and composer
  • 13 January 1921 – Wanda WILK, founder of the Polish Music Center (d. 2009)
  • 17 January 1898 – Jerzy LEFELD, pianist and piano professor
  • 22 January 1944 – Vincent SKOWRONSKI, violinist
  • 23 January 1888 – Jerzy GABLENZ, composer (d. 1937)
  • 25 January 1913 – Witold LUTOSŁAWSKI, composer (d. 1994)
  • 25 January 1928 – Andrzej CWOJDZINSKI, composer and conductor
  • 28 January 1717 – Just Franciszek KASPER, priest, composer, conductor (d. 1760)
  • 26 January 1886 – Artur RUBINSTEIN, pianist (d. 1981)
  • 31 January 1926 – Stanislaw PRÓSZYNSKI, composer


Died This Month

  • 1 January 1953 – Ludomir RÓZYCKI (b. 1884), composer, pianist, member of the group Young Poland
  • 9 January 1842 – Józef KROGULSKI (b. 1815), pianist, conductor, voice teacher
  • 9 January 1981 – Kazimierz SEROCKI (b. 1922), composer, co-founder of the Warsaw Autumn Festival
  • 11 January 1935 – Marcellina SEMBRICH-KOCHAŃSKA (b. 1858), singer – coloratura soprano
  • 12 January 1934 – Pawel KOCHAŃSKI (b. 1878), virtuoso violinist, Szymanowski’s collaborator
  • 17 January 1969 – Grażyna BACEWICZ (b. 1909), composer, violinist, pianist
  • 19 January 1951 – Stanislaw GOLACHOWSKI (b. 1907), musicologist
  • 21 January 1618 – Krzystof KRAINSKI [Crainscius], preacher, author of a song collection (b. 1556)
  • 23 January 1946 – Feliks NOWOWIEJSKI (b. 1877), composer, conductor, organist
  • 23 January 1921- Władysław ŻELEŃSKI, composer (b. 1837)
  • 26 January 1946 – Ignacy FRIEDMAN, composer and virtuoso pianist (b. 1882)