Polish Music Newsletter Vol. 19, no. 7

Lutosławski Year

 Composer Competition Results

The results of the 2013 Composition Competition for Witold Lutosławski’s 100th Birthday have been announced. Members of the Competition Jury—Luca Francesconi, Kazimierz Kord,Magnus Lindberg, Steven Stucky, Paweł Szymański, and Tadeusz Wielecki—chose the winning compositions from amongst the 160 works from 37 countries that were submitted to the Competition. The Laureates are:

  • 1st PrizeThomas Simaku for the work Concerto for Orchestra— 10,000 € (funded by The Minister of Culture and National Heritage Bogdan Zdrojewski)
  • 2nd PrizeChris Roe for the work Lavoisier’s Mirrors—5,000 € (funded by The Institute of Music and Dance and The Witold Lutosławski Society)
  • 3rd PrizeNatalya Chepelyuk for the work Aria II—3,000 € (funded by The Authors Society ZAiKS)
  • Honourable MentionChikako Yamanaka for the work Signal to Signalless

Simaku’s winning composition will be premiered during the final concert of the “Warsaw Autumn” International Festival of Contemporary Music on September 28, 2013. The 2nd Prize-winning work will be premiered by International Lutosławski Youth Orchestra (ILYO) at the Mieczysław Karłowicz Philharmonic in Szczecin in September 2013 as well.

A press conference announcing the official verdict of the Competition took place on June 24 at the Concert Hall of PWM Edition in Warsaw, and was led by representatives of the different organizing bodies of the Competition: Andrzej Kosowski – Director of The Institute of Music and Dance (IMiT) and responsible for the Lutosławski Year, Jarosław Kutera – Office Director of Witold Lutosławski Society, Grzegorz Michalski – Chairman of The Witold Lutosławski Society, Tomasz Piotrowski – Secretary of Composition Competition for Witold Lutosławski’s 100th Birthday, and Tadeusz Wielecki – composer, jury member, director of “Warsaw Autumn“ International Festival of Contemporary Music.

[Source: lutoslawski.org.pl]

LA Phil & Lutosławski Honored

The Los Angeles Philharmonic’s “Lutosławski: The Symphonies” album—recorded at Walt Disney Concert Hall in December under LA Phil Conductor Laureate Esa-Pekka Salonen’s baton—has won the German Record Critics Award for best Orchestral Music recording.

The German Record Critics Award was established in 1980 to set the “most rigorous standards for supreme achievement and quality” in the field of music recording. See the latest list of award winners at www.schallplattenkritik.de.

[Source: facebook.com]

Lutosławski & Polish Music At Proms

The centenary of Witold Lutosławski will be celebrated at the BBC Proms Music Festival in 2013, and the celebration has inspired a major Polish music strand throughout the festival. The BBC Proms is the world’s biggest and longest-running music festival and features leading international artists and orchestras. Spanning two months in July-September, the 2013 BBC Proms includes more than 90 concerts, mostly at London’s Royal Albert Hall, as well as plethora of daily talks, workshops, performances and family events.

Founded in 1895, the original aim of the Proms was to make the best-quality classical music available to the widest possible audience and that ambition remains central to the festival today. ‘Proms’ is short for Promenade concerts – informal and inexpensive concerts where ‘Promenaders’ stand to listen. The BBC has run the Proms since 1927 and today there are still 1,400 standing places available cheaply for each concert and extensive television, radio and online broadcasting of Proms concert in the UK and abroad.

The Lutosławski celebrations at the BBC Proms is a major highlight of the 2013 festival. They will begin on opening night with a televised concert featuring Sakari Oramo conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra in Lutosławski’sVariations on a Theme by Paganini with pianist Stephen Hough (July 12). The BBC Symphony Orchestra returns with cellist Paul Watkins for Lutosławski’s Cello Concerto on July 17. This concert will be conducted by composer Thomas Adés, who will also include on the program the world premiere of his composition Totentanz, a commission in memory of Lutosławski. Totentanz sets an anonymous 15th-century text that accompanied a frieze destroyed when Lübeck’s Marienkirche was bombed in the Second World War.

On August 7 Edward Gardener conducts the BBC Symphony Orchestra and soloist Louis Lortie in Lutosławski’s Piano Concerto alongside the Symphonic Variations, before Antoni Wit (right) brings the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra to the Proms for the first time in a program that includes Lutosławski’s Concerto for Orchestra (August 23).

Lutosławski’s smaller-scale works are not ignored during the Proms. There will be two concerts at London’s Cadogan Hall, with the first program including the Partita with violinst Vilde Frang and pianist Michail Lifits (July 15). Then Paul Watkins returns on August 24 to conduct the English Chamber Orchestra and tenor Ben Johnson in Paroles tissées in a concert which places the music of Lutosławski alongside the music of Benjamin Britten, whose centenary also falls in 2013.

The Polish strand woven through the 2013 BBC Proms also includes music by Penderecki (August 15), Górecki (September 4), Szymanowski (July 18 & September 2) and Panufnik (August 23), as well as a concert by Paul Van Nevel and his Huelgas Ensemble that shines the spotlight on music from the Polish courts of the Renaissance (July 22). Later, British violinist Nigel Kennedy brings members of his Orchestra of Life from Poland to play alongside the Palestine Strings in a Late Night Prom performance of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons (August 8).

Others highlights of the BBC Proms in 2013 include seven full length Wagner operas (including Daniel Barenboim conducting the first complete Wagner Ring Cycle at the Proms in one summer), a complete Tchaikovsky symphony cycle, major celebrations for Verdi and performances by many of the world’s leading conductors including Sir Andrew Davis, Sir Mark Elder, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Valery Gergiev, Daniel Harding, Lorin Maazel, Sir Antonio Pappano, Yannick Nézét-Seguin, Jonathan Nott, Vasily Petrenko, Robin Ticciati, Xian Zhang and Mariss Jansons. Among the glittering soloists are Joseph Calleja, Joyce Di Donato, Janine Jansen, Nigel Kennedy, Nina Stemme and Mitsuko Uchida.

Polish music at the 2013 Proms:

July 12, 2013
Lutosławski: Variations on a Theme by Paganini

Stephen Hough (piano), BBC Symphony Orchestra/Sakari Oramo

July 15, 2013
Lutosławski: Partita

Vilde Frang (violin), Michail Lifits (piano)

July 17, 2013
Lutosławski: Cello Concerto

Paul Watkins (cello), BBC Symphony Orchestra/Thomas Adès

July 18, 2013
Szymanowski: Symphony No.3 ‘The Song of the Night’

Michael Weinius (tenor), BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales/Thomas Søndergård

July 22, 2013
Music at the Polish Courts of the Renaissance

Huelgas Ensemble/Paul Van Nevel

August 7, 2013
Lutosławski: Symphonic Variations/Piano Concerto

Louis Lortie (piano), BBC Symphony Orchestra/Edward Gardner

August 15, 2013
Penderecki: Concerto grosso

Leonard Elschenbroich, Daniel Müller-Schott, Arto Noras (cellos), Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Charles Dutoit

August 23, 2013
Lutosławski: Concerto for Orchestra & Panufnik: Tragic Overture/Lullaby

Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra/Antoni Wit

August 24, 2013
Lutosławski: Paroles tissées

Ben Johnson (tenor), English Chamber Orchestra/Paul Watkins

September 2, 2013
Szymanowski: Violin Concerto No. 1

Baiba Skride (violin), Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra/Vasily Petrenko

September 4, 2013
Górecki: Symphony No.3, ‘Symphony of Sorrowful Songs’

Ruby Hughes (soprano), BBC Symphony Orchestra/Osmo Vänskä

Full details of all concerts are available at bbc.co.uk/proms.

[Sources: lutoslawski.culture.pl, bbc.co.uk]


 Rochecki Premiere In Toruń

On June 29, the Toruń Symphony Orchestra gave the premiere performance of the Symphonic Suite “Thorunium” by Jędrzej Rochecki—the orchestra’s current composer-in-residence—at the Holy Spirit Church in Toruń. Rochecki’s Symphonic Suite “Thorunium” for soprano, mezzo soprano, tenor, baritone, mixed choir, organ and symphonic orchestra was commissioned as part of Jędrzej Rochecki’s residence at the Toruń Symphony Orchestra. It was performed by Zuzanna Szary (soprano), Kamila Paciorkowska (mezzo soprano), Szymon Roda (tenor), Michał Hajduczenia (baritone), the Astrolabium Choir (preparation: Kinga Litowska) and the Toruń Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Maestro Mirosław Jacek Błaszczyk.

Jędrzej Roch Rochecki was born in Toruń in 1988. Copernicus’ hometown was also where little Jędrzej made his first, yet very versatile, musical endeavors as a violinist, composer and organizer of musical projects. His musical studies in Bydgoszcz and Warsaw expanded his artistic activity even further—he became interested in music direction in film. Upon closer inspection, it is clear to see that composition is the most prominent discipline in Jędrzej Rochecki’s rich output. Yet it is also visible that his composing is influenced by his studies of music direction. Asked about his profession, Rochecki replies that his work is double-tracked. A significant step on Jędrzej’s way back to Toruń was his writing of the Symphonic Suite “Thorunium,” commissioned by the Toruń Symphony Orchestra.

The Institute of Music and Dance (IMiT) was a co-organizer of this comission and its premiere concert, as a part of the 2013 “Composer-in-Residence” program.

[Source: Toruń Symphonic Orchestra, translation by IMiT]

 Warszyński & Šimurdová In Poland

Polish-Canadian pianist, Mikołaj Warszyński, and his wife, Czech-Canadian pianist Zuzana Šimurdová, will be on tour in Poland this summer. They start off their tour in Warsaw, where they will perform a four-hand recital at the Iwaszkiewicz Museum in Warsaw on Sunday, June 30. On the following Sunday, July 7, they will each perform a solo Chopin recital at the Royal Łazienki Park under the Chopin monument. On July 10, Warszyński will perform a recital in his native Gdańsk, as part of the “Chopin by the Motława” series organized by the Baltic Philharmonic.

Sunday, June 30 | 5:00 p.m.
Warszyński-Šimurdová Piano Duo
Iwaszkiewicz Museum
ul. Gołębia 1 05-807 Podkowa Leśna (Warsaw)
Info: stawisko.pl

Sunday, July 7 |noon (Šimurdová)
& 4:00 p.m. (Warszyński)

Solo recitals by Šimurdová & Warszyński
Royal Łazienki Park
Agrykola 1 01-999 Warsaw
Info: tifc.chopin.pl

Wednesday, July 10 | 8:30 p.m.
Solo recital by Warszyński
Baltic Philharmonic
ul. Ołowianka 1 80-751 Gdańsk
Info: filharmonia.gda.pl

[Source: press release]

US Debut of Pueri Cantores

The Polish Federation of the Pueri et Puellae Cantores Plocenses Choir was established in 1998 by Anna and Wiktor Bramski. The choir is a member of the International Federation of Pueri Cantores and today consists of 170 boys and girls between the ages of 7 and 24 from the city of Płock, Poland’s medieval royal seat that lies about 70 miles from the present capital of Warsaw. Over the course of 15 years, this relatively unknown local Cathedral choir from Płock has entered the international stage with performances in the Vatican, Ukraine, France, the Czech Republic, Germany, and other countries. July marks their official debut in the United States, where the choir will perform in Washington, DC and New York.

With a repertoire ranging from liturgical settings, oratorio, and opera to Christmas carols and folk music, the choir collaborates with some of the most renowned Polish cultural institutions such as Teatr Wielki in Warsaw, the National Philharmonic, Sinfonia Varsovia, and the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw. The choir has won numerous awards and distinctions at national and international festivals and competitions, including First Prize in the National Competition for a cappella choirs (2002), Golden Kamerton and the Minister of Culture Award (2002), first prizes at Cantino Lodzenisis (2000, 2002), and the First Prize at the Music Academy of Warsaw Competition (2003).

Below is Pueri Cantores’ US concert schedule (all concerts free and open to the public):

July 3, 3:00pm
Opening Ceremony participation of the XXXVIII International Congress of
Pueri Cantores and Procession Flags
Basilica of the National Shrine – Washington, D.C.

July 4, 11:45am
Opening Ceremony for America’s Independence Day Parade

July 5, 12:00pm
Prayer for Peace
Thomas Jefferson Memorial – Washington, D.C.

July 5, 7:30pm
Evening Gala Concert
St. Patrick’s Church – Washington, D.C.

July 6, 5:15pm
Concluding Mass and Ceremony
Basilica of the National Shrine – Washington, D.C.

July 7, 7:30pm Mass
Church of St. Ignatius Loyola
980 Park Avenue, New York, NY
Tel 212-288-3588

July 9, 12:00pm
St. Paul’s Chapel, Columbia University
1160 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY
Tel 212-854-1487

Pueri et Puellae Cantores Plocenes performances are presented by the Polish Cultural Institute New York, Consulate General of the Republic of Poland, St. Ignatius Loyola Church, and St. Paul’s Chapel at Columbia University.

[Source: press release via polishculture-nyc.org]

‘Days Of Polish Music’ in US, Canada, New Zealand & Australia

The Artistic Association PianoClassic is pleased to present the international concert series “Days of Polish Music” [Dni Muzyki Polskiej], offered with the support of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a part of the “Cooperation with the Polish Diaspora and Poles abroad in 2013” program, and Evola Music. Days of Polish Music is a series of 35 concert performances and 50 music workshops, offered in Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and the United States. The performers are Barbara Borowicz (clarinet), Krzysztof Jabłoński (piano), Marta Magdalena Lelek (violin), Anna Miernik-Sobula (piano), Katarzyna Pasławska (cello), Patrycja Piekutowska (violin), Michał Rosiak (flute), Marian Sobula (piano), Piotr Tomasz (piano), and Wojciech S. Wocław (host).

Days of Polish Music has been organized to present Poland’s diverse and attractive musical heritage through performances and music workshops for young people at select venues in participating countries. The programs of these diverse concerts will be different at each venue, but will include works by I. J. Paderewski, W. Lutosławski, G. Bacewicz, P. Lachert, K. Penderecki, M. Borkowski, J. Bielecki, K. Szymanowski, M. Chryzyński, and F. Chopin, among other composers

Concert dates throughout July and August – for details, visit polishmusicdays.com.

[Sources: press release from the Polish Mission of Orchard Lake, MI; polishmusicdays.com; pianoclassic.pl]

Kosciuszko FDN Chopin Piano Competition

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, with prizes ranging from $1,500 – $5,000.

All applicants for the 2013 Chopin Competition must be between the ages of 16 and 26 as of October, 2013. Deadline for submissions: September 20, 2013.

The Competition will be held on October 11-12, 2013 at the Kosciuszko Foundation House in New York City. This year’s Jury is comprised of: Chairman of the Jury – Prof. Roy Eaton (Manhattan School of Music), Prof. Anna Kijanowska (The College of William and Mary in Virginia), and Prof. Jerome Rose (Mannes College The New School for Music).

For more information and the complete set of rules and repertoire requirements, visit www.thekf.org/programs/competitions/chopin/.

[Sources: facebook.com, thekf.org]

Polish Women on ‘Avant-Garde & Beyond’


As a part of his regular series on CJSR Radio 88.5 FM in Edmonton, Alberta, Polish-Canadian composer Piotr Grella-Możejko presents the 107th episode of “Avant-garde & Beyond” on July 4,, 2013. According to Grella-Możejko:

This brand new episode centers on the music of four amazing Polish women composers: Grażyna Bacewicz (1909-1969), Marta Ptaszyńska (b. 1943), Hanna Kulenty (b. 1961), and Olga Hans (b. 1971). Each of them represents different style(s), but their music has one facet in common, i.e. unusual expressive power combined with first-class craftsmanship. These are no ordinary composers. They are true and outstanding artists who have created a large body of internationally admired music.

[Sources: press release, facebook.com]

KF Benefit Recital

The Kosciuszko Foundation presents a vocal recital with the winner of the 2012 KF Marcella Sembrich Voice Competition, tenor Viktor Antipenko (pictured at left) and pianist Alexandre Tchaplinsky. In the honor of the anniversaries of two great composers this year, the artists will present a special theme of the concert: “Verdi and Wagner. The Unity of Opposites.” The recital is a benefit concert supporting the Kosciuszko Foundation Cultural Fund.

Thursday, July 25, 2013 | 7:00pm
Verdi and Wagner. The Unity of Opposites
Kosciuszko Foundation House
15 East 65th Street, New York, NY 10065

[Source: thekf.org]


Golden Orpheus & Gloria Artis For Polish Opera

On June 25, 2013, the Académie du Disque Lyrique gave out its Golden Orpheus Awards at the Théâtre Châtelet in Paris. The ceremony was led by Pierre Bergé, honorary president of the Paris Opera. The jury—composed of musicologists, critics and people associated with the art of vocal recordings—recognized two Polish operas produced by the Polish label DUX with the 2013 Award:

  • Golden Orpheus Award in the category of “Lyrical Prestige of Europe”: Madame Curie by Elżbieta Sikora (Opera Bałtycka/NInA/DUX) – award received by Elżbieta Sikora, composer and Danuta Grochowska, deputy director of the Baltic Opera
  • Golden Orpheus Award in the category of “Best lyrical audiovisual initiative”: Manru by Ignacy Jan Paderewski (Opera Nova Bydgoszcz/DUX) – award received by Maciej Figas, director of the Opera Nova in Bydgoszcz.

2013 is a very special year for Elżbieta Sikora, who celebrates her 70th birthday this year. The day before the ceremony at the Théâtre Châtelet, the composer was decorated with the “Gloria Artis” medal of the Republic of Poland, granted by the Minister of Culture and National Heritage Bogdan Zdrojewski and presented by Ambassador Tomasz Orlowski. The ceremony took place on June 24 in the Polish Embassy in Paris, in the presence of the wife of the Prime Minister of France, Brigitte Ayrault.

Composed in 2011 to a libretto by Agata Miklaszewska, Sikora’s Madame Curie is a biographical opera devoted to Polish scientist and Nobel prize winner Maria Skłodowska-Curie. The opera was commissioned by the Opera Bałtycka [Baltic Opera] in Gdańsk under the project Opera Gedanesis. Premiered on November 15, 2011 at the UNESCO hall in Paris, Madame Curie was produced by the Baltic Opera and the Polish Institute in Paris, and the Polish premiere took place on November 25 at the Baltic Opera. The opera’s music director is Wojciech Michniewski, its director – Marek Weiss, with stage design by Hanna Szymczak, choreography by Izadora Weiss, and lighting by Piotr Miszkiewicz. Starring in the premiere were Anna Mikołajczyk as Maria Skłodowska-Curie, Paweł Skałuba as Pierre Curie, Tomasz Rak as Paul Langevin and Leszek Skrla as Einstein. The soloists were accompanied by the Choir and Orchestra of the Baltic Opera under Wojciech Michniewski. Electro-acoustic fragments were composed by Elżbieta Sikora in cooperation with Diego Losa at INA/GRM, Paris. The opera celebrated the International Year of Chemistry 2011 and the centenary of Maria Skłodowska-Curie’s Nobel Prize, as part of the Foreign Cultural Programme of the Polish Presidency in the EU Council.

In 2012 the opera received a nomination in the Polish music industry awards “Koryfeusz Muzyki Polskiej” as The Event of the Year.

Ignacy Jan Paderewski’s only opera, Manru, was set to a libretto written by Alfred Nossig based on the J.I. Kraszewski novel Chata za wsią. Premiered in 1901 in Dresden, Manru then moved on to the most important stages of Europe and, in 1902, was invited to the Metropolitan Opera in New York as the only Polish opera to ever be staged in this prestigious venue. Although after World War II Manru was presented only occasionally, it is a work that deserves an important place in Polish musical culture. Based on a story of impossible love between a mountaineer named Ulany and a gypsy woman named Manru, the opera unfolds as more than just a typical nineteenth-century melodrama, exploring the universal themes of prejudice and cultural alienation among people living in close proximity. Also, the music of Manru cannot be easily classified as inspired by Wagnerian style and seems to go far beyond its time. Manru is truly an opera of modern man living in a modern world, where ethnic tensions are still destroying the lives of individuals.

This first Polish DVD edition of Manru is based on the 2006 staging created by Opera Nova in Bydgoszcz. The production was conducted by Maciej Figas and directed by Laco Adamik. Soloists are: Janusz Ratajczak (Manru), Wioletta Chodowicz (Ulana), Barbara Krahel (Jadwiga), Leszek Skrla (Urok), Monika Ledzion (Aza), Jacek Greszta (Oroś), and Łukasz Goliński (Jagu), performing with the Choir, Ballet and Orchestra of the Opera Nova in Bydgoszcz

[Sources: imit.org.pl, polmic.pl, nina.gov.pl, dux.pl ]

Beczała Honored

Outstanding Polish tenor Piotr Beczała has received the Annual Award of the Polish Minister of Culture and National Heritage in the category of music. The Award Committee recognized the artist for numerous operatic roles, including Rodolfo (La Bohème), Alfredo Germont (La Traviata), Duke of Mantua (Rigoletto) and Werther (Werther). The Awards Gala was held on June 25, 2013, at the Royal Castle in Warsaw.

The Annual Award of the Minister have been granted since 1997 to artists, designers and animators of culture in recognition of a career as a whole or for outstanding achievement in a given year in the area they represent. This prestigious award allows the Minister of Culture and National Heritage to highlight the most important trends and phenomena occurring in Polish culture by honoring the people who create them.

[Sources: polmic.pl, mkidn.gov.pl]

Szymanowski Award For Szmytka

The phenomenal soprano Elżbieta Szmytka was given the Karol Szymanowski Award in the Kraków Radio Studio on April 29. The award for outstanding musical achievements related to the composer’s works was given to Elżbieta Szmytka by the chairman of the Karol Szymanowski’s Foundation, Witold Juchniewicz.

The ceremony was also an occasion to promote the third album connected to the Festival of Polish Music, which is a recording of the program of the final concert from the 2012 edition of the Festival. The album features Szmyt­ka and pianist Le­ven­te Ken­de, presenting songs by Szymanowski and Karłowicz.

[Source: fmp.org.p]


2013 Festival Of Polish Music

The 9th Festival of Polish Music (FPM) will take place in Kraków during two weekends: from July 12-14 and July 19-21, 2013. The numerical sequence of this year’s theme—“13/23/33”—indicates the jubilee birthday dates of Witold Lutosławski (1913), Stanisław Skrowaczewski (1923), Krzysztof Penderecki, Zbigniew Bujarski and Henryk Mikołaj Górecki (1933), the patrons of the July concerts.

This year’s edition of the Festival includes ten concerts that present the achievements of Polish and European composers, illustrate the creativity of Poles within an international context, and show the interdependence forming within the pan-European culture of music.

The festival’s inauguration on July 12 will include a performance of the soprano Olga Pasiecznik, accompanied by Sinfonia Iuventus under the baton of Michał Nesterowicz, presenting several works by Lutosławski and Uwertura 1947 [Overture 1947] by Skrowaczewski. The following day, Heinz and Ursula Holliger together with Sinfonietta Cracovia led by Robert Kabara will present the compositions of the most outstanding Polish composers of the 20th century. The first Saturday of the Festival will end with a performance of the expressionist opera Hagith by Karol Szymanowski. In the title role, audiences will hear the Slovenian soprano Urška Arlič Gololičič, joined by the Kraków Festival Orchestra and the Polish Radio Choir conducted by Bassem Akiki. The first weekend of the Festival will close with a recital of Chopin’s music given by the Korean pianist Seong-Jin Cho and the chamber music concert including the works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Józef Elsner and Zygmunt Noskowski performed by the Scultore Ensemble made up of musicians connected with the Capella Cracoviensis.

On Friday, June 19, the famous Collegium 1704—a Prague-based ensemble dedicated to ancient music—will present a fascinating program of religious works by Marcin Mielczewski, Grzegorz Gerwazy Gorczycki and the Czech composer Jan Dismas Zelenka, who worked at the court of August II the Strong in Drezden. The Bern Contemporary Orchestra under the direction of Pavel Šnajder will perform on July 20 with a program of contrasting works by Henryk Mikołaj Górecki and Witold Lutosławski set against the pieces by Gÿorgy Ligeti and Benjamin Britten. The second weekend of the Festival will feature an important performance by Evgeni Bozhanov, who demonstrated his talent during the controversial Chopin Competition in 2010. The pianist will perform works by Chopin. The last day of the festival will include a chamber music recital given by Janusz Wawrowski, violin, and José Gallardo, piano, who will present the music of Karol Szymanowski, Mieczysław Weinberg, Witold Lutosławski and Henryk Wieniawski, a program based partially on their recent EMI release. A symphonic concert held in the church of St Katherine will close the 9th edition of the FPM, with a program consisting of Credo by Krzysztof Penderecki performed by the K. Szymanowski Philharmonic Choir, The Boys Choir Pueri Cantores Sancti Nicolai, and Sinfonia Iuventus led by Maciej Tworek and five soloists.

[Sources: polmic.pl; fmp.org.pl]

Musical Gardens Celebrates Lithuania & Lutosławski

On July 1, 2013, Lithuania assumed the presidency of the European Union. 2013 is also a year of important Polish musical jubilees: 100th birthday of Witold Lutosławski and anniversaries for Richard Wagner and Giuseppe Verdi. The 13th edition of Ogrody Muzyczne [Musical Gardens] which will take place from June 30 until July 9, 2013, is dedicated to Lithuanian music and culture, which is both nearby and yet unknown, as well as these musical anniversaries. The festival will illustrate the childhood of famous Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz through the main musical theme of: Litwo, ojczyzno moja/Tėvyne Lietuva… [Lithuania, my country]

During the Festival, audiences will hear the Aidija Choir in a program connecting traditional and contemporary Lithuanian music, the Saint Christopher Chamber Orchestra from Wilnus and the remarkable Lithuanian pianist and laureate of the Chopin Competition, Lukas Geniušas, in a recital featuring Sergei Rachmaninoff’s music. The program of the Festival will also feature a unique spectacle using the newest visual and sound techniques called “Sandglasses,” which has gained success all around the world. Works by the most prominent Lithuanian composer of the 20th century, Mikalojus Čiurlionis, as well as composer Bronius Kutavičius will be also presented during the Festival.

The second theme of the Musical Gardens Festival presents the works of Witold Lutosławski for the composer’s 100th Birthday. The most eminent Polish composer after Chopin and Szymanowski, Lutosławski’s works are still worthy of more profound exploration. His art is recognized in the world as one of the most important accomplishments of 20th century music. The four concerts dedicated to Lutosławski’s music will explore various aspects of his rich creativity—focusing on vocal music, electronic enhancements, ethnic themes and interactive staging—and will be performed by today’s most outstanding interpreters: Olga Pasiecznik, Andrzej Bauer, Kwadrofonik ensemble and Maria Pomianowska’s Polish Ensemble.

The Musical Gardens will conclude with a performance of pioneer Italian soloists exploring the repertoire of the most popular musical hits from Italian films. The Nino Rota Ensemble will perform melodies from movies by Fellini and Antonioni as well as many others.

[Sources: polmic.pl, ogrodymuzyczne.pl]

Polish Colors In Łódź

From June 22 to August 31, 2013, the 14th edition of the Łódź Philharmonic’s “Kolory Polski” [Polish Colors] Festival will present concerts of jazz, classical, baroque, film, musical, folk, Jewish, electronic, Balkan and góral music, to mention a few, in the most beautiful places of the Łódź region. There will be works from different genres and epochs performed in numerous venues selected for their historical value as well as their atmosphere.

Listeners will hear the Łódź Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir, Krzysztof and Jakub Jakowicz, ‘Vołosi’ and ‘Très.b’ ensembles, ‘Wielbłądy’, ‘Sentido del Tango’ ensemble together with dancers from the cultural center ‘TangoŁódź,’ and the gifted voices of Beata Przybytek and the charismatic Megitza. During the summer weekends of the Festival, concerts will be heard throughout the surrounding areas of Łódź, starting with Sieradz and moving to Tomaszów Mazowiecki, from Zelowo to Łowicz, and the musical voyage will finish at the grand finale in Wieluń.

Admission to all events is free.

[Sources: polmic.pl; kolorypolski.pl]

Polish Festival Seattle

The Polish-American community is proud to present the second edition of the Polish Festival Seattle, a celebration and sharing of Polish culture and traditions in a joyful atmosphere of multi-generational audiences in greater Seattle. This year’s program will feature performances of classical, folk, jazz, and contemporary music and dance on two stages. Cultural workshops and demos, ranging from cutout paper art to pierogi making and preparing traditional pickle soup, will also be presented, as well as a Folk Fashion Show and historical exhibits of memorabilia honoring Polish achievements and local living legends. Merchandise booths and Polish food vendors will also be available.

More information and a full program of the Polish Festival Seattle is available at www.polishfestivalseattle.org, or on Facebook and Twitter. The Polish Festival is organized by local Polish American community in collaboration with Seattle Center and produced by Polish Home Foundation (PHF), a nonprofit 501 (c)3 organization. For more information please contact info@polishfestivalseattle.org and write to 1714 18th Avenue Seattle, WA 98122. To receive regular updates about Polish events in Seattle, email editor@polishnewsseattle.com or visit Seattle Polish News.

Saturday, July 13, 2013 | 11:00 am to 9:00 pm
2nd Polish Festival in Seattle
The Seattle Center – Armory Bldg. & Fisher Pavilion Rooftop
201 Mercer St., Seattle WA 98109
Info: www.polishfestivalseattle.org

[Sources: press release, polishfestivalseattle.org]

Summer Music Festival In Wieliczka

On July 6, Massimiliano Caldi and Jerzy Sobeńko will conduct the Beethoven Academy Orchestra in a special concert entitled “More Polish Music,” which will inaugurate the Summer Music Festival, held at the Saltworks Castle in the Wieliczka Salt Mine outside of Kraków from Jul -14, 2013. The program of the inaugural concert includes: Zygmunt Noskowski – The Steppe symphonic poem, Modest Mussorgsky – Pictures at an Exhibition (arr. M. Ravel), and Jerzy Sobeńko – Polish Film Melodies Suite. Jolanta Suder will provide introductory remarks before the concert, and Jacek Cygan will be the narrator.

Other concerts during the Festival include a violin/piano recital performed by Marcin Król – violin and Milena Kędra – piano as well as concerts for children and an exhibition of Ukrainian ethnic music. For a full listing of concerts during the Summer Music Festival, visit cracow.travel.

July 6, 2013 | 7:00 pm
More Polish Music concert
Saltworks Castle – Wieliczka Salt Mine
Info: straussowskie.pl

[Sources: beethoven.org.pl, cracow.travel]


Debut Recording: My Polish Diary

My Polish Diary
Frederic Chopin: Variations brillantes on “Je vends des scapulaires” from Herold’s Ludovic, Op. 12; Juliusz Zarębski: Les roses et les epines, Op. 13; Karol Szymanowski: Maski, Op. 34; Ignacy Jan Paderewski: Caprice from Humoresques de concert, Op. 14, No. 3 and Nocturne in B-flat major from Miscellanea, Op. 16, No. 4; Witold Lutosławski: Two Studies
Kiryl Keduk, piano
Delos DE3432

“My Polish Diary” represents the personal musical journey of emerging pianist Kiryl Keduk. Born in Belarus, Keduk has been a pupil of Waldemar Wojtal at the Music Academy in Gdańsk and Piotr Paleczny at the Frederic Chopin University of Music in Warsaw; he will soon embark upon the prestigious International Artist Diploma Course at the Royal Northern College of Music. In his debut CD, Keduk offers a fascinating and well-chosen program of highly worthwhile yet rarely heard works by five Polish composers of the Romantic era and the twentieth century: Chopin, Zarębski, Szymanowski, Paderewski, and Lutosławski.

According to composer and reviewer Mark Abel:

Keduk’s recording brings Delos full circle, in a way. One of the company’s very first releases was Carol Rosenberger’s 1973 traversal of Szymanowski, a great composer fallen victim to a criminal neglect after World War II. It would not be far wrong to point to Rosenberger’s lonely LP as the beginning of the reassessment of Szymanowski. These days his rank is finally approaching the level he deserves—as among the early 20th century’s most significant composers.

[Sources: naxos.com, delosmusic.com]

Janowski – Legend

“Piotr Janowski – Legend” (3 CDs)
CD 1: Live recordings from the V International Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition (1967); CD 2: Recordings from the archives of Polish Radio; CD 3: Live recordings from America
Piotr Janowski, violin
Piotr Janowski Foundation

On June 27, a special three-disc CD set dedicated to the legacy of violinist Piotr Janowski was premiered at the Chopin Institute Conference Hall in Warsaw. The set contains Janowski’s recordings from the fifth International Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition in 1967, the archives of the Polish Radio, and recordings from performances in the US. The accompanying album booklet includes, among others, Janowski’s texts devoted to Henryk Wieniawski and his compositions. The selection of texts and recordings were made ​​ Joanna Maklakiewicz, the wife of the late Janowski.

[Sources: chopin.nifc.pl, piotr-janowski.pl, wieniawski.pl]

New NIFC CD Series: Debuts

Chopin – Marek Bracha
Fryderyk Chopin [1810–1849]: Ecossaises, Op. 72; Polonaise in A flat major, Op. 53; Mazurkas, Op. 17; Mazurkas, Op. 68; Ballade in G minor, Op. 23; Waltzes, Op. 34; Polonaise in F sharp minor, Op. 44
Marek Bracha, piano

A CD by young talented pianist Marek Bracha opens a new recording series of the Fryderyk Chopin Institute, entitled “Debuts.” It is the effect of the Institute’s concern for the most gifted young pianists and the first task being accomplished by the Department for Promotion of Young Talents founded within the Institute. The album was recorded in the Witold Lutosławski Concert Studio of Polish Radio in Warsaw in October 2012.

[Sources: beethoven.org.pl, chopin.nifc.pl]

Augustyn Performs Premiere Recording

Michael White Trio Sonata [World Premiere Recording]
Michael White: Trio Sonata (2008) for Violin, Harpsichord and Flute
Kinga Augustyn, violin; Alexandra Snyder Dunbar, harpsichord; Jecca Barry, flute

American composer and Juilliard professor Michael White wrote his Trio Sonata for the award winning Polish violinist Kinga Augustyn, whose playing has been described as “stylish and vibrant” (The Strad), and for the highly accomplished harpsichordist Alexandra Snyder Dunbar. They were joined by flautist Jecca Barry for this world premiere recording.

According to the composer:

The Trio Sonata was a very popular genre born in the Baroque period. Composers from many different countries wrote for this chamber ensemble, usually made up of two violins, cello, and harpsichord. Four contrasting movements were the norm, often arranged as slow – fast – slow – fast. Finally, the famous composers of these works (Bach, Corelli, Couperin, etc.) always tried to create a balance between serious counterpoint and lyrical expression.

Taking all these elements into consideration, I have tried to emulate the Baroque Trio Sonata here — along with some 21rst century modifications. For example, instead of using two violins I have chosen a violin and a flute as the melodic instruments. I have eliminated the cello, but I kept the most essential instrument of that older era — the harpsichord. The most obvious differences that the listener will perceive are found in the harmonies and rhythms of our own time. Otherwise, if I have been at all successful, the listener will hear a “modern” version of this popular 18th century genre.

[Sources: press release, cdbaby.com]

CD Review & Personality Profile

Felicja Blumenthal and Karol Szymanowski

By Gary Fitelberg

The Spirit of Poland (2008)
Brana Records BR0030

The Brana Record Label is completely devoted to preserving the legacy of music of Polish pianist Felicja Blumenthal. Two of the many recordings (nearly forty) on the label feature composer Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937). These include The Spirit of Poland – Szymanowski and Chopin and The Spinning Girl – Piano works by Moniuszko, Szymanowski, Kuhlau, Villa-Lobos and others.

According to the Brana Records website:

On The Spirit of Poland, Pianist Felicja Blumental explores the vibrant repertoire of Karol Szymanowski (who taught the young Blumental composition) and fellow Pole Fryderyk Chopin, whose music was a fundamental part of Felicja Blumental’s recording career which brought her great acclaim.

That the music of Chopin played a fundamental part in the recording studio and concert platform for Felicja Blumental should barely come as a surprise. As a fellow Pole, and a student at the National Conservatory, she was steeped in the music of her native land through her piano teachers Zbigniew Drzewiecki, Joseph Goldberg and Stefan Askenase, later bolstering these studies with the noted Chopin expert Józef Turczynski. The only other stellar Polish composer missing from this list is Karol Szymanowski, who taught the young Blumental composition.

On the collection entitled The Spirit of Poland, Karol Szymanowski’s Symphony No. 4 for piano and Orchestra “Symphonie Concertante”, Op. 60 features Blumenthal with Kazmierz Kord conducting the Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra of Katowice. Also highlighted are his Variations for Piano in B flat minor, Op. 3. Chopin’s Piano Concerto in F minor, Op. 21 concludes this delightful recording.

The Spinning Girl (2005)
Brana Records BR0014

Also performed by Felicja Blumental, the solo piano collection entitled The Spinning Girl includes piano rarities such as Moniuszko’s Spinning Girl, Szymanowski’s Etudes and Preludes, Kabalewski and Kuhlau’s Sonatines and Villa-Lobos’ The Three Maries, among others.

Felicja Blumental (1908-1991), daughter of a violinist, was born into a musical family in Warsaw, Poland on December 28, 1908. She appeared with orchestras throughout Europe (the Philharmonia, the RPO, the LPO, LSO and Scottish National Orchestra) and her appearances in South and North America brought her further acclaim. While she was greatly admired for her interpretations of Chopin and Mozart, Felicja Blumental made a specialty of music outside the regular repertory, particularly from the late 18th and early 19th centuries. She recorded works for piano and orchestra by Clementi, Field, Kozeluch, Czerny, Hummel, Ries and Paderewski, among others, as well as the piano version of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto.

When Krzysztof Penderecki was commissioned to create a new work to mark the 25th anniversary of the Eastman School of Music, he wrote the Partita for Harpsichord and Orchestra, which he dedicated to Ms. Blumental. The work was played worldwide by Ms. Blumental some 50 times with the composer conducting. In 1978 Witold Lutosławski orchestrated his Variations on a Theme of Paganini for Felicja Blumental, which she premiered with the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Brian Priestmann. She was also greatly admired by notable 20th century composers who wrote pieces especially for her. Brazil’s leading composer, Heitor Villa-Lobos, dedicated his Fifth Piano Concerto to Ms. Blumental, which she performed under the composer’s baton with the leading orchestras of Europe and recorded for EMI in Paris with the Orchestre National. Many of these recordings are now restored on Brana Records and all CD covers feature the fine art prints of her husband, Markus Mizne.

In 1999, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel’s most dynamic cultural center, named its prestigious International Music Festival after her.

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

[Sources branarecords.com]


Born This Month

  • July 04, 1904 – Artur MALAWSKI, composer (d. 1957)
  • July 06, 1837 – Władysław ŻELEŃSKI, composer (also a doctor of philosophy, d.1921)
  • July 09, 1931 – Eugeniusz KNAPIK, composer
  • July 10, 1936 – Jan Wincenty HAWEL, composer and conductor
  • July 10, 1835 – Henryk WIENIAWSKI, violin virtuoso & composer (d. 1880, Moscow)
  • July 10, 1929 – Tadeusz STRUMIŁŁO, musicologist (d. 1956)
  • July 13, 1775 – Antoni Henryk RADZIWIŁŁ, composer, cellist, patron of arts (d. 1833)
  • July 14, 1926 – Jan KRENZ, conductor & composer
  • July 16, 1947 – Grażyna PSTROKOŃSKA-NAWRATIL, composer
  • July 17, 1932 – Wojciech KILAR, composer
  • July 22, 1930 – Leoncjusz CIUCIURA, composer
  • July 23, 1884 – Apolinary SZELUTO, composer, member of Młoda Polska [Young Poland] group (d. 1966)
  • July 26, 1928 – Tadeusz BAIRD, composer (d. 1982)
  • July 26, 1922 – Andrzej KOSZEWSKI, composer (choral music)
  • July 29, 1943 – Marta PTASZYŃSKA, composer & percussionist
  • July 31, 1810 – Julian FONTANA, close friend and musical associate of Chopin (d.1869)


Died This Month

  • July 1, 2001 – Halina CZERNY-STEFANSKA (b. 1922), pianist
  • July 6, 1911 – Kazimierz HOFMANN (b. 1842), pianist, composer, and father of the renowned virtuoso and director of Curtis Institute, Józef Hofmann
  • July 8, 1906 – Franciszek BORNIK (b. 1870), priest, conductor, writer
  • July 21, 1964 – Zygmunt SITOWSKI (b. 1906), musicologist
  • July 23, 1829 – Wojciech BOGUSŁAWSKI (b. 1757), the first theatre director in Poland, the author of several opera libretti (set by J. Stefani and J. Elsner)
  • July 23, 1909 – Zygmunt NOSKOWSKI (b. 1846), composer, pedagogue and conductor
  • July 25, 1831 – Maria SZYMANOWSKA (b. 1789), pianist and composer