July 1998

Polish Music Reference Center Newsletter Vol. 4, no. 7

News Flash!

Seven Gates Of Jerusalem In New York

Krzysztof Penderecki’s oratorio Seven Gates of Jerusalem will be performed at the Lincoln Center Festival in New York on July 17-18 (Avery Fisher Hall, 8 p.m.). The performance, serving as a Tribute to Israel (the 50th anniversary of establishment of the country), will be conducted by Kurt Masur, with the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Singers Chorale, and Christine Goerke, soprano; Wendy Nielsen, soprano; Florence Quivar, mezzo-soprano; Jon Villars, tenor; William Stone, baritone. For more information about tickets call 212-875-5928. Web site: http://www.lincolncenter.org

The Lincoln Center’s program describes Penderecki as one of the most prolific composers of our time, who “has built a career on large-scale compositions dedicated to significant historical and contemporary commemorations.” In Seven Gates of Jerusalem Penderecki employs advanced vocal and instrumental effects mixed with monumental sonorities and expressive passages which are typical for such celebratory compositions. The audience is surrounded by a 100-voice main choir and two 40-voice antiphonal choirs which create an enveloping sound experience. The texts, mostly in Latin, with only the sixth movement in Polish (or English in performances abroad) were selected by the composer from the Psalms and the Prophets, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah and Daniel.

The oratorio was commissioned by the city of Jerusalem for its 3,000th anniversary. Its world premiere took place on 9 January 1997 and its Polish premiere in March 1997. A live recording of this performance by the Warsaw Philharmonic, under Kazimierz Kord, is available on a CD (CD Accord ACS 036).


Polish Student Wins Aspen Competition

15-year old Berenika ZAKRZEWSKI won the Concerto Competition at the Aspen Music Festival. She performed Beethoven’s Piano Concerto no. 3 with the Sinfonia Orchestra on June 24th.A student of Herbert Stessin of the Juilliard School of Music, Berenika was born in Poland and moved to Canada with her parents when she was one. Her teacher in Toronto was Marietta Orlov. She was a national finalist in Canadian Music Competitions more than once and was a finalist in the Stravinsky Awards in Urbana, IL when she was 12.

Warsaw Choir in South Pasadena

The St. John Archdiocesan Cathedral Boys’ Choir from Warsaw, Poland – better known as Cantores Minores – will present a concert of both sacred and secular music at Holy Family Roman Catholic Church in South Pasadena, at 1301 Rollin Street. The concert takes place on Wednesday, July 29, at 7:30 p.m.

The 38-member choir of boys ranging in age from 10 to 21 sings under the direction of the Detroit-born conductor Joseph A. Herter. Soloists for the concert include Anna Mackowiak, the choir’s vocal coach and a soprano soloist with the Warsaw Chamber Opera and Gregory Moore, baritone soloist from San Francisco. The choir will be accompanied by Andrzej Ginko who currently lives in Vienna.

Music by Polish composers in the sacred section of the concert include works by the Renaissance master, Mikołaj Zieleński, the Romantic classic, Stanisław Moniuszko and the contemporary composer Piotr Moss. Other music in this part of the program include pieces by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Zdenek Fibich, Igor Stravinsky, Howard Hanson and Ralph Vaughan Williams.

The secular portion of the program will include Polish folk songs arranged by Tadeusz Paciorkiewicz and Andrzej Koszewski, Polish pop songs from the 1920’s and 30’s by Henryk Wars (Tylko we Lwowie and Zimny dran), Jerzy Petersburski (Tango Milonga), and the 1953 Oscar-winning song by Bronisław Kaper Hi Lili, Hi Lo. The concert will also include American patriotic songs and Negro spirituals.

The Choir Cantores Minores is currently on a North American tour. Their itinerary includes travel to International Choral Kathumixw in Powell River, British Columbia, Canada (6 nights, June 30 to July 4). From there, the choir will travel to Victoria, B.C., to give a concert of choral music on July 8, at the Christ Church Anglican Cathedral at 8:00 p.m.; concert shared with two other choirs from the festival. On Tuesday, July 9, the choir will sing at the Polish Friendship Zgoda Society Hall, 4015 Fraser Street, Vancouver, B.C., and from July 11 to the end of their travel the choir will be on the West Coast, performing in Bellevue, Washington (July 12), at the Mercer Island, WA (on July 14), Tacoma, WA (July 16), Portland, Oregon (July 19), Bend, Oregon (21 July) Oakland, CA (July 26), and Pasadena, CA (July 29).

At other locations the choir will sing for Catholic and Protestant services, as well as perform short concerts. The young musicians will also have fun, as there are many sightseeing tours scheduled during the trip. For more information about individual events contact the conductor, Joseph Herter, at: joeherter@hotmail.com

The Long Beach Symphony under the direction of JoAnn Falletta has scheduled Karol RATHAUS (1894-1954) “Dances” for their next season (Mar ‘99). Also on the program: Saint-Saens, Bloch and Leonard Bernstein.


You read about bass Valerian RUMINSKI winning the Marcella Sembrich Vocal Competition at the Kosciuszko Foundation in New York City last month. This time, on the West Coast, he came in second in the 1998 Loren L. Zachary Society National Vocal Competition. Valerian is thirty years old and lives in Philadelphia.

Lenny GOMULKA and the Chicago Push were this year’s winners of the United States Polka Association awards. He also took the favorite male vocalist spot, song of the year for “Say Hello to Someone in Massachusetts,” and album of the year. (Polish American Journal).

Recent Performances

“Septet” for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, viola and cello by Polish composer Alexandre TANSMAN (1897-1986) was performed at the International Festival at Round Top, Texas on June 6th.

“A History of Polish Music” was one of the courses presented at the Cardinal Stritch University (located just north of Milwaukee). It was part of “A Potpourri of Poland” held during the week of June 21-27.

A documentary “The Polish Americans” has been airing on PBS as part of their summer 1998 pledge throughout the U.S. Jazz pianist Adam MAKOWICZ and Bobbie VINTON, the “Polish Prince” are among the artists interviewed. The video is available from your local PBS station with a $100.00 donation.

Peer Review

An excellent article, “What’s for Dessert?” appeared in the last issue of Strings. Written by Christopher Whiting, a UC Berkeley graduate and now member of the Orchester der Oper Zurich and foreign correspondent for the musical journal, the article describes the Violin Miniature Series published by the Polish music publisher, PWM.

Whiting writes, “the Violin Miniatures series is sure to satisfy any violinist’s sweet tooth. Priced at $3 each (including score and part), the most intriguing confections are those by Polish composers whose works won’t be found elsewhere. Composers who are well-known in the west, such as 19th c. violin virtuoso Henryk WIENIAWSKI, and Karol SZYMANOWSKI, who is increasingly recognized as one of the most important composers of the first half of this century, are well represented […] but the violinist looking for rarely heard Polish music […] is also in the right place.”

He then mentions names like Adam Wroński, Emil Młynarski, Juliusz Zarębski, Aleksander Zarzycki (surely not household names) and Grażyna Bacewicz to whom he devotes three full paragraphs – and rightly so, since Bacewicz was not only an outstanding composer respected by her Polish peers, she was also a well-known virtuoso violinist.

It was gratifying to see the author quote from one of our monographs in the Polish Music History Series, edited by me. He also makes reference to a May/June 1997 issue of Strings for more about the music of Bacewicz and other Polish composers.

With a dual celebration coming in 1999 for Bacewicz (1909-1969) it beehoves any string player to look up not only the “goodies” but some of her “meatier” stuff in the seven violin concertos, seven string quartets, two piano quintets, five sonatas for violin and piano and four sonatas for solo violin. She also wrote two cello concertos and one for viola.

The PWM scores are distributed in the U.S. by Theodore Presser, Bryn Mawr, PA (610) 525-3636. Some of her music may also be obtained in Los Angeles from Theodore Front Music Literature (818-994-1902) or Ted Przybylla (818-968-6209). It is also possible to contact PWM directly:

al. Krasinskiego 11a331-111 KRAKOW, PolandTel/Fax: 011–48–12–22-73-28Home Page: http://www.pwm.com.pl[W.W.]


Daniel Cariaga recently reviewed Ralph Votapek’s recording on Ivory Classics in the Los Angeles Times. The pianist who became the first winner of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition 36 years ago, seems to “still have it” as can be heard in this release recorded last year when Votapek was 58. Cariaga says that the brilliant program (which included Szymanowski’s “Masques” ) “confirms Votapek’s keyboard mastery and musical aristocracy.”

London Double Decker series 2-448258. The music of LUTOSŁAWSKI (Concerto for orchestra; Musique funebre; Paroles tisseesVariations on a theme by Paganini for piano and orchestra). The two discs also include music of SZYMANOWSKI (Violin Concerto no. 2 and Symphonies no. 2 & 3).

LIGIA DIGITAL 0103054. SZYMANOWSKI: Mazurkas (20) for piano, op. 50, Preludes, op. 1 and Sonata no. 1). Marie-Claude Werchowska, piano.

LIGIA DIGITAL 0302055. SZYMANOWSKI: Violin works. (Lullaby; Myths; Notturno & Tarantella, Romance in D). Bernard Zinck, violin; David Selig, piano.

TESTAMENT SBT 1113. SZYMANOWSKI: Sonata in D minor for violin and piano, op. 90. David Ostraikh, violin. Vladimir Yampolsky, piano.

CHANDOS CHAN 9590. Featuring the music of Schnittke, Part & GÓRECKI. Reviewed in Fanfare (May/June) issue by Raymond Tuttle. Catherine Perrin is the soloist in the Harpsichord Concerto by Henryk GÓRECKI with Yuri Turovsky conducting the Montreal group, I Musici. The reviewer compares this recording with others and prefers the original recording on Nonesuch played by Polish harpsichordist, Elżbieta Chojnacka, for whom the concerto was written to any other version, including the one on the Conifer label with the composer’s daughter, Anna GÓRECKA, playing a piano version.

OLYMPIA OLY 381. Władysław Żeleński (1837-1921): Quartet in C minor for piano and strings. Zygmunt Noskowski (1846-1909): Quartet in D minor, op. 8 (vn, vl, vc, pf) performed by the Polish Piano Quartet.

CANTUS C 9611. Baroque music – Musica Polonica and Eastern music of the 17th c. Four Polish composers (Mielczewski, Jarzębski, Szarzyński and Rohaczewski) are heard here, along with music by Jelich, Speer, Merula and anonymous. Recorded in Amsterdam in 1995 by “In Stil Moderno” (2 vns, 3 trmb & organ).

APR 5532 Appian Publications and Recordings, 1997. PIANO G-Ts Volume 2: Recordings from the Gramphone and Typewriter Era (1900-1907). The disc includes early recordings by Natalia Janotha, Polish pianist and forgotten composer (1856-1932), with two of her own works and Chopin’s Fugue –Janotha owned the manuscript of this work and recorded the only version available for the next half of a the century. Stanisław Dybowski, the reviewer for Ruch Muzyczny (vol. 42, no. 11, 31 May 1998) writes: “Her distinct fingering technique is bewildering […] From the musical and expressive point of view, her interpretation is perfect and beautiful.” He also states that 400 opus numbers of her works (mostly for piano and voice) may contain some hidden treasures, waiting to be discovered.

Composer of the Month

Marta Ptaszyńska

Marta Ptaszynska

The musical career of this composer – percussionist, who celebrates her birthday in July, is filled with exciting events. In 1997 she received the prestigious Alfred Jurzykowski Foundation Award for achievements in music, attended or participated in the premieres of Concerto Grosso (January; Warsaw, Poland), Saxophone Concerto (June, Lubljana, Slovenia), Scherzo di Fantasia (June, St. Louis). She also performed at the Tenth International Congress on Women in Music (May; Valencia, California), the Festival PASSAGE-Panorama of the 20th-c. Music organized by the ISCM-Polish Section (July; Warsaw, Poland), the Days of Music & Dance Festival (October, Poznan, Poland).

From her portfolio, the Winter’s Tale (La Novella d’Inverno) (1984) and Dream Lands, Magic Spaces (1979) received new performances, the former in Philadelphia (October), and the latter in Chicago (November). Such performances of older works are a sign of the composer’s establishment as an important, revered artist of this century. Mark Behm wrote in Perspectives of New Music that Dream Lands, Magic Spaces “has a diversity and spaciousness which is impressive. The manner in which musical actions and consequences follow upon each other in an allusive texture, effectively conveys the sense of irratonality implicit in the title.”

The Winter’s Tale received the second prize at the International Rostrum of Composers organized by UNESCO in Paris. It is one of the most interesting Polish compositions of that period; according to Jonathan Kramer’s review in Musical America this work reveals the composer’s ability “to create amazingly varied sound colors” using only the resources of string instruments. The colorful palette of Ptaszyńska’s music has often been commented upon. It is one of the characteristics of her mature style, enriched by her life-long experience with percussion instruments (she chose to play percussion already in elementary music school), and by her “color hearing” linking colors to timbres (unlike the pitch-and-chord based synaesthesia of Messiaen, Rimsky-Korsakov, or Scriabin).

Ptaszyńska’s 1997 teaching appearances included residences at the University of Colorado, Boulder; University of Chicago and Northwestern University, Evanston and seemed to settle with the acceptance of a position of Professor of Composition at Indiana University School of Music, Bloomington. However, she recently chose to return to Chicago, accepting the post of Composition Professor at an institution that she has been involved with for a number of years. As a true scholar, she also writes about music, for instance giving a paper at the International Conference on Witold Lutosławski in Poznań (October). Though there is now a growing bibliography about her music, it would be great to have more written statements originating from the composer herself. Lutosławski or Penderecki often gave interviews, wrote essays and articles about their aesthetic views and their compositional technique. Ptaszyńska, like her eminent predecessor, Grażyna Bacewicz, is unwilling to do so. Perhaps, it is one of the gender differences that had, in the past, contributed to the absence of music by women from music history textbooks? Women have performed and composed, but they seldom discussed these musical activities in written texts…

To return to Ptaszyńska’s current engagements, the 1998 events in the composer’s calendar have so far included the American premiere of her Saxophone Concerto (January, Evanston, IL), the world premiere of children’s opera Mr. Marimba to a libretto by the late poet and song-writer, Agnieszka Osiecka, in the National Theater and Opera in Warsaw (May), and the world premiere of Linear Constructions in Space commissioned by the Sudwestfunk in Baden-Baden and presented at the Bodensee Festival in the same German city (June). For more information about Ptaszyńska’s biography and works see the composer’s page maintained at the PMRC: www.usc.edu/go/polish_music/composer/ptaszynska.html


Director’s Reports

by Maria Anna Harley

The Kościuszko Foundation has just informed Dr. Barbara Zakrzewska-Nikiporczyk, a music librarian from Poznań, about awarding her a 10-month grant for research at the Polish Music Reference Center. I had invited Dr. Zakrzewska-Nikiporczyk to apply for this grant, after meetings with many music librarians in Poland in the summer of 1997. At the PMRC we need professional help of the highest calibre that can only be provided by a librarian from Polalnd, with good knowledge of computer cataloging systems, and with a solid command of the English language. Dr. Zakrzewska-Nikiporczyk perfectly fulfills all our requirements. She is currently the head of the Special Collection Department at the University of Poznań, and the main bibliographer for Polish music. In this capacity her duty is to submit abstracts and bibliographic entries to the main databases of music publications of the world (such as RILM Abstracts). There, she took over the task of the late Kornel Michałowski, who has edited a number of books including one of the books in the Polish Music History Series (with Gillian Olechno-Huszcza), Polish Music Literature (1515-1990). At the PMRC Dr. Zakrzewska-Nikiporczyk will work on updating and correcting our online catalog. She will also contact music librarians in Los Angeles and continue her bibliographic tasks. Her stay here will last from September to June 1999. We are grateful for the Kościuszko Foundation grant, and very happy with Dr.Zakrzewska-Nikiporczyk’s imminent and very welcome arrival.

We are also very pleased with another new development: the Polish Music History Series of monographs is now publicized and sold by the Pendragon Press, a well-respected music publisher from New York, specializing in books about music from Eastern and Central Europe. The Pendragon Press’s bulletin board currently lists four titles available from them: books on Bacewicz (two studies, by Rosen and Thomas), on Szymanowski (by Chylińska), and on Michałowski/Olechno-Huszcza (bibliography). Other books are forthcoming and will be co-published by the Friends of Polish Music and the Pendragon Press. See the publisher’s bulletin board for more details (at: www.pendragonpress.com).



Born this month:

  • July 04, 1904 – Artur Malawski, composer (d. 1957)
  • July 06, 1837 – Władysław Żeleński, composer (with a doctorate in philosophy, d.1921)


Died this month:

  • July 6, 1911 – Kazimierz Hofman (b. 1842, pianist, composer, father of the renowned virtuoso and director of Curtis Institute, Józef Hofmann)
  • July 8, 1906 – Franciszek Bornik (b. 1870), priest, conductor, writer
  • July 21, 1964 – Zygmunt Sitowski (b. 1906), musicologist
  • July 23, 1829 – Wojciech Bogusławski (b. 1757), the first theatre director in Poland, the author of several opera libretti (set by J. Stefani and J. Elsner)
  • July 25, 1831 – Maria Szymanowska (b. 1789), pianist & composer
  • July 09, 1931 – Eugeniusz Knapik, composer
  • July 10, 1936 – Jan Wincenty Hawel, composer
  • July 10, 1835 – Henryk Wieniawski, violin virtuoso & composer (see his Page at the PMRC)
  • July 10, 1929 – Tadeusz Strumiłło, musicologist (d. 1956)
  • July 13, 1775 – Antoni Henryk Radziwiłł, composer, cellist, patron of arts (d. 1833)
  • July 14, 1926 – Jan Krenz, conductor & composer
  • July 16, 1947 – Grażyna Pstrokonska-Nawratil, composer
  • July 17, 1932 – Wojciech Kilar, composer
  • July 22, 1930 – Leoncjusz Ciuciura, composer
  • July 23, 1884 – Apolinary Szeluto, composer (Young Poland group, d. 1966)
  • July 26, 1928 – Tadeusz Baird, composer (d. 1982)
  • July 26, 1922 – Andrzej Koszewski, composer (choral music)
  • July 29, 1943 – Marta Ptaszyńska, composer & percussionist