Polish Music Newsletter Vol. 19, no. 2

Lutosławski Year 2013

Opałka Premiere At Łańcuch Festival

Co-written by PMC staff and Maria Peryt, musicologist

Because of this year’s centenary celebrations, the 10th Łańcuch [Chain] Festival organized by the Witold Lutosławski Society differs from previous Festivals in its splendor and diversity of events. The variety of repertoire and ensembles engaged in this year’s Festival is stunning, and it presents primarily the lesser known and rarely performed of Lutosławski’s compositions. Thanks to partners and sponsors of the Festival, concerts are taking place in the greatest concert halls in Warsaw from January 24 – February 9, 2013.

On February 1, an extraordinary concert featuring compositions by current and previous Lutosławski Sholarship recipients took place in the Hall of the Warsaw National Philharmonic. The repertoire of the concert included: Grażyna Krzanowska’s Silver Line for 15 string instruments, Aleksander Lasoń’s Suibusium felix for two violins and strings, Andrzej Krzanowski’s Symphony No. 2 for 13 string instruments, Tadeusz Wielecki’s Time of Stones for amplified double bass and chamber orchestra, Paweł Mykietyn’s 3 for 13 for 13 instruments, and Tomasz Opałka’s D.N.A. Concerto for bass clarinet and instrumental ensemble.

Commissioned by the Witold Lutosławski Society, this last piece is interesting in that it is one of few concertos written for bass clarinet in the Polish music literature. The soloist was the extraordinary bass clarinet player Jadwiga Czarkowska, performing with the Łańcuch Chamber Orchestra and conducted by Wojciech Michniewski.

The premiere was a great success and was received warmly by the audience. “I was surprised by the reception. It’s very rare that after the concert strangers write to you to congratulate you, which happened this time” – said Tomasz Opałka. On Opałka’s website one can read opinions about the D.N.A. Concerto such as: “The premiere of D.N.A. was in my opinion the biggest event of this year’s Festival. I haven’t heard such fresh, communicative and passionate music for a long time. Mastery of form plus a huge dose of emotions! Congratulations and thank you for an unforgettable experience!” or “I have to join the enthusiasm after the premiere of your D.N.A. It’s not enough to say that the piece was enjoyable. You brought a spontaneous joy combined with artistic craftsmanship to the concert, with high demands for the audience. It’s a very rare combination at a concert of contemporary music.”

The Concerto has a very interesting structure, and also serves as a manifesto of Opałka’s approach to the contemporary music—it is an example of how one can create music that is both attractive to the listener, and at the same time complex and sophisticated. The conception of the piece is based on a DNA sequence. This is a tribute to Witold Lutosławski and at the same time an attempt to go beyond Lutosławski’s chain theory. In Opałka’s D.N.A., we can find four 6-step scales. Each of them is assigned to one of four instrumental groups. Opałka chose three protein models—A-DNA, B-DNA and Z-DNA—each of which has a different number of bindings before the helical turn—respectively 10, 11 and 12 bindings in each protein model. According to that sequence, the musical scales are subject to rotation and permutation just like in the double helix DNA chain. After each turn the scales change their place in the structure of the piece by being transferred to the other instrumental group.

Although it sounds like the piece should be rather difficult to approach, Opałka always thinks of his audience and, within this complicated conception, he has created a piece that is pleasurable to experience. The aspects most important to the listener’s enjoyment are the rhythm and orchestration as well as the extended techniques used in bass clarinet part. D.N.A.’s expression is based on explicit rhythmic structures—complex at the beginning of the piece and clarifying in the final part, with repetitive motifs that imply a distant reflection of minimalist music. In his orchestration, Opałka used a small but varied ensemble, giving him the opportunity to surprise the audience with the richness of colors and strength of the sound. An uncommon sonic atmosphere is created by the use of Tibetan bowls and a waterphone. Most importantly, the bass clarinet soloist performs several different multiphonics, virtuoso staccatos, didgeridoo-like effects and other sounds both interesting for the listener and difficult for the performer.

Tomasz Opałka (b. 1983, Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski) began his musical education at the age of 14 and, from the very beginning he strove to be a composer. He graduated with honors in 2011 from the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw, where he is currently working on his PhD and teaching. His compositions have been performed by such orchestras as the: Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Wawel Royal Castle Symphony Orchestra, New Music Orchestra, Philharmonic Orchestra in Łódź, Silesian Philharmonic Orchestra, Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra and several chamber ensembles and soloists. He has won numerous awards in Poland and abroad, and has received commissions from major Polish cultural institutions such as: Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, Witold Lutosławski Society, Adam Mickiewicz Institute, The Royal Castle in Warsaw and others. His percussion concerto, Vitality, was one of two Polish composers’ works chosen by the international jury for the World Music Days 2014. According to the recently published book Dźwięki, szepty, zgrzyty by Agnieszka Lewandowska-Kąkol, Tomasz Opałka is considered to be one of 16 most important living Polish composers, alongside Krzysztof Penderecki, Zygmunt Krauze and Jerzy Maksymiuk. His compositions were performed in Poland, China, Slovakia, Germany, Ukraine, Russia, Belarus and Belgium.

Opałka is currently in Los Angeles participating in Christopher Young’s Tilden House Residency Program for Composers. As a guest of the Polish Music Center, he is also working on his Violin Concerto commissioned by National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra and dedicated to Janusz Wawrowski, who will premiere the piece in April this year. Tomasz Opałka is a member of ZAiKS and the Polish Composers Union.

Clarinetist Jadwiga Czarkowska (b.1986, Warsaw) studied with prof. Roman Widaszek at the Music Academy in Katowice and graduated in 2011. During her undergraduate work she developed an interest and second specialization in bass clarinet. Since 2012 Jadwiga Czarkowska is a PhD student at Music Academy in Katowice, with her thesis dedicated to bass clarinet performance and Polish music literature for this unique instrument.

Czarkowska has taken part in several master courses with such artists as: Eduard Brunner, Oriol Romani, Florent Héau, Antonio Saiote, Arnaud Leroy, Mathias Müller, Andrzej Janicki, Wojciech Mrozek, Aleksander Romański and Jan Jakub Bokun. As a soloist and chamber musician she has performed several concerts and festivals throughout Poland, and has performed with such orchestras as: City of Tychy Chamber Orchestra – AUKSO, New Music Orchestra, Krakow Festival Orchestra, Capella Cracoviensis, and more. She is the laureate of competitions such as VIII Clarinet Festival in Piotrków Trybunalski and II Clarinet Festival in Szczecin. In 2011, Czarkowska recorded Andrzej Krzanowski’s “Con vigore” with the Silesian Quartet (Polish Radio Katowice) and the recording was nominated for a prestigious “Fryderyk” award in 2012. She also took part in recordings of composers such as: Krzysztof Penderecki (St. Lucas Passion), Paweł Mykietyn (Symphony No. 3), Józef Michał Ksawery Poniatowski (opera Pierre de Medicis) etc.

Lutosławski Recordings

Lutosławski: The Symphonies

One of the 20th-century’s great symphonists, Lutoslawski created an impressive, always progressing body of music in the most difficult of circumstances. With their live recordings of Lutosławski’s Fanfare for Los Angeles Philharmonic and Symphony No. 1 made during the Lutosławski Centenary celebration last November, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Conductor Laureate Esa-Pekka Salonen finished the last installment in their recordings of the complete Lutosławski symphonies. Released by Sony Music Entertainment, the complete set is now available on iTunes.

From Steven Stucky’s program notes for Chester Novello:

Lutoslawski’s four symphonies reflect the course of his development rather neatly. The First Symphony, composed from 1941 to 1947, closes his first style period; it became a cause célèbre when Lutoslawski was criticized by the Soviet-dominated Polish government for “formalism” (i.e. music that is modern, or that dares to think for itself, or that dullard politicians can’t understand at first hearing). The work was banned in 1949 and was not heard again for ten years. Lutoslawski waited twenty years to write another symphony, and then he used the Second Symphony (1966-67) to consolidate the discoveries of his third period on a large orchestral scale. The Third Symphony (1981-83) was the first major work in the late style period to capture public attention. The new Fourth Symphony, arriving after more than decade of refining this late manner, reflects the lessons of the intervening works, especially such gems as the Partita for violin and piano (1984), Chain 2 for violin and orchestra (1984-85), and the Piano Concerto (1988). All these works have been heard on Los Angeles Philharmonic programmes, most recently the Piano Concerto, performed by Krystian Zimerman in January 1991.

[Sources: laphil.com, itunes.apple.com, chesternovello.com]

Polskie Nagrania – Gold Collection

The Polskie Nagrania label has decided to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Witold Lutosławski and the Lutosławski year by issuing an 8-CD album devoted to the composer’s works. This publication is an invaluable collection, including premieres of works by Lutosławski with the participation of leading Polish artists and orchestras, many times under the direction of the composer himself.

Soloists for the collection include: Stefania Woytowicz, Konstanty Andrzej Kulka, Roman Jabłoński, Krzysztof Jakowicz, Ewa Pobłocka, Marek Drewnowski, Jacek Łukaszczyk, Maciej Łukaszczyk, Halina Łukomska, Szabolcs Esztenyi, Eugeniusz Knapik, and Krystyna Borucińska. Conductors include: Witold Lutosławski, Witold Rowicki, Jan Krenz, Kazimierz Kord, Andrzej Markowski, and Wojciech Michniewski. Ensembles include: National Philharmonic Orchestra in Warsaw, National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Sinfonia Varsovia, Silesian Philharmonic Choir, and Polish Radio Choir.

The collection also includes a rich 44-page booklet with commentary by Ludwik Erhardt and graphic design by Jerzy Matuszewski, and is further distinguished by the sound quality and the fact that the discs are pressed on gold.

The album was released under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Polish Music Publishers (PWM) and the Polish Composers’ Union (ZKP) are also partners in this project.

Below are the works in this collection by CD:

  • CD 1: [1] Lacrimosa, [2-5] Symphony No. 1, [6-8] Concerto for Orchestra, [9] Musique funebre
  • CD 2: [1-4] Jeux vénitiens, [5-7] Trois poèmes d’Henri Michaux, [8-9] Symphony No. 2
  • CD 3: [1] Postludium No. 1, [2] Paroles tissées, [3] Livre pour orchestra, [4] Concerto for Cello and Orchestra
  • CD 4: [1-2] Preludes and a Fugue, [3] Mi-parti, [4] Novelette
  • CD 5: [1] Symphony No. 3, [2] Chain 1, [3-6] Chain 2*, [7] Chain 3
  • CD 6: [1] Two Studies, [2] Variations on a theme by Paganini, [3-7] Five Songs to poems by Kazimiera Iłłakowiczówna, [8] String Quartet*, [9] Epitaph*, [10] Grave, [11] Partita
  • CD 7: [1-4] Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, [5-13] Chantefleurs et Chantefables*, [14] Symphony No. 4*
  • CD 8: [1] Parita, [2] Interludium*, [3-6] Chain 2

*Polish premiere recording

This 8-CD collection is available for purchase on the Polskie Nagrania website.

[Source: pwm.com.pl]

Upcoming Publications of Lutosławski’s Music at PWM

Lullaby for Anne-Sophie for violin and piano is a composition written by Witold Lutosławski in 1989. Unpublished during the composer’s life, the manuscript of the work was kept by the Sacher Foundation in Basel, Switzerland. This composition was a wedding gift from Lutosławski to German violin virtuoso, Anne-Sophie Mutter and—along with Łańcuch II (1985) and Partita (1988), two works for violin and orchestra—it represents his third opus connected to this prominent German artist.

According to Krzysztof Meyer, “… the barely 40-bar long piece is a work filled with beauty and refinement. One can detect [in the Lullaby for Anne-Sophie] all traits of Lutosławski’s late compositional style—a long melodic line, harmony that is built upon carefully wrought multi-pitch combinations and the irregular rhythm in the solo violin part. One also hears echoes of Lutosławski’s earlier compositions, like the monotonous, lullaby-like triplet motion in the piano part at the beginning of the work that recalls the opening song from the set of Five Songs to texts by Iłłakowiczówna.” This Lullaby was published on January 25, 2013 – the composer’s centenary.

Two volumes of Lutosławski’s Popular Songs will be published in June 2013. Issued under the pen name “Derwid” during Lutosławski’s life, the collection contains 25 songs, written to texts by Artur Międzyrzecki, Jerzy Miller, Jerzy Ficowski, and Adam Hosper, among others. Many of them became well-known hits and were performed by such popular Polish artists as Kalina Jędrusik, Rena Rolska, or Violetta Villas.

Finally, Twelve Songs for Children by Lutosławski are also planned for publication in June of 2013. This set of original melodies written to words of such great poets as Julian Tuwim for example, also feature harmonically advanced piano accompaniment that would prepare young performers for more modern musical style.

[Source: pwm.com.pl]

Salonen & Stucky in Conversation


London’s Philharmonia Orchestra and its series Woven Words—”Music begins where words end”—has been a leader in the movement to celebrate Witold Lutosławski’s anniversary year. Woven Words Series Advisor, Steven Stucky, and Philharmonia Orchestra Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor, Esa-Pekka Salonen both knew the Polish composer’s well. In a short film available on vimeo.com, the two composers reminisce about their friend and mentor and discuss his work.

[Sources: esapekkasalonen.com, vimeo.com]

Lutosławski & Salonen in Tokyo

During his short tour of Tokyo concert venues, conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen will lead his Philharmonia Orchestra and pianist Leif Ove Andsnes in a concert of music by Lutosławski and Beethoven on February 7, 2013. In addition to Lutosławski’s Symphony No. 4, the program will include Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 and Symphony No. 7. The performance marks just one of a series of Philharmonia concerts throughout 2013 that celebrate Lutosławski’s Centenary year, and which will see his music performed in London, Japan, Spain and the composer’s native Poland.

Lutoslawski’s Fourth Symphony, commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic with generous support from Betty Freeman, was completed on August 22, 1992 and was premiered by the L.A. Phil on February 5, 1993, with the composer conducting. As the Phil’s former Artistic Director, Esa-Pekka Salonen is perhaps the conductor most familiar with this great work, which was the crowning achievement of the Lutosławski’s distinguished career. After the premiere, Salonen and the orchestra quickly made the work their own, repeating it in Los Angeles, touring it in Europe and introducing it to New York audiences in 1994. The premiere recording of the Fourth Symphony was made by Salonen and the L.A. Phil for Sony in the fall of 1993, just three months before the composer passed away.

7 February 2013 | 7:00pm
Philharmonia Orchestra with pianist Leif Ove Andsnes
Tokyo Opera City Hall

[Sources: philharmonia.co.uk, esapekkasalonen.com, laphil.com]

Mutter Plays Lutosławski In Switzerland & Germany

On February 7-9, German violin virtuoso Anne-Sophie Mutter—forever connected with Lutosławski since her premiere of his Łańcuch II [Chain 2] in 1986—will perform a concert of music by Witold Lutosławski and Antonín Dvořák with the Berlin Philharmonic and conductor Manfred Honeck. The program includes: Dvořák – Romance for violin and orchestra in F minor, Dvořák – Violin Concerto in A minor, and Lutosławski – Concerto for orchestra.

From the program notes by Mark Schulze Steinen (translation by Richard Evidon):

Barely a century after Dvořák had paved the way to a brilliant composing career, Witold Lutosławski confessed that he only created “music that I enjoy listening to”. Not an atypical statement from a 20th-century composer, one will suppose – and yet perhaps one that may also help to explain the success of Lutosławski’s music: the high level of tonal and rhythmic construction in this mathematic student’s multi-layered and meticulously wrought scores have found and continue to find, not only the admiration of musical experts, but also unusually wide popularity among the public. The reason for this acceptance may be that the greatly varying compositional techniques he has employed over the years, including experimental structures, have never represented a compositional end in itself but have always been directed towards the listening experience.

Lutosławski was of two minds in his relationship to folk music. Like many composers before him, he saw it as a chance to breathe new life into the increasingly timeworn system of major-minor tonality. At the same time, working with such melodies also ran the risk of criticism for propagating a populist agenda in the service of socialist realism. The ambivalence of this situation became clearly apparent when Lutosławski was awarded the Polish Prime Minister’s Prize – for a cycle of children’s songs! “I was decorated by the authorities for writing functional music,” Lutosławski later recalled. “They thought I had composed them to do justice to the aesthetic guidelines.”

In the Concerto for Orchestra, which Lutosławski worked on from 1950 to 1954, folk music – as the composer explained – was “merely a raw material used to build a large musical form of several movements which does not in the least originate either from folksongs or from folk dances. A work came into being, which I could not help including among my most important pieces, as a result of my fleeting connection with folk music and in a way that for me was quite unexpected. This work is the Concerto for Orchestra.”

Although the Concerto for Orchestra was the work that made Lutosławski famous in the West, he claimed in later years: “I don’t especially care for this work, but apparently it has managed to retain a certain freshness.” For Lutosławski, there were unpleasant memories connected with the necessity he once felt to defend his compositional language’s modernity when resorting to folk material, apparently in reference to the character of the Concerto for Orchestra. But his originality in this work in successfully reconciling folk music and the avant-garde represents a stroke of genius about which we today should think as little of quarrelling as about spring.

7-9 February 2013 | 8:00 p.m.
Berlin Philharmonic with Anne-Sophie Mutter, violin

Berlin Philharmonic Hall
Herbert-von-Karajan-Str. 1, 10785 Berlin

Mutter will also perform the Partita for Violin and Orchestra with Sinfonia Varsovia (left) and conductor Michael Francis in Basel, Viersen, Ludwigshaven and Cologne from February 13 – 18. In addition to the Partita, music by Benjamin Britten – Variation on a theme by Frank Bridge op.10, Arvo Pärt – Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten, and Antonín Dvořák – Violin Concertip op.53 will also be included on the program. Lutosławski dedicated the orchestral version of the Partita to Mutter, who will take the work’s original version for violin and piano on a ten-city U.S. tour that begins on the March 2 on the West Coast, and includes concerts in Chicago and Washington, D.C.

13-18 February 2013
Sinfonia Varsovia with Anne-Sophie Mutter, violin
More info:
February 13 in Basel
February 14 in Cologne
February 15 in Viersen
February 18 in Ludwigshafen

[Sources: culture.pl, sinfoniavarsovia.org]

Zimerman Plays Lutosławski Piano Concerto In Berlin

On February 14-16, conductor Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic will be joined by another musician connected with Lutosławski—pianist Krystian Zimerman—and soprano Barbara Hannigan. The program will include: Robert Schumann – Genoveva Overture and Symphony No. 3 in E flat major “Rhenish”; Witold Lutosławski – Piano Concerto; and Henri Dutilleux – Correspondances for soprano and orchestra.

In this program, two modern works written by Witold Lutosławski and Henri Dutilleux contrast with Schumann’s romantic music. Lutosławski, who died in 1994 and is one of the most versatile and significant Polish composers of the 20th century, is represented by his Concerto for Piano and Orchestra; Lutosławski’s countryman Krystian Zimerman, for whom the work was written and who premiered it in 1988, will take on the solo part.

Whereas Lutosławski’s person and oeuvre have long been known to music lovers who need not have a particular predilection for the avant-garde, Henri Dutilleux, three years younger, and his compositions continue not to have attracted much notice in concert programming. Wrongly so, as his Correspondances for Soprano and Orchestra shows, premiered on 5 September 2003 by Berlin Philharmonic under Sir Simon Rattle. The soloist in this work, which can boast of an almost romantic sense of tonal color, is the versatile Canadian soprano Barbara Hannigan—long familiar on the stage of the Berlin Philharmonic as a specialist for contemporary music.

14-16 February 2013 | 8:00 p.m.
Pianist Krystian Zimerman & soprano Barbara Hannigan with the Berlin Philharmonic

Berlin Philharmonic Hall
Herbert-von-Karajan-Str. 1, 10785 Berlin

[Sources: culture.pl, berliner-philharmoniker.de]

Royal College Of Music Concerts In London

In 2013, London’s Royal College of Music and the Philharmonia Orchestra are joining forces for Woven Words: “Music begins where words end”, a celebration of the music of Witold Lutosławski. Orchestral music, chamber concerts, study days, film, online resources and commissioned articles will commemorate the centenary of the birth of one of the century’s most influential musical voices.

February celebrations at the RCM begin with a chamber program that brings together string quartets by some of the most significant musical voices of the twentieth century. Lutosławski’s own String Quartet, written in 1964, is one of the most significant examples of the compositional technique that he called ‘controlled aleatorism’, in which the rhythmic coordination of parts is subject to an element of chance. It is presented alongside String Quartet No. 1 in C Major (Op. 37) by his Polish compatriot, Karol Szymanowski, as well as quartets by György Ligeti and Albert Roussel. The program will be performed by members of the Royal College of Music.

4 February 2013 | 7:45pm
Chamber Music by Lutosławski & Szymanowski

Purcell Room, Royal College of Music, London
Admission is free but tickets are required
Box office: 0870 405 6666

Another in the Woven Words concert series will feature Lutosławski’s Symphony No. 3, commissioned by Georg Solti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1972 and premiered by them in 1983. It was described by its first reviewer as “so dazzling in its originality, so powerful in its use of the orchestra’s resources and so remarkable in its ability to communicate that a person had to think of it immediately as a 20th-century masterwork … a landmark to stand beside masterpieces by Bartók, Prokofiev and Shostakovich.”

This program from one of the world’s great youth orchestras—the Royal College of Music Symphony Orchestra with conductor Franck Ollu—places Lutosławski’s modern symphonic masterpiece alongside attractive French vignettes by two of Lutosławski’s favorite composers: Claude Debussy – 3 Nocturnes for orchestra and Albert Roussel – Bacchus and Ariane, Suite No.2. Also on the program will be Lutosławski’s Jeux Vénetiens [Venetian Games] for chamber orchestra.

6 February 2013 | 7:30pm
Royal College of Music Symphony Orchestra with Franck Ollu, cond.
Queen Elizabeth Hall – South Bank Centre
Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX

This RCM chamber concerts presents Lutoslawski’s piano music in the context of Chopin, Szymanowski, Debussy and Ligeti. The program will include Chopin: Etudes, Debussy: Etudes L 136, Lutosławski: Two Studies for piano, Lutosławski: Bukoliki for piano, Szymanowski: Mazurkas op. 50, and Ligeti: Etudes. The performers are the following RCM pianists: Dinara Klinton, Jun Ishimura, Yoshio Hamano, Diana Galakhova, and Gwenaelle Rouger.

The next in the RCM chamber series, on Wednesday, March 6 features an unbroken sequence of Lutoslawski’s magical miniatures.

27 February 2013 | 6:00pm
Woven Words: Piano Music
Recital Hall, Royal College of Music, London

[Source: woven-words.co.uk]

For more information and events, visit the official website of Lutosławski Year 2013: lutoslawski.culture.pl

PMC News

Upcoming Conference & Concert: April 6

A rendering of the manuscript of Krzysztof Meyer’s opera Cyberiada (1970). Polish Music Center Manuscript Collection. All rights reserved.

On April 6, 2013, the Polish Music Center at USC’s Thornton School of Music will present a day filled with visual and aural exploration and stimulating discussion surrounding the development of Polish music since 1945. Entitled “Sounds from Behind the Iron Curtain: Polish Music after World War II,” the day will include a musicology and digital humanities conference (9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.) and a concert (4:00 p.m.), as well as film screenings and exhibits, on the campus of USC. Scholars and audience members from all disciplines are encouraged to attend.

Presenters and topics for the conference include:

  • Renata Pasternak-Mazur (Rutgers University), “Sound Spaces: Official, Unofficial, and In-Between Repertoires in Socialist Poland”
  • Kurt Nelson (New York University), “Tadeusz Baird and the Cultural Thaw of the 1950s”
  • Lisa Vest (Indiana University, Bloomington), “A Survey about the Work of Igor Stravinsky (1957): Stravinsky Reception and Polish Cultural Confidence at the Beginning of the ‘Thaw’”
  • Cindy Bylander, “Charles Ives and the Stalowa Wola Festival: Inspirations and Legacies”
  • Andrea Bohlman (University of Pennsylvania), “Listening with the Polish Opposition in the 1980s”
  • Paulina Piedzia Colón, “John Paul II, the Revolution of the Spirit, and Joanna Bruzdowicz’s Sonate d’Octobre
  • Marta Marciniak (University at Buffalo, SUNY), “Polish punk as a transnational subculture”

A concert dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the birth of Witold Lutosławski, the greatest Polish composer of the twentieth century, will round out the day. Performers for this event are known as Lutosphere, an innovative ensemble of some of Poland’s greatest musicians who span three different genres:

  • Leszek Możdżer – classically trained pianist turned jazz crossover superstar
  • Andrzej Bauer – cello virtuoso excelling in both traditional (he performed Lutosławski’s Cello Concerto under the composer’s own baton) and contemporary repertoire
  • DJ m. Bunio s. (Michał Skrok) – DJ experimenting with electronic music broadly defined

Briefly speaking, Lutosphere creates new music based on variations on several works by Lutosławski and samples of the composer’s own words. Musical themes are treated in very free and innovative ways, some quoted literally, some colored interpretation of the artist, others loosely woven into improvisations. The whole experience is decorated with an electronic overtone: overdrive cello plus a number of acoustic phenomena achieved by special equipment – keyboards, vocoder, sampler and an effects generator. Only the piano retains its natural sound. See videos of Lutosphere’s live performances at youtube.com.


Conference: 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Registration fee: $25 – includes: Entrance to all presentations, film screenings, exhibits and concerts; Breakfast and lunch
Venue: Ahmanson Center (ACB), Room 236
To register, email polmusic@usc.edu

Concert: 4:00 p.m.
Admission fee: FREE
Venue: Newman Hall (NRH)
University of Southern California,
Los Angeles, CA 90089
Campus parking: $10
[Parking Structure X – enter USC Gate #3 at McCarthy Way & Figueroa St.]
Campus map

Recent Gifts to the PMC (Dec 2012 – Jan 2013)

Music and Life Observed

Henryk Martenka—Director of the Paderewski International Piano Competition in Bydgoszcz, Poland—is also a distinguished journalist and writer. In December 2012 he presented the Polish Music Center with his recently published second volume of Wielki akord [The Great Chord]. It is a truly fascinating book, filled with Dir. Martenka’s careful observations, insights on performers and their interpretations, and various other background comments made during the 2008 and 2011 editions of the Paderewski Piano Competitions in Bydgoszcz. It follows on Dir. Martenka’s impressions of previous Paderewski Competitions that found their way to the first volume in the series.

The cover of Wieki Akord Vol. 2, featuring the 2010 Competition winner and 2011 Paderewski Festival Gala Concert performer, pianist Eduard Kunz

The other book Dir. Martenka gave to the Polish Music Center has an intriguing title, Herosi i łachudry [Heroes and Losers]. It is a selection of Martenka’s columns written for the Angora weekly magazine during the years 2002-2011. Covering a wide spectrum from politics and art to society and contemporary life in Poland, Martenka’s editorials provide a mordant and singular view that is often at odds with the prevailing trends and customary political correctness. It is a sober look at daily life and its problems, absurdities large and small, developments hopeful and frightening, and politics worldly and provincial. What emerges is a picture of Poland rarely seen in other contemporary publications. Thank you, Director Martenka!

On Polish Music (in English!)

Tomasz Jakub Opałka, a Polish composer of concert and film music, and Maria Peryt, a musicologist and record producer—two young Polish musicians currently in residence in Los Angeles—presented the Polish Music Center with an important English-language reference source on Polish music: Krzysztof Baculewski’s treatment of music in Poland from 1939 until 2000, published by Sutkowski Edition in Warsaw. Volume VII of Baculewski’s The History of Music in Poland comes in two sections, The Contemporary Era—Part 1: 1939-1974 and The Contemporary Era—Part 2: 1975-2000. Beginning with the situation of music in Poland on the eve of World War II, Baculewski carefully threads the narrative through a number of trends, approaches, musical languages and changing music notations as the Polish avant-garde music came into its own in the 1960s and 1970s. Numerous musical examples, photographs and pithy analytical commentary carry this dense and indispensable guide to Polish music all the way to the epiphenomenal romanticism and neo-avant-garde of the most recent decade. A very useful glossary of terms surveys all major currents in twentieth century Polish music, crowning this veritable chef d’oeuvre. Thank you, Tomasz and Maria, and thank you, Professor Baculewski for this wonderful publication!

A Górecki Film with USC at its Heart

Henryk Mikołaj Górecki—Please Find is a superb new documentary about this great Polish composer. A brand new DVD of the 91-minute film, written and directed by Violetta Rotter-Kozera, was recently donated by the director to the PMC and Rotter-Kozera’s gift was accompanied by a lovely note of thanks for the PMC’s hand in making filming at USC possible. Beautifully filmed all around the world by Dariusz Radecki and expertly edited by Norbert Rudzik, Please Find features extremely rare archival footage of the composer as well as dozens of interviews with Górecki’s family, friends, various composers, performers, musicologists, critics, and record company executives, among others. Although Górecki’s Third Symphony features prominently throughout the footage and provides a good part of the soundtrack, Ms. Rotter-Kozera’s film covers the totality of Górecki’s opus—from his early avant-garde days to the sublime and sparse chamber music of his last decades. It is a lyrical and majestic tribute to this towering figure in Polish music, well worth seeing and savoring by an audience at least as wide as that which so appreciated Górecki’s most popular work. Thank you, Violetta and the entire production staff at TVP Katowice!

Presents from our friends

Bruzdowicz with Wanda Wilk and Jürgen Tittel.
Photo by Maja Trochimczyk, 2001.

Joanna Bruzdowicz has been a long-time friend of the Polish Music Center and her music was heard on several PMC concerts. A prolific composer, she is also a musical activist who organizes music and film festivals in Southern France. Over the past decade, Bruzdowicz has presented the Polish Music Center with several fascinating donations; her most recent gift, a copy of The Song of Hope and Love for Cello and Piano, was recently delivered to the PMC by Lars Hoefs—a virtuoso cellist, Polish music aficionado as well as a close friend and collaborator on numerous PMC concerts. Bruzdowicz’s work is inspired by a war-time poem by Czesław Miłosz and comes in four sections: Cantilena, Litany, Cry, and Murmur. The Song of Hope and Love will join numerous other compositions by Bruzdowicz on the shelves of our library and will be made available to musicians interested in performing this personal and passionate work. Thank you, Joanna!


 6 World Premieres In Poznań

Soprano Maria Rozynek and the Polish Radio Amadeus Chamber Orchestra led by Agnieszka Duczmal will present a concert of world premieres by six Polish composers of the new generation at the Mickiewicz University Auditorium in Poznań on February 17. The works presented will include:

  • Jasności promieniste—małe misterium na sopran [Rays of Brightness—a Small Ritual for Soprano] by Mikołaj Górecki (b. 1971), a PWM commission
  • Aby jednak pieśni nie zgasły [May the Songs Never Die] for string orchestra by Justyna Kowalska-Lasoń (b. 1985), a PWM commission
  • Ukiyo-e for string orchestra by Marcel Chyrzyński (b. 1971), an Institute of Music and Dance commission
  • RiFFFonia for string orchestra by Paweł Piotr Pietruszewski (b. 1988), First Prize winner at the Tenth Ochlewski Competition for Composers
  • Semi-Overture for string orchestra by Adam Porębski (b. 1990), an Honorable Mention winner at the Tenth Ochlewski Competition for Composers
  • Offenbarungen und Eingebungen for string orchestra by Ewa Fabiańska (b. 1989), an Institute of Music and Dance commission

[Source: pwm.com.pl]

Polish Contemporary Music In Paris

World premieres of works by Barbara Kaszuba, Artur Kroschel and Grzegorz Pieniek were given at the Théâtre Dunnois in Paris on February 7 during a program entitled “Polska Muzyka.” Ensemble Aleph, a group specializing in performances of contemporary music, performed Kaszuba’s Les rêves des fous sont encore plus beaux, Kroschel’s Suspension, and Pieniek’s Jede Nacht besucht uns ein Traum. Ensemble Aleph’s members are: Monica Jordan – voice, Dominique Clément – clarinet, Lutz Mandler – trumpet, Noëmi Schindler – violin, Christophe Roy – cello, Sylvie Drouin – piano, Jean-Charles François – percussion. The ensemble was joined by Michel Pozmanter – conductor and Jean Grison – “comédien à bicyclette.”

Scored for bass clarinet, trumpet, percussion, violin and cello, Kroschel describes his composition Suspension as, “… fluent overlaying of two different sound plains… One of them is temporarily halted, then it returns but in a different guise. One of such ‘subjects’ is more prominent in terms of time and more widely used throughout the piece. The other is somewhat more ‘traditional’ and shorter, and basically serves the function of suspending a musical thought.” This composition was written in 2012 and is dedicated to Ensemble Aleph.

Barbara Kaszuba’s Les rêves… for soprano and chamber ensemble was written in 2012 for Ensemble Aleph as well and was inspired by Baudelaire’s poem, La Voix. The composer admitted that “… the sound of the words and poetic meaning influenced the dramatic structure of the work. The vocal part utilized a number of special techniques and was written for Monique Jordan of Ensemble Aleph.”

For more information, see the website of the partner for this concert, the Polish Institute in Paris.

[Source: polmic.pl, institutpolonais.fr]

Przybylski Premiere

The Poznań Philharmonic Orchestra celebrated the 50th anniversary of Tadeusz Szeligowski’s death with a special concert on February 2, 2013. The title of this musical evening, Niebieski ptak [Bluebird] is taken from Szeligowski’s orchestral suite that was performed on this concert, alongside a world premiere of Four Darks in Red by Dariusz Przybylski (pictured above). This new composition was commissioned by the Poznań Philharmonic and performed by the orchestra led by conductor Jakub Chrenowicz. The soloist was cellist Dominik Połoński.

The composer dedicated his work to its first performers, indicating that Four Darks in Red was inspired by Mark Rothko’s paintings: “…It is another piece in my catalogue influenced by this painter’s works and his desire to immerse the viewer in his painting, drive him into ecstasy, and cross that boundary of mere painterly pleasure of playing with color.”

[Source: polmic.pl]

Kulenty Premiere

E-motions—a new work for accordion, string orchestra and percussion by Polish composer Hanna Kulenty—received its world premiere on January 19, 2013 in the Concert Hall of the Wrocław Philharmonic. Accordian soloist Eneasz Kubit, a member of the faculty at the Academy of Music in Łódź, was joined by the Leopoldinum Chamber Orchestra led by conductor Ernest Kovacic. Other works heard on the concert included Andante for Strings by Alexander Scriabin, a string orchestra transcription of Alexander Borodin’s famous third movement of his String Quartet No. 2, and Shaker Loops by John Adams.

Hanna Kulenty, a composer honored by many prestigious awards around the world, recorded with the Leopoldinum in 2011 for her “Music 4” CD (DUX 0823), which has been described as follows: “… Leopoldinum orchestra recorded the most outstanding monographic album… Kulenty’s music is hypnotizing … and this full of passion program was with nerve and intensity recorded under the direction of Ernst Kovacic.”

[Sources: filharmonia.wroclaw.pl, polmic.pl, leopoldinum.art.pl]

Penderecki Premiere & Jubilee Concerts

Over the course of the last decade, Krzysztof Penderecki composed a Sanctus and Benedictus for treble choir, and he has now used these movements as the basis of his newest work, the Missa brevis for children’s chorus and male voices a cappella. With this new mass setting, the composer added male voices in fitting with the structure of the German St. Thomas Choir of Leipzig, which premiered this work during its 800th anniversary celebration on January 6, 2013. The concert was led by conductor Georg Christoph Biller.

Penderecki’s oeuvre contains many sacred works, with numerous compositions based on sections of the Catholic Mass. Nevertheless, the Missa brevis is, with the exception of his Polish Requiem, his first complete mass setting.

The Polish premiere of this same work was featured when the celebrations of Krzysztof Penderecki’s 80th birthday year were kicked on January 12, with a Jubilee Concert celebrating both Penderecki’s birthday as well the 35th anniversary of artistic activity of the Polish Chamber Choir [Polski Chór Kameralny]. The concert took place at the Dwór Artusa in Gdańsk. The all-Penderecki program also included other choral works: “Sicut locutus est” from Magnificat (1974), Veni Creator (1987) , Iže cheruvimi [Song of Cherubin] (1986), Kadisz (2009), “De Profundis” (1996) from the Seven Gates of Jerusalem, Benedictum Dominum (1992), O Gloriosa Virginum (2009), and Kaczka pstra (2008).

Both concerts were attended by the composer.

[Sources: schott-music.com, polskichorkameralny.pl]

2013 – Jubilee Year for 5 PWM Composers

In the coming months, in addition to Lutosławski’s centenary, PWM will also celebrate the following anniversaries of other Polish composers connected to this publishing house, including: the 80th birthday anniversary of Henryk Mikołaj Górecki (1933-2010), the 80th birthday anniversary of Zbigniew Bujarski (b. 1933), the 75th birthday of Zygmunt Krauze (b. 1938), and the 70th birthdays of Marta Ptaszyńska and Elżbieta Sikora (b. 1943). Among the recent PWM publications there are two of Ptaszyńska’s compositions (Kochankowie z klasztoru Valldemosa and Blue Line for marimba) and three by Krauze (Canzona for instrumental ensemble, Pour El for harpsichord, and his one act opera, Pułapka).

[Source: pwm.com.pl]

New Director for PWM

A musicologist and music journalist, Daniel Cichy was appointed the new Editor-in-Chief of the Polish Music Publishers [PWM] on January 1, 2013. A graduate of musicology at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków and Heidelberg University, Cichy is also a lecturer in music history and analysis at the Music Institute of the Uniwersytet Śląski in Cieszyn as well as lecturer at the Theatre Department at Jagiellonian University. A laureate of the Robinson Musicology Award (2005) and scholarship recipient of Deutscher Musikrat, Ernst-von-Siemens Foundation, Polityka, and the Foundation for Polish Science, Cichy is also an author of a book about the Darmstadt Music Festival, published by Musica Iagellonica in 2009.

Cichy is a frequent contributor of articles and essays for Tygodnik Powszechny, Ruch Muzyczny, Polish Radio-Program 2, Glissando, Didaskalia, Teatr, Neue Musikzeitung, MusikTexte, and Neue Zeitschrift für Musik. In his first official message quoted in the PWM Newsletter, Cichy emphasized the importance of PWM for Polish music and culture, the upcoming anniversaries of Lutosławski and Górecki, and several new editions planned by PWM for the coming year.

[Source: pwm.com.pl]

Conference: Call For Papers

The Musical Worlds of Polish Jews, 1920-1960: Identity, Politics & Culture
Arizona State University | November 17-18, 2013

Call for Papers

The Center for Jewish Studies and the School of Music at Arizona State University in collaboration with The OREL Foundation announce an international conference devoted to the musical worlds of Polish Jews from 1920 to 1960. The conference will be held at Arizona State University in November 2013.

For the past three years, the Center for Jewish Studies at ASU has focused on the recovery, study and performance of music composed by Jews whose music was suppressed by the Third Reich. Previously we have featured music of German-speaking Jewish composers; this conference will focus on Polish-Jewish composers. The goal of the conference is to shed light on the richness of Polish-Jewish music from WWI to the decades after WWII and its relation to the complex problem of identity formation.

At the end of the First World War, almost three million Jews from the Russian, German, and Austrian Empires found themselves in the newly re-created state of Poland. In the subsequent two decades, this Jewish community, the largest in Europe, faced the challenge of becoming �Polish Jews.� Out of this challenge was born a rich and vibrant culture that deserves more recognition by music lovers and close analysis by scholars. Even under German occupation, the cultural and musical creativity of Polish Jews did not cease but became an important element of camp and ghetto lives. For years after the war, whether in exile or at home, the art of Polish Jews continued to reflect the complex relationship with Polish-ness and Polish culture.

Papers on the following themes are solicited:

1. Poland and Its Jews: Between Empires and Nation-States.
2. Polish-Jewish Music: Within and Between Modernism and Nationalism
3. Polish Jews/Jewish Poles: Culture and the Quest for Identity
4. Jewish Music under Nazi Occupation
5. Polish-Jewish Composers in Exile
6. Music Outside the Concert Hall: Cabaret, Theater, and Film

This will be a two-day event featuring both scholarly presentations and performances. We cordially invite submissions that deal with the work of particular composers or related topics. Scholarly papers should not be longer than 20 minutes and lecture recitals should not exceed more than 30 minutes. Abstracts (500 words) along with a short biography of the presenter should be submitted by March 30, 2013 to:

Professor Anna Holian
Interim Director, Center for Jewish Studies
P.O. Box 874302
Arizona State University
Tempe, AZ 85287-4302
Anna.Holian at asu.edu

Organizing Committee: Ann Cichopek-Gajraj, Assistant Professor of History, ASU;
Robert Elias, President, OREL Foundation, Los Angeles;
Sabine Feisst, Professor of Music History and Literature, ASU;
Anna Holian, Associate Professor of History, ASU;
Hava Tirosh-Samuelson, Irving and Miriam Lowe Chair of Modern Judaism and Director of Jewish Studies, ASU;
Bret Werb, Musicologist and Curator of Music Collections, United States Holocaust Museum and Memorial, Washington DC

[Source: press release]

Zarębski At Le Salon De Musiques in L.A.

The February edition of the Los Angeles chamber music concert series Le Salon de Musiques will include the Piano Quintet in G minor op 34 of Polish composer Juliusz Zarębski (1854 –1885), as well as the Fantasy Piano Quartet by English composer Frank Bridge (1879 – 1941). The concert will be introduced by musicologist Julius Reder Carlson and performed by Tereza Stanislav and Sarah Thornblade – violins, Rob Brophy – viola, Cecilia Tsan – cello and Steven Vanhauwaert – piano.

This fifth concert of Le Salon de Musiques’ third season is sponsored by the Consulate General of Poland in Los Angeles. The performance will be followed by a one-hour informal conversation between the musicians and the audience where they can share ideas, concepts and impressions about the music performed while sipping Champagne and enjoying a gourmet buffet prepared by Patina.

February 10th, 2013 | 4:00 pm
Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 5th Floor
134 N Grand Avenue, Los Angeles CA 90012
Ticket sales & info: (310) 498 0257 or info@angelesconcertsartists.com

[Sources: press release, lesalondemusiques.com]

Upcoming Chopin Birthday Celebrations

Chopin 2: A Birthday Celebration (Los Angeles, CA)

On March 3, the Paderewski Music Society in Los Angeles will present Chopin 2: A Birthday Celebration, an evening of piano and drama featuring pianists Gloria Campaner, Wojciech Kocyan (right), Dmitry Rachmanov and John Perry; actors Jane Kaczmarek and Marek Probosz; and scholars Michael Pawlicki and Priscilla Pawlicki. The musical program will include works by Chopin, Schubert, Debussy, Scriabin, Rachmaninoff and more. The event will be held at the Colburn School in downtown Los Angeles.

March 3, 2013 | 6:00 P.M.
Paderewski Society presents Chopin 2: A Birthday Celebration

Zipper Hall, Colburn School – Conservatory of Music
200 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles
Tickets: $35 if purchased by March 2, 2013; $45 at the door if available

  • Mail – send check payable to Paderewski Music Society to: 8504 Independence Avenue, Canoga Park, CA 91304
  • PayPal – use the following address: mail@ijpaderewski.org
  • CC – visit ijpaderewski.org or call 818-456-7742

[Sources: press release, ijpaderewski.org]

Chopin Birthday Celebration (Key Biscayne, FL)

On March 1, the Village of Key Biscayne presents a performance featuring renowned pianist and University of Miami faculty member Dr. Paul Posnak and young local talent Diego Arevalo, age 14, in an All-Chopin program commemorating the composer’s birthday on March 1, 1810.

March 1, 2013, 7 pm
Chopin Birthday CelebrationPaul Posnak, piano
Key Biscayne Community Center,
10 Village Green Way, Key Biscayne, FL
Admission Free
More information at www.keybiscayne.fl.gov

[Source: chopin.org]

My favorite Chopin compositions (New York, NY)

For the anniversary of Chopin’s birthday, pianist Mariusz Adamczak will play some of his favorite Chopin compositions: Ballade g-minor op. 23; 4 Mazurkas op. 24 (g-minor, C-major, A-flat major, b-flat minor); Preludes op. 28 nr 4,6,7,10,15; Scherzo b-flat minor op. 31; Ballade F-major op. 38; Scherzo c-sharp minor op. 39; Nocturne f-sharp minor op. 48 nr 2; and Polonaise A-flat major op. 53.

Sunday, February 24, 2013 | 3:00pm
My favorite Chopin compositions
– Mariusz Adamczak, piano

The Kosciuszko Foundation
15 East 65th St., New York, NY 10065
Tickets: $20/$15 KF Members and Students

[Sources: press release, thekf.org]

WRYK at Opera Cologne

Polish mezzo-soprano Marta Wryk is a first year member of the Opera Studio of the Opera Cologne and has already made her debut as Cherubino in Opera Cologne’s new production of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro. This year she will be featured in several concert performances as follows:

February 17, 22, 24, 28 & March 2, 6, 8, 9
Anna Bolena, Smetone (cover)
Opera Cologne

March 25, 26, 28 & April 2, 11
Aschenputtel, Stiefmutter and Elfe Kinderoper
Opera Cologne

March 29 & April 5, 7, 11, 14
Parsifal, Knappe and Blumenmädchen
Opera Cologne

May 9, 11, 17, 19, 24, 26, 30 & June 1, 7
Suora Angelica, Suora Dolcina
Oper Köln

June 13, 14, 17, 21 28, 29, 30
Orpheus in der Unterwelt, Juno Kinderoper, Oper Köln

[Source: hmartawryk.com]


10th Annual Polityka “Passports

The winners in the classical music category of this year’s Polityka Passports—presented by the bi-monthly magazine, Polityka—are Magdalena Bojanowicz and Maciej Frąckiewicz, a cello and accordion ensemble otherwise known as the TWOgether Duo. The jury praised the musicians for maturity and clarity of their interpretations of contemporary music, for their courage, risk-taking and following up on ideals, for continuing to build the repertoire, and for their fascinating concert programs that awaken audiences’ imagination.

A special prize for the creation of culture was also given to Elżbieta Penderecka and Krzysztof Penderecki. Mrs. Penderecka was specifically praised for “creating important music events, including the Eastertime Beethoven Festival, as well as bringing to light the manuscripts of many great composers from the Jagiellonian Library, and her patronage of Sinfonietta Cracovia and the Beethoven Academy Orchestra.” The organizers further cited Madame Penderecka for her “enormous service to music in Poland and her great service to the cause.” Krzysztof Penderecki received his prize for “outstanding and innovative compositions, thanks to which Polish music has become world famous.” The committee lauded such avant-garde works as Threnody, Anaklasis, Polymorphia, Polish Requiem and the Passion as well as Penderecki’s operas, symphonies and chamber music. It also noted Penderecki’s “many years as an educator and his fruitful work with young artists who continue to rediscover his work, whereby he is their master and partner and a source of inspiration for the young generation’s work.”

[Sources: polmic.pl, polityka.pl]

Poles Nominated For The Grammys

Among the 2012 Grammy Award nominees in the “Best Classical Compendium” category is the album “Penderecki: Fonogrammi; Horn Concerto; Partita; The Awakening Of Jacob; Anaklasis; De Natura Sonoris” (NAXOS 8.572482), recorded in Warsaw by the National Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Antoni Wit. The CD includes six compositions representing different aspects of Krzysztof Penderecki’s work—from the picturesque Horn Concerto, to the orchestral Partita and neo-Romantic Awakening Of Jacob, to the compositionally complex Anaklasis and jazzy De Natura Sonoris.

In addition, two Grammy nominations were awarded to Paweł Sęk—a composer, producer and sound engineer from Przemyśl—who has worked in Los Angeles for a long time. The artist was nominated for his work as an engineer/mixer in the “Album of the Year” (“Some Nights” CD on Atlantic Records) and “Recording of the Year” categories (“We Are Young” track from the same CD).

The 55th Grammy Awards ceremony for 2012 is set to take place on 10 February.

[Source: beethoven.org.pl]


 ‘Muzyka Polska’ Series Continues On Chandos

“… With beautiful sound throughout, and authoritative notes by Adrian Thomas, this excellent disc can be recommended with enthusiasm – all concerned are splendid advocates of this wonderful music.”

–Nigel Simeone, International Record Review (January 2013)

Karol Szymanowski: Concert Overture (1905), Symphony no.2 (1910), Symphony no.4 “Symphonie Concertante” (1932)
Louis Lortie – piano, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Edward Gardner – cond.
Chandos CHSA 5115 (Muzyka polska, vol. 5)

Released in January 2013, this recording of orchestral works by Karol Szymanowski is part of the “Muzyka Polska” series on Chandos, and is performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Edward Gardner. These performers have impressed in their Lutoslawski survey, which is part of the same series; in a review of volume 1, Gramophone described them as a veritable ‘dream team’.

Symphony No. 2 by Szymanowski is a work of great power and ingenuity, with many passionate and varied contrasts in its use of solo instruments. Composed in 1909 – 10, it is widely considered the greatest orchestral work of the composer’s early period, not to mention one of the most important Polish symphonic compositions to date. Szymanowski himself thought very highly of it, and in August 1911 wrote in a letter to his fellow Polish composer Zdzislaw Jachimecki: ‘How happy I am that this Symphony impressed you as I had wanted. I will frankly admit that I feel somewhat proud about its value. In some miraculous way I have managed during my work on it to resist all those garish phantoms which seduce “young and inexperienced” artists and to produce pure and uncompromising beauty in the way I personally understand it.’

The internationally acclaimed pianist Louis Lortie joins the orchestra and conductor in Symphony No. 4 of 1932, which the composer subtitled ‘Symphonie concertante’ in recognition of the near-soloistic role played by the pianist. Whereas Szymanowski’s early and middle works clearly reflect Wagner, Strauss, and Scriabin, this work is strongly influenced by Prokofiev, particularly in the finale, an agitated and daring movement reminiscent of the Russian composer’s Piano Concerto No. 3, composed about a decade earlier.

Written in 1904–05 in a style recalling Wagner and Strauss, the Concert Overture is characterized by enormous expressiveness and gusto in the way it handles the expanding themes. Szymanowski inscribed the original score with part of the poem Witez Wlast by his friend Tadeusz Micinski: ‘I will not play you sad songs, O Shades! but will give you a triumph proud and fierce…’. This vivid imagery is perfectly in keeping with the music’s exuberant and vivacious character.

[Sources: onpolishmusic.com, chandos.net]

New Contemporary Music On Sarton

Hanna Kulenty – Preludium, Postludium and Psalm ; Aleksander Nowak – Satin ; Wojciech Blecharz – Hypopnea for solo accordion ; Rafał Stefan Janiak – After Hours of Muteness ; Krzysztof Penderecki – Divertimento for solo cello ; Dariusz Przybylski – Discours; Mikołaj Kacper Majkusiak – Rhythms of Doubt
Magdalena Bojanowicz – cello and Maciej Frąckiewicz – accordion
Sarton Records 009-2

In December 2012, “Satin”—the debut album by Magdalena Bojanowicz (cello) and Maciej Frąckiewicz (accordion)—was released on Sarton Records. Both musicians graduated at the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw and have previously performed under the name of TWOgether Duo.

According to Alexander Nowak: [Satin] was written in the spring of 2011, especially for the ‘TWOgether Duo.’ The title refers to a kind of fabric. The music refers to some connotations that the title can evoke.”

According to Wojciech Blecharz: Hypopnea was composed for Maciej Frąckiewicz and the Musica Polonica Nova festival (Wrocław – Poland).

According to Hanna Kulenty: Preludium, Postludium and Psalm is a triptyk, in which the three separate parts fluently go over in each other, even overlapping each other. Postludium is the upbeat for Preludium. In the end the mystic line of Psalm starts, in which the utmost possibilities of the accordion and cello are used, until almost inaudible pitches.

[Source: hannakulenty.com, sarton.pl]

Orzechowski on Decca

“Musicians in Poland play what Americans did several decades ago. It’s a nightmare. These people work in museums. I have no intention of being a museologist (…) I want to revive the spirit of jazz, abandon academic music. I am waiting for a confrontation”

— Piotr Orzechowski in an interview with Dawid Karpiuk (Newsweek, 21-27 January 2013)

Experiment: Penderecki
Krzysztof Penderecki: Capriccio per oboe; Polymorphia; Stabat Mater; Lacrimosa; Larghetto; Sinfonietta per archi; Aria; Sonorist Variations I-V; Aria da capo
Peter Orzechowski, piano

In November 2012, the prestigious London-based Decca Classics released the CD “Experiment: Penderecki”—the solo recording debut of Peter Orzechowski, known as Pianohooligan. The disc is entirely devoted to the music of the great Polish composer, Krzysztof Penderecki. The material was recorded in Switzerland as part of the award that Orzechowski received for winning First Prize in 2011 at one of the most prestigious jazz competitions in the world: the 13th Parmigiani Montreux Jazz Solo Piano competition at the 45th edition of the Montreux Jazz Festival.

Piotr Orzechowski is one of the most award-winning jazz musicians of the younger generation. Born in 1990 in Kraków to a family with musical traditions, he is now a third year student at the Academy of Music in Kraków.

He describes his meeting with Krzysztof Penderecki thus:

I had an idea to play his music. Filip Berkowicz arranged a meeting. Krzysztof Penderecki was very curious what this might bring. He does not compose for piano, and was a bit surprised that these large forms can be transferred in this way.

[Sources: beethoven.org.pl, nina.gov.pl]

New on DUX

Sinfonia Academica Chamber Orchestra
Henryk Mikołaj Górecki – Trzy utwory w dawnym stylu na orkiestrę smyczkową (1963); Romuald Twardowski – Tryptyk mariacki (1973); Stanisław Moryto – Cztery utwory w polskim stylu (2011); Witold Lutosławski – Pięć melodii ludowych (1952); Wojciech Kilar – Orawa
Sinfonia Academica Chamber Orchestra, Włodzimierz Promiński – cond.
DUX 0939

Henryk Mikołaj Górecki, Mikołaj Górecki
Mikołaj Górecki (b. 1971): Nocturne for Orchestra and Concerto Notturno for Violin and String Orchestra
Henryk Mikołaj Górecki (1933-2011): Broad Waters, Op. 39 and Concerto for Harpsichord (or Piano) and String Orchestra, Op.40
Anna Górecka (piano); Kaja Danczowska (violin); Silesian Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, Mirosław Jacek Błaszczyk (dir.); Silesian Philharmonic Choir, Jarosław Wolanin (dir.)
DUX 0924

[Source: dux.pl]

Vocal Music By Polish Composers

Polska Liryka Wokalna [Polish Lyrical Song]
Edward Pałłasz (b. 1936)Ballads of Francois Villon (1990) baritone and string orchestra; Henryk Czyż (1923-2003) Canzona di barocco (1983) for string orchestra; Tadeusz Baird (1928-1981)Four Love Sonnets (1969) for baritone, strings and harpsichord; Paweł Łukaszewski (b.1968) – Elogium for those Murdered at Katyń (2002) for baritone, cello, bells and string orchestra
Grzegorz Piotr Kołodziej – baritone; Lutosławski Chamber Orchestra in Łomża, Jan Miłosz Zarzycki – cond.
Musica Sacra MSE 038

Musica Sacra has just published a CD titled Polska Liryka Wokalna featuring baritone Grzegorz Piotr Kołodziej and the Lutosławski Chamber Orchestra in Łomża, led by maestro Jan Miłosz Zarzycki. The program was recorded in June of 2012 by Andrzej Brzoska, a well-known sound engineer.

For more information on the individual works, visit www.musicasacra.waw.pl for detailed notes.

[Sources: pwm.com.pl, musicasacra.waw.pl]

Szymanowski – Complete Piano Music Set

SZYMANOWSKI: The Complete Piano Music
Disc one: Nine Preludes, Op.1; Variations in B flat minor, Op. 3; Four Studies, Op. 4; Sonata No. 1 in C minor, Op. 8. Disc two: Fanastasia in C major, Op. 14 (1909); Prelude and Fugue in C sharp minor; and Sonata No. 2 in A major. Disc three: Metopes, Op. 29; Etudes, Op. 33; Masques, Op. 34; Piano Sonata No. 3, Op. 36. Disc four: Mazurkas, Op. 50; Deux Mazurkas, Op. 62; Four Polish Pieces (1926); and Romantic Waltz (1925).
Martin Jones – Pianist
Nimbus Records NI1750 (4 CD set)

“The first volume of Szymanowski’s complete piano music was a singularly impressive achievement, one that deserved great recommendation. This second volume… maintains that same level of excellence both as music and as performance.”
— Stereophile

“This complete Nimbus survey invites enthusiasm, particularly as the music is presented in historical sequence…one senses the composer gradually forging his own individuality. Martin Jones is a consistently persuasive advocate and he is naturally recorded. A most rewarding set.”
— The Penguin Guide

“Martin Jones has the elegance and poise for Szymanowski’s quiet reflections on Chopin, and he can roar satisfyingly when a Lisztian mood is called for.”
— Gramophone

According to the website of Wyastone, the current owners of Nimbus Records:

Karol Szymanowski is on[e] of the most important figures in the development of Polish cultural life during the crucial period following the death of Chopin to the birth of ‘Solidarity’. Throughout his life he remained acutely aware of his Polish roots from the towering importance of Chopin to the folk music of his beloved Tatra Mountains. His piano music is at the foundation of his compositional career.

Szymanowski’s piano music has been championed and kept alive by schools of pianists over the years. The composer always knew that Szymanowski the composer wrote music which was too difficult for Szymanowski the pianist. As these recordings show, Martin Jones has no difficulty in extracting poetry from the composer’s often awesome technical demands.

Martin Jones born February 4, 1940, in Whitney, England, is an English concert pianist. He studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London under Guido Agosti, Guy Jonson, and Gordon Green. He has been highly regarded since debuting in the international arena when he won the Dame Myra Hess award in 1968 and debuted at Queen Elizabeth Hall in the same year.

[Source: wyastone.co.uk]


US Natl Phil Celebrates Lutosławski & Rostropovich

On January 26 and 27, the Embassy of the Republic of Poland and the National Philharmonic at the Music Center at Strathmore presented a program entitled “Lutosławski 100th Anniversary – Remembering Rostropovich.” Prizewinning cello soloist Dariusz Skoraczewski commemorated Polish composer Witold Lutosławski on the 100th Anniversary of his birth and the singular spirit of the 20th-century Russian cellist Mstislav Rostropovich with performances of Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme and Lutosławski’s Cello Concerto, written for Rostropovich. The final work, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No.4, reflects the gamut of human emotion, from tragedy to life-embracing exuberance. Skoraczewski was joined by the National Philharmonic and Mirosław Jacek Błaszczyk, conductor.

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s Principal cellist Dariusz Skoraczewski has delighted audiences of many concert halls throughout America and Europe with his great artistic and technical command of the instrument. As a soloist he has performed with numerous orchestras in the US including the Montgomery Symphony, Alexandria Symphony, Arlington Philharmonic, Lancaster Symphony and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Skoraczewski is the laureate of various international competitions such as the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, the Leonard Rose Competition in Washington D.C. and the Rostropovich Competition in Paris.

Mirosław Jacek Błaszczyk graduated with honors from the Academy of Music in Katowice, where he studied conducting with Karol Stryja. In 1993, having won a scholarship from the American Society for Polish Music, Błaszczyk went to the United States to hone his conducting skills while working with philharmonic orchestras in Los Angeles and New York City. In 1984-1986 Błaszczyk led an orchestra composed of Grand Symphony Orchestra of the Polish Radio and Television at the Warsaw Autumn Festival and the Silesian Contemporary Music Days. He was a Director of the State Symphony Orchestra in Zabrze (1986-1990); the State Philharmonic in Białystok (1990-95); the Poznań Philharmonic Orchestra (1996–98). Since 1998 he has held the joint post of Artistic Director of the Silesian Philharmonic Orchestra in Katowice and of the Grzegorz Fitelberg International Competition for Conductors (at which he won an award in 1991).

[Sources: press release, strathmore.org]

Augustyn in D.C., NY & FL

Kinga Augustyn performing at the 2012 Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles

On February 2, violinist Kinga Augustyn presented a solo violin recital dedicated to the memory of recently deceased American composer, Elliott Carter (1908 – 2012). Augustyn’s memorial recital took place a few days before the Seattle Symphony gave the world premiere of the prolific composer’s last completed orchestral work, Instances, on February 7. The recital was hosted by the Washington, DC chapter of the Kosciuszko Foundation and featured solo violin works by J.S. Bach, Piotr Drożdżewski, Elliott Carter, and Eugène Ysaÿe. See an excerpt of the recital at www.youtube.com.

Augustyn also had several exciting performances of Witold Lutosławski’s quite unknown Recitativo et Arioso (1951) on the composer’s birthday, January 25, at the Macedonian Cultural Centre in New York City, and then two days later at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science.

[Sources: thekf.org, boosey.com, kingaaugustyn.com]

Emanual Ax Featured Guest Soloist At LA Phil

By Gary Fitelberg

Polish pianist Emanual Ax was the featured guest soloist together with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in a great concert series billed as Mozart & Beethoven’s 5th at the impressive Walt Disney Concert Hall. In Mozart’s brilliant Piano Concerto No. 25, K. 503, the composer shares a special symbiotic relationship with Ax despite the many generations between them. It is almost as if Mozart wrote this for Ax specifically. This sold-out concert series, which took place on January 24-26, will undoubtedly go down as one of the classiest concert series in L.A. history. The program consisted of the Mozart Concerto, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67 and Dutelliux’s The Shadow of Time.

According to the notes from the L.A. Phil website:

Beethoven’s iconic Fifth symphony takes us from tension to triumph, and in that it reconciles and resolves the conflicts of the works preceding it, like a sort of hyper-sonata. The Shadows of Time is Dutilleux’s Holocaust-haunted meditation on loss, in sharp contrast with Mozart’s grand and confident C-major Piano Concerto, K. 503.

Saturday’s concert was definitely a shock and surprise to all attendees. French conductor Ludovic Morlot took ill and was forced to leave the stage and stop conducting after Dutelliux’s The Shadow of Time. Rising to the occasion, Conducting Fellow Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla from Lithuania took over to a warm welcome from the audience. Undeterred by her initial jitters, she stayed the course and wowed the audience with her able grace and style. Most impressive was that she had had absolutely no rehearsal time or preparation in her concert debut performance. She thus endeared herself to future generations of local fans. She received a rousing standing ovation after her final bow with thunderous applause.

Mozart’s piano concerto was composed during 1786 and was originally orchestrated for a much smaller of ensemble of flute, 2 oboes, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, timpani, strings and solo piano.

Emanuel Ax (born 8 June 1949) is a Grammy-winning Polish-American classical pianist of Jewish heritage. He is a teacher on the faculty of the Juilliard School of Music and is considered one of the best known concert pianists of the 21st century. As Artist in Residence with the New York Philharmonic for the 2012/13 season, he will appear in multiple weeks at Lincoln Center with repertoire ranging from Bach to Christopher Rouse in addition to a spring tour with the orchestra to Europe.

Ax was born in Polish-Jewish family in Lwów, Poland (now Lviv, Ukraine) to Joachim and Hellen Ax, both Nazi concentration camp survivors. Ax began to study piano at the age of six; his father was his first piano teacher. When he was seven the family moved to Warsaw, Poland, where he studied piano playing at Miodowa school, and then two years later to Winnipeg, Canada where he continued to study music. In 1961 the family moved to New York City and Ax continued his studies at the Juilliard School under Mieczysław Munz. In 1970 he received his B.A. in French at Columbia University and became an American citizen. In 1973 he won the Young Concert Artists International Auditions.

In recent years, Emanuel Ax has turned his attention toward the music of 20th-century composers, and has given three world premieres in the last few seasons: Century Rolls by John Adams, Seeing by Christopher Rouse and Red Silk Dance by Bright Sheng. He also performs works by such diverse figures as Sir Michael Tippett, Hans Werner Henze, Joseph Schwantner and Paul Hindemith, as well as more traditional composers such as Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Chopin.

Ax has been the primary recital partner of cellist Yo-Yo Ma since August 3, 1973, when the pair performed its first public recital at the Marlboro Music School and Festival. They have recorded much of the cello-piano repertoire together, and together they have won 5 Grammy Awards, in addition to Ax’s 2 solo Grammys. Ax also played quartets briefly with Ma and violinists Isaac Stern and Jaime Laredo. Before the quartet had to disband in 2001 due to the death of Stern, they recorded works by Brahms, Fauré, Beethoven, Schumann and Mozart for Sony Classical. Ax is also a featured guest artist in a documentary film about the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Peter Oundjian, Five Days in September; the Rebirth of an Orchestra.

He is a recipient of Yale University’s Sanford Medal and also holds an honorary doctorate of music from Yale awarded in May 2007. Other prestigious awards and honors include the following: 1974 – Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Competition in Tel Aviv (the inaugural competition); 1979 – Avery Fisher Prize in New York; 2007 – Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; Award of Excellence, The International Center in New York.
Emanual Ax demonstrated excellence once again as a L.A. local favorite, performing the Mozart piano concerto most magnificently and majestically.

Gary Fitelberg is a musicologist, music critic and historian specializing in Polish-Jewish music and musicians.

[Sources: laphil.com, emanuelax.com, en.wikipedia.org]

In Memoriam

Stefan Kudelski

The following article was originally published on January 30, 2013 on Deadline.com:

Stefan Kudelski, inventor of the first portable professional sound recorder, died Saturday in Switzerland at the age of 84. Word of his death came in a statement from the Kudelski Group, the company he founded. Kudelski created the Nagra (meaning “will record” in his native Polish) in 1951, revolutionizing the world of audio recording for filmmakers. The device, weighing between 8 and 20 pounds, was “one of the tools that made the French New Wave possible, by allowing the young directors in the late 50s and early 60s … to shoot a scene almost anywhere they could think of shooting one,” Randy Thom, director of sound design for Skywalker Sound, told All Things Considered host Melissa Block. Kudelski sold the device to Radio Luxembourg, Italy’s s RAI and the BBC as well as ABC, NBC and CBS in the U.S., according to the Nagra Audio website. Kudelski went on to win five Oscars and two Emmys for his contributions to sound engineering. He’s pictured at the left with Maggie Smith and Maureen Stapleton at the 1978 Academy Awards. In 1983, Kudelski received the John Grierson International Gold Medal, joining luminaries of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers that include Louis Lumière, Thomas Edison, Lee de Forest, George Eastman, Walt Disney, Samuel Warner, Léon Gaumont, Ray Dolby and Vladimir Zworkyin. The Cinema Audio Society plans a tribute to Kudelski at its 49th Annual CAS Awards on February 16th in Los Angeles.

[Source: deadline.com]


Born This Month

  • 2 February 1909 – Grazyna BACEWICZ , composer, violinist, pianist (d. 1969)
  • 7 February 1877 – Feliks NOWOWIEJSKI, composer, organist
  • 8 February 1953 – Mieszko GÓRSKI, composer, teacher (active in Gdansk and Koszalin)
  • 9 February 1954 – Marian GORDIEJUK, composer, teacher, theorist (active in Bydgoszcz)
  • 14 February 1882 – Ignacy FRIEDMAN, pianist and composer (d. 1948)
  • 18 February 1881 – Zygmunt MOSSOCZY, opera singer (bass), chemist (d. 1962)
  • 27 February 1898 – Bronislaw RUTKOWSKI, organist, music critic, conductor and composer (d. 1964)
  • 28 February 1910 – Roman MACIEJEWSKI , composer, pianist (d. 1998 in Sweden)
  • 28 February 1953 – Marcin BŁAŻEWICZ, composer, teacher (active in Warsaw


Died This Month

  • 3 February 1959 – Stanisław GRUSZCZYŃSKI, tenor (active throughout Europe, b. 1891)
  • 3 February 1929 – Antoni Wawrzyniec GRUDZIŃSKI, pianist, teacher, and music critic (active in Lódz and Warsaw, b. 1875)
  • 7 February 1954 – Jan Adam MAKLAKIEWICZ, composer (active in Warsaw, b. 1899)
  • 7 February 1994 – Witold LUTOSŁAWSKI, composer and conductor (b. 1913)
  • 8 February 1909 – Mieczysław KARŁOWICZ, composer, conductor, writer (b. 1876)
  • 9 February 1959 – Ignacy NEUMARK, composer and conductor (active in Copenhagen, Oslo and Schveningen, b. 1888)
  • 10 February 1905 – Ignacy KRZYŻANOWSKI, pianist and composer (active in Kraków and Warsaw, b. 1826)
  • 14 February 1957 – Wawrzyniec Jerzy ŻULAWSKI, composer, music critic, teacher, and mountain climber (b. 1916)
  • 15 February 2010 – Adam KACZYŃSKI, pianist, composer and creator of the MW2 new music ensemble (b. 13 October 1933)
  • 15 February 2010 – Marek JASIŃSKI, composer and professor in Bydgoszcz (b. 1949)
  • 23 February 1957 – Stefan ŚLĄZAK, singer, organist, conductor (active in Silesia, b. 1889)
  • 27 February 1831 – Józef KOZLOWSKI, composer (active at the Russian Court in Petersburg, b. 1757)
  • 29 February 2004 – Witold RUDZIŃSKI, composer, music critic and teacher