September 2003

Polish Music Center Newsletter Vol. 9, no. 9


Mu Phi Epsilon Honors USC Cellist

Cellist Marek Szpakiewicz, born in Lublin, Poland, brought great news from Cincinnati, Ohio to USC, the Polish community, and the entire music world. Mr. Szpakiewicz won the prestigious Mu Phi Epsilon International Competition, held in August 6, 2003, by an unanimous final decision by judges. Mr. Szpakiewicz is currently working toward his Doctorate Degree, under the tutelage of Professor Eleonore Schoenfeld, at University of Southern California Thornton School of Music. At present, he plays on a cello made by Sabastien Vuillaume and owned by patron Krystyna Wydzga.Mr. Szpakiewicz’s repertoire for the competition was: Zoltan Kodaly’s Solo Sonata, Johann Sebastian Bach’s Suite No. 2, Earnest Bloch’s “Schelomo”, John Corigliano’s “Fancy on Bach Air”, and Ludwig van Beethoven’s Sonata No. 4. The judges agreed that Mr. Szpakiewicz was “very commanding of the audience and the instrument”, and that “the whole package was simply marvelous”.As the 2003 Competition winner, Marek Szpakiewicz performed three recitals during Mu Phi Epsilon’s Centennial Convention in Cincinnati. His performance included works by David Popper, Sergey Rachmaninoff, John Corigliano, and Zoltan Kodaly. At the Gala Centennial Concert, held on August 9, Mr. Szpakiewicz got a standing ovation with his excellent performance of Bloch’s “Schelomo” and an unannounced encore, “Liebeslied” by Fritz Kreisler. As a winner of the Mu Phi Epsilon International Competition, Mr. Szpakiewicz was awarded a 2-year contract of nationwide concerts with management. He will perform with various orchestras in the United States under renowned conductors, in addition to solo and duo recitals. He starts his tour from University of Southern California in October this year.Mr. Szpakiewicz has already achieved international acclaim as an distinguished artist. He won recognition from the music world in 1996, as a finalist in both the Antonio Janigro International Cello Competition in Zagreb, Croatia, and the Tansman International Competition in Lodz, Poland. His work as a soloist with various orchestras in Europe and in the United States has drawn praise from critics, who have described him as “a gifted player, with expansive vision and immense authority, and no technical limitation”.In his early years, Mr. Szpakiewicz studied with Polish Professors Ryszard Losakiewicz and Stanislaw Firlej. Among other honors, he has won awards at the National Cello Competition in Elblag and the Governor’s Scholarship Prize in Poland. In 1991, he became a scholarship student of Professor Steven Kates at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore, Maryland. The following year, he was awarded the Gabor Rejto Fellowship for studying at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, California. In subsequent years, he won a scholarship to study at the Piatigorsky Seminar in Los Angeles, where he worked with Nathaniel Rosen and Zera Nelsova.

Penderecki to Conduct His “Credo”

In keeping with its 10 year tradition of honoring the music of the Baltic Nations, since its founding by Kurt Masur shortly following the reunification of Germany, the Usedom Music Festival, on the German vacation Island of Usedom, will present a series of programs focusing on the music of Poland. The highpoint of the Festival will be a performance conducted by the composer Krzysztof Penderecki of his Credo (1996-98), on Wednesday, October 1, in the former Nazi missile development center of Peenemünde.

Credo was completed as Penderecki neared his 65th birthday. Although his original intention was to set the entire text of the Catholic Mass to music, in the end he decided to focus on the section called the Credo, which is taken from the Nicene Creed. In writing his Credo, Penderecki supplemented the text of the Nicene Creed with psalms, excerpts from Revelations and quotes from Polish and German hymns. The result is a monumental work performed here with the NDR Sinfonieorchester, NDR Chor, Chöre der Krakauer Philharmonie, and soloists: Bozena Harasimowicz-Haas (Soprano), Olga Pasiecznik (Soprano), Agnieszka Rehlis (Alto), Adam Zdunikowski (Tenor), Romuald Tesarowicz (Bass)

Penderecki’s original intention was to set the entire Ordinary of the Mass. At this point he has completed only the Credo, but he has nevertheless produced a major work nearly an hour in length that is distinguished by its accessibility to concert audiences and its focus on the central beliefs of the Christian church.

Like Bach before him, Penderecki has set the entire “Credo” text. As in many of the composer’s oratorios (i.e. St. Luke PassionTe Deum, the Polish Requiem) there are musical references to his native Poland. In Credo this link appears in the form of the Polish Holy Week hymns “Ludu, mój ludu” [“My people, what have I done to thee?”] and “Który za nas cierpial rany” [“You who suffer the wounds for us, have mercy upon us”]. In addition to five soloists (SSATB), mixed chorus and large orchestra, the musical setting includes a boy choir and an off-stage brass ensemble that the composer places behind the audience.

By the very act of setting the long and difficult “Credo”, Penderecki seems to be affirming a personal religious commitment in the manner he knows best, by writing a musical work on a prominent sacred text, a point he strongly emphasized in a recent interview: “Since I am a Christian and compose as a Christian, I must write another religious work. I am considered a composer of sacred music. I have [already] written many religious works. Looking at other composers of our time, there is only one – Olivier Messiaen – who has written as much music on sacred texts. This is my task!”

This year, the 10th Usedom Music Festival will open with Polish contralto Ewa Podleś and the Krakauer Philharmonie under Tomasz Burgai, in works of Stanislav Moniuszko, Henryk Wieniawski, and Karol Szymanowski. Other Polish Ensembles include the Szymanowski-Quartett, the “Posener Nachtigallen”, one of the most famous Boy’s Choirs in Euorpe, as well as pianist Ewa Kupiec, and cellist Rafal Kwiatkowski, who are counted among the most widely recognized young musicians of Poland today. A special highlight of the Festival will include a Jazz and Klezmer concert. Klezmer music has not been heard on Usedom in 70 years, since 1933. Further concerts include prize winner’s of “Young Concert Artists” from New York and Leipzig.

Premiere Of Kilar’s September Symphony

Wojciech Kilar’s September Symphony will be premiered on the 2nd of September at the Music Festival of the European Union by the Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra. It will played again on September 11th in a commemorative concert. Antoni Wit, long-time friend of the composer to whom this piece is dedicated, will serve as conductor. The Polish publisher Polskie Wydawnictwo Muzyczne (PWM) prepared the parts for this performance and plans to eventually issue the score.

The September Symphony has been compared in form and content to symphonies of Beethoven and Mahler. The musical references to “America the Beautiful” are intentional and unmistakable. Kilar got the idea for this symphony when he heard his “Missa pro pace” [Mass for peace] performed by the National Philharmonic on the occasion of the first anniversary of the attack. He stated that he wanted to compose a piece that was both in homage to the victims of September 11th and in protest of those who do not respect human life.

Kilar attended the State College of Music (currently the Music Academy) in Katowice, where he studied piano performance and composition under Boleslaw Woytowicz. He graduated with top honors and was awarded his diploma in 1955. Between 1955 and 1958 he was a post-graduate student under Woytowicz at Krakow’s State College of Music (currently the Music Academy). In 1957 he participated in the International New Music Summer Course in Darmstadt. Kilar expanded on his musical education in Paris in 1959-60, when a scholarship from the French government allowed him to study composition under Nadia Boulanger. He has received numerous awards for his artistic activity and achievements.

In 1977 he was one of the founding members of the Karol Szymanowski Society. Kilar chaired the Katowice chapter of the Association of Polish Composers for many years and from 1979-81 was vice chair of this association’s national board. He was also a member of the Repertoire Committee for the “Warsaw Autumn” International Festival of Contemporary Music. In 1991 Polish filmmaker Krzysztof Zanussi made a biographical film about the composer titled Wojciech Kilar.For more information, see Kilar’s PMC Composer Page.

Wanda Warska Sings Polish Composers

Jazz vocalist Wanda Warska recently recorded an album of songs that she had commissioned in November 1995 from composers Henryk Mikolaj Górecki, Wojciech Kilar, Krzysztof Penderecki, Andrzej Kurylewicz, Zygmunt Konieczny and Zbigniew Preisner. Each of the composers wrote songs to the text “Jakżeż ja się uspokoję” or “How will I quiet myself” by the well-known poet and artist Stanisław Wyspiański. In choosing these particular composers, Ms. Warska turned to those composers to whom she felt close.

This collection of songs was premiered in the Teatr Rapsodyczny in Kraków in 1995 then subsequently performed in theaters around the country. Ms. Warska performs with the Wilanów Quartet, whose members are pianists Andrzej Kurylewicz and Leszek Mozdzer, violist Ryszard Duz, cellist Marian Wasiólka, bassist Adam Cegielski, and percussionist Stanislaw Skoczynski.

As a jazz vocalist and composer, Ms. Warska made her debut in the 1950s in Kraków. She met pianist Andrzej Kurylewicz at the Music Academy and together they formed a jazz ensemble. She also had her own song theatre, called Klara. After moving to Warsaw, she opened a club that still exists today, a sort of cult venue for concerts, spectacles, and other exhibitions.

Upcoming Concert Of Famous Polish Composers

The Polish Club of Leisure World is sponsoring a series of concerts of music by famous Polish Composers. Here is the program for the upcoming concert on Sunday, September 14th at 3:00 p.m. in the Leisure World Auditorium:

  • Wojciech Kocyan (piano) — F. Chopin: Bacarolle, op. 60
  • A. Ljman-Norris (mezzo-soprano) — S. Moniuszko, F. Chopin, M. Karłowicz: Arias and songs
  • Jakub Omsky (solo cello) — K. Penderecki: “For Slava”
  • W. Kardewicz (violin) with Reiko Israel (piano) — K. Szymanowski: “Zrodlo Aretuzy” Polonaise and H. Wienawski: Kujawiak
  • Jakub Omsky (solo cello) — L. Rozycki: Nocturn in f-sharp minor and F. Chopin: Nocturn in c-sharp minor and Polonaise Brillante
  • Wojciech Kocyan (piano) — F. Chopin: Waltz in E-flat Major and Polonaise in A-flat Major, op. 53

Tickets are $13 and $15. To make a reservation, please make a check to Polish Club of Leisure World and send it to:

811-Q Ronda Mendoza
Laguna Woods, CA 92653

For further information call Irena at (949) 206-9122

Birthday Celebration Of Piotr Lachert

The composer, pianist and pedagogue Piotr de Peslin Lachert turns 65 on September 5th this year. Originally a prive-winning concert pianist, Lachert has established a reputation as one of Europe’s foremost postmodern composers. Lachert is a self-taught composer and his first compositions were written in 1970. His music has been performed at countless contemporary music concerts and festivals. In 1982-84, he developed a computer-assisted composition system called “Letter Music”.A celebratory concert of Lachert’s music will be given on September 11th by the Gdansk Circle of Friends of Contemporary Music, featuring pianist Justyna Philipp. The concert will be at 7 p.m. at:Sala Koncertowa S 3ul. Grunwaldzka 18Gdansk, PolandVisit

New Book About Polish Galicia

There is a new book out by Jolanta T. Pekacz that has left many musicologists impressed. This book explores the role of music in developing the culture of Galicia — a part of the Polish Commonwealth which belonged to the Hapsburg Monarchy from the first partition of Poland in 1772 until the end of World War I. It gives a central place to the relation the people had with shared musical objects, knowledge and practices — both domestic and imported form cultural centers such as Vienna — and the ways in which music emphasized social cleavages, and provided individuals and groups with a national identity, sense of community, and social status.An analysis of the conditions of Galician society — its social structure and dynamics, political and economic status, and cultural level and aspirations — is followed by chapters on music as a commercial pursuit, as civic and moral pedagogy, as an expression of cultural identity, as communal experience, as status symbol, and as an expression of political attitudes of the Galicians. These themes illustrate the cultural use of music in Galician schools, theaters, musical societies, choirs, public concerts, and homes. The book explains how Galicia’s unique social and cultural ideals as well as economic and geographic realities allowed a special place for music in its development.Author Jolanta T. Pekacz is a professor of history at the University of Saskatchewan. She is the author of “Conservative Tradition in Pre-Revolutionary France: Parisian Salon Women” (1999) and co-editor of “Polonia in Alberta, 1895-1995″(1995).This book will be reviewed in the Winter edition of the 2003 Polish Music Journal.

Jazz And Chopin

The Los Angeles Times published an interesting article on August 20th, entitled “Speaking Chopin’s language” with the subtitle “Warsaw musicians find common ground between the composer’s poetic melodies and American jazz”. The article was written by Chicago Tribune arts critic Howard Reich.

Mr. Reich described the Second Chopiniana festival, subtitled “Frederic Chopin Days in Warsaw,” stating that it, “Reached its artistic peak with a ‘Chopin & Jazz’ concert that attracted capacity crowds and proved that even mazurkas and scherzos can swing freely.” He continued saying, “Better yet, Polish musicians — who since the Cold War have shown a profound affinity for American jazz techniques — transformed Chopin’s ineffably poetic melodies through deeply felt, intellectually rigorous improvisations. Playing at an internationally competitive level, Warsaw’s jazz artists somehow found common ground between Polish dance forms invented centuries ago and American jazz rhythms and blues-tinged scales that Chopin himself could not have anticipated… But for an American listener visiting Warsaw, the opportunity to hear so much of Chopin’s indelible piano music utterly re-imagined was often startling, if only because of how seamlessly the two musical languages came together.”

For anyone wanting to hear a good example of this, look back into the discography section of the June PMC Newsletter for a review of Leszek Mozdzer’s performance on OPUS 111 “Chopin: Tomorrow – Impressions.” This has fifteen Mazurkas, preludes, nocturnes and etudes all made-over in various up- to-date styles. The album was highly recommended.


Mu Phi Epsilon International Competition

Judges at the Mu Phi Epsilon International Competition unanimously awarded Polish cellist Marek Szpakiewicz the First Prize at the 100th anniversary convention in Cincinnati. Congratulations to the Mr. Szpakiewicz, President of the USC chapter of Mu Phi Epsilon! For more information on Mr. Szpakiewicz and the competition, see article in the News section above.

Ochlewski Composition Competition

A first place of the Tadeusz Ochlewski Composition Competition has granted for “Wariacje na temat pewnego odrodzenia” — a composition by Paula Stach. Another distinction was granted to Alina Blonska for “Wołanie o ciszę”. The subject of the 2003 competition was a composition for clarinet solo.The prizes for first place and the distinction will include publication of both works in “An Anthology of Contemporary Music” as well as material prizes. Additionally both of compositions will be presented during the “Warsaw Autumn” and “A Theme with Variations”.The subject of the competition in 2004 will be a composition for solo classical guitar.

Internet News

Polish Folk Music Site

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

Web Site Of American Polish Advisory Council

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

California Events on PAC Site

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


Warsaw Autumn

Warsaw, September 19th – 27th 2003

The Warsaw Autumn (Warszawska Jesień) is a festival with a long history, an enormous tradition, and can be called a witness to history. It is the only festival in Poland on an international scale and with an international status, dedicated to contemporary music. For many years, it was the only event of this kind in Central and Eastern Europe. It is a major venue for the premier and exposure of new music, both Polish and international. The Festival is organized by the Polish Composers’ Union (Zwiazek Kompozytorów Polskich). The Repertoire Committee, which is in turn appointed by the Board of the Union, determines the program of each particular festival. This year, the festival will take place for the 46th time.To read more about the festival’s history, read Wanda Wilk’s account below.

For more information, contact:

Warsaw Autumn Festival Office
Rynek Starego Miasta 27
00–272 Warszawa, Polska
Tel. (+48 22) 635 91 38 or (+48 22) 831 16 34 ext. 32
Tel./fax: (+48 22) 831 06 07

Usedom Festival

Usedom Island, Denmark, September 28th – October 11th 2003

Polish music, both well-known and rare, has been chosen as the theme for the annual Usedom Music Festival. Go to the Festival website for more information on this amazing program.

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


Chopin In England And Canada

Chopin’s Sonata was performed by William Fong (at left) at the Summer Music Festival in Cambridge, England on August 7th and Peter Jablonski of Sweden played Chopin’s Polonaise in c-minor and three mazurkas at the Oxford Philomusica International Music Festival in Oxford on August 5th, while cellist Myung-Wha Chung and pianist Choong-Ma Kang performed Chopin in Vancouver.

Penderecki’s 70th Birthday Celebrated

Penderecki’s String Quartet was performed twice at the Festival of the Sound in Ontario, Canada, once by the Penderecki Quartet and once by the Gryphon Trio.Penderecki’s “Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima” was played by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra under James Judd at Christchurch Town Hall on August 15th.Music of Penderecki scheduled for the BBC Proms and heard live on BBC Radio 3, along with Stravinsky’s arrangement of Chopin’s Nocturne in Ab and the Grande Valse brillante, Op. 18 and Lutosławski’s String Quartet performed by the Karol Szymanowski Quartet live from the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Lutosławski At Tanglewood

The Boston Symphony Chamber Players conducted by Ludovic Morlot performed Lutosławski’s “Chain 1” at the Tanglewood Festival.

The Bard Festival

Leon Botstein, long-time aficionado of Szymanowski’s music, presented several Szymanowski works during the “Summerscape” Bard Festival that was devoted to the music of Janacek this year. Audiences heard Szymanowski’s “Mythes” and “Stabat Mater.” Botstein conducted the New York Virtuoso Singers (Harold Rosenbaum, music director) and the Festival Orchestra in an original Polish version of the 20th century choral masterpiece. Timothy Fain was the violinist in the earlier program.This festival was presented by the Great Performers Series at Lincoln Center at Annondale-on-Hudson, N.Y.. Look up for more information on these concerts, on the composer and on comments made by conductors Sir Simon Rattle and Charles Dutoit who have recorded his music.

Calendar of Events

SEPT 2 and 11: Performances of Kilar’s September Symphony by the Warsaw National Philharmonic, Antoni Wit cond. As part of the Music Festival of the European Union.

SEPT 13: Turnau & Sikorowski: two great Polish artists give a recital in Polish. Grzegorz Turnau is a composer, pianist, vocalist and poet. Andrzej Sikorowski is a composer, vocalist and poet. 5:30 p.m., Magicopolis Theatre, 1418 4th Street, Santa Monica. Tickets: $20.00 (cash only) – 45 min. before the performance. Reservations: 310/442-8500 ext. 109

SEPT 14: The Polish Club of Leisure World Laguna Woods, “Famous Polish Composers”. 3:00 p.m. For more information see above or call Irena at (949) 206-9122.

SEPT 19-27: “Warsaw Autumn” International Festival of Contemporary Music. See below.

SEPT 21: San Jose Polish Festival. Will run from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm. 10250 Clayton Road (South of Story Road), San Jose, CA 95127.


by Wanda Wilk

A feature article written by Martin Anderson on the Polish CD label Dux appeared in the latest issue of Fanfare magazine. The author gives a short history on the firm’s founding eleven years ago (when socialism ended in Poland) by sound engineers Malgorzata Polanska and Lech Tolwinski. They are now the largest in Poland (Accord and Acte Prealable are the others), having a catalog of over 300 recordings.

The article is an interview with Aleksandra Kitka-Coutellier, in charge of international relations for Dux, who lives in Paris. She says the company feels, “A mission to promote Polish music and Polish artists. Also we see that distributors and music journalists outside Poland think: ‘Polish label, Polish music’ — which is not surprising…We know all artists want to play world repertoire — that’s normal — but now we try to convince the artist that he should record Polish music, because it is more interesting for music-lovers all round the world. We think it is time to discover the entire great Polish-music repertoire — including some composers who are not so well known at the moment.”In these difficult times when the classical record business is on its way down, the fact the Dux is specializing in Polish music seems to help with sales abroad. For, according to Aleksandra, “some distributors won’t take anything that isn’t Polish music.”In doing so, Dux is helping young talented Polish artists to gain world-wide renown. Take, for instance, Urszula Krygier, winner of the First Stanislaw Moniuszko International Voice Competition, who recorded Karlowicz and Szymanowski songs on Dux 0361 and a Moniuszko recital on 0361. This led to a recent recording of Chopin songs on Hyperion and Dux. Another example is that of Polish-Russian young prodigy, fifteen-year old Stanislaw Drzewiecki, who signed a contract with Sony after recording his first three with Dux. They are now helping young pianists like Hubert Salwarowski and Wojciech Kocyan, the cellist Dominik Polonski and young quartets like the Royal String Quartet and DAFO Quartet.”They have also recorded Paderewski’s opera, “Manru,” but are short of funds to complete the project. It is part of a larger Paderewski project with already five releases strong: piano music on 0270 and 0328, music for violin and piano on 0363, and “Polonia” Symphony on 0304 and Paderewski recordings on Welte Mignon piano rolls on Dux 0324/0325.In spite of the many obstacles revealed in the article, “Dux has managed to assemble a strikingly rich catalog.” Their newest project, for which they need money, is “12 CDs of Polish early music, from the Middle Ages until the Baroque — not known at all, but very beautiful. It shows that at this time Poland was a very important country, because very good musicians from Italy, France, and so on, were going to Poland to work there and, of course, they influenced Polish music. The music is already recorded.”Let us not only wish them well, but let’s keep adding Dux CDs to our personal collections, for they are real treasures of Polish music. Several Dux CDs won the “Fryderyk” awards for 2002: Album of the Year for chamber music (Paderewski works for violin and piano), for vocal music (Karlowicz and Szymanowski songs by Urszula Krygier), for contemporary music (Music by Baird, Knapik, Meyer, Penderecki and Zielinski by Quartet Dafo) and Early Music (Bach).

Also remember, the other two Polish labels Accord and Acte Prealable, especially the latter, specialize in premiere recordings of music by Polish composers. So, look them up, too. After all, it’s supply and demand that brings out success!

Fanfare Reviews

Recordings Reviewed in Fanfare Sep/Oct 2003 Edition:

EMI 74959 2
Chopin: Piano Concertos No. 1 & 2.
Alexis Weissenberg, p. Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, cond.

This is a reissue of EMI’s “Classic Recordings” series. Recorded in 1967 after the pianist returned from a 10-year sabbatical from playing. Michael Ullman recommends this reissue, saying, “Surely Weissenberg deserves to be considered in this company” (meaning Clibrun, Pollini, Pires, Ashkenazy and Zimerman). He has a big sound and big heart, splendid technique and an unforced, unmannered delivery.” He concludes with, “This is an excellent reissue of playing by a pianist many listeners adore.”


DG 471 479-2
Chopin: Piano Sonata No. 3, Andante spianato & Grande Polonaise brillante, Etudes, Nocturnes and Impromptu.
Yundi Li, piano.

Michael Ullman reviews this disc favorably — praising the young Chinese pianist’s techniques and distinct interpretive skills. He foresees an “important career” for this 19-year old winner of the Warsaw Chopin Competition.

Orchestral Compilation

Lutosławski: Mi-Parti, Meyer: Mass, Penderecki: Concerto grosso for 3 cellos and orchestra. Ivan Monighetti, vc; Adam Klocek, vc; Kazimierz Koslacz, vc. Antoni Wit, cond. Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra & Chorus.

Music critic Raymond S. Tuttle highly recommends this CD, which is a, “Fine tribute to decades of dedication from conductor Wit and Polish musicians with thom he has worked… His Lutoslawski and Messian discs for Naxos are outstanding, too… The engineers have captured the sound of the musicians and their performing space beautifully. Recommended!”

By the way, this CD won a “Fryderyk” award for best recording of Polish music for 2002.

Moniuszko Songs

DUX 0362
Moniuszko: Songs. Urszula Krygier, mezzo, Katarzyna Jankowska, p.

Raymond Beegle finds this recording “a labor of love” performed on a “piano of remarkable beauty and lustrous sound engineering.” He describes the soloist: “Mezzo-soprano Urszula Kryger sings with a silver, lyric timbre and shapes her phrases gracefully. She also exhibits great skill in bringing to bear the generally dramatic ardor fo the words without overstepping the more lyric boundaries of the music.” He praises the “two gifted artists” for their fine collaboration.This recording was previously reviewed in the June Newsletter, where it was stronglyrecommended by the American Record Guide. This is the CD that won the Fryderyk Award for best album of the year in the vocal category!

Penderecki: Violin Concertos 1& 2

Naxos 8. 555265
Penderecki: Violin Concertos 1 & 2. Konstanty Kulka, violin, Chee-Yun, violin.
Polish Radio Symphony, Antoni Wit, cond.

According to Raymond Tuttle, this is volume 4 of the Naxos series of Penderecki’s orchestral works, which “for completists” makes it a must have CD. He also believes that it is the only CD that pairs the two concertos together. He compares the present performances with earlier ones of violinist Kulka and of Isaac Stern (for whom the first concerto was written), Sophie Mutter (to whom the Second was dedicated) and Christiane Edlinger. He thinks Kulka did a better job on this one, but prefers Mutter on the Second concerto.

Last month I wrote about Allen Gimbel’s review for American Record Guide of this same disc. He also compared it with other recordings and concluded that, “these are essential contributions” but one needs, “to mix and match the performers for now.”

Fanfare Review Of Chopin

Appian ADD 5624
Chopin: Simon Barere, Carnegie Hall, Volume Four: 1949.

According to Barry Brenesal of Fanfare, this is a re-issue of performances by a pianist with extraordinary technical skills. Simon Barrere was a, “Firebrand at the keyboard for whom merely technical problems ceased to exist, and the technique itself became a major concert draw… This disc shows both extremes, especially high speeds which brings out muddled phrasing… Chopin becomes a lovely thing of singing tone and broad but delicate gestures…he does a superb job floating the end theme in the polonaise.”

Friedman Does Chopin

Naxos 8.110690
Ignaz Friedman: Complete Recordings, Volume 3

The Polish pianist (1882-1948) has been described as one of the most “unusual and original pianist of the 20th century” by Harold C. Schonberg, who found him, “a force — sometimes erratic, but always full of imagination and daring.” He was, “A true child of the late romantic age and, especially in the Chopin, his rhythms, accents and volcanic approach are apt to unsettle conservative listeners.”

In Fanfare’s latest issue, music critic Patrick Meanor hears Friedman’s playing for the first time and is completely astounded by it. Of all of Chopin’s works, the mazurkas are Meanor’s favorites. They make him want to dance around the room. In the past he enjoyed and, “was enamored with Arthur Rubinstein’s, Ivan Moravec’s, Witold Malcuzynski’s and Guiomar Novae’s ways with them,” but now he is completely sold on this pianist. Friedman was never satisfied with his performances and this disc “gives an alternate version of the popular Op. 40/1, a mazurka Friedman recorded nine times before he was satisfied.” Although, “few pianists can play Chopin with the undeniable form of Rubinstein,” it takes a release like this one, “to remind us that there were other ways of tapping into that composer’s melodic riches.”

Fanfare Review Of Sapieyevski

Crystal CD 647
Sapieyevski: Concerto for viola and winds.
Also Holst, Plug & Kohn.
Jamaes Dunham (va), Westwood Wind Qnt, Timm Boatman (perc.), Jack Sanders (gtr).

Polish-born Jerzy Sapieyevski (b. 1945) has been living and teaching in the U.S. for over 20 years now. However, William Zagorski writes in Fanfare that: “He evokes the spirit of the great flowering of the Polish avant-garde back in the 1960s that would bring such composers as Lutoslawski and Penderecki to the fore. In its rhetorical thrust and incipient lyricism, however, it is more akin to Thaddeus Baird and Andrzej Panufnik than to those aforementioned giants. The percussion writing is subtle and largely coloristic — the main musical discourse is entrusted to the viola and winds.”

World Premiere Recordings From Acte Prealable

Almost all of this company’s catalog of over 100 discs, is a world premiere recording, for Mr. Jan Jarnicki specializes in presenting rare and unknown works that deserve to be known. The newest ones are:

AP 0093 – Marian Sawa’s (b. 1937) Organ Works IV with Joachim Grubich and Jan Bokszczanin as soloists.
AP O096 – “Gaude Mater” Festival I-IV.
AP O100 – XXIst Century Polish Choral Music.
AP O091/92 – Roman Berger (b. 1930): “Exodus” for organ, “Adagio” for violin and piano.
AP 0085/86 – Nowowiejski (1877-1946). Piano Works. Magdalena Adamek, p.

Wedding Music

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

A new album “Polish-American Wedding Music” has just been released and can be purchased from Chet Schafer Productions, P.O. Box 41452, Chicago, IL 60641 for $16 postpaid. The weekly “Straz” informs us that, “Chicago Polkas has compiled twenty such wedding tunes in their newest CD. It contains the greeting of music at the home of the bride in the morning, to the last strains of the haunting waltz at the very end of the reception.” Here you will find the very popular big hits, “Twelve Angels” by Mattie Madura, “Tatusiu” by the Little Polish Girl, as well as instrumentals like “Polish Wedding Marches” by Big Daddy Lackowski and songs like “I Love You Truly” and “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” in Polish and English by Li’l Richard.

Tadeusz Wronski — Father Of Detroit Opera

by Joseph A. Herter

Bass Tadeusz (Thaddeus) Wronski was born in Piotrków, Poland, in 1887. He studied singing in Warsaw, Milan, and Paris with such singers as Massini, Woluszki, Edouard and Jean De Reszke, Pintorno, Fratini, Gualandi and Caplet. His operatic debut was as Lodovico in Verdi’s Othello in Bagnacavallo, Italy, in 1910.1 [1. Obituary. The Detroit News, June 1, 1965, p. 9C.] Before moving in 1913 to the USA, where he was engaged as a soloist with the Boston Opera Company, he had sung in the opera houses of Paris, Venice, Milan, St. Petersburg and Warsaw.

During World War I, he was active in helping Ignacy Jan Paderewski support the Polish cause of independence and raising money for Polish relief work, including benefit concerts with his compatriot Zygmunt (Sigismond) Stojowski, a well known Polish composer and pianist who lived in New York.2 [2. Wronski was also the best man at Stojowski’s wedding to Luisa Morales-Macedo at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in New York on October 2, 1918. Programs with Stojowski and Wronski of WWI vintage as well as a joint appearance at Detroit’s Orchestra Hall during the 1920’s can be found in the Zygmunt and Louisa Stojowski Collection at the Polish Music Center of USC.] Also during the Great War, Wronski became a musical director for the Columbia Gramophone Co. and not only recorded for them but was in charge of the production of its foreign records as well.

In the autumn of 1921, Wronski moved to Detroit, where he became “the city’s patron saint of the civic opera”3 [3. Wardel, Garner. “Wronski Leaves for West to Launch New Career”. The Detroit News, June 1, 1939, p. 1.] and “founder of Detroit opera.”4 [4. McLauchlin, Russell. “Thaddeus Wronski Back, Looking Fit as a Fiddle”. The Detroit News, August 29, 1934.] He lived with his wife Mary Joanna and son Conrad at 445 Ferry Avenue West for many years. He began his career in Detroit as a teacher, but he had the intention of founding a civic opera company from the outset of stay in Detroit. The year 1923 saw his first attempt in that direction by directing a summer open-air production of Verdi’s Aida at the University of Detroit stadium (Dinan Field). Unfortunately, the 90-degree temperature caused both the performers and audience to bake and broil, and the orchestra was almost inaudible.5 [5. Anon. “‘It Couldn’t Be Done’ But Wronski Did It”. The Detroit News, March 29, 1930.] It was a discouraging start. A few years later in 1928, however, his successful productions of summer opera with the Detroit Municipal Opera Company at the Michigan State Fair grounds caused him to win the financial support of both the Detroit Board of Commerce and the City Fathers to create an opera company that would present staged productions at Orchestra Hall. In 1929, Wronski founded the Detroit Civic Light Opera and became its administrative director as well as the conductor of the company’s opera chorus.

Wronski’s 1930 production of Aida caused quite the sensation for its day because of its use of black American singers in the cast. The Detroit press reported:

One striking feature in the scene is a group of 14 Negroes, who enter as captiveEthiopians. As far as can be ascertained, this is the first time in America thatthe Ethiopians have been impersonated by singers of the authentic pigmentation. Andtheir Italian is perfectly pure and their voices uncommonly sweet. They add a picturesqueand realistic note.6 [6. Anon. “One Man Show is Wronski, In Training Opera Chorus”.The Detroit News, March 18, 1930.]

This production certainly helped pave the way for a Detroit all-black production of Aida that took place during the 1938-39 concert season by The Detroit Negro Opera Company. This production consisted of a black cast and ballet of 175 performers. Only the conductor was white.7 [7. The Etude, July 1939, p. 426.]

Wronski directed the Detroit Civic Light Opera for many successful seasons and was also the executive director of the Detroit Civic Opera Society for seven years until it was disbanded during the first half of 1939. On June 1, 1939, Wronski moved with his family to Los Angeles, California, where he hoped to advance his unique idea of producing phonographic records to provide accompaniments to vocal exercises and songs.8 [8. Wardel.] Today, this “unique” idea is commonly known among music circles as the Music Minus One recordings. This forgotten musician of the Detroit Polonia, who not only played an important role in the life of opera in that industrial city but also in the history of the musical recording industry, died in San Diego on May 24, 1965.9 [9. Notification of death card found in the Wronski File at the Burton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Library.]

History of the “Warsaw Autumn” Festival

by Wanda Wilk

The 46th International Festival of Contemporary Music, known as the “Warsaw Autumn Festival” will be held from Sep 19th to the 27th this year. It will open on Friday night with Henryk Mikolaj Gorecki’s “Canticum graduum” performed by the National Philharmonic Orchestra of Polish Radio conducted by Gabriel Chmura and closed on Saturday, the 27th, with the Polish premiere of Russian composer Sofia Gubaidulina’s “St. John’s Passion” performed by the Warsaw Philharmonic National Orchestra conducted by Antoni Wit.

There will be twenty-three world premieres of music by composers from all over the world, eight of them Polish: Bargielski, Gryka, Knapik, Knittel, Kotonski, Krauze, Mamczarski and Schaeffer. Polish composer Hanna Kulenty, who lives in Holland, will have the distinction of having not one, but two of her compositions performed — the Trumpet Concerto (a composition which recently received the First Prize at the UNESCO Rostrum of Composers) performed by soloist Marco Blaauw with the Sinfonia Varsovia and the Polish premiere of “Elfen” by the De Ereprijs Ensemble.

Soloists, chamber music ensembles and conductors from many countries will join Polish forces for the 23 concerts that are scheduled for the two or three times daily programs. In addition to the three orchestras mentioned above, other ensembles include: the Silesian String Quartet, Osterreichisches Ensemble fur Neue Musik (Vladimir Kiradjiev, conductor), Ensemble Musiques (Jean-Paul Dessy, cond.), Sonora (electroacoustic music -Fabio Cifariello, sound engineer), Court-Circuit Ensemble (Pierre-Andre Valade, cond.), Walter Verdehr Trio, Werner Raditschnig String-Art, New Music Orchestra (Szymon Bywalec, cond.), Offspring Ensemble, Polish-German Youth Ensemble (Rudiger Bohn, cond.), Slavko Osterc Trio, De Ereprijs Ensemble, Musik Fabrik Ensemble, Elgoritmo Ensemble (mrco Angius, cond.), Cardinal Wyszynski University Choir, and the Warsaw Philharmonic Choir.

One of the concerts will feature the “new generation” of Polish composers, who are: Marcin Bortnowski, Cezary Duchnowski, Adam Falkiewicz, Aleksandra Gryka, Pawel Mykietyn, Michal Talma-Sutt and Ewa Trebacz. The only familiar name to me is Mykietyn. I look forward to hearing the music of this new generation of composers soon, hopefully.

There will also be a composer’s portrait of Zbigniew Bujarski and two new book introductions: Stravinsky. His Thoughts and Music by Alicja Jarzebska and Krzysztof Meyer by Danuta Gwizdalanka.

The concerts will be held in various venues: the National Philharmonic Concert Hall, Royal Castle, Chopin Academy of Music, Otwocka Street Arts Centre, Lutosławski Polish Radio Concert Studio, Center for Contemporary Art – Ujazdowski Castle, Rozmaitosci Theatre, and the Mazovian Center of Culture and Art.

The first Warsaw Autumn festival was held in 1956 and was the “brainchild of composers Tadeusz Baird and Kazimierz Serocki,” as told by British musicologist Adrian Thomas in the second monograph of the Polish Music History Series, devoted to Polish composer Grazyna Bacewicz. At the very beginning of this book Dr. Thomas gives a historical perspective of Polish music and writes in 1985, “No history of the past three decades of Polish music is complete without considering the decisive role played by the annual Warszawska Jesien (Warsaw Autumn).” In this chapter he writes that “Polish composers, including Dobrowolski, Kotonski and Serocki” attended the summer course at Darmstadt, where they first heard the music of their contemporaries, Berio, Nono and Stockhausen. Subsequent visit to Poland by these contemporaries, and performances of their works during the following Warsaw Autumn festivals, combined with Polish premieres of pre-war compositions by Varese and Webern, shook audiences, performers and composers to their roots. By the time of the fourth Warsaw Autumn in 1960, Polish music was unrecognizable.”

Yes, Poland had been isolated from the world because of World War II and its subsequent domination by the Soviet Union and resulting “government coercion on Polish composers” to compose music that should relate to society. The Soviet concept of the folk-style “mass song” was introduced into Poland in 1947 along with the grander “cantata.” According to Professor Thomas, “There were even some who during the darkest years saw fit to turn their hand to setting sycophantic odes to Stalin.” The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts encouraged “realism” and “formalism.” Music that was abstract was taboo. The late Witold Lutoslawski’s First Symphony was one of the first victims of this censure. Even as late as the 1980s Lutoslawski’s name was not permitted to be published in Russia, as musicologist Irena Nikolska told me during one of my visits to Poland at the time.

Dr. Thomas concluded his chapter with, “The Festival was now an even match between the most recent avant-garde music from Western Europe and America and the daring experimentation of the new generation of Polish composers represented by Henryk Mikolaj Górecki (b. 1933), Krzysztof Penderecki (b. 1933) and Boguslaw Schaeffer (b. 1929). The parallel development of the middle generation of composers, such as Baird, Kotonski and Serocki, and of composers whose careers had begun before World War II, such as Lutoslawski, has been one of the most radical transformations in twentieth-century music.”

If you would like to know more about the history and difficulties encountered by Polish composers during their annual programming of the Warsaw Autumn during the Soviet domination of Poland, you should read the prize-winning essay by Cindy Bylander entitled, “Music and Politics in Poland: The Warsaw Autumn Festival (1956-1961). You can find it on the Polish Music Center website under Essays.

Some of you may also want to read Dr. Adrian Thomas’ book Górecki, published by Oxford University Press, which won the 2002 Wilk Prize for Research in Polish Music. This should be available from any reputable book store.

For a full schedule of events for each day, log on to the Warsaw Autumn website.


Born This Month

  • 1 September 1900 – Kazimierz WILKOMIRSKI, cellist, conductor, teacher (died in 1990)
  • 5 September 1924 – Krystyna MOSZUMAŃSKA-NAZAR, composer (see her Pageat PMC)
  • 5 September 1938 – Piotr LACHERT, pianist, composer, pedagogue
  • 6 September 1916 – Tadeusz DOBRZANSKI, composer and conductor
  • 7 September 1943 – Elżbieta STEFAŃSKA, harpsichordist
  • 9 September 1921 – Andrzej DOBROWOLSKI, composer (died in 1989)
  • 9 September 1923 – Andrzej BACHLEDA, tenor
  • 13 September 1896 – Tadeusz SZELIGOWSKI (died 10 January 1963), composer
  • 14 September 1937 – Jan ASTRIAB, composer
  • 14 September 1914 – Michal SPISAK, composer (died 29 January 1965, Paris)
  • 16 September 1895 – Karol RATHAUS, composer, pianist (died 21 November 1954, New York)
  • 16 September 1891 – Czeslaw MAREK, composer, pianist
  • 18 September 1919 – Edward BURY, composer and theory teacher
  • 18 September 1928 – Adam WALACINSKI, composer and music critic
  • 18 September 1883 – Ludomir RÓŻYCKI (died 1 January 1953), composer
  • 19 September 1938 – Zygmunt KRAUZE, composer and pianist (see his Page at PMC)
  • 22 September 1940 – Edward BOGUSLAWSKI, composer
  • 23 September 1912 – Irena PFEIFFER, composer, conductor.
  • 24 September 1914 – Andrzej PANUFNIK (died 27 October 1991), composer (see his Page at PMC)
  • 30 September 1942 – Andrzej DUTKIEWICZ, pianist and composer
  • 30 September 1947 – Jan OLESZKOWICZ, composer


Died This Month

  • 13 September 1977 – Leopold STOKOWSKI (born 18 April 1882), conductor and composer
  • 15 September 1895 – Jan KLECZYNSKI (b. 8 June 1857), pianist and music critic
  • 15 September 1944 – Bronislaw WOLFSTAHL, composer, pianist, conductor (b. 22 July 1883)
  • 18 September 1857 – Karol KURPINSKI (b. 6 March 1785), composer and conductor (see his Page at PMC)
  • 26 September 1944 – Seweryn BARBAG (b. 4 September 1891), musicologist.
  • 29 September 1954 – Alfred GRADSTEIN (born 30 October 1904), composer, and social activist
  • 27 September 1943 – Wacław GIEBUROWSKI (born 6 February 1878), priest, choral conductor and musicologist
  • 28 September 1939 – Halina SZMOLC-FITELBERG (born 25 December 1892), dancer (Diaghilev ensemble, Grand Theatre)
  • 28 September 1956 – Walerian BIERDAJEW, conductor and teacher (b. 7 March 1885)
  • 29 September 1861 – Tekla BADARZEWSKA-BARANOWSKA (b. 1834), composer of “The Maiden’s Prayer”