April 1997

Polish Music Reference Center Newsletter Vol. 3, no. 1


The Dana New Music Festival New Music from Poland

Youngstown State University in Youngstown, Ohio, April 6-11.

The Festival included:

Seven concerts:

  1. Polish Music and Polish Musicians. Dorota Sobieska – soprano, Wanda Sobieska – violin, Jacek Sobieski – piano (Szymanowski, Bacewicz, Serocki).
  2. Polish Sacred Lenten and Easter Music. St. Stanislaus Polish Choir, St. Philip & James Choir, New Castle, Rev. Edward Neroda.
  3. YSU Symphonic Wind Ensemble and Percussion Ensemble. (Ptaszynska)
  4. Children’s Music. Davie Middle School Orchesta and guests (Twardowski, Sobieska)
  5. New Music Society Grand Concert. Composers Ensemble, Festival Chamber Orchestra (Gorecki, Panufnik, Szymanowski, Bacewicz, Rollin and others).
  6. YSU Faculty and Students. (Bacewicz, Lutoslawski)
  7. YSU Faculty and Students. With projections of Polish folk art and contemporary poster art at the Youngstown Planetarium (Rollin, Kukielka).

Four lectures:

  1. National Identity in Polish Music of the 20th Century.Maria Anna Harley – musicologist.
  2. The Music of Henryk Mikolaj Gorecki. Maria Anna Harley – musicologist.
  3. Chain Technique in Works of Lutoslawski. Gerald E. Evans – theorist.
  4. Polish music of the ’60s. Peter Laki – musicologist.

Three panel discussions:

  1. The Holocaust and Polish Music (Maria Anna Harley, Joseph Rudjak, Robert Rollin).
  2. Creativity in Poland in the 20th Century (Jan P. Muczyk, Maria Anna Harley, Joseph Rudjak, Lou Zona, Robert Rollin).
  3. Return of Tonality to Polish Music (Peter Laki, Maria Anna Harley).

Workshops, lecture/recitals, events for children, etc.

Invited guests included Maria Anna Harley, Peter Laki, and Marta Ptaszynska (who could not appear at the festival).

For more information, contact Robert Rollin or Joseph Rudjak, The Dana School of Music,
tel: (330) 742-3636. A report from the Festival will be published here soon.

A prize awarded for the first time by the SZYMANOWSKI SOCIETY of Zakopane was bestowed upon two tireless promoters of SZYMANOWSKI’s music: author and musicologist Teresa CHYLINSKA and violinist Wanda WILKOMIRSKA. The ceremony took place at the FIRST INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL AND SYMPOSIUM (March 9-15) devoted to the songs of Karol SZYMANOWSKI on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the composer’s death. The event was a joint effort of the Ministry of Arts & Culture, the National Museum of Krakow, Szymanowski Museum Atma in Zakopane, the Krakow Philharmonic bearing the composer’s name, Warsaw University, Jagiellonian University, and the Szymanowski Society. For other details see the February Newsletter.

Krzysztof PENDERECKI received this year’s KRZYSZTOF KIESLOWSKI PRIZE funded by the Cultural Foundation Bank for promoting Polish culture in the world.

The prize was awarded after the premiere of PENDERECKI‘s newest oratorio, Seven Gates of Jerusalem was performed on March 15th in Warsaw by the National Philharmonic, Kazimierz KORD directing. Commissioned by authorities of Jerusalem to commemorate the 3,000th anniversary of the city of Jerusalem, the world premiere took place on January 9th in Jerusalem. Lorin MAAZEL directed an international team of soloists and radio choirs from Germany and Israel. In the Warsaw performance Gustaw HOLOUBEK was the voice of Ezechiel, the prophet (in Polish). The soloists were: Bozena HARASIMOWICZ-HASS and Izabella KLOSINSKA (sopranos); Ewa PODLES (contralto), Wieslaw OCHMAN (tenor), Romuald TESAROWICZ (bass).

A full-page article on Marta PTASZYNSKA appeared in Nowy Dziennik, a Polish American newspaper on February 13, 1997. The article, written in Polish by Zbigniew Granat, is a part of a series on the recent winners of the Alfred Jurzykowski Foundation awards. The English translation will be soon published here under Marta Ptaszynska heading
(see: Composers on our Home Page).

Newsly elected officers of the Chopin Society in Warsaw: Tadeusz CHMIELEWSKI, president. Kazimierz GIERZOD and Jozef STOMPEL, vice- presidents, Marek NIEWIAROWSKI, secretary, Bronislawa KAWALLA, treasurer and General Director, Albert GRUDZINSKI.

Pierre BOULEZ will again preside over the International Masters of Composition Competition and Contemporary Chamber Music Workshops which will take place this summer in Gdansk. Among the lecturers scheduled to take part in this event are: Paul MEFANO (France), Stephen MONTAGUE (Great Britain), and ElzbietaSIKORA (Poland). For more information call the Moniuszko Music Academy in Gdansk: tel. (0-58) 31-77-23 or fax. (0-58) 31-43-65.

Ada Sari’s Vocal Arts Competition will take place in May 1997 in Nowy Sacz. The panel of judges will be selecting from among the participants four prize winners. The receipient of the first prize will receive an equivalen of $35,000. After the competition the winners and the other most promising participants will be able to attend the master classes conduced by Walter BARRY (baritone), the soloist of the Wiener Staatsoper, and the professor of Hochschule fur Musik und darstellende Kunste in Vienna. Mr. BARRY will also be a member of the judging panel.

Organized on May 13, 1889, the POLISH SINGERS ALLIANCE OF AMERICA is devoted to the promulgation of Polish song and music throughout the United States and Canada. Its many choruses have enriched the cultural programs, patriotic observances, civic functions, social affairs and religious ceremonies in their communities since 1889. The ALLIANCE is organized into Districts; District VII representing Downstate New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Eastern Pennsylvania, hosts a District-wide Convention each year, except for every third year when an International Convention is held.

On May 16, 17, and 18 of this year, the JUTRZENKA SINGING SOCIETY of Brooklyn will host the District’s 52nd Convention. Part of the Convention is devoted to a competetion between choruses of three categories: Male, Female, Mixed. At last year’s convention ARIA won first place among the Mixed Choruses and won a trophy for the highest points of all competing choruses. The events of the convention to which the public is cordially invited are Saturday’s CHORAL COMPETITION at 3:00 P.M. and DINNER-DANCE at 7:00 P.M. at WAGNER COLLEGE on Staten Island; Sunday’s MASS at 9:30 followed by brunch at OUR LADY OF CZESTOCHOWA PARISH in Brooklyn and the GRAND CONCERT at 2:00 P.M. followed by the AWARDS BUFFET in the Grand Ballroom of PROSPECT HALL in South Brooklyn. In May of 1998, District I located in the greater Chicago area, will host the next International Convention. For more information contact Ms. Dorothy Kostecka-Wieczerzak at <dkwasop@aol.com>.


In addition to prizes mentioned in our News Flash two renowned Polish artists were recently honoured.

Composer Henryk Mikolaj GORECKI received the SILESIAN CULTURAL PRIZE from authorities in Lower Saxony for his use of the musical past, church music and Polish folklore.

Conductor Jan KRENZ received the 1996 MUSIC AWARD from Polish Radio.

The panel of judges of the Polish Composers Union awarded the yearly Special Recognition Prize for 1997 to two individuals: Eugeniusz KNAPIK, for the outstanding achievement in composition, and to Krzysztof DROBA, for his work in musicology and for his contribution to the development of the European musical culture.


I Prize: Anna TYKA, student at the Chopin Academy of Music, Warsaw.
II Prize: Robert PUTOWSKI & Aleksander GEBERT.

Twenty candidates (to age 24) from nine countries competed before a jury consisting of Kazimierz MICHALIK, Milos SADLO and Daniel SZAFRAN with KrzysztofPENDERECKI, honorary chairman.

Winners of the FIRST ALEXANDER TANSMAN COMPETITION FOR INDIVIDUAL MUSICALITY held in LODZ (the city of Tansman’s birth) Nov 15-17, 1996 in commemoration of the composer’s Centennial anniversary.

GRAND PRIX: Igor ZOUBKOVSKI, cello (Russia)
I PRIZE: Alexander SOMOV, cello (Bulgaria)
II PRIZE: Tamara IGNATIEWA, violin (Russia)
III PRIZE: Lukasz KUROPACZEWSKI, guitar (Poland).
Best rendition of a Tansman composition: Pawel KUBICA, piano (Poland).

The 1996 RECORDING OF THE YEAR by the Polish monthly journal, STUDIO:

Symphonic Music:,
Polish Symphonies of the 19th CenturySinfonia Varsovia, Grzegorz NOWAK, cond. ACCORD ACD 019.

Chamber Music:
Music for Wind Quintet Music of Wojciech KILAR, Grazyna BACEWICZ, Marta PTASZYNSKA, Tadeusz BAIRD and Maciej MALECKI.Warsaw Wind Quintet. DUX 0241.

Contemporary Music:
Music of Lutoslawski.WOSPRIT conducted by W. LUTOSLAWSKI, Ewa POBLOCKA, piano. ACCORD ACD 015.

Vocal Music:
Rossini Arias Ewa PODLES, mezzo-soprano, Hungarian Opera, P. MORANDI, cond. NAXOS 8.553543. This recording won the prestigious Preis der deutschen Schallplatten-kritik in 1996.

Calendar of Events for April 1997

APR 3-5: 48th ANNUAL CHOPIN PIANO COMPETITION at the Kosciuszko Foundation, one of the oldest and most prestigious piano competitions in the U.S. Abbey SIMON, Chairman of the Jury. Preliminaries and finals open to the public. Call: 212-734-2130.

APR 5: Celebration of Polish Folk Art. Polish folk music and dance by members of the Polish Youth Association Choral Group and the Lechici Dancers at the exhibit of Polish paper cuttings Wycinanki, a Polish folk art form dating back to the turn of the century. Polish Museum of America. 6:30 p.m. 984 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, IL. 773-384-3352.

APR 11: Karol Szymanowski. Les Champs d’extase. Mariusz MONCZAK, violin. Erskine American Church. 8:00 p.m. $15, $10 students & seniors. Sponsored by the Concerto Music Agency and Polska Fundacja Spoleczna. Montreal, Canada. A video by L. Perski and Z. Sierpinski and a Traveling Exhibit on Szymanowski, both on loan from the Polish Music Reference Center will be shown.

APR 13: Kosciuszko Foundation Chamber Music Series, presented in association with WQXR Radio, NY. PENDERECKI STRING QUARTET will perform one of SZYMANOWSKI‘s String Quartets.

APR 16: The Music Gallery, a live broadcast on WNYC-FM 93.9. Members of the PENDERECKI STRING QUARTET will discuss the contemporary Polish music scene with WNYC host John SCHAEFER. Kosciuszko Foundation. NYC $10. Members $7.

APR 18: Benefit Concert & Reception for the Rodzinski Scholarship Fund honoring violinist Hanna LACHERT. Guest artists: William BLOSSOM, Irene BRESLAW, Wanda GLOWACKA, Roman MARKOWICZ and Yaniv SEGAL. The recital celebrates the 25th anniversary of Hanna Lacherts’ New York recital debut and membership in the NY Philharmonic Orchestra. She was instrumental in establishing The Artur and Halina Rodzinski Scholarship Fund for Orchestral Study, whose aim is to bring gifted young Polish students to American institutions. Kosciuszko Foundation, NYC. 212-734-2130. $100 donation.

APR 27: Night in Old Krakow at Statler Towers (Downtown Buffalo) . Cabaret, dinner and dancing. One of several events to raise money for the production of the Polish opera, Straszny Dwor later on this year. $50. 716-839-3128.

Recent Performances

The World Premiere of Zygmunt KRAUZE’s Piano Concerto no. 2 took place October 30, 1996 in Japan. The Tokyo Symphony Orchestra conducted by KorzuyoshiAKIYAMA. Commissioned by the Suntory International Foundation. Also on the program: Prelude & Wait by Philippe MANOURY; Stanislaw and Anna Oswiecimowie, a symphonic poem by Mieczyslaw KARLOWICZ, (1976-1909) Poland’s first symphonist

Contralto Ewa PODLES performed at the Sylvia and Danny Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College on March 23. She was accompanied by her daughter AniaMARCHWINSKA, who has been studying in the U.S

Songs by CHOPIN and KARLOWICZ were included in a recital by Deborah BERRUETE, soprano, Przemyslaw SUSKI, baritone and Jacek ZGANICZ, piano. March 2 in New York.

Composer Marta PTASZYNSKA reported on the Huddersfield International Contemporary Music Festival in the January issue of Ruch Muzyczny. She stated that the main idea of the festival is to present music of living composers. Polish music was represented by the PENDERECKI STRING QUARTET playing the String Quartet no. 1 by PENDERECKI and String Quartet no. 2 by Aleksander LASON. Liquid Light by Marta PTASZYNSKA featured Patricia Adkins CHITI, mezzo soprano, pianist Ian BUCKLE, and the composer (who also performed Space Model for percussion solo).

A rare performance of a staged version of a cantata by Stanislaw MONIUSZKO took place on November 26, 1996 in the National Theatre in Warsaw. The cantata,Widma (Ghosts) is based on a text to Adam MICKIEWICZ’s epic poem, Dziady. Polish musicologist, Zdzislaw JACHIMECKI compared the work to Goethe’s Faustor Gade’s Teutonic Knights when it was first performed at the turn of the century. Famed baritone Andrzej HIOLSKI gave a magnificent performance along with Andrzej SEWERYN, who has been an important actor in Comedie Francaise. Music director: Antoni Wicherek. Staging by Richard Peryt and scenery by Andrzej Sadowski.

On March 16th a benefit concert Music of Moniuszko featured the Chopin Singing Society performing The Litany of Our Lady Ostrobramska A number of arias from Straszny Dwor and Halka were performed by several outstanding soloists. The Buffalo State College Chamber Choir, directed by Dr. Thomas WITAKOWSKI, a chamber orchestra under the direction of concertmaster Peter VAN SCOZZA and pianist Linda MABRY provided the accompaniment. Villa Maria College Auditorium. Cheektowaga.

A coalition of Polish American organizations has been preparing an entire festival of events (see Calendar for April 27th) that will enable the presentation of MONIUSZKO’s opera, Straszny Dwor by the Greater Buffalo Opera Company next fall at Shea’s Buffalo Center. 716-447-7000. Sep 19 and 21.

MONIUSZKO’s most famous opera, Halka was presented in Toronto on Nov 23 & 24, 1996 and in Hamilton, Canada on Nov. 17th. Sponsored by the Polish Canadian Music Society and Symfonia choir. Maciej JASKIEWICZ, cond.

The Chopin Foundation Council of Greater New York presented a recital of CHOPIN’s music by five young musicians aged 10 -15: Mark MAREX (10), Athena ADAMOPOULOSS (10), Natalia ERLICH (12), Sophia FANG (13) and Carl DICASOLI (15). Four of them have already appeared in concert with an orchestra. The eldest of the group performed the difficult Piano Sonata in b minor. At the Polish Consulate in New York City.


A new book on Alexander TANSMAN was published in 1996. Written by Janusz CEGIELLA it is titled: Dziecko szczescia: Aleksander Tansman i jego czasy. (A lucky child. Alexander Tansman and his times). The first Polish neoclassicist was born in Lodz a hundred years ago. Published by 86 Press, Lodz, 466 pgs.

A recent review in Current Musicology, number 59/1995 presents a review by Douglas RUST of two books on LUTOSLAWSKI: Irina Nikolska’s Conversations with Witold Lutoslawski. ( Translated by Valerie Yerobkin. Stockholm: Melos, 1994, 221 pp.) and Charles Bodman Rae’s The Music of Lutoslawski ( London: Faber and Faber, 1994, XVI, 288 pp.).

The author corroborates my impression of the book by Russian musicologist, Nikolska (see my Feb Newsletter/ Books) when he writes, “Unfortunately, Nikolska’s brilliant work reaches its English-speaking readers in poorly translated and awkwardly edited form. Lutoslawski himself spoke better English than did his translator, who often fails to use correct grammar in her rendering of the text.” However, he points out that both studies also have good sides and present “new ideas and discoveries that merit the reader’s attention.”


Newest Releases

Alexander TANSMAN’s II Piano Concerto and SZYMANOWSKI’s Symphonie Concertante. Marek DREWNOWSKI, piano. Orchestra of Polish Radio in Krakow. Zygmunt RYCHERT & Antoni WIT, cond. MD 003. Released by the Josef Hofmann Foundation.

Polish Romantic Quartets. MONIUSZKO: String Quartet in F major and D minor. DOBRZYNSKI: String Quartet in E minor, op. 7. CAMERATA STRING QUARTET. RICERCAR RC 158165.

Juliusz LUCIUK: Demiurgos one-act opera composed in 1976. Krakow Polish Radio Choir and Orch. Malgorzata ORAWSKA, dir. Jose Maria FLORENCIO, JR.cond. DUX 0260. DUX is one of the most active Polish recording companies.

Recently Reviewed

SZYMANOWSKI Concertos for Violin and Orchestra. Michael OLIVER compares (in Gramophone magazine) the CHANDOS CHAN 9496 (LydiaMORDKOVITCH, violin, BBC Philharmonic/Vassily SINAISKY) release with the EMI CDC5 55607-2 (ZEHETMAIR, violin, CBSO/Sir Simon RATTLE) and concludes that the latter is almost as good.

CHOPIN recording of the Nocturnes by Maria Joao PIRES (DG 447 096-2GH2 ) was chosen as the best new classical release in March by Program Directors of Stations WNIB, Chicago and WVPS, Vermont. It is also a best seller in Poland’s capital, Warsaw.

Recently reissued by EMI

Three Itzak PERLMAN recordings dating from the 1970s filled with additional material and at mid-price. The second disc offers WIENIAWSKI’s Second and Third Violin Concertos. Also Wieniawski’s Caprice in A minor , Scherzo- tarantella, Obertass-Mazurka and Polonaises, Opp. 19 and 21. EMI CDM5 66059-2.

Recordings by Polish artists performing non-Polish works

MUSIKA 1996: Six Bagatelles, op. 126; Diabelli Variations, op. 120 by BEETHOVEN. Roman MARKOWICZ, piano. Available from the Nowy Dziennik Book Store. NY.

CD ACCORD ACD 025: BACH: VI English Suite; BEETHOVEN: Sonata in A major, op. 110 and WEBERN: Variations, op. 27. Piotr ANDERSZEWSKI, piano.

Polish Lenten and Easter Music on Disc

by Wanda Wilk

If you are looking for good music by Polish composers for the Lenten and Easter season my top priority is still Stabat Mater by Karol SZYMANOWSKI, a piece that was called the choral masterpiece of this century by a Belgian music critic in 1926. However, there are many other selections to choose from, starting with GORECKI’s Third Symphony (“Symphony of Sorrowful Songs”). This Symphony’s link to the Lenten season stems from the fact that its first movement includes quotations from the text of the Stabat Mater–a Latin poem describing the suffering of Mary at the foot of the Cross. There are at least nine different recordings of the GORECKI and six of the SZYMANOWSKI currently available on the market.

Although GORECKI wrote his Third Symphony in 1976, it did not become famous until a few years ago in Britain, when the Elektra Nonesuch recording (David Zinman conducting the London Sinfonietta Orchestra with soprano Dawn Upshaw) took the country by storm. It became No. 1 on both the Classical Billboard and Pop Music charts in Britain, even beating Madonna. It has sold more copies than any other recording of classical music, thus far! It also brought the composer out into the forefront of the international stage. This has been followed by other GORECKI works being recorded almost every month.

As for SZYMANOWSKI’s Stabat Mater, the British conductor Sir Simon Rattle won the 1995 Gramophone Award for best performance of a choral work (and also for best engineering by Mike Clements) for the EMI CDC 55121-2 release. Soprano Stefania Woytowicz became the foremost exponent of SZYMANOWSKI’s music in post- war Poland and her recording of the Stabat Mater (Polskie Nagrania PLN 063) is the recording I was brought up on. Her radiant voice epitomizes the SZYMANOWSKI sound to me. For first time listeners either one is a good choice!

PENDERECKI wrote a Stabat Mater for three unaccompanied choirs in 1962, which he later incorporated into The Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ According to St. Luke for narrator, solo voices, orchestra, chorus and boys’ chorus from 1963-1965. (Polskie Nagrania PNCD 017). I especially like another work, Utrenja, PENDERECKI’s Orthodox mass for solo voices, orchestra and two choruses. It is a major oratorio in two parts: The Entombment of Christ and The Resurrection, which he composed from 1970-1971. (Polskie Nagrania PNCD 017 and 018).

Three beautiful Easter Masses were written in earlier times during the Polish Renaissance and Polish Baroque. Marcin LEOPOLITA (ca 1540-1589) composed Missa Paschalis, a 5- voice Easter Mass which is considered to be the best of Polish Renaissance music. He based his Mass on material drawn from four old Polish Easter songs, specifically, Chrystus Pan Zmartwychwstal (Christ our Lord is risen from the dead), Chrystus Zmartwychwstal Jest (Christ is Risen), Wstal Pan Chrystus (Christ Arose) and Wesoly nam dzien nastal (A Day of Joy has Come).

The first of these four songs was very popular among Polish composers and two others used it as a motive for their Easter Masses. The last important artist of the Polish Baroque, Grzegorz Gerwazy GORCZYCKI (1668-1734) used the melody in the Benedictus of his Missa Paschalis. The same work features the fourth of the songs quoted by Leopolita, A Day of Joy has Come in the Hosanna section. A recording of the mass is now available on Olympia OCD 320.

Bartlomiej PEKIEL (died in 1670) composed another famous Missa Paschalis for male choir. This work is most notable for its rich melodies and it is surpassed only by his Missa Pulcherrima. The latter has been described by Ewa Obniska, a leading Polish musicologist, as the most magnificent achievement of Polish Baroque church music and one of very few compositions in the history of music, which despite the passing of the centuries, has not lost any of its appeal. Both of these Masses have been recorded in Poland by Polskie Nagrania on the old LP MUZA label SX 0188. As far as I know neither has been released on a compact disc, as yet.


An Outline History of Polish Music. Tadeusz Ochlewski, ed. Interpress Publishers, Warsaw. 1979. 194 p.

Muzyka Polska. Stefan Sledzinski, ed. PWM 1967. 507 p.

Music in Poland. Ludwik Erhardt. Interpress Publishers, Warsaw 1975. 164 p.

Schwann Opus. Spring 1997.


Born This Month

  • Apr 9: Andrzej KRZANOWSKI (1951-1990)
  • Apr 21: Antoni SZALOWSKI (1907-1973)