Polish Music Reference Center Newsletter Vol. 5, no. 3
Penderecki Wins Two Grammy Awards
Krzysztof Penderecki’s Violin Concerto No. 2 (“Metamorphosen”) received two GRAMMY’99 awards in the field of classical music. The work itself received an award for “Best Classical Contemporary Composition” and its performance by violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter with the London Symphony conducted by the composer received an award for “Best Instrumental Soloist(s) Performance with Orchestra.” The recording was issued in 1997 by Deutsche Gramophon on CD 2889 453 507-2. In addition to the Concerto (composed in 1992-1995 and dedicated to Ms. Mutter, an exceptional violinist and a favourite performer of the late Witold Lutosławski), the CD includes Second Sonata for Violin and Piano (1922) by Bela Bartók, recorded by Anne-Sophie Mutter with Lambert Orkis, piano. The awards were announced at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, on 24 February 1999.
In the “Polka” category (which is separate from “folk” and “world music” and honors the most popular dance form among Polish-Americans), the Grammy went to Dance with Me by Jimmy Sturr and His Orchestra. Congratulations to all the winners!
For Simon Rattle
The jury of the yearly award from the Karol Szymanowski Foundation recognized the creative interpretations of Szymanowski’s music by Simon Rattle (concerts and recordings). The jury consists of: Jacek Berwaldt, Teresa Chylińska, Jerzy Godziszewski, Zofia Helman, Krzysztof Jakowicz, Witold Juchniewicz, Jan Krenz, Helena Łazarska, and Zdzislaw Szakiewicz. The awarded performances include the stage version of the opera King Roger (July 1998) that has been performed in England and Austria (the Salzburg Festival). A recording of this performance by EMI Classics will be released later this year. Previous recipients of the award include: Teresa Chylińska, Wanda Wiłkomirska, Jerzy Godziszewski and Stefania Woytowicz.
For Maria Fołtyn
The untiring promoter of Moniuszko’s music, Maria Fołtyn, received an Honorary Award from the Foundation of Polish Culture in Warsaw. The former soprano organized the annual Moniuszko Music Festival in the resort town of Kudowa-Zdrój in 1974 and also organized the International Moniuszko Voice Competition that takes place in Warsaw every three years.
For Rafał Kwiatkowski
Polish cellist Rafał Kwiatkowski who won the I Prize in the World Competition for Young Artists in New York recently (we reported in in the previous Newsletter) has been garnering prizes all over the world. In 1992 he was a prize winner in Poznan, in 1993 in Baltimore, in 1996 in Chile and in 1998 he won three First Prizes within a four-month period. Congratulations!
The Chopin Year In Poland
The 150th anniversary of death of Poland’s most famous composer is celebrated in the country of his birth in many different ways. We have announced some of the events, including the Second International Chopin Congress organized by the Polish Chopin Academy (October 1999) and the Sixth Bustan Festival in Lebanon, in the February issue of the PMRC Newsletter. The varied programs are coordinated by a Foundation of Culture, led by Grzegorz Michalski and a program board consisting of Henryk Mikołaj Górecki, Andrzej Jasiński, Kazimierz Kord, Janusz Olejniczak, Władysław Stróżewski, Ewa Pobłocka, Mieczysław Tomaszewski, Piotr Paleczny, and Jacek Weiss. The office will coordinate and fund special programs for schools, professional artists and scholars. The plans include issuing an edition of the best Chopin performances of the past – on 17 CDs, produced by Stanisław Leszczyński and issued by CD Accord recording company. There are various concerts planned fo the whole year, a special exhibit at the Royal Castle in Warsaw (or romantic painting – Chopin had many friends among painters and greatly appreciated their art). Mr. Michalski stated that fewer and fewer Poles listen to Chopin’s music and that, despite the appearances, the music itself is not well-known in the composer’s native country. However, the educational efforts at schools and by the media may rectify this situation. Among the various intiatives planned for the Chopin Year, Mr. Michalski singled out also the initiative of Stefan Sutkowski to present the forgotten Polish music of Chopin’s era in a series of concerts (Elsner, Dobrzyński, Kurpinski, Szymanowska and others). In May, the Polish radio will present a concert which will reconstruct Chopin’s encounters with folk music. This music will be performed in “authentic” versions, based on the historical records and descriptions.
In the interview, Mr. Michalski makes one erroneous statement claiming that Radu Lupu does not perform any more. In fact, he is still active as a soloist and recently gave three concerts at the Music Center in Los Angeles. The program did not include Chopin’s music: a solo recital featured works by Ravel, Gershwin, Debussy, and Brahms (February 5) while the orchestral concert with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, included Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto (February 12-14). To celebrate the Chopin Year, the Los Angeles Philharmonic programmed an all-Chopin solo recital by Evgeny Kissin – in the “Celebrity Recital” series. Poland’s Krystian Zimerman will appear in this series in April.
While the year is usually counted from October 1998 to October 1999 and there have been Chopin-related concerts and events already as reported in the previous Newsletters, 1 March 1999 marks the official inauguration of the International Chopin Year with a ceremonial concert at the National Philharmonic Hall in Warsaw. Other events will be reported in further issues of this newsletter.
Zimerman And Chopin Piano Concerti
An initiative that brings Chopin celebrations well beyond Polish borders is Krystian Zimerman’s idea of forming a special orchestra of Polish musicians to perform Chopin’s piano concerti as they should be (and have been) played in a true Chopin style. Zimerman’s orchestra is scheduled to perform during this summer and fall. The orchestra will gather for a period of intense two-weeks’ period of rehearsals in Bologne, Italy. After a series of concerts in Italian cities, the group will appear at the Salzburg Festival, then it will give four concerts in Poland (Warsaw, Poznań, Katowice, Kraków). In Warsaw, in the Witold Lutosławski Concert Studio of the Polish Radio, both Chopin concerts will be recorded and the CD will be issued by Deutsche Gramophone. In October, Zimerman’s orchestra will travel to Germany, France, England, Belgium and Holland, giving a concert in Salle Pleyel on 17 October 1999, the exact date of Chopin’s death. This concert will be repeated on October 18th (it was immediately sold out). After a short tour of Spain, the orchestra will depart for the East Coast of the U.S. The concerts here will include appearances at the Carnegie Hall in New York.The idea of selecting the best Polish instrumentalists for a special orchestra performing only Chopin’s music may be surprising and certainly is unusual. Zimerman presented his reasons at a press conference in Warsaw, stating that
all the orchestras today play in a rather similar fashion. One cannot recognize by ear alone whether the orchestra comes from London, Paris, New York or Tokyo. The invention of phonography has “globalized” music interpretation. […] I have a problem with discovering certain sonorous traits in the existing ensembles. In addition, the orchestras do not like rehearsals, and I love to rehearse, for weeks at a time. I thought, that I should find a handful of people who would share my passion for experimenting and that I should try to do with them something that would be a conglomerate of all of my experiences from the past 20 years.
Zimerman’s words are quoted from a non-authorized report by Mieczysław Kominek; the report, entiteld “Do Usłyszenia!” [Hear you later!] appeared in the Polish Radio and Music Journal, Studio. [Item submitted by Jan Jakub Bokun].
The Chopin Year in the U.S.
The New York City Ballet honored Poland and the music of Chopin in “A Tribute to Poland” choreographed by Jerome Robbins on 28 February at the New York State Theater at Lincoln Center, NY.Internationally acclaimed soprano, Teresa Zylis-Gara performed a program of Chopin’s songs and piano music with Peter Miyamoto of San Francisco in Miami, Florida as part of the American Institute of Polish Culture annual Polonaise Ball (5 February 1999).
The “Heritage of Frederic Chopin,” a 150th anniversary Pilgrimage to Warsaw, Krakow, Vienna, Prague and other destinations is scheduled for August 3-16, 1999. Co- directors are Adam Wibrowski (pres. Chopin Society of France) and Dr. William Wellborn (director of the Chopin Foundation, San Francisco). E-mail: Chopintour@aol.com or write to Chopin Tour c/o M. Watts, 1290 Portola Dr. San Francisco, CA 94127. 415-759-3400 x3518 or fax: 415-759-3499. Highlights of the $2750 tour include: Chopin’s birthplace in Żelazowa Wola (Poland), Chopin Society Museum in Warsaw, Artur Rubinstein Museum in Łódź, Theodore Leschetizky birthplace at Łańcut Palace, overnight stay in Sieniawa Palace, Paderewski Museum in Warsaw, Mazurka Dancing in Sanniki and Chopin Festival in Duszniki-Zdrój.
A report from Los Angeles appearances of pianists Michał Wesołowski (February 19-20) and Barbara Hesse-Bukowska (February 26-27) who participated in the “The Heritage of Chopin” series of lectures at USC, Los Angeles, is included below.
Paderewski Festival In Paso Robles, March 19-21, 1999
The city of Paso Robles, California, welcomes guests to the Seventh Annual Paderewski Festival. The Festival is organized by the Paso Robles Foundation for Culture and the Arts (and sponsored by the Polish National Alliance, among others) and honors Paderewski who is known in Poland as one of its most eminent composers, virtuoso pianists and politicians, while the Californian city recognizes him as its “most widely celebrated visitor-turned-landowner.”
The Festival includes two evening concerts, winery tours, “Paderewski’s Paso Robles,” a Winemaker dinner and a Champagne Brunch and Recital. There will be a piano competition for students of North San Luis Obispo County (free to the public) and an occasion to visit local galleries and exhibits in the Carnegie Library.
The first concert will be given by the Podhale Polish folk dance company (Los Angeles), led by director-choreographer John Sobanski (Friday, 19 March at 7:30 p.m.). The group, funded in 1991, presents Polish dances from various areas of Poland, including Krakow, the Podhale area near the Tatra Mountains, the mountains of Beskidy and the Cieszyn area. The dancers (a senior and middle group will perform) will appear in original costumes from different parts of Poland – some of them were made 90 years ago!
The central event of the Festival will be purely musical, however. Karol Radziwonowicz, a phenomenally talented pianist, who has recorded the complete piano compositions of Paderewski for the “Selene Records” label, will give a recital of works by Chopin and Paderewski on Saturday, 20 March 1999, 7:30 p.m. Mr. Radziwonowicz won numorous awards in Poland and abroad. He graduated from the F. Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw with the highest honors and continued his studies at Indiana University at Bloomington as a Fulbright scholar. His recordings of Paderewski won him four prizes in the Diapason d’Or competition and a Medal of honor from the American Society of Music. Mr. Radziwonowicz’s appearance at the festival is courtesy of Polish Airlines LOT.
For more information about the 1999 Paderewski Festival contact the Paderewski Festival Headquarters (Festival Director Carolyn Goodrich, P.O. Box 2434, Paso Robles, CA 93447, tel. 805-238-1847 or 805-239-7308, email@example.com).
News From The East Coast
by Dayle Vander Sande
Following a busy winter season of Polish music here on the other shore, the spring promises more than flowers and showers. Mark your calendars!
The Polish Singers Alliance of America District Seven presents “Galaxy of Polish Stars,” a group recital of singers from Poland on Saturday, March 13th, 7:00 PM at the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in New York City, 233 Madison Avenue at 37th Street. The featured artists will be sopranos Urszula Borzdynska and Ewa Godlewska; mezzo-sopranos Monika Krajewski and Izabella Kobus-Salkin; Cezary Duda, baritone; and Krzysztof Kowalewski, Mariusz Kwiecien and Dariusz Ocetek, bass-baritones. Call 718-720-6089, 718-544-3277, 718-852-6812 or 718-346-6108 (daytime) for advanced reservations prior to March 10th, or if you are interested in being a sponsor in the program booklet. Admission is $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Free reception following.
At the 92nd Street YMCA, pianist/host Jeffrey Siegel in his 12th season of concerts with commentary will present a program called, “The Romantic Polish Masters: Chopin and Szymanowski – Music of poetry, lyricism, heroism and power – Compositions of magical, pianistic sonorities, spanning two centuries.” Wednesday, April 21st at 8:00 PM. Tickets are $20. Call 212-996-1100 for reservations.
The Polish Singers Alliance of America District Seven will also be hosting its annual convention in Hempstead, Long Island this May 14-16. In addition to a competition, mass and banquet for the 11 participating choruses from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Philadelphia, the highlight of the weekend will be a concert at Hofstra University assisted by members of the Hofstra University Orchestra celebrating music of Chopin to honor the 150th anniversary of his death and presenting ‘Angelus’ by Wojciech Kilar who will be the honored guest at the convention. Call 718-720-6089 for more information. Details will follow in next month’s PMRC report.
Brazilian-born pianist Arnaldo Cohen gave a Chopin-based concert at the Schenectady and Union College Concert Series in Union College Memorial Chapel, Schenectady, New York on Sunday, January 31st. Though varied, the program included a number of works by Chopin as well as some of his contemporaries and associates such as Liszt and Schumann. It was noted that Robert Schumann’s poignant Arabesque in C Major emphasized the spiritual link between the two composers. Among Chopin’s works were his Scherzo No. 1 in B Minor, Op. 20; three Etudes — Op. 10, Nos. 10 and 11, and Op. 25, No. 12; along with the Fourth Ballade and the First Scherzo. The program concluded with Franz Liszt’s revolutionary Sonata in B Minor. Reviews were raving, saying that “Cohen has a unique command of the piano, such control that literally anything is possible in an interpretation, [but never indulging] his technical polish beyond letting the music speak for itself… Tone, dynamics and nuance were all at the service of the music.” (Ron Emery, 2/2/99, Times Union, Albany, NY.) Mr. Cohen repeated this program at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan on February 13th.
Violinist, Stephanie Chase was the soloist in the First Violin Concerto of Henryk Wieniawski with the Jupiter Symphony, under the baton of Jens Nygaard at the Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church on West 66th Street, New York City. Chase was reviewed as having found passion in the rambling, fitful first movement, lyrical beauty in the slow movement, and high spirits in the dancing finale, this also being reflected in the playing of Nygaard and his musicians.
Krzysztof Penderecki, a long-time guest to Cincinnati since 1977, conducted the Cincinnati premiere of his Symphony No. 3 on February 12th and 13th at the Music Hall. The other programmed work was Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 9.
Reporting from New York,Dayle Vander Sande, PMRC East Coast Correspondent
Marta Ptaszyńska’s new children’s opera, “Pan Marimba” has already been sold out for the rest of the year at the Teatr Wielki in Warsaw. The opera was co-authored by Ptaszyńska and Agnieszka Osiecka. Seventy young artists take part in this presentation at the National Opera. “Alla Polacca” Children’s Choir and the Roman Turczynowicz Ballet School are led by Sabina Włodarska, director of the choral group and Hanna Chojnacka, choreographer. Zbigniew Granat gives a full-page review in Polish in the 5 February issue of the Nowy Dziennik Przegląd Polski section.) The cover of the program book of the opera reproduced here, was designed by Marta’s daughter.
“Four Portraits” by the same composer was performed by the Juilliard School String Quartet during the “Music of the 1990’s” Festival in New York. Ptaszyńska’s position in the world of contemporary music is as great as the popularity of her music among Polish children.
Polka For Children
For a fun way to learn to count in Polish and learn some common words and phrases get the “Polkas for Children” on tape cassette from the Polish American Journal Bookstore (call 1-800-422-1275 or Visit their web-site: www.polamjournal.com. ($9 plus $2 shipping). For an additional $1 shipping charge you can also order “Polish Picnic Favorites” by Steel City Brass.Steve Litwin praises the latter in his “Polka Insider” column and says that the “clarinet and sax work of Kyle Kohan is a highlight of this recording….demonstrate her talent, skill and devotion to Polish polka music. Her melodies, licks, harmony and fills are the main courses…”
[Note: Kyle Kohan has studied Polish ethnography, becoming a specialist several years ago in the vast body of Oskar Kolberg’s research. Her husband, Mark, is also in the band performing on the concertina. If the name Mark Kohan sounds familiar you may remember that he is the editor of the Polish American Journal and also on the national board of the Polish American Historical Association. (WW)]
The first monograph written in Poland (in Polish) on Grażyna Bacewicz has just been published by PWM Edition. The author, Małgorzata Gąsiorowska, is a musicologist and music broadcaster (working for the Polish Radio). The monograph of over 500 pages is exhaustive and detailed – it took Ms. Gąsiorowska over 20 years to bring this long-awaited project to its completion. The publisher, who is the only music publishing house of Bacewicz’s works, has organized a number of events to celebrate the Bacewicz year and promote the book. An excerpt appeared in a recent issue of Ruch Muzyczny (vol. 43 no. 2, 24 January 1999, p. 6-10).
As a part of the Bacewicz celebration, PWM Edition has issued a new version of Bacewicz’s brochure which was distributed by Ruch Muzyczny (its cover is reproduced here). Note the PMRC published two monographs in English on this outstanding Polish composer in 1984 and 1985. The first one, by Judith Rosen, is an introduction to the music of this composer; the second, by Adrian Thomas, surveys Bacewicz’s chamber and orchestral music.
The Heritage Of Chopin At USC
by Maria Anna Harley
To celebrate the Chopin Year declared by the UNESCO in recognition of the 150th anniversary of Chopin’s death, the School of Music of the University of Southern California and the Polish Music Reference Center organized a series of lectures and recitals by renowned Polish pianists. The series is entitled: THE HERITAGE OF CHOPIN IN POLISH MUSIC HISTORY AND PERFORMANCE PRACTICE and will take place in February and March 1999. The first visitor and presenter in this series, Prof. Michal Wesolowski, came to California from Sweden. His Lecture-Recital at USC took place on 19 February 1999, at 11 a.m., as a part of USC Performance Forum for undergraduate students. The title of his talk was “Mazurka Tradition: Chopin, Szymanowski, Maciejewski”.
Prof. Michał Wesołowski, born in 1936 in Warsaw, graduated from the State Higher School of Music in Warsaw in 1961. He also studied in Paris on a French government scholarship; after returning to Warsaw he was a member of Musica Nova di Varsovia group giving many concerts in Poland and abroad. He had an active career in Poland but had to leave the country for political reasons: he signed a letter of protest denouncing the 1968 persecutions of academic faculty and demanding more freedom from the communist government. After firmly refusing an offer to become an agent Mr. Wesołowski saw all his contracts cancelled and his passport denied. His only option was to leave and settle in a new country; he chose Sweden where he started to rebuild his career in 1972. While being based in Europe he had many opportunities to travel and give recitals in many places around the world; after the change of the government in 1989 he also was able to return to Poland for concerts. He is a professor of piano at the University of Lund near Malmo. Prof. Wesołowski’s recording of Szymanowski’s Masques & Mazurkas (Pianovox label) received the Diapason’d’Or, Le Monde de la Musique, and other awards. Wesołowski premiered new compositions at the Warsaw Autumn Festival, participated in numerous other festivals, taught masterclasses, and gave recitals in Sweden, Japan, and Poland.
In his lecture at USC, Prof. Wesolowski stated that the mazurka is the main national dance of Poland (it even appears in the national anthem); nonetheless, Chopin’s recreation of this dance as an art-form led to the emergence of a distinct national tradition. Mazurkas by Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937) include influences of folkore from other areas of Poland (e.g. the Tatra mountains) – prof. Wesołowski illustrated this part of his lecture with live performance on the piano. He pointed out the variety of dances that were used by Chopin to create the “mazurka” art music form and emphasized the emotional and personal aspect of the mazurka performance. As an example of the range of styles he played two archival recordings, of Mazurka op. 24 no. 4 performed by Ignacy Friedman and by Arthur Rubinstein (both Polish -Jewish pianists whose music needs to be better known). Friedman’s was a more unusual rendition with frequent and unexpected changes of tempi, tone color, dynamics, phrasing. Rubinstein’s style gave rise to the more “conventional” interpretations, the prevailing readings of Chopin’s music today. While Chopin’s music is well known around the world (and only his Polish background is not), Szymanowski’s music is steadily gaining recognition for its values. The difference between his Mazurkas and those by Chopin is huge, especially because of the use of the folklore from a different area of Poland (Tatra Mountains versus the original Mazovia), but also because the evolution of musical language. The least known composer that elicited the most interest from the students who listened to Mr. Wesołowski’s lecture with great enjoyment is Roman Maciejewski (1910-1998). His contribution to the mazurka repertory is not yet fully appreciated and Prof. Wesołowski’s untiring efforts will go a long way to improve that. He recorded a complete CD of his mazurkas and is preparing the music edition for the Brevis Music Publisher in Poznań. (Note that their address is on the PMRC web page, under distributors and publishers of music).
A chance to do exactly that, i.e. to know this music better, was given to the group of music lovers at the home of Dr. and Mrs. Wilk who organized a concert of Prof. Wesolowski on Saturday, 20 Feburary. The concert took place in the salon of the house, with wonderful views of the San Fernando valley surrounded by mountains. Thanks to a group of devoted Friends of Polish Music, the concert was followed by a wonderful reception. The event was a great success. Prof. Wesołowski began with the melancholy strains of a Chopin Nocturne op. 27 and a series of mazurkas.
The program included several of Chopin’s cycles of mazurkas, two waltzes and a ballade. Prof. Wesołowski just began preparing for a recording of Chopin’s complete works, and some of the pieces did not sound as well as they undoubtably will when the CD is finally ready. After the intermission, the audience could enjoy the more contemporary part of the program – Mazurkas no. 6-10 by Roman Maciejewski and Scheherezade and four Mazurkas from op. 50 (no. 13-16) by Karol Szymanowski. The Szymanowski segment of the program was the most impressive; its quality well justified all the recording awards lavished at Prof. Wesołowski’s CD with music by Karol Szymanowski.
The second lecture recital about the “Heritage of Chopin” was be given by an even more distinguished speaker, the recipient of numerous awards, pianist Barbara Hesse-Bukowska (Prof., F. Chopin Academy of Music, Warsaw, Poland). Her talk about “Chopin and Competitions” took place on Friday, 26 February 1999 at the USC School of Music. The focus of the discussion was the comparison of rules and conditions of this competition now and 50 years ago. According to Prof. Hesse-Bukowska it is increasingly more difficult to arrive at a non-controversial judgement of a jury. One reason is the increasing standard of piano performance: there are now hundreds of wonderful musicians competing for the same small number of prizes. Other reasons relate to the rules of the competition which forces the selection of very few best pianists from a large group of musicians of comparable talent. The fact that there was no first prize awarded at the last two Chopin Competition in Warsaw increases the controversial nature of this event.
Prof. Hesse-Bukowska discussed also issues that give the devotees of Chopin’s music more hope: the emergence of new national Chopin competitions in countries like Canada and Thailand (open only to citizens of those countries), the proliferation of Chopin Societies around the world (now united in a Federation that is afilliated with the Chopin society in Warsaw, and the creation of new Chopin festivals, especially in Poland (Duszniki, Antonin, Busko-Zdrój, etc.).
Barbara Hesse-Bukowska is one of the most distinguished Polish pianists specializing in the music of Chopin. She received the second prize at the Fourth International Chopin Competition in 1949. She has also won the Prix Chopin and prizes at the M. Long and J. Thibaud Competition in Paris. Hesse-Bukowska was awarded the highest State Medals and Prizes in Poland for her artistic achievements, she also received a medal from the Harriet Cohen Foundation, London. She has performed worldwide; her recordings of Polish piano music appear on LPs and CDs issued by the Deutsche Gramophone, Lumen, Chant du Monde, and Polskie Nagrania (e.g. the “Complete Works of Chopin” and other works); she also recorded for the Polish Radio. Since 1973 she has been a professor of piano performance at the F. Chopin Academy of Music, in Warsaw.
During her Los Angeles visit, Prof. Hesse-Bukowska gave a recital of Chopin music for the members of the Helena Modrzejewska Club of Polish Arts and Culture (February 27, 1999). Again, the concert took place in the residence of Dr. and Mrs. Wilk. During this recital, Prof. Hesse-Bukowska shared the stage with her son, also a Professor of the Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw and a Chopin specialist of international fame, Maciej Piotrowski. The concert was received with a standing ovation for both performers. Their performances may be heard at a recent release by a Canadian company, StanDeArt Music (1997). This CD (its cover is reproduced here) contains a selection of recordings by Ms. Hesse-Bukowska, the Mazurkas op. 17, 24, Two Rondos (op. 5 and 16), Bolero and Rondo op. 73 for two pianos.
Chopin’s music is Poland’s national treasure. I wanted to make this point clear to USC performance students, many of whom still believe that Chopin – Frederic, not Fryderyk – is a French composer. While his father was French and he lived in Paris – there are many reasons why Poland is so proud of her most famous composer. We have to continue reminding the world of his rightful place in our cultural heritage.
Calendar Of Events
MAR 5: Robert Taub, piano. Chopin’s Sonata in B minor, Op. 58. Friday, 8 p.m. El Camino college Center for the Arts. 1-800-832-!RTS.
MAR 9: Chopin Recital by Laszlo Kenez. Music Academy of the West, Santa Barbara , 8 p.m. 10$. Free for students. For information contact Ms. Judith Holly: 818-346-4816.
MAR 19-21: The Seventh Annual Paderewski Festival. Podhale Polish folk dance company (March 19), Karol Radziwonowicz, piano (March 20). More information above.
MAR 21: Michael Kimmelman, piano. Polish Consulate Salon, 233 Madison Ave. NY, 2:00 p.m. Sun. 718-793-2625. Sponsored by the Greater NY Council of the Chopin Foundation.
MAR 21:Open House and Paderewski Recital by Dr. Lorenzo Sanchez. Polish Music Reference Center, 3 p.m. Free. For more information call: 323-877-1906.
MAR 27: All Chopin Program. Seven young pianists (ages 10- 16) from Miami-Dade and Broward counties perform. Sat. 7:00 p.m. Fort Lauderdale. Chopin Foundation of the U.S.
MAR 28: All Chopin Program. Same as above. Sun. 4:30 p.m. Miami.
A concert version of the shortened version (called the “Wilenska” after the city of Wilno) of Moniuszko’s opera, Halka, was presented on 13 February at the Polish Consulate in New York City under the artistic direction of Nina Polan. Robin Rubendust sang the title role of Halka and Pablo Zinger provided the piano accompaniment.
The opening concert in the Witold Lutosławski Concert Hall of Polish Radio commemorating the 150th anniversary of Fryderyk Chopin’s death featured Chopin’s orchestral works performed by a string quartet and piano. Pianist Karol Radziwonowicz joined I Solisti di Varsovia in the Fantasia on Polish Themes in A major, Rondo a la Krakowiak and the Piano Concerto in F minor.
“Paderewski Plays Again” is the caption of an article in the Polish American Journal (Feb 1999) in which Michael Pietruszka describes “a unique musical evening” sponsored by the Polish Arts Club of Buffalo and the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society “through the magic of the QRS Pianomation Reproducing System” in which the audience “enjoyed an authentic performance of the works of Chopin by Ignacy Jan Paderewski. This was possible because Paderewski’s performances were captured during his lifetime on Duo-Art reproducing piano rolls, the only faithful recording system from the early 1900s…The Hon. Carl Bucki, Dr. Teresa Gessner and Felix Klempka, with a backdrop of projected images of Paderewski and his times, gave historical comments which painted the details of these masterpieces.”
Dr. William Wellborn performed an all Liszt Program which included a transcription of Chopin’s music at the Old First Church in San Francisco (19 Feb). Wellborn is 2nd vice- president of the Chopin Council of San Francisco.
Wendy Chen, first prize winner of the National Chopin Piano Competition in Miami, 1990, gave a Chopin Birthday Concert on 26 February.
Pianist Eduardo Delgado, USC alumnus and student of the late Lillian Steuber, presented music by Chopin at the Little Theatre, Cal State Fullerton on Sunday 14 Feb.
Annie Linn, piano and William Skeen, cello included Chopin in their recital in the Pasadena Public Library on 14 Feb.
The Jacques Thibaud String Trio played music of Penderecki, Schubert and Mozart at the Performing Arts Center, Sunny Hills High School in Fullerton, 14 Feb.
Paganini Variations by Lutosławski was among the works presented on 19 Feb at the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Toyota Symphonies for Youth. Miguel Harth- Bedoya, conductor and Sally Kikuchi, piano. Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Los Angeles.
Songs by Chopin, Moniuszko, Bacewicz, Poldowski (that is, Irene Wieniawska, daughter of Henryk Wieniawski, later known as Lady Dean Paul) and Szymanowski were presented by Dr. Julianna Wrycza Sabol for the Polish Heritage Club of Syracuse, NY last October.
Deadline: 30 November 1999 for the Chopin Foundation of the U.S. , Miami, Florida. Contest Dates: March 4-12, 2000. Four top Prize-Winners to represent the U.S. will be sent to the International competition in Warsaw, Poland in October 2000.
See the Chopin Foundation’s Web Site: www.chopin.org/competition.html for application, rules & regulations, repertoire, names of previous winners (Kevin Kenner, Jon Nakamatsu, Jonathan Bass, Wendy Chen, etc.) and numerous articles published in their magazine “Polonaise” and also links to other Chopin Foundations in the U.S. (NY & San Francisco).
The Sembrich Vocal Competition sponsored by the American Council for Polish Culture will be held this spring. Deadline for the $2000 Prize is 30 April, 1999. For applications write to Prof. Marian Krajewska, Conservatory of Music, St. Mary-of-the-Woods College, IN 47876 (8112-535- 5293). Open to applicants, male or female, U.S. citizens of Polish descent, who are pursuing higher education study in voice.
Essay Competition of the Polish American Network. For signing onto a new research competition in the following categories: Chopin, Adam Mickiewicz, Polish Nobel Laureates, John Paul II, log into the Polish American Network Website at http://pan.net, which is co-sponsoring it with the Consulate General in Los Angeles, Lot Airlines and others.
For information on the Josef Hofmann Piano Competition write to Dr. Tom Mack at the University of Southern Carolina @ Aiken, 471 University Parkway, Aiken, SC 29801. The competition is held annually in Aiken, SC. Why there? Josef Hofmann, who was director of the Curtis Institute of Music from 1927-1938, fell in love with the area after a recital in 1904. A more important reason was his romantic involvement with Marie Eustis, a prominent local socialite: after their marriage they made their permanent home there. The competition was spear-headed by the Polish Heritage Association of Southeast-Aiken and established in conjunction with the University of South Carolina-Aiken.
Review Of The Press
by Wanda Wilk
Recent Performance Reviews
The October 14, 1998 performance of Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1 by Martha Argerich and the Montreal Symphony under Charles Dutoit in Carnegie Hall received an excellent review in the American Record Guide (January/February issue). Jack Sullivan wrote: “In the finale, Argerich sped ahead with a breathless velocity that risked going over the age. Go-for-broke intensity is what this pianist is about, and she delivered the goods, to the shrieking delight of her cultish admirers.”
Cleveland Orchestra performed Lutosławski’s Cello Concerto. In reviewing the October 8-10 performance of the Cleveland Orchestra with guest conductor Franz Welser-Most and cellist Clemens Hagen, Robert Finn wrote: “There is a tradition in the music business that the reputation of a prominent composer goes into a nosedive immediately after his death. One composer who seems to be bucking this trend is Poland’s Witold Lutosławski, now dead almost five years. Since his death, performances of his music have continued at a gratifying and well-deserved pace all over the world.” He gave an excellent description of the performance of the cello concerto praising both conductor and soloist. I remember seeing Franz Welser-Most (in the company of the late composer) conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic and how impressed Mr. Lutoslawski was with the young conductor. [WW]
Slenczynska and Petrowska
The January/February 1999 issue of the Fanfare magazine has devoted two lengthy articles on two pianists with a Polish connection: American Ruth Slenczynska and Canadian Christina Petrowska.
On page 86 of Fanfare you will find “I Never Look Back: A Conversation with Ruth Slenczynska.” by Peter J. Rabinowitz. Some of you may remember this pianist as the child prodigy (Forbidden Childhood is the title of her 1957 autobiography). If you wondered about what became of her, she had been successfully teaching for 35 years at the University of Southern Illinois in Edwardsville and pursuing a concert career as well. The six page article gives much of her personal life after her “forbidden childhood” during which she was tortured with practicing music (she seems to have adjusted very well and has been happily married for 31 years to a professor at the same university).
Her earlier recordings are now being reissued on Ivory Classics. The first of a series of historic recordings from the 1950s and 1960s is CD 70801. “Ruth Slenczynska in Concert” is a recording of a concert in St. Louis on April 8, 1984 (CD 70902). Having studied with the world’s greatest pianists Schnabel, Rachmaninov and Cortot, among others) she is described as one of the great piano legends of this century.
Music critic Raymond Tuttle calls Christina Petrowska the “Renaissance Woman… and Part-time Lounge Lizard.” (page 52) He goes on to describe her not only as an excellent classical pianist, a respected pedagog, a committed advocate of modern masters, such as Messiaen and Ligeti, but also tells of her talents as a writer, poet and artist (drawings) and a mother and a wife. The lengthy six page article makes for very interesting reading.
Two of Petrowska’s recent recordings were reviewed by two different music critics in the same issue. Peter J. Rabinovitz was not too enchanted with the first recording of the music by Chopin & Liszt. In contrast, the CD entitled Mystic Streams (with music by Gellman, Ligeti, Takemitsu, Southam, Rzewski and Koprowski) received much better grades from critic Art Lange who called her a “marvelous pianist” and admired Petrowska for her “enormous strength, stamina and an amazingly crisp, clean articulation, in addition to those brief times when she is allowed to display subtlety as well.”
1999 has been declared “The Chopin Year” by UNESCO in recognition of the 150th anniversary of Chopin’s death. Many new releases have been issued on commemoration of this event and more are in the works and are due to be released by October 17th:
ALLEGRO DR 9312. Fialkowska plays Chopin. 24 Etudes, Op. 10 & 25.
DG The Originals. 457 711-2GOR. Chopin. Polonaises. Maurizio Pollini, piano. This is a reissue of an earlier recording. Read the review in Gramophone Feb ’99 issue, p. 72 by Lionel Salter who ends with “his dazzling runs, and the ferocious energy with which he attacks the Chromatic Fantasia, are absolutely electrifying; a performance to put nearly all others in the shade.”
HARMONIA MUNDI 907244. Chopin: Piano Pieces. Jon Nakamatsu, piano. Last month I reported on the favorable review of this recording and artist by music critic Daniel Cariaga of the LA Times. The pianist has garnered two more “kudos” for this recording. Allen Linkowski writes in the American Record Guide: “the 28-year old Californian plays with such sensitivity and tonal refinement that this contribution, if not totally effective, deserves a prominent place in the current catalog…there is a natural, unforced quality to his playing that is most seductive. Peter J. Rabinowitz also warmly recommends it in the latest issue of Fanfare.
SONY SK 63371. Chopin. Piano Works. Emanuel Ax, piano. Sedgwick Clark reportes on Ax’s “initial venture into the world of period instruments is a thorough delight, from the exquisite solo playing and partnership of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment under Sir Charles Mackerras to the attractive booklet design, richly burnished artist photos and Ax’s eloquent and perceptive notes (a model of their kind)… Ax plays an Erard piano built in London in 1851…” It was selected as Clark’s Choice in Gramophone, Jan’99.This recording was selected by two critics (Paul Althouse and Alexander Morin) in the American Record Guide “Critics’ Choice Selections” for 1998, while Donald Vroon selected Earl Wild’s rendition of the Nocturnes and Jack Sullivan chose the Hungarian Csalog’s album of the Mazurkas.
WELSPRINGE WELCD 004-98. Chopin Piano Music. Liszt Piano Music. Christina Petrowska, piano. Includes Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise brillante.
- EMI: Martha Argerich with Montreal Symphony/Dutoit.
- KOCH INTERNATIONAL: Ewa Kupiec, piano (Chopin & Szymanowski).
- OPUS: Janusz Olejniczak, piano.
- ARTE NOVA: Castro, piano.
- Pogorelich playing the Four Scherzi.
- Indonesian pianist Wibi Soerjadi making an all-Chopin debut.
- Evgeny Kissin playing the four Ballades.ARION ARN 68448. Chopin. Laure Favie-Kahn, piano. This recording received a Diapason 5 rating.-A series of Chopin recordings is advertised to appear in May & June:
DG 449-213-2GH. The long-awaited recording of Krystian Zimerman’s Ravel Piano Concertos has been selected as Recording of the Month by the British Gramophone magazine. It received a lengthy A+ review from David Fanning with an excellent photo of the artist (on p.58).
KOCH SCHWANN 364412. Marek, Czesław. “Polish Hymns, Rural Scenes, etc…” “A terrific disc,” says Guy S. Richards in Gramophone. It is the latest installment of this company’s series on a “composer new to almost everyone, who wrote music of considerable variety and appeal combining late romantic lushness of sound […] with a classicality of spirit […] was remarkably forward-looking.” The recording includes a prize- winning four-part male-voice motet “Death Melody” composed in 1924: “Cyt … to gra smierc” (Hush…Death is playing”) with a haunting tenor solo.Marek was born in Poland in 1891 but moved permanently to Switzerland in 1932 and became a Swiss citizen.
MASTER MUSICIANS ESCD004. Paderewski. Chants du voyageur, Op. 8, Humoresques de Concert, Op. 14, Miscellanea, Op. 16. Jonathan Plowright, piano. Excellent review of the music and playing by Tim Parry (Gramophone) who wrote, “From the fleetness of the Caprice to the lingering tenderness of the Nocturne (one of Paderewski’s most achingly beautiful creations), the playing is superb.”
Music Heritage Society 514369F. Lutosławski. Concerto for Orchestra. This was originally a London/Decca recording that is now exclusively available from MHS. The performance is by the Cleveland Orchestra under the direction of Christopher von Dohnanyi. MHS now produces CDs licensed from other companies at only $12.99 per CD.In his review for Fanfare (January/February 1999) Andrew Quint “prefers this performance of the Lutoslawski to two very fine more recent ones…the sound is absolutely stunning – a deep dramatic soundstage is generated, and the sound has terrific impact.”
DELOS 3231. Wieniawski: Violin Pieces. Corey Cerovsek, v. Katja Cerovsek, piano. “This recording is a pleasure to hear from beginning to end.” (Elaine Fine, American Record Guide Jan/Feb 1999).
CLAUDIO RECORDS CB 4834-2. Francis Poulenc. Eight Polish Folk-Songs. Annette Celine, soprano. A new release to celebrate the composer’s centenary also includes Villa-Lobos, Ravel and Braga in this “Carnival of Songs.” The South-American Celine is the daughter of Polish born pianist, Felicja Blumenthal.
Composer Of The Month
Roman Maciejewski (1910-1998)
by Brian Harlan
Roman Maciejewski was born in Berlin in 1910 into a musical family. At the age of six he was enrolled in the Stern Conservatory in Berlin to study piano. In 1919 his family moved to Poland, and here Maciejewski entered the Poznan Conservatory to continue his studies. After completing his piano education, he took up composition with Stanislaw Wiechowicz. At sixteen, he became the leader of a choir named after the nineteenth century composer Stanisław Moniuszko. Despite his reputation as a promising young composer, Maciejewski never completed his studies. He was expelled from Poznan for organizing a protest among the students in support of Karol Szymanowski who was then the outgoing rector. In 1933 he left Poland to study with Nadia Boulanger in Paris, which he did briefly, and then embarked on a life of extensive travel. During his Parisian years he befriended Arthur Rubinstein and met many eminent composers of his time. After living in Sweden for several years he moved to Los Angeles (in 1951) where he spend more than a decade, returning to Sweden for the remainder of his years.
When he was thirty, Maciejewski fell seriously ill, and even after several operations his condition remained critical. Because of this he made some drastic changes to his life which included: a vegetarian diet, daily exercise, prayer, and meditation. As a result, these changes aided his recovery while re-focusing his attitude toward life in general. After this experience composing was no longer a mere profession for him. More importantly it was a responsibility, and in fulfilling this one should draw inspiration not from current trends, but from the heart. He is known to have turned down commissions–such as a concerto for Arthur Rubinstein–and to be little concerned with the fate of his compositions–and consequently, many are lost.
Maciejewski’s compositions include pieces for orchestra, chamber groups, solo piano, and choir, as well as ballet and theater works. His opus magnum is the colossal Requiem. The work is over two hours in length, and took nearly 15 years to be completed; it was premiered in 1960 at the National Philharmonic in Warsaw during the International Festival for Contemporary Music. [The photograph on the left features the composer among some of the performers, right after the premiere of Requiem]. Significantly, the materials for Requiem are derived from the whole of musical tradition in order to bridge the past with the present in a spirit of peace for all of humanity. Although laden with somber symbolism, in the end Maciejewski’s work leaves us with a powerful sense of strength and hope. Requiem is not only dedicated to “those who have fallen in every war ever fought,” but equally to all “victims of human ignorance”. In his own words: “Aghast by the enormity of human suffering and the sea of blood spilled during the years of World War II,…I decided to compose a monumental work which could help impress on human memory the tragic absurdity of wars.” This quotation comes from the program note for the Warsaw premiere of the work.
At the time when all other composers tried to be very avant-garde, he followed his own path and that is why he was dubbed an “ecclectic” composer. An interesting part of his output are mazurkas for solo piano. He composed these works from 1928 to 1991 and mostly wrote them “for himself” – to ascertain his personal identity as a Pole and as an emigre. The first four mazurkas (1928-1930) bear traces of student infatuation with the music of Karol Szymanowski. According to Michal Wesolowski, pianist entrusted with editing and recording of Maciejewski’s piano music, the mazurkas do not suggest any linear development of Maciejewski’s style. Many of them are unfinished, the majority do not bear any performance annotations. Of the 45 mazurkas, thirteen have already been recorded, and the whole set will be published by Brevis (Poznań, Poland).
NOTE: This introduction to the person and music of Roman Maciejewski is based on an essay by Wiesław Lisiecki. Roman is not related to Bogusław Maciejewski, a prolific music critic.
Born This Month
- 1 March 1810 – Fryderyk Chopin, virtuoso pianist, Poland’s greatest composer
- 3 March 1922 – Kazimierz Serocki, composer, co-founder of Warsaw Autumn Festival
- 6 March 1975 – Karol Kurpiński, composer, father of national opera
- 7 March 1911 – Stefan Kisielewski, composer, essayist, writer
- 10 March 1937 – Bernadetta Matuszczak, composer
- 17 March 1901 – Piotr Perkowski, composer
- 18 March 1961 – Hanna Kulenty, composer
- 21 March 1936 – Marek Stachowski, composer
- 28 March 1954 – Paweł Szymański, composer
Died This Month
- 21 March 1973 – Antoni Szałowski, composer
- 29 March 1937 – Karol Szymanowski, composer, pianist
- 31 March 1880 – Henryk Wieniawski, composer, virtuoso violinist