Polish Music Center Newsletter Vol. 9, no. 12
2003 Paderewski Lecture/Recital Series
PMC’s Annual Paderewski Lectures commemorate Ignacy Jan Paderewski (1860-1941), a pianist, composer, politician (the first prime minister of independent Poland after WWI), humanitarian, and orator, who was greatly acclaimed as a virtuoso musician and a statesman. The Lectures highlight his links to California and to the University, which awarded him an honorary doctorate in 1923. Simultaneously, the lectures spotlight current achievements of Polish music by presenting composers and musicians of international stature to the American public.
For this year’s Paderewski Lecture, the Polish Music Center has invited eminent Polish composer, now living in France, Joanna Bruzdowicz (b. 1943) as lecturer and honored musical guest. This year’s Lecture series will consist of three wonderful evenings of music, discussion, and film presentations.
Music and Film at IGM Art Gallery
Saturday, December 6, 7:30 p.m.
Institute for Genetic Medicine Art Gallery, USC Health Science Campus, 2250 Alcazar St.
Featuring a screening of French avant-garde filmaker Agnes Varda’s “The Gleaners and I”, introduced with a performance of Ms. Bruzdowicz’ solo violin work “Il Ritorno” and followed by a reception. This event is organized by the USC HSC Cultural Events Guild, led by Lynn Crandall, and Young-Nak Church, in conjunction with “Quiet Time,” an exhibition of Korean art at IGM Art Gallery.
2003 Paderewski Lecture: Joanna Bruzdowicz
Sunday, December 7, 4:00 p.m.
USC Bing Theater, University Park (Main) Campus, 3500 Watt Way
Ms. Bruzdowicz will discuss here concert and film music, illustrated with fragments of films by Agnes Varda, and live performances of her String Quartet No. 2, “Spring in America” for violin and piano, and “Song of Hope and Love” for cello and piano.
Suggested donation: $10. Parking: $6.
Polish Birthdays Concert
Monday, December 8, 7:30 p.m.
United University Church, USC University Park (Main) Campus, 817 W. 34th St.
Marek Szpakiewicz, cello, and Radosław Materka, piano will present a program celebrating the birth anniversaries of Poland’s greatest 20th century composers: Witold Lutosławski (90th), Henryk Mikołaj Górecki and Krzysztof Penderecki (70th), and Joanna Bruzdowicz and Marta Ptaszyńska (60th).
Suggested donation: $10. Parking on USC Campus: $6.
For more information, including parking and venue details, click here.
2004 Proclaimed Lutosławski Year
Poland’s parliamentary commission for culture unanimously voted to declare 2004 as Witold Lutosławski Year on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the composer’s death on 7 February, 1994. To learn more about this great composer, visit his Composer Page
December 6th: Górecki’s Birthday
Henryk Mikołaj Górecki’s 70th birthday year has brought the premiere of a new unaccompanied choral work, 5 Kurpian Songs. The 25-minute work sets Polish folk texts from the wooded north-eastern Kurpie region of Poland that developed distinctive cultural traditions due to its inaccessibility. The Polish Radio Choir conducted by Wlodzimierz Siedlik gave the first performance of the new work in Warsaw on 30 March, as part of a gala tribute concert at which the composer was presented with the Polish Radio Music Award for “exceptional achievements of special significance to Polish music life”. Further performances of 5 Kurpian Songs were given by the Krakow Philharmonic Choir on the 28th and 29th of November. Other unaccompanied choral works by Górecki include Totus Tuus, Lobgesang, My Vistula and Broad Waters.
Górecki’s 70th was also celebrated in October in Rome with a performance by the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra from Katowice. The concert was held in the city’s new auditorium, Arco della Musica. The program was solely dedicated to the music of composer. Gabriel Chmura conducted Three Dances for Orchestra, Harpsichord Concerto and the famous Third Symphony. Soloists were soprano Zofia Kilanowicz and harpsichordist Elżbieta Chojnacka. Promoting Poland’s entry into the European Union, this program is part of the cycle, “Listen to Poland – to Europe through music.”
Other Polish tributes to Górecki this year have included: the opening concert of the Warsaw Autumn Festival (with Canticum Graduum, September), the Seventh Festival of Contemporary Music in Bielsko-Biala, where Górecki was the featured composer (October), and “Henryk Mikołaj Górecki’s Jubilee” in Kraków (November). Anniversary celebrations were also marked in Kalisz, Lódz, Bydgoszcz, Poznan and Warsaw.
On December 6th, Katowice, Górecki’s hometown, will be celebrating with music all day. The “Górecki Marathon” will go from 10 a.m. to at least 11 p.m., with concerts in venues all over the city. For a full list of the day’s events, visit www.nospr.org.pl/EN_komunikaty.htm on the website of the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra.
Górecki Ballet Premiere
In celebration of composer’s 70th birthday, the Polish premiere of Henryk Mikołaj Górecki’s one-act ballet Cos jakby [A Sort Of] took place at the Teatr Wielki of the National Opera in Warsaw on November 15, 3003. This one act ballet, set to the music of Requiem for a Polka and Concerto for Harpsichord and String Orchestra, was choreographed by the world-renown Swedish choreographer Mats Ek. This is the second time Mr. Ek has worked with this ballet company. Cos jakby will be performed again on December 6th in another celebratory program combining this ballet with Górecki’s famous Third Symphony. For more information , visit www.teatrwielki.pl.
Other Anniversaries This Year
The 70th birthday and 50th anniversary of the composing career of Krzysztof Penderecki are also bring celebrated this year. The Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir and the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra with the Polish Radio Choir of Cracow, Choir of the Cracow Philharmonic, Boy Choir of the Cracow Philharmonic gave concerts featuring the composer’s Seven Gates to Jerusalem, Benedictus, and Credo. Penderecki’s music was also part of the cycle, “Listen to Poland – to Europe through music,” which promotes Poland’s entry into the European Union. In Finland, Polish conductor Jacek Kaspszyk led an orchestra of students from the Music Conservatory of Helsinki in two works by Penderecki — Sinfonietta per archi and Concerto for viola in a cello version with soloist Rafał Kwiatkowski, as well as Lutosławski’s Concerto for Orchestra.
Composers Joanna Bruzdowicz and Marta Ptaszyńska also celebrate their 60th birthdays this year. The Polish Music Center will be celebrating all of these anniversaries in our “Polish Birthdays” concert on Monday, December 8th at 7:30 pm (see above).
Remembering Henryk Czyż
A concert commemorating conductor/composer Henryk Czyż, who died last January, was presented by the National Philharmonic in Warsaw on October 24th. The concert featured a performance of the late composer’s Tryptyk, for mezzosoprano and orchestra, and his Symphonic Variations. The mezzo soloist was Urszula Krygier. Conductor José Maria Florencio, Jr. also led the orchestra in Tadeusz Szeligowski’s Concerto for Orchestra, Ernest Chausson’s Poème de l’amour et de la mer and Hector Villa-Lobos’ Bachiana Brasileira during the program.
The National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra dedicated two special concerts this season to its founder Grzegorz Fitelberg on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his death. On October 10th, Gabriel Chmura featured a program of Fitelberg’s favorite composers: Lutosławski’s Symphonic Variations, Szymanowski’s Second Symphony and Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto. On October 12th, Jan Krenz, who succeeded Fitelberg as director of the orchestra, conducted the Overture to Moniuszko’s opera, Paria (in an orchestral arrangement by Fitelberg), Song of the Falcon by Fitelberg, as well as another Fitelberg arrangement of a Bach aria, and Richard Strauss’s tone poem, Don Juan.
The NPRSO also commemorated the 100th birthday of Jerzy Fitelberg (Grzegorz’s son) with the release of a recording of his Second Violin Concerto and a Nocturne. Trois Mazurkas has been previously recorded by the orchestra under maestro Joel Suben.
In the U.S., a special concert dedicated to the memory of Grzegorz Fitelberg was organized by violinist/composer Walter Legawiec under the auspices of the Polish Cultural Foundation in Clark, New Jersey. Legawiec was Fitelberg’s only private student in composition. The program also recognized composers Jerzy Fitelberg, Karol Szymanowski (whose music Fitelberg widely promoted), Zygmunt Stojowski, Ignacy Paderewski and Walter Legawiec.
The program reflected the music of Polish composers who were influenced in one way or another by Grzegorz Fitelberg, who, as the chief initiator and designer of the Young Poland publishing cooperative (Szymanowski, Karlowicz, Rozycki & Szeluto), sacrificed his own career as a composer to propagate the works of other Polish composers, mainly Szymanowski, on an international scale. The program consisted of Grzegorz Fitelberg’s Berceuse, Jerzy Fitelberg’s Mazurka, Szymanowski’s Chante de Roxanne and Prelude No. 6, Stojowski’s Fluerette, Paderewski’s Krakowiak and famous Minuet, and Legawiec’s Mazurka No. 3, Polish Dance, Sonata in D for violin and piano and To a Lonely Shepherd Girl. Walter Legawiec, Paul Keuter and Carolle-Ann Mochernuk were the featured soloists.
BBC Magazine: Cover Pianist
Polish pianist Piotr Anderszewski can be found on the cover of the November 2003 issue of BBC Music magazine with the caption: “Ideal Man. The maverick pianist strives for perfection.” Inside, the article’s title is “Independence Day. No one can tell Piotr Anderszewski what he should be doing — but his own standards are so high that the results are always riveting. Stephen Johnson meets the Polish pianist on a lonely beach in Suffolk to talk about Mozart, Beethoven and his new Chopin disc.”
The new CD is Virgin Classics 5 45620 2. Anderszewski performs a recital of Chopin Polonaises, Mazurkas & Ballades. The interview informs us about the award-winning pianist’s reluctance to perform Chopin because when he was “starting to do well as a pianist in Poland, people immediately started saying that because I am Polish I must play Chopin, and I must take part in the Warsaw Chopin competition. Maybe it’s because I have a nature that tends to go against this kind of pressure, but I totally closed myself to this music and refused to take part in this game.” And now we find that the “exacting Polish pianist has finally come round to Chopin”, and the way he “got back to him was through Bach…Chopin was a great admirer of Bach, and you can see this in so much of his music.”
Obituary: Operetta King
Richard Tarasewicz, tenor, known as the “King of Polish Operetta”, died at the age of 69 in Poland. He was the second Polish singer, after Jan Kiepura, to perform at Carnegie Hall. He recorded over ten albums. Mr. Tarasewicz had been living in the U.S. for the last fifteen years but had returned to Poland recently because of a serious illness.
New Music Magazine
There is a new, impressive Polish-language music magazine on the market called Twoja Muza. It is published in Poland but is available in the U.S. Visit www.twojamuza.pl for a preview or to subscribe. Information and subscriptions also available at :
ul. Podmiejska 12
01-498 Warszawa POLAND
Tel: (0-22) 861-41-58
Tel/fax: (0-22) 861-41-57
Give Polish Film For Christmas
Masterpieces by Wajda, Polanski, and Rybczynski in meticulously produced DVDs (in most cases rich in bonus “add-ons” and available in VHS) stand out among the many works by Polish filmmakers that are available for home viewing. As candidates for Christmas gifts we especially recommend:
- Any of the several Andrzej Wajda classics — such as The Promised Land(re-edited by Wajda and re-mastered for enhanced quality), the Oscar-nominated Young Girls of Wilko [Panny z Wilka], Canal, and of course Ashes and Diamonds, among others.
- Roman Polanski’s directorial debut, Knife in the Water, in a gleaming, newly restored double-disc edition that includes many of the director’s famous short films, such as Two Men and a Wardrobeand Mammals.
- 3 magnificent sets (available individually or as a package) of the fantastic animated films of Zbigniew Rybczynski (pronounced rip-CHIN-skee), including his Oscar-winning Tango.
Composer Krzysztof Penderecki received the “Diamond Baton” award from Polish Radio for his outstanding contributions to music culture in Poland and the world. This is an individual award of the Executive Board of Polish Radio, “for outstanding artistic productions, extolling Polish music at home and abroad, and its popularisation among millions of listeners of Polish Radio”.
Polish Film Honored
Changes [Przemiany] by Lukasz Barczyk (Poland, 2003), a vibrant and sensual film which shows the disfunction of a family in an original and passionate way, was honored with several awards at the 21st Torino Film Festival. The festival took place in Torino, Italy from November 13-21, 2003. Awards received were:
- Special Jury Award awarded by The Jury of the Feature Film Competition
- Best First Feature Film awarded by the Jury of the CinemaAvvennire
- Best Feature Film awarded by the jury of the FIPRESCI
Letters from Friends
Do You Know This Painting?
Recently, a woman visited our Polish Music Center, clutching a large pile of cloth and paper that appeared very dear to her. When the cloth and paper were stripped away, they revealed a painting of the beloved musicican and statesman, Ignancy Jan Paderewski. The owner had sought out our Center in hopes of discovering more about the origins of her painting. She later wrote us this anecdote to share with the readers of our newletter, in hopes that someone might have further information…
“I bought the painting (in ’95 or ’96, I think) from an antique dealer in Walton, NY. His name is Paul Ventimiglia, a nice fellow, who has been in business for many years. He told me he had found it in an antiques store in Chester, NY. I went there and asked the owners what they knew. They were hard to track down, but said they thought that it ad come out of an auction house in N.J., but did not give me the name. I did have it X-rayed, which showed only that the painter had had difficulty with the ear.
As you know, the published accounts of his sitting for portraits suggested to me that it might have been painted during the Alma-Tadema studio sittings, but I could find no visual record of this particular painting. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any, but I didn’t know where to look next.
What to me is most intriguing about the painting is the noticeable zit by his nose. It is not expected in such a sweet little romantic portrait, and suggests the painter was thinking, “Well, you are a pretty boy aren’t you…but after all, you are far from perfect!!”
Why this painting drew me so strongly when I saw it propped against the wall in Paul’s workshop is another question. In my youth I had a history of falling for keyboard players, harpsichordists and organists as well as pianists. Alas, they were all indifferent to my charms. On the other hand, saxophone players often fell for me!
So falling for the painting of a pianist who had died of old age the year before I was born, is about par for the course for me!”
If this painting looks familiar or you think you might be able to help illuminate its origins, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join Friends Of Polish Music
Your annual membership in the Friends of Polish Music will help maintain and support the Polish Music Center. Thus, you will help us in our goal of making knowledge about Polish music available to all.
Please send us your tax-deductible (in the U.S.) donation of any amount to the Friends of Polsih Music, Thornton School of Music, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0851. Thank you in advance for your support!
Gratefully, Wanda Wilk, president of FPM.
Link to PMC @ LA
A link to the Polish Music Center’s site has been added to @LA (www.at-la.com), the most complete and up-to-date guide to sites relating to Orange County and the greater Los Angeles area:
site added: Gorale Polish Folk Dancers
on @LA page: Dance/Dancing/Performing Arts/Entertainment
category: European Ethnic / Cultural / Historical
There is a new website devoted to life and work of the recognized Polish composer Tadeusz Paciorkiewicz (d. 1998). The webste address is www.paciorkiewicz.pl. This composer was one of Poland’s important composers in the second half of the 20th century.
Web Site Of American Polish Advisory Council
California Events On PAC Site
The Polish American Congress, Southern California, has a web site (www.poloniacal.org) 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: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Calendar of Events
DEC 1: Lutosławski: Concerto for Orchestra. Kensington Symphony Orchestra, Russell Keable, cond. St. John’s Smith Square. www.sjss.org.uk.
DEC 2: Panufnik: Autumn Music. London Mozart Players, Gerard Schwarz, cond. 7:45 p.m. The Anvil, Basingstoke, England. www.theanvil.org.uk.
DEC 6: “Mikolaj” (Polish St. Nick). Polish American Folk Dance Co. Christmas carols, Kosciuszko Foundation. 15 E. 65th St., NY. www.kosciuszkofoundation.org.
DEC 6: 2003 Paderewski Lecture: Joanna Bruzdowicz, composer. Screening of Agnes Varda’s film “The Gleaners and I” with Bruzdowicz’s music and live performance of the composer’s solo violin piece “Il Ritorno.” Institute of Genetic Medicine, USC Health Science Campus 2250 Alcazar St., L.A. Presented by the Polish Music Center in conjunction with the USC Health Sciences Campus Cultural Events Guild and Young-Nak Church and its “Quiet Time” exhibition of Korean art. 7:30 p.m. ../bruzdowiczlecture.html.
DEC 7: Discussion by Joanna Bruzdowicz of her film and concert music. Live performance of her String Quartet No. 2, “Spring in America” for violin and piano and “Song of Hope and Love” for cello and piano. USC Bing Theater, 3500 Watt Way, Los Angeles. USC campus. 4:00 p.m. ../bruzdowiczlecture.html.
DEC 7: San Francisco 4 p.m. – Chopin Christmas Concert, featuring the Winners of the 8th Annual San Francisco Chopin Competition for Young Pianists and special guests. Victorian Englander House, 807 Franklin Street (between Turk and Eddy). Admission: regular $10, students and seniors $5, free to members of the Chopin Foundation. Reservations suggested. Refreshments after the concert. (925) 247-0894 or e-mail: CHOPINSF@AOL.COM.
DEC 8: “Polish Birthdays” Concert. Music of Lutosławski (90th), Penderecki & Gorecki (70th), Bruzdowicz & Ptaszynska (60th). Marek Szpakiewicz, cello; Radoslaw Materka, piano. United University Church, 817 W. 34th St. USC campus, Los Angeles. 7:30 p.m. ../bruzdowiczlecture.html.
DEC 12: Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 1. Antti Slirala, piano. English Symphony Orchestra, William Boughton, cond. Malvern Theatre. Malvern, England 01684 892277.
DEC 13: “RED MEMORY”: Cellist Jakub Omsky will lead a concert of cello, theater, and movement. Music of Bach, Hindemith, Penderecki, Krausas, Schumann and Omsky. With physical theater by Rachael Rossi, appearances of Mike Kudirka, Georgi Slavchev and others. The program comes to terms with memory, history and beauty of individual remembrance. 4:30 p.m., Beverly Hills Presbyterian Church 505 N. Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210 310-271-5194
DEC 14: Chopin: Scherzos, Opp. 20, 31, 39 & 54. Marios Papadopoulos, piano. Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford, England. 8:00 p.m. 01865 305305.
DEC 15: Live from Wigmore Hall. BBC Radio 3 Lunchtime Concert. Freddy Kempf: Chopin Etudes, Op. 25 and Beethoven Sonata (Pathetique). 1-2 p.m.
DEC 21: Holiday Program. Hesperus Early Music Ensemble. Kosciuszko Foundation. 15 E. 65th St., NY 212-734-2130. www.kosciuszkofoundation.org.
BBC Top Recommendations
Penderecki: Sextet, Clarinet Quartet, Divertimento for solo cello, Three Piano Miniatures and Piano Prelude.
Reviewed in BBC magazine’s Dec 2003 issue by Anthony Burton who gives this recording of Penderecki’s chamber music four stars. “The performers, a group of expert French and Finnish musicians, brought together under the auspices of the Naantoli Festival, seem perfectly attuned to each other and to the music, helped by a generally sympathetic recording.”
NAXOS’ Newest Release
Penderecki: St. Luke Passion. Antoni Wit leads the Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra & Choir and the Warsaw Boys’ Choir with soloists Klosinska, Kraszewski, Tesarowska and Kallberger.
Acte Préalable AP0073
Grażyna Bacewicz (1909-1969) – Piano works
Anita Krochmalska, piano Including: Concert Cracovienne (world premiere recording), Three Grotesques, Children’s Suite, Piano Sonata No. 1 (world premiere recording), Two studies for Double Notes, Scherzo. Vivace, Sonatina, Rondino, Piano Sonata No. 2, Little Triptych.
Paderewski: Violin Sonata, Allegro de Concert and Melodia, Op. 16 No. 2.
Konstanty Kulka, violin; Waldemar Malicki, piano.
Jan Smaczny tells us this is a “real find; only one other recording of the violin sonata is available (Pavane) and none of the Allegro.” He adds that the Sonata, which was “praised by Brahms for its brilliance and subtlety” has “real distinction.” He also commends the pianist for being able “to navigate the composer’s tempestuous piano part with great virtuosity.”
Arion ARN 68617
Lutosławski: Grave, Overture, Double Concerto for oboe & harp, Musique Funebre, Dance Preludes.
Michel Lethiec, cl.; Isabelle Moretti, harp; Francois Leleux, oboe; Francois Salque, cello. Sinfonietta Cracovia, Robert Kabara, cond.
Stephen Johnson lauds the music of Lutosławski. He states, “Where so much Sixties experimentalism sounds dry, abstract, pretentious or just plain anti-human today, Lutosławski’s explorations revealed, and go on revealing, new worlds of imagination.” He also praises Sinfonietta Cracovia’s “very laudable performances” which, unfortunately, “are slightly handicapped by dullish, less than perfectly balanced recordings.” Still a four-star rating!
Harmonia Mundi HMC 901793
Janacek: Violin Sonata; Lutos: Subito, Partita; Szymanowski: Mythes.
Isabelle Faust, violin; Ewa Kupiec, piano.
Jan Smaczny thinks the performers “seem happiest in the expansive textures of the Szymanowski” and they are also “highly effective in Lutos’s breathless ‘Subito’ and five movement Partita.”
Chopin Film Aftermath
by Wanda Wilk
I was fortunate to be invited to the special screening of Polish director Jerzy Antczak’s film, “Desire for Love.” The film was presented at the Director’s Guild of America as the highlight of the celebration of Poland’s Independence Day sponsored by the Polish Consulate in Los Angeles. In last month’s issue of News of Polonia, Theresa M. Dudzik gave a full account of the event along with a favorable review of the film about Chopin.
I, too, agree that the film was “beautiful to look at and listen to.” The scenery was superb, the costumes magnificent and the luxurious background of the home interiors in the Paris circles in which Chopin moved about was elegantly displayed. The selection of music done personally by Jerzy Antczak was the best, although most any Chopin music would do. However, his selection was the best of the best! He also employed some of the best talents of our time to perform this great immortal music. Among them: pianists Jerzy Olejniczak, Emanuel Ax and Yukio Yokoyama; cellist Yo-Yo Ma; violinists Vadim Brodski and Pamela Frank, with music orchestration by Wojciech Gogolewski, Jerzy Maksymiuk and Henryk Kuzniak.
Theresa Dudzik mentioned at the end of her article that an, “audience of Polish Americans were accustomed to a kind of mystique surrounding Chopin,” and I can relate to this. As an American of Polish heritage I was brought up on the Hollywood version of the 1945 movie, “A Song to Remember,” which also dealt with the “torrid, decade long affair” of George Sand and Fryderyk Chopin. Merle Oberon played the part of the French novelist while Cornel Wilde portrayed Chopin.
Even though I knew that Chopin had a short, sad life and that his relationship with Sand broke up before he died, I had built up a glamorous version of this “great love story” between the two. Only natural, when even today, a theatre review in the Patriotic Ledger of July, 2003 describes the play “Romantique” as “one of the world’s great romances that took place in the nineteenth century between composer F. Chopin and novelist George Sand, a cross-dressing feminist born Amandine Aurore Lucie Dupin.”
According to the Blockbuster web-site, Columbia Pictures and director Charles Vidor produced, “one of the most successful filmed biographies of the 1940s, `A Song to Remember,’ which alleges to be the true story of Polish composer Fryderyk Chopin. Actually, it has about as much relation to the truth as a Heckle & Jeckle cartoon, but with such gorgeous creatures as Cornel Wilde and Merle Oberon in the leads, who cares?”
Director Jerzy Antczak presented a more factual film in “Desire for Love.” When the film ended my reaction was how true was this film, for I didn’t remember some of the details of the problems between Chopin and Sand’s children. I remembered that her daughter had developed a girlish infatuation for him but I didn’t remember the antagonism from Sand’s son and also the jealousy scene from a former lover.
I immediately looked into a book I had at home, “Chopin in Paris” by Tad Szulc. This book was based primarily on the correspondence of Chopin, his family and friends. In fact the author wrote to me in 1995 inquiring about several books that he needed for his research, but couldn’t find and we had them in our Polish Music Center library. I am happy to say that Mr. Szulc acknowledges this in his book on page 426: “In Los Angeles, Wanda Wilk, Founder and Honorary President of the Polish Music Reference Center at the School of Music at the University of Southern California, rendered me the vital courtesy of loaning – for much longer than she thought at first – the volumes of Chopin’s Polish Language correspondence and other literary materials without which my book could not have been written. My profound thanks go to Mrs. Wilk and the Center.”
Mr. Szulc showed his gratitude again in 1997 by donating his research material to the Polish Music Center. It consisted of 26 books on Chopin, over 20 journals and over 50 articles, mostly from Ruch Muzyczny, which helped him write the book and which he no longer needed.
So, I am now reading more carefully the award-winning writer’s “first definitive English language biography of Chopin,” as it is described on the book cover. I now better understand the meaning of the title, “Desire for Love.” The endless search for love by the characters in the film, whether manifested in the maternal love and care that “Aurore” gave to “Fryderyk” or by the son, who yearns for and is jealous of his mother’s love for Chopin, there was a great need for love on all sides.
According to a press conference at the 6th Shanghai International Film Festival, the director wanted to “tell the audience that human beings should understand each other and should understand that everyone needs love.”
This is the reality of life that Academy nominated director Jerzy Antczak was able to show in his film. He also was able to portray Chopin’s love and longing for his family and country. A most poignant part of the film, to me, was his reminiscence of a Christmas Eve of long ago with his family in front of a Christmas tree singing “O gwiazdeczko cos blyszczala” (O star, so brightly shining) with a specially effective moment when the voices trail off and only Chopin’s mother’s voice continues. Very heart-wrenching! Chopin’s mother was lovingly portrayed by the director’s wife, Jadwiga Baranska.
I also learned from the Chinese film festival web-site that, as a Chopin fan, Antczak spent twenty years writing the screenplay with his wife, after reading many books on Chopin. Writer, director, and producer Jerzy Antczak began his career as an actor, graduating from the famous Theater Academy in Lodz in 1956. He moved to Warsaw in 1963 where he was Chief Director and later Head of the Polish TV Masterpiece Theater. He came to the U.S. and began teaching at the Film School at UCLA in 1985 as a tenured professor.
He is the recipient of many awards for his many films, especially for “Nights and Days,” which received a nomination for an Academy Award in the Best Foreign Language Category in 1977. This Polish film has been dubbed into Italian, French, German, Spanish and was given English subtitles.
Yes, the early 1945 Hollywood film left us with a highly glamorized version of a love story between two prominent people. However, it also had several positive effects. The film gave pianist, “Liberace inspiration for his candelabra sitting on the piano.” Liberace also owned, among a total of 29 pianos, the Pleyel piano that was used in the 1945 film. You can see it in the Liberace Museum in Las Vegas or on the web-site.
The movie was a money maker for the studio. Fifteen years later Columbia tried again with a movie about Franz Liszt, titled, “A Song Without End,” but the magic just wasn’t there. Some tid-bits about “A Song to Remember” you may or may not know: Jose Iturbi was the behind-the-scenes pianist for Cornel Wilde. Iturbi’s recording of the Polonaise in Ab from this film sold over a million copies. A song version based on the Polonaise was written by Buddy Kaye and Ted Mossman and the lyrics went like this: “Till the end of time, Long as stars are in the blue, Long as there’s a spring, a bird to sing, I’ll go on loving you.”
Another song used in this movie was “No Other Love,” which was adapted from Chopin’s Etude in E major by Bob Russell and Paul Weston and published by Walt Disney Music Co. The words here are “No other love can warm my heart now that I’ve known the comfort of your arms. No other love. Oh! the sweet contentment that I find with you ev’rytime, ev’rytime!” With songs like this no wonder I always thought this was the greatest love story ever!
Jerzy Antczak’s film, “Desire For Love” has already been awarded the “Platinum Award” (the highest award) for Best Drama and the “Gold” for the Best Cinematography at the Houston Film Festival in April 2003. We are looking forward to seeing it nominated for an Academy Award next.
Born This Month
- 3 December 1896 – Bolesław SZABELSKI, composer (d. 1979)
- 5 December 1899 – Bolesław WOYTOWICZ, composer (d. 1980)
- 6 December 1933 – Henryk Mikołaj GÓRECKI, composer
- 11 December 1876 – Mieczysław KARŁOWICZ, composer (d. 1909, under an avalanche in Tatra mountains)
- 14 December 1789 – Maria SZYMANOWSKA, composer, virtuosa pianist (d. 1831, of cholera)
- 18 December 1907 – Roman PALESTER, composer, broadcaster (d. 1989)
- 23 December 1830 – Adam MINCHEJMER, composer and conductor (d. 1904)
- 24 December 1859 – Roman STATKOWSKI, composer, teacher (d. 1925)
- 29 December 1902 – Henry VARS, film and popular music composer (d. 1978)
Died This Month
- 11 December 1945 – Seweryn EISENBERGER, pianist (b. 1899)
- 20 December 1834 – Maurycy MOCHNACKI, music critic, writer, pianist (b. 1804)
- 21 December 1938 – Arnold LUDWIK, violin maker (b. 1873)
- 23 December 1885 – Artur BARTELS, pop singer (b. 1818)
- 24 December 1898 – Eugeniusz PANKIEWICZ, pianist and composer (b. 1857)
- 26 December 1945 – Stefan STOIŃSKI, music ethnographer, writer, conductor (b. 1891)
- 29 December 1913 – Jadwiga SARNECKA, pianist, composer, poet (b. 1877)
- 31 December 1944 – Marian Teofil RUDNICKI, conductor, composer (b. 1888)