June 2003

Polish Music Center Newsletter Vol. 9, no. 6

Call For Submissions

2003 Wilk Essay Submissions Due July 31st

The Stefan & Wanda Wilk Prizes for Research in Polish Music are sponsored by the Polish Music Center (PMC) at the Thornton School of Music of the University of Southern California and financially supported by the Stefan and Wanda Wilk Endowment Fund. The creators and sponsors of the Wilk Prizes, Dr. Stefan Wilk (radiologist) and Mrs. Wanda Wilk (M.M., music education, USC), initiated the competition for best essays on Polish music written in English by a non-Polish author in 1982. The competition is intended to stimulate research on Polish music in academic circles outside of Poland. The winners include such experts in Polish music as Stephen Downes, Jeffrey Kallberg, Martina Homma, Anne Mc Namee, Barbara Milewski, James Parakilas, Sandra Rosenblum, and others. The prizes are awarded in two independent competitions, each held biennially (in different years):

  • Wilk Essay Prizes for Research in Polish Music (yearly till 1999, since then held in odd years) and
  • Wilk Book Prizes for Research in Polish Music (even years, starting in 2000).

Stefan Wanda Wilk United University ChurchThe prizes are awarded to authors of the best scholarly publications reflecting original research on some aspect of the music of Poland, preferably on a less researched topic or composer. The Wilk Essay Prizes competition is divided into two categories, Student Prize and Professional Prize. The winning essay by an author who is a student will receive a prize of $500. Professionals (who have completed music studies and hold a doctorate or its equivalent) will compete for a prize of $1,000. Both competitions are open to all authors outside of Poland. All submissions should be in English. The jury consists of members of the musicology faculty at the USC Thornton School of Music and Polish music specialists from other universities and countries, especially from Poland. In case of a tie, final selections are made by the Stefan and Wanda Wilk Director of the Polish Music Center. For the complete list of submission rules, see the Wilk Essay Contest Rules webpage. Please note that the deadline for submissions has been extended this year by one month, to July 31, 2003.


Ewa Podleś Injured: San Diego Concert Cancelled

On Wednesday, May 14, San Diego Opera was informed that Ewa Podleś was injured in a car accident on her way to San Diego. Although her injuries are not life-threatening, Ms. Podleś will be unable to perform her recital scheduled for this Saturday, May 17th at Sherwood Auditorium in La Jolla. The accident happened while she was being driven to the airport after a performance in Santa Fe, New Mexico. According to her agent, Matthew Sprizzo, Ms. Podleś car was struck by another vehicle, spun three times, and she was ejected from the car. She suffered a broken arm and other injuries which are still being evaluated.

“We are so grateful that Ewa was not more seriously injured and are looking forward to rescheduling her recital here,” said San Diego Opera General Director Ian Campbell. “She has many fans for this sold-out appearance and she doesn’t want to disappoint them.”

Her recital has now been rescheduled for November 15th, 2003, at Sherwood Auditorium. Ticket holders are asked to retain their tickets, and are assured they will be able to keep their current seats. San Diego Opera will be contacting patrons with further information.

Season Climax At The Los Angeles Opera: Don Giovanni

L.A. Opera’s co-production of a new staging of Mozart’s Don Giovanni with it’s creators from the Polish National Opera: MAY 31 – JUNE 22, 2003

This powerful new staging of Don Giovanni, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s beloved “comic opera” and a perennial favorite for its endless stream of exquisitely beautiful melodies, with the orchestra, chorus, and soloists of the Los Angeles Opera led by Principal Conductor Kent Nagano, was specially created for the Polish National Opera and its L.A. counterpart by director Mariusz Trelinski, with choreography by Emil Wesolowski, set design by Boris Kudlicka, and costumes by the fashion genius, Arcadius – all well known for their work at Warsaw’s Teatr Wielki. It is the first time the two opera companies have presented the same production in the same season, a collaboration for which the first seed was planted when Placido Domingo, Artistic Director of the L.A. Opera, was bowled over by Trelinski’s earlier staging of Madama Butterfly.

The opera is performed in Italian with English Supertitles at the:

Dorothy Chandler Pavilion
Music Center of Los Angeles County
135 North Grand Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90012

For tickets call (213) 365-3500 or order online.

Poetry And Music Confrontations – Krak & Omsky

The L.A. Polish Consulate General’s 3rd Annual Polish Art Festival, Polish Art Confrontations 2003, has presented Polish arts of all media, from photography to jazz, over the course of the month of May. A highlight of this festival has been the exhibition of painting, sculpture and prints at the Modern Art Gallery featuring Polish artists from around the world, including Maria Fuks, Monica Sledzinska, Gosia Wlodarczak, Leszek Wyczolkowski, as well as those closer to home in the U.S., such as Eva Chodkiewicz-Swider, Andrew Kolodziey, Leonard Konopelski, Jan Sawka, and Jan Sytnik. The final event of the Festival, Poetry and Music Confrontations – Krak & Omskywill feature cello and poetry performance and will take place on Sunday, June 1st at the Modern Art Gallery. Krak is a local group of Polish poets. They will be performing with Jakub Omsky, an internationally acclaimed cellist. Mr. Omsky is a member of Eleanor Schoenfeld’s distingushed studio at USC’s Thorton School of Music.

Poetry and Music Confrontations – Krak & Omsky
Sunday, June 1, 2003, 4 p.m.
Modern Art Gallery
3240 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 200
Los Angeles, CA 90010
Tel. 213 487 2565

Poets: Anna Gajewska, Aniela Gregorek, Elizabeth Libel, Jerzy Gregorek, Andrew
Kolodziey, Konrad Tademar
with Jakub Omsky (cello)

For more information visit: www.polishfilmLA.orgwww.omsky.com

Lutosławski At Disney Concert Hall Opening Gala

Witold Lutosławski’s music was selected for the opening concerts at the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s new home, the Walt Disney Concert Hall. The three “Inaugural Galas” are scheduled for October 23rd, 24th and 25th. Other composers will be Gabrieli, Ligeti, Haydn, Stravinsky, Salonen, Adams, and Revueltas.

Art And Auschwitz – An Exhibit Of Józef Szajna

The Brooklyn Museum of Art and the Polish Cultural Institute present
SUNDAY, JUNE 8, 2003, 3 PM

The brilliant Polish painter, scenic designer, and theater director, Józef Szajna, a member of the wartime resistance who was sent to Auschwitz in 1941 and whose early works of art done in Buchenwald are represented in the BMA’s extraordinary exhibition, LAST EXPRESSION: ART AND AUSCHWITZ (on view through June 15), will discuss his experiences and the works on display in a conversation with BMA Curator Marilyn Kushner. His remarks will be given in Polish and translated into English. This is a rare opportunity to meet a remarkable survivor of modern Polish history and a major figure in contemporary Polish culture.

Brooklyn Museum Of Art
200 Eastern Parkway
Brooklyn, NY 11238
Tel: (718) 638-5000

For more information of Józef Szajna, visit the Polish Cultural Institute website.

PIASA’S 61 Annual Meeting

The Polish Institue of Arts and Sciences of America, Inc. was founded in 1942 in order to continue the work and tradition of the prestigious Polska Akademia Umieję(Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences), which had been destroyed by the Nazis in 1939 and not permitted to operate by the Communist regime in 1951. PIASA is a non-profit, non-political institution concerned with advancing knowledge about Poland’s humanistic heritage and about Polish-American contributions to the life, culture, and history of the U.S.A. PIASA provides a major research center for scholars in the U.S. and abroad by publishing the scholarly, multi-disciplinary quarterly The Polish Review, by operating the Alfred Jurzykowski Memorial Library, and through frequent events, lectures, symposia, seminars, etc. such as this one.


The 61st annual PIASA meeting will be held at McGill University in Montreal, Canada on June 6th and 7th, 2003. This international, multi-disciplinary conference on Polish Studies is hosted and co-sponsored by the Polish Institute of Arts & Sciences in Canada and the Canadian Foundation for Polish Studies. Dr. Maja Trochimczyk of USC’s Polish Music Center, along with collegues Prof. Anne Swartz and Prof. Paul Cadrin, will be presenting lectures on Polish National Composers. Dr. Trochimczyk’s topic concerns the connections and the conflicts between Paderewski and Szymanowski, two of Poland’s leading historical composers. Prof. Swartz will discuss the portrayals of Polish gentry in operas by Stanislaw Moniuszko and Prof. Cadrin will talk about the ecstatic vision and harmonic language of Szymanowski’s Third Symphony.

Paderewski’s Pianos Found!

The following article was printed in the PMC Newsletter, vol. 6 no. 4, April 2000 edition:

Paderewski’s Pianos In Chicago

If you want to see the last piano played by Paderewski visit the Polish Museum of America in Chicago, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary. The Paderewski Room located on the second floor has a display of documents, sheet music, portraits, sculptures and a rare diamond watch “which was presented to the maestro for his 75th birthday by the Polish American community (based on information from Polish American Journal, March 2000). Our reader Beth Wilson owns a piano somehow associated with Paderewski and Polish-American organizations. It is a Huntington piano with a letter on the top inside opening from a Josef P. Szymanski requesting Huntington piano company to build a piano for the Paderewski Signing Society of Chicago, IL. The letter is dated May 13, 1900. There is a picture of Me. Paderewski on the inside, signed by him. If anyone has more information about this piano that could be shared with Ms. Wilson, please contact her at e-mail: watsonjb@netzero.net; or phone (636) 274-5610.

This request has born fruit! Several friends of the Polish Music Center have contacted us to let us know about pianos that have been found around the country, even one bought for $75 in a Missouri Salvation Army store. If anyone else has any more information about such pianos, please contact us at info@polmusic.edu, we will bring you in touch with other owners of similar instruments.

Chopin’s Scottish Widow

“…[Jane] Stirling’s journey [from Scotland] to the macabre celebrity she was to enjoy – if that’s the word – on the morning of 30 October, 1849, had been a long and in some ways improbable one. She has taken a great deal of flak from biographers in the century and a half since. They have seen her as a grotesque groupie – even a sort of stalker. Yet, she appears to have acted in good faith, however powerful her feelings – and, as far as she could, in her beloved’s best interests. Strip away some of the prejudice and hers is a moving story – and one that tells us much about Chopin, his society and the Scotland of his time.

It isn’t hard, though, to see why she put people’s backs up: who was she, to assume proprietorship over a composer who was so widely revered? And if there was an unmistakable air of theatre about this funeral, the entire production was hers: she had paid out Ł5,000, Ł2,000 on music alone. It didn’t stop there, either: in the course of the weeks that followed, she would buy up every item of Chopiniana she could find. She did it, she insisted, to save the pieces from the attentions of trophy-hunters – but some wondered whether there could be any trophy-hunter more insatiable than her. Her extravagance, financial and emotional, bemused and in some ways unsettled Paris – she mourned as deeply as if she really were ‘Chopin’s widow’.”

This excerpt was taken from Michael Kerrigan’s article “Chopin’s Scottish Widow.” To view the rest of this article, visit www.scotsman.com and search for the “Chopin’s Scottish Widow”. You must register with the site to view their articles but the material is available for free.


Best Of 2002 Advertising Age Award

A quirky “carless” car commercial for the new Saturn L-series used the music of Polish-French composer Gregory Czarkinsky to win the day at the Advertising Age Best Awards ceremony this year. Czarkinsky’s “Sonatine Disparue” provides a subtle and simple yet never comical backdrop to this ingenious ad. According to Bob Garfield of AdAge.com, “The choreography, cinematography, direction and editing were crafted as if there were no joke afoot, and the accompanying piano etude by the Polish- French musician-composer Gregory Czerkinsky is a gentle and irresistible counterpoint…Jill Lajdziak [Saturn’s vice president for sales, service and marketing] watched it twice without saying a word and said, ‘I have nothing else to say. I love it.'” So did the judges, because they awarded this unusual advertisement the “Best in Show” award.

To hear and see this ad, visit AdAge.com

Internet News

Jerzy Gablenz’s Site Moved

Please be advised that the location of the website of composer Jerzy Gablenz has changed. The former website, http://home.eol.ca/~dgablenz/, has been changed to www3.sympatico.ca/jerzy.gablenz.

Web Site Of American Polish Advisory Council

The APAC website, www.apacouncil.org, includes a Polonia Database with information about various Polish American organizations. For more information contact jskoczek@cympak.com.

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: richpna@earthlink.net; poloniacal@cs.com.

New Books

The Songs of Szymanowski

The Songs of Karol Szymanowski and His Contemporaries is a collection of eighteen essays edited by Zofia Helman, Teresa Chylinska, and Alistair Wightman. The essays deal with various aspects of the song oeuvre of the Polish composer studied in a rich context of literary and musical issues (essays by Tomasz Baranowski, Edward Boniecki, Paul Cadrin, Stephen Downes, Maciej Golab, Danuta Jasinska, Elzbieta Jasinska-Jedrosz, Laura Grazyna Kafka, Daniela Philippi, Mieczyslaw Tomaszewski, Andrzej Tuchowski, Roman Vlad, Adam Walacinski, and Alistair Wightman). Additional texts discuss songs by Szymanowski’s contemporaries in Germany, France and Russia, including the Viennese circle, Ravel and Stravinsky (Wolfgang Ruf, Serge Gut, and Alicja Jarzebska). The book is a result of the International Scholarly Symposium, Song in the Oeuvre of Karol Szymanowski and His Contemporaries, which took place in Zakopane, Poland, in March 1997.

Prof. Zofia Helman, University of Warsaw, Poland, is the author of numerous books and studies of twentieth-century Polish music (on Karol Szymanowski, Roman Palester, Polish neoclassicism, etc.). Dr. Teresa Chylinska of Kraków, Poland, is the editor-in-chief of the Complete Works of Karol Szymanowski (PWM and Universal Edition), as well as the editor of multiple volumes of the composer’s correspondence and writings. Dr. Alistair Wightman (United Kingdom) is a British expert on Polish music, the author of books about Mieczyslaw Karlowicz and Karol Szymanowski.The book is available from the Polish Music Center, for $40 (paperback only). ISSN 0741-9945 and ISBN 0-916545-06-7


Lowiczanie Polish Folk Ensemble Of San Francisco

May 9th: concert and cultural program at the Palace of the Legion of Honor Museum, in honor of the exhibition “Leonardo da Vinci and the Splendor of Poland,”

weekend of June 21st: performance at the 25th Annual San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival

Since its inception in 1975, the Lowiczanie Polish Folk Ensemble of San Francisco has continued to grow steadily in its membership, skill level, and repertoire. They have a distinguished list of performances and awards, including the Oskar Kolberg Award, the highest honor awarded by Poland’s Cultural Ministry. The Lowiczanie Ensemble continues to attract and teach new dancers of all ages, and to acquire vibrant choreographies from acclaimed Master teachers trained in Poland together with the authentic costumes in which they are performed. This month, the group will again have the great honour of participating in San Francisco’s Ethnic Dance Festival, in the all-invitational catagory.

Chopin’s Music At Wrexham

Martin Roscoe performed Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Halle Orchestra conducted by Oleg Caetani at the Wrexham Arts Festival on May 24th. For more information, visit www.wrexham.gov.uk.

BBC Radio 3 Features Polish Music

On May 31 between 1:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. listeners were able to listen to (if they were awake) orchestral music by Polish composers Mieczyslaw Karlowicz, Grzegorz Fitelberg, Karol Lipinski and Ludomir Rozycki. London 90-93 FM.

On 14 May the Wednesday mornings at 10 a.m. CD Masters featured Chopin’s Nocturnes.

Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra In An All-Polish Program

The Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra’s 2003-2004 season holds exciting news for lovers of Polish music in the Midwest. On March 11, associate concertmaster of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Samantha George, and pianist Stefanie Jacob will join the MCO for a night of music by Polish composers. The program will include Lutoslawski’s Dance Preludes, Szymanowski’s “Mythes” Opus 30, Bacewicz’s “Capriccio”, Wieniawski’s “Polonaise brillante”, Panufnik’s “Song to the Virgin Mary”, Szymanski’s “Recalling a Serenade”, and Chopin’s Rondo Opus 73.

8th Annual San Francisco Chopin Competition

Eighth Annual San Francisco Chopin Competition for Young Pianists
JUNE 1, 2003, Sunday, San Francisco 9:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Organized by The Chopin Foundation of the United States – Council of San Francisco.
Open to the public – Free admission

Concert of the Winners of the Eighth Annual San Francisco Chopin Competition for Young Pianists
JUNE 8, 2003, Sunday, San Francisco 4:00 p.m.
Donation $5

Both competition and concert held at:

San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Hellman Hall
1201 Ortega (at 19th Avenue), San Francisco, CA

For more information call 925-247-0894 or write to ChopinSF@aol.com

Gilmore Prize Winner At Tanglewood

Polish pianist Piotr Anderszewski is scheduled to perform at the Tanglewood 2003 festival: 24 June – 31 August.

Pianist Francheschetti At The Brighton Festival

Davide Francheschetti performed Chopin’s Ballade No. 4 at the Royal Pavilion on May 21st. www.brightonfestival.org.uk.

French Pianist Criticized For Chopin

Jean-Yves Thibaudet gave a recital of music by Chopin, Debussy, Satie & Messiaen for the Philharmonic Society of Orange County on 21 May in Costa Mesa. In his review, Los Angeles music critic, Daniel Cariaga, praised the French composers’ part of the program, but unfortunately was “disappointed with the Chopin program, despite some good moments.”

Hamelin Praised For Szymanowski

Pianist Marc-Andre Hamelin received a good review from Daniel Cariaga for his performance of works by Szymanowski, Mozart, Schumann & Albeniz on 8 May. He was especially pleased for his “splendidly energizing and musically probing of eight of the 20 Szymanowski mazurkas.”

Chopin In California

Music by Chopin, Beethoven & Shostakovich was performed by violinist Shalini Vijayan, cellist Robert Vos and pianist Polli Chambers-Salazar at the Altadena Community Church in California.

In Santa Barbara, CA violinist Nina Bodnar performed Wieniawski’s Violin Concerto No. 2 with the Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra conducted by Helichiro Ohyama on 19 May.

Panufik In England

“The Frog and the Nightingale” by Roxanna Panufnik (Andrzej Panufnik’s daughter) was played by the City of London Sinfonia under the direction of Paul Daniel at St. Edmundsbury Cathedral. To read a review of this concert, visit www.buryfestival.co.uk. In the Latest News section, click on “City of London Sinfonia premieres second Beastly Tale press release.”

Calendar of Events

JUN 3: Piano Recital: Chopin & Debussy. Maurizio Pollini, piano. Musikverein, Austria. www.musicverein.at

JUN 3: Penderecki: Symphony No. 4. NY Philharmonic Orchestra, Lorin Maazel, cond. Avery Fisher Hall, NY. (212) 875-5656.

JUN 4: Chopin: Polonaise-Fantaisie; 3 Mazurkas; Andante spaniato & Grande Polonaise. Emanuel Ax, piano. Salisbury Festival. www.salisburyfestival.co.uk.

JUN 5: Chopin & Debussy. Maurizio Pollini, piano. Royal Festival Hall. London, U.K.

JUN 17: Chopin: Polonaise-Fantaisie in A flat. John Lill, piano. Proms at St. Jude. www.stjudes.org.uk

JUN 18: Chopin: Scherzo No. 2. Stephen de Pledge, piano. Chelsea Festival, London. 020-7351-1005.

JUN 20-22: Milwaukee Polish Festival. 414-529-2130.

JUN 21: Music of Chopin, Bach & Couperin. Angela Hewitt, piano. St. Magnus Festival, U.K.

JUN 22: Szymanowski: Symphony No. 3 (“Song of the Night”). Peter Wedd, tenor. Britten-Pears Orchestra & Chamber Choir, Paul Daniel, cond. Aldenburgh Festival. www.aldeburgh.co.uk.

JUN 28,29: Chopin: Variations for piano & orchestra on Mozart’s “La ci darem.” Emanuel Ax, piano. Philadelphia Orchestra, Peter Oundjian, cond. Verizon Hall. Philadelphia. www.kimmelcenter.org.


by Wanda Wilk

Chopin On Daedalus

For some bargain records call for a Daedalus Music catalog at 1-800-395-2665. The following are available for only $6.98:

  • Koch Schwann 35197. Chopin: Nocturnes, Vol. 2
  • Koch Classics 35216. Chopin: Preludes.

Polish pianist Ewa Kupiec is the artist in recordings released in 1998 and 1999. A short review of the Nocturnes in the catalog informs us that, “Kupiec delineates beautifully their ebb and flow of enchanting melody and ornament…level of pianistic intimacy never before attempted,” while for the Preludes “the pianist plays here with rapt intensity.”

  • Opus 111. Chopin: Tomorrow-Impressions. Leszek Mozdzer, piano.

In this third bargain, “clasically trained jazz pianist, Leszek Mozdzer, matches his countryman Chopin’s daring creativity by updating/deconstructing 15 of his mazurkas, preludes, nocturnes, and etudes in a crossover that really cooks. thus, the C Major Mazurka, Op. 24, No. 2, undergoes several modulations before settling into a light, undulating Latin-tinged groove. In Mozdzer’s veersion of the first and third nocturnes, Chopin meets Chick Corea; East meets West also in 2 selections…the “Butterfly” Etude emerges as a blues, and there’s a boppish take on Op. 25, No. 4, with some stride piano slipped in for good measure.”

  • Koch Schwann 35221-2-3: $5.98 each.

Three CDs of music by Polish-Swiss composer, Czeslaw Marek. Vol. 6 Songs; V. 7 & 8 Chamber Music. These were favorably reviewed in Fanfare and American Record Guide when they were released in 1999 and 2000.

One More Super Bargain: Lutosławski

CBS Records Masterworks.
Lutoslawski: Symphony No. 3 & Messiaen’s “Turangalila-Symphonie.”This is the world premiere recording of 1986 (which won the Gramophone Award for Contemporary Music for the Esa-Pekka Salonen and the LA Philharmonic. Originally priced at $32 for the 2 CD set, it is now $11.96 from Daedelus.


RCA Red Seal 82876 50470-2
Bravo! Music by Chopin, Wieniawski, Kreisler, Ponce, Rachmaninov, etc… Nikolaj Znaider, violin and Daniel Gortler, piano.James Jolly, editor of Gramophone, picked this disc as one of the Editor’s Choice for June, 2003. Reviewer Rob Cowan writes, “Znaider has a very distinctive style…Wieniawski’s Polonaise is full of individual incident, exuberant but finely detailed. Much the same goes for the less familiar Variations on an Original Theme…The two Chopin Nocturnes become in Znaider’s hands, utterly ‘new’ pieces.”

There is a featured article in the May 2003 issue of BBC Music Magazine entitled, “Music That Changed Me.” In this interview with Harriet Smith the “27-year old violinist, Nikolaj Znaider, born in Denmark of Israeli-Polish parentage, tells of only recently discovering Szymanowski’s First Violin Concerto with the Chicago SO and when he did “it really blew my mind. We always think of the Berg Concerto as one of the great works of the early 20th century, but this is definitely on a par with it.”

The artist who studied in Denmark, then with Dorothy De Lay at Juilliard and recently with Boris Kirschner at the Vienna Conservatory was asked about his choice of music. It included the EMI recording of the Szymanowski Violin Concerto No. 1 played by Thomas Zehetmair and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra directed by Simon Rattle, along with recordings of Jascha Heifitz and Henryk Szeryng. He also likes Glenn Gould’s Bach Goldberg Variations and Brahms “Requiem.”

Lipinski Reviewed In American Record Guide

CPO 999 787
Lipinski: Violin Concertos 2-4. Albert Breuninger, violin. Polish Radio Symphony, Wojciech Rajski, cond.In an extensive review by Steven J. Haller of the music of Karol Lipinski, we learn that the Second Violin Concerto is called the Military Concerto and is the only one of Lipinski’s concertos that has been recorded before. He continues to inform us that this was “Lipinski’s signature piece and formed the basis of his highly acclaimed concert tours in England and the Continent.” S. Haller gives us much information on this “Polish Paganini” born in 1790, was taught violin by his father “as soon as he could hold on to a violin without dropping it” – conducted the Theatre Orchestra in Lviv at age 20, went to Italy to specifically meet with Paganini, who paid him a great compliment.

Haller describes the music enthusiastically and writes of the fourth concerto. “It is a wonderfully evocative and colorful piece of work that clearly does not deserve its present neglect in the concert hall.” The recording company plans to release all four available concertos, and “perhaps with some shorter works, including numerous caprices, as well as several polonaises said to rival even Chopin.”

More Chopin

Monarch 2005
Chopin: Ballades; Fantasy. Jerome Rose, piano.

Reviewed by Stephane Villemin. The pianist teaches piano at Mannes college in NY and Villemin describes the performance of the pianist as a very well-known, predictable example of what Chopin usually sounds like, except for two instances in the 4th Ballade and the Fantaisie, when the artist let’s go and “becomes a poet of the piano, demonstrating a gripping sense of phrasing. This ballade breathes like an improvisation. Rose constructs the whole like a master architect.”

Arabesque 6763
Chopin: Cello Pieces; Trio. Carter Brey, vc.; Garrick Ohlsson, p.; Leila Josefowicz, v.

David Mulbury definitely gives this a thumbs-up, calling it “exceptional and deserves the highest recommendation…These are immaculately polished performances, penetrating to the essence of Chopin’s idiom, wonderfully stylish, perfectly balanced, each meticulously fashioned, leaving nothing to be desired.”

DUX Recordings

DUX 362
Moniuszko: 19 Songs. Urszula Krygier, mezzo. Katarzyna Jankowska-Borzykowska, piano.

According to Carl Bauman, this is the second recording of (he is aware of) Moniuszko songs. The earlier recorded by soprano Teresa Zylis-Gara in 1984 has only Polish and English texts. The new CD has texts presented in four languages and the artist, who won top prize in the First Stanislaw Moniuszko International Vocal Competition for Young Singers in 1992 (at which I was fortunate to be on the jury) has “a luscious mezzo-soprano voice.” Only six songs are duplicated in these two recordings. Not surprising since this great 19th century composer, regarded as Poland’s Schubert, wrote more than six hundred of them. Carl Bauman strongly recommends it.

DUX 363
Paderewski: Violin Sonata, Allegro de Concert, Melody. Konstanty Kulka, violin. Waldemar Malicki, piano.

Carl Bauman also reviews this one and calls this “a wonderful disc. The violin sonata is a lush, late romantic work…all three movements are well written and very well played by Kulka…Waldemar Malicki accompanies very well. The recording is from 2001 and is first class. The notes are detailed and well translated.”

He is aware of only one other CD recording made by Wanda Wilkomirska in 1988. However, we at the Polish Music Center know that Pavane records released one in the 1990s with Robert Szreder and Boguslaw Strobel pairing it with Szymanowski and Lutosławski. These two artists have also recorded Bruzdowicz’s with Penderecki’s violin works and we know these artists from the gala concert at Forest Lawn in 1993, at which they performed the Paderewski Sonata in the presence of Joanna Bruzdowicz.

Birthdays and Anniversaries

by Wanda Wilk

I mentioned in the January newsletter the various birthday and anniversaries of Polish composers to celebrate in this year, such as: Birthdays: Ludomir Rozycki (120), Jerzy Fitelberg (100), Witold Lutosławski and Witold Rudzinski (90), Stanisław Skrowaczewski (80), Henryk Gorecki and Krzysztof Penderecki (70), Joanna Bruzdowicz, Marta Ptaszyńska and Krzysztof Meyer (60), and anniversary of death: Rozycki and Grzegorz Fitelberg (50)..

There is a double anniversary for Rozycki (120 birthday and 50 death) and the Fitelberg family. Grzegorz Fitelberg (1879-1953), composer, contemporary of Szymanowski, part of the Young Poland Group, who is best known for his role as a conductor and untiring promoter of his friend’s (Szymanowski) music, as well as Polish music in general. He died in June fifty years ago. His son, Jerzy, also a composer, was born in 1903, a hundred years ago and preceded his father in death by two years. According to information sent to me by Gary Fitelberg of San Fernando valley, who has devoted himself to finding as much material as possible about his famous relatives, his ultimate goal is to write a book about them. If anyone reading this knows of anyone who had any contact with either of them or knows any interesting stories about the Fitelbergs, please let us know.

Polish music has much to be grateful for to Grzegorz Fitelberg, who conducted the Warsaw Philharmonic in 1908, then became the director of the Emperor’s Opera in Vienna in 1911-14, followed by conducting positions in St. Petersburg and Moscow. In 1924 he again conducted the Philharmonic in Warsaw and in 1934 organized the Orchestra at Polish Radio until WWII. During the war years he conducted in South America, the U.S., Canada and Europe. After the war in 1947 he became permanent director of the Symphony Orchestra of Polish Radio in Katowice. He wrote two symphonies, four symphonic poems, several chamber works, and one vocal- orchestral work. Most importantly, however, he re-arranged the second part of Szymanowski’s Symphony No. 2 (by request from the composer); made orchestral arrangements of many of Szymanowski’s works, e.g., the famous Etude No. 4; Songs, Op. 13, No. 2 and 4; Songs of Hafiz; Roxanne’s aria; Kurpie Songs and 4 Dances from the “Harnasie” suite; also concluded and orchestrated Karlowicz’s “Episode at a Masquerade”. He also orchestrated Chopin’s Polonaise in A major.

He conducted the premieres of his Young Poland colleagues’ orchestral works in Warsaw, Berlin and Vienna, and performed their works throughout the world. He premiered most of Szymanowski’s works and introduced the new generation of Polish composers onto the concert stage – works of Wojtowicz, Palester, Lutosławski, Bacewicz and others. He also introduced new works of Richard Strauss, Debussy, Ravel, Rachmaninov and Sibelius to Polish audiences and during the mid-war years, he brought in the music of Roussel, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Hindemith, Honneger and Milhaud.

According to a quote attributed to Witold Lutosławski in the Polish Music Encyclopedia, “Fitelberg fulfilled the role of a real propaganda institution, without which it would have been difficult for the composers of that time to develop their talents and to acquire their necessary experience. Without doubt, Fitelberg filled a tremendous role in the Polish composers’ development of that time.” He received many national awards deservedly.

His son, Jerzy, followed in his father’s footsteps with his formal education at the Warsaw Conservatory. After graduation he moved to Berlin in 1922. In 1933 he moved to Paris and in 1940 he settled in New York. Brought up in a music household and world, he started to compose at age 14. In 1928 he received First Prize in a composers’ competition organized by the Association of Young Polish Musicians. Among his numerous awards we can mention the prestigious Library of Congress Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge Prize not once, but twice. In 1928 for his Second String Quartet and in 1936 for his Fourth String Quartet. In 1945 he received the American Academy of Arts & Letters Prize for his works.

Jerzy was a more prolific composer than his father and his works were performed at the International Society of Contemporary Music Festivals several times (1929, 1932, 1937, 1941, 1946 and 1951. He wrote many symphonic works: 3 Suites, 2 violin concertos, 2 piano concertos, a cello concerto (fingered by Piatigorsky), Concerto for String Orchestra, Concerto for String Quartet and Orchestra, Concerto for bassoon, piano and string orchestra and on and on. Many chamber works (five string quartets), Quintet and Octet for winds, String Trio, several wiolin works and even 12 Etudes for 3 clarinets and Music for two pianos and a children’s album. The only vocal music he composed was for a capella choir: 3 Polish songs and Pan Tralalinski, as well as an opera for children, “The Silly Chick.” His music was published in London, Paris and Vienna, as well as in the U.S., hence there should be no problem in obtaining his scores.

Even though he lived most of his short life (48 years) away from the country of his birth, according to Zygmunt Wachowicz in the Polish Music Encyclopedia, the music world always saw in him a talented representative o Polish music.

However, despite their great talents, Grzegorz and Jerzy Fitelberg, remain all but forgotten musicians. I am not aware of any recordings of Jerzy’s music, but there must be some documentation of the ISCM festivals where his music was performed so many times. At least his father’s talent as a conductor has been left for posterity in the many recordings many on LPs and on CDs. Olympia OCD 386 has him conducting Moniuszko’s Overtures and Vocal works.

In Poland his name and legacy is immortalized in an International Competition for Conductors. This year will be the VIIth and will be held from 5-14 December. You can look it up on the internet at www.konkursfitelberg.art.pl.

Happy 60 Years!

Three outstanding Polish composers of the 20th century are celebrating their 60th birthday this year. They are Joanna Bruzdowicz (May 17), Marta Ptaszyńska (Jul 29) and Krzysztof Meyer (Aug 11).

Bruzdowicz has lived aborad for many years in Belgium and now in southern France. She was feted by the Polish Embassy in Brussels on her birthday with a special concert and reception. Similar ones will be held for her in London, Barcelona and Paris in the near future. Some music lovers may remember Joanna from the beautiful choral work she composed (as a donation) for the concert at Forest Lawn when the Polish community in Los Angeles honored Sir Hubert Eaton, founder of Forest Lawn, for his efforts in finding Jan Styka’s lost masterpiece, (which had originally been commissioned by Ignacy Jan Paderewski) bringing it to Los Angeles and constructing a special building to display it.

Bruzdowicz is presently busy with composing music for the III Festival in Ceret, France which includes Concerto for 2 guitars and string orchestra and a Quintet with saxophone. She is also writing her fifth opera, “Apollinaire,” which will premiere next year in Marsielles and Wroclaw. When the Olympics were held in Barcelona, she was commissioned to write an opera on a modern theme, “Tides and Waves.”

Marta Ptaszyńska has also written operas and her children’s oepra, “Pan Marimba” was such a success in Poland that it was sold out a year in advance. Ptaszyńska is presently Professor of Composition and the University of Chicago and spends each summer in Poland where many of her works are performed, including the Warsaw Autumn Contemporary Music Festival.

Krzysztof Meyer is a prolific composer and also is a professor of composition in Cologne. Several of his recorded compositions are listed in the Schwann catalog. You may read more about all three of these “birthday” honorees in the Composers section of our web-site.


Born This Month

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


Died This Month

  • June 1, 1869 – Jozef Duleba, pianist and participant of January Uprising, died in a duel (b. 1843)
  • June 3, 1904 – Daniel Filleborn, singer and performer of main parts in Moniuszko’s operas (b. 1841)
  • June 4, 1872 – Stanisław Moniuszko (“father” of Polish national opera, b. 5 May 1819)
  • June 5, 1964 – Henryk Sztompka, pianist, Chopin specialist, teacher
  • June 9, 1932 – Natalia Janotha, pianist and composer, student of Clara Wieck-Schumann, Royal Pianist in London, 400 opus numbers (b. 1856)
  • June 10, 1953 – Grzegorz Fitelberg, conductor, composer, great promoter of new music, esp. Szymanowski (b. 1879)
  • June 28, 1938 – Ludwik Drzewiecki, pianist and father of Zbigniew Drzewiecki
  • June 29, 1945 – Kazimierz Garbusiński, pianist, organist, composer
  • June 30, 1957 – Michał Świerzyński, composer and choral conductor


Jan Szyrocki, the founder and conductor of the Szczecin Polytechnic choir, passed away on April 9, 2003 at the age of seventy-two. Under his direction the Szczecin Polytechnic Choir became the finest academic choral ensemble in Poland and toured throughout the world. In 1996, he was named conductor of the National Opera Chorus at the Teatr Wielki in Warsaw. Unfortunately, the discovery that he had cancer of the prostate caused him to resign from this position after holding it for only a couple of years. He had been in hospital for the past several weeks. Since one of the Polytechnic choirs is currently on tour, the funeral has been postponed until Good Friday, April 18, when both Polytechnic choirs can perform the Mozart REQUIEM at his funeral mass. This June would have marked his 50th year with the choir.