August 1997

Polish Music Reference Center Newsletter Vol. 3, no. 8


Did you know that…

there are two versions of the opera Halka?
The original version, composed by a very youthful Stanislaw MONIUSZKO (age 27), premiered in Wilno on January 1, 1848, and contained only two acts instead of four.

The manuscript of this early score was discovered 30 years ago and was brought to life at a festival in Brighton, England in 1984 followed by a performance in Przemysl, Poland. The original, shorter version does not contain the two famous arias, “Gdyby rannym slonkiem” for soprano and “Szumia jodly” for the tenor role.

It was recently performed in Warsaw thanks to the Warsaw Chamber Opera under the direction of Robert SATANOWSKI, who also recorded the ‘Wilenska’ Halka on CD.


Winners in the SECOND ANNUAL SAN FRANCISCO CHOPIN COMPETITION FOR YOUNG PIANISTS, sponsored by the San Francisco Council of the Chopin Foundation of the United States, include:

First Age Category – through 8 years old:

  • I Prize – Erika CHOW, Palo Alto
  • II Prize – Rose LEU, Union City
  • III Prize – Carissa CHU, age 8, Los Altos

Second Age Category – 9 through 12 years old:

  • I Prize – Jessica TAM, age 12, Los Altos Hills
  • II Prize – Mary LEYTES, age 12, Palo Alto
  • III Prize – Natalia PAREMSKI, age 10, Fremont

Third Age Category – 13 through 15 years old:

  • I Prize – Clara YANG, age 15, Saratoga
  • II Prize – Lauren CHAN, age 15, San Francisco

The competition took place at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music on June 1, 1997. Thirty five pianists participated. For information on next year’s competition write to:

Gosia Kossakowska, President,
Chopin Foundation of the U.S.,
1290 Sutter St.,
San Francisco, CA 94109
or FAX: 415-474-7149.


The Warsaw Autumn‘ International Contemporary Music Festival will be held from September 19-27th this year. Scheduled for the inaugural concert: Episodes by SEROCKICello Concerto of LUTOSLAWSKI with Andrzej BAUER as soloist, BAIRD‘s 3rd Symphony, and Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorem by MESSIAEN.

As reported by Ruch Muzyczny (June 29th issue), there will be two programs dedicated to composers Steve REICH and Wojciech KILAR. The latter will feature the world premiere of KILAR‘s Piano Concerto, featuring Peter JABLONSKI and the WOSPRIT orchestra, conducted by Antoni WIT.

A jubilee concert of electronic music, featuring the music of Francoise BARRIERE, Jozef PATKOWSKI, Ryszard SZEREMETA and Krzysztof KNITTEL, is also scheduled.

Works commissioned for the festival include an oratorio by KRUPOWICZ, a clavichord concerto by JANOWA-JANOWSKI and miscellaneous works by SZALONEKKUTAVICIUS, and PIACEK.

Ruch Muzyczny has begun a series of interviews of currently unknown young composers to watch for. The idea came from composer and professor Grazyna PSTROKONSKA-NAWRATIL of Wroclaw. The first composer to be featured was Pawel MYKIETYN (1971) from Warsaw. A clarinetist and composition student of Wlodzimierz KOTONSKI, he has won many prizes in both categories. In 1995 he won First Prize at the UNESCO Tribunal for 3 for 13, and also took First Place in the IV Tribune of Electroacoustic Music in Amsterdam for Epifora for piano and tape. Both competitions were limited to composers under 30.

The second composer, Robert KURDYBACHA, was also born in 1971. A graduate of the Music Academy in Wroclaw, he is now an assistant at the School of Music. In 1992 he won First Prize at the Tadeusz BAIRD Competition for Young Composers, in 1993 he won special mention for a solo piece for classic guitar in a national competition in Poland, and in 1994 he won II Prize for his Symphony and Special Mention for Lullaby for soprano and strings.

Elections at ZKP, the Polish Composers Union: Maciej MALECKI – President, Pawel SZYMANSKI and Jerzy STANKIEWICZ – Vice-Presidents, Zbigniew BAGINSKISecretary, Krzesimir DEBSKI – Treasurer. Other directors: Eugeniusz KNAPIK, Mieczyslaw KOMINEK, Rafal AUGUSTYN, Andrzej CHODKOWSKI, Krzysztof DROBA, Jan KRENZ, Krzysztof KNITTEL, and Jozef PATKOWSKI. Katrzyna DADAK-KOZICKA was elected Chair of the Musicology Section.

Polish-American pianist, Emanuel AX, served as Artistic Director of the Ojai Festival in California this year.

Walter DANA (Wladyslaw Danilowski), pianist, composer, and promoter of Polish classical, folk and Polish-American polka music, celebrated his 95th birthday in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

A luxury vodka named Chopin made its American debut! It is bottled in Poland in a presentation-quality bottle made in France, with Chopin’s picture on it.

Recent Performances

Polish mezzo-soprano, Ewa PODLES, replaced Cecilia BARTOLI at the last minute for a concert in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Podles had just returned home to Warsaw after a New York performance when she received the call. The artist received a standing ovation from the nearly 3,500 Bartoli ticket-holders.

The PENDERECKI STRING QUARTET performed at the Music Mountain Festival (7 Jun- 31 Aug). (860) 824-7126.

The ELSNER STRING QUARTET opened the festival at Bar Harbor, Maine, with a program of Haydn, Beethoven and SZYMANOWSKI. (6 July-3 Aug).

Katarzyna SZYMANSKA, musicologist, spoke on Polish music at a recent seminar on Polish art, literature, poetry, music, education and politics, at the American Center of Polish Culture in Washington, D.C.

Also in the nation’s Capitol: One of the festivities commemorating Poland’s May 3rd Constitution included the sponsoring of a ballet on May 2nd by the Polish Embassy. Principal dancers from Poland joined the Washington Ballet for the world premiere of Cloe’s Triumph, to the music of Jerzy SAPIEJEWSKI, a Polish-born composer residing in Washington, D.C. for many years.

Attorney Stefan Lopatkiewicz reported in the Polish Heritage Quarterly on another interesting activity tied to these Constitution festivities. An exhibit at the Library of Congress of a Declaration signed by officials and citizens of Poland in 1926 and presented to President Coolidge that year, was opened to the public. Consisting of 111 volumes, the ‘Emblem of Good Will‘ was a declaration of admiration of the people of Poland to the 150th Anniversary of the U.S. Declaration of Independence. The collection has been reproduced on microfiche at the Library of Congress.

Jazz pianist Adam MAKOWICZ toured Poland recently, performing in Szczecin and Sandomierz. He is scheduled to perform in Poland next year to commemorate George GERSHWIN‘s centennial celebrations there.

The Music Education Center, under the direction of pianist Janusz SPOREK, presented a concert of music by almost forty young students, mostly children, at the Polish-Slavic Center in New York. Rafal RAK was named Student of the Year. Faculty member, Jacek ZGANIACZ, completed the program with his performance of CHOPIN‘s Andante Spianato and Great Poloniase.

Recent Recordings

News Releases (reviewed in Ruch Muzyczny):

EMI CLASSICS 5 69701 2. CHOPINPiano Works. Debut. The first in the EMI Classics series, ‘Debut‘, presenting young artists who don’t yet have a recording portfolio under their sleeves. Nelson GOERNER, Argentine pianist who competed in the 1995 Chopin Competition, made this recording three months after the competition, consisting entirely of required competition repertoire. His performance is highly rated and recommended by Andrzej SULEK.

ROTON RoCD 116. Classical Accordion DUO. Works by composer Zbigniew BARGIELSKI are brilliantly performed by soloist Zbigniew KOZLIK, who is so good that he has already premiered over 70 pieces written for the accordion. The featured work, Ptak ze snu for accordion and percussion (1980), has already been recorded several times. Bargielski’s other works, written between 1980 and 1990, are already part of the standard accordion repertoire. These include: Malowane chmury (Painted clouds), Rozmowa z cieniem (Conversation with your shadow), for accordion duet, Czarne lustro (Black mirror), and two pedagogical compositions, Trzy suity polskie and Suita tancow i piesni.

There are now two different CDs of Mikolaj ZIELENSKI‘s masterpiece, Offertoria et communiones, a cycle of church compositions written in the new Venetian polychoral style in 1611.

MUSICON MCD 020. Camerata Silesia, Concerto Polacco and the Warsaw Ensemble of Baroque Trombones. Anna SZOSTAK, director.

ACCORD 202662. Bornus Consort and Linnamuusikud, directed by its founder, Marcin BORNUS-SZCZYCINSKI.

News Releases (reviewed in American Record Guide, July/August issue):

FINLANDIA 14909 (Atlantic)LUTOSLAWSKIConcerto for Orchestra. Stockholm Philharmonic, Andrew DAVIS, cond.
Although not the best recording of this work, John P. McKelvey recommends this release that is paired with Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra.

HARMONIA MUNDI 907201CHOPIN12 Etudes, op. 10, 4 Rondos. Frederic CHIN, piano.
Donald Manildi reports that the four youthful Rondos have rarely been recorded, and that this release “throws in (via multi-track recording) the two-piano version of the C-major Rondo.

CHOPIN. Nocturnes, complete.
Two new recordings, reviewed by Allen Linkowski and compared to Maria Joao PIRES‘s “well-nigh perfect traversal of the 21 Chopin Nocturnes” …”really deserve attention.”

CONNOISSEUR SOCIETY 4211 (2 CDs), 103 minutes. David Allen WEHR, piano.
Compelling reading by a young American master pianist.

CONCORD CONCERTO 42044 (2 CDs), 132 minutes. Andrzej WASOWSKI, pianist.
“...tempos are both expansive and flexible and rubato is freely employed. Yet it all holds together in the hands of a master musician…

NOTE: This recording received the 1997 Critics Choice Award from National Public Radio. This, the only American award devoted exclusively to classical music, “honors the commercially released compact discs judged the most significant and artistically meritorious classical music recordings of 1996.

It also received a five star rating in the BBC Music Magazine (May 1997), review by Jessica Duchen. “These performances of the Chopin Nocturnes, recorded in 1989, are really rather extraordinary… [a] glorious singing tone of great clarity, eloquence and purity, with beautifully balanced accompaniment and inner voices…they moved me to tears.

While on the subject of pianist Andrzej WASOWSKI (1919-1993), let it be known that he also recorded Chopin’s Complete Mazurkas on disc: CONCORD CONCERTO 420356 (2 CDs).

Bernard D. Sherman gave a rave review in the New York Times (Sunday, June 29, 1997). The critic described the pianist as “one of those artists the broad international public neglects but critics and colleagues rave about. In 1946, Time magazine called him ‘the greatest Chopin interpreter of modern times,’ and 20 years later, the Polish violinist Henryk SZERYNG concurred.

Charles Michener (The New York Observer, July 29, 1996): “the Polish dance that became the rage of European social life in the 1830s, WASOWSKI’s Mazurkas are full-blooded and intoxicating, almost shocking in their use of rubato, the freedom with which they shake the pieces’ rhythmic structures.

The January 9, 1981 recital, where WASOWSKI performed the Chopin Mazurkas at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center, was described as “a night of musical history… one of the most revelatory Chopin recitals heard in decades.

News Releases (reviewed in Gramophone, July issue):

NAXOS 8.553300SZYMANOWSKIPiano Works. Vol. 2. Martin ROSCOE, piano.
Critic Philip Kennicott especially liked the Variations on a Polish Theme.

CPO 999 386-2LUTOSLAWSKISymphonies 2 & 4. Saarbruchen Radio Symphony Orchestra, Roman KOFMAN, cond. Arnold Whittall compares this disc with ones by Salonen/LA Philharmonic and Wit/Polish Radio SO. He makes the Salonen his first choice with “the Polish recording a super-bargain alternative.”

NAXOS 8.553687SZYMANOWSKIStabat Mater, Litany to Virgin Mary, Veni Creator, Demeter and Penthesilea. Polish State Philharmonic Chorus and Orchestra of Katowice, Karol STRYJA, cond. (re-issued from the Marco Polo recording 8.223293 of 1989).
Michael Oliver calls it a very “tempting bargain” and states that the latter three cantata/oratorios are “not otherwise available and they provide an absorbing overview of the composer’s changes of style…all are well done, and no admirer of Szymanowski’s music, having heard them once, will want to be without them.” He further laments the absence of a text, which makes it an incomplete recording of a vocal work in a foreign tongue. Too bad, because these are especially beautiful works and the composer’s extraordinarily careful efforts in selecting poems deserve a fuller presentation.

Also in Gramophone. Kevin Mulhall reviews two CDs of film music by Wojciech KILAR.

DECCA LONDON 455 011-2LHPortrait of a Lady. Original soundtrack.

MILAN 74321-45972-2KILAR. From Warsaw to Hollywood. Original soundtracks.
Includes scores for over a dozen movies by Wajda, Zanussi, Kieslowski, Coppola and Polanski. Kilar has been one of the most popular film music composers in Poland for years and at the same time also well respected as a classical music composer. His first major score for an American film was Coppola’s Dracula.

Top Ten Best-Selling Records: By the Opera Music Store, Warsaw (as listed in Ruch Muzyczny, 15 June):

  1. KARLOWICZ. Symphonic Poems. PRO MUSICA CAMERATA PMC 013/014
  2. WIENIAWSKI. Violin Concertos. ACCORD CD ACD 013
  3. GOMOLKA. Psalms. DUX 0244
  4. CHOPIN. Piano Concertos. ACCORD CD ACD 013
  5. MONIUSZKO. Home songbook. PNCD 349
  7. LUTOSLAWSKI. 3rd Symphony, Paganini Variations, Paroles tissees, Les espaces du sommeil, NAXOS 8.553423
  8. LUTOSLAWSKI. 4th Symphony, Partita, Interludium, Chain II, Music funebre. NAXOS 8.553 202
  10. SZYMANOWSKI. 1st and 2nd Symphonies. NAXOS 8.553 683


This year marks the 200th anniversary of the Polish national anthemMazurek Dabrowskiego. The text of the hymn was written by Jozef WYBICKI to a traditional mazurka melody. He served in the Polish Legion which was formed in Italy by General DABROWSKI, hence the title of the anthem. This uplifting soldier’s song was popular with Polish patriots throughout the next century, particularly because of its opening line, “Poland is not dead, as long as we live.” It became the official national anthem in 1926.

A version of the melody with a different text served as the national anthem of Yugoslavia (from 1945). Non-Polish composers who made use of thematic material from the anthem include Richard WAGNER (Overture “Polonia”), composed in 1832, and Sir Edward ELGAR, who dedicated his Symphonic Praeludium “Polonia” to Ignace PADEREWSKI.

Born This Month

  • Aug 11, 1943: Krzysztof MEYER
  • Aug 17, 1907: Zygmunt MYCIELSKI
  • Aug 23, 1925: Wlodzimierz KOTONSKI