Saturday, April 6, 2013 | 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Ahmanson Center, Room 236
3616 Trousdale Pkwy, Los Angeles, CA
Registration fee: $25
Includes: Entrance to all presentations, film screenings, exhibits and concerts; Breakfast and lunch

Concert with Leszek Możdżer: 4:00 p.m.
Alfred Newman Recital Hall, USC (see NRH on campus map)
Admission: FREE
Campus parking: $10 [Parking Structure X – enter USC Gate #3 at McCarthy Way & Figueroa St.]

Upcoming Conference & Concert: April 6

From PMC Newsletter February 2013

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

Sounds From Behind The Iron Curtain: PMC Conference, Concert & Manuscript Exhibit

From PMC Newsletter March 2013


The Polish Music Center (PMC) at USC’s Thornton School of Music in Los Angeles is pleased to present “Sounds from Behind the Iron Curtain: Polish Music after World War II”—a day-long event held on April 6, 2013 at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. It will include a Musicology and Digital Humanities Conference, a piano recital by Leszek Możdżer, and an exhibit of manuscripts by contemporary Polish composers, culled from the Manuscript Collection of the Polish Music Center.

CONFERENCE: 9 a.m.-3 p.m. (Ahmanson Center, Room 238, USC)

The conference “Sounds from Behind the Iron Curtain: Polish Music after World War II” will bring together musicologists and cultural historians in a vivid conversation exploring the development of Polish music since 1945. Presentations will focus on the relation of music to politics, identity, and the reception of Western composers in Poland under Socialist Realism and during the Solidarity era. The conference program will also include film screenings and will be streamed live online for viewers around the world.

CONCERT BY LESZEK MOŻDŻER: 4 p.m. (Alfred Newman Recital Hall, USC)

A piano recital celebrating the centenary of Witold Lutosławski’s birth will feature internationally renowned jazz pianist, Leszek Możdżer. His unique position as a jazz pianist is in part due to his enduring interest in music by a wide spectrum of contemporary Polish composers. They include jazz greats, like Krzysztof Komeda (1931-1969), film music composers like Zbigniew Preisner (b. 1955) or Jan A.P. Kaczmarek (b. 1953), and such towering figures in the history of Polish classical music as Witold Lutosławski (1913-1994).

Leszek Możdżer explores and reinterprets the music of his illustrious predecessors and colleagues using his own unique, pioneering style that fuses classics and jazz and breathes new life into well-known repertoire. Możdżer’s musical genius lies in his uncanny ability to focus on the salient features of a chosen style and invest them with a unique sound identity that melds the jazz and classical avant-garde traditions. Możdżer’s artistry is an interesting reflection of how Polish musicians have reinterpreted a genre that is native to America.

MANUSCRIPT EXHIBIT: 3-6 p.m. (Alfred Newman Recital Hall Vestibule, USC)

Selected manuscripts from the Polish Music Center’s Manuscript Collection will be presented to the public after the conference. The PMC Manuscript Collection was established with an initial donation of five major orchestral works by Witold Lutosławski, personally deposited by the composer in 1985 at the founding of the PMC. The exhibit will include Lutosławski’s manuscripts as well as Krzysztof Meyer’s opera Cyberiada and Krzysztof Penderecki’s String Quartet, and other highlights of contemporary Polish music.

Registration for the conference is $25, and includes entrance to all presentations and film screenings, as well as breakfast and lunch. To register, email Admission to the concert and manuscript exhibit is free.

View the Conference online via webcast at USC’s Mediasite

Conference presentors were chosen by a distinguished committee of scholars: Ewelina Boczkowska (Dana School of Music, Youngstown State University), Lisa Jakelski (Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester), and Renata Suchowiejko (Instytut Muzykologii, Jagiellonian University).

Schedule Of The Day

9:00 a.m.
Refreshments & Opening Remarks

9:30 a.m.
Renata Pasternak-Mazur (Rutgers University)
“Sound Spaces: Official, Unofficial, and In-Between Repertoires in Socialist Poland”

10:00 a.m.
Kurt Nelson (New York University)
“Tadeusz Baird and the Cultural Thaw of the 1950s”

10:45 a.m.
Lisa Cooper 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’”

11:15 a.m.
Cindy Bylander
“Charles Ives and the Stalowa Wola Festival: Inspirations and Legacies”

12:00 noon
Film screening: Lutosławski at USC

12:30 p.m.
Lunch for presenters and registered guests

1:00 p.m.
Andrea Bohlman (University of Pennsylvania)
“Listening with the Polish Opposition in the 1980s”
[Due to copyright concerns, this presentation will not be available during the online webcast]

1:30 p.m.
Paulina Piędzia Colón (Graduate Center, CUNY)
“John Paul II, the Revolution of the Spirit, and Joanna Bruzdowicz’s Sonate d’Octobre

2:15 p.m.
Marta Marciniak (University at Buffalo, SUNY)
“’Star Wars, or You Can Have Anything!’: Polish punk and the Politics of Everyday Life during the Cold War Era”

2:45 p.m.
Film screenings: TBA


3:00 p.m.
Manuscript exhibit open from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m.

4:00 p.m.
Piano recital by Leszek Możdżer

Event sponsors:

Media partners:

Polish Modernism And Możdżer

From PMC Newsletter April 2013

Developments in Polish music since 1945 was the main subject of an all-day conference, “Sounds from Behind the Iron Curtain: Polish Music after World War II,” organized by the PMC and held at USC on April 6. Several scholars from across the United States and Poland participated— Renata Pasternak-Mazur (Rutgers University), Kurt Nelson (New York University), Lisa Cooper Vest (Indiana University, Bloomington), Cindy Bylander, Andrea Bohlman (University of Pennsylvania), Paulina Piędzia Colón (Graduate Center, CUNY), and Marta Marciniak (University at Buffalo, SUNY)—delivering their papers in person or via Skype. Several fascinating subject areas were examined, including the influence of socialist realism on the Polish musical scene in the 1950s, the reception of Western composers in Poland, Polish music during the transition years of the 1970s and the 1980s, and the influence of punk music on the political and cultural climate during the Cold War era.

Leszek Możdżer in Alfred Newman Hall at USC with his manager, Sylwia Kicka (left), and Consul for Culture Małgorzata Cup (right)

Musicologists Ewelina Boczkowska of Youngstown State University and Eva Sobolevski of L.A. Opera developed the concept of the conference and organized the recruitment of scholars. Maria Peryt, a musicologist from the Chopin University in Warsaw who was visiting Los Angeles, provided additional assistance and contacts to media partners in Poland.

If you were unable to attend the conference and would like to view the contents, please visit:

Following the conference, Leszek Możdżer gave a brilliant and mesmerizing solo recital at USC’s Alfred Newman Recital Hall. Celebrating the centenary of Witold Lutosławski, he opened his program with a bravura rendition of Lutosławski’s Second Etude for Piano and followed with his unique take on music by several other contemporary Polish composers as well as Chopin. The medium of jazz proved a perfect accompaniment and a fitting close to the conference, since Polish jazz with its embrace of the avant-garde strongly shaped the artistic response to the political situation in Poland in the post-World War II era.  The concert was co-sponsored by the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Los Angeles.

In addition to the concert and the conference, selected manuscripts by Witold Lutosławski, Tadeusz Baird, Joanna Bruzdowicz, Krzysztof Meyer, and Krzysztof Penderecki were on display at the Newman corridor. Culled from the unprecedented collection of manuscripts given to the Polish Music Center by the composers and their families, these precious documents are a terrific object for further study and analysis of what made Polish music of the post-World War II era such a cherished and world-famous phenomenon.

A section of the manuscript exhibit, dedicated to some of Witold Lutosławski’s most important orchestral works