November 1998

Polish Music Reference Center Newsletter Vol. 4, no. 11

News Flash!

Winners Of The 3rd International Stanislaw Moniuszko Vocal Competition

Grand Prix ($15,000): None awarded

Female Category:

  • I Prize: soprano Aleksandra Kurzak, Poland ($10,000).
  • II Prize: mezzo-soprano Elena Wiszniewska, Ukraine ($8,000).
  • III Prize (tied): mezzo-soprano Guo Ling Li, China & soprano Katarzyna Trylnik, Poland ($6,000).

Male Category:

  • I Prize: bass Jacek Janiszewski, Poland ($10,000).
  • II Prize: tenor Michail Gubskij, Russia ($8,000).
  • III Prize (tied): baritone Andriej Grigoriev, Russia & tenor Andriej Romanienko, Ukraine ($6,000).

In addition to the first prize, Ms. Kurzak won several other prizes: the Jan Kiepura Prize for best Polish contestant, the Ada Sari prize for best soprano, the National Concert Bureau Prize for best Polish candidate, and the Warsaw Music Society Prize for the youngest laureate. She also shared two others with Jacek Janiszewski (the Tarnow `98 Prize for best Polish artist and the Royal Palace Prize for a Polish laureate), who himself also won the Adam Didur Prize for bass or baritone and a guest appearance with the National Opera and Teatr Wielki of Warsaw.

Chinese mezzo-soprano, Yuan Yuan Sun won the Adam Didur prize for mezzo which will enable her to perform in the Silesian Opera in Bytom, while Austrian soprano Vera Mamleew won the Marcela Sembrich-Kochanska prize of $500 for coloratura soprano. Tenor Michail Gubskij received $2,000 for best performance of an aria from Moniuszko’s opera, Halka.

There were 275 applicants from 39 countries, of which 84 from 30 countries were admitted to the competition. The audience heard 30 contestants in the second stage and 13 in the final stage, which was judged by an international jury of artists from France, Russia, Lithuania, and Australia, headed by soprano Teresa Kubiak from U.S.A.

This is the third international competition promoting the music of Stanislaw Moniuszko, Poland’s “Schubert,” and widely regarded as the father of Polish opera. It was the brainchild of former primadonna of the State Opera Theatre of Warsaw, soprano Maria Foltyn, who has for years been staging productions of Moniuszko’s works in Poland and abroad in Havana, Mexico City, Ankara, Bucharest, Tokyo, New York, Chicago, Novosibirsk and Curitiba. Since 1977, she has also been director of the annual Moniuszko Festival in Kudowa Zdroj, where artists from around the world come to perform.

She states, “The music of Stanislaw Moniuszko reflects a unique Polish character. For years it was at the roots of our culture. It showed our nation its own identity and fanned the fires of hope and freedom.” As founder and artistic director of the Moniuszko Competition, Maria Foltyn says that her goal is to “arouse the world’s interest not only in Moniuszko, but also in the works of Paderewski and Karlowicz, Szymanowski and Gorecki, Lutoslawski and Penderecki. They have all earned for themselves a permanent place among the world’s leading composers, and Chopin watches over all of them.” Among the requisites for all entrants is to perform songs by one or other of these Polish composers.


Polish Music Festival, Evanston: Update

On the 11th of November the U.S. and Canada celebrate the Veteran’s Day (“Memorial Day”) established to immemorize the ending of World War I in 1918. On this date, Poland regained independence after over 120 years of languishing under the foreign governments of Austria, Prussia, and Russia. In 1998, Poland celebrates the 80th anniversary of this momentous event. At Northwestern University in Evanston, Il., this celebration assumes the form of a Polish Music Festival organized by conductor Mariusz Smolij and the School of Music of the University. This series of concerts and lectures is scheduled for November 17-24, 1998. It will be the largest single presentation of Polish music that ever took place in the United States. For more information visit the web-site of the Polish Suburban News, at, where the Festival has its own site.

You may order tickets by phone 847/467-4000,by fax: 847/467 – 1831, or by mail:

Pick-Staiger Concert Hall,
Northwestern University,
1977 South Campus Drive,
Evanston, IL 60208-2420

Lutoslawski Conductors’ Competition, Bialystok

The Second Competition of Young Conductors took place at the Bialystok Philharmonic between October 25 and 30. Pianist Ewa Poblocka with conductor Boguslaw Madey presented the opening concert, including compositions from the standard, non-Polish repertoire (Musorgsky, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky). The competition winners will be announced in the next Newsletter.

Alexander Tansman 2nd International Competition Of Musical Personalities

November 18-22, 1998, Łodz, Poland

While Polish Americans celebrate the anniversary of Poland’s independence, students of flute, bassoon, cello, piano and guitar compete for prizes in a newly established competition, directed by Andrzej Wendland, president of A. Tansman Society in Poland. The guiding principle of the competition is to promote well-rounded and original musical talents, irrespective of their instrument of choice. The jury will take into consideration more than the technical brilliance required by most competitions; it will try to discern a truly original personality which could open the way to an international career. The second purpose of this competition is to popularize the music of Aleksander Tansman, the most famous composer hailing from the city of Łodz. The promotion of the city itself and its cultural heritage is the final goal of the competition organizers. In 1998, Prof. Eleanor Schoenfeld from USC (cello) will serve on the international jury. For more information contact the Tansman Society Office:

90-401 Łodzul. Legionow 2; Poland
Tel/Fax: 011-48-42–399-368

4th Festival Of Competition Winners

The Bydgoszcz Philharmonic (Filharmonia Pomorska) gives young competition winners another chance to perform in a professional setting. This festival, scheduled between 19 and 23 October, featured singers (the winners of the Moniuszko competition: Aleksandra Kurzak, Aleksandra Zamojska, Rafal Zurakowski, Krzysztof Witkowski, Katarzyna Trylnik) during the opening Gala, and an array of instrumentalists and chamber groups during the following four days of this event: Anna Tyka (cello), Artur Pachlewski (clarinet), Joanna Marcinkowska, Radoslaw Szumillo, Rafal Blechacz, and Wojciech Jasinski (piano), Agnieszka Marucha, Patrycja Piekutowska and Sebastian Liebig (violin), Karol Kinal (double bass), Arkadiusz Krupa (oboe), Anna Sliwa (harpsichord), Alina Mleczko (saxophone), Waclaw Golonka (organ), and piano trio “Con Passione” (B. Wujtewicz, A. Dziubak, J. Stetkiewicz). The final concert included an appearance of Wanda Wilkomirska (violin) who performed Brahms’s Violin Concerto in D major.

Update On The Polish/Jewish/Music! International Conference

November 15-16, 1998, Los Angeles

Renowned Polish artist, Janusz Majewski, designed the poster for this international event which will gather 20 scholars from 4 countries for 8 sessions and 2 concerts. The conference, the first of its kind, attemps to fill some of the larger gaps in Polish music history. One of the goals of the conference is to demonstrate that one cannot write a history of Polish music without acknowledging the contribution of musicians and composers of Jewish descent. It is important to educate American communities of Polish and Jewish background about their common heritage, about the joy of creativity that these two peoples shared. The complex cultural relationships between the groups included both assimilation and coexistence. Yet, it is the greatness of the music itself that triumphs over all the political controversies.

The two concerts may be the most interesting to the general audience, both start at 8 p.m., with tickets of $7 (from USC tickets office). The program of the first evening, Sunday, November 15, 1998, presents the rich musical personality of Aleksander or Alexandre Tansman who was born in Poland, settled in Paris, and became a citizen of the world, set against the background of works by his colleagues and friends. Describing himself as a “Polish composer” and drawing from the music heritage of mazurkas and polonaises, Tansman was a member of the international avantgarde, a protege’ of Ravel and a personal friend of Stravinsky (during his California years, 1941-46). His contemporaries in Poland, coming from the same group of Western-oriented, cosmopolitan Polish – Jewish musicians include Koffler (student of Schoenberg, Poland’s first 12-tone composer), neo-romantic modernist Rathaus, and neoclassicist Laks. The mood of the music ranges from the funereal to the comic, embracing the full scope of human emotions, from tears to laughter. Prof. James Smith and students of classical guitar perform Tansman’s Suite In Modo PolonicoCharleston from Transatlantic Suite, as well as Stravinsky’s Tango and Circus Polka. Dr. Donal Pirone (piano, CUNY, New York) plays the Fourth Piano Sonata by Karol Rathaus; Dr. Kathleen Roland (soprano) with Victoria Kirsch (piano) and USC student musicians will offer the rarely-heard Cantata Love by Jozef Koffler, Maurice Ravel’s Two Hebrew Songs and Kaddish, Szymon Laks’s Songs to texts by Tuwim and Elegy for Jewish Villages, and Tansman’s 5 Melodies to texts by Anna Tansman.

The second concert, scheduled for Monday, November 16, features the music from an earlier period, focusing on the turn-of-the-century virtuosi. This double recital highlights the virtuosic and expressive achievements of composers-performers who wrote brilliant piano music for themselves and charming, miniatures for their salons. Szymanowska is a 19th c. virtuosa pianist; the names of Godowsky, Friedman and Rosenthal need no introduction to a lover of piano music. Friedman’s songs are well respected for their beauty, while Ryterband’s and Fitelberg’s pieces display the poignant and festive moods of Jewish music. This selection highlights both the cosmpolitan, international dimension of the art of these composers and the roots of their music that thrived on the Polish soil to enchant the world. Anna Szpilberg (piano solo) will play works by Godowsky (Elegy, Valse-Scherzo, Krakowiak), Friedman (Six Mazurkas) and Rosenthal (Ten Characteristic Pieces), Agnieszka Lejman (voice) with Radoslaw Materka (piano) will perform songs by Szymanowska (Two Romances) and Friedman (to texts by Mickiewicz, Konopnicka, etc.), Dominique Piana (harp) with Sherry Kloss (violin) will offer Three Hebrew Ballades by Ryterband, and Neal Brostoff (piano) with Zinovy Goro (clarinet) will present To the Wedding (Music Picture) by Grzegorz Fitelberg.

We are happy to welcome at the conference the families of Grzegorz Fitelberg, Henry Vars, and Roman Ryterband who settled in California and who will be present as our guests of honor. For more detailed information about the program and registration visit the conference web site: POLISH/JEWISH/MUSIC!

Kiepura Anniversary In Krynica

Thousands of listeners came to the 32nd Festival of Music in honor of the late Polish tenor, Jan Kiepura, held in Krynica, where Kiepura built his home. Organized by Boguslaw Kaczynski, the concerts featured not only well-known Polish vocalists (Jolanta Bibel, Joanna Cortes, Barbara Kubicka, Krzysztof Bednarek, Jozef Homik, Sylwester Kostecki, Boguslaw Morka and Aleksander Teliga) but also the Music Theatre from Lodz, Philharmonic orchestras from Kielce and Zielona Gora, and recitals by pianist Halina Czerny-Stefanska, cellist Tomasz Strahl, and pianist Edward Wolanin. The festival was rounded off with Strauss’s operetta, The Bat, and a documentary film from 1937 featuring Kiepura.

7th Days Of Music And Theater, Poznan

Several locations in Poznan (Aula of the Adam Mickiewicz University, Academy of Music, the City Hall) served as concert and performance sites for the Seventh Days of Music and Theater scheduled for October 18-23 and including symphonic and chamber music concerts, song recitals, and special events celebrating the musical interests of Adam Mickiewicz, Poland’s foremost romantic poet, whose 150th anniversary of death is celebrated this year. Urszula Kryger (mezzosoprano)and Katarzyna Jankowska-Borzykowska (piano) gave a recital of Polish song of the 19th and 20th c. to Mickiewicz’s texts. The event ended with a performance of Stanislaw Moniuszko’s Sonety Krymskie inspired by the magisterial work of the great poet.

Simultaneously, a musicological conference about “Adam Mickiewicz and Music Culture of the 19th and 20th Centuries” (22-23 October, Academy of Music) gathered scholars interested in this subject matter. This interest seems to resurface periodically during important anniversary years. In the 1940s, a competition for the best song to a text by Adam Mickiewicz celebrated the composer’s centennial. Soon afterwards, Prof. Zofia Lissa and Zofia Lada edited a collection of songs by composers from Poland and other countries (e.g. Russia) who set Mickiewicz’s poems to music. The settings of the ballade Switeziankaare particularly interesting because of the variety of styles and forms, from Maria Szymanowska’s simple strophic romance, to an elaborate design by Rimsky – Korsakov.

9th Music Course In Opole

At the recent International Music Course in the Opole region of Poland (held for the ninth time), there were more than 100 participants. Music students from Poland, Germany, Holland, Korea and Japan were presented a program of music consisting, for the first time, exclusively of Polish composers (Rozycki, Jablonski, Szymanowski, Gorecki, Bacewicz, Lutoslawski and Zarebski) by the organizing faculty: Tomasz Tomaszewski, violin; Celina Heller, piano; Roman Jablonski, cello; Claude Lelong, viola; Alicja Paleta-Bugaj, piano; and Krzysztof Wegrzyn, violin.

Internet News

Adam Jarczyk, at the Silesian Technical University in Gliwice, Poland, has established a Polish Early Music Site as a part of the Completorium web site. The site includes sound samples of more than 300 compositions and has been visited by over 1000 different people. There is a new Christmas carols page that already contains over 50 early and modern Polish carols. Mr. Jarczyk promises to add at least fifty more melodies accompanied with some interesting texts, all before Christmas.

If you are interested in choral singing in Poland, visit which contains many links to other sites.

ListBot site has started a discussion group about popular culture and music in Poland. If you want to join or contact this list write to their list at You may also visit the list site at My short-lived subscribtion to this group resulted in receiving a bunch of comments about Polish cartoons for children — hardly a musical subject and not worth the cluttering of the mailbox with several messages daily.

News from California

The Californian visit of Andrzej Chorosinski included three concerts (on 18, 20, and 25 October), well attended and enjoyed by the local Polonia – who celebrated October as the Polish American Heritage Month. All of the concerts’ programs included works originally written for the organ as well as pieces transcribed for this instrument by the organist himself. In addition, Prof. Chorosinski selected the issue of transcription as the subject of his lecture to USC students on 23 October 1998 providing arguments for the validity and long-standing historical tradition of this approach as well as presenting his personal aesthetics. He stated that the author of a transcription has to take utmost care to preserve the musical text and all the essential features of the original work, while creating a new composition for an entirely new medium, a work that needs to be appropriate to its own medium in order to be successful. The recording of Virtuoso Organ Music performed by Prof. Chorosinski in Wuppertal, Germany (Musikproduktion Dabringhaus und Grimm MDG 320 0818-2) includes his transcriptions of popular repertoire, with Smetana’s Die Moldau, Dukas’s The Socerer’s Apprentice, and Mussorgsky’s Pictures from an Exhibition. This recording is available online (from

The School of Music of the University of Southern California is filled with Polish students this year. Malgorzata Szyszkowska of the Institute of Philosophy, University of Warsaw, received a Junior Fulbright award to study music aesthetics with Maria Anna Harley. Four accomplished young musicians have decided to perfect their performance skills at USC. Pianist Radoslaw Materka, who received his M.A. from Princeton University, has started his doctoral studies with Prof. Daniel Pollack. Clarinetist Jan Jakub Bokun will study with Prof. Yehuda Gilad towards Advanced Artist’s Diploma and begin his formal training in conducting. Marzena Wolna (bassoon) and Ada Lis (flute) will also receive their Artist’s Diplomas, after two years of course-work and performances.

These students have already been working as professional musicians, giving recitals, recording CDs, and touring. Their quest for advanced education is symptomatic of a trend in higher eductation. USC doctoral student, pianist Wojciech Kocyan, will open the Paderewski Competition in Bydgoszcz on November 6 (with conductor Jerzy Maksymiuk), performing Paderewski’s Piano Concerto – an element of an all-Paderewski program. Why would such advanced professional artists need to go back to school to receive higher degrees? This is an interesting topic, discussed in Poland in recent issues of Ruch Muzyczny by Malgorzata Komorowska. While nobody questions the sense of awarding Ph.D. degrees to philosophy students, performers’ degrees have been under scrutiny. We welcome the readers’ comments about this subject and will publish statements from active professionals who have chosen to become music students in the future issues of the PMRC Newsletter.


A Competition of 20th-century Polish Organ Music was held between 30 September and 2 October 1998 in Legnica. The co-organizers included the Legnica Center of Culture, Polish Music Institute, and Jeunesses Musicales. 18 students of music high school from around Poland participated in the competition. The jury (Marian Sawa, Marta Szoka, Walentyna Wegrzyn-Klisowska) awarded the first prize to Franciszek Kozłowski (J. Elsner State Music High School in Warsaw), the second prize to Michał Markuszewski (K. Szymanowski State Music High School, Warsaw), and the third prize tied between Paweł Chojnacki (J.Elsner High School in Warsaw) and Szymon Tritt (State Music High School, Poznań).

Polish pianist Owa Osinski performed Chopin’s music during award ceremonies presented by the Pilsudski Institute of New York. Author Tad Szulc (his most recent book: Chopin in Paris) was one of four recipients. He was awarded the Joseph Conrad medal for literature.

The Polish Jazz Society, “Melomani,” named jazz saxophonist Zbigniew Namyslowski as “Artist of the Year.” Jazz Forum editor, Pawel Brodowski, was named “Editor of the Year.”

Calendar of Events

Nov. 1: Piano Recital by Lynn Kao, Chopin Competition winner, sponsored by the Kosciuszko Foundation, Chicago Chapter. 2:00 p.m. $30. Consulate General of Poland, 1530 N. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago. (847) 437-2428.

Nov. 1: Chopin Recital, Zoja Szukczatowicz, piano. Chopin Foundation of New York Series, Jan Gorbaty, president. Consulate General of Poland, Madison Ave. & 37th St. 2:00 p.m. $10. 718-793-2625.

Nov. 1: Contralto Ewa Podles. In concert with the San Francisco Symphony. SF Davis Symphony Hall. 2:00 p.m. 415-864-6000.

Nov. 6: Paderewski Piano Competition, Inaugural concert. Wojciech Kocyan, piano with Jerzy Maksymiuk, cond. Paderewski’s Piano Concerto in A minor.

Nov. 7: Elsner Quartet. Angels of Music Benefit concert. Carnegie Hall. 2:00 p.m. $30/10.

Nov. 7 30th Anniversary of “Amadeus” Polish Radio Orchestra, dir. Agnieszka Duczmal, Mischa Maisky, cello. Program includes Bloch, Haydn, Bruch, Britten and Bilinski’s Refleksje. At the National Philharmonic, Warsaw, 6 p.m.

Nov 15: Polish Jewish Music! International Conference. Concert I. “Tansman and His Contemporaries” 8 p.m. Arnold Schoenberg Auditorium, USC campus. USC Faculty, Students and Guests. Prof. James Smith and students – guitar music (Tansman); Dr. Donal Pirone (piano, CUNY, New York, Rathaus’s piano sonata); Dr. Kathleen Roland (soprano) with Victoria Kirsch (piano) – songs by Ravel, Laks, Tansman; Dr. Kathleen Roland with Jan Jakub Bokun (clarinet) and USC students – Cantata “Love” by Jozef Koffler.

Nov 16: Polish Jewish Music! International Conference. Concert II “Great Music by Great Virtuosi” 8 p.m. Alfred Newman Recital Hall. Anna Szpilberg (piano) – virtuoso pieces by Godowsky, Rosenthal, Friedman; Agnieszka Lejman (mezzosoprano) with Radoslaw Materka (piano) – songs by Szymanowska and Friedman; Dominique Piana (harp) and Sherry Kloss (violin) – chamber music by Roman Ryterband.

Nov 18-22: 2nd International Competition of Musical Personalities “Alexander Tansman” Lodz. The competition instruments are flute, bassoon, cello, piano and guitar. Prof. Elizabeth Schoenfeld of USC School of Music will serve on the Jury.

Nov. 17-22: Polish Music Festival. Northwestern University, Evanston, Il. Solo recitals, orchestra concerts, chamber music, from the romantic to the contemporary. For more information see above, our News.

Nov. 22: Elsner String Quartet (Juilliard School of Music). Music of Mozart, Haydn & Szymanowski. Kosciuszko Foundation, 15 E. 65th St. New York City. 3:00 p.m. $20/15. (212) 734-2130. WQXR radio broadcast: Sat. Nov 28th @ 9:00 p.m.

Recent Performances

October being Polish Heritage Month, many Polish cultural programs took place in Chicago. On Thursday, 15 October, Joseph Szydlowski presented a program of guitar music by 20th-century composers at the Harold Washington Library, while the Lechici Folk Ensemble performed Polish folk dances with audience participation at the McKinley Park Branch of the Chicago Public Library. On Saturday, 17 October, Prof. John Kulczycki presented a lecture entitled “Paderewski: Statesman, Politician and Musician.” On 22 October, at the Harold Washington Library, “Classical Music and Poetry” featured the works of Chopin and Paderewski setting the poetry of Poland’s great laureate, Adam Mickiewicz, whose 200th birthday is being celebrated this year. Many aspects of Polish culture were presented throughout the month, such as Polish paper-cutting folk art demonstrations, Polish Christmas tree ornaments, Polish cooking, Polish customs and traditions. Most were open to the public free.

The Ehlen-Oltmanns Piano Duo performed Lutoslawski’s Variations on a Theme by Paganini, for 2 pianos, at the Bing Theater, County Museum of Art in Los Angeles, Sunday, 18 October, 4:00 p.m.

Mieko Takizawa played Chopin during a recital presented at the Shinji Shumeikai Hall in Pasadena, Sunday, 18 October, 2:00 p.m.

In Poland

The October concerts of the Warsaw National Philharmonic, under the direction of Kazimierz Kord, featured the following music of Polish composers: Penderecki’s Gates of Jerusalem, Gorecki’s Third Symphony, Karlowicz’s Serenade, Chopin’s Piano Concerto, and Szymanowski’s Mythes.

At the National Opera, the following operas and ballets were scheduled: Penderecki’s Paradise Lost, Rudzinski’s, Manekiny, Ptaszynska’s Pan Marimba, Szymanowski’s Harnasie, Karlowicz’s Returning Waves, Kilar’s Krzesany, and Stefani’s Krakowiacy I gorale. Ptaszynska’s opera for children and performed by children is sold out till the end of December!

The Polish Radio Concert Studio, named in honor of Lutoslawski, presented a program dedicated to the music of Zygmunt Krauze in celebration of his 60th birthday. The Polish Radio Orchestra was directed by Wojciech Michniewski.

The Wilanow Quartet presented the quartets of Franciszek Lessel, Szymanowski and Lutoslawski at the Chopin Academy of Music.

Further south, in Katowice, the VIII Silesian Festival of Contemporary Music took place. Among the Polish composers featured: Augustyn, Bien, Boguslawski, Cienciala, Chyrzynski, Dziadek, Debski, Gabrys, Gorecki, Knapik, Kilar, Krzanowska, Lason, Malecki, Maciejowski, Stachowski, Szalonek, and Widlak.

The Festival of Music in Krakow honored Krzysztof Penderecki this year, and programmed performances of The Black MaskCredoSeven Gates of JerusalemThree Pieces in the old styleConcerto for flute and chamber orchestraSecond Cello Concerto and Symphony no. 4.


The latest CD by Polish-American pianist, Emanuel AX, was reviewed in the Los Angeles Times by Chris Pasles. This recording of Chopin’s music on an instrument (a restored 1851 London Erard) more in keeping with the times of Chopin’s life proved to be a labor of love for the pianist. However, the music critic believes that compared to a “modern grand, the Erard sounds woodier, more polished, deeper, muddier, clumsier, slower in the mid-to-low range, more delicate and elfin in the upper range. It’s candlepower compared with fluorescent lighting … None of this means that the instrument lacks subtlely, and neither does Ax’s affectionate performance.” Interesting!

Also reviewed at the same time: “Corey Cerovsek Plays Wieniawski.” on the Delos label (rated 3 stars). The Canadian violinist dedicates the disc to his teacher, Josef Gingold, and is accompanied by his sister Katja. “The music … has spirit, taste, charm and, of course, abundant virtuosic challenges that Cerovsek meets with apparent ease.” (Chris Pasles)

The Szymanowski Music Society of Lodz has documented the IV International Karol Szymanowski Competition of 1997 on a self-issued disc. It features the winners of that competition performing the music of Szymanowski, Stravinsky, Lutoslawski and Ravel. Aleksandra Beben, who reviewed the disc for Ruch Muzyczny found the performance by the Russians most interesting: Georgi Wasylenko – violin, I Prize winner, and Igor Poltavcef – piano, who took II Prize. She also liked Japanese Masako Ezaki, who won the I Prize in piano for her rendition of Szymanowski’s Masques.

Gorecki’s short choral work, Amen has been included in the modern choral music disc performed by the Harvard University choir under director Murray Forbes Somerville. Pro Organo 7085.

Yazoo Mailorder, the traditional blues, jazz and ethnic music CD and video catalog, inlcudes two interesting early recordings of Polish folklore from the Tatra mountains. Entitled Fire in the Mountains vols. 1, 2, the CDs present “Polish Mountain Fiddle Music” with the following description:

Mountain music has a soul of its on, no matter where the mountains might be. Centuries ago, fiddlers in southern Poland’s isolated Tatra Mountains developed a similarly rough, though sophisticated dance and vocal music of their own. Some of these musical highlanders were shepherds whose fiddles were carried from the villages to the mountain peaks each spring, where the shepherds played for themselves as their sheep grew fat.

The first CD contains recording of the Karol Stoch band (this fiddler migrated to Chicago in 1926), the second features music performed by Jan Krzysiak, Stefan Jarosz, Karol Stoch, Jozef Karpiel and others. Priced at $12.95, the CDs no. Yazoo 7012, 7013, are available from Yazoo Mailorder.

Regular mail:

P.O.Box 20124, Columbus Circle Station,
New York, NY 10023
Tel/Fax: 718–855-3395


VAI 69223 is a documentary film on the “Life and Art of Wanda Landowska.” The internationally famous Polish harpsichordist and composer has been immortalized for all generations to see and hear Landowska’s “passion for making music … Maybe a time will come again when artists of such integrity and verve move generations the way Landowska did. In the meantime, this documentary reminds us that it’s possible.” [See Rob Haskins’ review in the American Record Guide, (May/June 1998)].

 100 Years Ago: Polish Pianists In The U.S. Part II

by Barbara Zakrzewska-Nikiporczyk

Józef Hofmann made his American debut in New York on 27 November 1887. At that time he was ten years old! His first concert took place at the Metropolitan Opera House with the orchestra conducted by Adolph Neuendorff. The young Hofmann became the favorite child prodigy of the public; he attracted their attention by his maturity, intelligence and masterful playing. [1] What was Hofmann doing exactly one hundred years ago during his American tours? On 27 February 1898 he began a tour organized by Mrs. Millar, his manager. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, with Joseph as a soloist, departed from New York in a special train that took the musicians and their instruments to several concert locations. [2] In April (on April 1st and 2nd) Hofmann was back in Chicago to perform Concerto No. 4 in D-minor by Sergei Rachmaninoff. According to a contemporary reviewer, he played “with miraculous spirit and fire.” [3]

Later during the same year, Alan Dale, an American reporter, visited Hofmann in his apartment. Joseph talked about Paderewski, expressed his opinions about the place of piano among other musical instruments, about the musicianship of the “true musicians” and the value of music. After a long conversation with the young pianist, Dale wrote:

…What do you suppose young Hofmann was doing when I strayed into his apartments at the Vendome for an official chat? […] Young Mr. Josef was simply sitting at a table eating griddle cakes in large doses […] He has short hair, neatly combed and parted at the side. He has a ruddy face and rather dingy eyes, one of which seemed to me to be cut on the bias, as the ladies say. He looks at you rather timidly and heavily, and if you were trying to guess his vocation you would not select that of a famous pianist. I rather imagined that he would be a masculine version of the maiden who is always standing with reluctant feet. Mr. Hofmann’s feet are anything but reluctant. They mean business. They are not too small to hold down a loud pedal […] The hands of this little pianist are strong enough to dig for gold in the Klondike, and find it. They are distinctly worth seeing […] Josef Hofmann speaks English fairy well, although he has a curious habit of using the feminine for the masculine personal pronoun, invariably… [4]

Another pianist from Poland, Maurycy Rosenthal, made his American debut at the beginning of November 1898 in the Boston Music Hall. At once, he achieved a phenomenal success. Soon afterwards, on 13 November, he appeared in New York. On this occasion Rosenthal was described as a Romanian pianist. During his recital held in the Steinway Hall he played Liszt’s Piano Concerto in E flat major, a work by Robert Schumann, three Chopin’s compositions and Liszt’s “Don Juan” Fantasia. After this concert a reviewer wrote: “…He does not penetrate to the soul or the music of Schumann and Chopin, and the spiritual quality without which real piano exposition cannot exist is not is not found in his playing. Further consideration of this phenomenal pianist’s powers must be deferred till future concerts. As an astonishing master of technique, however, he is certainly worthy of hearing…” [5]

After the ambiguous reception in New York, Rosenthal gave series of concerts in many cities. One of his tours consisted of 126 concerts! For several years he taught piano at the Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia and at the Guun School of Music in Chicago.[6] On 10 November 1898 Maurycy was in New York, because on that day he wrote a letter to Alexander Lambert, on a letterhead paper from the Savoy Hotel. [7] On 16 November Rosenthal gave a recital in Boston Music Hall with the following program:

Beethoven: Sonata op.109

Schumann: Carnaval

Chopin: Berceuse, Barcarole, Two New Etudes, Waltz in D flat major

Schubert-Liszt: Lindenbaum

Davidov: At the Fountain

Rosenthal: Carnaval de Vienna for the encore,

Rosenthal: Papillons

A reviewer wrote: “…The concert was an apotheosis of technique. There was much of inconsiderate pounding, much of an abuse of the loud pedal, much of the left hand blotting out what the right hand was doing, but there was more that was splendid in the best sense of the word, and that justly entitled the artist to rank foremost among the greatest living masters of the pianoforte.” [8] In another description of the same event we can read: “…The concert proved that Mr.Rosenthal has a splendid manliness of playing, is not without poetic insight, and is the Prince of Technique” [9]The endless tours continued. On 23 November 1898 Rosenthal gave a recital in Boston with the following program:

Weber: Sonata in A flat major

Chopin: Sonata in B-minor, plus one (unspecified) Prelude, Etude, and Waltz

Field: Sonata

Henselt: Etude “Si Oiseau J’etais”

Rubinstein: Miniatures, Andalouse et Toreador

Liszt (Masaniello): Tarantelle

Again, the reviewers discussed the superiority of Rosenthal’s technique: “…There have been better ‘poets of the piano’ in Boston. There have been more stagey and more spactacular pianists who have been seen here since Herr Rosenthal’s last visit; but it may be said deliberately that in his absolute command of a technic which easily defies all the difficulties of even modern composers, Herr Rosenthal’s name “leads all the rest…” [10]

In December 1898 Rosenthal appeared for the first time in Chicago. He performed the Piano Concerto in E flat major by Liszt. For an encore he played Chopin’s Waltz in A flat major op.42. “Mr Rosenthal made his first appearance of the present season in Chicago in the Liszt Concerto in E flat major which he played in a tremendously brilliant and telling manner.There is nothing to be said of a performance of this kind beyond acknowledging its astonishing power and effect. In these qualities this pianist stands without a rival. For a recall he played in the afternoon the Chopin A flat major Valse, opus 42, with immense speed and precision. His tone is a little hard, and precision combined with speed or force according to the mood of the music, seem to be his ideals…” [11]

In December 1898 Rosenthal also gave a piano recital in Chicago. He played:

Beethoven: Sonata op.109

Schumann: Carnival

Chopin: Berceuse, Barcarole, Two New Etudes

Chopin: Waltz in D flat major in Rosenthal’s arrangement

Schubert-Liszt: Linden Tree

Davidov: At the Fountain

Liszt: “Don Juan” Fantasia

Unilke Godowsky, each recital of whom had a completely different program, Rosenthal had his favourites, including Beethoven’s sonata op. 109. Rosenthal’s interpretation of this work was greeted with positive reviews, though the music critic did not mince his/her words when discussing the rest of the program:[12]

One of the best pieces of work in this recital was his playing of Beethoven Sonata, which was clear and satisfactory […] Mr.Rosenthal’ s version of the ‘Carnival’ was praised in the most hysterical manner in the East. Very much can properly be said in its favor; it was an extremely brilliant performance, but from an interpretative standpoint seemed in places wanting in fine musical quality…In all the playing in this recital the masterly technic and full and sonorous tone, and in general qualities of intelligent musicianship were constantly in evidence; in other words Rosenthal showed himself one of the greatest masters of piano playing at present on the stage.


[1]. Lahee, Henry Charles: Annals of Music in America. Boston 1922 p. 231. “The young Mozart” in The Daily Graphic: New York; press cutting without the date, in the NYPL collections; Music. Vol.13: February 1898, p. 499-501.[Back]

[2]. Otis, Philo Adams: The Chicago Orchestra. New York, 1972, p.94, 99. [Back]

[3]. Otis, Philo Adams: The Chicago Orchestra. New York, 1972 s.100. [Back]

[4]. Quoted from a newspaper cutting dated 1898, without an attribution of the source. Collections of the New York Public Library. [Back]

[5]. Press cutting from an unknown American newspaper dated November 14, 1888, held in the collections of New York Public Library. [Back]

[6]. Błaszczyk, Leon Tadeusz: “Polish contribution to the musical life of America.” In Poles in America. Stevens Point 1978, p. 586. Press cutting from an unknown American newspaper in the collections of NYPL, dated November 14, 1888. Lahee, Henry Charles: Annals of music in America. Boston, 1922, p. 284.[Back]

[7]. Hofmann’s letter in special collections of NYPL, Lambert Collection. [Back]

[8]. Press cutting from “Boston Herald”. [Back]

[9]. Review by Louis C.Elson in a Boston newspaper dated 17 November 1898, in the collections of NYPL. [Back]

[10]. Music. Vol.15, January 1899, p.352-353. [Back]

[11]. “Rosenthal Recital” – report in Music Vol.15, January 1899, p.352-354. [Back]

[12]. Excerpt from an unknown Boston newspaper, dated 24 November 1898, in the collections of the NYPL.[Back]


Born this month

  • 1 November 1901 – Szymon LAKS, composer, violinist (d. 1986)
  • 2 November 1876 – Eugeniusz MORAWSKI, composer, conductor (d. 1948)
  • 3 November 1915 – Henryk JABLONSKI
  • 4 November 1857 – Stanisław NIEWIADOMSKI, composer (d. 1936)
  • 6 November 1860 – Ignacy Jan PADEREWSKI, pianist, composer, statesman (d. 1941)
  • 23 November 1933 – Krzysztof PENDERECKI, composer, conductor
  • 24 November 1932 – Andrzej KURYLEWICZ, composer, jazz pianist
  • 24 November 1899 – Jan MAKLAKIEWICZ, composer, teacher (d. 1954)
  • 26 November 1896 – Józef KOFFLER, composer (d. 1943/4?)
  • 27 November 1893 – Stanisław WIECHOWICZ, composer, choral conductor (d. 1963)
  • 28 November 1928 – Jan FOTEK, composer


Died this month

  • 1 November 1947 – Władysław POWIADOWSKI, choral conductor,teacher (b.1865)
  • 2 November 1929 – Stanisław BARCEWICZ, violinist, teacher (b.1858 )
  • 2 November 1881 – Jan Nepomucen BOBROWICZ, guitarist (b.1805)
  • 3 November 1888 – Józef BRZOZOWSKI, composer, cellist, conductor, teacher (b.1805)
  • 9 November 1856 – Aleksander MARTIN, composer, violist (b. 1856)
  • 11 November 1912 – Józef WIENIAWSKI, pianist, teacher, composer (b.1837)
  • 15 November 1853 – Józef NIEDZIELSKI, voice and violin teacher (b.1793)
  • 15 November 1986 – Aleksander TANSMAN, composer, conductor, pianist (b. 1897)
  • 14 November 1860 – Feliks NOSKOWSKI, pianist,teacher (b.1874)
  • 26 November 1855 – Adam MICKIEWICZ, romantic poet, composer (b.1798)


John Q. Walker alerted us to the fact that Ruth Slenczynska teaches at Southern Ilinois University at Edwardsville and not at Carbondale as we have written in a previous issue of the Newsletter. She is Mr. Walker’s neighbor, teacher and friend. We apologize for this mistake.


Composer Hanna Kulenty and graphic designer Martin Majoor announce the October birth of their second child, daughter Kaja (October 3). Congratulations to the proud parents and “big brother” Piotr!