January 2004

Polish Music Center Newsletter Vol. 10, no. 1


Winners Of Grzegorz Fitelberg Competition

The first Grzegorz Fitelberg International Competition for Conductors was held in 1979 in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Grzegorz Fitelberg, an exceptional Polish composer and conductor and a representative of the Mloda Polska [Young Poland] movement in literature and the arts. For many years, Fitelberg lead some of the country’s top orchestras, including the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, the Polish Radio Orchestra in Warsaw, and the Great Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra in Katowice.

The Grzegorz Fitelberg Competition is open to conductors who have not yet turned 35 on the first day of competition. The contest repertoire encompasses works of Viennese Classicism, Romanticism, and music of the twentieth century, including the works of Polish composers. The competition is held once every four years. The winner of the first edition (1979) was Claus Peter Flor (Germany), who was followed in the second edition (1983) by Chiraka Imamura (Japan). Michael Zilm (Germany) walked away with top honors during the competition’s third edition in 1987. His triumph was followed by those of Makoto Suehiro (Japan) during the fourth edition (1991) and Victoria Zhadko (Ukraine) during the fifth (1995). The sixth and most recent contest was held in 1999 and saw Massimiliano Caldi (Italy) emerge as the victor. This contest for young conductors held in Katowice is a member of the World Federation of International Music Competitions in Geneva.

107 candidates applied for this year’s edition of the contest, held in Katowice from December 5 to December 14, 2003. An international jury chaired by Tadeusz Strugała (with Stanisław Skrowaczewski, the competition’s honorary director, as its honorary chairperson) selected forty young conductors from twenty-seven countries for the final audition stage. This group included six Poles: Aleksander Gref, Anna Jaroszynska, Przemysław Neumann, Wojciech Rodek, Tomasz Tokarczyk, and Maciej Zoltowski.

Two winners, Aleksandar Markovic of Serbia and Modestas Pitrenas of Lithuania (ex aequo) shared the gold medals and two first prizes of 47,000 zl (about $15,000 U.S.). No second prize was given. The third prize of 26,000 zl was awarded to Marko Ivanovicof the Czech republic.

There were also 3 honorary mentions: Chol-Ung Ri of North Korea (21,000 zl), Wsiewolod Polonski of Russia (16,000 zl) and Harutiun Arzumanian of Armenia (10,500 zl).

2003 Polish Music Highlights

by Wanda Wilk

Birthday celebrations resound throughout the year in Poland for composers: Ludomir Rozycki (120), Jerzy Fitelberg (100), Witold Lutosławski & Witold Rudzinski (90), Stanislaw Skrowaczewski (80), Henryk Gorecki & Krzysztof Penderecki (70), Joanna Bruzdowicz, Marta Ptaszynska & Krzysztof Meyer (60).

Henryk Gorecki receives the Polish Radio Music Award in March at which time the premiere of a new unaccompanied choral work, 5 Kurpian Songs is conducted by the composer.

Polish premiere of Gorecki’s Cantata, Salve Sidu Polonorum is heard at the Musica Antiqua Europae Orientalis in Bydgoszcz, Poland.

Polish Composer Hanna Kulenty receives First Prize at the 50th International Rostrum of Composers organized by UNESCO for her Trumpet Concerto.

Krzysztof Penderecki receives the Europaeischen Kirkenmusic Award in August. Among numerous other awards and 70th birthday celebrations, he receives a special award in Düsseldorf for his contribution to cultural life of the northern Rhine regions.

Penderecki receives the Diamond Baton award from Polish Radio.

15-year old pianist Stanislaw Drzewiecki debuts at Carnegie Hall.

The “Splendor of Poland” exhibit travels throughout the U.S. accompanied by programs of Polish music. The San Francisco stop (Mar 8-May 18) featured music programs by the Radziwonowicz brothers.

Roman Polanski’s film The Pianist garners many awards, nominations and prizes, including three 2003 Academy Awards, “Oscars,” for Best Director, Best Actor to Adrien Brody (for the title role) and Best Adapted Screenplay. This film is adapted from the Holocaust memoir of famed Polish-Jewish pianist Władysław Szpilman.

New CD of Szpilman’s songs, “Wendy Lands Sings the Music of the Pianist” is released. His songs and concert works are published by Boosey and Hawkes in England.

Murray Perahia’s Chopin CD makes it to the Top 20 Classical CD Chart in England.

Zofia Stryjeńska, 1927.

Krakusy, a Polish Folk Dance Ensemble based in Los Angeles, performs for the California chapter of the Association of Music Teachers by invitation from pianist Nancy Fierro.

The name of one of Poland’s five national dances, “Krakowiak” is used in a spelling contest in Hawaii. Nathaniel Salazar captures the Honolulu Advertiser Spelling Bee’s district contest after surviving 23 rounds.

Composer Zygmunt Stojowski (1870-1946) is honored in Poland with a three-day festival organized by Joseph Herter, director of the Cantores Minores choral ensemble.

Chopin Exhibition is shown in Japan, sponsored by the Société Historique et Litteraire Polonaise à Paris. Pianists Ikuko Endo, Yukio Yokoyama, Takeshi Kakehashi, Ingrid Fujiko Hemming and Adam Wibrowski perform. It also travels to Vienna (June) and New York (Oct).

Author/musicologist Teresa Chylinska is acknowledged for her monumental work and publication of the final Volume IV of Karol Szymanowski’s Correspondence (in 9 volumes).

Tokiko Kobayakawa of Japan wins the Grand Prix of the 10th Milosz Magin International Piano Competition in Paris.

Wojciech Kocyan’s CD nominated for a “Fryderyk” (the Polish equivalent of the Grammy).

Winners of the 2002 Wilk Book Prize are announced in May, a tie between two British authors: John Rink (Chopin. The Piano Concertos) and Adrian Thomas (Górecki).

Winners of the 54th Kosciuszko Foundation National Chopin Competition: Igor Lovchinsky (I Prize) and Ching Yn Ho (II Prize).

The Polish Nightingales of Poznan tour the eastern part of the U.S. in April and May.

The L.A. Opera and the Polish National Opera present the same production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni. The new collaboration was Placido Domingo’s idea after the L.A. opera director saw Mariusz Trelinski’s earlier staging of Madame Butterfly in Warsaw.

Krzysztof Knittel and Adam Walicinski receive awards from the Polish Composers’ Union at the Warsaw Autumn Festival in Warsaw in September.

Romantique, a one-man show about Chopin, is presented at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Mass. in August. Pianist/composer Hershey Felder wrote and performed the play.

Polish composer Krystyna Moszumańska-Nazar receives an award from the Polish Culture Foundation in Krakow.

The Aria Chorus, directed by Dayle Vander Sande, wins first place among the mixed choruses at the District Seven Convention of the Polish Singers Alliance of America competition held in Philadelphia last May.

USC cellist Marek Szpakiewicz wins First Prize in the Mu Phi Epsilon International Competition in August at their 100th anniversary convention.

Premiere of Wojciech Kilar’s September Symphony, dedicated to the victims of 9/11, is presented by the Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra at the Music Festival of the European Union.

A new book written by Jolanta T. Pekacz, professor of history at the University of Saskatchewan, entitled Music in the Culture of Polish Galicia 1772-1914 is published.

The Witold Lutosławski Society, founded in 2000, has a new web- site: www.lutoslawski.org.pl.

Contralto Ewa Podleś receives rave reviews in San Diego and San Francisco for her first U.S. concerts since 1982.

A ballet is set to Górecki’s Requiem for a Polka and Concerto for Harpsichord and String Orchestra by Swedish choreographer Mats Ek at Teatr Wielki in Warsaw.

Polish pianist Piotr Anderszewski makes the cover of BBC magazine with the release of his newest CD featuring the music of Fryderyk Chopin and praised for his originality.

Double anniversary celebration for Grzegorz and Jerzy Fitelberg in the U.S. with a program organized by violinist/composer Walter Legawiec in New Jersey.

Desire for Love, a new film by award-winning director Jerzy Antczak, receives the Platinum Award for Best Drama and a Gold for Best Cinematography at the Houston Film Festival and is presented in Los Angeles in November at a special showing sponsored by the Polish Consulate in L.A.

Premiere of Stanislaw Skrowaczewski’s Symphony 2003 is held in Minneapolis in a performance with the Minnesota Orchestra conducted by the composer on Oct 2, one day before his 80th birthday.

2003 Highlights at the Polish Music Center

Paderewski in 1890. Promotional photo from German and American tours.

The Songs of Karol Szymanowski and His Contemporaries, No. 7 in the Polish Music History Series, is published by the Polish Music Center at USC.

Paderewski Exhibition, curated by Maja Trochimczyk and Ljiljana Grubisic, is on display at USC’s Alfred Newman Recital Hall Gallery from Sep `02 to May `03.

Dr. & Mrs. Matthew Mickiewicz become benefactors of the Polish Music Center with their $10,000 donation.

Composer Joanna Bruzdowicz and her music is heard at the Second Annual Paderewski Lecture at USC Dec ’03. The composer donates two more manuscripts to the Polish Music Center.

Mrs. Mary Semski and Mr. & Mrs. Witold Hryniewicki make generous donations of one thousand dollars each to the PMC.

Polish Music Journal, vol. 6, no. 1 brings out the proceedings of the Polish/Jewish/Music conference organized at USC in November 1998. In addition to articles from the conference, the Journal includes the full program of the event and various translations and reprints of rare material, including Tansman’s speech and letters published for the first time.

Polish Music Journal

Vol. 6 No. 2, Winter 2003
Henryk Mikołaj Gorecki

The winter 2003 issue of the Polish Music Journal celebrates Górecki’s 70th birthday by bringing together selected papers from the 1997 conference organized at USC, his interviews and speeches, and documentary material pertaining to the “Górecki Autumn at USC” – edited by Maja Trochimczyk.

Henryk Mikolaj Gorecki. Photo by Vladek Juszkiewicz

The volume is available from www.usc.edu/polish_music/PMJ/index.html, with the contents described below:

Editorial by Maja Trochimczyk: Henryk Mikolaj Górecki at 70


  • Adrian Thomas: “Intense Joy and Profound Rhythm”: An Introduction to the Music of Henryk Mikolaj Górecki
  • Anna Maslowiec: “The Utmost Economy of Musical Material”: Structural Elements in Górecki’s Works from Refrain (1965) to Ad Matrem (1971)
  • David Kopplin: The Concept of Time in Górecki’s String Quartets
  • Luke B. Howard: “Laying the Foundation”: The Reception of Górecki’s Third Symphony, 1977-1992
  • Maja Trochimczyk: “Mater Dolorosa” and Maternal Love in Górecki’s Music


  • Anna Maslowiec, ed.: Conversation with Henryk Górecki: Leon Markiewicz, July 1962
  • Maja Trochimczyk, ed.: “Composing is a Terribly Personal Matter”: Henryk Mikołaj Górecki in Conversation with Maja Trochimczyk
  • James Harley and Maja Trochimczyk: Henryk Górecki – Bibliography

Source Readings: Górecki in Los Angeles (1997):

  • Henryk M. Górecki: Conversation with USC Music Students
  • Henryk M. Górecki: Remarks on Performing the Third Symphony
  • Henryk M. Górecki: Promoting Polish Music: Speech to the Friends of Polish Music
  • Maja Trochimczyk, ed.: Program of Górecki Autumn at USC (1997)
  • Maja Trochimczyk, ed: Excerpts of Reviews of Górecki Autumn
  • Mark Swed: Górecki’s Third Is All His Own (Los Angeles Times)
  • Melissa Payton: Górecki’s Visit to USC (USC Chronicle)
  • Wanda Wilk: Behind the Scenes (News of Polonia)

2003 Paderewski Lecture Speech

The introductory speech of Dr. Maja Trochimczyk for the 2003 Paderewski Lecture is reprinted below. The event was an incredible success, filled with beautiful music and intriguing information. Thanks to all who participated, especially those who gave of their time and resources, without whom these events would not be possible! The updated page of the lecture: bruzdowiczlecture.html now includes numerous links to pictures and reports in the press.

Poster design Bozenna and Lukas Bogucki, from a photo by Jorg Tittel, 2003.

2003 Paderewski Lecture

Introductory Remarks by Maja Trochimczyk
7 December 2003, USC Bing Theater

Dzień Dobry Państwu! Good Afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen!

The 2003 Paderewski Lecture began with Ignacy Jan Paderewski’s Cracovienne Fantastique performed by USC graduate Dr. Lorenzo Sanchez. Beautiful strains of Paderewski’s music provided the most appropriate welcome to the Second Annual Paderewski Lecture given this year by our guest of honor, Polish composer Joanna Bruzdowicz. My name is Maja Trochimczyk and I serve at USC as the Stefan and Wanda Wilk Director of the Polish Music Center.

The purpose of annual Paderewski Lectures is to celebrate the memory of Paderewski, a pianist, composer, statesman, orator and humanitarian by presenting the most distinguished and talented Polish composers of our times, who discuss their own music. Paderewski, the original “long-haired musician” with flaming hair and mystic eyes — to cite one of his 19th century fans — was also referred to as the “New Chopin,” the “Archangel,” the “Master of Harmonies,” the “Lion of Poland,” Mister President, the Modern Immortal, and last but not least, the “Red Pollack,” more brave than the Trojans, a patriot of such indomitable spirit that his mere presence would have saved Troy from falling to the Greeks. This reference appeared in a 1914 poem by John Houston Finley, Editor-in-Chief of the New York Times. Like Paderewski, USC Trojans are usually victorious. I thought of mentioning that Trojan connection because Paderewski is also a member of the Trojan Family, thanks to his honorary doctoral degree of 1923. Paradoxically, he is a recipient of a Doctor of Law degree for his political activities. Now, of course, he is better known as a musician. For more information about Paderewski I would like to refer you to the web site created at the PMC by two Paderewski fans: my mentor, founder and honorary director of the Polish Music Center, Wanda Wilk, and myself. The address is in the program book, also featuring a brief outline of Paderewski’s career.

So we will not talk about Paderewski today. The subject will be our guest of honor, Joanna Bruzdowicz, who comes to us from France, her country of residence and citizenship for over 20 years. She also lived in Belgium and ran a festival in Catalonia, Spain. Like Paderewski, she has become the citizen of the world; like Paderewski, she remained greatly attached to her home country; like Paderewski, she dedicated her life to music and humanitarian ideals of making the world a better place through music.

Joanna Bruzdowicz studied in Poland and France, with Nadia Boulanger, Pierre Schaeffer, and Olivier Messiaen among her teachers. I will summarize her career with a bit of statistics: She composed 6 operas, 12 works for orchestra, over 40 chamber pieces, scored 24 feature films and documentaries, produced numerous music programs, organized several associations and societies, dedicated to the music of Poland, Chopin, Szymanowski, and Music for Youth. She received numerous awards from Poland and France, and worked with some of the greatest musicians and filmmakers of our times.

Bruzdowicz’s visit to Los Angeles was made possible by many individuals and organizations who are listed in the program. I would like to thank them all for their generous support. First, I would like to acknowledge the grant from the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland and the assistance given by the Honorable Krystyna Tokarska-Biernacik, Consul General, and The Honorable Roman Czarny, consul for culture, education and public relations. We owe a debt of gratitude to our indispensable Friends of Polish Music led by Ms. Wanda Wilk, founder and honorary director of the Polish Music Center, whose dedication and enthusiasm brought the center into being and gave us resources to function and thrive. We should also thank the Polish American Congress of Southern California, President Richard Widerynski, for their support of our activities.

Next, I would like to thank the Helena Modjeska Polish Art and Culture Club of Los Angeles, represented here by its board and numerous members, with special thanks to Jola Zych, President, and board member Helena Kolodziej, who generously provided our guest with warm hospitality of her wonderful home in Beverly Hills. Ms. Bogna Szupinska, architect and a long-time president of the Board of the Polish Folk Dance Ensemble Krakusy, now also president of the Paderewski Lecture Committee, organized the decorations and reception for our guests. She also encouraged some of young Krakusy dancers to beautify our event with Polish national costumes. These dancers assisted us as ushers. Designers Lukasz and Bozenna Bogucki created our beautiful poster and postcards. Ms. Lynn Crandall, the director of IGM Gallery and her USC Cultural Events Guild of Health Science Campus, organized a lovely, intimate film screening and reception for Joanna Bruzdowicz in the context of the “Quiet Times” exhibition of contemporary Korean art. Jorg Tittel, actor and the composer’s son, provided for us copies of films by Agnès Varda with the music by Joanna Bruzdowicz, fragments of which will be screened today. He also will appear in person in the String Quartet, reciting poetry in several languages, including Polish, French, and German that he may call his own.

I am grateful to professors of the Thornton School of Music, especially Prof. Peter Marsh, John Perry, and Eleanor Schoenfeld who worked with their students on the repertoire presented today. I thank the musicians, pianists Lorenzo Sanchez and, Radoslaw Materka, cellist, Marek Szpakiewicz, and violinist Daphne Wang, with her string quartet. Radek and Marek, USC doctoral students and prize-winning musicians with established careers, will repeat some of the repertoire presented today during the “Polish Birthdays” Cello and Piano Recital on Monday evening that will close Joanna Bruzdowicz’s residency at USC.

My most sincere thanks are reserved for Joanna Bruzdowicz herself, for the gift of her music. I mean “the gift of music” quite literally: Tomorrow, during a ceremony at the Rare Books Department of Doheny Library, Ms. Bruzdowicz will deposit two manuscripts of her works in the Polish Manuscript Collection. This time she selected her Piano Concerto of 1974 and Marlos Grosso Brasileiras for flute, violin, harpsichord, and tape (1980). She previously donated two scores (Tre Contre Tre and Trio dei Due Mondi) and now, with the additional two manuscripts, her gift increases in value to 10,000 dollars. Thus she earned the title of the Benefactor of the Polish Music Center and joined the ranks of such luminaries of Polish music world as Witold Lutosławski, Wanda Bacewicz (the composer’s sister), Alina Baird (the composer’s widow), and Jozef Patkowski. I would like to end my introduction with presenting Ms. Bruzdowicz with the Certificate of Recognition which reads: “Polish Music Center at the University of Southern California has the honor of presenting CERTIFICATE OF RECOGNITION to Joanna Bruzdowicz, PMC BENEFACTOR for donation of music manuscripts, valued at $10,000, to PMC manuscript Collection.”

Ladies and Gentlemen, Panie i Panowie, Szanowni Goscie, I present to you Ms. Joanna Bruzdowicz.

Maja Trochimczyk Stefan and Wanda Wilk Director, Polish Music Center


2003 Wilk Essay Prize For Bengtson

Stefan Wanda Wilk United University ChurchPolish Music Center announces the winners of the 2003 Stefan and Wanda Wilk Essay Prize for Research in Polish Music. In the Professional Category no prizes were awarded. In the Student Category, the Prize was given to Matthew Bengtson of Philadelphia for his paper entitled “‘The Szymanowski Clash’: Methods of Harmonic Analysis in the Szymanowski Mazurkas.” This paper is based on the seventh chapter of Mr. Bengtson’s DMA thesis about Szymanowski’s Mazurkas, completed in 2001 at the Peabody Institute of the John Hopkins University in Baltimore.

The prize consists of $500 cash and the publication of the article in online scholarly journal of the Polish Music Center, Polish Music Journal. The 2003 Jury consisted of: Prof. Paul Cadrin, Université Laval, Québec, Canada; Dr. Stephen Downes, University of Surrey, UK; Dr. Barbara Milewski, US; Dr. Maja Trochimczyk, PMC Director, US; and Dr. Alistair Wightman, UK.

Gdańsk Chorus Wins In Malta

Academic choir of Gdansk University won 15th International Choral Festival in Malta. The festival took place on 10-14 November 2003, with choirs from Poland, Ukraine, Germany, Sweden, England, Norway, Finland, and USA. The program of the winning choir included works by Serge Rachmaninoff and Karol Szymanowski. The obligatory piece in the final stage of the competition was “Pater Noster” conducted by Joseph Sammut, its composer.

Gdansk University Chorus won first place ex aequo with Muklajs Choir from Latvia. The prize was a sculpture by a Maltese artist Paul Haber and 2500 euro. There was no second prize, the third went to Dominicantes Chorus of Poznan, and the fourth to Pueri Cantores Tarnovienses from Tarnov, Poland (boys’ choir).

Internet News

Gift Of Stojowski’s Orientale—Caprice

Thanks to the efforts of pianist Fredric Dannen, the Polish Music Center proudly presents its first score available online for free. The score of Zygmunt Stojowski’s Orientale, Op. 10, No. 2, has been notated in Sibelius, but the files posted online are of the PDF version, readable through Adobe Acrobat program. We provided Mr. Dannen with our copy of the work’s manuscript and his transcription adds two chords at the beginning that are heard in Jozef Hofman’s recording of the Orientale-Caprice but not included in the manuscript score.

This composition is the second work in the set of Deux Orientales Op. 10, No.2 “Caprice.” According to the authoritative catalog of Stojowski’s works published in the Polish Music Journal by Joseph A. Herter (vol. 5, no. 2, 2002), the “Caprice” was composed in 1894 and dedicated to “A mon ami Joseph C. Hofmann.” The piece appeared in several editions by Hatzfeld, London & Leipzig, 1894, Geberthner and Wolff in Warsaw, and was reprinted by Musica Obscura, Johnson City, in the 1980s.

The “Caprice” was one of the most favorite works of Jozef Hofman, who played it during 40 years of his musical career. Hofman’s Veritas Records recording of this piece includes liner notes by Rafael Kammerer stating: “For sheer virtuosic bravura and unleashed power, Hofmann’s performance of Sigismond Stojowski’s little known Oriental is about as exciting as anyone could wish for. The piece itself is quite remarkable and wonderfully idiomatic. It is a worthy substitute for, and welcome relief from, Balakirew’s Islamey.”

Herter states that there are few recordings of this piece, apart from Hofman’s live performance at April 7, 1938, at the Casimir Hall Recital at the Curtis School of Music, Veritas Records VM 101: New York, 1967. The Caprice was also recorded by Irena Szynkorek for the Polish Radio, but this documentary recording has not been released. R II 93910-B, 1960.

Fredric Dannen, the author of the transcription, sent us the following note about his interest in, and realization of, this project:

I am a staff writer for The New Yorker, the author of a best-selling book on the music industry, and an amateur pianist. I grew up on Long Island, and studied piano with the noted concert pianist Morton Estrin. The Orientale Caprice was my first encounter with the music of Stojowski. Many years ago, I acquired a recording of Josef Hofmann’s Casimir Hall recital on LP, and I was immediately taken with the Orientale. I have long wanted to add the piece to my repertoire, and I am grateful to the Polish Music Center for making that possible. Many pianists play Balakirev’s more famous “Islamey,” but to my ears the Stojowski is a worthy, if not superior, substitute. I used Sibelius 3 software to transcribe the work from a photocopy of the composer’s original handwritten score. Since the piece was dedicated to Hofmann, I felt it appropriate to include the two majestic A minor chords that Hofmann added as an introduction in his performance.

The completed file, prepared by Fredric Dannen in PDF format, is available at:www.usc.edu/go/polish_music/composer/Stojowski – Orientale.pdf

In addition you may listen to the sound file:www.usc.edu/go/polish_music/composer/Stojowski – Orientale.mid

Adam Mickiewicz Institute Adds Music Links

Instytut Adama Mickiewicza / Adam Mickiewicz Institute in Poland maintains an extensive web site on Polish culture, at www.culture.pl. The site contains updated material for the following composers and musicians: Tadeusz Wielecki, Krystian Zimerman, Karol Szymanowski, Piotr Paleczny (new version), Antoni Wit, Piotr Anderszewski (new version), Krzysztof Meyer, Mieczyslaw Karlowicz, Pawel Mykietyn (new version), Tadeusz Baird, Wojciech Kilar, Boguslaw Schaeffer, Krzysztof Penderecki, Henryk Mikołaj Górecki, Witold Lutoslawski, and Wojciech Kilar.

In addition you may find information about numerous compositions, prepared by the staff of the Polish Music Information Centre at the Polish Composers’ Union in Warsaw.

PMC Featured On Nebulasearch.com

Two of the composer pages of the PMC website have been chose to be added to nebulasearch.com, a resource website for encyclopedic information. Our page about Aleksander Tansman is featured in the “1897 in music” article and our Zbigniew Bargielski page is featured in the “1937 in music” article.

California Events On PAC Site

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

Other News

Podleś: Diva Of Southern CA

Polish singer Ewa Podleś’s San Diego debut on November 15th was received ecstatically by the audience there. She appeared not only to have recovered from the broken arm sustained in the car accident that postponed the originally scheduled performance in May, but to be in complete control of her beautiful and unusual voice. Ms. Podleś stands apart in the world of vocal music. She is self-proclaimed as the world’s only true contralto: a singer with coloratura agility as well as the range of three voice parts (soprano, mezzo and alto). She sings with profound emotional commitment and a lieder singer’s sensitivity to text. She can change the quality of her voice in a moment, and is equally at home with the intensity of Mahler and Prokofiev as the breathtakingly florid music of Gluck, Handel, Vivaldi and Rossini.

Ms. Podleś was “spectacular” during her local premiere in November, according to classical music critic Valerie Scher of the San Diego Union-Tribune. “Here was a diva in full possession of her powers, a singer whose voice was as delightful as it was distinctive. Her face was expressive, whether communicating the music’s joy or sorrow. Her bright orange gown seemed a reflection of her confidence.” Citing specific moments in the program, Scher wrote, “Podleś resembled a force of nature, unstoppable and rather awe-inspiring…her fortissimos were so loud that they could have easily filled a venue five times the size of the 492-seat hall. It was a sound that made the ears ring, a sound one could feel all the way to one’s toes… Her Joan of Arc could have conquered enemies with her voice, which soared, swooped and made difficult ornamental flourishes do exactly what she wanted… More tender were the rarely heard songs by Chopin, who was known primarily for his piano music.” Ms. Podleś was accompanied by her stepdaughter, pianist Ania Marchwinska.

Christmas And New Year’s Eve In Poland

If you visited Poland during the holidays, you could have welcomed the New Year with music in several major Polish towns this year. The following list will tell you what you missed. Please try again next year!!!

Kraków, Karol Szymanowski Kraków Philharmonic, December 28, 2003, at 5 p.m.
Featuring: Akademic Choir ORGANUM, Instrumental Ensemble RICERCAR, Elżbieta Towarnicka – soprano. Program: Christmas carols. Revenues from the concert donated for Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Chorych – HOSPICJUM / Friends of Ailing People Society – HOSPICE in Kraków. www.filharmonia.krakow.pl

Poznań, Poznań Philharmonic, December 28 and 29, 2003, at 7:00 p.m.
Featuring: Boys’ and Men’s Choir of the Poznańn Philharmonic POZNAŃSKIE SŁOWIKI / POZNAN NIGHTINGALES (also known as Stuligrosz Choir), Bartosz Michalowski – director, Miroslaw Galeski – organ, Dominik Czernik – soprano.



Ignacy Jan Paderewski Pomeranian Philharmonic, at 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Featuring: ORKIESTRA SYMFONICZNA FILHARMONII POMORSKIEJ / SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA OF THE POMERANIAN PHILHARMONIC, Highlander Folk Group TURNIOKI, Anna Jurksztowicz – vocals, Krzesimir Debski – director Program: Krzesimir Debski’s compositions, highlanders’ music. Filharmonia Pomorska im. Ignacego Jana Paderewskiego, ul. Libelta 16, Bydgoszcz.




Opera in Kraków – Opera Stage, at 8:00 p.m. Featuring: Marta Abako, Joanna Wos, Bozena Zawislak-Dolny, Andrzej Biegun, Vasyl Grokholsky – vocals, Opera in Krakow’s Orchestra, Ryszard Karczykowski – artistic director, Ruben Silva – music director, Bozena Pedziwiatr – set design. Program: arias and duets from operettas of Johannes Strauss, Karl Millocker, Franz Lehar, Emmerich Kalman. Opera Krakowska (Opera in Krakow) www.opera.krakow.pl



outdoors at pl. Wolnosci, at 9:30 p.m. KONIEC I POCZATEK / THE END AND THE BEGINNING is a leading slogan of a big New Year’s Eve’s event – a celebration of the 750th anniversary of city of Poznan foundation – and the beginning of the next 750 years of Poznan. www.city.poznan.pl/iks

Adam Mickiewicz University – Auditorium, at 7:00 p.m. Featuring: Poznan Philharmonic’s Symphony Orchestra, José Maria Floręncio – director, Marta Boberska – soprano, Tomasz Krzysica – tenor. Program: arias and opera and operetta choruses. Filharmonia Poznanska im. Tadeusza Szeligowskiego (Tadeusz Szeligowski Poznan Philharmonic) www.filharmonia.poznan.pl



National Philharmonic, at 7:30 p.m. Featuring: Warsaw Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra and Choir, Antoni Wit – director, Agata Marcewicz – soprano, Henryk Wojnarowski – choir director. Program: arias and opera and operettas choruses. Filharmonia Narodowa (National Philharmonic) www.filharmonia.pl

Polish National Opera, at 8:00 p.m. Featuring: Doina Dimitriu – soprano, Ko Seng Hyoun – baritone, Orkiestra Teatru Wielkiego – Opery Narodowej, Marco Guidarini – conductor. Program: works of Giuseppe Verdi, Giacomo Puccini, Umberto Giordano, Francesco Cilea. Polish National Opera: Teatr Wielki – Opera Narodowa in Warsaw www.teatrwielki.pl

Polish Choirs Compete In Prague

Four Polish choirs were among the 52 choral groups which took part in the 13th International Festival of Advent and Christmas Music in Prague on November 28-30. The choirs were the following: the Cathedral Choir “Carmen” from Białystok (Bożena Bojaryn-Przybyla, conductor), “Vox Juventutis” from Płock (Robert Majewski, conductor), the Men’s Chamber Choir “Cantilena” from Wrocław (Adam Rajczyba, conductor) and the men from the Boys’ and Men’s Choir “Cantores Minores” from St. John Cathedral in Warsaw (Joseph A. Herter, conductor). In all, over 2,000 singers from 19 countries took part in the festival and competition.

All the Polish choirs competed in the small choir category which was also subdivided into the categories of children’s, women’s, men’s and mixed choruses. A bronze ribbon in the men’s choir category went to Wrocław’s “Cantilena”, a silver ribbon in the mixed choir category was given to Płock’s “Vox Juventutis” and a gold ribbon in the mixed choir category was presented to Bialystok’s “Carmen”. For the second year in a row, Warsaw’s “Cantores Minores” was also awarded a gold ribbon in the men’s choir category. This year, a special award was also presented to “Cantores Minores” for being the best men’s choir in both the small and large choir categories.

For further information, visit: www.millenniumtravel.cz/christmas/index2.htm or www.cantoresminores.pl

Auschwitz Jewish Center

The Auschwitz Jewish Center Foundation, Inc., a not-for-profit organization, was established in 1995 to support the creation of a Jewish cultural and educational center in Oswiecim, Poland. The Fundacja Edukacyjne Centrum Zydowskie w Oswiecimiu, a registered Polish foundation, was established in 1996 to implement the planned creation of the aforementioned center. The educational and cultural facility in Oswiecim, Poland provides all visitors with an opportunity to memorialize Jewish victims of the Holocaust through the study of Jewish life and culture.

In September of 2000, something monumental occurred: the Chevra Lomdei Mishnayot Synagogue in Oswiecim (Auschwitz) Poland reopened to the world for the first time since World War II. In addition, the Auschwitz Center was built to educate visitors on the vibrant life that thrived in the town of Oswiecim before the War. Since then, the Center, which is free of charge has become widely known throughout the world by Jewish and non-Jewish visitors.

The Center facilities include:

  • The only surviving synagogue in the town of Oswiecim.
  • An exhibition on pre-war Polish Jewish life with photographs, essays and objects.
  • A short film based on survivor testimonies recorded by Steven Speilberg’s Shoah Foundation.
  • A family history room where individuals can research their roots through specially designed computer terminals.
  • Meeting space where groups can bring their breakfast or lunch, have a discussion or listen to presentations (given by the group leader, the Center’s staff, or a specially arranged speaker) in this space.

The center’s holdings now also include copies of Szymon Laks’s music from the collection of the Polish Music Center at USC. Szymon Laks survived his imprisonment as the conductor of the Auschwitz orchestra and described his experiences in the very bleak and disillusion book of memoirs, published in English as “Music of Another World” by Northwestern University Press. For more information, please visit www.ajcf.org.

Calendar of Events

JAN 8: Peter Katin, piano. Chopin: Ballade, Mazurkas, Nocturne & Scherzo. Wigmore Hall, London. www.wigmore- hall.org.uk.

JAN 9: BBC Radio 3. Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 2. Stanislaw Bunin, piano. BBC Philharmonic. Yan Pascal Tortelier, cond. Performed from the Alte Oper, Frankfurt. 7:30-9:30 p.m.

JAN 8, 9, 10, 13: Szymanowski: Violin Concerto No. 1. Glenn Dicterow, violin. New York Philharmonic, Kurt Masur, cond. Avery Fisher Hall. 212-875-5030.www.lincolncenter.org.

JAN 11: Svetlana Ponomareva, piano. Chopin: Piano Sonata. Also Debussy, Gubaidulina, Mussorgsky. Chan Centre Vancouver, B.C. 604-280-3311. www.chancentre.com.

JAN 13: Dong-Hyek Lim, piano. Chopin: Mazurkas, Op. 59, Piano Sonata, Op. 58, Schubert, Ravel. Wigmore Hall, London. 020-7935 2141.

JAN 16: Jan Artur Pizarro, piano. Liszt: Six Chants Polonais, Op. 74; Wild: Larghetto from Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2; Mompou: Variations on a Theme of Chopin; Rachmaninov: Variations on a Theme of Chopin; Godowsky: Studies on Chopin’s Etudes(excerpts). St. George’s, Bristol. www.stgeorgesbristol.co.uk.

JAN 22: BBC National Orchestra of Wales. Jac van Steen, cond. Lutosławski: Les espaces du sommeil. St. David’s Hall. Cardiff, Wales. www.stdavidshallcardiff.co.uk.

JAN 28: BBC Radio 3. Broadcast of live performance on Jan 22.

JAN 29: Canadian soprano Barbara Hannigan will sing Szymanowski, Schinberg Op. 2, songs by Ives, Ligeti, Andriessen, Vivier and Nieder, and a world premiere of Rimbaud Songs by James Rolfe. Jane Mallett Theatre, St. Lawrence Centre, Toronto, Canada. 8 p.m. $12. www.stlc.com.

JAN 29, 30: Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 2. Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano. Philadelphia Orchestra. Simon Rattle, cond. Kimmel Center, Philadelphia. 215-893-1999.www.philorch.org.

JAN 30: Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 1. Ewa Kupiec, piano. Ulster Orchestra. Thierry Fischer, cond. Ulster Hall, Belfast. www.ulsterhall.co.uk.

JAN 31: Arnaldo Cohen, piano. Chopin: Preludes, Op. 28. Schoenberg & Schumann. Herbst Theater, San Francisco. 415-398-6449. www.performances.org.

Letters From Our Friends

About Julian Fontana

I am a descendant of Julian Fontana (he was my maternal great great grandfather), Chopin’s friend and copyist. Many years ago one of my ancestors (my grandmother’s sister) said that the family had donated many of Fontana’s papers to a university library. Since they lived in New Orleans I thought it was Tulane University but I don’t find anything in their files. I was told by another family member that the files may have been donated to a university in California. Was it your institution or are you aware of which it might be. I am searching for copies of Fontana’s music and I would appreciate any advice and assistance you might be able to give.

Thank you,

William J. Rodriguez
Jacksonville, FL

About Paderewski Piano


I hope maybe you could help me. I have a Huntington upright player piano that was requested by Ignacy Jan Paderewski for the Paderewski Singing Society in Chicago Ill on May 13th,1900. On the inside lid of the piano, is a warranty, a picture of Mr. Paderewski, and a letter that he wrote for the piano. At the bottom of the photograph, it says “Yours Truly” and his name is engraved. Here is what the letter says.

May 13th,1900
To the Huntington Piano Co.
Dear Sirs,
Having heard excellent accounts of your instruments, I hereby request that you will send one of your pianos to the Paderewski Singing Society at Chicago Ill for my account.
Yours very truly,
I J Paderewski

Piano to be delivered at once to the order of Josef P Szymanski President of the Paderewski Singing Society 567 Dikson Street Chicago Ill

If you could tell me anything about this piano I would appreciate it. I will be selling it and would like to know the true value of this piano. Thank you very much.

Mrs. Tina M. Woolley

If you any information for these friends, please contact polmusic@usc.edu.


by Wanda Wilk

BBC Top Recommendation

Jan 2004 BBC Magazine “Disc of the Month”
VIRGIN VC 5456202

Piotr Anderszewski’s first Chopin disc was selected as Disc of the Month. In his review of the CD, Adrian Jack describes the Polish pianist’s playing as “finely chiselled Chopin” and praises his choice of the “composer’s later works in three categories” (mazurkas, ballades and polonaises). He continues “the playing is so special in its pleasures as to set a new standard of imaginative recreation.” He gives it 5 stars for performance and 5 stars for sound and he concludes with “the undividuality and finesse of these performances place them beyond comparisons.” (What a review!!!)

American Record Guide

Critics Choice for 2003:

  • Szymanowski Mazurkas (Hamelin) Hyperion.
  • Chopin Piano Music (Solomon) Pearl.
  • Szymnaowski Mythes (Pryn & Olsson) Olufson.
  • Wieniawski Violin Pieces (Polish violinists) Accord
  • Chopin Trio (Ohlsson, Brey, Josefowicz) Arabesque
  • Chopin Etudes (Perahia) Sony

Violin Works

Harmonia Mundi HM 901793
Janacek: Violin Sonata; Szymanowski: Mythes; Lutosławski: Subito & Partita.
Isavbelle Faust, violin. Ewa Kupiec, piano. Joseph Magil is happy to have “another recording of Szymanowski’s Mythes besides Kaja Danczowska and Krystian Zimerman’s (which I enjoy)…The works of Lutoslawski are played to perfection…The Partita is an imposing work with allusions to the baroque that is given a classic performance here.”

Budget Penderecki

NAXOS 557052
Penderecki: Sextet, Clarinet Quartet, Miniatures, Divertimento, Prelude.
Michael Lethier, cl; Markus Maskuniitty, hn; Regis Pasquier, v; Bruno Pasquier, va; Arto Noras, vc; Juhani Lagerspetz, p.

Allen Gimbel goes on to say, “This collection of mostly recent chamber music gives a good inexpensive sampling of Penderecki’s interesting work in this medium, but it does fall short in several important ways.” He is not impressed with the playing of the violinist and clarinetist, lacking “beauty and technical precision.” He also mentions that the Clarinet Quartet (1993) “now seems to have entered the repertoire with some security” as it is in its 5th recording.

Lutosławski Dance Preludes

ARTS 47585
Clarinet XX
Reger, Debussy, Berio, Hindemith and Lutosławski.
Dieter Klocker, cl.

Reviewed in American Record Guide by Steven E. Ritter, who praises the soloist Dieter Klocker. Of the Lutoslawski he writes, “The Lutoslawski Five Dance Preludes are a delightful set of pieces that resemble the music of Bartok. These short one- to two-minute works are gathered around a thematic constant that is easy to pick up and follow. Sometimes it is melody, sometimes it is rhythm, other times a harmonic device that leads the ear through the composer’s always-imaginative sound world. If you don’t know the composer, or were turned off by something more advanced, hearing this is a good way to acquaint yourself before advancing to the more ‘important’ (and difficult) works of his later years.

Polish Piano Works

Polish Piano: Chopin, Szymanowski, Ekier, Malawski, Lutoslawski, Kisielewski.
Stella Czajkowski, piano.

Jack Sullivan lets us know that the pianist survived the Nazi gas chamber “only because the mechanism of death failed to work.” The soloist with the same name as the famous Russian composer, only with a Polish spelling, “went on to establish a career in Poland and Sweden, where she currently lives… The recordings, all from 1970s recitals, are a bit dry in the Chopin, more vivid in the newer pieces.” He calls the artist “a remarkable pianist who combines the best of modern and romantic styles.” (ARG)

Chopin In Choral Transcription

NAIVE 4957
Choral Transcriptions of Bach, Barber, Berg, Chopin, etc…

Lindsay Koob reviews “this outstanding French chamber Ensemble” for a second time and finds that an entire album of transcriptions “such as these, spectacularly performed, makes for a different and supremely rewarding choral experience, especially if you know the original material. This has got to be one of the most novel and striking collections I’ve ever covered.” He is especially impressed with “Franck Krawczyk’s two rewrites of piano works from Chopin.”

Polish Jazz Network

The History of Jazz – Limited edition box set – 28 CDs

Thanks to Multimedia-Polska Szczecin a new and valuable resource for all who wish to learn more about the history of jazz has become available. This comprehensive chronicle of jazz starts from Ragtime and Blues and continue until Jazz Rock of 1970s. The series consists of 28 CDs with 21 volumes devoted to musical varieties from history of jazz with short (5 – 15 sec.) analysis made by the author of this astounding project — Andrzej Schmidt, professor of music at the Music Academy in Katowice, Poland. The last seven CDs include brief essays presented by the author himself (in Polish). Absolutely astonishing! Must have for all jazz fans. For more details please visit http://multimedia polska.pl/jazz/. Please address all inquiry to info@multimedia-polska.pl

Opus Absolutum

Taso Music (TMP CD 509)
Charlie Mariano – alto sax, flute; Vitold Rek – double bass; Vladislav Sendetzki – piano; Martin France – drums.

“Opus Absolutum” is a contemporary jazz album with that deepness you look for on other recordings, but in vain. Congratulations ! (Peggy Thiele, Jazzdimentions, Nov.2003) TASO MUSIC PRODUCTION presents CDs with an original and unique musical synthesis of tradition and the modern. The TASO label promotes music from across the cultures, music which weaves together on its way through all productions. To purchase, visit amazon.de.

Mischa Mischakoff—Concertmaster Of The Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra

by Joseph A. Herter

When the Warsaw Philharmonic celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2001, I was surprised to find no mention of Mischa Mischakoff in the orchestra’s centennial publication 100 lat filharmonii w Warszawie, 1901-2001. Coming from Detroit, I remember Mischakoff as being the concertmaster of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, which, in the days of my youth, was conducted by the Frenchman Paul Paray. Undoubtedly, one of the most outstanding Detroit Symphony concerts I ever heard was Mischa Mischakoff’s farewell concert during the summer of 1968 at the orchestra’s summer Meadowbrook Festival, when the violinist gave an unforgettably electrifying performance of Brahms’ Double Concerto for Violin and ‘Cello with ‘cellist Gregor Piatigorsky (1903-76). It was in the program notes for this concert that I first read that both Piatigorsky and Mischakoff had escaped from Bolshevik Russia via Poland, where both had become concertmasters of their sections in the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra during the 1921-22 concert season. [1] A few years ago, I once more came across this information while searching though WW II vintage programs given at New York’s Carnegie Hall. In an NBC Symphony program conducted by Artur Rodziński, the conductor reminisced about a concert that he once had at the Warsaw Philharmonic when its personnel included these two famous Russian-born musicians.

On October 8, 2001, I wrote a letter to the Detroit Symphony’s archivist asking if they could supply more information to confirm Mischakoff’s position with the Warsaw Philharmonic. I did not receive an answer until December 8, 2003, when the violinist’s daughter Anne Mischakoff Heiles, a violist and Visiting Professor of Music at the University of Illinois in Urbana, wrote back stating that she had found my letter in the Mischakoff file during a recent visit to the Detroit Symphony. The mystery about her father and Warsaw was finally solved: While living in Warsaw, Mischakoff performed under the pseudonym of Michał Fiber (sometimes spelled Fičber). Indeed, the name Fiber (surname only) does appear in a list of Warsaw Philharmonic concertmasters in the orchestra’s earlier-mentioned centennial album.

“Fiber” would be only one of several names that Mischakoff used during the early part of his life, which was most probably done to hide his Jewish origin in a part of the world notorious for its anti-Semitism. The Ukrainian town of his birth Proskurov (now called Khmelnitsky) was, as Mischakoff’s daughter Anne Heiles writes, “known for manufacturing chocolates and pogroms against its Jewish population”. [2] She then goes to point out, that in keeping with the bloody history of the city, the communists renamed it after the ruthless Bogdan Khmelnitsky who led the Ukrainian “War of Liberation” against Poland in the 17th century.

Mischakoff as a young teen. Collection of Anne Mischakoff Heiles.

Our Warsaw concertmaster was actually Mischa Isaakevich Fishberg. When Mischakoff gave his orchestral debut as a young teenage soloist performing Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto in 1911 in the Ukrainian town of Kisłowodsk, [3] the artist concocted his first stage name. Basing it on his mother’s name Massia (Marsha), he became Mischa Mazia. [4] A 1913 solo appearance in Berlin saw him billed as Mischa Fibere and Warsaw saw him as Michał Fiber (or Fièber). It was not until 1923 when Mr. Fishberg’s concert manager in New York suggested the surname of Mischakoff, the name he chose to use until the end of his life.

Mrs. Heiles was kind enough to send me most of the information needed for this paper about her father, including photocopies of numerous programs and reviews taken from her father’s half dozen scrapbooks that show Mischakoff performed both in Warsaw and in other cities in Poland during his one but extremely productive year there. Before going into how Warsaw became a stepping-stone to freedom for not only Mischakoff and Piatigorsky, but also for the Russian conductor and arranger André Kostelanetz (1901-80), who was also employed as a pianist for several months at the Warsaw Philharmonic in 1922, it is first necessary to see what an extraordinary violinist and musician “Michał Fiber” was.

Mischa Mischakoff was born on April 16, 1895 (according to his recollection) or 1897 (according to his sisters’, who told him that his date of birth was made earlier in order to get him admitted into the St. Petersburg Conservatory). [5] A pupil of Professor Sergei Korguyev who had been a pupil of Leopold Auer, he graduated in 1912, winning the conservatory’s Gold Medal and Rubinstein Awards. After having served in the Russian Army’s music regiment during World War I, he became a professor at Nizhi Novgorod’s Conservatory and concertmaster of the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra and the Moscow Grand Opera (1920) and solo violinist of the Bol’shoi Ballet. [6]

In 1921, the Soviet government organized a chamber music concert tour for the principal players of the Bol’shoi Ballet Orchestra and provided them with a special train car for the tour. While near the Polish border in the southwestern part of Russia, Piatigorsky and Mischakoff made the dash for freedom, first to Lwów, Poland (now Lviv, Ukraine) and then to the Polish capital itself. It is not known how long the two men stayed in Lwów before moving onto Warsaw, but it was certainly long enough to provide one incredible event in the life of Mischakoff. His daughter describes it in her unpublished paper in the following way:

One day, while eating in a café in Lemberg, [7] an old man overheard Piatigorsky and Mischakoff talking, and came up to ask, ‘Do you have a sister?’ ‘Yes, but I haven’t seen her since I was six or seven years old.’ [8] ‘I think I’ve just seen her,’ the old man said. She’s sitting right now in the office of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society just down the street.’ He hurried off, and the two found each other, though not immediately recognizing one another. After the joyful reunion, he heard news of his family, and that some of his siblings had already made it to the United States. They found the address and Mischakoff sent a cable. For the first time in seven years, he had news of Yascha, [9] and he learned that five brothers had come to New York; two of them were members of the Philharmonic Orchestra, one a conductor of a fashionable hotel orchestra, and Yascha was a teacher (and became concertmaster of the City Symphony Orchestra in 1923). [10]

It was the famous conductor Emil Młynarski who helped Mischakoff and Piatigorsky at the outset of their stay in Warsaw and later with obtaining identification papers and work permits as well as arranging for the Warsaw Philharmonic to employ them. [11] In fact, according to Marcia Whitcomb of Denver, a cellist with the Centennial Orchestra (the former Antonia Brico Orchestra) and a 1960 graduate of the Kansas City Conservatory, one of Wiktor Łabuński’s favorite anecdotes was to recall the night that he and his wife Wanda (one of Młynarski’s daughters) were at the Młynarskis’ home in Warsaw when two large and decrepit-looking Russian musicians knocked on the Młynarski’s door asking for asylum. [12] “They conversed with Młynarski, were given a room and a bath, and then joined the family to introduce themselves. One man said, ‘I’m Mischa Mischakoff, and this is my friend, Gregor Piatigorsky.'” [13]

In addition to the regular duties of being the concertmaster and an orchestral musician for the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, Mischakoff also led a very active career as both a soloist and as a performer of chamber music. The Russian violinist was the featured soloist for violin concertos performed on five different occasions during his season with the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra as well as two guest appearances with the Łódź Philharmonic Orchestra and one with the Wilno (now Vilnius, Lithuania) Symphony Orchestra. He was also a featured soloist on no less than five regular subscription chamber music concerts at the Warsaw Philharmonic. In addition to these concerts, there were at least six other Warsaw concert venues that hosted Mischakoff, including the Warsaw Conservatory which saw two concerts with him, ‘cellist Gregor Piatigorsky, and pianist/composer Henryk Melcer performing music by Beethoven and Schubert. Besides the Warsaw recitals, Mischakoff also gave recitals in Białystok and Lublin. Even though Mischakoff was a young man in his twenties in 1921, eighty-three years later his demanding performance schedule is still quite amazing and causes one to admire what an active role he played in Poland’s musical life during the span of one concert season. Mischakoff’s Polish concert diary of solo concerto performances is given in the chart below.

Mischakoff’s interest in the Karłowicz concerto stems from the beginning of Warsaw’s 1921-22 concert season which saw the violinist Bronislaw Hubermann perform this work. Before coming to Poland, Mischakoff had the distinction of playing the world premiere of Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in Russia with the composer conducting in 1917, before the concerto had been published. [14] After leaving Poland, Mischakoff helped popularize the violin concerto of former Paderewski pupil Ernest Schelling. Other musical firsts for which he and his Mischakoff String Quartet were responsible include the following: the American premiere of Bartok’s String Quartet No. 3 in Philadelphia and the first American performance of Schönberg’s Verklärte Nacht in Chautauqua, New York.

This artist’s Warsaw recital repertoire ranged from such light classics as Fibich’s Poême, Gluck’s Melody, Kreisler’s Tambourine Chinois and Wieniawski’s Tarantella to much more serious works, including sonatas by Beethoven, Franck, Grieg and Schubert. With fellow countryman Piatigorsky or the Polish cellist Eli Kochański, Mischakoff performed the trios of Arensky, Beethoven, Schubert and Tchaikovsky. The pianists, who either performed in these trios or who accompanied Mischakoff as a soloist, include the following: Róża Benzefowa, Marian Dąbrowski, H. Datyner, Józef Fiszhaut, Jerzy Hirszfeld, André Kostelanetz, Jerzy Lefeld, Henryk Melcer, Janusz Miketta, Artur Rodziński, Marian Rudzicki, Ludwik Urstein and Jerzy Żurawiew. To this list should be added the name of the organist/composer Mieczysław Surzyński, the organist of Warsaw’s St. John Cathedral, with whom Mischakoff performed a concert of Baroque music featuring works by M. Franck, Vitali, Lully and Vivaldi.

The Polish press was superlative in its praise of the new young violinist which had joined Warsaw’s musical circle. One review hailed Mischakoff as “a first class violinist,” [16]while another described his debut performance of Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto with the Warsaw Philharmonic as having “…captivated the entire auditorium with the beautiful tone of his violin and the technical side of his interpretation.” [17] Regarding his performance of Baroque music (an out-of-the-ordinary musical event for those times) with Surzyński, the press reported “A storm of applause greeted Mr. Fiber’s performance of T. Vitali’s Chaconne… Mr. Fiber overcame the violin’s great technical difficulties with true mastery and exactitude.” [18]

Coming onto Warsaw’s musical scene in the late winter of 1922 was another Russian great, André Kostelanetz, who escaped from the Bolsheviks via Wilno. This time it was Mischakoff who used his influence to have the Warsaw Philharmonic hire Kostelanetz as a pianist, a job that he had held at the Petrograd Opera. In his autobiography, Kostelanetz writes:

Mischa had decided to give a special Sunday afternoon recital that would feature solo performances by some of the orchestra players, and he asked me to accompany them on the piano. We gave the concert, and it went very well. Afterward, in a reception room just offstage, there was a small gathering of musicians and some members of the audience. Mischa spoke only Russian, so I stayed near him to help communications along by fitting in some German here, some French there. And it worked out pretty well. At one point a couple came up to us and introduced themselves as Monsieur et Madame Keena[19] Monsieur began to praise us, continuing in French, saying that we were wonderful musicians and had we ever thought of going to the United States, where great artists were much appreciated? I told him we would love to do just that, but unfortunately there would have to be a three-year wait for a visa. And now both Keenas smiled at me, and it was Fortune’s smile. ‘Je suis le consul américaine!’ M. Keena said. If we would come to the consulate the next morning, he would personally issue us our visas. [20]

The quotation written on this picture reads “Znakomitemu skrzypkowi i sympatycznemu artyście p. Fiberowi na pamiątkę koncertów w Filharmonii Warszawskiej.” Emil Młynarski, 5.9.22 (05.IX.1922) [To the superb violinist and sympathetic artist Mr. Fiber as a token of remembrance for his concerts at the Warsaw Philharmonic.]
What became Poland and Russia’s musical loss turned out to be America’s musical gain. Mischakoff and Kostelanetz sailed to America on the S.S. Aquitania and arrived in New York on September 22, 1922. [21] Mischakoff spent nearly seventy years in the role of concertmaster, including almost a half-century with some of the best orchestras in the United States. A year after his arrival, he began his American career by playing with the New York Symphony 1923-26 (Walter Damrosch, conductor). Other orchestras followed: the Philadelphia Orchestra 1927-29 (Leopold Stokowski, conductor), the Chicago Symphony 1930-37 (Frederick Stock, conductor), the NBC Symphony 1937-53 (Arturo Toscanini, conductor), and the Detroit Symphony 1953-68 (Paul Paray and Sixten Ehrling, conductors). He then played as concertmaster of the Baltimore Symphony for a year in retirement with conductor Sergiu Comissiona. [22] From May 1934 in Chicago until the time of his death in Detroit on February 1, 1981, Mischakoff played a Stradivarius which had been one out of a set of twelve instruments that Augustus II, King of Poland and Elector of Saxony, had bought from Stradivarius in 1715. [23]

Mischa’s life as a concertmaster and soloist was also combined with an American teaching career. While he was concertmaster of the legendary NBC Symphony in New York, he taught at the Juilliard School of Music. In Detroit, he was on the faculty of Wayne State University, and in Chicago at the American Conservatory. For nearly 40 summers he was the head of the violin department at the Chautauqua Music School in New York. In retirement he was a guest professor at Boston University and for a couple of summers he was also on the faculty at the Aspen Music Festival and School in Colorado. His many students have held faculty posts at America’s leading music schools as well as positions with America’s leading string quartets and orchestras. To name only a few they include the following: Leonard Sorkin (leader of the Fine Arts Quartet), Samuel Thaviu (concertmaster of the Pittsburgh Symphony), Joseph Silverstein (for 22 years the concertmaster of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and later the conductor of the Utah Symphony Orchestra), Isidor Saslav (concertmaster of the orchestras of Baltimore, Minneapolis and New Zealand), David Cerone (director of the Cleveland Institute of Music) and Ani and Ida Kavafian (chamber music in New York). [24]

Hopefully, having uncovered the true identity of the former Warsaw Philharmonic concertmaster Michał Fiber and pointing out the presence of André Kostelanetz among the orchestra’s personnel will give the National Philharmonic in Warsaw pride in knowing that it was not just one great Russian-born musician, Gregor Piatigorsky, who played in the orchestra during its 1921-22 season. Indeed, there were three great Russian-born musicians, who, while using Warsaw as a stepping-stone to freedom, enriched the musical life of Warsaw during that year: Mischa Mischakoff, André Kostelanetz and Gregor Piatigorsky, three outstanding and magnificent musicians. If they had not first come to Poland in search of freedom, they might have never been able to play the unforgettable roles they did in American musical life.

Warsaw, Poland
January 2004


All the photographs included in this article come from the private collection of the violinist’s daughter, Anne Mischakoff Heiles. The first photo was taken of Mischakoff in his late teens. Mischakoff played with the Warsaw Philharmonic when he was 24 (or maybe 26). The second photo is a portrait of the violinist in the 1920s. The third photo is of Emil Młynarski in 1922, given to Mischakoff as a souvenir. The Mischakoff-Piatigorsky photo was taken during Mischakoff’s farewell concert with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra at their summer festival, Meadowbrook, in August 1968. This was a “repeat” performance of the Brahms Double which they played together in Warsaw on November 13, 1921. On the podium is Swedish-born conductor Sixten Ehrling, music director of the DSO.


[1]. Piatigorsky was actually the assistant concertmaster to Eli Kochański (1885? – 1940), the brother of the world-famous violinist Paweł Kochański. [Back]

[2]. Heiles, Anne Mischakoff. Mischa Mischakoff (1895-1981), an unpublished paper, p. 3. [Back]

[3]. Photocopy of June 25, 1911 program of the 4th Orchestral Concert in the Kisłowodsk (Ukraine) Theater and Park. [Back]

[4]. Heiles, Anne Mischakoff. E-mail letter to author, December 29, 2003. [Back]

[5]. Under the Julian calendar the date would be April 3. [Back]

[6]. Heiles, Anne Mischakoff. E-mail letter to author, December 8, 2003, and Heiles’ Mischa Mischakoff, p. 14. [Back]

[7]. The German name for Lwów, which was at one time the capital of the Austrian province of Galicia. It was known for being one of the most cosmopolitan cities in Eastern Europe and prided itself on its large and diverse Armenian, Austrian (German), Gypsy, Jewish, Polish, Russian and Ukrainian ethnic communities. [Back]

[8]. Mischakoff was the fifteenth of sixteen children born to his parents. [Back]

[9]. His older brother who was born in 1889. [Back]

[10]. Heiles, 31-32.[Back]

[11]. Piatigorsky, Gregor. Cellist. New York: Da Capo Press, 1976, 55f. Emil Młynarski (1870-1935), a cofounder of the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra and its first conductor, was at this time the director of Warsaw’s Teatr Wielki (The Warsaw Opera House) and, until his resignation in January 1922, the director of the Warsaw Conservatory. [Back]

[12]. Wiktor Łabuński (1895-1974), Polish pianist, composer and conductor, born in St. Petersburg, immigrated to the United States in 1928. He was on the faculty of the Kansas City Conservatory from 1937 and also its director from 1941 to 1958. He spent his last years in Kansas City. Related to the Młynarski family through marriage, he was also the brother-in-law to Artur Rubinstein’s wife Aniela (Nela), the other Młynarski daughter. [Back]

[13]. Whitcomb, Marcia. E-mail letter to author, November 12, 2003. In 1959, the Kansas City Conservatory became incorporated into the University of Kansas and later became part of the Missouri state university system. [Back]

[14]. The first performance of this concerto in the West took place in Paris on October 18, 1923, with Marcel Darrieux (violin), the Paris Opera Orchestra and Serge Koussevitzky (conductor). [Back]

[15]. Heiles. E-mail letter to author, December 29, 2003. [Back]

[16]. “…jako skrzypek pierwszorzędny.” From an undated review entitled Sztuka z Muzyki and signed “Ro.” [Back]

[17]. “…podbił całe auditorjum pięknym tonem swoich skrzypiec i techniczną stroną interpacji (sic!).” From an undated and untitled review signed “F. Han.” [Back]

[18]. “Burzę oklasków wywołał p. Fiber, wykonaniem “Chaconne” T. Vitali… P. Fiber z prawdziwem (sic!) mistrzostwem i dokładnością pokonywał wielkie trudności techniki skrzypcowej…” From an undated review from Przegląd teatralny i kinematografie signed “Fortuna.” [Back]

[19]. Leo John Keena (1878-1967), the American Consul General in Warsaw (1921-22), was a native of Michigan and an alumnus of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where he was a fullback on the U of M football team (1897-99). [Back]

[20]. Kostelanetz, André and G. Hammond. Echoes: Memoirs of André Kostelanetz. New York and London: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers, 45-46. [Back]

[21]. Heiles. E-mail letter to author, January 1, 2004. [Back]

[22]. Heiles. E-mail letter to author, December 8, 2003. [Back]

[23]. Heiles. E-mail letter to author, January 18, 2004. [Back]

[24]. Heiles. E-mail letter to author, December 29, 2003. [Back]


Born This Month

  • 1 January 1927 – Juliusz ŁUCIUK, composer, musicologist
  • 1 January 1872 – Tadeusz JARECKI, conductor (d. 1955)
  • 2 January 1894 – Artur RODZIŃSKI, conductor, music director (d. 1958)
  • 2 January 1907 – Henryk GADOMSKI, composer and conductor (d. 1941, Auschwitz)
  • 3 January 1885 – Raoul KOCZALSKI (d. 1948), pianist and composer
  • 13 January 1921 – Wanda WILK, founder of the Polish Music Center
  • 17 January 1898 – Jerzy LEFELD, pianist and piano professor
  • 23 January 1888 – Jerzy GABLENZ, composer (d. 1937)
  • 25 January 1913 – Witold LUTOSŁAWSKI, composer (d. 1994)
  • 25 January 1928 – Andrzej CWOJDZINSKI, composer and conductor
  • 28 January 1717 – Just Franciszek KASPER, priest, composer, conductor (d. 1760)
  • 26 January 1886 – Artur RUBINSTEIN, pianist (d. 1981)
  • 31 January 1926 – Stanisław PRÓSZYŃSKI, composer


Died This Month

  • 1 January 1953 – Ludomir RÓŻYCKI (b. 1884), composer, pianist, member of the group Young Poland
  • 9 January 1842 – Józef KROGULSKI (b. 1815), pianist, conductor, voice teacher
  • 9 January 1981 – Kazimierz SEROCKI(b. 1922), composer, co-founder of the Warsaw Autumn Festival
  • 11 January 1935 – Marcellina SEMBRICH-KOCHAŃSKA (b. 1858), singer – coloratura soprano
  • 12 January 1934 – Paweł KOCHAŃSKI (b. 1878), virtuoso violinist, Szymanowski’s collaborator
  • 17 January 1969 – Grażyna BACEWICZ(b. 1909), composer, violinist, pianist
  • 19 January 1951 – Stanisław GOLACHOWSKI (b. 1907), musicologist
  • 21 January 1618 – Krzystof KRAIŃSKI [Crainscius], preacher, author of a song collection (b. 1556)
  • 23 January 1946 – Feliks NOWOWIEJSKI (b. 1877), composer, conductor, organist
  • 23 January 1921- Władysław ŻELENSKI, composer (b. 1837)
  • 26 January 1946 – Ignacy FRIEDMAN, composer and virtuoso pianist (b. 1882)