Polish Music Center Newsletter Vol. 10, no. 4
The Polish Music Center is planning to move into new facilities during the next few months. Please be aware that there might be some disruption in activities as well as slower response times to emails and inquiries. Thank you for your understanding and your continued support of our Center!
When Krzysztof Penderecki’s Violin Concerto No.2, most commonly known by its original German plural name, Metamorphosen, was first performed in Leipzig in 1995, it represented a kind of culmination in one of many distinct phases in a musical life that has from the beginning been extraordinarily prolific, demonstrated startling virtuosity, taken surprising twists and turns, been widely celebrated, criticized, and honored, and proved to be remarkably durable. As composer, conductor, and teacher all in one, Penderecki has few peers today or even in the history of music.
Born 1933 in Debica, a village east of Cracow, his father a lawyer and enthusiastic violin player, young Krzysztof was given violin and piano lessons from an early age. Admitted to the Cracow Conservatory at 18, he simultaneously studied philosophy, art history, and literature at Jagiellonian University. From 1954 he studied composition at Cracow’s State Academy of Music, and in 1959, then a still-unknown 28-year-old assistant professor there, he submitted under different pseudonyms three compositions to the Composers’ Union’s second annual Warsaw Competition of Young Polish Composers, and won the first, second and third prizes. Other works that followed in rapid succession immediately put Penderecki at the forefront of the avant-garde with a passionate radical humanism expressed through his highly experimental and expressionistic use of sound that threw the academic rules out the window, as in Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima, 1960, still perhaps his most widely known and frequently performed piece.
A second phase followed—one of “consolidation” (as explained, for example, by Wolfram Schwinger)—in which Penderecki integrated the experimental and the traditional, as in his Passion According to St. Luke, 1966, considered by many to be his masterpiece, drawing upon both Gregorian chant and twelve-tone technique.
In the mid-seventies Penderecki suddenly gave up his avant-garde interests in favor of the more traditional tonal language of the late 19th and early 20th century, moving toward a contemporary neo-Romanticism, as in his first Violin Concerto (1976-77), until yet a fourth phase was introduced in 1982 with his second Viola Concerto, in which he re-introduced to his romantic idiom the once-shocking musical effects of his early experimental period, thereafter proceeding to experiment even further. It was in this newly fertile period, two decades after the first Violin Concerto, that he composed between 1992 and 1995 the Metamorphosen, his Violin Concerto No.2, commissioned by the Mitteldeutsche Rundfunk, Leipzig, and dedicated to the First Violinist at its 1995 premiere in Leipzig, Anne-Sophie Mutter. On that occasion the piece, with Penderecki’s characteristic symphonic variations upon a single theme, ran 37 minutes. More recent compositions include a Piano Concerto commissioned by and performed at Carnegie Hall in 2002.
Mr. Penderecki also established a reputation as a musical dramatist with four highly successful operas between 1969 and 1991—The Devils of Loudon (based on the book by Aldous Huxley), Paradise Lost (from John Milton), The Black Mask (from a play by Gerhardt Hauptmann), and Ubu Roi (from the play by Alfred Jarry). Like other leading composers of our century, Penderecki has also built an international reputation as a conductor, appearing with the leading symphony orchestras of Europe and America, including the New York Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra, among many others. He also holds permanent posts as principal guest conductor of the NDR Orchestra in Hamburg and music director of the Casals Festival in Puerto Rico.
While director of his alma mater, the Cracow Academy of Music, from 1972 to 1979, Penderecki had also managed to teach at Yale University from 1973 to 1978, and has since held teaching posts throughout Europe and the U.S. He has received most of the world’s most distinguished awards for composition, as well as a Grammy Award and two Emmies. He has received honorary doctorates, memberships, and professorships from numerous universities and national academies of music, from Stockholm to Buenos Aires, from Beijing to Pittsburgh.
1-3 April, 2004—New York Philharmonic
Violin Concerto No.2, Metamorphosen
Lorin Maazel, Conductor
Julian Rachlin, Violin (Debut)
Chołoniewski Premiere at LACMA
Since 1987, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art has hosted contemporary music ensembles for cutting-edge performances of new music and creative residencies. This year, LACMA is hosting XTET and The California EAR Unit. The California EAR Unit, in its 17th year of residency, brings much talent and skill to its unique performance persona, with programs that are adventurous, explorative, and often theatrical.
On April 7th, The EAR Unit will give a concert entitled “Gone Global”. The program will include a world premiere from Polish “audio artist” Marek Chołoniewski, who creates new sound forms with elements of performance and computerized visual arts. Born in 1953 in Krakow, Marek Chołoniewski studied organ, theory of music and composition at the Krakow Academy of Music, where since 1976, has been employed on the faculty of the Electro-acoustic Music Studio (currently as the Director). In 1977 he founded the Cracow Society of Contemporary Music, Muzyka Centrum, largely engaged in concert work. In 1986 together with Krzysztof Knittel and Piotr Bikont, M.Ch. co-founded Freight Train, a jazz-rock multimedia contemporary band. He is founder of Studio MCH, co-founder of: the Studio CH&K (together with Krzysztof Knittel); doubleMark duo (with Mark Polishook); CH&K&K group (together with Krzysztof Knittel and Wlodzimierz Kiniorski); and mc2 duo (together with Marcel Chyrzynski), which deals with concert and recording activities. Since 1987 he has been giving concerts, workshops and lectures in Europe, USA, Canada and South Korea. In addition, in 1986, he founded his own annual International Concert Series called “Audio Art”, which is now the Audio Art Festival and presents the most important artists and achievements in “sound art” from all over the world. He is initiator and artistic director of International Workshops for New Music Cracow/Stuttgart (together with Matthias Hermann) and from 1993-1999 was an artistic director of the International Academy for New Composition and Audio Art in Schwaz (Austria).
EAR Institute: Gone Global
April 7th at 8:00 pm
Leo S. Bing Theater at LACMA East
Tickets: $18 General public, $14 LACMA members + seniors,
$10 Music Programs contributors, Students FREE.
Tickets may be purchased by phone, 323-857-6010, or by mail
(see LACMA website for details).
Kosciuszko Chopin Piano Competition
Preliminaries: 1-2 April, Kosciuszko Foundation House
Finals: 3 April, Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall
The Kosciuszko Foundation Chopin Piano Competition was established in 1949, in honor of the hundredth anniversary of the death of Frederic Chopin. The inauguration took place at the Kosciuszko Foundation House in New York City, with Witold Malcuzynski as guest artist, and Abram Chasins, composer and music director of the New York Times Radio Stations, presiding. Over the years, many outstanding musicians have been associated with the Competition including Van Cliburn, Ian Hobson, and Murray Perahia. Today the Kosciuszko Foundation Chopin Competition continues to encourage gifted young pianists to further their studies, and to perform the works of Polish composers.
The 55th Kosciuszko Foundation Chopin Piano Competition will take place April 1-3, 2004. Preliminaries will be held Thursday and Friday, April 1 and 2, beginning at 10 am at the Foundation House (15 E. 65th Street, between 5th and Madison). Finals take place at Weill Recital Hall of Carnegie Hall, on Saturday, April 3, beginning at 1:30 PM. No tickets are required for the Preliminaries; for the Weill Hall Finals, $15 tickets are available through CarnegieCharge (212-247-7800). For more information, visit the Kosciuszko Foundation website.
Penderecki Conference – Call For Papers
Krzysztof Penderecki, one of the most respected and often-performed composers of our time, recently celebrated his 70th birthday. There has not been a symposium in the United States which has been devoted to a study of his works, though there have been many such symposia in Europe, especially during the last two decades. In order to fill in this gap in American studies of current music, a conference, American Perspectives on Penderecki, will be offered at the Houston Baptist University in Southwest Houston, TX on 22-23 October 2004.
Coordinators of the conference are: Dr. Ray Robinson, Distinguished Professor, Palm Beach Atlantic University; Dr. Ann Gebuhr, Professor of Theory and Composition, Houston Baptist University; Dr. Robert Hatten, Professor of Theory, Indiana University; Dr. Cindy Bylander, Musicologist, San Antonio, Texas.
Papers on any aspect of Penderecki’s music are invited for consideration for presentation at the conference. The papers should be no more than 30 minutes in length including audio or video examples (10-12 pages of text without examples, 12 pt. font, double spaced). Full capabilities for multimedia presentations are available (Powerpoint, video, stereo audio, slides, overhead projector, piano).
Please submit a 300-500 word abstract in Microsoft Word format by email to Dr. Ray Robinson at the following address:RAY_ROBINSON@pba.edu. Include a short (75-100 word) biography with the abstract. The deadline is 1 July 2004. Papers for presentation will be announced by 15 August 2004.
Irena Poniatowska At 70
One of Poland’s most outstanding and illustrious musicologists Irena Poniatowska celebrated her 70th birthday and retirement from the musicology department of Warsaw University on Friday, March 5, 2004. A special celebration marking this event took place in the beautiful Sala Lustrzana of the Tyszkiewicz-Potocki Palace on the university’s main campus at Krakowskie Przedmieście St. Over 150 people attended the ceremony, including guests from all parts of Poland as well as from abroad.
For the past 40 years Ms Poniatowska has had an international influence on musical research with the six books and over 200 articles that she has written. She was hailed as an Ambassador of Chopin’s music throughout the world and it was pointed out that she collaborates with the International Chopin Federation (an organization of 42 worldwide Chopin Societies). She also is one of the founders of the Frederic Chopin National Institute and the current president of the Polish Chopin Academy. As fate would have it, she was born on Chopin’s name-day, the feast of St. Frederic, and following the speeches given in Ms Poniatowska’s honor, the famous pianist Janusz Olejniczak presented a short Chopin piano recital.
There were two other highlights of the celebration. One was the Ministry of Culture’s awarding her the medal “Zasłuźony dla Kultury Polskiej” [Meritorious Award for Promoting Polish Culture]. The other was the presentation of a commemorative book entitled Muzyka wobec tradycji [Music in the Face of Tradition], written in honor of Ms. Poniatowska’s 70th birthday and dedicated to her. The book is a very large collection of articles written by Poniatowska’s colleagues and former students and edited by Szymon Paczkowski. The book is published by the Musicology Institute of Warsaw University.
Described by one colleague as a “musical volcano,” Ms Poniatowska has no intention of becoming dormant during her retirement. If she follows in the footsteps of her spry and alert 90-year-old mother, who was also present at the celebration (pictured at right), she will indeed have many more years ahead of her. In her speech to the invited guests, Poniatowska jokingly referred to Poland’s joining the European Union, and stated that as of May 1 she will no longer be 70 years old, but merely “48 with 22% VAT.” Pani Irena, Ad multos annos! Sto lat!
Penderecki Quartet In LA
For three performances this month, the Penderecki String Quartet will perform a Spring Festival of Bartók and Beethoven for LACMA’s Rosalinde Gilbert Concert. With more than a decade’s experience performing throughout Europe, Asia, and North and South America, this Quartet has fashioned a reputation for virtuosity and interpretive subtlety among critics and audiences alike, and is one of the most celebrated quartets in today’s music world. Returning to LACMA for the seventh consecutive season, the Penderecki Quartet privileges the Los Angeles County Museum of Art community with a music festival of Bartók and Beethoven. In three concerts, they will perform the complete cycle of string quartets by Béla Bartók along with one of the late Beethoven quartets on each program.
Rosalinde Gilbert Concerts was founded in 1996 by then-museum trustee Arthur Gilbert to honor the memory of his wife, and continues to be generously supported by the Gilbert estate. The series offers programs of masterworks spanning several centuries, including solo and chamber music repertoire performed by distinguished artists from the United States and abroad.
Programs for the Spring Festival:
Monday, April 12: Bartók’s Quartets nos. 1 and 2, and Beethoven’s op. 135
Wednesday, April 14: Bartók’s Quartets nos. 3 and 4 and Beethoven’s op. 130 Quartet
Monday, April 19: Bartók’s Quartets nos. 5 and 6, and Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge
All concert will be held at 8 pm at LACMA. For ticket information, please call 323-857-6010 or visit the museum website.
Beethoven Easter Festival
Warsaw, 31 March – 9 April 2004
The Ludwig van Beethoven Easter Festival, whose Artistic Director and moving spirit is Mrs. Elżbieta Penderecka, has taken place in Cracow since 1997, a year commemorating the 170th death anniversary of the creator of Fidelio and the 9th Symphony. The Festival has become a permanent part of the cultural landscape of this part of Europe, making the Holy Week a fuller experience. The concept of the Festival is clear: beautiful and diverse music performed by excellent artists in the best concert halls, an exhibition of manuscripts organized by the Jagiellonian Library, and an international symposium prepared by the Academy of Music in Cracow.
Each edition of the Festival is organized around the same principle: solo, chamber and symphony concerts are accompanied by an exhibition of sketches, manuscripts and first editions at the Jagiellonian Library; the whole is completed by academic reflection in the form of an international musicological symposium organized by the Chair of Theory and Interpretation of Musical Work of the Academy of Music in Cracow. All Festival events are organized around a central theme; this year it is “Beethoven and the Music of the Nations of Europe”. Polish composers featured include Witold Lutosławski, Ignacy Jan Paderewski, and Krzysztof Penderecki in addition to other European composers such as W.A. Mozart, Giuseppe Verdi, Joseph Haydn, Franz Schubert, Antonin Dvorák, and, of course, the guest of honor, Ludwig van Beethoven.
The international musicological symposia that accompany the Festival are documented in books containing the conference papers. They are published by the Academy of Music in Cracow and the Kraków 2000 Festival in two, Polish and foreign-language, versions. Another physical identifying mark of the Festival are beautiful programme booklets (in two language versions: Polish and English) published to coincide with the Festival. In addition to basic information on the repertoire and artist biographies, they contain essays on all works performed at the concerts and a list of autographs on display at the exhibition.
In October 2001 the Ludwig van Beethoven Easter Festival became a member of the European Festivals Association in Geneva. This momentous event has validated the importance of the Festival not only as the musical emblem of Poland, but also as a cultural phenomenon that gathers a humanistic audience around Beethoven’s Enlightenment idea of uniting the community around a common set of values. This year’s Festival and its theme are centered around celebrating Poland’s entrance into the European Union, which will take place a month after the festival, and for this reason the festival has been moved from Cracow to Warwaw. As Artistic Director Elżbieta Penderecka told Maciej Mroczek of The Warsaw Voice on 24 March 2004, “I was really determined to promote a new image of the capital.[…] Warsaw is the capital of the country joining the EU.[…] This is why we have established contacts with the owners of shops and restaurants. We mean to promote the festival and also Warsaw.”
For a full list of daily concert programs, visit www.beethoven.org.pl.
Drzewiecki Back To Japan
After his successful tour in Japan in November 2003, Polish pianist Stanisław Drzewiecki has been invited to perform in front of Japanese audiences again. Concerts featuring Stanisław Drzewiecki, the Yomiuri Orchestra and conductor Tatsunori Numajiri are scheduled for April 4th and 7th, 2004 and for February, 2005.
L.A. Polish Film Festival
22 – 29 April, 2004
The Opening Gala for the Fifth Annual Polish Film Festival in Los Angeles will take place on 22 April at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. This year’s Gala screening will be Body (Cialo) by Tomasz Konecki and Andrzej Saramanowicz. The 2004 Hollywood Eagle Award will also be presented during this evening. The rest of the Festival takes place from 23 – 29 April at the Laemmle’s Monica 4Plex Theater and will celebrate the “Holiday of Polish Cinema” with the screening of 15 feature films, 6 documentaries and 6 shorts. The Festival organizers are once again proud to display the most recent achievements in Polish cinema, including a few directorial debuts.
Some of this year’s films include Julia Walking Home [Julia wraca do domu] by Agnieszka Holland, Pornography [Pornografia] by Jan Jakub Kolski, Tomorrow’s Weather [Pogoda na jutro] by Jerzy Stuhr, Egoists [Egoisci] by Mariusz Trelinski, Changes [Przemiany] by Lukasz Barczyk, Zhoorek [Zurek] by Ryszard Brylski, Squint Your Eyes [Zmruz oczy] by Andrzej Jakimowski, The Star [Gwiazdor] by Sylwester Latkowski, and The Woodstock Stop—The Most Impressive Polish Movie[Przystanek Woodstock—najglosniejszy film polski] by Jerzy Owsiak.
The Festival will also honor Polish filmmakers and actors in German and French films, including Milchwald by Christopher Hochhausler with Miroslaw Baka, Un Air Si Pur by Yves Angelo with Krystyna Janda and Jerzy Radziwilowicz, with music by Joanna Bruzdowicz.
During the festival the 60th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising will be commemorated with Eroika by Andrzej Munk and a CBS documentary featuring Walter Kronkite’s narration.
Jazz In Chopin Airport
Every two weeks the Frederic Chopin Airport in Warsaw organizes twenty-minute concerts during which visitors can enjoy to well-known F. Chopin pieces in jazz arrangement. The Frederic Chopin Airport put the Terminal 1 departures lounge at musicians’ disposal, hoping that concerts in this freely available place would be appreciated both by travellers, people accompanying them, airport employees and Warsaw inhabitants. The concerts are held every other Thursday at 3:00 pm and admission is, of course, free.
During the month of April the Filip Wojciechowski Trio will play the following program:
Waltz in E flat Major, Op.18
Etude in E Major, Op. 10 no. 3
Ballade in g minor, Op. 23 no. 1
Etude in f minor, Op. 25 no. 2
Mazurka in D Major, Op. 33
It was as much Arthur Rubinstein’s joyous spirit as his technical wizardry that set him apart from almost all his peers, investing his playing with dazzling originality. The new documentary, Rubinstein Remembered, narrated by his own son on the 100th anniversary of the artist’s birth, offers an intimate portrait of one of the greatest pianists of all time.
Filmed in the Polish city where Rubinstein was raised, Rubinstein Remembered features those who were closest to him sharing stories and memories of his life, loves, and career. Interviews, home movies, concert footage and Rubinstein’s remarkable interpretations of Chopin, Poulenc, Mendelssohn and others, create a musical biography of a remarkable legend.
Created for PBS’s American Masters Series, this program reveals the life and work of Polish classical pianist, Arthur Rubinstein. The DVD includes bonus features such as a Rubinstein Biography, RubinsteinTrivia and Timeline, and his Grammy Awards and Nominations List. This film is available on DVD for $24.98 and on VHS for $19.98, online at www.view.com, by phone at 800-843-9843, or by fax at 212-979-0266.
Kosciuszko Sembrich Competition
Toni Marie Palmertree, a 21 year-old sophomore at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, won First Prize in the 2004 Sembrich Voice Competition organized by the Kosciuszko Foundation in New York City. Ms. Palmertree will receive a cash scholarship prize of $1000, and has been invited to the International Moniuszko Vocal Competition in Warsaw in May. Second Prize was won by Melanie Gall, a native Canadian currently in the Master’s Program at Brooklyn College, who will receive a $750 cash scholarship; and Korean- born Jung Joo-Yung, completing her Professional Studies at the Manhattan School of Music, received Third Prise, which includes a $500 cash scholarship.Contestants were required to prepare a representative repertoire including songs and arias, including two selections by Moniuszko. The Competition honors Marcella Sembrich, the great Polish soprano who won an international reputation and established the voice faculties at both the Juilliard School and the Curtis Institute. Previous winners include Barbara Hendricks and Jan Opalach. Held every three years, the next Sembrich Voice Competition will take place in Spring 2007.
Polityka’s Cultural Passport
During a gala ceremony at Warsaw’s Teatr Polski in January, the weekly magazine Polityka [Politics] presented its 11th annual symbolic cultural awards known as the Paszporti Polityki. Each year, Polityka weekly recognizes artists or all media who demonstrate far-reaching originality as well as a penchant for exploration and for exceeding the boundaries of convention.
The winner in the music catagory was 22 year-old violinist, Kuba Jakowicz. Jakowicz was selected for his mature level of performance, ability to exceed the stereotype of a child genius, and for his ambitious choice of repertoire. In his career so far, he has had significant international success as a competitor, performer and recording artist. For more information on prize-winners in other categories, visit the Adam Mickiewicz Institute website, culture.pl.
Murray Perahia Honored
The internationally renowned American pianist Murray Perahia has been awarded an honorary KBE by Her Majesty the Queen, in recognition of his outstanding service to music. The award will be presented by the Foreign Secretary at a ceremony on 8 March. Perahia is a champion of the music of Chopin. His recording of Chopin’s complete Etudes, Op. 10 and Op. 25, won the 2003 Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance.
Polish Oscars: Orly 2004
On 6 March 2004, the Polish Film Academy presented their 2004 Orly [Eagle] Awards.
And the winners are….
- Squint Your Eyes [Zmruz oczy] by Andrzej Jakimowski won Best Picture, Best Director (Andrzej Jakimowski), Best Screenplay (Andrzej Jakimowski), Best Lead Actor (Zbigniew Zamachowski), and the Audience Award.
- Pornography [Pornografia] by Jan Jakub Kolski won the award for Cinematography (Krzysztof Ptak), Best Supporting Actor (Jerzy Frycz), Music (Zygmunt Konieczny), Art Director (Andrzej Przedworski), and Sound (Jacek Hamela, Bertrand Come, Katarzyna Dzida-Hamela).
- Katarzyna Figura won the Best Lead Actress award for Zhoorek [Zurek] by Ryszard Brylski. This film also won the award for Editing (Jaroslaw Kaminski)
- Dominika Ostalowska won Best Supporting Actress for her role in Warsaw[Warszawa].
Squint Your Eyes [Zmruz oczy] and Pornography [Pornografia] will be screened during the 2004 Polish Film Festival on Friday, April 23 (with guest Zbigniew Zamachowski)and Saturday, April 24, respectively. Zhoorek [Zurek] may also be screened, pending confirmation from TVP.
Models Of Unity
The City of Pasadena Human Relations Commission’s “Models of Unity” program selected Monique Chmielewska Lehman, a Polish tapestry artist now living in Pasadena, to receive their prestigious award for this year. Unity Awards reward those who have made outstanding contributions to the community through their own work and by inspiring others to perform similar roles in the community. Monique’s leadership initiative challenged neighborhood barriers and promoted civic unity. Her most recent international project connected 100 artists from 20 countries, sending a message of peace and harmony. More information are available at Monique’s website www.tapestryart.org. Click on “memorial tapestry” to view her latest project.
Polish Studies Newsletter
Albin S. Wozniak, ed. has created and posted online a “Polish Studies Newsletter”. This newsletter is especially useful for Polish students or students interested in studying Polish who are looking for scholarships and grants. Most of the sections of the newsletter are available online at www.polstnewsl.com. Subscriptions can also be ordered though this site.
For continuously updated information about Chopin events around the world, visit www.infochopin.pl. Information about Chopin concerts worldwide can be found in the events section.
Karolina Naziemiec In Concert
Violist Karolina Naziemiec (who also sings vocal jazz), recently gave two notable concerts in Los Angeles. On 15 February 2004, she was the soloist in a work for viola and piano by Max Janowski (1912-1991), entitled Avinu Malkeinu. She also played in a chamber version of Sergei Prokofiev’s Overture on Hebrew Themes, both pieces programmed by the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony in a concert entitled “World of Jewish Music” and included in their Nimoy Concert Series. The concert took place at the Temple Israel of Hollywood and was very warmly received by overflowing audience. Max Janowski, a Chicago-based Polish Jewish composer, focused predominantly on sacred music and was noted for several tunes that he wrote for Reform Synagogues, imitating Hasidic-style rhythmic patterns, and asking the congregation to sing along with the choir. Janowski also wrote a variety of Yiddish songs, so most of his music is very tuneful and attractive. Naziemiec’s interpretation of his music was very warmly received by the enthusiastic, predominantly Jewish audience.
The warmth and enthusiasm expressed by the public remained the same in the second concert given recently by Ms. Naziemiec. In a chamber/orchestral concert held at the Alfred Newman Recital Hall, University of Southern California, on 12 March 2004, Karolina Naziemiec was joined by Limor Toren on violin, Jerome Gordon on viola, Edith Orloff on piano, and a chamber orchestra conducted by Maxim Eshkenazy. The program, from Bach to Lutosławski revealed the versatility of her talent. Two sonatas filled the first half of the program, Johann Sebastian Bach’s First Gamba Sonata, BWV 1027, and Dmitri Shostakovich Sonata for Viola and Piano, op. 147. Not being the greatest fan of Shostakovich’s chamber music (with one notable exception of his String Quartet No. 8) I could only admire the stamina of the violist who, with great determination and gusto, took us through the interminable length of the sonata. In contrast, the second half of the program was enjoyable in its entirety. Witold Lutosławski’s Bucolics was played in a version for two violas, but did not lose any of its rustic charm in the process. W.A. Mozart’s Symphonie Concertante for violin and viola, KV 364, was the crowning achievement of the evening. The violist showed here her dexterity, musicality as a soloist, as well as her ability to play in a duet and engage in exchanges with the orchestra at the same time. The timing was impeccable, the tone—lovely, the whole impression—charming and delightful.
Kulenty At Other Minds
OM10, the nickname for this year’s Other Minds Contemporary Music Festival, was yet again a success. It was held from March 4-6 at the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco. This Festival is rapidly moving to the forefront of American festivals of this genre, because of its eclecticism, its multi-nationalism and its refusal to be contained by any rules, characteristics which match perfectly the flavor of today’s classical music and its composers. The Flute Concerto No. 1 of Polish-born composer Hanna Kulenty had its American premiere at this year’s festival, and was extremely well-received. According to Josef Woodard, in a music review for the Los Angeles Times, “…Kulenty’s Flute Concerto No. 1 presented a fascinating new model of Euro-minimalism, full of elastic pulses and spiraling energies rather than the steadier grooves of American Minimalists.” Woodard also complimented quater-tone flautist Anne La Berge, for whom the piece was composed, as well as the rest of the Parallele Ensemble and their conductor Nicole Paiement, for their expert handling of this challenging piece.
Silesian Dance Theatre
The West Coast premiere of the Silesian Dance Theatre’s THOUGHTS THAT LIE TOO DEEP FOR TEARS took place on 24 March 2004 (and was repeated on the 25th) at the Skirball Cultural Center. The Silesian Dance Theatre represents the leading edge of Polish artists archaeologically resurrecting pre-war Jewish life in Poland.
Choreographer Jacek Łumiński, who spoke after the performance, is compelled by his feeling of deep loss of an extent Jewish community, a feeling that is shared by many contemporary Poles. He bases his movement vocabulary on precise reconstructions of Hasidic ecstatic dancing as well as the everyday movements of more common Jewish ritual. His choreography is not a recreation of folk dances, but an exacting modern creation with routes that reach deeply back into the Jews’ and Poland’s intertwined histories. In a review in The New York Times, Anna Kisselgoff wrote that the dancers, “tear into space with ferocious power and whiplash speed, qualities that spring from the kinetic force of the choreographer’s idiom. His works are intense and obsessive.”
Polish Ballerinas in S.F.
Lovers of Poland and lovers of dance enjoyed a special treat this March when two ballet dancers and their Director from the National Ballet School (Łódz) came to San Francisco. Joanna Jablonska, Marlena Pietrzykowska, and Director Izabela Gorzkowska-Glowacka were the guests of The Lively Foundation, San Francisco. The visit by these dancers and the Director was a historic event. It was the first time Polish dancers have travelled to San Francisco to perform and the first time Polish dancers worked with an American choreographer to present new dances. The dancers were in San Francisco from 19-29 March learning new choreography, and they participated in the Lively Dance Festival on 26-28 March. To read more about this event, visit www.poloniasf.org.
XTET at LACMA
XTET has appeared regularly at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art since the mid 1980s and, since last season, as an ensemble-in-residence. It has expanded its presence at the museum with two additional concerts. As one of the very few established chamber ensembles in Los Angeles, XTET’s expertise in a wide-ranging repertoire is due, in no small part, to the exceptional talents of its individual members. On March 24th they gave a concert that included Krzysztof Penderecki’s String Trio, as well as modern compositions by several other composers from all over the world.
On Playing Chopin
An Interview with pianist Madeleine Forte
PLEASE DESCRIBE YOUR TECHNIQUE FOR PLAYING THE MUSIC OF CHOPIN?
Simply, as Chopin would have liked his music to be played. His letters explained it, and his students and students of students in Paris transmitted his tradition. Reviews on his Parisian concerts in elegant salons and also at the Salle Pleyel demonstrate his success with beautiful work on the pedals for musical expression, the clarity of his polyphony, the delicacy of his touch, and his occasional violence at the piano when his health would permit it!
Chopin was a classic, nurtured by Bach and Mozart. He did not like bluff and ostentation, and each note had a purpose. The intimate Nocturnes, Preludes, and Mazurkas should be played for yourself, wrapped in your solitude, and not for the gallery. Express the angry and dramatic Preludes with violence, but a contained violence: they are the lava that erupts from inside. Nothing in Chopin is written to impress, to dazzle. Everything comes from his inner being, and must reach your inner being. Some Mazurkas are joyful; they are the remembrances of a happy youth in the country. With the Ballades tell the ancient stories that have been transmitted since the beginning of time. Their myths have nurtured our poets. The Polonaises express strength, pride, and also deep sorrow and revolt. They are amazing, coming from such a fragile being as Frederic Chopin, gifted, however, with a tremendous nervous energy and a visionary temperament.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH POLISH STUDENTS?
As a university professor, I travelled to Europe to recruit very good students for my Foreign Student Scholarship Program. Two of them were Polish, Anna Kijanowska and Anna Rutkowska, both from the Wroclaw Music Academy. The solidity of their preparation impressed me particularly, as well as their dedication, ambition, hard work, and musicality. Anna K. has received her DMA from the Manhattan School of Music, and Anna R. recently performed at Carnegie Recital Hall. We are constantly in touch, I have a “soft spot” for them, and they express so much gratitude for my teaching and care. There is no doubt that the bond derives from Chopin and Poland! I think that what they got from me is greater clarity in their playing, more refinement in details, and that comes from my French upbringing. We went through a complete, well balanced repertoire including the prodigious Samuel Barber Sonata that Anna R. recently performed in Poland with great success: it was at the time my husband and I were concertizing and lecturing for Polish audiences.
IF YOU COULD OFFER A FEW SUGGESTIONS FOR PLAYING CHOPIN, WHICH ONES WOULD YOU CHOOSE?
I would suggest a legatissimo approach to the keyboard, as taught to me by my teacher, Alfred Cortot, when I was a girl. Cortot was a wonderful Chopin interpreter, by tradition and by nature; he had a foot in the nineteenth century, and his teachers had heard Chopin play in Paris, a very direct link. On top of that, Cortot was a born poet—he also played Schumann as if hallucinating. As a teacher, he was superb! I will select some of the qualities that Cortot developed in me and his students: very even and agile fingers, rather flattened for better tone, flexible hands and joints (Chopin always mentioned “la souplesse” to his students), a minimum of percussion, except in the Polonaises. It is not well-known that his Etudes are more difficult to play than those of Liszt. Why? Because the whole Etude treats one problem (for example thirds, sixths, or octaves) without interruption, whereas Liszt mixes the problems, permitting you to rest your hand and arm from one problem to another: opposite muscles work in alternation. An article from the 1920’s by Nouneberg includes Rubinstein’s comment that his fingers did not permit him to play Chopin’s Etude in Thirds!
Your technique has to be accomplished and refined so as to allow you to play effortlessly and elegantly, without forcing. The fortissimo is never to be harsh, the sound must remain that of the Italian bel canto, which Chopin so greatly admired, as in Bellini’s music. In his letters he writes that Liszt’s flamboyant pianism and virtuosity shocked him. In the presence of Franz, one can only imagine Frédéric closing on himself like a flower at night.
PLEASE SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH 19TH CENTURY PIANOS.
In his Paris flat, Chopin had an Erard grand piano and a Pleyel grand. It is said that he composed at the Pleyel. In the 1830’s the center of the pianistic world was Paris. Virtuosos from all over Europe flocked to the French capital, and French piano-making was flourishing. Pleyel and Erard pianos represented advances in construction and tone that contributed significantly to the pianism of the great romantic composer-virtuosos. In 1821 Sebastien Erard patented his mechanism “double échappement,” the repetition action. This piano is not only light and responsive, but also powerful. Besides repetition, Erard decided to use a metal reinforcement in the framing to allow increased tension. (I wonder if Erard received his inspiration from Liszt, whose technical novelties required stronger and stronger pianos: he was known to break strings at concerts, and Parisian cartoons depict him as a victorious gladiator among decimated pianos!) The 1881 Erard grand I used for my recording differs little from the Erard of Chopin’s last years.
Chopin preferred to perform on a Pleyel piano when he was feeling healthy and in good form, because he had to “create” his sound as he said. A Pleyel is less brilliant than an Erard: it is mellow and warm in tone, and can be played in perfect legatissimo, Chopin’s fan, Jane Sterling, would have described it as being “like water,” which amused Chopin. Double thirds can be taken at an incredible speed, in comparison to what is produced, for example, on a Steinway which, being heavier, can hold the pianist back. Also its booming basses make it difficult to maintain clear contrapuntal lines. It is easier to sing a Chopin melody on French pianos, which are mostly treble oriented.
The Yale University Collection of Musical Instruments owns the 1881 Erard grand piano, never rebuilt, which I used for my concert and my recording, and an 1842 Pleyel grand which I used only for my concert. It is very similar to the last piano Chopin owned (now at the Palac Ostrogskich in Warsaw). Although it needs some work, nobody dares touch it, so it maintains an authentic 19th-century sound!
Calendar of Events
APR 1-2: Kosciuszko Foundation Chopin Piano Competition Preliminaries. Foundation House, NYC (15 E. 65th Street, between 5th and Madison). Competition will begin at 10 am. No tickets are required for the Preliminaries
APR 1-3: New York Philharmonic plays Krzysztof Penderecki’s Violin Concerto No. 2 (Metamorphosen)and Schubert’s Symphony No. 9 (“The Great Symphony”). Lorin Maazel, cond. and Julian Rachlin, Violin (Debut). Avery Fisher Hall, 10 Lincoln Center Plaza, NYC. Thu. 4/1 at 7:30 pm, Fri. 4/2 at 2:00 pm, Sat. 4/3 at 8:00 pm. Tickets available at (212) 875-5030 or www.newyorkphilharmonic.org.
APR 1-9: Beethoven Easter Festival featuring “Beethoven and the Music of the Nations of Europe”. Warsaw. For a complete listing of concert times and venues, visit www.beethoven.org.pl.
APR 1: Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra – Musical Thursdays for Young Listeners, featuring violinist Kuba Jakowicz, winner of this year’s Paszporti Polityki (see above) and conductor Antoni Wit. Works by Szymanowski and Tchaikovsky. 6 pm, Warsaw Phil. Concert Hall. See www.filharmonia.pl.
APR 2: Ronald Smith, piano. Chopin: Ballades, Mazruka & Fantasy. Also Alkan, Debussy & Liszt. St. George’s, Brighton, England. www.stgeorgesbristol.co.uk.
APR 2-3: Lutosławski: Concerto for Orchestra; Moniuszko: Overture to Bajkaand music by Stanley Cowell. Toledo Symphony, Kazimierz Kord, cond. Perityle theater, Museum of Art. 419-246-8000.
APR 3: Kosciuszko Foundation Chopin Piano Competition Finals. Weill Recital Hall, Carnegie Hall, NYC. Competition will begin at 1:30 pm $15 tickets are available through CarnegieCharge (212-247-7800).
APR 3: Richard Goode, piano. Chopin, Mozart, Schumann & Janacek. La Jolla Music Society. Museum of Contemporary Art, La Jolla. 8:00 pm. Tickets: $25-75. 858-459-3728.
APR 3: NYDAI Art Night: Marek’s Jazz Vision Band, featuring trumpeter Marek Skwarczynski’s original jazz compositions. Special guest performance by a 13 year old Mariusz Gorz. In the gallery: Joanna Palecki tapestry exhibition. 7:30pm in Europa Club (98-104 Meserole Ave.Brooklyn, NY 11222) Admission: $10, free for students before 8 pm. Information: 646-322-4051 or www.nydai.org.
APR 4: Concert featuring Polish pianist Stanisław Drzewiecki, the Yomiuri Orchestra and conductor Tatsunori Numajiri. Program: Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto no. 2. Chiba Bunka Kaikan, Nippon, Japan.
APR 4: Lang Lang, piano. Chopin: Nocturne & Liszt, Schumann, Schubert. Symphony Center, Chicago, Illinois. Maine.
APR 6: Llyr Williams, piano. Chopin Impromptus, Debussy & Scriabin. Wigmore Hall. www.wigmore-hall.org.uk.
APR 7: Concert featuring Polish pianist Stanisław Drzewiecki, the Yomiuri Orchestra and conductor Tatsunori Numajiri. Program: Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto no. 2. Sapporo Concert Hall(pictured at right), Chuo-ku, Sapporo, Japan.
APR 7: LACMA presents California EAR Institute in a program entitled Gone Global, including a premiere of a piece by Marek Chołoniewski, as well as music by Gerhard Stabler, Berislav Sipus, Nicola Sani, and Gavin Bryars. 8 pm at LACMA East, Bing Theatre, 5905 Wilshire Blvd. Tickets: $18. 323- 857-6010. See abovefor more details.
APR 7: Mariko Ono, piano. All-Chopin recital. The Venue, Leeds, England. 1:05 p.m. Information: 011-32-22-3434.
APR 7 & 8: Penderecki: Seven Gates of Jerusalem, Tchaikovsky & Rachmaninoff. Pacific Symphony, Kazimierz Kord, cond. Orange County Performing Arts Center. 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, CA. 8:00 pm. Tickets: $20-65. Infomation: 714-556-2787.
APR 12: Penderecki Quartet at LACMA. Program: Bartók’s Quartets nos. 1 and 2, and Beethoven’s op. 135. See abovefor details.
APR 14: Penderecki Quartet at LACMA. Program: Bartók’s Quartets nos. 3 and 4 and Beethoven’s op. 130 Quartet. See abovefor details.
APR 15: Leon McCawley, piano. Chopin: Mazurkas, Op. 24, Beethoven & Mendelssohn. Royal Festival Hall, Purcell room, England. www.rfh.org.uk.
APR 15: Piotr Anderszewski, Polish pianist. Music by Corelli, Bach, Haydn & Bartok. Australian Chamber Orchestra, Richard Tognetti, cond. Founders Hall. Orange County Performing Arts Center, Costa Mesa. Tickets: $75. Call 714-556-2787.
APR 16-17: Penderecki: Sven Gates of Jerusalem, Beethoven & Tchaikovsky. Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Kazimierz Kord, cond. Music Hall. 513-381-3300.
APR 16-17: As part of a program entitled “Dance In and Out of LA”, Wenta Ballet of Los Angeles (Stefan Wenta) will premiere their “Fantasy a la Mazurka”, with music by Chopin, performed live by Marek Zebrowski. Ivar Theatre, 1605 Ivar Avenue, Hollywood, CA. 8:00 pm. Tickets: Students $15, Advanced Reserved $18, Day of $25. For more information, call (310) 645-9419.
APR 16 – MAY 4: Forever Changes: Polish Cinema Since 1989, New Voices from an Era of Transition. Lincoln Center, Walter Reade Theater, West 65th Street, New York, NY 10023. Presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Polish Cultural Institute. Visit the Polish Cultural Institute’s website for more information at www.polishculture-nyc.org/top_inny.htm.
APR 17: Freddy Kempf, piano. Chopin Etudes, Op. 10. Wigmore Hall, London. www.wigmore-hall.org.uk
APR 17: An Eastern European Montage – Nevenka and Baksheesh Boys concert, CD release and dance party. Unitarian Community Church: 1260 Eighteenth Street (at Arizona), Santa Monica, CA. 8:00 pm. Tickets: $15 general, $13 students/seniors/FolkWorks members. Tickets and information available at www.folkworks.org, 818-785-3839 or firstname.lastname@example.org
APR 18: Piano recital by Nina Kuźma-Sapiejewska: Chopin, mon amour. This recital is sponsored by New York Dance & Arts Innovation and La Société des Concerts de Larchmont. Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, W. 57th St. and 7th Ave., NYC. 2:00 pm. Tickets are $28 general, $15 student. Call (914) 834-1513 or Carnegie Charge (212) 247-7800. Visit www.nydai.orgfor more information.
APR 18: Aspen Ensemble. Music of Chopin, Górecki, Mozart & Beethoven. Kosciuszko Foundation Series. 15 E. 65th St., New York. 3:00 p.m. Tickets are $25 and include reception. 212-734-2130.
APR 19: Penderecki Quartet at LACMA. Program: Bartók’s Quartets nos. 5 and 6, and Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge. See abovefor details.
APR 22: Opening Gala for the 5th Annual L.A. Polish Film Festival, including a film screening and presentation of the Hollywood Eagle Award. Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, 5230 Lankershim Blvd, Hollywood, CA. Reception begins at 6:30. Visit www.polishfilmla.org/program2004.htmlfor details.
APR 23-29: Film screenings of the L.A. Polish Film Festival. Laemmle’s Monica 4Plex Theater, 1332 2nd Street, Santa Monica, CA. Visit www.polishfilmla.org/program2004.htmlfor complete listing of movies and showtimes. Tickets are available for purchase online at www.laemmle.com/theatres/monica/monica.html.
APR 27: Richard Goode, piano. Chopin: 3 Nocturnes & Fantasy, Janacek, Schubert & Ravel. Avery Fisher Hall, New York. 212- 875-5030. www.lincolncenter.org.
APR 30: Krystian Zimerman. Program to be announced. Spivey Hall, Morrow, Georgia, USA. www.spiveyhall.org.
Letters From Friends
Autographed Chopin Piano
I came across your newsletter while doing research on Chopin in connection with a piano I am endeavoring to sell, and thought I might apply to you for assistance, just on a hunch. I am acting as the owner’s representative. As he is advanced in years, he wishes to find this instrument a good home—but may be compelled to auction it fairly soon.
The piano in question is an 1847 Pleyel “cottage” upright signed by Chopin on the top of the damper mechanism.(“FChopin” measuring approx. 10x20mm) The signature was authenticated by the leading expert on Chopin autographs in London. We also have in our possession a letter from Pleyel—dated June of 1922—confirming that the “great maestro did indeed select and sign it for the person to whom it was destined”. We believe that that person was a Rumanian “princess” of the Bibescu family—probably one of the daughters of George Bibescu, who was in “exile” in Paris at that time. (We believe it was signed in the late 1847 or early 1848.) It then passed to one of the “ladies-in waiting”—in whose family it remained for nearly a century. The last owner in that family was Olga Isacescu, the long-time companion of the legendary baritone Titta Ruffo. It was from her that the current owner came into possession of the instrument in Milan, in 1977.
We are anxious to find out all we can about the instrument and the people connected with it. The Chopin Society of Poland (they have been most helpful) believe that the Bibescu’s taught Chopin the Rumanian folksong that he used as the basis of one of his small pieces.(I don’t have the name and opus number in front of me-but can send it to you.)
It appears that “our” piano is one of only two currently existing signed by him—the other is the “Stirling” piano now in a museum in Poland. Since this is the only one in private hands, and the only one offered for sale—it seems to us a rather important piece of European Culture and musical history.
We have learned much but have many questions including:
1) The name of the original owner. We have attempted to contact the Pleyel archives to no avail. apparently they were sold to a private party.
2) Are the Bibescu’s mentioned in any correspondence or history in connection with Chopin.
3) Help in establishing an asking price. We know that there was a Pleyel “associated” with Chopin (but not signed) sold at auction in 1977 in Paris, but don’t know what it sold for.
There are many others of course, but I won’t trouble you further until I learn whether this is of interest to you.
Since you are in the LA area, I wish to extend a personal invitation to you to come and see (and play, if you wish) this unique and beautiful instrument.(Pleyel serial #13555) We (and it) are in North County San Diego.
Any help or information is greatly appreciated. I feel that this might be something that is of interest to you.
Sincerely – Jef Olson
The following is the official appraisal of the piano, as of May 23, 1999:
The instrument is in excellent original condition, bearing strong evidence of a lifetime of regular service, protection from the elements, and very little use. The cabinet is of birdseye mahogany, with the original finish and nameplate intact. The original strings are yet in place, save for a few replacements in the bass, and have been maintained at the original level of tension. The action is in excellent playing condition, well-regulated, with the original hammers showing remarkably little wear. An unrepaired crack in the left leg is the only apparent structural fault—the soundboard, bridges, and wrestplank showing virtually no evidence of cracks, faults, or failures. The keyboard has retained its original ivory and ebony, all in a well-preserved state.
If you have any information for Jef, please contact him directly at email@example.com.
Born This Month
- 1 April 1872 – Tadeusz JOTEYKO, composer (d. 20 August 1932)
- 3 April 1904 – Maria WIŁKOMIRSKA, pianist professor of piano in Lodz and Warsaw
- 4 April 1941 – Aleksander GLINKOWSKI, composer active in Katowice (d. 1991)
- 8 April 1890 – Zbigniew DRZEWIECKI, pianist and professor of piano, organizer of Chopin Competitions, president of Chopin Society
- 9 April 1880 – Stanisław LIPSKI, pianist and composer (d. 6 October 1937)
- 9 April 1951 – Andrzej KRZANOWSKI, composer (d. 1990)
- 13 April 1890 – Ludwik BRONARSKI, musicologist (d. 1975)
- 18 April 1903 – Tadeusz KWIECINSKI, composer (d. 11 July 1960)
- 21 April 1907 – Antoni SZAŁOWSKI, composer (d. 21 March 1973)
- 29 April 1880 – Adolf CHYBINSKI, musicologist, professor of universities in Lwow and Poznan (d. 31 October 1952)
Died This Month
- 5 April 1935 – Emil MŁYNARSKI, conductor, violininst, composer, music director of the Warsaw Opera, (b. 18 August 1870)
- 9 April 1944 – Bolesław WALLEK-WALEWSKI, conductor and composer, active in Krakow, Warsaw and Poznan (b. 23 January 1885)
- 11 April 1938 – Bronisława WÓJCIK-KEUPRULIAN, musicologist, professor of Lwow University, specialist in Chopin and Armenian music (b. 6 August 1890)
- 12 April 1956 – Tadeusz STRUMIŁŁO, musicologist, professor of Jagiellonian University, with Z. Szweykowski discovered over 200 compositions of 18th, 19th c. (b. 10 July 1929)
- 15 April 1945 – Feliks WRÓBEL, composer and music theorist (b. 15 May 1894)
- 18 April 1854 – Józef ELSNER, composer, founder of Warsaw Conservatory, teacher of Chopin (b. 1 June 1769)
- 24 April 1845 – Anna WOŁKOW-STANIUKIEWICZ, soprano, singer of Warsaw Opera (b. 26 August 1808)
- 25 April 1951 – Jerzy FITELBERG, composer, son of conductor Grzegorz, since 1933 lived in Paris, 1940 in New York (b. 20 May 1903)
- 28 April 1928 – Henryk MELCER-SZCZAWINSKI, pianist, teacher, conductor, professor and chair of the Warsaw Conservatory of Music (b. 21 September 1869)