Ryterband—More Correspondence!

Another tranche of fascinating letters sent to Roman Ryterband during the years 1939-1949 was recently donated to the PMC by the composer’s younger daughter, Diana Eisele. Her extraordinary gift includes correspondence from Abraham Ritterband to pianist and composer Roman Ryterband, who spent the World War II years in Berne, Switzerland. They include six post-cards mailed from Łódź (Lodsch) and Nowy Sącz (Neu Sander), and five letters with envelopes sent by Abraham from Neu Sander—since these letters were written in Nazi-occupied Poland, all had to carry German names of cities and towns and bear stamps of the Third Reich. Thanks to the German markings “Geöffnet,” we also know that they were opened by German censors.

Ms. Eisele’s gift also included two letters and envelopes from Stanisław Ryterband in Warsaw to Roman Ryterband in Berne, and three envelopes (without letters) sent to Kazik Lewartowicz in Berne in 1949 by Lilla Andrzejczak in Sopot, and Zofia Lewart (sent from Łódź and Warsaw). In addition, there are two envelopes—with letters inside—mailed by Zofia Lewart in Łódź and Warsaw to Kazik Lewartowicz in Berne.

Finally, there is a touching and long letter sent by attorney Stanisław Ryterband (the composer’s father, living in Łódź) to Roman Ryterband, who was at this time in London. Written on 2 August 1939—Roman Ryterband’s twenty-fifth birthday—it recalls the circumstances of Roman’s birth in Łódź and the occasion of his departure on a tour of Europe twenty-five years later. With a postmark of 4 August 1939 at 2 p.m., this letter was sent four weeks before Poland was invaded by Germany and World War II had begun.

Along with correspondence already in the Roman Ryterband Collection, these letters will prove invaluable to any researcher or biographer interested in the composer’s life and work, as well as the history of the time and the daily lives of Jews living in Nazi-occupied Poland. Correspondence of the Ryterband Collection is currently being archived and catalogued before being digitized, and updates on this project are shared regularly with our worldwide public.

Noskowski & Żeleński Join the Audio Collection

Bernadene Blaha, USC Thornton School of Music Professor of Piano Practice, donated her latest NAXOS recording featuring sonatas for violin and piano by Zygmunt Noskowski (1846-1909) and Władysław Żeleński (1837-1921). This gift came to us directly after Ms. Blaha performed Grażyna Bacewicz’s First Piano Quintet with the Verona Quartet at the Polish Music Center’s Spring 2024 concert (pictured below).

These two substantial works, totaling almost 64 minutes of music, are important examples of post-Chopin music written in Poland during the waning decades of the nineteenth century. The violin soloist sharing credits with Ms. Blaha on this recording is Laurence Kayaleh, a prominent Swiss violinist who plays a 1742 Guarneri that once belonged to the great virtuoso and professor of violin, Carl Flesch.

Both artists present a convincing, deeply musical reading of these rarely-heard sonatas. Their passion and perfect ensemble work as well as careful structuring of the towering climaxes in each sonata lead to a highly satisfying listening experience. Recorded in December 2022 at Pollack Hall—a venue in the Schulich School of Music at McGill University in Montreal, with its great acoustics—this disc also has excellent sound that amplifies the performers’ consummate virtuosity.

Posters Galore

Recently, we were contacted by long-time PMC supporter, Rich Wideryński, who had discovered an interesting batch of posters while conducting some spring cleaning. Rich and his wife Karen are avid patrons of Polish culture in culture in California, as active members of the Polish American Congress and as Friends of the Paderewski Festival, among others. Thanks to their long history in the area, they have collected some beautiful posters featuring local as well as Polish artists, and these are now a part of the Polish Music Center collection.

Many of the donated posters are boldly designed by artists of the so-called ‘Polish school of posters,’ a style that peaked after World War II as Poland was under repressive Soviet control. While most areas of artistic expression during this period were expected to adhere strictly to limited Communist regulations, Polish poster designers were allowed a unique measure of freedom, and this led to a particularly vivid and avant-garde visual style in the medium. Read more about this style in articles from Smashing Magazine and Artland Magazine.

As compelling as the ‘Polish school’ posters are however, we are most grateful for the portion of this gift that includes posters related to the Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles. They include Festival ads from the 1990s, as well as a reproduction of a Paderewski portrait created by Paso Robles artist Anne Laddon, which was auctioned off to support the Festival in 2013. These posters are of particular interest to the PMC and our colleagues at the Festival because many of the unique artifacts from the Festival’s decades-long history were lost a few years ago, due to fire.

As always, our many thanks to all our donors. Dziękujemy!