Polish Music Center Newsletter Vol. 9, no. 5
Winners Of 2002 Wilk Book Prizes
The 2002 Stefan and Wanda Wilk Book Prize is divided between two books ex aequo, both published by British authors in 1997:
John Rink: Chopin: The Piano Concertos (Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997).
Adrian Thomas: Górecki (Oxford: Clarendon Press; New York: Oxford University Press, 1997).
The Prize consists of $1,000 cash prize for each author (the full amount is $2,000) and an award certificate with an USC commemorative wood frame. The 2002 Competition Jury consisted of:
- Prof. Maciej Gołąb, University of Warsaw, Poland;
- Prof. Stephen Downes, University of Surrey, UK;
- Dr. Martina Homma, Cologne, Germany;
- Asst. Prof. Maja Trochimczyk, PMC Director, USC, Los Angeles
John Rink: Chopin: The Piano Concertos. 139 pages with 10 page introduction, music examples, discography, bibliographical references and index. Series: Cambridge Music Handbooks; ISBN: 0521441099 (hb); 0521446600 (pb); LC: ML410.C54; Dewey: 784.2/62/092.
Chopin’s E minor and F minor Piano Concertos played a vital role in his career as a composer-pianist. Praised for their originality and genius when he performed them, the concertos later attracted censure for ostensible weaknesses in form, development and orchestration. They also suffered at the hands of editors and performers, all the while remaining enormously popular. This handbook re-evaluates the concertos against the traditions that shaped them so that their many outstanding qualities can be fully appreciated. It describes their genesis, Chopin’s own performances and his use of them as a teacher. A survey of their critical, editorial and performance histories follows, in preparation for an analytical ‘re-enactment’ of the music – that is, a narrative account of the concertos as embodied in sound, rather than in the score. The final chapter investigates Chopin’s enigmatic ‘third concerto’, the Allegro de concert. [from the publisher’s note]
It is the first such book dedicated to the concertos, which have so far been examined only in articles and books of more general interest. Rink’s study deals with the genesis of these works showing their relation to the tradition and genre characteristics; it also gives detailed source information, summarizes critical response to the Concertos and comments on their performances available on disc. However, all this is only an introduction to an analysis of the scores “based on performance-related criteria” which aims at exploring the formal and tonal structure of the works and attempts to uncover the reason for the Concerto’s enormous popularity among both pianists and audiences. [from a review by Wojciech Bonkowski]
Adrian Thomas: Górecki 187 pages with 18 page introduction; illustrations, 1 map, detailed list of works, bibliographical references, and index. Series: Oxford Studies of Composers; ISBN: 0198163932 (cloth); 0198163940 (pbk.). LC: ML410.G6448; Dewey: 780/.92.
Górecki, the culmination of Thomas’s years of thorough, meticulous, and engaging research, provides a necessary foundation on which present and future scholars can build. This source-book surveys all of Górecki’s works, adding background and biographical details where appropriate. But its appeal is such that any reader— musician or not, scholar or amateur—will benefit from Thomas’s insights, learn from his observations, and, like the author, come to respect the music of this acclaimed composer on its own terms. Thomas assumes a readership that is fluent in music history, terminology and notation. He includes numerous score examples, often to illustrate the text but occasionally to replace it. The discourse strikes a balance between expressive interpretation and technical description. His discovery of extremely subtle allusions in Górecki’s music—a chord drawn from Chopin, a melodic gesture from Szymanowski, or a note or timbre from Beethoven—and his subsequent explication of their import should spur others to delve deeper in the music, rather than merely being satisfied with the intriguing surface qualities. [from a review by Luke Howard]
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).
The 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. Entries for the Wilk Book Prizes competition may be submitted to the jury by the author, publisher, or a third party. The 2002 competition was open to works published outside of Poland in English, French, or German during the previous five years (1997-2001). Subsequent editions of the competition will be held in “even” years and will include books published in the previous five years. It is notable that three of the current Jury members have won the Wilk Prizes in the past (the remaining one is ineligible, being a Polish scholar from Poland).
Winners Of The 54th Kosciuszko Foundation Competition
The winners of the 54th Kosciuszko Foundation Chopin Competition include:
- I Prize: Igor Lovchinsky (student at Gahanna High School, Ohio.)
- II Prize: Ching Yun Hu (a 4th year student at Juilliard).
- III Prize: Tie between Elizabeth Schumann (Cleveland Institute). Shen-Yuan Kuan (Manhattan School of Music).
Lovchinsky, an 18-year old born in Kazan, Russia, is currently studying with Steven Glaser, professor of piano at Ohio State U. Ching Yun Hu was born in Taiwan and is studying with Oxana Yablonskaya in New York.The Chopin Piano Competition was established at the Kosciuszko Foundation in 1949 on the 100th anniversary of the death of Fryderyk Chopin and is held annually. Former winners include Van Cliburn, Murray Perahia, Ian Hobson and Daniel Pollack. It is open to U.S. citizens and international full-time students between ages 16 and 22.The jury this year was composed of Abbey Simon (chair), Janina Fialkowska, Norman Horowitz, Constance Keene and Karen Shaw.
New Dates For Stojowski Festival In Poland
New dates have been announced for the May Festival of the Music of Zygmunt Stojowski, organized by the Warsaw Choir Cantores Minores, directed by Joseph A. Herter, under the auspices of Jolanta Danielak, Vice-President of the Senate of the Republic of Poland, the Embassy of the U.S., the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of Poland, and with the suppport of Acte Prealable, Ars Musica Poloniae, British Airways, Gromada, Hyperion, Muzyka 21, and The Warsaw Voice. The festival will begin with a memorial “name-day” Mass and Concert on Friday, 2 May 2003, at the Saint Zygmunt Church in Warsaw-Bielany. The program includes Messe basse by Delibes, Stojowski’s teacher; Melodie Op. 1 No. 1 version for organ, and Variations et Fugue Op. 6 for string quartet.
On 24 May 2003 (Saturday), at 6 p.m. the Paderewski Museum in Warsaw’s Lazienki Park, will present a chamber music concert, with works for trombone, violin, cello with piano, as well as songs, and a string quartet. The Festival will end on 25 May 2003 with a gala concert at the Holy Cross Basilica (on Krakowskie Przedmiescie), starting at 8 p.m. The program features Stojowski’s Variations on “Witaj królowo nieba” from the orchestral Suite Op. 9, the Polish premiere of A Prayer for Poland, first performed in 1915 in the U.S., a Romanze for violin and piano Op. 20, and Cantata “Le printemps” Op. 7, during its first Polish performance since 101 years.
The participants include, in addition to the Cantores Minores choir conducted by Joseph A. Herter, the festival orchestra, Boy’s Choir, “Szczecin Nightingales,” “Furioso” String Quartet, and soloists, Franciszek Kubicki, organ; Michał Czyż, trombone; Michał Osmycki, violin; Henryk Grocholski, cello; Leopold Stawarz, bass; Anita Maszczyk, soprano; Marta Zamojska, soprano; and Michael Oczko, piano. Thanks to the generosity of the event’s sponsors, the composer’s son, eminent architect Henry Stojowski (of Baldwin Harbour, New York) will be among the honorary guests at the festival, and all the events will be free to the public.
Davidek’s Oboe Recital In London
Kazimierz Dawidek, an excellent Polish oboe-player specializing in contemporary music will give a recital featuring British premieres of works by Paweł Szymański and Witold Szalonek at the St. John’s Smith Square in London, England. The concert, scheduled for 6 May 2003 at 7:30 p.m. will include the following works (* marks UK premieres):
- Robert Schumann – Phantasiestücke op. 73 (1849) for oboe d’amore and piano
- Paweł Szymański – First Etude (1986) *
- David Braid – Three Minutes Symphony for oboe and piano (2002 *
- J. W. Kalliwoda – Morceau de Salon op. 288
- Witold Szalonek –Quattro monologhi per oboe solo (1966) *
- Paweł Szymański – Second Etude 1986) *
- Antonio Pasculli Grand concert from the theme of the opera “I vespri Siciliani di Verdi” for oboe and piano
Mr. Dawidek will be accompanied by Hanna Holeska – piano. Tickets: Ł10 (cons. Ł6 ) from the Box Office, St. John’s, Smith Square, London SW1 3HA (please enclose SAE). Tel: 020 7222 1061. Tickets may also be booked by fax: 020 7233 1618 or by e-mail via the web site: www.sjss.org.uk. For more information about the concert visit the web site: http://www.polishculture.org.uk/EVENTS_2003/stanczyk_davidek.html
Juliana Gondek In The News
The career of Polish-American mezzo soprano, Juliana Gondek, includes several recent highlights. On May 8 at 8 p.m. she will sing the world premiere of “Four Endsongs” by UCLA composer Roger Bourland; this concert will take place in Schoenberg Hall at the University of California, Los Angeles. The program also includes a performance of Dvorak’s “Moravian Duos,” in which Ms. Gondek will be partnered by her student, UCLA junior Rachel Evans, mezzo-soprano, and Dr. Jon Robertson, pianist.On April 22, 2003, Ms. Gondek performed with Pacific Serenades at the UCLA Faculty Center (facing Schoenberg Hall). On the program: Three Bach arias with instrumental obbligato, and the premiere of Gary Bachlund’s “Echo from the Shore,” song cycle for soprano, oboe, violin, cello, and harpsichord.
Another success resulted from the singer’s collaborative effort, as the soloist in Songs of the Sung Dynasty by Bright Sheng, performed by the Hong Kong Philharmonic, conducted by Samuel Wong. The new CD with this work, recently released on the Naxos label, has been selected by Gramophone Magazine as a “Top 10” disk of 2003. See May 2003 issue and www.Gramophone.co.uk. An online review for this CD can be found at: http://www.classicstoday.com/review.asp’ReviewNum=6361
Polish Nightingales in the U.S.
The Youth Choir Foundation, Boston, in association with the Polish Cultural Institute, presents Soloists of The Polish Nightingales The Boys’ Choir of Poznań (Polskie Słowiki), performing the short comic opera Bastien and Bastienne by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, age 12, plus additional arias, duets, and Polish music. The concerts take place during the Choir’s East Coast tour between April 25 – May 11, 2003; with concerts given at Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Albany, Utica, Rochester, and Buffalo.At 7:30 p.m., on May 3, The Polish Nightingales will give a concert at the Episcopal Cathedral of All Saints at Albany, New York. On Thursday, May 1, a group of young singers from the Polish Nightingales, Poland’s pre-eminent boy choir, arrived in Albany as the second stop in their U.S. concert tour organized by the Youth Choir Foundation. The Choir of Men and Boys at the Cathedral of All Saints, America’s oldest such choir, hosts the Polish boys, who will perform Mozart’s childhood opera ‘Bastien and Bastienne’ at the Episcopal Cathedral on Saturday, May 3, 7:30 pm. The two choirs together will sing Mozart’s hauntingly beautiful Laudate Dominum. For ticket call 518 465-1342 Ext. 235 or e-mail: email@example.com. (The tickets are $25 and $18, $10 for students), plus $20 for post-concert reception with the artists.
Polish Art Festival: Confrontations 2003 In LA
Between May 4 and June 3, 2003, the 3rd Polish Art Festival “Confrontations 2003” will take place with an exhibition of 44 artists held at Modern Art Gallery, 3240 Wilshire Blvd., # 200, Los Angeles, CA 90010, Tel: 213-487-2565. In addition to presenting works by an international group of artists of Polish descent, the exhibition will be accompanied by three other events, “Polish Photo Confrontations” between May 17-24, 2003 at the Hellada Galery, 144 Linden Ave, Long Beach, CA, Tel 562-435-5232.There will be two musical events within the context of these Confrontations, both held at the Modern Art Gallery on Sundays:
- May 25 (Sunday) at 4:00 p.m., JAZZ IN THE GALLERY: “LAVA LOUNGE ENSEMBLE”, and
- June 1 (Sunday) at 4 p.m., POETRY & MUSIC CONFRONTATIONS – “KRAK” POETRY GROUP & OMSKY.
Book On Chopin’s Funeral
“Chopin’s Funeral” by Benita Eisler was reviewed by Florence Waszkelewicz Clowes, in the April issue of the Polish American Journal from Buffalo, NY. As the reviewer pointed out, “Eisler depicts Chopin as a gifted genius, an artist in exile, a perfectionist, vain, self-centered, weak and sickly man…Chopin is loved as a gifted romantic composer and performer, the soul of Polish music, a national hero. In fact he spent the majority of his thirty-nine years in Paris, an exile who could never find peace.”
Web Site Of American Polish Advisory Council
The APAC website (http://www.apacouncil.org) includes a Polonia Database with information about various Polish American organizations. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Chopin Concerts In April
Chopin’s composition were included by pianists in their recitals in April:
- Richard Goode at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London and at the Symphony Hall in Birmingham, England;
- Leif Ove Andsnes at Wigmore Hall, London;
- Gayle Martin Henry at Alice Tully Hall, NY City and
- Tomsic Dubrowka at Boston’s Symphony Hall.
On Sunday, 13 April, pianists Rosanna Marzaroli and Natalie Ross performed the music of Chopin, Lutoslawski, Debussy and Saint-Saens at the Brand Library in Glendale, California.Rachmaninoff’s Variations on a Theme of Chopin was performed by pianist Piers Lane at Wigmore Hall, 6 April
Zimerman’s Tour Of California
Krystian Zimerman made a “whirlwind tour” of California, with concerts scheduled on April 22 at Sherwood Auditorium, La Jolla Chamber Music Society; on April 23 at Royce Hall, UCLA; on April 24 at Lobero Theatre, Community Arts Music Assn., Santa Barbara; and on April 27 at Zellerbach Hall, University of California, Berkeley.The Los Angeles concert featured works by Beethoven and Brahms. According to Chris Pasles, Los Angeles Times staff writer, during this recital, Krystian Zimerman displayed his skills as “a poet and virtuoso of the keyboard who put poetry before virtuosity to generally good effect.” However, what was announced as a program of Brahms and Beethoven, turned out differently. “Post-intermission, however, Zimerman’s Brahms suddenly began to sound more like Chopin – possibly his F-sharp minor Impromptu and his Sonata in B minor – than the German composer’s Sonata in F minor, which was indicated on the program. The concert presenter, UCLA Live, was unaware of a program change, and Zimerman was not available for comment. In either case, the playing was robust, but more than a few people in the audience were left scratching their heads.” The reviewer continued, “Zimerman has the advantage of traveling with his own piano, a Steinway grand, rebuilt to his specifications to aaccommodatehis artistic as well as practical demands. It sounded glorious in Royce Hall.” “Ear-witnesses” of the recital included the Consul General of the Republic of Poland, Mr. Krzysztof Kaspszyk, who met Zimerman before and was profoundly impressed with his talent and with the enchanting poetry of the recital.
Panufnik’s Violin Concerto
The Russian Chamber Orchestra of London conducted by Theodore Kuchar performed Andrzej Panufnik’s Violin Concerto at St. John’s, Smith Square in England on 24 April.
Lutosławski’s Music In London, Texas, Colorado
Lutosławski’s String Quartet was played at Wigmore Hall by the Lindsay String Quartet. His “Chain II” was performed by the Houston Symphony on 12, 13 & 14 April under the baton of Hans Graf. In Colorado, Lutosławski’s “Concerto for Orchestra” was played by the Colorado Symphony Orchestra under Jeffrey Kahane on 3,4 & 5 April.
Levine – The Pope’s Conductor
American conductor, Gilbert Levine of New York, former artistic director of the Krakow Philharmonic, was knighted by John Paul II in 1994 and has been called “The Pope’s Conductor” by peers and press. In 1988 he presented “A Musical Offering from the Vatican: A Papal Concert” and since then has given numerous concerts which have been shown on public television.On Dec. 28, 2002 he conducted a concert, “A Thousand Years of Music and Spirit.” at St. Mary’s Basilica in Krakow, which was videotaped. Last January, seated at Paderewski’s piano at the Polish Embassy in Washington, D.C., maestro Levine introduced and presented that video to a large audience at the Embassy. The concert, performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir, featured Poland’s ancient chant “Bogurodzica,” Gorecki’s Third Symphony and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. The same video was recently broadcast at radio station WETA of Baltimore. (from the Polish American Journal).
Jakub Omsky In California
Polish cellist Jakub Omsky had a busy April, with three solo appearances in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. On Tuesday, April 15, 8 p.m., at Newman Recital Hall at USC, Omsky performed Persian folk songs by Iranian composer, Reza Vali; with Joanna Sisk-Purvis, flute. The work featured many surprises like singing, playing drums, whistling, crystal glasses, etc., and was a part of the program of the Contemporary Music Ensemble at the University of Southern California.MuPhi Epsilon International Music Fraternity was the sponsor of Omsky’s recital as a finalist in the Phyllis Hausman Loeb Awards Competition; this appearance took place on April 22.On Thursday, April 24, 8 p.m., at the University of California, Santa Barbara, the UCSB Ensemble of Contemporary Music presented Omsky, as a soloist performing with ECM Chamber Orchestra at Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall in Jeremy Haladyna’s “Chalchihuites” for cello solo and in Kammerkonzert (Chamber Concerto) No.3 by Paul Hindemith for cello and chamber orchestra.
Calendar of Events
MAY 1: Chopin & Debussy. Maurizio Pollini, piano. Verizon Hall, Kimmel Center, Philadelphia. www.kimmelcenter.org
MAY 2: Stojowski: Melodie, Op. 1, No. 1; Variations & Fugue, Op. 6 for string quartet. Quartet Furioso. St. Zygmunt’s Church. Warsaw-Bielany. Part 1 of Stojowski May Festival organized by Joseph Herter, conductor of the Cantores Minores Choir.
The Polish Nightingales of Poznan Tour of the East Coast:
MAY 3: All Saints Albany Cathedral. Albany, NY. 7:30 p.m.
MAY 4: St. Mary’s Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa. New York Mills, NY. 4:00 p.m.
MAY 9: Asbury First United Methodist Church. Rochester, NY. 8:00 p.m.
MAY 10: Montante Cultural Center. Canisius College, Buffalo, NY. 8:00 p.m.
MAY 2,3,5: Penderecki: Viola Concerto. Roberto Diaz, va. Philadelphia Orchestra/Wolfgang Sawallisch. Verizon Hall, Kimmel Center, Philadelphia.
MAY 18, 19: Penderecki: Sinfonietta. Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia/Ignat Solzhenitsyn. 2:30 & 8:00 p.m. www.kimmelcenter.org. 1-215-893-1999.
MAY 24: Stojowski: String Music. Quartet Furioso. Paderewski Museum. Lazienki Park, Warsaw. 6:00 p.m.
MAY 25: Gala concert of Stojowski’s music. Polish premiere of cantata, “Prayer for Poland,” Op. 40; Cantata “Le printemps,” Op. 7; Variations on theme “Witaj królowo nieba;” Romance for violin and orchestra, Op. 20. Cantores Minores, Festival Orchestra/Joseph Herter; Szczecin Nightingales/Bozena Derwith, cond. Michal Osmycki, violin.
MAY 29, 30, 31: Penderecki: Symphony No. 4 – Adagio. New York Philharmonic Orchestra/Lorin Maazel. www.newyorkphilharmonic.org.
The Glorious Month Of May!
by Wanda Wilk
When you think of the month of May the first Polish song that comes to mind is “Witaj, majowa jutrzenko,” which means “Welcome, May morning star.” It is a lively song in a 3/4 mazurka dance rhythm that welcomes the month of May, which is “for all Poles a glorious day!”It is known as the Third of May Mazurka, which celebrates Poland’s independence day of May 3, 1791 when Poland adopted its first Constitution. According to the Polish Heritage Songbook compiled by Marek Sart, the words were written by Rajnold Suchodolski (1804-1831), a cadet officer in the Fifth Infantry Regiment. “Wounded in the insurrection of 1830 on the outskirts of Warsaw, he tore off his bandages when he learned that Warsaw had capitulated to the Russians.” The music itself is a well-known folk melody.
So, it is fitting that in this day and age it will be heard on Saturday, May 3rd, at West Point, the American Military Academy in New York, during the annual ceremony honoring Thaddeus Kosciuszko, one of the heroes of our American Revolution. As a young military officer in Poland, Kosciuszko studied military engineering in France. With his own country under Russian rule, Kosciuszko volunteered his services to General George Washington, who asked him to build a fort on the Hudson River, after having proven himself for his military fortifications at the battles of Ticonderoga and Saratoga. According to retired Lt. General Edward L. Równy (former ambassador to Poland), the “object was to deny the British the use of the river, by which they could resupply their troops to the north.” General Washington considered the “site of West Point to be so strategic and significant during the American Revolution that he called it the key to the continent.” After winning the war “the new federal government acquired West Point in 1790. As president, Washington proposed a national military academy and several Revolutionary War veterans advocated West Point as the site for such an institution. In 1802, under President thomas Jefferson, the United States Military Academy was founded.”Thus, the annual ceremony “commemorates the debt that the U.S., and West Point in particular, owe to Thaddeus Kosciuszko.” This year’s event, begins at 9:45 a.m. with a mass at Holy Trinity Chapel. The Corps of Cadets will parade on the Plain at ll:30 a.m. Immediately thereafter, at 12:30 the annual ceremony honoring Kosciuszko will be held at his monument. Several thousand Polish and Polish-American veterans will be present, along with representatives of the Kosciuszko Foundation of New York.
An additional attraction this year will take place at the Kosciuszko Garden, which “was constructed on an escarpment below Cullum Hall as a retreat by Colonel Kosciuszko in 1778.” Over the years the garden has fallen into disrepair and the family of Ambassador Rowny, who graduated from West Point in 1941 as a Distinguished Graduate, has recently refurbished the garden to bring it to its original glory worthy of its original purpose as a favorite retreat of the Polish and American hero.At 5:00 p.m. a plaque will be unveiled at the Kosciuszko Garden, at which time the Jutrzenka Singing Society No. 226 of the Polish Singers Alliance of America will perform the Polish song I mentioned at the beginning. The New York group is under the direction of Izabella Kobus-Salkin and it won first place in the female division at the 46th Triennial International Convention Competition in 2001.It may be of interest to our readers to know that at the end of the War, the U.S. Congress promoted Kosciuszko to Brigadier General and awarded him back pay. Kosciuszko designated his friends thomas Jefferson as executor of his will. In it, he specified that the funds from his estate were to be used for the emancipation and eduction of American slaves.According to the Monticello Newsletter (Winter, 2001), Kosciuszko returned to Poland at the close of the American Revolution to lead his countrymen again against Russia and Prussia, where they were defeated. He was wounded in a 1794 battle and imprisoned in St. Petersburg, Russia. Following the death of Empress Catherine the Great, however, her son and successor, Czar Paul I, granted amnesty to the Polish hero in 1796. In exchange for his freedom and that of other Polish prisoners, Kosciuszko promised not to return to Poland, and arrived in Philadelphia in 1797, where he formed a lasting friendship with Thomas Jefferson. In less than a year he moved to Switzerland where he died in 1817.If you wish to read more about all of this, you may visit several web-sites.
For the Kosciuszko Garden and West Point itself, visit www.revolutionaryday.com/usroute9w/westpoint/garden.htm.
For Rowny’s article on the Kosciuszko Garden Ceremony visit the Summit Times at http://users.ren.com/salski/No29Folder/Kosciuszko_Ceremony.ht m.The song has also been recorded many times by various ensembles. Look for it at the Polish Bookstore website at www.polskaksiegarnia.com or look into the other popular Polish gift shop websites, like PolArt.com in Florida or the Polish Art Center in Hamtramck at www.polartcenter.com. My favorite website is the latter one, not because its from my hometown, but because they provide a list of all the songs on each CD – making it easier to make a selection. So, I will end this article with the refrain to this song: Welcome May, lovely May, for all Poles a glorious day!” May it also bring glorious days to everyone who has a song in their heart!
by Wanda Wilk
Music from Polanski’s “The Pianist”
SONY 87739 Chopin: Piano Pieces; Kilar: Moving to the Ghetto. Janusz Olejniczak, piano; Władysław Szpilman, piano. Warsaw Philharmonic, Tadeusz Strugała, cond.
This is the music used in Roman Polanski’s film, “The Pianist.” David Mulbury reviews this in the Mar/Apr issue of American Record Guide. He states that there is “little to find fault with in any of their performances, which achieve high excellence. Olejniczak’s Chopin playing is sensitive, stylish, and musically rewarding, and if not quite in the league of Rubinstein, Wild, Ohlsson, or Perahia, promises a bounty of listening pleasure.” Kilar’s “modest vignette,” “Moving to the Ghetto” composed on October 30, 1940 “occupies less than two minutes. A concluding treat is the delightful playing of Szpilman, whose memoir, The Pianist, formed the basis for the film. Chopin’s rather incredible, exquisite Mazurka in A minor was based on a Jewish melody from the Szafarnia region of Poland. What a spell this music can weave when played so beautiful and idiomatically! …Liner notes supply almost no information of any import on music or performers, instead the space is allocated to shots from the film – a Hollywood touch, calculated to sell records, but disappointing.” This disc had been nominated for a Fryderyk award for Album of the Year Solo Music.
Łuciuk’s DUX Release
Lindsay Koob reviews this disc in American Record Guide, Mar/Apr issue. According to Koob, the Litany to Our Lady of Suprasl sets excerpts from 18th century poetic cycles inspired by the Marian cult that grew from a famous icon of the Virgin (now lost), formerly housed in the church of Suprasl’s Abbey. The miraculous powers attributed to this icon made the Abbey a favorite destination of pilgrims…The Marian Suite, allegedly one of Luciuk’s most widely performed works, is based on a series of brief poems in praise of the miraculous icons of the Virgin to be found in holy places all over Poland. Koob goes on in the review, “This music, with its illuminations of Poland’s fascinating religious history, is worth a listen – but I wish I liked it better.” The reviewer states, “Luciuk’s music is indeed pleasant and well-crafted – he struck me as Poland’s answer to John Rutter, but without that composer’s ingenuity and occasional profundity.”The “performance quality is excellent: chorus and orchestra are very fine indeed, and Rappe’s chesty contralto impresses.” Koob wishes the producers had included translations to the text. I had never heard of Suprasl and wondered where specifically in Poland it was located. So, I looked it up on the internet and found that the monastery is located in Białystok and is an orthodox monastery, which has been utilized by Roman Catholics as well.
Lutoslawski On DG Label
DG 471 588 Lutoslawski: Piano Concerto; Partita; Chain 2. Krystian Zimerman, piano; Anne-Sophie Mutter, violin. BBC Symphony/Witold Lutoslawski. This is reviewed by Allen Gimbel of the American Record Guide, who was so enchanted by Ewa Pobłocka’s splendid recording on Accord when he heard the concerto for the first time. He concludes his review with, “If you need these pieces in this grouping, you can’t go wrong with this, but try to hear the Accord piano concerto if you can.”
Classico 407: Szymanowski – 3 Myths; Poulenc & Hindemith. Christine Michaela Pryn, violin; Joachim Olsson, piano.Last month I reported on the Harmonia Mundi recording of Szymanowski’s Myths as performed by Ukrainian violinist Graf Mourja, which was reviewed by both Gramophoneand BBC Music magazine. This time, Elaine Fine writes about Szymanowski’s Myths for American Record Guide and praises “the young Danish duo of Pryn and Olsson.” They call themselves “Musica Mirabilis” and Fine says that they certainly deserve that name. “The playing here is wonderful, and the musicians bring out the essential character of each composer.”
20th Century Psalms
Accord 112: 20th Century Psalms. Rizzi, Ives, Penderecki & Bernstein. Cracow Chamber Choir/Stanislaw Krawczynski, cond.Donald Vroon, editor of American Record Guide, reviews this one and is surprised and elated with this recording of music by American composers (except for Penderecki) performed by a Polish singing group. He is amazed at their English diction – “It’s amazing how American these Polish singers sound…how well this choir brings out Ive’s underlining of the words. I’d certainly buy this for the Ives if I didn’t already have three other recordings of it.” Of Bernstein’s “Chichester Psalms” he welcomes the addition of an organ and notes that “Polish Hebrew is a little different from what I’ve heard before in these pieces…In fact, this is the first recording of these Bernstein psalm settings that I have really liked. They really know how to sing in Cracow!” Oh yes, he briefly mentions the Polish composer with, “Surely their Penderecki is authoritative.”
Penderecki’s Orchestral Music
Naxos 8.555265 – Penderecki: Orchestral Works, Vol. 4. Listed under new releases in Gramophone (April 2003), with the comment: “Following recent recordings of Penderecki’s symphonies Naxos continues its trailblazing investigation with these breathtaking performances of two numbered violin concertos. The ad quotes BBC Music Magazine: ‘Antoni Wit’s readings are a genuine alternative to the composer’s and an important addition to the catalogue.'”
Roman Maciejewski: Creator Extraordinaire
Marlena Wieczorek and Wojciech Maciejewski
translated by Maria Pilatowicz
April 30th of the current year was a fifth anniversary of the passing of Roman Maciejewski, who died in Goeteborg (Sweden), and was laid to rest on June 3rd, 1998, in Leszno (Poland). There are many reasons besides the anniversary of his death why we should remember the legacy of this most remarkable Polish composer of the last century. It is enough to glance at his opus vitae, the Requiem, which he dedicated to the victims of human ignorance, victims of all wars, victims of tyrannical oppression, victims of human lawlessness and victims of the breakdown of God’s Laws of Nature to realize the depth of his spirituality. How true ring the words of this dedication to a contemporary world filled with violence and conflict. Maciejewski’s life and work above all, established a vital link between Poland and numerous European countries as well as between Poland and United States where he composed, performed, and resided for many years.
Roman Maciejewski was born in 1910 in Berlin. His mother, a music teacher, was the one who awakened his interest in music while he was still a child, to later enroll him at the Julius Stern Conservatory in Berlin. After WWI Maciejewski’s family moved to Leszno (Poland), the native town of Roman’s mother. There he attended high school and also played the church organ, seeing considerable consternation among the respectable parishioners with his wild improvisations. At the same time he continued his musical studies at the Poznan Conservatory, where he majored in piano. At the age of eighteen, armed with a letter of recommendation from Stanisław Wiechowicz, he applied for the position of the director of the S. Moniuszko Choir in Poznań. He received the post and under his leadership the choir successfully performed in Poland and abroad.In order to study composition he moved to Warsaw to attend the Warsaw Music Academy. There he became one of the leading composers of the young generation, who before WWII and under the tutelage of Karol Szymanowski paved the way for the contemporary Polish music to equal the European avant-garde. After listening to Maciejewski’s early piano compositions Karol Szymanowski wrote in Wiadomosci Literackie: “. . . again, something of lasting value has come into being in Polish Art.”While he was still a student Maciejewski also performed his compositions on a regular basis. This is how Witold Lutosławski remembers one of his concerts:
“The concerts of contemporary music were organized in the IPS (Institute for the Promotion of the Arts) Auditorium. This is where Roman performed on the piano his mazurkas and also his Songs Bilitis. They all made an extraordinary impression; it was a sensation. . . His music was very original, emotional, and very sensitive. Beautiful sound, that was always characteristic of his music.”
Despite all the praises Maciejewski had never graduated from the Warsaw Music Academy. He was expelled for leading the student strike in support of Karol Szymanowski’s appointment as a provost of the Academy. “Like a meteorite or a comet Roman Maciejewski appeared at the Warsaw Conservatory for only a brief moment,” writes Stefan Kisielewski in his memoirs. “His few known compositions are uniquely simple, direct, clearly inventive, and deeply Polish, but permeated throughout with contemporary textures and harmonies.” Shortly after his dismissal from the Academy, Maciejewski embarked on an extended and very successful concert tour in the Balkans, where he presented mainly his own compositions. Thanks to the personal influence of Joseph Beck, the minister of Foreign Affairs and an ardent admirer of Maciejewski’s talent, upon his return from the tour he received a scholarship to continue his musical studies in Paris. When he left Poland he never imagined that he was never to permanently return there again.
In Paris he led the life of the artistic bohème. His quick intelligence, lively disposition and his talent helped to admit him into influential social circles. While he studied with Nadia Boulanger he socially met such luminaries as Igor Stravinsky, Francis Poulenc, Arthur Honegger, Aleksander Tansman, and Darius Milhauld. He also befriended Arthur Rubinstein, who took a fancy to Maciejewski’s mazurkas and regularly performed several of them. While in France, Maciejewski met with Karol Szymanowski on numerous occasions, and when the great composer died in Switzerland he rushed to Lausanne to pay his respects.
Maciejewski was often invited to Geneva, which at that time was the seat of the League of Nations. There he had an opportunity to meet the most influential European politicians. He was also active in the Society of Young Polish Musicians (Stowarzyszenie Młodych Muzyków Polaków) in Paris. During this period he experienced the life of a starving student as well as the life of a darling of the fashionable aristocracy and the very rich. He is still well remembered as a jolly companion and a great jokester by another needy student, Czesław Miłosz, who was residing in Paris at the same time.
Maciejewski’s most important composition of his Parisian period is his Concerto for Two Pianos, which he performed with Kazimierz Kranc in the most prestigious auditoriums in Paris, London, and Warsaw. After listening to one of those performances Jerzy Waldorff (prominent music critic) stated: “. . . if today’s new music will be as full of gravity and devotion as Maciejewski’s, soon we will see a comeback of the era of Bach, Haendel and Mozart.” Konstanty Regamey had also accurately observed that “what is striking about this composition is its unusually satisfying balance between the inspiration and calculated intellectual effort, between the tradition and innovation.” This astute observation may as well be applied to Maciejewski’s later compositions.
In 1938 Maciejewski left the continent for Great Britain where he was invited to collaborate with Kurt Joos, renowned choreographer, and his ballet company. There he married a Swedish ballerina, who danced with the company. The young couple left Britain for a brief sojourn to Goeteborg (Sweden) so that Maciejewski could be properly introduced to his in-laws. Surprised by the sudden onset of WWII they decide to remain in Sweden. Maciejewski’s father-in-law, Henrik Gallen, was a film director. The young bride’s uncle, owner of the shipping line Atlantic, invited the couple to live in his luxurious villa. For Maciejewski as an artist and composer his prolonged stay in Sweden proved to be very productive. He regularly played Chopin’s music on the Swedish Radio (in the occupied Poland such performances were outlawed). He also composed music for Ingmar Bergman plays and wrote and performed Allegro Concertante for piano and orchestra, which met with enthusiastic reception of the Swedish music critics. During this period he produced several new mazurkas, compositions for two pianos (new pieces and transcriptions of the classics) as well as various chamber music compositions.
He was deeply, emotionally affected by the fate of his countrymen in Poland. He organized and led the Alliance of Poles in Sweden actively aiding Polish refugees. Also during this time he began to experience health problems. He underwent operations of the digestive tract at three different occasions, yet, had no marked improvement in the state of his health. Desperate he turned to Eastern Medicine, became a vegetarian, went through various cleansing regimens, and began practicing yoga and meditation. Since then he had credited these drastic changes in his life style for his eventual spiritual renewal. His outlook on life and the world, as well as his priorities had undergone a profound change. He isolated himself deep in the Swedish forest, and living in the natural world he regained his health and the will to live. There in the Swedish wilderness the idea for his greatest musical work was born. It absorbed him for many years to come until it evolved into one of the monumental works of its kind composed in the XX century – Requiem – mass written to liturgical text dedicated to victims of all wars, victims of tyrannical oppression.
Until then Maciejewski had wholeheartedly embraced the modern approach to music, but composing his Requiem he turned away from the avant-garde. He reverted to the traditional, time-tested style because he wanted this composition to have universal appeal, to reach a worldwide audience, and to speak to their sensibilities in a direct and accessible musical language, that would bring together art and people of different ages and morals, bring them closer to each other and to God.
In 1951 he parted with his wife and accepted an invitation of Arthur Rubinstein to come to California. In Los Angeles he was introduced to the local artistic milieu and by-passed several tempting opportunities for employment. Rubinstein himself wanted to commission him to write a piano concerto; also he was offered a position of a musical director at the Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios. He chose the least absorbing offer and became an organist at the Polish parish in Los Angeles. This allowed him to devote all his time and inner concentration to the work on his opus vitae. In a letter to his family he wrote: “Clearly, instead of toiling over the composition the size of my Requiem, I could write symphonies, concertos or mass produce a multitude of miniatures, which would please audiences for a short while. Yet, I know I’m destined to do otherwise, and I’ll gladly accept all the consequences of my choice. I relinquish the dazzling yet superficial life of a career artist, and I’ll continue working in my real domain with unwavering conviction and quiet determination in spite of changes of climate or living conditions.”
In 1959 he arrived in Poland with the finished score, and one year later, at the Warsaw Autumn Festival the Requiem was performed by the Symphony and the Choir of the Krakow Radio, conducted by the composer. The concert became a sensation. The musical avant-garde was seriously disappointed, the traditional critics were raving about the triumphant rebirth of the Polish classical music.
After the premiere of the Requiem in Warsaw, Maciejewski returned to Los Angeles to attend to his duties as a church organist. He took those duties very seriously and soon assembled the Roman Choir consisting of seventy singers. For this ensemble he then composed several choral masses with organ accompaniment. In 1975 the world renowned Los Angeles Master Chorale under the direction of the famous Roger Wagner and the Hollywood Symphony performed Maciejewski’s Requiem at the Los Angeles Music Center (the auditorium known from the Oscar ceremonies). The concert was preceded by an extensive media campaign. Maciejewski’s name appeared on the front pages of all the major newspapers. After the concert the journalists wrote of the “musical happening,” of “stunning success,” of the “masterpiece” and of the audience raving and crying. Maciejewski was immediately beset with countless offers and employment propositions. His response to the euphoria surrounding him was a sudden departure from the United States.
He traveled to the Canary Islands and settled with his tent on the beach, on one of the smaller isles (La Graciosa), at the feet of a towering volcano. He spent the next several months in communion with nature and universe, contemplating the phenomenon of life, and experiencing the closeness of his Creator. After enduring the life of a hermit Maciejewski decided to return to Poland to visit his family and perhaps make plans for his next journey. For many years he had dreamt of visiting India and was always fascinated by its religion and culture. Before departing on a voyage of such duration he wanted to pay a visit to his old friends in Goeteborg. While there he happened to come across a piano, whose sound so bewitched him, that he purchased the instrument on the spot. Once he owned the piano he realized he had to have a place for it. So he rented an apartment and in this manner had settled in Goeteborg, where he spent the last years of his life. During this period he visited Poland several times. No matter where he made his home the love of his country always lived in his heart. As he himself admitted, he also returned to his homeland every time he composed the successive cycle of mazurkas.
Maciejewski always aspired to be independent and this desire was evident in his opinions, his creative output and his life. He was not easily influenced by what others thought or how they behaved, and he remained unaffected by fame, power or money. In his work he valued sincerity of expression the most, and he never paid heed to current fashion or aesthetic trends. His independence, however, occasionally came at a great cost, but it also gave him something priceless in return – it let him live his life according to his own truth.
There are many concrete reasons why Maciejewski’s creative legacy was until recently not very widely known. He had never paid much attention the fate of his compositions, never had looked after proper marketing of his work, or had sought to profit from it. It wasn’t until the mid 1990’s that he finally allowed access to some 100 manuscripts, which until then were gathering dust in the drawers of his bureau. All earlier attempts, even by the most distinguished instrumentalists, to gain access to his compositions proved to be futile. He mainly composed for himself; whether it was for Maciejewski the pianist, Maciejewski the organist or Maciejewski the conductor. Among the many works which came to light in the 1990’s there were 50 compositions for piano, 30 for two pianos (original works and transcripts of the classics) several pieces of chamber music, several orchestral works, 5 masses for the organ and mixed choir and musical scores for various theatrical plays.
One must also consider that for several decades the political climate in Poland was hostile to artists, who chose to live and work abroad. Also the hegemony of the musical avant-garde of this period naturally reduced the opportunities to perform and popularize new musical works composed in the traditional style. Lately this situation has changed and the style of Maciejewski’s compositions, which used to be his handicap, has now become one of his many assets. The recent statements of music critics and composers concerning his Requiem are self-evident:
- “Maciejewski’s Requiem is among the compositions which are timeless, and whose musical qualities will endure and outlast even the most radical trends.” (Michał Kondracki)
- “Personally, I consider the Requiem to be a fascinating work. It is written in a universal style. All the formal, expressive, stylistic and semantic elements- beginning with Bach and Haendel and ending with Ravel and Stravinsky – even some elements of the contemporary avant-garde – have been incorporated into this composition; but all have been transformed in the creative fire of the composer’s personality. There are very few works that affect me to this degree.” (Henryk Czyż)
- “This composition is a legend in the making. It already has almost a cult following.” (Krzysztof Bilica)
Presently Maciejewski’s fame is on the rise. Dissertations on the subject of his music are being written and published a numerous universities, in Poland and in Sweden new recordings of his works are being made. New editions of his scores are coming out in print and recently three TV documentaries were edicated to his life and work. Maciejewski’s Music Society in Leszno organizes yearly festivals to promote his music; although some progress has been made, much remains to be done to secure for him and his legacy a proper place among the luminaries of the Polish culture.
Born This Month
- 2 May 1846: Zygmunt NOSKOWSKI (d. 23 July 1909), composer.
- 2 May 1913: Florian DĄBROWSKI, composer and teacher.
- 5 May 1819: Stanisław MONIUSZKO (d. 4 June 1872).
- 12 May 1805: Jan Nepomucen BOBROWICZ (d. 2 November 1881), guitarist and composer.
- 17 May 1943: Joanna BRUZDOWICZ, composer living in France.
- 18 May 1905: Włodzimierz ORMICKI, composer, conductor, music theoretician.
- 20 May 1903: Jerzy FITELBERG (d. 25 April 1951), composer, son of the famous conductor.
- 28 May 1836: Jan KARŁOWICZ (d. 14 June 1903), father of composer Mieczysław.
- 29 May 1903: Marian NEUTEICH (d. 1943, Warsaw), composer and cellist.
- 31 May 1932: Bogusław MADEY, conductor and composer.
- 31 May 1913: Irena GARZTECKA (d. 14 November 1963), composer and pianist.
Died This Month
- 1 May 1948: Marcel POPŁAWSKI (b. 1882), composer and teacher, studied law and engineering before turning to composition.
- 4 May 1896: Józef SIKORSKI (b. 1813), composer and music theorist.
- 6 May 1892: Nikodem BIERNACKI (b. 1826), violinist and composer.
- 10 May 1964: Hanna SKALSKA-SZEMIOTH (b. 29 April 1921), composer, student of Sikorski.
- 13 May 1958: Eugeniusz MOSSAKOWSKI (b. 1885), opera singer (baritone).
- 21 May 1848: Felix JANIEWICZ (b. 1762), violinist, conductor, and composer.
- 23 May 1957: Alicja SIMON (b.1879), musicologist.
- 25 May 1917: Edward RESZKE (b. 1853), opera singer (bass), brother of Jan.