Polish Music Reference Center Newsletter Vol. 4, no. 12
Winners Of The 4th International Paderewski Piano Competition
The Fourth International Paderewski Piano Competition at Bydgoszcz was held between the 3rd and 14th of November, 1998. The winners include:
I Prize: Tonomi Okumura of Japan
II Prize: Michael Schneider of the U.S.
III Prize: Katarzyna Borek of Poland
20-year old Ms. Okumura won two competitions in Japan and placed 4th at the international Gina Bachauer Piano Competition. She elected to play Legenda no. 1 and Cracovienne fantastique by Paderewski.
23-year old Michael Schneider also placed second at the Kosciuszko Foundation Chopin Piano Competition in June of this year. His Paderewski selections: Legenda, Minuet and Sonata inn e minor, op. 21.
18-year old Ms. Borek took first prize at the III Young Pianists Festival in Siedlce, Poland and fifth prize at the International Chopin Competition in Moscow. Her Paderewski works included Legenda, Polonez, Burlesque and the Fugue and Variations, op. 23.
Polish Music Festival: First Reports
Chicago Tribune Online included a preview of the Festival, entitled “Beautiful Music Fest” and written by Agnieszka Siarkiewicz, Tribune Staff Writer (November 19, 1998). The article described the content of the 9 concerts that took place during the 8 days of the festival. The journalist quoted statements from the festival’s participants and organizers. Andrzej Grabiec (professor of violin at University of Texas, Huston and one of the soloists featured at the festival) stated that “There has never been such a varied presentation of Polish music in American history.” Concerts presented Polish music composed over the span of four centuries, from Adam Jarzębski’s Canzonas (17th century) to pieces by Ptaszynska, Gorecki and Penderecki. Bernard J. Dobroski, the Dean of Northwestern University’s School of Music helped gather funds to sponsor the event and designated a large portion of the school’s resources for the preparation of this event. The University orchestra, the chorus, the contemporary music ensemble, other chamber groups, played nothing but Polish music for more than a month. According to Prof. Dobroski, the Festival helped make the curriculum more international by showcasing one European tradition of music-making, both in its highly artistic and folkloric forms. The best known among Polish composers is Fryderyk Chopin (though many people still assume that he was French, because of his French last name). The Festival included a Chopin recital by Janina Fialkowska as its opening, and a performance of Chopin’s second piano concerto at its closure. Fialkowska told Ms. Siarkiewicz that “Chopin made the piano sing like no one else. He used colors, textures of piano, to its limits.” […] His music “speaks directly to the heart. Chopin is never boring, he is always dramatic.”
As one of the guests of this unique event I was able to witness some of the performances, starting with the violin recital of Andrzej Grabiec (November 19) who presented a little known Sonata for Violin and Piano by Ignacy Jan Paderewski, along with a handful of well-chosen and juxtaposed gems of Polish violin repertoire. The names of Henryk Wieniawski (Legende) and Grazyna Bacewicz (Second Sonata for Violin Solo, 1958) were represented, as well as Lutosławski (Recitativo e arioso), Młynarski (Mazur), and Szymanowski (Nocturne e Tarantella). Grabiec also performed the solo part in the too-rarely heard Violin Concerto by Mieczysław Karłowicz (November 20), and played chamber music on November 23: Juliusz Zarębski’s Piano Quintet, with Fialkowska at the piano, and Grazyna Bacewicz’s Quartet for Four Violins (1950), with three students of the Northwestern University. The contribution of Janina Fialkowska to the program of this Festival was equally abundant in scope and excellent in quality. She was a chamber music performer (with Grabiec in Zarebski), a soloist with the Northwestern University Orchestra (conducted by Mariusz Smolij) performing Chopin’s Second Piano Concerto, and a soloist, in an all-Chopin recital that drew crowds and ended with a standing ovation. Ms. Fialkowska’s calendar for 1999, the Chopin anniversary year (150th anniversary of his death), includes mostly Chopin recitals (of only Chopin or half-Chopin programs). She does not mind at all, considering Chopin one of her “all-time” favourites and having just issued a recording of his 24 Etudes. At present, Ms. Fialkowska is working on a sequel – a CD of the remaining Chopin etudes, accompanied by other Polish works of the same genre. More information about the program and impact of this festival, as well as my interviews with Janina Fialkowska, Mariusz Smolij and Andrzej Grabiec, will be included in the next issue of the Newsletter.
Polish/Jewish/Music! – Press Reports
Music critic of the Los Angeles Times, Mark Swed attended the two day International Conference on Polish Jewish Music at USC. He described the conference (Friday 27 Nov, Los Angeles Times) as “an engrossing two-day academic conference…along with two concerts that paid particular attention to three all-but-forgotten composers who were victims, in one way or another, of the Holocaust.” Swed wrote:
At USC the most persuasive work was Rathaus’ brooding Fourth Piano Sonata […] given a compelling reading by Donald Pirone, who has also recorded the composer’s portentous wartime Piano Concerto with the London Symphony Orchestra under JoAnn Falletta on the Koch label. And more Rathaus is on the way: In March, Falletta conducts his orchestra piece Dance with the Long Beach Symphony.
Swed also brought out several questions worth pondering: Would Rathaus have remained the favourite composer of the Berlin public or would his fame pass? Was Koffler’s blend of folklore with 12-tone techniques an interesting path to follow? “Might even the cosmopolitan, if inconsequential, Tansman been better able to go with the flow had the flow not been so drastically disrupted?” In conclusion, the music critic encouraged “exploring these neglected composers not because of their status as victims but as artists who struggled with the still relevant issues of accessibility and progress, who paved avenues for connecting high and low art.”
Mickiewicz And Music
Music inspired by the poems of Poland’s poet laureate, Adam Mickiewicz, whose 200th birthday is being celebrated this year was presented in Poznan in a chamber music recital. The Poznan Philharmonic Orchestra and the choir of the Poznan Music Academy with tenor Krzysztof Szmyt as soloist, presented “Crimean Sonnets,” a major work composed by Chopin’s contemporary and the father of Polish national opera, Stanisław Moniuszko (1819-1872).
On Saturday, November 14th at the Kosciuszko Foundation in New York City, there was a program of lectures and poetry readings of Adam Mickiewicz during which Dale Vander Sande sang four song settings based on his poetry: Piosnka dudarza (I.Paderewski), Moja pieszczotka (F.Chopin), Precz z moich oczu (F.Chopin), and Polały się łzy me (W.Żelenski). Thomas J. Pniewski, the Cultural Director of the KF accompanied on the piano. (This was the only musical inclusion on the program.)
The Polish Club at Hunter College and the Kosciuszko Foundation organized a celebration honoring the 200th birthday of the poet Adam Mickiewicz. In addition to recitations of the bard’s poetry, Dagmara Dominczyk, Dayle Vander Sande and students of Hunter College performed music set to Mickiewicz’s poems.\
2nd Tansman Competition Update
While waiting for the results of the 2nd International Competition of Musical Personalities let us remember the names of the winners of the first edition of this new event in 1996. Among the 68 participants 14 countries were represented: Poland, Russia, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Israel, Belgium, Finland, Bulgaria, Hungary, Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus. Russian cellist, Igor Zoubkovski, was the Grand Prix winner. The First Prize was awarded also to a cellist, Alexander Somov (Bulgaria), the second prize was taken by a Russian, Tamara Ignatiewa. The highest prize won by a Pole, was given to Łukasz Kuropaczewski (guitar) who received the 3rd Prize and special prize for the youngest participant. Polish performers also received special prizes: for the best performance of a work composed by Tansman (Paweł Kubica, piano), and for the most original artistic personality (Aleksandra Krzanowska, piano).
The results of this year’s competition will be posted on the competition’s website. You may also try to contact the A. Tansman Culture Foundation by mail or e-mail:
Polish Music at the l.A. Philharmonic
There are not very many performances of Polish music in California. Besides the yearly Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles (March), the 1999 calendar will include mostly Chopin’s music. At the Los Angeles Philharmonic we will have a chance of hearing Peter Serkin in a piano recital with Chopin included in the program (January 25, Monday. 8:00 p.m). Chopin’s birthday will be celebrated by an all-Chopin recital by Evgeny Kissin, piano (February 9, Tuesday, 8:00 p.m); on April 13, Krystian Zimerman will appear at the L.A. Music Center but the program is not available. In the 1999/2000 season the L.A. Philharmonic will perform only one large-scale Polish work – Cello Concerto by Witold Lutosławski.However, we are pleased to report that Paweł Szymański is among the group of young composers commissioned to write music for the opening of Disney Hall. For this premiere, though, we will have to wait until the year 2003.
The number of sites with Polish music files and links is growing quickly. Recently, we have added a new link to our page of music distributors in the U.S. This website where you can buy Polish music and listen to the bestsellers in streaming RealAudio is maintained by MIT MUSIC – AUDIO ELECTRONICS. They have a huge selection of rock, disco, power dance and popular Polish music.
Site address: http://www.mitmusic.com
“gdzie Polonia kupuje muzykę”
MIT Music-Audio Electronics, 95 Nassau Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11222
tel. (888) 718-0202 and (718) 389-0202
fax. (718) 349-1332
The choir conducted by Dayle Vander Sande, a longtime friend of Polish music, has a new website. Please go visit it! Site address: http://www.angelfire.com/nj/AriaChorus.
Click on a glittering graphic icon of the candelabra made famous by the late entertainment pianist and comedian, Wladziu Liberace to visit the Liberace Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada. There you will see his collection of rare pianos, such as the rhinestone-encrusted Baldwin grand and a piano once owned by George Gershwin. Site address: www.liberace.org/museum.html.
Górecki’s Doctorate At Concordia University
On November 20, the great Polish composer Henryk Górecki accepted an honorary degree from Concordia University. Several concerts were held in honour of his visit to Montreal and Quebec City. Górecki gave a seminar at Concordia University on November 18, received an honorary degree at Place des Arts on November 20 and attended an evening concert of his own chamber works at Concordia Concert Hall that evening. There also was a Gala Concert at the St. Leon de Westmount Church, 4311 de Maisonneuve West, at 8:00 pm on Saturday November 21, to celebrate the composer’s 65th birthday. After the concert, the audience had a chance to meet the composer. The same concert was presented in Quebec City on November 22.
For more information about these concerts call: (514) 487-5550. An article about this event appeared in La Scena Musicale – Vol. 4, No. 3, November 1998.
The press release for this event contained unattributed quotations from an interview that recently appeared in The Musical Quarterly (vol. 82 no. 1, Spring 1998, p. 68-130). The interview, entitled “On Life and Music: A Semi-Serious Conversation” was conducted by Maria Anna Harley in July and October 1997, during the preparations for the Górecki Autumn Festival at USC. “The Twentieth Century” section of this issue of The Musical Quarterly includes also two articles about the composer’s music: (1) Maria Anna Harley’s “Górecki and the Paradigm of the ‘Maternal'” (pp. 82-130; the first version of this text was read during the symposium on “The Górecki Phenomenon” – a part of Górecki Autumn at USC); (2) Luke Howard’s “Motherhood, Billboard, and the Holocaust: Perceptions and Receptions of Górecki’s Symphony no. 3″ (paper based on the author’s doctoral dissertation of 1997, pp. 131-159). Harley’s article includes texts with English translations for the following works by Górecki that are related to the topics of motherhood and mothering: O Domina nostra (Meditations on Our Lady of Jasna Gora) for soprano & organ; Totus Tuus op. 60 for mixed chorus a capella; Ad matrem for soprano solo, mixed choir and orchestra; Three Songs for medium voice and piano; Symphony no. 3 (Symphony of Sorrowful Songs).
It may be of interest to Górecki’s fans that an English translation of his 1962 interview with Leon Markiewicz has been published in Australia, in Context. Journal of Music Research (no. 14, summer 1997, p. 35-42). This interview portrays the composer as an avant-garde artist; it has been translated by Anna Maslowiec who also published a study of Górecki’s early music, entitled “‘The Utmost Economy of Musical Material:’ Structural Elements in the Works of Górecki from Refrain (1965) to Ad Matrem (1971)” (pp. 15-34).
On December 6, 1998, the composer celebrates his 65th birthday. We wish him all the best for his musical future. Note: In the photograph above the composer is seen at his desk in his Katowice studio filled with religious artefacts and folk art [photo by Maria Anna Harley, April 1998].
Jurzykowski Award For Bogusław Schaffer
Author, composer of avant-garde music, Bogusław Schaffer, is this year’s recipient in music, given by the Jurzykowski Foundation in New York. Schaffer wrote more than 300 compositions, ranging from classical to jazz to electronic, 31 dramas, 17 books and a multitude of essays and articles. He may be considered Poland’s foremost experimental composer, the author of the first musically notated work for electronic means, compositions that belong to the “third stream” bringing together avant-garde music with free jazz, the advocate for instrumental theatre, decomposition, spatial music, and a host of other musical inventions.
The Polish Silesian Dance Theatre from Bytom received the first “Richard Bull Award” from Wesleyan University of Hartford, Connecticut.
Calendar of Events
DEC. 5: Concert of Polish Music. Wanda Jaworowska, violin and Diane Rivera, piano. Part of the International Conference “Home/less: The Polish Experience.” Indiana University, Bloomington. Faculty Club. IU students and faculty: free. 7:30 p.m. (812) 855-1507. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
DEC. 6: Gregg Smith Singers. Traditional Polish and English Carols. Kosciuszko Foundation (212) 734-2130. $20/$25. 3:00 p.m. WQXR broadcast on Sat. 12 Dec @ 9:00 p.m.
DEC. 6: Lira Children’s Chorus. Morton East Aud. 2401 S. Austin Blvd., Cicero, IL. (800) 547-5472 or (773) 539-4900.
DEC. 6: An Evening of Chamber Music, with Irina Voloshina (violin), Garik Terzian (cello) and Svetlana Transky (piano) USC School of Music. Newman Recital Hall, 7 p.m. The program includes Karol Szymanowski’s Sonata op. 9 for violin and piano in D minor.
DEC. 11: LA Jazz Quartet’s “Record Release Party.” Rocco’s in Bel Air. (310) 475-9807.
DEC. 12: Christmas Concert & Oplatek. Aria Chorus conducted by Dayle Vander Sande. New Jersey.
DEC. 13: Lira Children’s Chorus. Pitman Theatre of Alverno College. 3401 S. 39th St., Milwaukee, WI. 3:00 p.m. $20, 16, 14. (414) 383-6116.
80th Anniversary Of Poland’s Independence
On the occasion of the 80th anniversary of Poland’s independence in 1918, many exhibits devoted to the two men responsible for freedom at that time were organized in Poland and abroad. The honorees were Marshall Józef Piłsudski and pianist and diplomat Ignacy Jan Paderewski. A gala music concert was held at the National Opera in Warsaw. The program consisted of a stage spectacle set to patriotic songs performed by the artists of the Philharmonic, followed by Penderecki’s “Te Deum” led by the composer and performed by the choir and orchestra of Teatr Wielki. Soloists: Izabel Klosinska, Ewa Podleśs, Wiesław Ochman and Andrzej Hiolski.
Ewa Podleś In America
Mezzo-soprano Ewa Podleś and her pianist husband, Jerzy Marchwinski, opened the series, “Art of the Song” organized by the Great Performers at the Lincoln Center, with a recital of Polish and Russian songs at Alice Tully Hall in New York: Music of Chopin, Karłowicz, Lutosławski, Musorgski and Rachmaninov.
A week later Ms. Podleś debuted at Carnegie Hall in a recital of Rossini arias (for which she is now famous) accompanied by the Moscow Chamber Orchestra led by Konstantin Orbelian.
Americans In Poland
Jazz artists Ray Brown, John Lurie, John Scofield, Mike Stern and the Art Ensemble of Chicago appeared at the 40th Jazz Jamboree in Warsaw in November.
Violinist Leila Josefowicz and pianist John Novacek, presented a chamber music program at the Philharmonic Hall in Bydgoszcz, Poland. Works by Gershwin, Schubert and Szymanowski were performed by the artists, who have studied at the USC School of Music. They also opened the Colburn Gold Series at the new Colburn Music Center (Leila’s alma mater) in downtown Los Angeles. Both artists received a favorable review from John Henken in the Los Angeles Times.
Poland’s famous contratenor, Artur Stefanowicz, played the title role of Orfeus in the New York presentation by the English National Opera. In recent years a group of excellent contratenors emerged in Poland. Dariusz Paradowski (b. 1966 in Gdansk) is the winner of the 1989 competition for this vocal category and currently works as one of the soloists of the Warsaw Chamber Opera, frequently appearing in Mozart operas (e.g. Sextus in La Clemenza di Tito). Paradowski also regularly performs with Polish leading early music ensembles, Ars Nova, Fiori Musicali, Capella Bydgostiensis. His recording of Mozart’s arias and duets (with Agnieszka Kurowska, soprano, and a number of Polish chamber orchestras) has been issued by Pro Musica Camerata (PMC 011A) in 1995. This recording is available from the catalogue of the foundation that owns its copyright (ul. Nowogrodzka 49, 00-695 Warszawa, Poland) or from Dux recording company, (Morskie Oko 2, 02-511 Warszawa, Poland).
Polish Cultural Foundation Gala
There was a gala concert at the Polish Cultural Foundation in Clark, New Jersey, celebrating its 25th Anniversary. The Slavic Arts Ensemble performed music of Walter Legawiec (who plays 1st violin in the ensemble — if you want more info about them, I can provide it) and guest soprano, Dorothy Kostecka-Wieczerzak sang with the quartet.
ERATO 3984-2146-2. Zbigniew PREISNER: Requiem for my friend. Elzbieta Towarnicka, soprano; Varsovia Chamber Choir, Sinfonia Varsovia. Jacek Kasprzyk, cond. Zbigniew Preisner, film composer for the late film director, Krzysztof Kieślowski, began writing the Requiem as a personal memorial to his friend (while the award-winning director was still in the hospital), to be specifically performed at the funeral. Preisner wrote the music to the following Kieslowski films: Decalogue, Double Life of Veronique, and the three Colours Trilogy: Red, White, Blue, among others. Check the Awards 1998 issue of the Gramophone for a favorable review by Ivan Moody along with an interview of the composer by Mark Walker.
FOUR HANDS MUSIC FMHD 9671-9674. Music of Moritz MOSZKOWSKI (1854-1925) for four hands. Isabel Beyers and Harvey Dagul, piano.
CARLTON CLASSICS 306601152. CHOPIN. Concertos for piano and orchestra, Nos. 1 & 2. Fou Ts’ong, piano. Sinfonia Varsovia conducted by Mu Hai Tang. The pianist took III Prize at the 1955 Chopin International Competition in Warsaw along with a special merit prize for the best rendition of a Mazurka. He later studied with Prof. Drzewienecki in Poland before finally settling in England in 1958. Reviewed in Gramophone magazine.
NOT TWO RECORDS. “Family Song.” L.A. Jazz Quartet (Darek Oleszkiewicz, bass; Larry Koonse, guitar; Chuck Manning, sax and Kevin Tullius, drum. Music critic, Bill Kohlhaase, reported on the group and their latest disc in a special report to the LA Times. The quartet was runner-up in the annual Cognac Hennessey Jazz Search in 1996 and has another disc “Journey to the East” released in 1997 by Naxos. The newest disc was pressed in Austria and released by a record label located in Krakow, Poland because of Darek Oleszkiewicz (known in the US as Oles) “Living in Krakow in the early 1980s, Oles befriended his future executive producer, Marek Winiarski, at Winiarski’s local record shop…..Olek relocated to Los Angeles in1 987 and has since become a first-call bassist.” (He teaches at Cal Arts at Valencia in California).
Two of Krystian ZIMERMAN’s discs are included in the Deutsche Gramophone’s Top 100 List: (1) DG 415 970-2GH. Chopin Piano Concertos performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Carlo Maria Guilini conducting. It was the Gramophone Award Winner in 1990. (2) Archiv Produktion 435-773-2GH2 of Krystian playing the Preludes by Debussy.
California born composer Tui St. George Tucker’s latest recording on CENTAUR CRC 2354 includes “Happy Birthday Dear Krzysztof.” David Denton reviews this disc in Nov/Dec 98 issue of Fanfare: “Tucker’s tremendous sense of humor emerges in “Happy Birthday Dear Krzysztof” dedicated to Penderecki, where some well-known melodies are given the quarter-tone treatment by a small instrumental ensemble.”
A live recording of the world premiere of PENDERECKI’s Credo performed for the finale of the 1998 Oregon Bach Festival is now available. Call (800) 367-9059.
Reviewed In The American Record Guide
Music with a Polish connection (composers or artists) almost all favorably reviewed in the Nov/Dec 1998 issue of American Record Guide:
SONY 63371. Chopin. Piano Concerto 2; Polish Fantasy; Andante Spianato & Grande Polonaise. Emanuel Ax; Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment/Charles Mackerras. [Morin]
VANGUARD 95. Chopin. Scherzos. All. Jeanne-Marie Darre, piano. [Schonberg’
NAXOS 553625. Lutoslawski. Livre pour Orchestre; Cello Concerto; Novelette; Chainn 3. Andrzej Bauer, cello, Polish Radio Symphony/Antoni Wit. [D. Moore]
MD+G 3170757 (3 CD). Nowowiejski. Organ Symphonies. Three hours and 46 minutes of organ music performed by Rudol Innig on the 4-100 stop Sauer in the resonant Bremen Cathedral. [Metz]
MARQUIS 81215 (Allegro). Elegies and Rhapsodies. Catherine Manoukian, violin. Wieniawski’s Polonaise is included here.
EMI 66871. Milstein Vignettes. Nathan Milstein, v. Leon Pommers, piano. Various composers including Chopin’s “Nocturne” op. 20 and three Wieniawski pieces, which music critic Joseph Magil pronounced as his favorites on this disc: “Obertass Mazurka, the Polonaise in D and the Scherzo Tarantelle. Here Milstein’s Slavic blood fairly boils over, and the results are thrilling. There is much to enjoy here for the casual listener and much for the serious musician to learn from.”
PALEXA 502 (Jem). Henryk Szeryng. The Polish violinist plays “vintage Szeryng” as described by Magil…. “The Szymanowski is the composer’s typical hothouse-style music, with plenty of good opportunities for showing off in the Tarantella.”
BIDDULPH 136 (Albany). Oscar Shumsky, violin. Again Wieniawski’s “Polonaise” and Chopin’s “Nocturne” is included in this studio recordings of music by several composers. Magil reviews this one and writes about the Polish works: “In the Wieniawski Polonaise in D, Shumsky reproduces Wieniawski’s own famously swift, nervous-tension staccato to breath-taking effect; and in the Polonaise in A, he plays like his life depended on it. These are two of the most idiomatic performances of these works I’ve heard, and the Polonaise in A especially is played with such ferocious technical elan that his violin sometimes buckles under the pressure.”
ROMOPHONE 81027, Marcella Sembrich. The Victor Recordings (1908-19), some from the stage of the Metropolitan Opera. The Polish coloratura soprano, famous at the turn of the century as an operatic star and after retirement, famous for her recitals of lieder and salon ballads. Morin states, “On these discs, the songs come in the later years and are oddly reedy in sound. As in the case of the earlier set, these performances are useful for vocal historians and collectors.”
Reviewed In Fanfare
The November/December issue of the Fanfare magazine reviewed the following recordings of of Polish music:
OPENING DAY ODR 9312. Chopin 12 Etudes, op. 10 and 12 Etudes op. 25. Janina Fialkowska, piano. Reviewed by Michael Ullman who wrote, “No less authoritative a source than Fanfare gave Janina Fialkowska’s previous recording, a collection of Szymanowski, its ‘highest recommendation.’ I haven’t heard the Szymanowski, but Fialkowska’s Chopin is authoritative, dramatic, and, where appropriate, touching. It’s not merely that she has the dash and flair to pull off the more virtuosic pieces, such as the gorgeous Etude in F Major from op. 10, for instance, with its innocent melody and devilish right hand. ” He continues to praise her performance and summarizes that “one should not overlook Fialkowska’s splendid rendition.”
TUDOR 7033. Chopin. Polonaises 1-7. Homero Francesch, piano. This too is reviewed by Ullman and he compares the playing of the South American-born artist to that of Pollini. He concludes that “Francesch is a fine Chopin player with an ample technique and spirit. So his recording, despite the fact that it does not blow away the formidable competition, deserves to be heard.”
NAXOS 8.553625. Lutoslawski. Livre pour orchestre. Cello Concerto. Novelette. Chain no. 3. Andrzej Bauer, vc., Polish Natl RSO, Antoni Wit, cond. Reviewed by David Denton who wrote: “The complete cycle of the orchestral works of W. L., of which this is V.4, must be one of the jewels in the Naxos crown…and concludes, “so just dash out and buy it, and enjoy the many performances which, for me, surpass any other in the catalog.”
ROMOPHONE 81027-2. Marcella Sembrich: The Victor Recordings (1908-19). Compare with review in ARG above. Here, James Camner points out the importance of the “seven magnificent cylinder recordings by Lionel Mapleson, made on the Metropolitan Opera stage 1900-03. Here, at last, we get partial confirmation of the legend: Sembrich is stupendous in the Queen of the Night’s aria, “O sommo Carlo.” Her fame as Violetta is justified in a fluent, “Sempre libera.” Ward Marston has accomplished miracles in these transfers, even when using secondary sources.” He mentions other historic names waiting to be transferred, including Jean de Reszke (whom he calls “the greatest of them all) and “it is to be hoped that the powers that be will give the best transfer engineer of our time a chance to bring them to life.”
IVORY 70804. Piano music of Ginastera, Poulenc, Szymanowski, and Piazzolla played by American pianist Ralph Votapek, who won the Gold Medal in the first Cliburn Competition. Reviewer Peter Burwasser writes: “The superb and highly varied music of the Polish composer Karol Szymanowski seems to enjoy greater currency with both audiences and performers all of the time. The Masques is a lush and atmospheric collection of three tone poems, written in 1916, and championed by Artur Rubinstein. Votapek brings off this fine music with an intelligent sense for the brooding drama as well as the glistening sensuality.” This recording was also reviewed some time ago by Daniel Cariaga in the Los Angeles Times, where we find more info on the pianist. Cariaga sheds more light on the soloist who was the first winner of the Van Cliburn Competition 36 years ago, at which time Ralph Votapek was already a regular winner of prestigious contests. He continues: “Recorded last year, when he was 58, this brilliant program confirms Votapek’s keyboard mastery and musical aristocracy. He makes all this music seem as important as it is….Szymanowski’s “Masques” exert their convoluted siren calls…”
Composer of the Month
Mieczysław Karłowicz (1876-1909)
by Maria Anna Harley
Mieczysław Karłowicz was an avid mountain climber and this passion was both the greatest joy of his life and the cause of his death. His solitary adventures took him to all the major peaks of the Tatra Mountains and to his death in an avalanche at the slopes of Mały Kościelec (d. 8 February 1909). In an article that has often been considered the proto-program of the symphonic poem Eternal Songs (Odwieczne Piesni), Karłowicz gave the following recollection of his mountain-climbing adventures:
When the curtains fall and the blue eyes of the lakes shine, when the snows blush and the mountain tops breathe with a fresh, easterly wind — then a mysterious, huge hand is stretched towards me from the mountain heights, it captures me and takes me upwards. And when I find myself at the very top, alone, only with the azure dome of the sky above me and with the petrified waves of the peaks that are around me, immersed in the sea of the plains — then I begin to dissolve in the surrounding expanses, I stop to be an individual, separate person, I feel upon myself the powerful, perennial breath of the All-Being. This breathing touches all the fibres of my soul, it fills it with a gentle light and, reaching into the depths, where the memories of worries and pains that I have experienced are held, it heals, straightens and balances them. Hours spent in this half-consciousness, are seemingly a return to not-Being; these hours give me tranquility in regards to life and death, by speaking about the eternal peace of the dissolution in the All-Existence.
This quote indicates that the composer shared pantheistic beliefs with Polish symbolist poets, e.g. Kazimierz Przerwa Tetmajer (who also adored the Tatra Mountains and its peoples), and that he knew and admired Eastern religious ideas, such as the Nirvana of Buddhism, popularized in the West through the writings of the German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche and the Russian composer, Alexandre Skryabin. Karlowicz’s longing for the peace and tranquility of the mountains resulted from the turmoil of his life which was permeated with suffering. Equally significant, though, was his passion for living, his interests in sports (skiing, cycling, mountain climbing – including winter seasons of 1906-1908) and his energy as an organizer of musical life, member of the Publishing Union of Young Composers (with Ludomir Różycki, Grzegorz Fitelberg, Apolinary Szeluto) and Warsaw Music Society.
A violinist and composer, Karłowicz studied music in Warsaw and Berlin, with Heinrich Urban. Karłowicz’s admiration for Wagner’s Tristan und Isoldeand for Nietzsche’s writings (he considered Nietzsche a poet, rather than a philosopher) locate his music in the domain of progressive, neo-romantic German-inspired art. His thorough knowledge of German music (besides Wagner, also Johannes Brahms that he disliked and Richard Strauss that he adored) may be heard in the thick textures, chromatic harmonies, and intense emotions of his symphonic poems. Karłowicz is Poland’s foremost composer of this genre, connecting a poetic impulse and a general expressive program with large-scale symphonic forms. The first of his programmatic pieces was the youthful Music for the “White Dove” (written during his Berlin studies) that followed an array of songs. Karłowicz’s mature phase begins from Symphony in E-minor “Renaissance” op. 7 (1902) and from the Violin Concerto in A major op. 8 (1902). The Concerto sounds especially fresh and inventive; its three movements are filled with an overflowing of melodic ideas and an exuberance of a young virtuoso. The soloist presents the main themes in this romantic work that follows the classical contours of the concerto, with its sonata-allegro first movement, Romanza in the middle, and a lively Vivace rondo for the Finale.
The six symphonic poems, composed in a short period of five years (1904-1909), are a unified group, both in terms of their musical forms and the type of their poetic programs. The Returning Waves [Powracające fale] op. 9 (1904), Eternal Songs [Odwieczne pieśni] op. 10 (1906), Lithuanian Rhapsody[Rapsodia litewska] op. 11 (1906), Stanisław i Anna Oświecimowie op. 12 (1907), Sorrowful Tale [Smutna opowieść] op. 13 (1908) and An Episode at a Masquerade [Epizod na maskaradzie], completed in 1911 by Fitelberg, belong among the finest achievements of Polish music. Only the Eternal Songsconsist of three movements (Song about eternal longing, Song about love and death, Song about the All-Being); the remainder of the symphonic poems are cast in one-movement freely-composed forms that relate more to their programs than to their general formal models used by other composers (e.g. Richard Strauss in Don Juan. Some of Karłowicz’s works feature many distinct themes (e.g. Lithuanian Rhapsody), but the predominant tendency of the composer is to relate all themes of a work to each other or to use similar themes for all sections of the music.
The two early works, White Dove and the Symphony Renaissance have detailed poetic programs written by the composer. One of the symphonic poems was inspired by a sorrowful painting by Stanislaw Bergman, featuring a pensive brother by the coffin of his beloved sister that he was about to marry (Stanisław and Anna Oświecimowie ). Karłowicz considered this picture a striking expression of his innermost feelings – the tragic, unrequited love for his cousin, Ludwika Śniadecka. He included a recounting of the legend in the published score, but avoided writing detailed programs for the remainder of the symphonic poems. Committed to orchestral music that “is independent of poetry and of detailed programs,” Karłowicz expressed the inspirations for his compositions in their titles. The conceptual sphere in which they are located includes philosophical reflections about the hidden sense and interconnectedness of being, the contemplation of the beauty of nature, and the loneliness and sorrow of a vulnerable person seeking solace in nature and in the thought of “eternal recurrence.” Love, a frequent theme of his songs and symphonic poems, is usually associated with nostalgia and melancholy.
A new CD recording project of all the Karłowicz’s symphonic poems is currently under way in Poland; his music was widely available there in the LP format, but his name has remained largely and unjustifiably unknown in the West. A recent monograph by Alistair Wightman partly redresses the neglect and fills some gaps in the English-language literature (see note no. 2). What Karłowicz’s music urgently needs, though, is more performances. There is no reason why such gems as the Violin Concerto or the Eternal Songs should not be included in the concert programs of major American and European orchestras; perhaps they would be able to perform this music, if they knew its quality and had been able to locate the scores and parts. Perhaps Polish orchestras should bring this magnificent composer more often with them on their foreign tours?
. Quoted from “On the new snow” [Po młodym śniegu], an article of 1907, reprinted in Elzbieta Dziębowska: “Postawa ideowo-artystyczna Mieczysława Karłowicza” [The ideological and artistic stance of M.K.] in E. Dziębowska, ed.: Z życia i twórczości Mieczysława Karłowicza [From Life and Music of M. K.], Kraków: PWM, 1970, p. 24. [Back]
.Selected references, in addition to the Dziębowska collection quoted above: Barbara Chmara-Żaczkiewicz, Andrzej Spóz, Kornel Michałowski: Mieczysław Karłowicz: Thematic Catalogue of Works and Bibliography, Kraków: PWM Edition, 1986; E. Dziębowska: “Mieczysław Karłowicz”, Entry in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, London 1980, vol. 9, p. 810-811; Alistair Wightman: Karłowicz, Young Poland and the Musical Fin-de-Siecle. Hampshire, Scolar Press, 1996. [Back]
. Quoted from Karłowicz’s letter to Helena Eger (4 July 1907) who had tried to persuade him to compose an opera. From E.Dziębowska: “Postawa ideowo-artystyczna…” op. cit., p. 20.[Back]
Born this month
- 3 December 1896 – Bolesław SZABELSKI, composer (d. 1979)
- 5 December 1899 – Bolesław WOYTOWICZ, composer (d. 1980)
- 6 December 1933 – Henryk Mikołaj GÓRECKI, composer
- 11 December 1876 – Mieczysław KARŁOWICZ, composer (d. 1909, under an avalanche in Tatra mountains)
- 14 December 1789 – Maria SZYMANOWSKA, composer, virtuosa pianist (d. 1831, of cholera)
- 18 December 1907 – Roman PALESTER, composer, broadcaster (d. 1989)
- 23 December 1830 – Adam MINCHEJMER, composer and conductor (d. 1904)
- 24 December 1859 – Roman STATKOWSKI, composer, teacher (d. 1925)
- 29 December 1902 – Henry VARS, film and popular music composer (d. 1978)
Died this month
- 11 December 1945 – Seweryn EISENBERGER, pianist (b. 1899)
- 20 December 1834 – Maurycy MOCHNACKI, music critic, writer, pianist (b. 1804)
- 21 December 1938 – Arnold LUDWIK, violin maker (b. 1873)
- 23 December 1885 – Artur BARTELS, pop singer (b. 1818)
- 24 December 1898 – Eugeniusz PANKIEWICZ, pianist and composer (b. 1857)
- 26 December 1945 – Stefan STOIŃSKI, music ethnographer, writer, conductor (b. 1891)
- 29 December 1913 – Jadwiga SARNECKA, pianist, composer, poet (b. 1877)
- 31 December 1944 – Marian Teofil RUDNICKI, conductor, composer (b. 1888)
Greetings and Wishes
The staff of the Polish Music Reference Center wishes all Polish musicians, composers, music historians and lovers of Polish music to have more occasions and opportunities to hear and perform this music in the new year. In the true holiday spirit we send our sincerest wishes to all the people who are in the position (either privately or because of their duties) to do more for the promotion of Polish music. Let us remember what a “golden treasure trove” we have at our disposal and for our enjoyment. We are proud of the richness of our musical heritage as much as we are concerned that there are people who believe that Chopin was a French composer and that there were no composers of note born on the Polish land. We wish the Polish musicians and composers all the possible successes, starting with the wide-spread recognition that their work deeply deserves.
Maria Anna Harley, Wanda Wilk, Barbara Zakrzewska-Nikiporczyk, with student assistants Anne Desler, Marcin Depinski, Jan Jakub Bokun
If you are in a party mood, look up a listing of Polish Christmas parties and other events in northern California: Polonia in California. For Polish events in the American midwest look up: Polonia Today
Christmas Shopping List
by Wanda Wilk
Why not give a gift of music to your family and friends? Here is a list of companies specializing in Polish gifts and music. You can see some of their products online and order from your computer; or visit them if you live nearby or send them a check. You will find a variety of items: books (in Polish and English) in all categories; music CDs and CD Roms; videos (documentaries, old films, new films, language, travel, cooking in Polish and English); and miscellaneous products (figurines, mugs, posters, etc.). We welcome any additions we have missed.
4738 North Milwaukee Ave.
Chicago, IL 60630-3614
Large selection of Christmas carols on CDs. Here is one that we received an inquiry about last year: Teresa Zylis-Gara, Wieslaw Ochman and the Boy’s and Men’s Choir of the State Philharmonic in Poznana and Chamber Orchestra of Polish Radio and TV in Poznan. ECD 025 $15.95.
Another favourite: A Polish Christmas Eve. Traditions and Recipes, Decorations and Song by Rev. Czeslaw M. Krysa. CWB Press, Lewiston, NY. 270 pages richly illustrated in black and white. $24.95. Hand-painted Christmas ornaments from Poland at $11 and $12 each. Christmas Videos at $24.95 each. Carols on audio-cassettes at $7.50 each. Early music CDs: Baroque Music in Poland and Music in Early Poland at $15.95 each.
PTvN POLISH BOOKSTORE
135 A India Street
Brooklyn, NY 11222
Much the same items as above (in Chicago). However, in this catalog, I found a CD-ROM devoted to the history of rock music in Poland: Published by Optimus Pascal in 1998 “Rock w Polsce” is priced at $89.90.
Also CD-ROMS on architecture and art in Poland (National museum; Royal castle & Wawel); bilingual English-Polish interactive educational fairy tales for kids over 4 @ $49.90 (three of them) and the new 6-volume Encyclopedia published by PWN at a reduced price of $399.90.
POLISH HERITAGE SQUARE/POLISH AMERICAN JOURNAL
1275 Harlem Road
Buffalo, NY 14206
Books and recordings in Polish and English on various topics.
New: Polish Weddings, Customs & Traditions by Sophie Knab. $19.95, who also wrote on Polish Herbs, Flowers & Folk medicine and Polish Customs, Traditions & Folklore. Polish Heritage Calendars; Music on tapes or CDs: Polkas for children, Polish Picnic Favorites, Assumption BVM Parish tapes for various religious occasions, PAJ Polish Village Christmas, etc…
Also available here: packages of “Oplateks” the Polish Christmas wafers. Small: 5/$2; Large: 5/$5.00 and the Limited edition of a Christmas ornament “Bog sie rodzi” at $17.50.
JANINA’S POLKAS & POLISH GIFTS
1317 Sylvania Ave.
Toledo, OH 43612
CDs, Tapes, T-shirts, jewelry and Polish heritage items.
POLISH ART CENTER
9539 Joseph Campau
Polish blue 7 white stoneware; Polish & Ukrainian egg decorating supplies; wycinanki (paper cutouts); Polish Eagle door knockers; books on folk customs, history, cooking, etc…
POLISH AMERICAN CULTURAL CENTER
308 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
This is a museum featuring Polish history and culture that also operates a gift shop of Polish heritage items.
4583 Clark Road, Suite B
Sarasota, FL 34233-3423
This company puts out one of the most colorful catalogs displaying Polish heritage gift items (t-shirts, mugs, maps, flags, caps, stick-on labels, etc..), videos, CD’s, tapes and books.
Unique: Christmas greeting cars with various Polish language greetings and all-occasion greeting cards in sets of 8. Puzzles of the Polish Eagle, Map of Poland and Polish Dancers. In the classical music CD section, I found: Kiepura, Ochman, Organ music (7 different recordings), Moniuszko songs and operas (8), Complete works of Chopin (set of 20 CDs), Polish software, etc…
Highway 15 South
2208 S. Broadway
New Ulm, MN 56073
Polka music and instruments and sound equipment, especially concertinas and accordions. Sales and repair.
THE POLKA CONNECTION
P.O. Box 7075
Yankton, SD 57078
THE POLISH ARTS & CULTURE FOUNDATION
1290 Sutter St.
San Francisco, CA 94109
Gift shop has many Polish heritage items. Look for the books on the Polish connection in California prepared by founder Wanda Tomczykowska.
MUSIC from POLAND
Poland Import Export
4216 Bettina Ave.
San Mateo, CA 94403
Proprietor Edmund Lewandowski says that he has “almost 2,000 titles of all kinds of music from Poland: multimedia editions, classical, oldies, disco, folk, jazz, religious, Christmas carols – everything you wish.”
NOWY DZIENNIK BOOK STORE
333 West 38th St.
New York, NY 10018
The Kosciuszko Foundation Bookstore has just merged with the Nowy Dziennik Bookstore. Books in Polish and English, CDs, videos and tapes. The Kosciuszko Foundation had our Polish Music History Series for sale along with the compact disc that the PMRC released several years ago.
ul. Okaryny 102-787 Warszawa, Poland
This is the official recording company of Poland that used the MUZA label on the old LP records. Now they use PNCD on most of their CDs, and the tapes use the CK label. E-mail them for their latest catalog.
al. Krasinskiego 11a31-111 Krakow, Poland
The official music publishers in Poland. This is the only place to rent orchestral parts for music by Polish composers (except for the major ones with British, German or American composers like Lutoslawski, Gorecki, Panufnik, Penderecki, etc…). Write to them for their latest catalogs.
POLYGRAM POLSKA SP. ZOO
ul. Jagiellonska 7803-301 Warsaw, Poland
This is a new recording company operating under the ACCORD label. E-mail them for their catalog.
Finally, for a restored video of the Mazowsze Folk Song & Dance Ensemble write to: WGBH Boston Video, P.O. Box 64619, St. Paul, MN 55164. $54.95.
From the Mailbox
Dr. T. Dennis Brown, Professor in the Music and Dance Department at the University of Massachussets at Amherst is looking for information on the late famous American jazz drummer, Gene Krupa. He wants to know if Gene Krupa was Polish. E-mail us at email@example.com or contact Dr. Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you do the latter, let us know too. As far as I am concerned, I have always heard that he was Polish, however, Dr. Brown has also heard that he may have had a Romanian background.