July 29 marked composer Marta Ptaszyńska’s 80th birthday. This distinguished and prolific composer has had a very active year with various anniversary concerts and premieres taking place in the preceding months.

Most recently, Ptaszyńska’s birthday was celebrated by Polish Radio in Chicago on August 6 with a broadcast of two of Ptaszyńska’s works: Graffito for marimba—a virtuoso solo composition dating from 1988, and Lumen, a 2007 work for symphony orchestra. Inspired by a quote from Dylan Thomas, “Light breaks where no sun shines,” Ptaszyńska described her composition thus:

[L]uminous and radiant… full of twinkling colors, analogous to the colorful designs seen in a kaleidoscope or in stained glasses of the gothic cathedrals. I was especially inspired by the magnificent stained glass in the windows of the Chartres Cathedral in France.

Ptaszyńska also added that this work was composed to commemorate her dear friend, Dennis Eberhard, and was commissioned by the Cleveland Chamber Symphony and the Fromm Music Foundation. Fittingly, the August 6 Chicago broadcast featured the very same Cleveland Chamber Orchestra led by Steven Smith. Readers interested in this concert may hear it by visiting polskieradio.com.

In Warsaw, Marta Ptaszyńska received best wishes and congratulations from Piotr Gliński, Poland’s Minister of Culture and National Heritage. In his letter published on the Ministry’s website, Minister Gliński paid homage to the “…great richness and diversity of [Ptaszyńska’s] oeuvre, including works for percussion as well as compositions for orchestra, chamber ensembles and large vocal-instrumental forms.” Minister Gliński also noted Ptaszyńska’s international recognition due to the many commissions she has received from such prestigious ensembles as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Chamber Orchestra, Sinfonia Varsovia, and Polish National Opera, among others.

The Polish Music Center also would like to add to her well-deserved congratulations from across the world and take this opportunity to invite interested scholars to study the many manuscripts of Marta Ptaszyńska’s music that are held in our collection, which both form a foundation of our flagship Manuscript Collection as well as others that were more recently donated in February 2023. The Manuscript Collection is now available for viewing online via our Dianne and Tad Taube PMC Digital Archives.

Sto lat, Pani Marto! Wszystkiego najlepszego!

[Source: press release]

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