June 2004

Polish Music Center Newsletter Vol. 10, no. 6

Summer Closure

The Polish Music Center will be in a mode of limited operations from June 18th through July 18th. The collection will not be available for use during that time. Email and phone messages will be answered as often as possible. The Newsletter will continue on its monthly schedule. Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience that this may cause.


Stanko: North American Tour

Trumpeter Tomasz Stanko is arguably the most important jazz musician to emanate from Poland. In fact, his contribution to the music extends throughout Europe and around the world. In 2000, Jazz Forum magazine’s critics’ poll named Stanko as the “Musician of the decade”. Two years later, he was honoured as the very first winner of the European Jazz Prize which is intended to recognize outstanding European jazz musicians.

Stanko began his tenure as a major force in European free jazz in the early 1960s when he formed a quartet which also featured pianist Adam Makowicz. In the mid-1960s, he played with Krzysztof Komeda in a group that revolutionized European jazz. From 1968 to 1973 he led his own quintet, a group which also included violinist Zbigniew Seifert. Besides his work as a leader in the 1970s, he also worked with such influential creative jazz artists as Michal Urbaniak, Cecil Taylor, Gary Peacock and Edward Vesala. In the 1980s, he collaborated with James Spaulding, Chico Freeman, Jack DeJohnette and Rufus Reid.

His most recent recordings, “Soul of Things” and “Suspended Night”, feature the quartet that will join him for his North American tour in June: the Tomasz Stanko Quartet, with Tomasz Stanko – trumpet, Marcin Wasilewski – piano, Slawomir Kulkiewicz – bass, Michal Miskiewicz – drums. The three sidemen were only teenagers when Stanko took them under his wing in 1994. They quickly developed into his band of choice for all Polish engagements and they have accompanied him on his two most recent North American tours. They also perform as a trio under the name Simple Acoustic Trio but their first commitment is to Stanko. “He is our country’s greatest jazz musician,” says pianist Marcin Wasilewski.

The citation from the European Jazz Prize jury says it all: “While Stanko has obviously drawn on American models, he has developed a unique sound and personal music that is instantly recognizable and unmistakably his own, rooted in his Slavic heritage, romantic upbringing and classical education, which he received in Cracow before starting a jazz career in the early ’60s. His distinctive rough tone conveys a sense of drama, melancholy, sadness and existential pain. A free-jazz pioneer, he went to become one of the finest trumpeters, a world-class player, a stylist, a charismatic performer and original composer, his music now assuming a simplicity of form and mellowness that comes with years of work, exploration and experience. Tomasz Stanko—a true master and leader of European jazz.”

Photograph by Leszek Pilichowski

Tomasz Stanko Quartet—2 Performances in Southern California:

June 13: Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, 7 and 9:30 pm
1008 Wall St. La Jolla, CA 92037
reservation line: 858.454.5872, $18/23

June 14: Jazz Bakery, 8:00 and 9:30 PM
3233 Helms Ave. Culver City, CA 90034
reservation line: 310.271.9039, $20

For more information on Tomasz Stanko and his North American Tour, visit www.stanko.polishjazz.com.

San Francisco Chopin Competition

The Annual San Francisco Chopin Competition for Young Pianists is open to pianists fifteen years old or younger, residing or studying in the San Francisco Bay Area. The competitio is organized by The Chopin Foundation of the United States—Council of San Francisco.

The Ninth Annual Competition will take place on 5 June 2004 from 9:30 am – 6:00 pm in Hellman Hall of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Hellman Hall is located at 1201 Ortega (at 19th Avenue). The competition is open to the public and admission is free. The Concert of the Winners will take place the following day, 6 June at 4 pm, also in Hellman Hall. For this concert, a donation of $5 is requested. For more information call 925-247-0894 or write to ChopinSF@aol.com.

Jewish Cultural Festival In NY

June 7 – 10, 2004


Manhattan’s popular cultural venue, Makor, is presenting a four-day multimedia tribute to the 14th annual Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow, Poland, which runs shortly thereafter from June 26 through July 4, 2004. One of the most important festivals of its kind in the world, the Jewish Culture Festival, increasingly popular internationally but most notably among young Poles, pays homage to 1000 years of Jewish arts, culture, and music in Poland. Starting June 7, Makor’s own mini-Krakow Festival features a compelling selection of both traditional and cutting-edge film, art, talk, and music featuring past performers at the Krakow festival as well as the new generation of talent in an homage to Jewish tradition that integrates the traditional with contemporary artistic innovation. Most of the presentations are focused of the Jewish traditional Klezmer music.

For more information , visit:

PIASA Annual Meeting

The 62nd Annual Meeting of the Polish Institute of Arts & Sciences of America will take place on Friday, June 4 and Saturday June 5, 2004 (8:30 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.). This national multi-disciplinary conference on Polish and Polish-American Studies is sponsored by PIASA, with the cooperation of its host, Northeastern University in Boston, MA. H.E. Przemyslaw Grudzinski, Ambassador of the Republic of Poland in Washington, D.C. will address the conference on Saturday, June 5, during the Gala Banquet that will end the event. Music highlights: Composers of Polandpresentation/discussion, featuring Kurpiński’s “Principles of Music” and Its Democratization by Anne Swartz and “Lutosławski and His Manuscripts in Los Angeles” by Maja Trochimczyk.

The full program of the meeting is available at: http://www.piasa.org/62annualmeeting.pdf. For more information, email Dr. Thaddeus Gromada at tgromada@mindspring.com.

Chopin Festival In Paris

18 June to 14 July 2004

Every year for the past 20, the Société Chopin ŕ Paris has organized a festival of Chopin’s music. This year, the society and the festival are especially honored because this year is a special one for the relationship between France and Poland. The is the year of Poland’s entrance into the European Union and of France’s nation-wide, year-long celebration of Poland’s culture and history, Nova Polska. The almost daily concerts all feature one or more pieces by Chopin plus works by other Polish and non-Polish composers, played by internationally-reknowned artists.

For a calendar of events in English, visit infochopin.plf. The official website of the Festival organizers is www.frederic-chopin.com.

Newest PWM Editions

The Polish music publishers Polskie Wydawnictwo Muzycne feature the following two items on their web page. The newest score for violin and piano is Grazyna Bacewicz’s, Najpiekniesza Bacewicz [The Most Beautiful Bacewicz], a selection of this composer’s most beautiful and famous violin works. (Note: Look for Chandos’ newest recording this fall of Bacewicz violin works with soloist Joanna Kurkowicz).

Also, the 8th Edition of the Polish Music Encyclopedia, edited by Elżbieta Dziebowska, emphasizes the life and works of Poles throughout the ages: composers, performers, theorists, librettists and poets, jazz, pop and classical musicians. It also includes non-Poles who have effected the world of Polish music, like Ravel, Prokofiev, Rameau and Rousseau among others.

New New Yorkers Festival

The “NEW NEW YORKERS and their Friends” festival in Warsaw will showcase the contributions Polish émigrés have made to American culture. Polish, Polish-American and non-Polish artists who have collaborated with or have been influenced by their Polish counterparts in the creative ferment of New York City will be featured. The festival will showcase a full range of cultural events: music, dance, film, theater, literature and the visual arts.

While American cultural programs are often featured in Warsaw, few in Poland are aware of the depth of talent represented by Polish and other émigrés living in the United States, with New York being the natural hub for artists of all kinds. There is a great and largely untold story of how Polish and other foreign talent infuses New York City’s cultural life with new ideas and unique perspectives; how artists who are not native to New York become New Yorkers. It is also a story of the union of diverse ideas and inspirations, forms and atmospheres in New York City, a world capital of international culture.

The festival will take place in Warsaw from June 25th to July 4th—culminating on American Independence Day. It will take place in a range of cultural venues throughout the city and feature activities aimed at the general public. Possible events include: concerts on an outdoor stage, theatrical performances, poetry readings, film screenings, art exhibits and seminars.

For more information, please visit www.newnewyorkers.pl.

Interdisciplinary Chopin

The Age of Chopin: Interdisciplinary Inquiries is a new collection edited by Halina Goldberg, in which leading international scholars uncover the political, social, and aesthetic backdrop to Chopin’s life and works. This multidisciplinary collection addresses Chopin’s life and oeuvre in various cultural contexts of his era. Fourteen original essays by internationally known scholars suggest new connections between his compositions and the intellectual, literary, artistic, and musical environs of Warsaw and Paris. Individual essays consider representations of Chopin in the visual arts; reception in the United States and in Poland; analytical aspects of the mazurkas and waltzes; and political, literary, and gender aspects of Chopin’s music and legacy. Several senior scholars represent the fields of American, Western European, and Polish history; Slavic literature; musicology; music theory; and art history. Contributors include Zofia Chechlińska, Maja Trochimczyk, James Parakilas, Irena Poniatowska, Sandra Rosenblum, Daniel Stone and others. This books is published by and distributed by the Indiana University Press and is available at www.indiana.edu.

Elsner Remembered

The 150th anniversary of Józef Elsner’s death took place on the 18th of April. He is most known for his role as Fryderyk Chopin’s teacher. Not as well known is the fact that he wrote more than 400 compositions, with special emphasis on sacred music. Only recently has a Mass in B major been identified in the Poznan Archiodese Archives as Elsner’s composition written in 1801. Up to now the manuscript had been considered lost.

About 130 of Elsner’s works are masses, oratorios, passions, motets, hymns and offertories and they are considered his most serious and valuable works. According to Marta Pielack Chopin greatly admired his teacher and said so in three of his letters. A long bibliography follows her article (Ruch Muzyczny 18 April).

Summer Music Festivals In Poland


considered today to be one of the capital city’s premiere festivals and one of the most significant events of its kind in the world. It was created in 1991 on the initiative of organist Przemyslaw Kapitula, who viewed the event as a celebration of the 4th Pilgrimage of Pope John Paul II to his homeland. The festival fundamentally aims to present the musical works of Christianity and other religions in an attractive form. Since the first edition, Warsaw’s churches have hosted religious music concerts that have explored both the historical and formal aspects of the genre. Another interesting facet of the event is the promotion it accomplishes by juxtaposing the work of Polish composers against recognized world masterpieces. Warsaw, May 30 – June 6, 2004.


Sixteen concerts that will present the works of George Friedrich Handel (1685-1759) against a broad panorama of German, English, Italian and French music of the 17th and 18th centuries. This festival will bring together a wide variety of international performers. Torun, June 4 – June 12, 2004. For more information, visit haendeltorun.pl.

Lublin Dance in NY

AMERICAN DANCE GUILD’s three-day celebration (June 11-13) of contemporary dance from around the world, including distinguished speakers, panels, and rare films at Columbia University (see below), and workshops and performances by groups from many countries will feature the world-renown Lublin Dance Theatre, accompanied by members of the Contemporary Dance Group of Lublin Technical University. LDT will give one performance on Friday, June 11, at 9:30 PM of two of its classic pieces: “Acrobats, Flowers, and the Moon” inspired by Marc Chagall’s work, and “Optical Tract”, both choreographed by LDT founder and Artistic Director Hanna Strzemiecka. The LDT will also give one workshop on each of the three days.

  • One performance only: Friday, June 11, at 9:30 pm
  • 3 workshops: June 11 at 11 am – 12:30 pm, June 12 at 5 – 6:30 pm, June 13 at 1 – 2:30 pm

Tickets: $20 per event
For detailed information call Marilyn Danitz at (212) 222-7204 or for reservations call (212) 769-3789. For more information contact Wendy Jessup at wendyjessup1@aol.com.
Performance and workshops will be held at the Merce Cunningham Dance Space, 55 Bethune Street, New York City.

For more information on the rest of the dance festival, see schedule and informationpages at the Polish Cultural Institute.

LACMA Exhibition

JUNE 13 — OCTOBER 3, 2004

Beyond Geometry: Experiments in Form 1940s – 1970s, a landmark exhibition at the L.A. County Museum of Art, examines the role of radically simplified form and systematic strategies in the evolution of vanguard art across the West in the decades following the Second World War. Covering Central and Western Europe and North and South America, Beyond Geometry is the first exhibition to treat these issues art-historically, in a broad international context.

It is also the first to examine South American Concrete art outside of its regional context. Latin America and Central Europe are frequently referred to as “non-Western”. In both cases this is a misunderstanding. Beyond Geometry helps place the recent art history of Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Uruguay, Venezuela, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland within that of the West, where it belongs. It looks carefully at differences as well as similarities in art trends and ideas on the three continents. Polish artists represented in the exhibition include Poland’s representatives at the 2003 Venice Biennale: Stanisław Dróżdż, Wojciech Fangor, Jaroslaw Kozlowski and Roman Opalka.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art 5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90036 (323) 857-6000 (general information)

For more information, visit www.lacma.org or www.polishculture-nyc.org.

60th Anniversary: Warsaw Uprising And Monte Cassino

On its 60th anniversary, CNN premieres a groundbreaking documentary on a chapter in the war that is little-known outside of Poland. “Warsaw Rising: The Forgotten Soldiers of World War II—The ‘Powstanie’ Uprising of 1944” tells the story of the Polish Resistance and its 63-day battle against the Nazis, a battle fought while the Western world celebrated the successful Allied landings at Normandy. Through interviews with survivors and use of rarely seen footage filmed by the Underground Army, CNN Presents offers an unflinching look at how a country known as the “first ally” was abandoned in its hour of need.

In the summer of 1944, an underground army of ordinary citizens in Warsaw rose up against their Nazi occupiers in the belief that the D-Day invasion in the west and Soviet advances in the east gave them a chance for freedom. Underground fighters, many of them teenagers, fought with homemade weapons against a heavily fortified German army. They believed the fight would last for only the few days until the Allies could come to their aid. Instead, they fought for 63 days alone. “There was a sense of frustration and injustice that was quite, quite strong,” said Zbigniew Brzezinski, former National Security Advisor, whose relatives lived through the Nazi occupation in Poland.

When the Poles most needed Allied help, Soviet dictator Josef Stalin refused to let his troops cross the Vistula River to aid the Poles in liberating Warsaw. And Poland’s other allies, the United States and England, were reluctant to force the issue with Stalin. Unknown to Polish leaders and citizens at the time, Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill had struck a deal with Stalin, ceding him control over Central Europe in return for his help fighting the Germans.

In the end, the Nazis slaughtered the Polish resistance and razed Warsaw. More than 200,000 people died. Half a million were driven out of the city. More than three quarters of the Underground Army had perished; many of the survivors ended up in Soviet prisons. Yet the story of this tragic loss received little attention. “The story of the Warsaw Rising was largely forgotten,” said Kathy Slobogin, managing editor of CNN Presents. “For the Allies it was an embarrassment, and for the Soviets it was inconvenient. The Allies didn’t even invite Underground soldiers to the post-war victory parades. There was no official monument to the fighters in Warsaw until 1989. Through ‘Warsaw Rising,’ we are hopeful the world will start to remember.”

In the words of those who survived it, “Warsaw Rising” relates remarkable stories of heroism and survival against the odds. A young tank commander captures a German tank and with it liberates a concentration camp, saving the lives of several hundred Jews slated for death. An Underground soldier and a female Underground courier recount the tale of their 20-hour trek through the sewers below the streets of Warsaw, walking through a river of human waste to escape the Nazis overhead. The survivors of this little-known tragedy of the war finally tell their story. “The passion with which we participated in all those things was probably difficult to understand for people who never lost freedom,” said Christine Jaroscewicz, a 19-year-old fighter at the time. “We had this terrific faith we were going to be free.”

“Warsaw Rising” airs on Sunday, June 6, at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. (ET) in conjunction with a special edition of People in the News that features four U.S. veterans who lived through the D-Day landing. People in the News’ “D-Day: a Call to Courage” airs Sunday, June 6, at 7 p.m. (ET). “Warsaw Rising” re-airs on Saturday, June 12, at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. (ET).

Also, the first book in twenty years about the Battle of Monte Cassino will be published on June 1, 2004. This monumental work of history—originally published in the U.K. and now being released in the U.S. by Doubleday—marks the 60th anniversary of the end of that long and terrible confrontation between Allied forces (from more than a dozen countries, including Poland) and the Nazi army. Based on groundbreaking archival research and the compelling first-person accounts of four hundred survivors on both sides of the conflict, Matthew Parker’s MONTE CASSINO brings to light how incessant disagreements and backbiting at the Allied command level contributed to the carnage and confusion. The destruction of the fourteenth-century monastery itself becomes a powerful symbol of the toll war takes on history and culture. The book amply recognizes the soldiers of the Polish Second Corps who captured the abbey and raised their Polish flag on the summit in that bittersweet and controversial Allied victory of May 17, 1944. Officially the courageous contribution of those Polish soldiers remained, for assorted reasons of state, decidedly under-appreciated for decades on both sides of the Iron Curtain.

Information for this article was taken from a CNN press release and the Polish Cultural Institute.


5th Moniuszko Vocal Competition

The International Stanisław Moniuszko Vocal Competition was founded in June 1992 under the auspices of the National Philharmonic in Warsaw, supported by Polish Ministry of Culture and by the National Opera Teatr Wielki where the competition is held. The aim of this competition is not only to stimulate interest in the music of Moniuszko, but also to draw attention to the works of Paderewski, Karłowicz and Szymanowski as well as Lutosławski, Penderecki and Górecki, who are already ranked among the world’s leading composers headed by the towering presence of Chopin.

After 7 days of competition the Awards of the 5th International Stanisław Moniuszko Vocal Competition were given out on the 22nd of May, 2004. The awards were given as follows:

Maria Foltyn Grand Prix – Wladymyr Moroz (Belarus) – $12,000 USD

Female voice category:

  • First Prize – Lorraine Hinds (USA) – $8,000 USD
  • Second Prize – Wiktoria Jastriebowa (Russia) – $6,000 USD
  • Third Prize – Ewa Biegas (Poland) – $4,000 USD

Male voice category:

  • First Prize – Michail Koleliszwili (Russia) – $8,000 USD
  • Second Prize – Ilya Bannik (Russia) – $6,000 USD
  • Third Prize – Arsen Sogomonian (Armenia) – $4,000 USD

Special awards:

  • Teatr Wielki – National Opera Award for First Prize Winners (participation in an opera production): Wladymyr Moroz (Belarus), Lorraine Hinds (USA), and Michail Koleliszwili (Russia)
  • Ada Sari Award for the best soprano: Lorraine Hinds (USA)
  • Janina Korolewicz-Waydowa Award for the best mezzo-soprano: Barbara Baginska (Poland)
  • Jan Kiepura and Martha Eggerth-Kiepurowa Award for the best tenor: Nurlan Bekmuchambetow (Russia)
  • Adam Didur Award for the best bass-baritone: Michail Koleliszwili (Russia)
  • Stanisław Moniuszko Award for the best performance of a Moniuszko song: Wiktoria Jastriebowa (Russia)
  • Kosciuszko Foundation Award for the best Polish laureate of the Competition: Ewa Biegas (Poland)
  • The Best Polish Laureate Award (participation in a concert in Montreal on 7/11/2004): Ewa Biegas (Poland)
  • The Polish Radio Award for the best Polish participants in the female and male voice categories (participation in the Polish Radio Orchestra concert): Ewa Biegas (Poland) and Remigiusz Lukomski (Poland)
  • Opera and Operetta in Cracow Award (participation in a opera production): Nurlan Bekmuchambetow (Russia)
  • Olsztyn Philharmonic Award for the best Polish laureate (participation in a concert): Ewa Biegas (Poland)
  • Herbert von Karajan Foundation Award (year scholarship in Wiener Statsoper Opera Studio): Maryan Talaba (Ukraine)

Non Statutory Awards:

  • The Audience’s Award (from the National Opera Lovers Club “Trubadur”): Arsen Sogomonian (Armenia)

Visit the official website of the competition at www.moniuszko.art.pl.

France Honors Sikora

Polish composer Elżbieta Sikora received the French “Chevalier de l’Ordre des arts et des lettres” in February. This is one of four most prestigious awards given by the French Republic. The composer has been living in Paris for over twenty years and the award is not only given for achievements in art and music, but also for activities that enrich the culture of France and the world.

PSAA Awards PMC Founder

I am happy to say I received Honorary Membership in the Polish Singers Alliance of America at their 47th International Convention held in Detroit from May 27-30th, together with such distinguished company as Cardinal Majda, Archbishop of Detroit; Polish composer Krysztof Penderecki; Joseph Herter, a native of Detroit and founder and conductor of Cantores Minores, the Boys Choir of Warsaw’s St. John’s Cathedral; and Senator and Dr. Stanley Haidasz from Canada.

Founded in 1889, the PSAA has had more than 300 choruses as members, stretching from New England and Canada to the Midwest and Arizona. Daniel J. Kij, Esq. of Buffalo, NY is currently president of this oldest North American cultural organization consisting of amateur choral groups. They meet every three years and the various choirs compete in their particular categories. I will have a more complete report in an upcoming issue.

Cinéfondation Awards

In 1998, Gilles Jacob and Pierre Viot created the Cinéfondation, under the auspices of the Cannes Film Festival, to promote the discovery of the new generation of filmmakers. An official selection of school films is therefore presented during the Festival. This year, 18 films (of which 4 are animated) from Asia, Europe, North America and Australia have been selected from the 1,000 submitted. The following Polish films and actors were honored for their achievements:

  • FAJNIE, ZE JESTES [NICE TO SEE YOU], directed by Jan Komasa of the Polish National Film School (PWSFTViT) in Łódz, Poland, took 3rd Place.
  • NEBRASKA, a film by Olga Zurawska of the University of Southern California, was one of the 18 official nominations.

Internet News

Julian Fontana

A new website has been developed by William J. Rodriguez, the great-grandson of Julian Fontana. Fontana was a pianist, composer, and author but foremost a loyal and dedicated friend of Frederick Chopin in whose shadow he lived for many years. As a close associate of the great Chopin, Fontana often critiqued, copied, edited and performed Chopin’s music. Additionally he took care of many publishing details, managed accounts, arranged concerts, and attended to many of the necessities of life that the sickly master was unable to do for himself. Fontana’s major accomplishment was, with the blessing of the Chopin family, the posthumous publication of many of Chopin’s previously unpublished manuscripts. Some of these posthumous publications, as well as Fontana’s compositions can be found on this website.

The creator of this website is interested in any additional information pertaining to Fontana or his relationship to Chopin. Please contact him through the website, www.julianfontana.com.

Vincent P. Skowronski

Visit www.skowronskiplays.com to explore the life and global accomplishments of world-acclaimed concert violinist, recording artist and Master Teacher of the Violin, Vincent SKOWRONSKI, and his accompanist, Saori Chiba.

Piano Competitions Listing

For extensive information on International Piano Competitions, visit the website of the Alink-Argerich Foundation at www.alink-argerich.org. There is a fee to view all of the listings. This site is updated every week.

Chopin Download

Edmus.com now has Chopin’s Polonaise op. 53 available for download. Midi files and piano music are available at www.edmus.com.


Stryniak: Poland Tour

Polish-American pianist Jerzy Stryniak, who is the President of the New York Conservatory of Music, was featured in an article in Ruch Muzyczny (7 Mar) in conjunction with his recent concert tour in Poland during the month of March. In the fall Professor Stryjniak will concertize and give master classes in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. His recent three recordings of music by Chopin and Liszt are on American Masters Recording and Management, Inc. and are available fromwww.nyconservatoryofmusic.com.

Calendar of Events

JUNE 1: Moniuszko’s opera, The Haunted Manor. Noon. Moniuszko Auditorium, Teatr Wielki-National Opera, Warsaw. www.teatrwielki.pl. (22) 692-02-00.

JUNE 1: Pan Marimba[Mr. Marimba], an opera for children by Marta Ptaszynska, will be performed for the 100th time on this day. 6 pm. Młynarski Auditorium, Teatr Wielki-National Opera, Warsaw. www.teatrwielki.pl. (22) 692-02-00.

JUNE 1-2: Silesian String Quartet play quartets and quintets of Szymanowski, Górecki, Zarębski. Festival de Mayo (featuring Poland this year), Jalisco, Mexico. 8:30 pm. For more information, see www.festivaldemayo.org.

JUNE 2: Krystian Zimerman Recital. Program: Chopin 4 Mazurkas and Piano Sonata No. 2, Ravel, and Leopold Godowsky. Royal Festival Hall, London. 7:30 pm.

JUNE 3: Waldemar Malicki, Piano recital. Festival de Mayo (featuring Poland this year), Jalisco, Mexico. 8:30 pm. For more information, see www.festivaldemayo.org.

JUNE 4: Krzesimir Dębski (right) will conduct the Jalisco Philharmonic Orchestra in a program including Wieniawski’s Violin Concerto No. 2 and Paganini’s Violin Concerto No. 1. In the second half of the program, the Turnioki ensemble will perform arrangements of Dębski’s compositions. Festival de Mayo (featuring Poland this year), Jalisco, Mexico. 8:30 pm. For more information, see www.festivaldemayo.org.

JUNE 4: Premiere of rock-oratorium Bo ma dusze nasz dom[For Our Home Has a Soul]. Music by S. Fialkowski, Libretto by E. Bryll. Opole Gospel Choir. Produced by Father A. Chibowski. Congress Hall, Warsaw. For further info contact Marcin Sporniak, manager, at manager@muzyka.opole.pl.

JUNE 5: Chizuko Asada, piainist and teacher at CSU-Long Beach, will give a recital in Costa Mesa, CA. Program includes Chopin’s Sonata No.2 in B Minor. Orange Coast Unitarian Universalist Church, 1259 Victoria Street—near Brookhurst & Hamilton (directions). 5:00 pm.

JUNE 5: Pianist Michael Sellers, founder and director of The William Kapell Piano Foundation for Contemporary Music and Musicians, cordially invites audiences to recitals in his Los Feliz home. Program include several pieces by Chopin, as well as Debussey, Scarlatti, Liszt, and Feninger. 8:00 pm. Admission: $15 (includes concert and refreshments). RSVP: (323) 663-1385.

JUNE 5: The 9th Annual San Francisco Chopin Competition for Young Pianists. 9:30 am – 6:00 pm, Hellman Hall, San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Open to the public – Free admission. See above for more details.

JUNE 6: Concert of the Winners of the 9th Annual San Francisco Chopin Competition for Young Pianists. 4:00 pm. Hellman Hall, San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Donation $5.

JUNE 6: Annual Polish Picnic at the Cowell Park, S.F. The festivities start with the outdoor mass in Polish and continue with home made Polish food feast, recreation activities, games and fun for children. East Bay Polish American Association, 925-229-9197.

JUNE 6: Pianist Michael Sellers, founder and director of The William Kapell Piano Foundation for Contemporary Music and Musicians, cordially invites audiences to recitals in his Los Feliz home. Program include several pieces by Chopin, as well as Debussey, Scarlatti, Liszt, and Feninger. 8:00 pm Admission: $15 (includes concert and refreshments). RSVP: (323) 663-1385.

JUNE 11-13: The 50th Annual Polish Festival. Clinton Square, Syracuse, NY.

JUNE 12: Pianist Michael Sellers, founder and director of The William Kapell Piano Foundation for Contemporary Music and Musicians, cordially invites audiences to recitals in his Los Feliz home. Program include several pieces by Chopin, as well as Debussey, Scarlatti, Liszt, and Feninger. 8:00 pm. Admission: $15 (includes concert and refreshments). RSVP: (323) 663-1385.

JUNE 13: Pianist Michael Sellers, founder and director of The William Kapell Piano Foundation for Contemporary Music and Musicians, cordially invites audiences to recitals in his Los Feliz home. Program include several pieces by Chopin, as well as Debussey, Scarlatti, Liszt, and Feninger. 8:00 pm. Admission: $15 (includes concert and refreshments). RSVP: (323) 663-1385.

JUNE 18-20: Milwaukee’s Polish Fest. Maier Festival Park, Milwaukee, WI. Festivities will include the annual Chopin Piano competition at noon on the 20th. Festival information available at www.polishfest.org.

JUNE 27: St. John’s Eve Polish Celebration: picnic, flower wreaths (wianki) with candle lights on the lake, and fun until dusk. Oakland, 2 pm. $5 parking fee. Location: Lake Temescal, southern part of the park, parking available at both ends of lake. Bring your own food, beverages and flowers. Organized by Polish Arts and Culture Foundation for more information call David Husar 415-871-7273.

* For more Concerts in Poland, visit the website of Polskie Wydawnictwo Muzycne and search their concerts page. For events in France’s Nova Polska Festival (a year-long celebration of one of the newest members of the E.U.), visit the June page of www.nova-polska.pl. *


by Wanda Wilk

Daedulus Bargains

The Masters of the Piano Series can be had for only $4.98 per CD from Daedulus Music (www.salemusic.com), 800-395-2665. Here you can find Alfred Cortot playing Chopin’s Second Piano Concerto and Piano Sonatas No. 2 & 3. These are early 1930s recordings. Also at this site is Emil Gilels’ performance of Chopin’s Ballade No. 1 and Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli playing 3 Chopin Waltzes and Mazurkas.

Landowska Documentary

Landowska: Uncommon Visionary
VAI 4246 (DVD).

A documentary on the legendary Polish harpsichordist Wanda Landowska was reviewed by Robert Haskins in American Record Guide (May/June ’04). The film furnishes “easy-to- understand commentary on the differences between Landowska’s Pleyel and historical harpsichords” by “music instrument curator Lawrence Libin and instrument builder Willard Martin.” The “bulk of the attention,” however, “remains on Landowska herself: her amazing beauty, her generous and loving personality, her charming voice, and her commitment to an uncompromising and completely personal artistic vision…Great stuff.” Landowska also composed some Polish dances, which she regularly performed.

American Record Guide Reviews

1) Symposium 1311. The Great Violinists 18.

Ossy Renardy (1920-53), violin
Music by Paganini, Zarzycki, Dvorak, Ernst, Sarasate and Corelli.

According to Joseph Magil, the sensation on this recording by the Viennese violinist, is Zarzycki’s Mazurka. “Finally, temperament! It sounded like Renardy had just been released from sort of prison. His tone soars and his playing sounds very spontaneous here and in the next two pieces” by Dvorak and Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst.

2) Testament 14323 (2 CD). The Great Violinists 1900-13.

Two of the 16 violinists featured here are Polish: Stanisław Barcewicz and Karol Gregorowicz (1867-1921). Again reviewed by Joseph Magil, we are informed that Gregorowicz was an “important violinist who is now practically forgotten. Sarasate called him one of the half-dozen best violinist in the world…Bronisław Huberman named him his most important teacher. The gems here are two pieces by Wieniawski: the Obertass Mazurka and the Souvenir de Moscow. The critic also praises the excellent liner notes.

Andreszewski On Top Again

Virgin 7243 5 45620. Chopin: Misc. Piano Works.

This recording is listed in BBC Music Magazine April issue on the Top 20 Core Classical CD Chart. Patrick Meanor reviews it in Fanfare (May/June) and concludes, “I have simply not heard such phenomenal Chopin playing in the last 10 years. Highly recommended.”

Skowronski Recordings

Skowronski: Classical Recordings is pleased to announce that their current line of CDs is offered online from Shar Products’ exclusive and prestigious “Artist and Repertoire” CD catalog. Recordings may also be ordered directly from www.skowronskiplays.com.

Current list of recordings of Polish-American violinist Vincent P. Skowronski:

  • Works for Solo Violin: J.S. Bach, Ysaÿe (2)
  • Strauss and Szymanowski
  • Live in Concert (Grammy Award Entry List, 2001)
  • Franck, Szymanowski, & Saint-Saëns
  • Gentleman Gypsy: Ravel, Bartòk, Dvòrák
  • Beethoven (Chicago Daily HeraldTOP TEN LIST, 2003)
  • NEW RELEASE!!: Live in Concert – “This Beethoven is a most welcome addition to the Skowronski discography, and these performances stand very favorably with the finest Beethoven chamber music recordings available today.” Chicago Daily Herald

For CD photos, more complete repertoire information, reviews, etc., visit www.sharmusic.com.

Karłowicz Rediscovered

Hyperion CDA 67389
Karłowicz: Rebirth Symphony, Serenade for Strings, Blanca da Molena.
BBC Philharmonic, Gianandrea Noseda.

This recording is listed as one of May’s Top 5 CDs in BBC Music Magazine. Matthew Rye recalls that Chandos’ “first CD of orchestral music by Mieczysław Karłowicz, the great hope of the Young Poland movement, who died in 1909 aged only 32,” was one of his “favourite discs of 2002.” He calls it a “worthy successor to the first release” and rates it five stars for performance and sound.

Babbie’s Halka

By Krysta Close

Recently, my mother has begun sifting through the papers of her mother, a woman who has meticulously kept nearly every bit of information or memorabilia from her life. Babbie, short for Babcia, the Polish word for grandmother, left Poland at the young age of 24 with her husband and their two young daughters to escape the Nazi persecution of the Polish intelligentsia. They crossed Europe by train and foot, the Atlantic Ocean by boat, proceeding to Brazil, Canada, and finally to their goal: the United States of America. Upon reaching the Rainbow Bridge on the Canadian side, Babbie insisted on getting out of the car to walk, heedless of the roaring Niagra Falls below. As she walked she wept, feeling the safety and prosperity of the United States envelop her as she got closer with every step. Having accomplished one goal, she looked forward to raising her family and sending them off to college, pursuing a regimen of exercise and healthy living (she later became a yoga teacher and Macrobiotic cook), and developing her personal cultural repertoire. Along her journey, she documented all that she saw and learned with her own careful script as well as through the fastidious preservation of memorabilia.

Now that my grandmother is consumed by Alzheimer’s disease and can no longer share her stories in words, her collection of papers offers portholes into her life story: what she enjoyed, her experience as an immigrant, her dreams, etc. The latest discovery was a program of a performance of Halka that my grandmother attended in 1977 in Milwaukee. It came to me, appropriately, in the season of the anniversary of the composer, Stanisław Moniuszko’s, birth (5 May) and death (4 June). One piece of paper, passed down through my family, has helped me to see the life and music of Stanisław Moniuszko, beloved composer and Father of Polish opera, through my grandmother’s eyes.

Moniuszko was born in Ubiel, in the province of Mińsk in 1819. His father had served in the Napoleon’s Army. Unfortunately, Napoleon used Poland as a pawn in the game of international warfare and conciliation, and, as a consequence, land was stripped away from under Moniuszko’s feet, as Mińsk became part of Russia (later Belarus) and Wilno, where he had settled as a married man, was absorbed by Lithuania. As Poles endured foreign leaders that destroyed communities and stole land, they ached for cultural ties to their homeland and their people.

In response to this need, and as an extension of the patriotism that had been instilled within him by his family, Moniuszko’s music took on a nationalistic tone. He knew what it was like to lose one’s homeland. Compositionally speaking, this translated into the use of folk tunes that he had enjoyed as a child as the base for many of his mature compositions, in order to subtly evoke the familiar and the patriotic. He once gave definition to his musical goal with the following words: “To bring in to every home songs of national character, for that which is local and national, which echoes memories of childhood, will always be dear to the hearts of the people of the land”.

The plot and characters of Halka, the opera my grandmother sought out in the United States, are completely in keeping with this goal. For example, much of the character of Halka’s own music is derived from one simple, beautiful melody line that she sings incessantly, her own personal folk tune motive. It is not simply a tune stolen from the mouths of actual Polish country folk and planted on stage, but rather Moniuszko’s ingenious rendering of the spirit of his people, in music that at once sounds so familiar and yet is completely new. Halka’s peasant theme stands in opposition to the loud, clanging polyphony of the “nobles”. It is the betrayal of one of these noblemen, who returns Halka’s love but marries another woman because of her higher birth, that leads Halka to madness and eventual suicide. The accessible themes and almost familiar music of this opera was a soothing balm to a people that had been continuously ravaged by foreign forces and internal political unrest.

I wonder how Babbie must have felt in the audience of that 1977, American production of Moniuszko’s Halka. The composer and librettist (Włodzmierz Wolski) had not treated the Polish upper class, of which my grandmother’s family back in Poland had been a part, kindly. Yet, as an immigrant, struggling to keep her family alive, she may have come to the point where she identified more with Halka than any of the more gentile characters. And the appeal of the music went much deeper than the connection between stage character and audience member—Moniuszko had given Babbie a link to her heritage. In 1977, my grandmother had just lost her husband, but rejoiced in the growth of her family’s younger generations. I believe she sought out the Pabst Theater’s presentation of Halka to comfort herself in her recent loss with music and culture from her homeland, and to reconnect with those roots in order to be able to pass them on to her growing family.

Babbie may not have realized it at the time, but she was not alone in her yearning for the music of Poland while living in the Midwestern United States. Down below her seat in the audience, on the conductor’s stand, was another Pole who loved the music of his homeland and longed to preserve that tradition in America: Jerzy Bojanowski. Bojanowski was born in Kamienskoie, Poland in 1893, and studied music in Poland, Vienna and Russia. He was a successful conductor in those and other countries, and became a favorite of the Polish government. At the height of his international career, the government sent him to the U.S. as a guest conductor to the World’s Fair in Chicago, then asked him to remain as a cultural and political attaché. He eventually married and settled in Milwaukee. Throughout his time in the Midwest, Bojanowski fostered fledgling orchestras and introduced many Polish compositions to American audiences. He brought Halka to Chicago for its premiere. By the time Babbie experienced his interpretation of Moniuszko in 1977, his reputation in Milwaukee had taken a beating from the music critic of the Milwaukee Journal, he had been voted out as conductor of several orchestras that he had help raise up from the ground, and he was nearing the end of his life. Yet, his native music still called to him, and gave him the strength to gather Polish singers from Warsaw, Chicago, and Milwaukee together to bestow the gifts of the homeland onto the many Polish-Americans in that area, and indeed to all Milwaukeeans.

I imagine my grandmother emerging from the theater on that evening renewed and refreshed by her native music. She had once needed to be cleansed of her struggle to escape Poland by the spray from Niagra Falls as she first stepped on U.S. soil. But now, painful memories of foreign oppression had faded, and the patriotic melodies created by the father of Polish Opera could restore the glory of Poland in her heart, as it had done for Poles longing for their homeland for over a century.


Born This Month

  • June 1, 1909 – Maria DZIEWULSKA, composer and theoretician
  • June 4, 1845 – Aleksander POLIŃSKI, music historian (d. 1916)
  • June 4, 1784 – Adam CZARNOCKI, music ethnographer (d. 1825)
  • June 5, 1865 – Felicjan SZOPSKI, composer and music critic (d.1939)
  • June 6, 1929 – Bogusław SCHAEFFER, composer, writer
  • June 12, 1897 – Aleksander TANSMAN, composer and pianist,
  • June 16, 1923 – Henryk CZYŻ, conductor and composer
  • June 17, 1930 – Romuald TWARDOWSKI, composer
  • June 28, 1895 – Kazimierz SIKORSKI, composer and teacher
  • June 28, 1904 – Włodzimierz POŹNIAK, musicologist


Died This Month

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


Witold Rudzinski, composer, music critic and teacher, died on 29 February, 2004.

Janina Garscia, composer of music for children and teacher, died on 1 March, 2004.