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Dear Friends of the Polish Music Center,

Before sharing the annual PMC summary and our latest news, we would first like to express hope that you and your family have not suffered any hardships or ill health during the long months of the pandemic. It has been a truly extraordinary year in almost every respect and—like you and many others all around the world—we had to make many radical adjustments to our daily routines in order to maintain the PMC’s operations.

The year 2020 began very well for us as we prepared for our Spring Concert in late March with a program of world premieres by the Cracow Duo, two superb instrumentalists from Poland. This concert was also to mark the official celebration of a transformative gift to the PMC made by Dianne and Tad Taube through Taube Philanthropies, which will partially cover digitizing the most urgent and fragile items in our collections. According to the official USC estimate, this task will require a minimum of eight million dollars, in addition to running maintenance and storage costs. However, after USC and the State of California ordered a lockdown, we had to postpone our Spring Concert and endowment gift celebrations to early September. In August, the 2020 Spring Concert was moved to March 2021, but since spring 2021 concerts at USC are now also cancelled, our celebration of the Taube’s gift remains on hold.

The show must go on(line)…

October is the month of our Paderewski Lecture-Recital, held annually since 2001. This year we planned a collaboration with the Oregon Music Festival and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra on the world premieres of works by Wojciech Błażejczyk and Paweł Mykietyn, who were commissioned by the Oregon Festival. Planned for October 11, this event is currently rescheduled for October 2021.

Krzysztof MeyerUndeterred, we still wanted to hold the Paderewski Lecture this year by reaching our public virtually with a different program, and contacted renowned composer Krzysztof Meyer (right) with a request for a video interview. In late August, we recorded a Zoom conversation with him and his wife, Danuta Gwizdalanka. They spoke to us in Polish from their residence in Germany on a number of truly fascinating topics. After six weeks of editing, audio clean up, translation and English subtitles, we broadcasted this interview on the ThorntonLive platform on October 11. The 2020 Paderewski Lecture attracted 752 viewers worldwide, mostly from the U.S., but also from Canada, Poland, Brazil, Hong Kong, Russia, India, Germany, Singapore, Romania, Republic of South Korea, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Finland, Italy, Switzerland, United Kingdom, South Africa, Taiwan, Philippines and Spain. The Paderewski Lecture is now available on the PMC YouTube Channel.

Another year-round project for us is the Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles. Concerts, lectures and other accompanying events planned for early November had to migrate into the virtual realm this year. The Paderewski Festival Youth Competition auditions took place in mid-October by video. Performances by student winners were edited into a program with title cards and information about their repertoire. These young pianists can be seen on the Paderewski Festival Paso Robles YouTube channel.

Scheduled for November 6, the Paderewski Festival Gala Concert was also an online event. Pianist Adam Żukiewicz (left), professor at the Northern Colorado University in Greeley, presented works by Beethoven, Paderewski, Chopin, Gershwin and Oscar Peterson, celebrating Paderewski’s 160th birthday in a livestream broadcast. Filled with insightful interpretation, the 2020 Paderewski Gala Concert is available on the Festival’s YouTube, listed above. Additional information and the Festival program booklet is at: www.paderewskifest.com

For other events we co-organized and supported this year, please check out our Events section.

Collections expand, even in quarantine…

From mid-March until the end of August, the PMC operated remotely. Since September 1, we have been on campus one day per week, subject to USC restrictions. Although this affects the scope of our operations, we have nonetheless sent film scores and books in our Kaper Collection to be digitized by the world-class USC Digital Repository. We were also able to collect and process music manuscripts, books, correspondence, personal photos, and scores of Polish music published in the U.S. during the years 1910-1950 that were donated to us during the past few months and will join our growing Ossowski, Bacewicz-Fierro, and Levin collections.

During this year, we were also able to assist in several inquiries from all over the world related to Polish folk music and our Paderewski Collection, and provide scores by such composers as Grażyna Bacewicz, Zygmunt Stojowski and Joanna Bruzdowicz to artists for consideration in their performances and recording projects. Another ongoing task for us this year was the English translation of the extensive and richly illustrated catalogue that accompanied the November 2019 Paderewski exhibit in Warsaw. This collaboration with Poland’s National Archives spotlighted dozens of rare photographs in our Paderewski Collection. The English version of this catalogue (to be published in 2021) will again demonstrate the PMC’s unprecedented resources that are available to students, faculty, researchers and others interested in Polish music around the world.

Spreading the word about such contemporary Polish composers as Joanna Bruzdowicz, Krzesimir Dębski, Hanna Kulenty, Krzysztof Meyer, Piotr Moss, Marta Ptaszyńska, Elżbieta Sikora, and Paweł Szymański, we participated in an online lecture/question-and-answer forum at the Pasadena Conservatory in October. This event led to subsequent research requests for scores and additional information on some of these composers, which we will be happy to provide as this is an important part of PMC’s core mission.

In spite of this year’s challenges and limitations, we managed to reach new audiences in far corners of the world by being present to a much larger degree in the virtual domain. With this in mind, in the coming months we will look for ways of expanding our operations in cyberspace. In the meantime, we hope to return to concerts and lectures with live music and the lively discussions that inevitably follow such events. Direct contact with our audiences is paramount to us and—as we have always stated in our annual letters—we still cordially invite you to visit us in person. Although this is not quite possible right now, we hope that with the coming year, more normal times will return.

Help us thrive in 2021…

If you are—and have been—one of our steadfast supporters, please accept our sincere gratitude for your much-needed help. Thanks to your generous and consistent encouragement, we were able to overcome this year’s challenges. If you have received this letter in the past but did not have a chance to reply, please consider doing so today. We appeal to our friends only once a year and donations for this fundraiser provide 100% of the PMC operating budget.

Given that staffing on campus is limited and mail temporarily diverted to a USC sorting facility, online donations are enthusiastically encouraged this year because mailed checks may take longer to be recorded and acknowledged. For credit card donations please visit GIVETO.USC.EDU—this link should take you to us directly, but if not you’ll find a PMC check box under University-wide Giving Opportunities > Centers and Institutes > Music. You may also contact us at (213) 821-1356 to give by phone. Please indicate “USC Polish Music Center,” either by check or online, to ensure that your contribution reaches our account. Should you have any questions, please email polmusic@usc.edu, and visit our website, polishmusic.usc.edu, for the latest updates.

In the past, we have offered special incentives such as event recordings to our most generous donors. Since this year almost everything we did took place online, we hope that the video links above to the events we organized will amply demonstrate to you our deep level of commitment to Polish music.

As always, we thank you for your consideration and enclose our best wishes for the Holiday Season. We remain sincerely and gratefully yours,


Marek Zebrowski, Director                                                                                                               Krysta Close, Assistant Director