August 2003

Polish Music Center Newsletter Vol. 9, no. 8


Knittel And Walaciński Honored By Polish Composers Union

Polish composers Krzystof Knittel and Adam Walaciński will be presented prestigious awards from the highly respected Polish Composers’ Union (Związku Kompozytorów Polskich – ZKP) at this year’s “Warsaw Autumn” Festival.Krzystof Knittel is a composer of instrumental and electro-acoustic music, computer audio-visual compositions, as well incidental music for the theatre, and music for films, radio and television. He is the current director of the “Warsaw Autumn” Festival and former President of the Polish Composers’ Union. He will receive an award for “Outstanding Compositions and Participation in the Union”. See his PMC composer page. Adam Walaciński, a lesser known composer, has done most of his work in the film industry. He will be awarded for his “Entire Body of Works in Composition and Musical Journalism”.

Other awards will be given at the Festival this year. Three composers will be made honorary members of the union: Krystyna Moszumańska-Nazar (see other news below), Włodzimierz Kotoński and Bogusław Schaffer. Arts patrons Wim Boerman and Andrzej Chłopecki will also be honored for “patronage of Polish contemporary music in Europe and around the world” and “taking part in the world-wide success of several generations of Polish composers” respectively.

These composers will be honored at this year’s “Warsaw Autumn” International Festival of Contemporary Music. This festival is organized by the Polish Composers’ Union and held annually to recognize talented contemporary composers from around the world and showcase their music. It is the place for many Polish and international premieres each year. Created in 1956 and interrupted only by dire political and financial situations, 2003 marks the 46th year of “Warsaw Autumn”. The festival will take place from the 19th to the 27th of September.

Musical Survivor Of The Holocaust

Aleksander Kulisiewicz (1918-1982) was a law student in German-occupied Poland when, in October 1939, he was denounced for anti-fascist writings, arrested by the Gestapo, and sent to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, near Berlin. An amateur singer and songwriter, Kulisiewicz composed 54 songs during nearly six years of imprisonment at Sachsenhausen. After liberation he remembered his songs, as well as those learned from fellow prisoners, dictating hundreds of pages of text to his attending nurse at a Polish infirmary.

The majority of Kulisiewicz’s songs are darkly humorous ballads concerning the sadistic treatment of prisoners. Performed at secret gatherings, imbued with biting wit and subversive attitude, these songs helped inmates cope with their hunger and despair, raised morale, and offered hope of survival. Beyond this spiritual and psychological purport, Kulisiewicz also considered the camp song to be a form of documentation. “In the camp,” he wrote, “I tried under all circumstances to create verses that would serve as direct poetical reportage. I used my memory as a living archive. Friends came to me and dictated their songs.”

In the 1950s, Kulisiewicz began amassing a private collection of music, poetry, and artwork created by camp prisoners, gathering this material through correspondence and hundreds of hours of recorded interviews. In the 1960s, he inaugurated a series of public recitals of his repertoire of camp songs, and issued several recordings. Kulisiewicz’s major project, a monumental study of the cultural life of the camps and the vital role music played as a means of survival for many prisoners, remained unpublished at the time of his death. His archive-the largest extant collection of music composed in the camps-is now a part of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Archives.

Information about Aleksander Kulisiewicz was taken from the website of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, To listen to some of Kulisiewicz’s songs, go to Bret Werb, staff musicologist at the museum, and Dr. Barbara Milewski, former Wilk Prize winner, are currently working on a CD of Kulisiewicz’s music.

Polonia At The Skirball

The Skirball Cultural Center is hosting several Polish events this August!

The first is the West Coast premiere of the Cracow Klezmer Band:
Sunday, August 10th, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
The Cracow Klezmer Band (CKB) is considered to be the greatest Polish reinterpreter of the European klezmer tradition. Enjoy a festive daylong program of international performances, food, and family fun. Admission: $8 General, $6 Students and Seniors. Free to Members and Children under 12.

Next, the Cracow Klesmer Band will accompany a showing of the film Jewish Luck:
Tuesday, August 12th, 8 p.m.
U.S. premiere! One of the greatest Yiddish actors and directors of Moscow’s Yiddish State Art Theatre, Solomon Mykhoels made his film debut in this adaptation of Sholom Aleichem’s Mendel the Matchmaker. Like Buster Keaton, Mendel falls into one hilarious calamity after another. (Russia, 1925, 90 min.) Silent with English intertitles and live music by the Cracow Klezmer Band. Admission: $15 General, $10 Members, $8 Students.

Then, Agnieszka Holland, renowned Polish film maker, will screen and discuss Le Bonheur: Friday, August 22nd, 7:30 p.m.
Le Bonheur (Happiness) is Agnes Varda’s controversial and award-winning film. In this hit of the French New Wave, an idyllically happy family in suburban Paris starts to unravel after the husband begins an affair. In French with English subtitles. (France, 1965, 77 min.)

One of the most acclaimed European directors of her generation, Agnieszka Holland has succeeded in making films in her native Poland, as well as in America. A protégé of Andrzej Wajda, Holland has won a Golden Lion from the Venice Film Festival, a Golden Globe, and has twice been nominated for an Oscar and Berlin’s Golden Bear. She is best known in the United States for her Oscar-nominated Angry Harvest and Europa, Europa.
Admission: $10 General, $8 Members*, $6 Students (*Skirball, AFI, Union, Guild, and ArcLight Members).

And finally, a screening of Agnieszka Holland’s The Dybbuk:Tuesday, August 26th, 7:30 p.m.
Set in rural Poland in the late 1800s, this rare screening of Agnieszka Holland’s Polish television adaptation of the Chasidic folktale is the story of a wandering soul in search of an earthly host. When a matrimonial promise binding a yeshiva student and a young woman is betrayed, the student uses the power of the Kabbalah, the ancient Jewish practice of mysticism, to free his soul from his body to inhabit the form of his beloved. (Poland, 1999, 90 min.)
Admission:$6 General, $5 Members, $4 Students.

Advance Tickets: (323) 655-8587

Sinfonietta Cracovia Cancels Ravinia Debut

Sinfonietta Cracovia has cancelled the performances for August 12-14 that were to mark the group’s debut at the Chicago-area summer festival, Ravinia. The cancellation was necessitated by budget difficulties in Poland. The performances on August 12th and 14th will instead feature the Ravinia Festival Orchestra, an ensemble that includes members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as well as area free-lance musicians.

Christoph Eschenbach, Ravinia’s music director and a mentor of the Sinfonietta’s music director, John Axelrod, will be the piano soloist with the Ravinia Festival Orchestra Aug. 12 in an all-Mozart program conducted by Axelrod. Eschenbach will then take the podium on Aug. 14 for a rare, semi-staged performance of Berlioz’s French-language adaptation of Carl Maria von Weber’s opera “Der Freischutz.” So, despite the cancellation, these performances promise to be rewarding.

Speaker Series At Warszawa Restaurant

The Warszawa Restaurant and the Office of the Americas is sponsoring a thought-provoking series this summer called Salon at the Yard. Each month a new, often controversial speaker hosts an evening discussion about his/her area of expertise. Last month’s speaker was Blase Bonpane who discussed “Building a Peace System”. Recognized in 1989 by the Los Angeles Weekly as being “the most underrated Humanist of the past decade,” Blase Bonpane has dedicated his life to peace and justice in this hemisphere and beyond.

This month, Kim Lee, who is currently the Director of the Garment Worker Center, will present her topic, “Los Angeles: Sweatshop Capital of the U.S.” Lee is a long-time activist for this cause, having worked one-on-one with local unions as well as serving as the Field and Legislative Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Southern California, responsible for public education and community outreach on civil rights issues.

What: Salon at the Yard series, featuring Kim Lee
Where: Warszawa Restaurant (refreshments will be served)
When: Wednesday, August 27, at 7:30 pm
For further information call the Office of the Americas at: (323) 852-9808

Upcoming speakers in the series: September 24 – Nancy Snow, Ph.D. (Author of Propaganda, Inc.: Selling America’s Culture to the World) presents “A World Without TV”; Sheila Kuehl; Jay Levin

Andrzej Seweryn In California

Andrzej Seweryn one of Poland’s best stage and film actors. He is on the board of directors and also acts in the famous Parisian theater Comedie Française. He teaches at l’Ecole Nationale Superieure des Arts et Techniques du Theatre in Lyon, France. His credits include Revenge/Zemsta; The Cardinal/Prymas; Pan Tadeusz; With Fire and Sward/Ogniem i mieczem; Total Eclipse; Schindler’s List; Indochine; The Mahabharata; Danton; The Conductor/Dyrygent; Nights and Days/Noce i dnie; Promised Land/Ziemia obiecana; Polish Album/Album polski

Appearances in California in August:
San Diego – Reading of Journals by Witold Gombrowicz (in Polish)
Saturday, August 2, 2003. 7:00 p.m.
Salon Kulturalny
for information call: (619)847-3766

Los Angeles – Reading of Journals by Witold Gombrowicz (in Polish)
presented by the Helena Modjeska Art & Cultural Club
Saturday, August 9, 2003. 7:00 p. m. (the door will be closed at 7:30 p. m.)
Magicopolis Theatre
1418 4th Street, Santa Monica
tickets $15.00
For information & reservation call Jola Zych at (818)713-8708
(send check to: 5634 Keikuk Ave., Woodland Hills, Ca. 91367)

San Francisco – Zemsta (Roman Polanski) Q & A
Sunday, August 17, 2003, 6:00 p. m.
Spangenberg Theatre, Palo Alto
Information: MGE – 831/685-3549

Paveł Kruk: Video Art

Up and coming Polish artist Paweł Kruk has his video Larger Than Life on display in the exhibition “The American Effect: Global Perspectives on the United States, 1990-2003” at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City.

July 3 – October 12, 2003

Pawel Kruk, born in 1976 in Koszalin, Poland, lives and works in Warsaw. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznan with a degree in drawing. The video Larger Than Life is his diploma work. Pawel Kruk was an Artslink 2002 Fellow.

“For Polish artist Pawel Kruk, impersonating the basketball star Michael Jordan is a way to gain access to what he perceives as an emblematically American aspiration to perfection. His single-channel video, Larger Than Life, is a faux interview with Jordan, in which Kruk himself plays the role of the basketball superstar, using lines borrowed from Jordan’s 1993 autobiography Rare Air: Michael on Michael. ‘I don’t remember the fall of communism’, says Kruk, ‘but the day of the first televised NBA game in Poland is a day that changed my life. For me, Michael Jordan is the embodiment of the American possibility of achievement.'”

Romantique: A Chopin Play

What do George Gershwin, Frédéric Chopin, and Ludwig van Beethoven have in common (besides, well, the obvious)? Each composer’s artistic triumphs were mirrored by personal tragedies, with Gershwin and Chopin dying before 40 and Beethoven going deaf. They are also all being reborn onstage thanks to playwrite Hershey Felder, himself a composer and pianist.

As a writer, Mr. Felder has meticulously researched their lives. As an actor playing them, he’s got a trump card: He’s an outstanding pianist, who can authentically bring each man and his art to the stage.

As Felder’s Broadway solo work George Gershwin Alone centered on the title composer, Romantique introduces audiences to the world of another composer, Frédéric Chopin, and his relationships with others. The story follows the Polish-born composer’s relationship with his love, authoress George Sand, and friend, painter Eugčne Delacroix, while highlighting Delacroix’s art, Sand’s tales and Chopin’s music. The work is set one summer evening in 1846 when the composer and painter make what would be their final visit to the scribe’s retreat.

The play will run from August 1-17 at American Repertory Theater’s Loeb Drama Center in Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA. Tickets can be purchased by calling (617) 547-8300 or online at

This article was excerpted from articles in the Christian Science Monitor and Playbill.

Summer Course For Young Composers

The Polish Society for Contemporary Music invites young composers, composition students, music theoreticians, musicologists and performers interested in contemporary music to 21st Summer Course for Young Composers in Warsaw. For further information or an application, contact ICSM Polish Section Vice President Maciej Zielinski at or email The application deadline is August 15th, 2003 and the course runs from September 18-27, 2003.

Penderecki Festival Cancelled

The Kraków 2000 Bureau, and in fact the whole city, had been planning to join the ranks of cities all over Poland celebrating the 79th birthday and 50 year anniversary of creative output of Krzystof Penderecki in September. But recently, Elżbietta Penderecki, wife of the composer, announced that the festival in Kraków would not take place. The cancellation has come in the wake of disagreements over financial resources for the festival. The Pendereckis were out of the country and unreachable for comment. The Kraków 2000 directors say that they continue to support the organization and still hope that a compromise can be reached.

Southern CA World Weaving Expo

Saturday, Aug. 2, 2003 and Sunday, Aug. 3, 2003 from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Mission San Juan Capistrano

Wearing traditional costumes from the Podhale Region, Marta Greczek (20) and Basia Maka (19), two of the best students from the Helena Modrzejewska School of Art in Zakopane, will demonstrate the traditional method of lace making and tapestry weaving. The young girls from Zakopane/Poland represent a beautiful balance for this venue as almost all of the textile arts from other countries and regions of the world are presented by older generations of artists.

POL-MAR Trading & Travel Service, Inc. and The Artifacts Council of Mission San Juan Capistrano invites you to join them for World Weaving- A Common Thread 2003, an International Textile and Fiber Arts Expo within the walls of Historic Mission San Juan Capistrano. Yesterday’s ancient traditions become today’s latest trends in textile, clothing and home furnishings. Enjoy shopping, on site demonstrations by the artists, and ethnic music and dance.

If you have any questions, contact: Kris Cieply
POL-MAR Trading and Travel Service, Inc.
619-563-0093 or 800-439-3811
or visit


Polish Cultural Foundation Award

Krystyna Moszumanska-Nazar received the Honored Award from the Fundacja Kultury Polskiej (Polish Culture Foundation) on June 4th, 2003. The ceremony took place in the Fontana Hall of the City of Kraków Historic Museum. Visit her PMC composer page

Ms. Moszumanska-Nazar is no stranger to recognition. According to the website of Polskie Wydawnictwo Muzyczne (PVM), “The composer’s work has enjoyed unusual esteem from the beginning. In 1954 she won a distinction at the competition of the Circle of the Young Composers of the Polish Composers’ Union for her ‘Oberek’ from t he Suite of the Polish Dances, in 1961 and 1966 – distinctions for Hexaedre and Exodus at the International Competition for Women Composers in Mannheim; she was awarded first prize and gold medal at the International Competition for Women Composers at Buenos Aires for her Music for Strings (1962), third prize at the Artur Malawski Composition Competition in Cracow for Concertante Variations (1966) and second prize at the Karol Szymanowski Composition Competition for Polish Madonnas (1974). Moreover, she is the winner of many other prizes, including the prize of the Polish Composers’ Union, the Ministry of Culture and Art (honoured five times), the prize of the Prime Minister for her work for children and young people. She has also been decorated with the Gold Cross of Merit, the Chevalier’s Cross of the Order of the Restoration of Poland, the Officer’s Cross of the Order of the Restoration of Poland as well as the Commander’s Cross of the Order of the Restoration of Poland. She has also been conferred the honorary title and the medal ‘For Contributions to the National Culture’.”

PSAA District 7 Award

The “Aria” Chorus #303 of the Polish Singers Alliance of America won first place among Mixed Choruses at the District Seven Convention held in Philadelphia last May.

Congratulations to Dayle Vander Sande, their director, and to the group. “Aria” is holding rehearsals throughout the summer on Wednesday evenings and is located in Wallington, New Jersey. Visit their website for pictures and news of upcoming events.

ZAiKS Award

Wojciech ZielińskiEdward Bogusławski and Zbigniew Lampart were winners of this year’s ZAiKS Awards. ZAiKS (Zwiazek Autorów i Kompozytorów Scenicznych) is the Polish Association of Stage Authors and Composers.

Wojciech Zieliński won first prize for his work “Światła Ziemi” or “Lights of the Earth” written for soprano, guitar, harp, harpsichord and percussion. Edward Bogusławski received the second prize for his piece “Sekwencja” or “Sequence” for soprano and chamber orchestra. Third prize went to Zbigniew Lampart for his “Dwie pieśni” or “Two Songs” written to the words of Karol Szymanowski. Other Honorary Mentions went to Daria Jabłońska, Mieczysław Makowski, Jan Oleszkowicz and Ryszard Osada. There were 61 submissions for this contest.

Internet News

Polish Folk Music Site

There is a new web site dedicated to the Polish folk music scene. It provides links to several folk composers and performers as well as a collection of some of the most popular songs.

Web Site Of American Polish Advisory Council

The APAC website,, includes a Polonia Database with information about various Polish American organizations. For more information contact

California Events on PAC Site

The Polish American Congress, Southern California, has a web site,, where the “master calendar” of Polish American events for the year of 2003 may be consulted. The Congress invites submissions from Polish American institutions, organizations, and individuals planning events, such as festivals, meetings, film screenings, balls, dances and other events. This way, there will be no conflict of interest. The Polish American Congress of Southern California co-sponsors two annual festivals “Proud to be Polish” featuring Polish food, folk art, competitions for youth, folk dancing, singing, and other manifestations of the Polish spirit. The spring festival is scheduled for Yorba Linda, the fall for Los Angeles. For more information contact the Congress, 3919 Myrtle Ave, Long Beach, CA 90807-3517, Phone 562-426-9830, Fax 562-426-9845 or 1700 Laurel Canyon Way, Corona, CA 92881-3475, Phone 909-278-9700, Fax 909-272-4548; or e-mail:;


Chopiniana 2003

Warsaw, August 3 – August 9, 2003

This Festival, known as “The Days of Chopin” or “Chopiniana”, is a celebration the life and works of Frederick Chopin as well as creative manifestations in other arts that refer to Poland’s most outstanding composer (including jazz music, ballet, film, and the traditional folk music of the Mazovia region). Many of the festival events will be held at different sites around Warsaw that have a particular connection to Chopin and his influence on the Polish people.

For more information, contact:
Impresariat Muzyczny Mazowieckiego Centrum Kultury i Sztuki
ul. Koszykowa 24, Warszawa
tel. (+48 22) 621 63 32, 621 65 80, 621 30 74

Jazz In Old Town

Warsaw, Old Town Square, July 5 – August 30, 2003

Concerts take place in Old Town Square every Saturday evening during two summer months. Throughout its history, the festival has consistently promoted contemporary jazz music in all its varieties and shades. It has become a tradition for the event to promote unusual and highly original music projects that are prepared especially to premiere in the central square of Warsaw’s Old Town.

For more information, visit or contact:
Jazz Club “Rynek” / Staromiejski Dom Kultury
Rynek Starego Miasta 2, Warszawa
tel. (+48 22) 831 23 75

Organ Festivals

The 10th “Organs of the Cathedral” International Organ Music Festival
Warsaw, St. John’s Cathedral, July 6 – September 21, 2003

This festival is considered today to be one of the most significant of Warsaw’s festivals and numbering among the most important organ music festivals in Europe. It was first organized in 1994 on the initiative of Polish organist Przemyslaw Kapitula, who remains the festival’s artistic director to this day. Each year’s festival concerts span three months (July, August, September) and are held each Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. in St. John’s Cathedral, an ideal venue for the presentation of organ music.

46th International Organ Music Festival at the Cathedral of Oliwa
Gdansk, Cathedral of Oliwa, June 25 – September 2, 2003

One of the oldest music events in Poland, this festival has become a permanent fixture in the calendar of Europe’s most important music events. The monumental organ was built between 1763 and 1788 and does not have an equal among the authentic old instruments that exist in Europe. It possesses 110 voices and over 600 pipes, and is decorated with figures of angels playing cornets, trombones, bugles and bells, moving suns and stars, wreathes of flowers and plants. Concerts are held every Tuesday and Friday at 8:00 p.m., featuring some of the world’s most outstanding organists. The repertoire traditionally spans both past and contemporary organ music.

Information can be obtained from: Polska Filharmonia Baltycka
ul. Olowianka 1, Gdansk
tel. (+48 58) 305 20 40-41

12th Organ and Chamber Music Festival – “Lezajsk 2003”
Lezajsk, Basilica of the Bernardine Fathers, May 31 – August 25, 2003

The Bernardine Church in Lezajsk is located in a highly picturesque corner of the Sandomierz Valley. The organ there has an amazing, highly refined sound and is one of the largest monuments of its kind in the world.

More information about this festival is available at the Festival Website.

For a further listing of Polish Music Festivals, see the PMC Festival Page or


Górecki’s St. Stanislaus BM Cantata

As announced in last month’s Newletter, singers representing the Buffalo and Hamilton singing societies of the Polish Singers Alliance of America (PSAA) joined together with local church choristers in Cleveland to commemorate the 750th anniversary of the canonization of Poland’s first saint, Stanisław Szczepanowski, the martyred Bishop of Kraków. Following Polish, Latin and English selections by the individual choruses sung before the main altar, accompanied by grand piano and organ, the program featured Piotr Górecki’s dramatic twenty-minute masterpiece, the Cantata of St. Stanislaus BM. It was directed from the choir loft by Dr. Witakowski and accompanied by the composer at the keyboards of the church’s 1909 Schuelke pipe organ. A standing ovation and floral tributes showered the performers after the concert.

Lutosławski at England’s “Summer Music”

Lutosławski’s “Grave” was performed by the Innovations Chamber Ensemble at the “Summer Music” Festival at Blackthorpe Barn at Bury St. Edmunds, England held from July 11-20th.

Heard On BBC Radio 3

On 16 July the “Live from the Cheltenham Festival” included the Karol Szymanowski Quartet performing Grazyna Bacewicz’s prize-winning String Quartet No. 4.

Moszkowski In Canada

Pianist Rien de Waal performed Moszkowski’s “Isoldens Tod” and Godowsky’s Passacaglia and 44 Variations on July 30th at the “Festival of the Sound” in Canada. The next day the Penderecki String Quartet played Szymanowski’s Quartet No. 2. The Penderecki String Quartet will play again on August 3rd. Visit

Mozart Festivals

We hear about the “Mostly Mozart” festivals in the U.S., where Chopin is also included, but have you heard about the “Absolutely Mozart” Festival in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania? Here pianist Emanuel Ax played Chopin’s Variations on “La ci darem la mano.”

Polish Music At Newport Music Festival

Earl Wild performed Beethoven, Liszt and three Chopin pieces (Ballade, Berceuse and the Andante Spianato) on July 23rd, while on July 11th pianist Dubravka Tomsic played Haydn, Beethoven and Chopin’s “Fantaisie in F minor”, Berceuse and excerpts from Etudes.

Chopin In Aspen

Pianist Lang Lang performed Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with David Zinman at the Aspen Music Festival.

Chopin In Taos

Pianist Robert McDonald played Chopin’s Polonaise-Fantaisie at the Taos School of Music Chamber Music Festival.

YMF Debut Concert

The Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra performed the music of Beethoven, Chopin and Schumann at their summer camp music concert at the Wadsworth Theatre in Brentwood. Lucas Richman is the music director.

Calendar of Events

AUG 2: Gala Polish Folkloric Concert. Folk ensembles from Boston, Brooklyn, Canada, Chicago, Detroit and Long Island present an evening of song and dance. Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center. 8:00 p.m. $25, $20 (seniors and children). or call Daniel Dziadura 718-256-1423.

also AUG 2: Andrzej Seweryn reading Journals by Witold Gombrowicz (in Polish) in San Diego. 7:00 p.m., Salon Kulturalny. For information call: (619)847-3766

AUG 9: Andrzej Seweryn reading Journals by Witold Gombrowicz (in Polish) in Los Angeles. Presented by the Helena Modjeska Art & Cultural Club. 7:00 p. m. (the door will be closed at 7:30 p. m.). Magicopolis Theatre, 1418 4th Street, Santa Monica. Tickets: $15.00. For information & reservation call Jola Zych at (818)713-8708 (send check to: 5634 Keikuk Ave., Woodland Hills, Ca. 91367)

AUG 10: Cracow Klesmer Band has their West Coast premier at the Skirball Cultural Center. 11 a.m.-4p.m. $8 General, $6 Students and Seniors. Free to Members and Children under 12. Advance Tickets: (323) 655-8587.

AUG 12: Cracow Klesmer Band will accompany a showing of the film Jewish Luck at the Skirball Cultural Center. 8 p.m. Admission: $15 General, $10 Members, $8 Students. Advance Tickets: (323) 655-8587.

AUG 17: Zemsta Q & A in San Francisco with Andrzej Seweryn. 6:00 p. m., Spangenberg Theatre, Palo Alto. Information: MGE – 831/685-3549

AUG 22: Film maker Agnieszka Holland will screen and discuss Le Bonheur at the Skirball Cultural Center. 7:30 p.m. Admission:$10 General, $8 Members*, $6 Students (*Skirball, AFI, Union, Guild, and ArcLight Members). Advance Tickets: (323) 655-8587.

AUG 26: Screening of Agnieszka Holland’s The Dybbuk at the Skirball Cultural Center. 7:30 p.m. Admission:$6 General, $5 Members, $4 Students. Advance Tickets: (323) 655-8587


by Wanda Wilk

Szymanowski’s Complete Mazurkas

Hyperion CDA 67399
Marc-Andre Hamlin plays Szymanowski’s Complete Mazurkas, Opus 50 and 62.

The British company states, “These ravishingly elusive masterpieces gently exude all Szymanowski’s most subtle chromatic surprise and delights.” Also on this disc are his “Valse Romantique” and “Four Polish Dances.”

A Piano Tribute

Phillips 473 461-2
Collection: Claudio Arrau – An Anniversary Tribute. Works by Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, Moszkowski, Liszt, Schumann, Schubert, Bach and Debussy.

In the BBC Music magazine June issue Jed Distler “welcomes a bumper tribute issued to mark the centenary of the birth of the great Chilean pianist…While certain pianists plough through the codas of Chopin’s Scherzos and Ballades for effect, Arrau, by contrast, takes trouble to articulate and give meaning to the polyphonic undercurrents…The Chopin items come from the official reissue of Arrau’s long- unavailable 1952 recording for American Decca.”

Przybylski Massdux 388

Przybylski, Kazimierz (1942-): Mass, Pope John Paul II.

Written in 1998 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the “Polish Pope,” Lindsay Koob gives it a great review in American Record Guide Jul/Aug. “The composer attempts to illminate the Holy Father’s apostolic and ‘paternal’ admonitions concerning eternal spiritual truth, and to convey the extraordinary sense of divine love and energy that flows from his celebrations of the mass. The result for solo soprano, mixed choir and large orchestra, is rather impressive…it exemplifies much of the best in contemporary Polish sacred music.”

Note: There are sevral misspellings of Polish names: The composer’s middle and last names (Kazimierz Przybylski) are listed as Kazimiersk Przyblski and the University choir’s name is also misspelled. It should be Wyszynski and not Wysznski.

Szalowski Recording

Crescent Duo plus – Centaur 2603
Music of Antoni Szalowski & others. Kenneth White, cl.

“Flights of Fancy.” Reviewed by Mark L. Lehman in ARG, who describes these “Six 20th century duos for flute and clarinet plus three trios that add either oboe, bassoon, or saxophone.” He continues with, “And then there is the work of real craftsmen: Thomas Christian David’s virtuosic Sonata from 1980, Walter Piston’s tangy Three Pieces for flute, clarinet and bassoon from 1925 and Antoni Szalowski’s 1939 Duo. It’s for these three admirable contributions to the neoclassic wind chamber music repertoire that I will return with gratitude to this very nicely played and recorded anthology. If clarinetist Kennenth White puts together another release, I hope he investigates Szalowski’s gem-like Clarinet Sonatina. It has never appeared on CD, and the last decent recording was by none other than Reginald Kell on an old Decca LP.”

Renaissance Balldux 193

“A Renaissance Ball.” Orkiestra Zlotego Wieku (Golden Age Orchestra). Jacek Urbaniak, cond.

Reviewed by Charles E. Brewer in American Record Guide, he calls this recording “a pleasing antohology of dances with a Polish connection. Most derive from manuscript anthologies; some are arrangements made from keyboard compositions copied by Jan of Lublin in the mid-16th century or adapted from short score versions copied in 17th Century manuscripts that have Ukrainian and Slovak connections. Also included are recordings of three ensemble Polnischer Tanzes by Valentin Haussmann (1565-1614) to demonstrate the long-range influence of the Polish style, some arrangements of Wojciech Dlugoraj’s lute tablature (dated 1619) and three pavane galliard pairs by Cornelius Schuyt, chosen because they may relate to the Polish court style of the early 17th century (published in 1611). Brewer ends his review with “what comes across quite clearly is that the Orchestra of the Golden Age thinks these are really great dance tunes.” Well, to have this come through is part of the joy in listening to it.

This disc was also reviewed in Fanfare July/Aug issue by Brian Robins, who tells us that the ensemble is a “12-strong Polish Renaissance band formed as recently as 2000 by Jacek Urbaniek, who himself plays recorders, cornemuse, and the bombard. On the evidence of the disc, they are a highly accomplished outfit, with a particularly impressive trio of sackbuts…Much of the music, particularly as presented on this CD, is attractive…an especially ear-catching piece is the Cantio Polonica by Wojciech Dlugoraj, a leading Polish Renaissance composer who served at the court of King Stefan Batory…an unusually winning disc. The sound is outstanding.”

Unusual Chopin

Appian Way 5576
Chopin: Benno Moiseiwitsch, piano.

David Mulbury ends his review in American Record Guide with, “Do not miss this unusual release.” He calls the magnificent Moiseiwitsch “a veritable prince among pianists.” He calls the four Etudes, recorded in 1927, “phenomenal performances, alone worth the price of this disc.”

Penderecki: Violin Concertos 1& 2

Naxos 555265
Penderecki: Violin Concertos 1 & 2. Konstanty Kulka, violin.
Polish Radio Symphony, Antoni Wit, cond.

In his lengthy review in American Record Guide Allen Gimbel gives us a history of classical music at the time when the First Concerto “was completed in 1976 and released soon afterwards by Columbia, on an unforgettable LP with its dedicatee Isaac Stern and the Minnesota Orchestra conducted by Stanislaw Skrowaczewski.” The reviewer had just begun graduate school at Juilliard and mentions his fellow colleagues, Liebermann, Danielpour and faculty Elliot Carter and Milton Babbitt. He compares this disc with other recordings of both concertos and believes that “these concertos are essential contributions and belong in any serious collection of 20th century music, but you’ll need to mix and match performances for now.”

Film Music

Marco Polo 8.225153
Kilar: Film Music. Antoni Wit, cond. Polish National RSO, Cracow Phil. Choir.
Music from Bram Stoker’s DraculaKonig der letzten TageDeath and the MaidenThe Beads of One RosaryPearl in the Crown.

Raymond Tuttle gives us some information on the composer born in 1932 and describes the music on this disc. He calls the Dracula score “an impressive score by almost anyone’s reckoning (It won the ASCAP award in 1992)” and for “those interested in Kilar’s concert music, allow me to recommend Olympia OCD 308 and Milan 73138-35779-2. Together, they provide a good overview of the composer’s always colorful and often brutally direct music.” He also praises conductor Antoni Wit and the “hard-working orchestra” for giving “their best to this variable but always entertaining music. The engineering is first-class.”

New Book In The Polish Music History Series

Book No. 7: The Songs of Szymanowski

discussion by Wanda Wilk

In the last two newsletters we’ve mentioned that No. 7 of the Polish Music History Series, which I inaugurated in 1982, has just been published and is available from the Polish Music Center at USC for $40. Entitled The Songs of Karol Szymanowski and His Contemporaries, it is an English version of a book already published in Poland. It is a documentation of an International Scholarly Symposium that took place in Zakopane, Poland in March of 1997, at which eighteen papers were presented by musicologists from Poland, the U.S., Canada, Great Britain and other European countries. See last month’s newsletter for the Table of Contents.

The Polish version was edited by Zofia Helman, professor of musicology at the U. of Warsaw. The English translation has three editors: Helman, British musicologist Alistair Wightman and Teresa Chylinska of Krakow, who is recognized as “the” specialist on Szymanowski for having spent thirty years researching this composer and having published all of his correspondence. The editor-in-chief of the Polish Music History Series is now Maja Trochimczyk, director of the Polish Music Center. She also was the editor for book No. 6 of the series.

Teresa Chylinska opened the Symposium with the following remarks, which have been printed as the foreword of the new book: “It has been said that Szymanowski ‘perhaps was more of a poet than a musician, or a musician whose art grew out of poetry.’ These words could, of course, be taken as a rhetorical gambit, if not for the fact that about half of Szymanowski’s compositional output is made up of pieces that combine music and words. Among the seventy-five works there are twenty-six cycles of songs (of which four exist in parallel orchestral versions).” She goes on to identify the orchestral/vocal ones and then continues to say, “There is no doubt that poetry was a stimulus for Szymanowski’s creative imagination.” According to Chylinska, Szymanowski’s lyrical output is indeed, “a phenomenon which is both huge and unique in the history of Polish music.”

Zofia Helman wrote these words in her essay: “Initially Szymanowski drew on the poetry of Young Poland writers, Kazimierz Tetmajer, Waclaw Berent, Jan Kasprowicz, Tadeusz Micinski. Slightly later, he discovered German modernist poetry: Richard Dehmel, Alfred Mombert, Julius Bierbaum, Gustav Falke and Ricarda Huch.” She also quoted a music critic in Vienna in March of 1912 who praised Szymanowski for “choosing texts of good taste! Quite a few Germans could take him as an example. Such good poetry in a German setting is surprising in a Pole. He has made the impression of being an exceptionally talented song composer.”

Szymanowski also used French texts, some written by his younger sister Zofia, such as the Songs of the Fairy Princess, or had Polish texts translated into French. A singer does not need to be Polish to sing songs by Szymanowski, but has a wide choice of languages; in addition to French, he also composed three songs to words by his Russian neighbor, Dimitri Dawidow, and seven songs in English to words by James Joyce.

He also composed music to folk music texts in the dialect from the Kurpie region in two versions: Six songs for mixed choir a capella and Twelve songs for solo voice and piano.

He reached to the roots of the Polish language in “Slopiewnie” to a poem by Julian Tuwim. Zofia Helman stated that, “here Szymanowski accepted a poetic challenge and tried to encapsulate the most primeval forms of expression of the imaginary `pre-Lechite’ tribe.”

He made use of the “gorale” (highlander) motifs in much of his music for he had been fascinated with their folk music and lived in Zakopane for many years. His ballet Harnasie makes use of a melody known as the “Sabala” tune (named after his goral friend, Sabala). He even used it in his Third Symphony, “Song of the Night,” which has an oriental flavor due to its Persian poetry.

The authors discuss various aspects of Szymanowski’s songs and what inspired him to write them. A few compare his songs with those of his contemporaries in Germany, France and Russia, including Ravel and Stravinsky.

Four of the authors have a direct connection with the Polish Music Center at USC. Teresa Chylinska is the author of No. 5 of our Polish Music History Series, “Karol Szymanowski: His Life & Works.” Two others, Stephen Downes and Alistair Wightman of Great Britain, were winners of the Wilk Prizes for Research in Polish Music and have published books on Polish music. Laura Grazyna Kafka, who presented a paper on Szymanowski’s “Children’s Rhymes” from a performer’s perspective, got her first information on Szymanowski from our Center when I was the director. She now lives and teaches on the East coast and regularly performs Szymanowski’s songs.

After reading the book one is inspired to hear the beautiful songs written by Szymanowski. Here is where disappointment will set in. Go to your local record shop but do not expect to find any solo voice recordings. Most of the records are of his piano or violin works, as well as his symphonies and choral works. There are four versions of his opera, King Roger and several versions of choral/instrumental works. Look for the Marco Polo, Naxos International, Koch-Schwann and Polskie Nagrania labels.

Our book on Szymanowski’s life and works (No. 5 of the PMHS) provides a list of all recordings made through 1993 (both LPs and CDs). I remember my first sounds of his “Song of the Night” Symphony, with the beautiful voice of soprano Stefania Wojtowicz, on the old Muza long-playing record. That was the Szymanowski voice I knew and remembered. This has been transferred onto CD as the Polskie Nagrania CD 063. I don’t know if this can be readily found.

More than a dozen soloists have recorded his songs for voice and piano in the past on the LPs, but they are hard to find: Andrzej Bachleda, Colette Comoy, Dorothy Dorow, Jadwiga Gadulanka, Zofia Janukowicz-Poblocka, Izabella Klosinska, Halina Lukomska, Anna Malewicz-Madej, Myron Myres, Gertrude Ottenthal, Krystyna Rorbach, Andrzej Snarski, Pauline Stark, Krystyna Szostak-Radkowa, Barbara Zagorzanka and Teresa Zylis-Gara.

The only recent solo album that I found is on the new Polish label, DUX, and it is by Urszula Krygier, mezzo, singing ten Karlowicz and eleven Szymanowski songs. This is a welcome addition because she has a superior voice. I was on the jury at the First International Moniuszko Vocal Competition where she won first place. This is also welcome because it fills a great void. You can find this recording on the internet at and order directly from them. The DUX label should be available in our local record shops, since so many DUX releases have been reviewed recently.

It is interesting to note that only recently have men been singing The Love Songs of Hafiz and Songs of the Infatuated Muezzin. Perhaps this was due to the fact that Szymanowski’s sister, Stanislawa, premiered and performed his works at the beginning. In 1989, Ryszard Minkiewicz sang the Love Songs and the Infatuated Muezzin in an orchestral arrangement. Bachleda, of course, was the first tenor to sing the solo voice in the “Harnasie” ballet, while famed tenor Wieslaw Ochman took over Stefania Wojtowicz’s role in the Third Symphony, followed by Ryszard Karczykowski and Josef Hopferwieser (1981 and 1984).

In addition to Stefania Woytowicz’s voice, another favorite Polish soprano of mine was Halina Lukomska, who sings his Cradle SongsLove Songs of Hafiz and Zuleika on PNCD 067. Teresa Zylis-Gara recorded the Opus 5, one of the most popular for sopranos, and this has been transferred from the old MUZA LP onto the same Polskie Nagrania CD. I don’t know whether the non-Polish soloists, Pauline Stark, Colette Comoy and Dorothy Dorow, are available from Spectrum, Solstice and Etcetera, respectively. We have them in the Polish Music Center archives.

In summary, I wish to stress the fact that the composer saw to it that each song was published in its original text and also was translated into at least one more language, thus giving the singer an option to select from two or three languages of each song. So not knowing the Polish language shouldn’t be an excuse for not singing Szymanowski’s songs. They are so beautiful and so varied in their mood and sound and will add to the joy of both the singer and listener. It is high time that more of his solo songs are recorded, for it will fill a void for listeners and will enrich the vocal repertoire. Our local songbird, Juliana Gondek, should be coming out with a recording in the near future. Other soloists who are performing Szymanowski’s songs in their recitals that I know about are Dayle Vander Sande, Barbara Nowicki and Laura Grazyna Kafka (all from the East coast). If you know of any others, please let me know. I do hope that there will be more soon!


Born This Month

  • August 4, 1879 – Józef REISS, musicologist, Polish music expert (d. 1956)
  • August 7, 1935 – Monika (Izabela) GORCZYCKA, musicologist (d. 1962)
  • August 8, 1946 – Mieczysław MAZUREK, composer, teacher, choral conductor
  • August 8, 1897 – Stefan ŚLEDZIŃSKI, conductor, musicologist
  • August 10, 1914 – Witold MAŁCUŻYŃSKI, pianist, student of Lefeld
  • August 11, 1943 – Krzysztof MEYER, composer, musicologist (see his Page at PMC)
  • August 17, 1907 – Zygmunt MYCIELSKI, composer, writer
  • August 18, 1718 – Jacek SZCZUROWSKI, composer, Jesuit, priest (d. after 1773)
  • August 20, 1889 – Witold FRIEMAN, composer, pianist
  • August 21, 1933 – Zbigniew BUJARSKI, composer (see his Page at PMC)
  • August 22, 1924 – Andrzej MARKOWSKI, composer and conductor
  • August 23, 1925 – Włodzimierz KOTOŃSKI, composer (see his Page at PMC)
  • August 28, 1951 – Rafał AUGUSTYN, composer, music critic
  • August 29, 1891 – Stefan STOIŃSKI, music etnographer, organizer, conductor (d. 1945)
  • August 30, 1959 – Janusz STALMIERSKI, composer


Died This Month

  • August 15, 1898 – Cezar TROMBINI, singer, director of Warsaw Opera (b. 1835)
  • August 15, 1936 – Stanisław NIEWIADOMSKI, composer, music critic
  • August 17, 1871 – Karol TAUSIG, pianist and composer, student of Liszt (b. 1841)
  • August 21 1925 – Karol NAMYSŁOWSKI, folk musician, founder of folk ensemble
  • August 22, 1966 – Apolinary SZELUTO, composer and pianist, (see his Page at PMC)
  • August 23, 1942 – Wacław WODICZKO, conductor (b. 1858), grandfather of Bohdan, conductor
  • August 27, 1865 – Józef NOWAKOWSKI, pianist, composer, student of Elsner, friend of Chopin
  • August 29, 1886 – Emil ŚMIETAŃSKI, pianist, composer (b. 1845)