Polish/Jewish/Music! International Conference

November 15-16, 1998, Los Angeles
Polish Music Center & School of Music
University of Southern California


This conference, the first of its kind, attempts to fill some of the larger gaps in Polish music history by (1) highlighting the richness of achievements of Polish composers of Jewish descent and Jewish music in Poland and by (2) emphasizing the complexity of cultural relationships betweent the two ethnic groups, including both assimilation and coexistence. Invited scholars discussed the lives and music of individual composers (Rosenthal, Friedman, Godowsky, Tansman, Fitelberg, Rathaus, Koffler, Ryterband, Vars), groups of musicians (klezmer) and communities.

Several subjects were presented for the first time (or for the first time in North America); the conference included lectures, lecture-recitals and panel discussions. Scholars from five countries discussed music composed in and performed over the past 200 years. Two concerts presented rarely-heard solo and chamber music of Tansman, Koffler, Friedman, Rosenthal and others. The conference ended with a roundtable discussion focused on the issue of national and ethnic identity. It is hoped that by outlining this new subject area the conference will serve to further the Polish – Jewish dialogue as well as highlight the role of this particular community of musicians for the world.

Thematic Areas:

  • Music created by Polish composers of Jewish origin,
  • Music and lives of composers and performers who have retained their double identity,
  • Jewish music in Poland,
  • The achievements of Jewish emigre musicians who remained connected to the country of their birth.
  • Role of Jewish communities in Polish musical life of the 19th and 20th centuries,
  • Other aspects of Jewish musical life in Poland.


  • Hebrew Union College — Jewish Institute of Religion, Los Angeles;
  • The Ministry of Arts and Culture of the Republic of Poland;
  • Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Los Angeles;
  • Ars Musica Poloniae Foundation, Los Angeles;
  • Jewish Community Foundation, Los Angeles;
  • Friends of Polish Music, Los Angeles;
  • The Institute for the Study of Jews in American Life, USC;
  • Polish American Congress of California;
  • USC Hillel Jewish Center.


Conference with concerts, regular $50, student /retired/member of FPM $25. Registration per day is also available. Tickets to concerts: reg. $7, stu/ret/FPM $4.


SUNDAY. November 15. 9:00 a.m.-10:50 a.m.

USC Campus, Arnold Schoenberg Auditorium

  • 9:00 – 9:30 Welcoming Addresses (USC, HUC, School of Music, PMRC)
    • Rabbi Susan E. Laemmle, USC Dean for Religious Life
    • Ass. Prof. Douglas Lowry, Associate Dean, USC School of Music
    • Rabbi Lewis M. Barth, Dean of the Hebrew Union College-JIR, Los Angeles
    • Asst. Prof. Maria Anna Harley (now: Maja Trochimczyk; S. & W.Wilk Director of the PMC, USC)
  • 9:30 – 10:10. Prof. Paul KNOLL, History Dept., College of Letters, Arts & Sciences, USC
    • “The Early History of Polish-Jewish Relations and the Jewish Community in Poland”Prof. Knoll (historian) is a leading American specialist in the early history of Poland, a member of the Editorial Board of the Polish Review, the Journal of the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences of America.
  • 10:10 – 10:50. Prof. Piotr WRÓBEL, University of Toronto, CANADA:
    • “The Jews, the Poles, and the Culture of Poland in the 19th and 20th Centuries”Prof. Wróbel (historian) is the main specialist in “minority” issues in Polish history, the author of two books on the subject. He taught history at the University of Warsaw (including a course on the history of Polish Jewry) before assuming his current post at the endowed chair in Polish History at the University of Toronto.
  • 10:50 – 11:10 COFFEE BREAK

SUNDAY. 11:10 a.m. – 1:10 p.m.

USC Campus, Arnold Schoenberg Auditorium
SESSION CHAIR: Prof. Piotr WROBEL, University of Toronto

  • 11:10 – 11:50. Asst. Prof. Halina GOLDBERG, Indiana University, Bloomington
    “Assimilation of Jews into 19th Century Polish Musical Culture”

    • Prof. Goldberg is an American scholar of Polish Jewish descent, a Chopin specialist whose doctoral dissertation dealt with the social context of F. Chopin’s early life in Warsaw and who is presently completing a book on music in Chopin’s Warsaw. This study presents a new direction in her research, stimulated by her personal interests and this conference.
  • 11:50 – 12:30. Prof. Dr. hab. Marian FUKS, Jewish Historical Institute, Warsaw, POLAND, and Dr. Isachar FATER, Ramat Aviv, ISRAEL: (papers read in absence of scholars)
    • “Jewish Music in Poland Between the Wars — Two Approaches”Dr. Fater is the leading Israeli expert on Jewish music in Poland; Prof. dr. hab. Fuks’s doctoral dissertation deal with the history of the Jewish press in Poland. He is the author of the first monograph on this subject published in Polish (“Muzyka Ocalona”[Saved Music]”).
  • 12:30 – 1:10. Prof. Philip COHEN and Prof. Anna SZPILBERG, Leonardo Project, Concordia University, Montreal, CANADA:
    • “The Great Virtuosi (Rosenthal, Godowsky, Friedman). Lecture – Recital”Prof. Cohen (musicologist) and Prof. Szpilberg received a grant from the Canada Council to research the forgotten music of the Jewish virtuosi who originated from Poland but conquered the world with their art.
  • 1:10-2:10 LUNCH BREAK


SUNDAY, 2:10 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

USC Campus, Arnold Schoenberg Institute Auditorium.
Session organized in cooperation with the USC Institute for the Study of Jews in American Life.
SESSION CHAIR: Prof. Paul KNOLL, History Department, USC College of Letters Arts & Sciences.

  • 2:10 – 2:50. Asst. Prof. Maria Anna HARLEY, 600, USC:
    “The Question of Identity: Polish Jewish Composers in California”Aleksander Tansman, Roman Ryterband, and Henry Vars came to California at different moments in their lives. Tansman survived the war and returned to Paris. Ryterband had lived in Switzerland, Canada, and on the East Coast before retiring here, while Vars enjoyed a successful career as a film composer. A comparison of these three lives casts light at the issue of personal, national and ethnic identity and cultural belonging of immigrants.
  • 2:50 – 3:30. Dr. Linda SCHUBERT, UCLA, Los Angeles:
    • “Recovering a Repertory: The American Film Scores of Henry Vars”Dr. Schubert’s dissertation about the use of early music in film opens a new study area. Her research on Henryk Wars (Vars) and his work for the Hollywood film industry is a new project, stimulated by this conference.
  • 3:30-3:50 COFFEE BREAK

SUNDAY. 3:50 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

USC Campus, Arnold Schoenberg Auditorium.

  • 3:50 – 4:30 Dr. Jordan CHARNOFSKY and Leo CHELYAPOV. The Brandeis-Bardin Klezmer Ensemble, Los Angeles.
    • “Two Voices on Klezmer Music” USC graduate, classical guitarist, Jordan Charnofsky and Leo Chelyapov, originally from Russia, discuss the various folk sources and styles of klezmer music as well as the approach of their group to this musical repertory.
  • 4:30 – 5:10 Hankus NETSKY, Instructor, New England Conservatory, Boston; Ph.D. Candidate, Wesleyan University.
    • “Four Klezmorim From Poland (Kandel, Frydman, Rosner, Bazyler)”Hankus Netsky is an instructor at Boston’s New England Conservatory (where he served ten years as chairman of Jazz Studies). He is founder and director of the Klezmer Conservatory Band; currently, Mr. Netsky is finishing a Ph.D in Ethnomusicology at Wesleyan University. He will discuss four twentieth century professional Jewish folk instrumentalists, Harry Kandel, Carl Frydman, Leo Rosner, and Ben Bazyler, focusing special attention on how their Polish origins and adopted homes influenced their careers.
  • 5:10 – 6:00 Bret WERB: Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C.
    • “A Musical Parergon to Chone Shmeruk’s Mayufes: A Window on Polish-Jewish Relations”Bret Werb has served as musicologist at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. since 1992. He is a Ph.D.candidate in ethnomusicology at UCLA.
  • 6:00-8:00 DINNER

SUNDAY, 8:00 p.m.

USC Campus, Arnold Schoenberg Auditorium.

This concert presents the rich musical personality of Aleksander or Alexandre Tansman who was born in Poland, settled in Paris, and became a citizen of the world, set against the background of works by his colleagues and friends. Describing himself as a “Polish composer” and drawing from the music heritage of mazurkas and polonaises, Tansman was a member of the international avantgarde, a protege’ of Ravel and a personal friend of Stravinsky (during his California years, 1941-46). His contemporaries in Poland, coming from the same group of Western-oriented, cosmopolitan Polish – Jewish musicians include Koffler (student of Schoenberg, Poland’s first 12-tone composer), neo-romantic modernist Rathaus, and neoclassicist Laks.
Performers:USC Faculty, Students and Guests.

  • Prof. James Smith and students of classical guitar: Kate Lewis, Tiong Kiat-Yeo, Billy Arcilla, Camille Downey, Sean Idol, Ryoji Sekizuka, Michael Al, Rahul Puhar, Liliana Ramirez, Jeff Thygeson, Brian Head.
  • Dr. Donal Pirone (piano, CUNY, New York);
  • Dr. Kathleen Roland (soprano) with Victoria Kirsch (piano), Jan Jakub Bokun (clarinet).

In the program:

  • Aleksander Tansman – Suite in Modo Polonico for guitar solo
  • Jozef Koffler – Cantata “Love” (Miłość) for soprano, clarinet, viola, cello
  • Maurice Ravel – Two Hebrew Songs and Kaddish, for soprano and piano
  • Szymon Laks – 5 Songs to texts by Julian Tuwim
  • Szymon Laks – Elegy for Jewish Villages


  • Karol Rathaus – Fourth Piano Sonata op. 58
  • Aleksander Tansman – 5 Melodies (texts by Anna Tansman), for soprano and piano
  • Aleksander Tansman – Charleston from Translatlantic Suite, arr. Jim Smith for 2 guitars
  • Igor Stravinsky – Tango arr. by James Smith, for 4 guitars
  • Igor Stravinsky – Circus Polka arr. by James Smith, for 4 guitarsMONDAY, November 16, 9:00 a.m. – 10:20 a.m.


USC Campus, Newman Recital Hall (Hancock Building).
SESSION CHAIR: Prof. Bryan SIMMS, USC School of Music.

  • 9:00 – 9:40 Dr. Martina HOMMA, Cologne, GERMANY:
    • “Grzegorz Fitelberg, His Music, His Colleagues”Dr. Homma’s doctoral dissertation about Witold Lutosławski received the highest academic prize in Germany, “opus eximium”. She has written extensively about 20th-entury Polish music and musical life, with publications appearing in Germany, Switzerland, and Poland (presentation cancelled).
  • 9:40 – 10:20 Prof. Dr. hab. Maciej GOŁĄB, University of Warsaw, POLAND:
    • “Koffler – the First Polish Composer of 12-Tone Music”Prof. Gołąb wrote books about 12-tone music, Chopin’s chromatic style and the first ever monograph of Józef Koffler, Poland’s only 12-tone composer before World War II, a student of Schoenberg and a Holocaust victim. Prof. Gołąb teaches in Warsaw, Wrocław and Poznań, and is currently the general editor of the Polish Musicological Quarterly, Muzyka.
  • 10:20 – 10:40 COFFEE BREAK


MONDAY. 10:40 a.m. – 1:20 p.m.

USC Campus, Newman Recital Hall.
SESSION CHAIR and ORGANIZER: Prof. Halina GOLDBERG, Indiana University.

  • 10:40 – 11:20 Dr. Christopher HAILEY, Director of the Schreker Fundation, L.A.
    • “Rathaus, Schreker and the Aesthetics of Personality”Christopher Hailey is an independent scholar who specializes in early twentieth-century music history. His publications include a biography of Franz Schreker; he is currently writing a biography of Schoenberg for Cambridge Univeristy Press. Dr. Hailey is director of the F. Schreker Foundation and an artistic consultant for the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
  • 11:20 – 12:00 Jolanta GUZY – PASIAK, Institute of Arts, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, POLAND:
    • “The Evolution of Rathaus’ Compositional Style in his Chamber Music”Ms. Guzy-Pasiak (musicologist) is currently completing her doctoral dissertation about the music of Karl Rathaus, under Prof. M. Gołąb. This is the first extensive Polish study of the music of this composer.
  • 12:00 – 12:40 Dr. Don PIRONE, The Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College, City University of New York, New York.
    • “Romantic or Modernist: Karol Rathaus’s Piano Sonata No. 4, Op. 58″Dr. Pirone (musicologist/pianist) is the author of a ground-breaking study of Rathaus’s piano music and the world’s leading expert on the music of this composer.
  • 12:40 – 1:20 Dr. Martin SCHUSSLER, Freie Universitat Berlin, Germany
    • “Karol Rathaus – An American Composer from Poland…: The Development of an Americanized View of Rathaus and its Consequences for the Reception of his Music”Dr. Schussler researched Rathaus’s music since 1992, completing his doctoral dissertation in 1997 at the Freie Universitat Berlin. This pioneering work drew upon hitherto unknow sources in Europe and the U.S. including the composers’ private papers. Dr. Schusler published several articles on Rathaus and helped to “rediscover” the composer’s music by editing his works for publication and performance.
  • 1:20 – 2:20 LUNCH

MONDAY. 2:20 p.m. – 3:40 p.m.

Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, L.A. Campus. Anna Grancell Student Lounge/Martin Gang Lecture Hall.
SESSION CHAIR: Bret WERB, Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington.

  • 2:20 – 3:00 Barbara MILEWSKI, Princeton University, USA:
    • “National Identity and ‘Authenticity’ in Aleksander Tansman’s Mazurkas.”Ms. Milewski is currently completing her doctoral dissertation on the history of the “mazurka” including contributions of Jewish, Russian, and German composers to the development of this stylized dance form. In August 1997, she presented a paper on songs in concentration camps at the 16th Congress of the International Musicological Society.
  • 3:00 – 3:40 Dr. Anna GRANAT-JANKI, Academy of Music, Wrocław, Poland
    • “Tradition and Modernism in the Music of Aleksander Tansman”Dr. Granat-Janki is one of the leading Tansman specialists in Poland. Her book based on the doctoral dissertation about “Form in Instrumental Music of Aleksander Tansman” was published in 1995. She also participated in many Tansman congresses in Poland and abroad.
  • 3:40 – 4:00 COFFEE BREAK

MONDAY. 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion. Anna Grancell Student Lounge/Martin Gang Lecture Hall.
SESSION CHAIR: Maria Anna HARLEY (Trochimczyk), USC School of Music.

  • 4:00 – 4:40 Prof. Michael BECKERMAN, University of California, Santa Barbara:
    • “The Identity/Ethnicity Question in Eastern Europe”Prof. Beckerman is the President of the Czech Music Society, and this music is his main research area. He is also the member of the Board of the American Musicological Society and the recipient of numerous prizes and grants. His resent research subjects include a study of the Gypsy culture in Eastern Europe and transnational/ethnic issues.
  • 4:40 – 6:00 Panel Discussion. “Is There Polish Jewish Music?”
    • Panelists: Prof. Beckerman, Dr. Goldberg, Prof. Harley, Prof. Knoll, Dr. Homma, Mr. Werb.
    • Proposed subject areas: Musicians who are “Polish-Jewish” i.e. assimilated, “Jewish in Poland” i.e. retaining their identity, “Jewish from Poland” who emigrated.
  • 6:00-8:00 DINNER. USC Hillel Center

MONDAY, November 16. 8:00 p.m.

USC Campus, Newman Recital Hall.

This double recital highlights the virtuosic and expressive achievements of composers-performers who wrote brilliant piano music for themselves and charming, miniatures for their salons. Szymanowska is a 19th c. virtuosa pianist; the names of Godowsky, Friedman and Rosenthal need no introduction to a lover of piano music. Friedman’s songs are well respected for their beauty, while Ryterband’s and Fitelberg’s pieces display the poignant and festive moods of Jewish music. This selection highlights both the cosmpolitan, international dimension of the art of these composers and the roots of their music that thrived on the Polish soil to enchant the world.


  • Anna Szpilberg (piano solo);
  • Agnieszka Lejman (voice) with Radoslaw Materka (piano);
  • Dominique Piana (harp) with Sherry Kloss (violin);
  • Neal Brostoff (piano) with Zinovy Goro (clarinet).

In the program:

  • Music for piano by Rosenthal, Friedman, Godowsky.
  • Songs by Friedman and Szymanowska.
  • Chamber music by Roman Ryterband and Grzegorz Fitelberg.

RECEPTION, immediately after the concert, Newman Recital Hall foyer.
Friends of Polish Music (open to all attendees, including students).