June 1998

Polish Music Reference Center Newsletter Vol. 4, no. 6

News Flash!

Choral Competition Winners

Polish Singers Alliance of America announces the winners at the International Convention and Competition, held in Chicago, IL, on May 20-24, 1998. Choruses competed in three categories: mixed, female and male. The results are as follows:

Mixed Choruses:

1st Place: Symfonia Choir #291, Hamilton, Ontario Musical Director, Maciej Jaskiewicz

2nd Place: Aria Choir #303, Wallington, NJ. Musical Director, Dayle Vander Sande

3rd Place: Filarets Choir #293, Hamtramck, MI. Musical Director, W ładysław Budweil

Female Choruses:

1st Place: Polonia Singers #329, Toronto, Ontario. Musical Director, Andrzej Rozbicki

2nd Place: Jutrzenka Choir #226, Brooklyn, NY. Musical Director, Isabela Kobus-Salkin

3rd Place: Paderewski Female Choir #321, Philadelphia, PA. Musical Director, Jan Sporek

Male Choruses:

1st Place: Filarets Choir #313, Hamtramck, MI. Musical Director, Władysław Budweil

2nd Place: Oginski Choir #283, Hempstead, NY. Musical Director, Barbara Miluk-Kolasa

The female chorus, Polonia Singers #329 was awarded the highest points over all competing choruses and took home not only the 1st Place trophy for their category, but also a traveling trophy and the PSAA’s highest award, the Hlond Trophy.

On Sunday, May 24th, a concert of the combined choruses of the PSAA with the aid of the recently formed Polish-American Symphony Orchestra of Chicago took place at the Medinah Temple under the musical direction of Andrzej Rozbicki, former General Choral Director of the PSAA. Polish composer and guest of honor, Wojciech Kilar was unable to attend the convention due to the unfortunate circumstance of his wife having suffered a heart attack a few days earlier. He addressed the singers and audience by tape broadcast during the concert. The concert boasted two American premiers by Kilar: Angelus, for soprano solo, mixed chorus and orchestra featuring guest soprano Brygida Bziukiewicz; and Krzesany, for orchestra and band of mountaineer musicians. Master and Mistress of Ceremony were the illustrious Bogusław Kaczynski, Polish TV Personality and Director of the Roma Musical Theater in Warsaw, and Lucyna Migała, Artistic Director and Coordinator of the Lira Singers #314, Chicago.

You can learn more about the Polish Singers Alliance of America by visiting their site: http://www.ivandv.com/psaa.


The Leopold Stokowsky Collection was transferred from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia to the University of Pennsylvania Library. To celebrate this occasion an all-day program (symposium, exhibit, film and evening concert) was devoted to the famous maestro. Born in London to a Polish father Stokowsky was conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra from 1912-38, transforming it into a world class orchestra.

Polish-American pianist Emanuel AX has just recorded a new way to hear Chopin. This time Sony selected an 1851 Erard piano for his rendition of Chopin’s Piano Concerto no. 2, Fantasia on polish Airs and Andante spaniato & Grande Polonaise. Jed Distler calls it “a welcome issue” and discusses Ax’s first encounter with a period instrument in the June issue of Gramophone.

Kurt MASUR, director of the New York Philharmonic, recently opened the International Silesian Festival of Music conducting the WOSPRiT Orchestra of Katowice. The festival was held in the town of Brzeg, located in Wrocław county, where the famous conductor was born.

Joanna Oledzka reported in the Nowy Dziennik on Stanisław SOJKA’s concert for the benefit of the Museum of Natural History in Chicago. Music critic of the Smooth Jazzradio program called it the top event of the month. The Polish vocalist sang several versions (including his own arrangement) of Shakespeare’s Sonnets, as well as old and newest highlights from his latest CD No. 17, which includes poetry of Nobel prize winner Wisława Szymborska.

POSITION AVAILABLE: St. Barbara Parish, 13534 Colson, Dearborn, MI 48126 (fax: 313-582-1581) searches for a qulified organist/choir director. The preference is for someone familiar with the Catholic music and liturgy, as well as with the Polish language. For more information please contact Fr. Zbigniew Grankowski, pastor, at the above address.


IRCR Historic Awards for 1998: Winner of the International Classical Record Collector, a quarterly magazine devoted to recordings from the past, in the instrumental category is The Complete Josef Hofmann. Vol. 5 Solo Recordings 1935-48. Marston mono 52004-2. His playing is described (Gramophone, June ‘98) as “imbued with a sense of classical poise and beauty of tone and there is some stunning finger technique( the cadenza in the second performance of Chopin’s Op. 27 No. 2 is quite breathtaking.” Among the nominations in the vocal awards we find Marcella Sembrich. Opera Arias (Romophone mono 810262).

News Books

The newest book by Polish music critic, Jerzy Waldorf, is hot off the press: Serce w płomieniach. Słowo o Szymanowskim. [Heart in flames. A word about Szymanowski.] The author concentrates on painting a picture of Szymanowski in the context of musical life in the Poland’s capital city, Warsaw, during the years between the two world wars.

Recent Performances

MAY 2: CONCERT OF POLISH MUSIC. Opening of the Sixth Warsaw Days of Literature. Concert Studio of the Polish Radio, Warsaw, Poland. Works by KURPINSKI (Ouverture “Dwie Chatki” [Two Cottages]), WIENIAWSKI (Violin Concerto No. 2), and JASINSKI (world premiere of Kantata). 6 p.m.

MAY 2: Piotr Folkert, piano. Music of Bach-Busoni, Brahms and Szymanowski. Kościuszko Foundation. 15 E. 65th St., 8:00 p.m. $15. Foundation members $12.

MAY 5: WORKS FROM THE MANUSCRIPT by JAN OF JASIENNA (15th c.). Early music ensembles Bornus Consort and Ars Nova, National Philharmonic, Warsaw, Poland, 7 p.m.

MAY 7: MONIUSZKO’S 179th ANNIVERSARY CONCERT. Songs from Home Songbooks performed by R. Landowska (soprano), A. Wronska (mezzosoprano), M. Sobkowiak and M. Dubrawski (piano). Warsaw Music Society (WTM), Warsaw, 6:30 p.m.

MAY 6-7: Quo Vadis. Chamber opera by Bernadetta MATUSZCZAK performed by the Warsaw Chamber Opera, Warsaw.

MAY 10: Elsner String Quartet. Special Mother’s Day concert presented in association with WQXR radio. Graduates of the Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw, the quartet is studying at the Manhattan School of Music. Kościuszko Foundation, 3:00 p.m. $20/15.

MAY 11: SZYMANSKI in NEW YORK. A premiere performance of “Limericks” by Paweł SZYMANSKI took place at the Kosciuszko Foundation, New York by the newly-formed “Speculum Musicae” chamber ensemble. The concert presented new music from Poland.

MAY 13: CHAMBER MUSIC IN THE L.A. AREA. Roger Wilkie, violin and Joanne Pearce Martin, piano, performed music of Brahms, Sarasate, Kreisler, Ponce, CHOPIN and WIENIAWSKI at California State University at Fullerton.

MAY 14: CHAMBER MUSIC IN THE L.A. AREA. Violinist Ernest Salem and pianist Cynthia Williams presented a program which included music by Witold LUTOSŁAWSKI at California State University at Fullerton, May 15th.

MAY 19. The Music Gallery: Live broadcast over WNYC-FM 93.9, NY. Pawel Knapik, double bass, with Anna Kijanowska, piano.

MAY 24. Third Chopin Competition of Young Pianists (up to age 15). San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Free. Presented by the Chopin Council of San Francisco.

MAY 31. Concert of Laureates of the Third Chopin Competition of Young Pianists. Kościuszko Foundation, New York.+

Calendar of Events

JUNE 6: “Septet” by Alexandre TANSMAN (1897-1986) will open the International Festival-Institute at Round Top, Texas. 3:00 p.m.

JUNE 19-30: COURSE for OPERA SINGERS. Organized by KBM (Krajowe Biuro Koncertowe; Home Concert Office), the courses are given by Ryszard Karczykowski and take place in Radziejowice. For more information call 48-22–621-6580 or 621-3074.

JUNE 26 – JUL 11: OREGON BACH FESTIVAL. World premiere of Penderecki’s “Missa.” The Penderecki String Quartet is also scheduled to appear. For more information visit the web site: http://bachfest.uoregon.edu

JUL 7 – 26: LINCOLN CENTER FESTIVAL, NY. U. S. Premiere of Penderecki’s new oratorio, “Seven Gates of Jerusalem.” For more informatiton call 212-875-5928. Web site: http://www.lincolncenter.org


CAMBRIA 1106: Jakob Gimpel, piano. Chopin: Fantasy; 24 Preludes; Mendelssohn: Song without Words; Debussy: Pour les 5 Doigts; Chopin: Waltz in A-flat. This was the program Gimpel played at the Ambassador Auditorium in Pasadena on January 24, 1976. Music critic, Harold C. Schonberg, bemoans the fact that Gimpel was not recognized as the great pianist that he was and that is so evidently demonstrated on this disc. (American Record Guide). Mr. Gimpel spent many years teaching at USC and at Cal State Northridge. He told me he was the first pianist to perform the Szymanowski Etudes on the concert stage. I am happy to say that the Friends of Polish Music at USC honored this great artist during our Szymanowski Centennial Celebration at USC in 1982. I also remember hearing him play at the Ambassador Auditorium and he had the audience at his command. It was a real “happening.” He died in 1989. [WW]

Dabringhaus und Grimm has just released the complete organ symphonies by Feliks NOWOWIEJSKI (1877-1946). MDG 317 0757-2.

NAXOS has just released music of SZYMANOWSKI and LUTOSŁAWSKI:

8.660062-3. Opera Classics. Karol Szymanowski. King Roger. Karol Stryja conducting the Polish State Philharmonic of Katowice.

8.553625. Lutosławski. Orchestral Music. Vol. 4. Concerto for cello and orchestra; Livre pour orchestra, Novelette and Chain no. 3. Polish National Radio Symphony with Andrzej Bauer and Antoni Wit, cond.

The British music journal Gramophone released its list of choices for best sounding recordings in its May issue. One of the 13 chosen CDs is EMI CDC5 56439-2: “Credo” with Plainchant plus music by Panufnik, Penderecki, Rachmaninov and Stravinsky. Produced by Simon Woods, Simon Rhodes, engineer at King’s College Chapel, Cambridge with the King’s College Choir and S. Cleobury.

VIRGIN CLASSICS VC5 45275-2: Lutosławski. Chantefleurs et Chantefables. Preludes and Fugue. Five Songs. Chain 1. Solveig Kringelborn, sop. Norwegian Chamber Orchestra/Daniel Harding. Gramophone critic, Michael Oliver, praises “these quite admirable performances and recordings, the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra responding with enthusiasm and warmth to Lutoslawski’s implicit demands that they should play like an ensemble of soloists. Daniel Harding’s love for this music is everywhere apparent in his care for balance, vivid sonority and the sheer range (from eloquent intensity to touching tenderness) of Lutoslawski’s lyricism.” He also praises Solveig Kringelborn, “who gave the first performance of Chantefleurs et chantefables under the composer’s direction, sounds just as much at home in Polish as in French.”

KOCH SCHWANN 317972: Chopin. Nocturnes. Ewa Kupiec, piano. Reviewed in both Gramophone and American Record Guide. Although acknowledging the pianist’s warm and sensitive playing, honest clarity and directness, and confident of the recording’s commercial success, both critics do not feel that it is enough. They would like to see more passion and deeper musical substance from her.

ACA 20010 (Albany). Chopin: Ballades; Etudes, op. 10 and Liszt: Campanella. Ruth Slenczynska, piano. Very favorably reviewed in May/June American Record guide by Alan Linkowski, who believes that this former child prodigy “could probably play the Chopin etudes blindfolded; such is her command of these challenging miniatures. Artur Rubinstein is said to have told the young Slenczynska that she played these pieces better than he did. …Musically and technically this is a fine tribute to a remarkable artist.” She retired in 1988 at the age of 63 and continues to teach at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.

Bargain Records

Panufnik: Symphony no. 9; Piano Concerto. Ewa Pobłocka, p.; London Symphony Orchestra/Panufnik. Conifer Classics CDCF 206. Going for a Song, P.O. Box 167, Orpington BR5 3ZS. U.K. Fax: 01689 899030. (2.99pound/cd).

Harold Moores Records has reduced Moniuszko’s opera Halka (CPO 999 032-2) to a special price: 15 and a half pounds. FAX: (0170) 287 0377. Web site: http://www.hmrecords.demon.co.uk.

Recording of the Month

Ars Nova – Zaświeć Niesiądzu [Shine, Moon, Shine]

Issued by DUX [#0261, 1996], this delightful recording suggests what possibilities may be discovered in the innovative junctions of sound technology and art. The recording presents a set of Polish folk songs from the Kaszuby region, sung by Apolonia Nowak in a wonderfully rich, full-chested “white” voice (used by female Polish folksingers from different areas). The voice, without vibrato and ornamentation, but recorded with a smooth veil of reverberation, sounds from a distance, as if heard from the “fields, waters, and villages” described in the songs’ texts. The songs are performed in dialect, with the proper “folk” pronunciation (which is startling to some Polish speakers who know only the literary form of the language).

What makes the recording very remarkable, though, and what captured the attention of juries at competitions (the CD received an award from the Polish Radio and another one at a competition in Shanghai) is the presence of an early music ensemble as the accompaniment for the singer. The ARS Nova ensemble, directed by Jacek Urbaniak, includes the director performing on an array of wind instruments, as well as Agata Sapiecha (fidel, rebec, mazanki – bowed string instruments), Małgorzata Feldgebel and Joanna Nogal (fidel), Marcin Zalewski (viola da gamba, lute, ocarine), Tadeusz Czechak (psalterium, gothic harp, lute, drum), Czesław Pałkowski (flutes, ocarine, hurdy-gurdy), and Marcin Domżał (glass cups, whistle).

The eclectic collection of instruments, juxtaposing reconstructed medieval instruments with those originating in Polish folklore, is not the only surprising element of this recording. Their sounds are supported with recordings of natural sound effects – the gurgling water of a stream, tranquil layers of birdsong, the crowing of the village rooster, the wind…. The instruments augment and ornament the melodies, faithfully rendered by the beautiful “white” voice of Ms. Nowak. The improvisations freely mix figures and gestures from the medieval, renaissance and baroque periods, creating a fascinatingly inventive, and completely fictional, portrait of an idealized, peaceful village, filled with enchanting sonorities and vivid colors of folk art. The CD divides the songs into three groups, subtitled “The Water,” “The Forest,” and “The Village.” The booklet contains all the texts illustrated with reproductions of folk “paper cut-outs” [wycinanki].

The recording was engineered by Małgorzata Polańska, Lech Tołwiński, and Antoni Dąbrowski. The recording session took place in the interior of the Assumption of the BVM Church in Warsaw. Unfortunately, I do not know who distributes DUX and this CD outside of Poland. The company’s address is listed on our web site.


Commemorations & Anniversaries

Born this month:

  • June 1, 1909 – Maria Dziewulska, composer and theoretician
  • June 4, 1845 – Aleksander Poliński, music historian (d. 1916)
  • June 4, 1784 – Adam Czarnocki, music etnographer (d. 1825)
  • June 5, 1865 – Felicjan Szopski, composer and music critic (d.1939)
  • June 6, 1929 – Bogusław Schaeffer, composer, writer
  • June 12, 1897 – Aleksander Tansman, composer and pianist
  • June 16, 1923 – Henryk Czyż, conductor and composer
  • June 17, 1930 – Romuald Twardowski, composer
  • June 28, 1895 – Kazimierz Sikorski, composer and teacher
  • June 28, 1904 – Włodzimierz Poźniak, musicologist


Died This Month

  • June 4, 1872 – Stanisław Moniuszko (“father” of Polish national opera)
  • June 5, 1964 – Henryk Sztompka, pianist, Chopin specialist, teacher
  • June 30, 1957 – Michał Świerzyński, composer and choral conductor

Director’s Reports

by Maria Anna Harley

Soon after the April “Day with Women’s Music” and the visit of Hanna Kulenty to California, sponsored by the PMRC, I left for Europe, to participate in an international conference at the University of Heidelberg, Germany. The conference, entitled “The Yearning for the Middle Ages” took place on April 16-19 and was organized by two German scholars, Prof. Annette Kreutziger-Herr (Hamburg) and Prof. Dr. hab. Dorothea Redepenning (Heidelberg).

For this occasion, I finally used the ticket that I won at the raffle of the Polish University Club during their Christmas Party in 1996. Thanks to the Manager of LOT in Los Angeles, Mr. Marek Kasiak, I could even travel in the comfort of business class. While my flight from New York to Warsaw was very enjoyable, my schedule was hectic. What was I doing in Warsaw when I was supposed to go to Heidelberg? In addition to attending the conference in Germany, I had several business tasks in Poland.

First, I had to visit Mr. Henryk Górecki, for another interview which will appear in our book, entitled Górecki: An Autumn Portrait and scheduled for publication for the summer of 1999. He also signed forms to permit publication of my interview and article in The Musical Quarterly. Second, I paid a quick visit to Wanda Bacewicz, the sister of the great woman composer, whose music continues to be celebrated and promoted by the PMRC. Ms. Bacewicz let me use some of her personal photographs for our future Bacewicz web site and I had to return them to the owner (after making computer scans and copies).

My third and final assignment in Poland was a meeting with the editorial board of the Polish Musicological Quarterly, Muzyka, discussing the future cooperation between this journal and our new scholarly journal, published electronically on the PMRC web site, Polish Music Journal. The first issue of this publication will appear in June (with the three papers awarded Wilk Prizes for Research in Polish Music); the following issues will contain translations from articles by Polish scholars, previously published only in Polish. By making these articles available to the English-speaking world we hope to stimulate interest in and recognition of the achievements of Polish composers. At the PMRC, we believe in the power of the written word, and in the importance of including a wider range of Polish music in history textbooks, encyclopedias, dictionaries, journals, etc. We hope that the cooperation with Muzyka will serve this purpose. Finally, I have also discussed the support that the Ministry of Arts and Culture offered for our upcoming International Conference “Polish Jewish Music,” which will explore a little-known and controversial aspect of Polish culture.

At the conference at Heidelberg University, however, I dealt with another controversy: the political use of medieval anthem in the music by Polish contemporary composers. I presented a paper entitled “Bogurodzica Reborn: A Medieval Anthem in Contemporary Music (Panufnik, Ptaszyńska, Kilar, Górecki).” “Bogurodzica” for those who do not know that, is one of the earliest documents of the Polish language, and the earliest notated piece of music with Polish text. Its written sources date back to the beginning of the 15th century, but the anthem is considered to have been composed in the 13th c. Some scholars have even attributed it to the St. Adalbertus (11th c.). According to historians, this song, called “carmen patrium” – the song of the homeland – served as a coronation anthem to the Iagellon dynasty, and was sung at the battlefields of Grunwald (1410, against the Teutonic Knights), and of Varna (1444, against the Turkish invasion). Its continuing popularity (through the 17th century) ended when the archaic language became incomprehensible to modern speakers and when the venerated icon of the Black Madonna replaced the song as the national-religious symbol.

In my paper (which will appear in the conference’s proceedings next year) I discuss the socio-political context, symbolic function and compositional use of this anthem in works including Sinfonia Sacra by Andrzej PANUFNIK, Conductus and Polish Letters by Marta PTASZYNSKA, Bogurodzica by Wojciech KILAR, and a series of compositions by Henryk Mikołaj GÓRECKI, in which only the anthem’s first motive appears. The usage of “Bogurodzica” — an ardent prayer for peace and restful sojourn in paradise, addressed to Mary and Jesus — as a national anthem, an anti-German symbol, and a battle hymn of the Polish army suggests the interplay of political and religious factors with the aesthetics of contemporary music. The composers associated the anthem with the Millennium of Poland (Panufnik), the 600th Anniversary of the Black Madonna and the rise of the Solidarity movement (Panufnik, Górecki, Ptaszynska, Kilar). The paper was also illustrated with an excerpt from Aleksander Ford’s film “The Teutonic Knights” (music by Kazimierz Serocki) highlighting the presence of Bogurodzica at a battlefield at Grunwald.

Finally, I should mention the PMRC visitors, that we are very happy to welcome here. On May 7th two of the Wilk Prize-winners traveled to Los Angeles to receive their award in person: Dr. Jill Timmons and Dr. Sylvain Fremaux, the authors of a study about Alexander Tansman, were our lovely guests. Their joy was marred only by the fact that instead of the award certificate they received only an apology note from the USC office. “The note is so funny that we will frame it” – they said. Their paper will soon be published online: in the first issue of the Polish Music Journal that is being prepared now.

Our guests this summer will include Dr. Richard Scott, who will travel to USC for a post-doctoral research project on the music of Karol Szymanowski. He will search for materials in the PMRC archives. Dr. Scott applied for a grant to be able to travel to USC and we will warmly welcome him in California. Also in July, the Boys Choir from the St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Warsaw, conducted by Joseph Herter, will travel to Southern California. At the moment we are still searching for an appropriate concert venue for their concert — which would, if the proper location is found, become a fund-raiser for the PMRC.

At the PMRC, work continues on another Internet project, the sample entries for the Online Encyclopedia of Polish Music. Entries on Górecki, Lutosławski, Bacewicz, and Szymański will be ready by the end of the summer. We will continue to inform you about our activities and the news from the research front in the future.