June 2014

Polish Music Newsletter Vol. 20, no. 6

PMC News

Recent Donations To The PMC

Piano Secrets in Etude

From our dear friend in Santa Barbara area, Betty Harford, the gift of a copy of the November 1933 issue of TheEtude magazine was given. In pristine condition, the magazine has a rare portrait of Chopin on the cover and many articles about Polish music and musicians inside, including a fascinating photo of Chopin’s piano that apparently toured the U.S. with the French virtuoso Maurice Dumesnil. Leopold Godowsky’s extensive article entitled “The Best Method is Eclectic” has fascinating insights into piano technique by an acknowledged super-virtuoso. Also, interviews with many other musicians and sheet music reproduced inside gives the reader a privileged perspective on music-making in America in the 1930s.

Chopin Choral Music

Exciting things do happen at PMC from time to time. Last week, there was a large cardboard box addressed to us from a person in the Bay Area whose name wasn’t familiar to us. When we opened the parcel, we found a very nice letter from Ms. Sonia Seeman alongside a thick folder of choral and vocal music from the estate of her deceased parents, Joseph and Janina Swadowski. It is a fascinating glimpse into the music activities of the Chopin Chorus of Los Angeles in the middle decades of last century. In the coming months we will examine and process the collection, and make it available to students, faculty, researchers and other interested parties using the resources of the Polish Music Center. We plan to name it the Joseph and Janina Swadowski Collection and eventually have it listed online.


Knapik Opera Premiere

The World Première of the new opera by Eugeniusz Knapik will be held on June 25 in the Teatr Wielki -Opera Narodowa [Grand Theater – National Opera] in Warsaw as a part of the Terytoria series. With a libretto by Krzysztof Koehler based on Herman Melville’s novel, Knapik’s Moby Dick will be directed by Barbara Wysocka, and the National Opera Orchestra will be conducted by Gabriel Chmura.

The composer himself calls this opus a mystery opera. “From the beginning I knew that it wouldn’t be a typical opera, but some kind of a show” – he explains in an interview with Magdalena Stochniol. Read the full interview in English at pwm.com.pl.

Eugeniusz Knapik is one of the most important contemporary Polish composers, a student of Henryk Mikołaj Górecki, a classicist of modernity. His opera trilogy, created in collaboration with the great Flemish director Jan Fabre (The Minds of Helena Troubleyn), dazzled opera audiences some years ago. Moby Dick (1851) is the legendary novel by American writer Hermann Melville, the story of Ishmael who, after several voyages on merchant ships, decides to go on a whaling expedition. The skipper is the mysterious and grim Captain Ahab whose sole purpose is to take revenge on a legendary white whale. Is this pure madness? Or dreams coming true? Transcending the boundaries of life and death? The world premiere of this opera commissioned by the Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera is being staged by Barbara Wysocka, a recipient of the Polityka Passport award for her production of The Fall of the House of Usher by Glass.

[Sources: pwm.com.plteatrwielki.pl]

Premieres At Kraków Composers’ Festival

From June 8-14, the 26th edition of the International Festival of Kraków Composers (previously called the “Music Days of Kraków Composers” Festival) will be held. During the Festival, the following World Premieres will take place.

On June 9 at 5:00 p.m., the World Premiere of Piotr MossDédicace VI pour violon et alto à Bogusław Schaeffer pour son 85e anniversaire (2013) and Jarosław PłonkaRich and Timeless (2014) for two violas will be given by violists Bogusława Hubisz-Sielska and Lech Bałaban and violinist Jan Bałaban at the Kraków Philharmonic. Later that evening in the same hall, the Polish premiere of Jakub Polaczyk – Zamrożone chwile (2014) for oboe, violin and cello will be given by Mariusz Pędziałek – oboe, Maria Sławek – violin, and Michał Dąbek – cello.

On June 11, the Cracow Duo of pianist Marek Szlezer and cellist Jan Kalinowski will present the World Premiere of M. Di Gesù – Arc-en-cello (2014) for cello, as well as the Polish premieres of Piotr Moss – Sternlicht Sonate (2014) for piano and Krzysztof Meyer – Sei Intermezzi op.121 (2013) for piano.

On June 12, during a concert dedicated to premieres of songs by Juliusz Łuciuk, soprano Bożena Harasimowicz and pianist Krystyna Pyszkowska will give the World Premieres of the following songs by ŁuciukW intymnym nastroju – wokaliza (1958); The Children’s Tabernacle(1993); Pieśń o żołnierzach z Westerpalatte (1970); 4 Pieśni: Krzaczek róży (1990), Ćma (1990), Drobna kaszka (1990), Pożegnanie elementarza (1988); and 3 Pieśni młodzieńcze (1957-58): Rozmowa z księżycem, Dzień bez ciebie, Kupię sobie jeża.

More details are below in the Festival section, and the full schedule is available at zkp.krakow.pl.

[Source: zkp.krakow.pl]

Beautiful New Hall For Szczeczin Phil

On May 20, Sylwia Wysłowska of Culture.pl posted an article about the new hall being built for the Mieczysław Karłowicz Philharmonic in Szczeczin, Poland. Based on press releases and other source material and translated with edits by Paulina Schlosser on May 23, excerpts from the article are below.

12,734 square metres, two concert halls, an auditorium with 1,143 seats, 2,500 square metres of ceiling, walls covered with leaves of metal, four floors above ground, and two underground levels – all of this in just one extraordinary Szczecin Philharmonic. Although its opening has been officially scheduled for the 5th of September, 2014, Culture.pl presents you with its amazing interiors today.

The architectural project authored by the Spanish-Italian Estudio Barozzi Veiga duo is very impressive indeed. The materials for the floor tiling in the Philharmonic are from Mallorca. The walls of the main concert hall are to be covered with imitation gold. The auditoriums are ready to seat more than a thousand listeners. And the excellent acoustics makes the sound resonate as far as the foyer. In total, the building is spread across nearly 13 thousand square metres. And all of this splendour has found itself under the auspices of two women directors.

The watchful eye of Dorota Serwa, the director of the Philharmonic, and the baton of  Principal Conductor Ewa Strusińska, are bound to turn the Szczecin Philharmonic into an institution renowned across all of Europe. This aim will be attained not only thanks to the impressive architecture of the building, but also by the institution’s ambitious artistic programme.  Dorota Serwa and Ewa Strusińska are well aware of the eyes turned onto them, and know that the ordinary form will not suffice. They are busily preparing the inaugural programme of events.

Today, however, it is the actual architecture of the Philharmonic which draws the most attention. The focal point of the building is the symphonic concert hall, with acoustics permitting even the preparation of studio recordings. The 951 seats designed especially for this space also play a part in this extraordinary quality of sound transmission. The colour of the auditorium is evocative of the sun, the presence of which is ensured inside the interior thanks to the numerous skylights. The geometric shape of the ceiling is evocative of the building’s exterior form.

Acoustic tests conducted in the auditorium of the Szczecin Philharmonic have confirmed that its conditions compare to the standards of the Viennese Musikverein concert hall, considered a global benchmark of acoustic quality.

The Chamber Room seats 192 people, who are separated from the rest of the world by a door 10 centimetres thick. This small space also guarantees a concert in ideal acoustic conditions. The interior is adorned with a moon, and the mood of the space allows for a greater intimacy than that of the large concert hall.

This is the first project of such architectural and functional consistency to be raised in Poland. From the outside, the building manifests a form that, at a first glance, stands in huge contrast to the city’s architecture. It almost seems to clash with the environment rather than blend into it. The building is evocative of either a palace, or the tip of an iceberg. And, while it continues to attract controversy, it certainly does its job as it draws attention to the city of Szczecin.

To continue reading about the new hall for the Szczecin Philharmonic, visit culture.pl.

[Source: culture.pl]

Paderewski Scholarship Fund Benefit Concert

On June 28, the Borowsky family will offer their incredible musicianship in support of the Paderewski Scholarship Fund in a concert at the Embassy of the Republic of Poland Auditorium in Washington, D.C. Hailed by the international press as “American Virtuosi,” the Borowsky family–two cellists, a violinist, a pianist, and a vocalist–has been praised world-wide for their outstanding musicianship. The members of this extraordinary family have won their way into the hearts of millions of people through their concerts in the Americas, Asia, the Middle East, and Europe; radio and television performances; and CD recordings.

The Paderewski Scholarship was established by General Edward L. Rowny (at left) in 2004. Since then, the Fund has enabled eight outstanding Polish students to attend summer courses at George Mason University in Washington D.C. as well as intern in an organization of their choice in the nation’s capital. The Paderewski Scholarship Fund has partnered with The Fund for American Studies (TFAS) and George Mason University in order to expose aspiring Polish leaders to American political, business and academic culture. Since 1967, TFAS has educated young people from around the world in leadership and in free-market economy.

Saturday, June 28, 2014 | 6:30 pm
Paderewski Scholarship Fund Concert
Embassy of the Republic of Poland Auditorium
2640 16th St NW, Washington, DC 20009
Info: www.padpiano.org
Tickets: online at www.paypal.com or by mail via www.padpiano.org

[Sources: press release, padpiano.org]

Sinfonia Iuventus Performs Kilar

On May 29 and June 1, the Sinfonia Iuventus Orchestra presents film music concerts, during which the screen will display multimedia fragments of known Polish and foreign films that were scored by Wojciech Kilar. The concert will feature great Polish soprano Iwona Hossa and Sinfonia Iuventus, conducted by Tadeusz Wojciechowski. The program includes selections from the following films: Dracula, Smuga cienia, Ziemia obiecana, Bilans kwartalny, Kronika wypadków miłosnych, Trędowata, Dziewiąte wrota, Śmierć i dziewczyna, Zemsta, and Pan Tadeusz.

May 29, 2014 | 7:00 pm
Sinfonia Iuventus Concert in Memory of Wojciech Kilar
Lutosławski Concert Studio of the Polish Radio
ul. Modzelewskiego 59, Warsaw, Poland
Tickets: www.eBilet.pl or at the box office
Info: www.sinfoniaiuventus.pl

June 1, 2014 | 6:00 pm
Sinfonia Iuventus Concert in Memory of Wojciech Kilar
Grażyna & Kiejstut Bacewicz Music Academy – Concert Hall
ul. Żubardzka 2a, Łódź, Poland
Tickets: box office
Info: www.sinfoniaiuventus.pl

[Sources: twojamuza.pl, sinfoniaiuventus.pl]

Discussion Of Chopin’s 24 Preludes

In an article entitled “Breaking Down Chopin’s 24 Preludes,” Wojciech Oleksiak of Culture.pl explores the context and history of Chopin’s quintessential 24 Preludes, op. 28, as well as a brief discussion of each individual Prelude. The article is based on Mieczysław Tomaszewski Chopin, information from chopin.com, and an interview with Urszula Oleksiak. Below is an excerpt:

Chopin’s 24 Preludes are universally recognized as some of the composer’s most characteristic works. Not only are they quintessential of his style, but are also deeply tied with upheavals in Chopin’s personal life at the time.

Until 1938, Chopin’s career was developing extraordinarily well. He had become one of Paris’ favourite composers and performing pianists. He had a long queue of prominent students eager to pay large amounts of money for his piano lessons. He had entered the high society of what was, in those days, the world’s cultural capital. The world seemed to be his oyster. In these circumstances, he decided to go to Majorca with his lover George Sand, a celebrated French novelist. A trip initially planned as a romantic journey soon turned out to be a roller-coaster of emotions…

Circumstances of the Creation of 24 Preludes

First of all, Majorca was the place of Chopin’s tuberculosis outbreak. It was diagnosed by one of the local doctors, which resulted in Chopin, George Sand, and her children being unable to rent any kind of accommodation within the city of Palma. The inhabitants of Majorca where so frightened of possible contamination that they refused to give the travellers shelter anywhere near the town. After a few days of wandering, they ended up in the abandoned monastery in Valldemossa. From that point, they were forced to spend their days in this secluded place, far from the vibrant capital of the island. To make matters worse, Chopin’s piano got stuck in customs and he was forced to rent an instrument which he called a ‘wretched replacement’. Moreover, the weather on Majorca during winter is very much varied, from mild 15o C / 59o F days to heavy showers and gusty winds.

All these circumstances made the overwhelmingly sensitive composer go through extreme emotional ups and downs. One day, he was ecstatically delighted with (as he wrote in the letters to his friend Camille Pleyel in Paris) ‘the colours of most wonderful places, not obliterated by human sight’ and had a feeling of ‘everything breathing poetry’. The next, he would write that he ‘lives in a strange place, beyond the sea and rocks’ and his letters would emanate with fear of death and consciousness of his own dashed hopes and the necessity to reformulate his far-reaching plans. These constant fluctuations of emotion are reflected in the preludes and are probably the main factor of them being so varied and sometimes so grave and harmonically uneasy.

To read the entire article, visit culture.pl.

[Source: culture.pl]

2014 Lutoslawski Stipend

The Board of Directors of the Witold Lutosławski Society announces the annual competition for the Lutosławski Scholarship, awarded by the family of the composer. The grant in the amount of $10,000 will be given to one candidate for further studies abroad. Polish students, graduates of music schools, composers, conductors, instrumentalists and vocalists are invited to apply. All interested candidates are requested to provide a biography listing major accomplishments, diplomas or certificates of completing musical studies, plans for studies abroad (indicating the choice of professor in charge), and letters of recommendation from two academic faculty. The application must be postmarked no later than June 23, 2014 and sent to the Witold Lutosławski Society, Bracka 23, 00-028 Warszawa. The envelopes should be marked “Witold Lutosławski Scholarship 2014.” More information is available at www.lutoslawski.org.pl

[Sources: lutoslawski.org.pl]

Free Jazz Exploration

According to a new article in Biweekly.pl, anthologies of Grupa w Składzie and Andrzej Bieżan released in early 2014 along with the upcoming Tie Break box set offer a good review of avant-garde jazz in Poland. Written by Rafał Księżyk and entitled “The Institutionists,” the article explores both the history and the mythology of the development of the jazz movement in Poland through these three groups and their networks.

Read Księżyk’s article here: www.biweekly.pl (English) or www.dwutygodnik.com (Polish).

[Source: biweekly.pl]

New Books From PWM

Górecki. Portrait in memory
Author: Beata Bolesławska-Lewandowska
Publisher: PWM/Fundacja Universitatis Varsoviensis
Language: Pol.
Softcover, 480 pp. (2013)

Górecki. Portrait in memory by Beata Bolesławska-Lewandowska is a record of interviews with people from Henryk Mikołaj Górecki’s circle: his loved ones (wife and children), friends, students, publishers, musicologists, journalists, figures from the world of culture, etc. From this mosaic of memories, splashed in a variety of colors, shades and hues, a portrait of the composer like we’ve never known emerges.

Contents (speakers):

  • Loved ones (Jadwiga Górecka, Mikołaj Górecki, Anna Górecka)
  • Students (Eugeniusz Knapik, Rafał Augustyn, Małgorzata Hussar)
  • Musicological eyes (Leon Markiewicz, Mieczysław Tomaszewski, Teresa Malecka, Krzysztof Droba, Adrian Thomas, Grzegorz Michalski)
  • Composers and performers (Włodzimierz Kotoński, Zygmunt Krauze, Elżbieta Chojnacka, Antoni Wit, Zofia Kilanowicz, Marek Moś , Father Kazimierz Szymonik)
  • In the international scene (Louise Lerche-Lerchenborg, Rosalind Bevan, Teresa Waśkowska, David Atherton, Paul Crossley, Janis Susskind, David Zinman, Daniel Harrington, John Sherba, Carol Wincenc, Władysław Szczotka, Ewa Stojek-Lupin, Jacek Krywult)
  • Promotors, organizators (Andrzej Kosowski, Joanna Wnuk-Nazarowa, Ewa Michalska, Andrzej Wendland)
  • Interpretations (Andrzej Chłopecki, Krzysztof Zanussi, Szymon Bywalec, Marcin and Małgorzata Gmysow, Mirosław Jacek Błaszczyk, Violetta Rotter-Kozera)

The project was realized with the financial support from the Universitatis Varsoviensis Foundation and the City of Katowice.

[Source: pwm.com.pl]

Lutosławski. Skrywany wulkan
Subtitle: Edward Gardner, Simon Rattle, Esa-Pekka Salonen and Antoni Wit in discussion with Aleksander Laskowski
Author: Aleksander Laskowski
Publisher: PWM/Instytut Adama Mickiewicza
Language: Pol.
Softcover, 136 pp. (2013)

Lutosławski. Skrywany wulkan is a record of talks that Aleksander Laskowski carried out with renowned conductors regarding the person and work of one of the greatest composers of the twentieth century. Do the answers from the speakers confirm the existing beliefs about Lutosławski’s peaceful and quiet personality? Maybe they will reveal a previously unknown side of the composer’s personality …? Certainly they bring interesting new views about at his work, as perceived from the angle of the baton and the score.

The talks are sprinkled with photographs, and the book is introduced with an essay authored by Julia Hartwig.

[Source: pwm.com.pl]

Robert Thies Plays Chopin

A pianist of “unerring, warm-toned refinement, revealing judicious glimmers of power” (Los Angeles Times), Robert Thies will perform Chopin’s ‘Revolutionary’ Etude in C Minor, op. 10 no. 12, as well as works by Debussy, Brahms, Scriabin and Beethoven during the “Second Sundays At Two” concert at Rolling Hills United Methodist Church on June 8. Renowned for his consummate musicianship and poetic temperament, Thies first captured worldwide attention in 1995 when he won the Gold Medal at the Second International Prokofiev Competition in St. Petersburg, Russia. With this victory, Thies became the only American pianist to win a Russian piano competition since Van Cliburn’s triumph in Moscow in 1958. Two years later, in 1997, Thies was chosen to perform some of Henryk Mikołaj Górecki’s most touching chamber music for the composer during his “Górecki Autumn” residency at USC in Los Angeles (pictured at right).

Robert Thies enjoys a diverse career as an orchestral soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician. He has already performed 40 different concerti with orchestras all over the world, including the Saint Petersburg Philharmonic, the Auckland Philharmonia (New Zealand), the Mexico City Philharmonic, Mexico’s National Symphony, the Fort Worth Symphony, the Pasadena Symphony, the Louisville Orchestra, and the Naples Philharmonic.

A dedicated chamber musician, Thies is highly sought after as a recital partner and collaborator in both instrumental and vocal chamber music. He frequently shares the stage with members of the LA Philharmonic and the LA Chamber Orchestra. He also performs frequently with his unique ensemble, the Thies Consort.

Sunday, June 8, 2014 – 2:00PM sharp!
Robert Thies Plays “Second Sundays At Two”
Rolling Hills United Methodist Church
26438 Crenshaw Blvd., Rolling Hills Estates CA 90274
Free admission. Donations appreciated.
Info: rhumc.org or (310) 316-5574

[Source: Clickable Chamber Music Newsletter of Southern California]

Paderewski Academy Of Music Concert

The Paderewski Academy of Music invites you to a very special concert featuring participants in the Piano Master Class of Igor Lipinski (at left). These performers are young pianists, age 8-16, who are students of Paderewski Academy of Music: Brian Barnas, Filip Basaj, Agata Frisch, Beata Frisch, Amelia Kabat, Paulina Kotarski, Ola Lujano, Andrzej Mareczko, Julia Termanowski, Sabina Turbiarz, Karol Turbiarz, Julia Urbanek, Karolina Urbanek. The program ranges from great classical masterpieces by Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin or Debussy to entertaining contemporary arrangement for four hands.

The Paderewski Symphony Orchestra and Academy of Music is a not-for-profit cultural organization.

Monday, June 9, 7pm
Piano Concert by Masterclass participants
PianoForte Foundation
1335 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60605
TICKETS: Regular $17/Youth $7
Information and reservations: 773-467-9000 or pasochicago.org

[Source: press release]

AllDayNight – Songs In French, Polish & English

On Friday, June 13, the AllDayNight ensemble presents a free concert entitled “Voyage Musical: Original Instrumental Music & Songs in French, Polish & English” at the Music on the Plaza series at the Brand Library and Art Center in Glendale.  AllDayNight is comprised of Frederic Michot (Prize winning Music Composer and Songwriter), Adriana Zoppo (Violin), and Karolina Magdalena-Naziemiec (Viola and vocals – pictured at right).

The new “Music on the Plaza” Series presents a variety of free public performances for the community. Admission is free. Bring a picnic to this outdoor concert!

Friday, June 13, 2014 | 7:00p.m.
Voyage Musical: Original Instrumental Music & Songs in French, Polish & English

The Plaza at the Brand Library and Art Center
1601 W. Mountain St., Glendale, CA 91201
Info: www.brandlibrary.org, 818-548-2051
FREE Admission

[Source: press release, glendaleca.gov]

Korzistka Plays Chopin

The Polish American Club of Roseville in the Sacramento area presents a classical piano concert featuring Michał Korzistka, a prominent Polish pianist from the University of Silesia, on Sunday, June 29.

Michał Korzistka has studied classical piano at the Academy of Music in Katowice, Poland, at the Postgraduate Piano Department of Academy of Music in Warsaw and then continued his studies in Zurich, Switzerland. He currently is a full time piano professor at Cieszyn Branch of the University of Silesia.

Michał Korzistka has a special place in his heart for classical and romantic composers: Beethoven, Mozart, Liszt, Szymanowski and Chopin.

Sunday , June 29, 2014 at 4:00 pm
Chopin Concert with Professor Michał Korzistka
Polish American Hall, 327 Main Street, Roseville, California

For more information contact Bogdan Komorniczak at  (916) 988-9468 or contact@polish-club.org

Kolberg & Panufnik Year 2014

Kolberg Conference In Poznań

The Work of Oskar Kolberg as National and European Heritage,” a two-day international academic conference, was held in Poznań, Poland on May 22-23. Poland’s president Bronisław Komorowski was the honorary patron of this important event, co-organized by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, Marshall of the Wielkopolska Province, Polish Academy of Sciences, Polish Ethnological Society and Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań. The conference highlighted Kolberg’s contributions to Polish and European culture, focusing on the source materials collected by Kolberg that described and defined the heritage of various Polish regions.

More information on the conference and the program at: www.kolberg2014.org.pl

[Source: kolberg2014.org.pl]

Kolberg In Kielce

Since Oskar Kolberg figures in the official name of the Kielce Philharmonic—aka Filharmonia Świętokrzyska im. Oskara Kolberga w Kielcach—the Philharmonic Auditorium as well as the Hall of the provincial Cultural Centre hosted several programs devoted to the bicentenary of Kolberg’s birth on May 30-June 3. The opening night, May 30, featured a recital of songs by Kolberg, Noskowski and Chopin, presented by Iwona Kowalkowska (soprano), Wojciech Maciejowski (tenor), and Andrzej Tatarski (piano). The official unveiling of an exhibit dedicated to Oskar Kolberg was also held that evening alongside promotion of a newly-recorded CD with Kolberg’s songs.

The May 31 concert featured several folk ensembles and finalists of a composers’ competition for a short electroacoustic work based on music of the Kielce region. The June 1 matinee program featured old folk tales and children’s games, collected by Kolberg. They were presented by the Janusz Prusinowski Ensemble with children participating in the performance. Later that evening, the Regional Cultural Centre hosted a showcase entitled “The Mosaic of Polish Folklore” and performed by the finalists of national folklore competitions.

On Monday, June 2, various spaces in Kielce’s Philharmonic Hall were converted to children’s playgrounds with educational seminars, games, as well as classes in art and music, all based on local folklore as collected by Oskar Kolberg. This was the third such event organized by the office of the Marshall of Kielce Province for children in grades 1-3.

The Kolberg Festival in Kielce concluded on June 3 with a concert featuring works by Józef Elsner (“Overture” to the opera Leszek Biały), Frederic Chopin (Fantasy on Polish Airs, Op. 13), Edward Pałłasz (Three Kaszubian Folk Tales), and Ignacy Feliks Dobrzyński (Symphony No. 1, Op. 11). Radosław Sobczak was the piano soloist and the Świętokrzyska Philharmonic was led by maestro Jacek Rogala.

[Sources: kolberg2014.org.pl,dzieje.pl, kielce.gazeta.pl]

Kolberg’s Tomb Renovated

Oskar Kolberg died in Kraków on June 3, 1890 and was buried at the Rakowicki Cemetery. On June 3 this year, Kolberg’s tomb was unveiled after undergoing extensive renovation. The ceremonies began at 1 p.m. with a procession and a short musical program presented by students from the Kolberg Music School in Radom. The rededication of Kolberg’s tomb was attended by the members of his family, as well as representatives of the Polish government. The restoration work was financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and organized by the Institute of Music and Dance together with the officials of Kraków City government.

[Source: kolberg2014.org.pl; Photos: Anna Kaczmarz]

Kolberg’s Opera Revived

Besides his monumental ethnographic research, Oskar Kolberg also composed a number of vocal works, including an opera: Król Pasterzy [King of Shepherds]. It was shown in Kraków on June 3, 2014, 155 years after its premiere. This one-act work to a libretto by the romantic poet Teofil Lenartowicz depicts an idyllic setting in the rural countryside of the Kujawy Region, and celebrates a tradition of selecting a king of shepherds by the peasant folk.

Originally staged at Warsaw’s Grand Theatre in 1859, the opera ran for only seven performances. While the public received the work with great enthusiasm, the critics found some faults with the extensive orchestral writing. The score calls for an ensemble of 23 performers, a chorus of 12 and five soloists and it exists in only one manuscript copy. Stanisław Moniuszko, who served as director of Warsaw Opera for many years, knew of Kolberg’s opera and added—in his own handwriting on the title page of the score—“recommended for performance.”

For the Kraków performance this manuscript was copied and corrected and will be publically available through the Oskar Kolberg Institute in Poznań. The Kraków performance included soloists Aleksanda Buczek, Jerzy Butryna, Piotr Gawron-Jedlikowski, Tomasz Maleszewski, Jadwiga Niebielska, and Jacek Jaskuła. They were assisted by the Octava Ensemble, the Orkiestra Projektowa, the Vox Angeli Ensemble, and the Integrated School Dance Ensemble, Krakowiak. Led by maestro Zygmunt Magiera the opera was broadcast by Polish Radio 2 in order to encourage interest in this work among musicians elsewhere. The concert was organized by the Kraków Chamber Choir, Institute of Music and Dance, Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and the City of Kraków. More information about the event is available at: www.krolpasterzy.pl or krakow.gazeta.pl

[Source: krakow.gazeta.pl]

Bienkowski Interview

As a corollary to the Kolberg Year Celebrations, please see an English-language interview with Andrzej Bieńkowski, a painter, photographer and ethnographer who answers Agnieszka Grzybowska’s questions about Kolberg’s legacy and the social isolation of individuals living in rural areas of Poland. The full interview is available at culture.pl.

[Source: culture.pl]

New Panufnik Site

On May 16, the new website dedicated to composer Sir Andrzej Panufnik – www.panufnik.polmic.pl – was officially unveiled in the Chamber Hall of the Warsaw headquarters of PWM. Created by the Polish Music Information Centre in Warsaw (POLMIC) to celebrate Panufnik’s centenary, the site features musical excerpts and detailed biographical information as well as an extensive photo collection from the family’s personal archives. Following the unveiling, there was a concert of Panufnik’s music performed by Janusz Wawrowski – violin, Magdalena Bojanowicz – cello and Bartłomiej Kominek – piano. The event took place as a part of the Warsaw Musical Encounters Festival.

Below is an excerpt of a review written by Adrian Thomas, a British musicologist whose career has been dedicated to Polish music. Read the full text on Thomas’ blog at onpolishmusic.com:

One of the most valuable initiatives of the Polish Music Information Centre (POLMIC), in conjunction with the Polish Composers’ Union (ZKP) and other institutes and publishers, is a series of composer websites.  The first, in 2012, was devoted to Kazimierz Serocki, and the second, in 2013, to Tadeusz Baird.  Today, it is the turn of Andrzej Panufnik, in his centenary year. With the launch last year of the threecomposers.pl website at NINATEKA (Górecki, Lutosławski, Penderecki), there are now accessible sources in English and Polish for six of Poland’s most distinctive composers of the second half of the twentieth century.

The leading light of the editorial team on the Panufnik site is Beata Bolesławska-Lewandowska (she was closely involved involved in its predecessors). The three POLMIC sites have similar formats, although the Panufnik site is more extensive.  It has eight principal sections, most with several sub-sections: Life, Timeline, Work, Musical Inspirations, Places, Gallery, Bibliography, Discography, plus a featured work, in this case Sinfonia sacra.

It looks as thorough and informative as its predecessors.  There are, for example, excerpts from most works at the top of their individual entries, which give useful background information on compositional circumstances, Panufnik’s concept and reception.  There is even information on the mass songs (with pages from the published scores).  The six entries under Musical Inspirations are useful little essays and a new feature (Places), possibly taking its cue from the mobile app released a year ago for Lutosławski’s Warsaw, explores half-a-dozen locations in each of Poland and Great Britain that were significant to Panufnik.

[Sources: polmic.pl, onpolishmusic.com]

New Legacy Recording Released

Andzej Panufnik: Symphony No. 9 and Bassoon Concerto
Panufnik (1914-1991): Symphony No. 9 ‘Sinfonia di Speranza’ and Bassoon Concerto
Robert Thompson, bassoon; BBC Symphony Orchestra; Sir Andrzej Panufnik, cond.
Heritage Records HTGCD266 (available for purchase at www.amazon.co.uk)

To mark the centenary of the birth of Polish composer Sir Andrzej Panufnik, Heritage Records is proud to release a composer-conducted performance of his Symphony No. 9 ‘Sinfonia di Speranza’ (1987) and his Concerto for Bassoon and Chamber Orchestra (1986). Recorded shortly before Panufnik’s death in 1991, the performance features bassoonist Robert Thompson, for whom the Concerto was commissioned by the ‘Polanki’ Polish Women’s Cultural Club of Milwaukee. The album includes the composer’s remarks and performances of the two works made during a studio recording on October 6, 1987 for BBC Radio 3, which was first broadcast in 1990.

‘The first commercial release by Heritage of one of his sessions with the BBC Symphony Orchestra is much to be welcomed… Thompson invests the Bassoon Concerto with an emotional acuity equal to that of his studio recording, while the forward balance and more numerous string desks again male this seem a bigger and more involving piece… an important archival release.’

– International Record Review, May 2014

‘The Bassoon Concerto is a memorial for the tortured and murdered Polish priest Father Jerzy Popieluszko, and has a pronounced grainy grimness offset by dramatic impulses and Thompson’s beautiful lyric tone. The hopeful symphony not only takes the rainbow as a symbol, but endeavours to translate its optical principles into music. This altogether remarkable and gripping structure is conceived as a 40-minute continuous melodic line.’

– The Sunday Times, April 2014

[Sources: Boosey & Hawkes eQuarterNotes (June 2014), heritage-records.com]

Panufnik In Wrocław

Every summer, the “LEOPOLDINUM” Chamber Orchestra in Wrocław hosts the week-long LEO Festival. This year, the concert held on June 1 will feature the music of Panufnik in celebration of his centenary. Entitled “Mentor & Student,” the program will be performed by students from the Lipiński Academy of Music in Wrocław as well as performers and pedagogues from LEOPOLDINUM: Christian Danowicz – violin, Michał Micker – viola, and Marcin Misiak – cello. The program is comprised of Panufnik’s approachable String Quartet No. 3 ‘Wycinanki,’ Mendelssohn’s String Octet in E-flat major (written specifically for mentoring young musicians) and Tchaikovsky’s sextet “Souvenir de Florence” (written to comfort his ailing benefactress).

[Sources: polmic.pl, leofestiwal.pl]


Triple Hit For Kwiecinski

Canzon de’baci by Andrzej Kwieciński (b. 1984) won a prize for the best work by a young composer and a recommendation in the general category at the 61st International Rostrum of Composers (IRC). As an additional prize, Kwieciński was awarded a commission for a new composition from the International Music Council and Radio France.

The International Rostrum of Composers (IRC) is organized by the International Music Council with the financial assistance of participating radio networks. It is an international forum of representatives of broadcasting organizations who come together for the purpose of exchanging and broadcasting contemporary art music.

Andrzej Kwieciński says the following of his work on culture.pl:

Canzon de’baci is a turning point in my creative work. For a long time there appeared some kind of dichotomy in it – my interest in composition completely didn’t meet my passions as a countertenor, specializing in baroque singing. It was during Canzon de’baci when I realized that this couldn’t go on.  I started to look for my identity, wondering what is most important for me, to seek common ground for the functioning of these two worlds. I tried to make Canzon de’baci extremely baroque, but not in an obvious way. I’m not interested neither in stylizations nor toying with the conventions. My intention is to create music that inherits modernist avant-garde idioms built on a repertoire of gestures performing analogous functions to the musical gestures of the Baroque era. My music has to be a baroque one, not an imitation of it. The basis of work is one of the most popular forms of Baroque – ciaccona. I hid the ciaccona melody not in the bass, but in high voice. Another very important part of my job is distortion, the melody is played by the piano on extreme harmonic positions. I wanted to build a structure a bit like Lego: to build a superstructure on substructure.

Kwieciński studied composition in The Hague with Richard Ayers, Diderik Hakmy-Wagenaar, Martijn Padding, Yannis Kyriakides and Louis Andriessen as well as at the Institute of Musicology of Warsaw University. In spite of his young age, Kwieciński was a finalist at the 2004 Tokyo International Competition for Chamber Music Composition, received the 2011 Bosmans Prize, and the First Prize at the Young Masters Competition for Composers in 2010.

Last year’s edition of the IRC Competition featured another Polish prizewinner, Agata Zubel, for her work Not I. The 2016 edition of this competition will be held in Wrocław, the European City of Culture 2016.

[Sources: meakultura.pl, culture.pl]


Kraków Composers’ Festival

From June 8-14, the 26th edition of the International Festival of Kraków Composers will be held. The Festival is organized by the Kraków branch of the Polish Composers’ Union (ZKP), led by artistic director Marcel Chyrzyński.

The program will include works by Marek Stachowski, Maciej Zieliński, Zbigniew Bujarski, Michał Jakub Papara, Witold Lutosławski, Mikołaj Górecki, Henryk Mikołaj Górecki, Grażyna Bacewicz, Krystyna Moszumańskiej-Nazar, Bolesław Szabelski, Juliusz Łuciuk, Bogusław Schaeffer and Tadeusz Baird, as well as World Premieres listed in the News section above.

[Sources: pwm.com.pl, zkp.krakow.pl]

Polish Festivals Around The US

Polish Day in L.A.
Saturday, June 14, 2014 from 2:00 pm to 10:00 pm
Linden Avenue between 1st Street & Broadway, Long Beach, CA 90802

On June 14, Polish Day in L.A. will celebrate Polish culture with music, crafts, delicious treats, good beer, and fun during the 2nd Saturday Art Walk in Long Beach, CA. There will be not only entertainment but also craft booths where you can make wycinanki (traditional multi-color cut-outs), malowanki (folk painting on egg shells), and other surprises. There will be a small Fashion Show, a bookstore, a quick class to learn basic Polish phrases, and much more.

For those interested in history and culture, organizers will provide film documentaries about Poland, an exhibition of Polish works of art, displays about famous Poles in the US and California, and even the traditional armor of the famous Polish Winged Hussars.

All evening long, dance classes teaching the Polka, Oberek and Polonez will be offered to new brave students. A dance party will be the grand finale of the night. Along with the latest Polish hits, and great dancers (by this time) you will be having a blast!

Fun, entertainment and a professional atmosphere is the goal here. Over 15 Polish-California institutions and Organizations, including the Polish Consulate in Los Angeles, have worked hard to make sure everyone has a great time. Volunteers are also welcome!

Tentative program:

  • 2:00 – 2:30 music and announcements
  • 2:30 – 2:44 Grunwald Rycerze – Sword Dance for kids
  • 2:45 – 3:15 music and announcements
  • 3:15 – 3:30 performance
  • 3:30 – 4:00 music and announcements
  • 4:00 – 4:15 Vistula Dancers Performance
  • 4:15 – 4:30 Chopin Waltz Mixer – for all. Dance class.
  • 4:30 – 4:45 performance
  • 4:45 – 5:15 music and announcements
  • 5:15 – 5:30 performance
  • 5:30 – 6:00 music and announcements
  • 6:00 – 6:15 Vistula Dancers Performance
  • 6:15 – 6:45 music and announcements
  • 6:45 – 7:00 Krakusy Folk Ensemble Performance
  • 7:00 – 7:30 music and announcements
  • 7:30 – 7:45 Krakusy Folk Ensemble Performance
  • 7:45 – 8:15 music and announcements
  • 8:15 – 8:30 Fashion Show
  • 8:30 – 9:00 music and announcements
  • 9:00 – 9:15 performance
  • 9:15 – 10:00 music and announcements Website: www.hbquik.com/poloniacal

For info and to submit yourself as a volunteer, please write to Marek Dzida at hellada@earthlink.net

More information is available at: PolandConnected.com, www.ArtWalkLB.com, T: 562.682-9735 (12noon – 7pm)

[Sources: press release, polandconnected.com, artwalklb.com]

Polish Festival at Seattle Center
Saturday, July 12, 2014, from 12:00 to 8:00pm
Seattle Center, 305 Harrison St., Seattle WA, 98109

Polish Festival returns to Seattle Center on July 12, 2014 as part of the Festal series of cultural programs. Come explore and experience Polish culture and traditions through live music and dance performances, workshops, traditional folk costumes, exhibits and children’s activities. Merchandise market place will showcase Polish glass art, hand-crafted pottery, amber jewelry, crystal, and cut-out paper art, as well as information about local Polish-American community organizations. The beer garden will be well stocked with a variety of imported Polish beer, and food vendors will serve plenty of authentic delicious Polish food.

New this year will be presentation of cultural traditions from northern Poland’s region Pomerania and Kashubia. The festival will also showcase the “traditional passions of Poland” cultivated for generations. Through interactive activity, conversation, literature, photographs and food tasting, the demonstration will highlight the custom of honey-making; mushroom gathering and use in traditional Polish dishes; the art of sausage making and tasting of traditional products.

For over a century, the Polish-American community of the Puget Sound has been active locally and is proud to participate in Festal to present Polish cultural traditions at the Seattle Center.

Polish Festival Seattle is produced by the Polish Home Foundation (PHF), a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, in collaboration with Seattle Center. For more information please visit www.polishfestivalseattle.org  or write to PHF, 1714 18th Avenue Seattle, WA 98122.

[Source: press release]


Classical Piano Meets Electronica

Tempus Fantasy
Fantasy on Sergei Prokofiev’s Violin Sonate F minor Op. 80 No. 1; Fantasy on Claude Debussy’s “Pour l’Egyptienne”; Fantasy on Gregorian chant “Dies Irae” & Franz Liszt’s “Totentanz”; Fantasy on Sergei Rachmaninov’s “Vocalise”; Fantasy on Sergei Rachmaninov’s Prelude C sharp minor Op.3 No.2; Fantasy on Frederic Chopin’s Prelude F sharp major Op. 28 No.13; Fantasy on Claude Debussy’s “Jimbo‘s Lullaby”; Fantasy on Issac Albeniz’s “El Albaicin”  from the Iberia Suite; Fantasy on Henryk Mikołaj Górecki’s “Three pieces in old style”; Fantasy on Maurice Ravel’s “Le Gibet” from Gaspard de la nuit

Katarżyna Borek, piano; Wojciech “Vojto Monteur” Orszewski, electronics & guitar [2]; Natalia Grosiak, vocal [3]; Łukasz Sobolak, live drum samples & beats [1, 2, 3, 4, 7]; Mateusz Walerian, saxophone sampling [2];   Oleg Dziewanowski, marimba [2]; Karolina Piątkowska-Nowicka, violin [1]

Warner Classics 136-9952 (available at merlin.pl)

This album project presents the new sounds of classical music in an unconventional arrangement with electronic music, which, in the 20th and 21st centuries, has become part of both the most avant-garde trends in arts as well as the trend in mass culture. The album by Katarżyna Borek and Wojciech Orszewski presents the works of the most outstanding composers of the 19th- and 20th-century piano classics. These compositions are performed in their original versions and improvised along with computer electronics or other instruments, which in real time influence the sounds of the piano, thanks to the use of technologically advanced effect processors.

According to Borek and Orszewski:

Conceptually, only few artists in the world have taken up a similar challenge, which makes this project highly attractive not only because it’s unconventional, but also because our aim is to break the stereotypes about the role of the artists representing both music genres in the 21st century. Combining two significant and at the same time contrasting genres is not only an interesting experiment but it is also of high educational value. It introduces the listeners of both music genres into the diverse worlds.

Influencing so many music trends, electronics became an inseparable element of the artistic work of the leading representatives and composers of 20th-century classical music. Then, there emerged the independent, strictly electronic forms such as industrial, ambient, techno. They have become part of the mainstream music scene.

Watch the trailer for the album at www.youtube.com. More information is available at www.pianoelectronica.eu.

Katarzyna Borek is an outstanding pianist of the Polish young generation. She studied at the F. Nowowiejski Academy of Music in Bydgoszcz/Poland, Hochschule fur Musik, Theater und Medien in Hannover and Royal Conservatory of Music in Brussels. She proved her artistry by receiving awards in many prestigious international piano competitions among others: International Ignacy Jan Paderewski Competition in Bydgoszcz, the International Chopin Competition in Moscow, Gottingen and Szafarnia and a finalist of The International Busoni Competition in Bolzano.

Wojciech Orszewski has had an interest in music since his childhood. Already at the school age,
he co-founded music bands who participated in numerous popular music contests and festivals. He has graduated from the Wrocław School of Jazz and Popular Music. He has participated in many music workshops, where he was learning to play the guitar under the supervision of outstanding guitarists (Artur Lesicki, Martin Schaberl).

[Sources: press release, pianoelectronica.eu]

Szymanowski On Hyperion

Karol Szymanowski – Masques, Métopes & Études
Szymanowski (1882-1937): 12 Études, Op. 33; Masques, Op. 34; 4 Études, Op. 4; Métopes ‘Trois Poèmes’, Op. 29;
Cédric Tiberghien, piano
Hyperion CDA67886 (Feb. 2014)

In French pianist Cédric Tiberghien’s first solo recording for Hyperion he embraces the sensual, crepuscular sound-world of Szymanowski’s piano music. Tiberghien’s expressive, mercurial, quicksilver playing with its extraordinary pianissimos and kaleidoscopic range of color makes him an ideal performer of this repertoire.

Szymanowski’s most celebrated works have been recorded here. The early 4 Études include the popular Andante in modo d’una canzone, a sorrowful song above slow repeated chords. The rest of the (later) works show the maturing of Szymanowki’s unique piano style and in particular the salutary influence of Ravel’s and Debussy’s weightless, diaphanous textures.


Karol Szymanowski was never a concert virtuoso but knew the piano inside out, writing music that, despite its often complex textures, is always beautifully laid out for the hands. The three Métopes from 1915 recall ‘the leavening, salutary influence of Ravel’s and Debussy’s weightless, diaphanous textures’ (to quote Francis Pott in his booklet-note) and rely ‘upon a performer of fastidious polyphonic instincts and acute subtlety’ … one can have no reservations about Cédric Tiberghien’s playing throughout this absorbing disc—Gramophone

Few players of this music combine quite such clarity and articulation with shimmering sparkle and virtuosic flair: this is sophisticated pianism … The most famous of these Scriabinesque pieces, the sorrowful and haunting No 3 in B flat minor, was made popular by Paderewski, and Tiberghien’s performance explains its enduring appeal … you will be left wanting to listen again—BBC Music Magazine (5 stars for Performance and for Recording)

[Source: hyperion-records.co.uk]

‘Poland Abroad’ Presents Fitelberg, Kassern & Spisak

Poland Abroad – Concerto-Concertino
Jerzy Fitelberg: Concerto for trombone, piano and string orchestra; Tadeusz Zygfryd Kassern: Concerto for string orchestra; Michał Spisak: Concertino for string orchestra
Andrzej Sienkiewicz – trombone; Grzegorz Gorczyca – piano; Warsaw Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra; Christoph Slowinski – conductor
EDA Records

In new CD has been released in the EDA label’s “Poland Abroad” series has been released. Entitled “Poland Abroad – Concerto-Concertino,” the album presents three outstanding works of Polish classical modernism for string orchestra. The CD opens with Jerzy Fitelberg’s Double Concerto, which experienced its posthumous premiere under the auspices of the 25th Warsaw Musical Encounters Festival in 2011, and is simultaneously a new window to the hitherto omitted genre of the solo concerto. EDA also expands the circle of composers introduced in “Poland Abroad” with Michał Spisak (Concertino for String Orchestra) and Tadeusz Zygfryd Kassern (Concerto for String Orchestra), whose works enjoy recognition appropriate to their importance neither on the concert stage nor on the market for recorded music, which is oversaturated with multiple versions of standard repertoire.

Other albums in this series:

[Sources: liner notes, pwm.com.pl, eda-records.com]

New Agata Bienkowska CD

La Prima Diva – Arie per Faustina Bordoni
Bel canto arias by Giovanni Bononcini, Antonio Caldara, George Frideric Handel, Johann Adolf Hasse, Domenico Natale Sarro, and Pietro Torri
Agata Bienkowska – mezzo, Ira Hochman – conductor, Barockwerk Hamburg
Tactus TC670003

On this new album, Polish mezzo-soprano Agata Bienkowska explores the repertoire of Venetian mezzo-soprano Faustina Bordoni (1697-1871), who was one of the most acclaimed celebrities in the forerunner of a star system that appeared in the world of Italian opera and thrilled the whole of Europe during the 18th century. One of the great bel canto voices coupled with a marvelous dramatic talent, her 35-year career from 1716-1751, intersected with most of the composers of two or three generations in all the major European opera centers.

Agata Bienkowska studied the piano in her native Gdynia, before taking up singing and acting at the Akademia Muzyczna in Gdańsk and then at the Hochschule für Musik in Stuttgart. She has sung over thirty roles from a list of operas that includes Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia, L’italiana in Algeri, Il viaggio a Reims, Tancredi and La donna del lago, Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea, Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito, Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia, Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi, Berlioz’s Beatrice et Benedict, Massenet’s Werther, Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin and The Maid of Orleans, and Rimsky-Korsakov’s May Night. She has worked with conductors such as Alberto Zedda, Jesus Lopez-Cobos, Nello Santi, Daniel Oren, Zoltan Pesko,Vladimir Jurowski, John Neschling, Daniele Gatti and Josep Caballe-Domenech in venues around the world, among them the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, Teatro Comunale in Bologna, Teatro Massimo in Palermo, Opera di Roma, Teatro Regio in Turin, Theatre des Champs-Elysees in Paris, Theatre Royal de Wallonie in Belgium, and the Teatro de la Maestranza in Seville. She has also appeared at Festival Mozart de la Coruña, the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro and, in 2001, at the Wexford Festival Opera. Her recordings include Rossini’s Matilde di Shabran and Elisabetta, regina d’Inghilterra (Bongiovanni), La pietra del paragone (Naxos 8.660093-95), Luigi Mosca’s L’italiana in Algeri and Massenet’s Sapho (Fone).

[Sources: press release, naxos.com]

New on DUX

Polish Cello Music
Works by: Alexander Tansman, Henryk Hubertus Jabłoński, Krzysztof Meyer, Krzysztof Penderecki, Maciej Jabłoński, Olga Hans, Witold Lutosławski, Zbigniew Bujarski
Performers: Anna Armatys, Michał Dąbek, Monika Gernot, Karolina Jaroszewska, Jan Kalinowski, Aleksandra Lelek, Marcin Mączyński, Marta Nagawiecka, Franciszek Pall, Beata Urbanek-Kalinowska
DUX 0925

Dedications | works for cello and piano
Works by: Bartosz Chajdecki, Jarosław Płonka, Maciej Jabłoński, Marcel Chyrzyński, Wojciech Widłak, Zbigniew Bujarski
Performer: Jan Kalinowski, Marek Szlezer
DUX 0986

Jopek & Ozone – Haiku

Anna Maria Jopek & Makoto Ozone – Haiku
Yoake / 夜明け; Hej Przeleciał Ptaszek / ヘイ・プシェレチャウ・プタシェック (小鳥の歌);  Dolina  /ドリナ (谷); Oberek / オベレック; Biel / ビェル (白); Do Jo Ji / 道成寺; O, Mój Rozmarynie / オー・ムイ・ロズマリーニェ (ローズマリー); Pandora / パンドラ; Dobro /ドブロ; Cyraneczka / ツィラネチュカ (小鴨); Kujawiak / クヤヴィアク; Yuugure / 夕暮れ

Pawel Dobrowolski: drums; Tomohiro Fukuhara: flutes; Anna Maria Jopek: voice, calimba (2); Robert Kubiszyn: double bass, acoustic bass, voice (3); Pedro Nazaruk: voice (3, 4, 9), cytra, flutes; Makoto Ozone: piano
Universal Music Polska 278 352 3

Jazz songstress Anna Maria Jopek has released a CD entitled Haiku, featuring a collaboration between the Polish singer and Japanese pianist Makoto Ozone. It was released in Japan in 2012 and is now becoming available worldwide.

A Polish review of this album is available at: meakultura.pl

[Sources: meakultura.pl, annamariajopek.pl]

Concert & Conference Reviews

Stankiewicz At UCLA

A Review by Marek Żebrowski

As the sun disappeared behind the western horizon on the evening of June 3, dark blue skies became the backdrop for the Fowler Museum amphitheater, where the audience gradually took their seats. Besides the piano, a large screen and several speakers were set up, with a lectern and a microphone to the side. Soon, the floodlights lit the stage area and Mariusz Brymora, Consul General of the Republic of Poland in Los Angeles, came out to greet the public.

His short speech was but an introduction to the first attraction of the evening—a 10-minute Polish TV report from the visit of President Obama in Warsaw. He was in Poland to attend the festivities celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Round Table discussions in 1989 and the first free elections in modern-day Poland that led to the fall of the Communist regime there and, in the months that followed, throughout the rest of Eastern and Central Europe.

The political part over, it was time for music to speak. Presented by pianist Kuba Stankiewicz and bassist Darek “Oles” Oleszkiewicz, the concert featured music by recently deceased Polish contemporary composer Wojciech Kilar, and Victor Young, a composer born in Chicago 115 years ago, but raised and educated in Warsaw. The concert began with Stankiewicz’s three opening solos, embracing the well-known hits from Kilar’s film scores: “Paulina’s Theme” from Death and the Maiden, Trędowata [The Leper], and Dracula. Although Kilar is generally regarded as a concert hall composer, it’s worth remembering that throughout his life he amassed well over 160 film credits, working with such iconic directors as Roman Polański, Krzysztof Zanussi, Jane Campion, and Francis Ford Coppola. Kilar’s film music—as demonstrated by Stankiewicz on this particular occasion—can be just as evocative and original as his other symphonic works.

Given the soft atmosphere of the evening, Stankiewicz’s gentle approach to Kilar’s music was largely introspective, focusing mainly on the melodic lines that were gently embellished with standard jazz harmonies, spread across all registers of a small Yamaha grand. The audience warmly acknowledged the pianist’s thoughtful renditions of Kilar’s film tunes.

In turn, Stankiewicz introduced Darek Oleszkiewicz, with whom he had just recorded a CD of music by Victor Young. Although his career began as a virtuoso violinist in pre World-War I Warsaw, by the early 1920s Young was back in his hometown of Chicago and began to work in radio, changing his focus from classical to popular music and jazz. In the mid-1930s, Young moved to Los Angeles and formed his own, very popular orchestra. Working with top lyricists of the era, Young wrote music for over 350 films, including such greats as For Whom the Bell Tolls, Samson and Delilah, The Greatest Show on Earth, and Around theWorld in Eighty Days, for which he earned (posthumously) the 1956 Academy Award for Best Score. He was also musical director for Decca and Brunswick Records and worked with such entertainment giants as Bing Crosby, Marlena Dietrich, Judy Garland, Al Jolson, Danny Kaye, Ethel Waters, and countless others. Young contributed a long list of standards to the repertoire, including Sweet Sue, Street of Dreams, Loveme Tonight, Love Letters, My Foolish Heart, Golden Earrings, Mad About You, and Stella by Starlight.

With Darek Oleszkiewicz on board, the duet gained a highly musical presence and heft, given to the musical textures by suave and well-timed bass contributions and extended solos. Several of Young’s hits were heard, including his tender Love Letters. Quite appropriately for the evening under the stars, the concert ended with the immortal Stella byStarlight.

Overall, the Stankiewicz-Oleszkiewicz Duo delivered a deeply musical and satisfying reading of music by two great film composers. The audience was quick to rush and congratulate the performers and acknowledge with warm applause the presence of Victor Young’s relatives in the audience, including his niece, Bobbie Fromberg . The gentle sounds of music still drifted across the UCLA campus as the crowds gathered at the Fowler courtyard slowly dispersed into the night.

Maria Szymanowska Conference In Paris

A Report by Maja Trochimczyk

On April 28-29 in the Paris Division of the Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN), the Second International Conference “Maria Szymanowska (1789-1831) and her Times” took place. The conference was organized by Elisabeth Zapolska Chapelle, president of the Société Maria Szymanowska in Paris.  Following the pattern created for the first Conference in 2011—that is two days of presentations, a min-recital and an artistic salon at the end—this meeting of scholars created an opportunity for a review of the state of research about the life and work of Maria Szymanowska, in the context of the contemporary culture and her connections to eminent artistic personalities from Germany (poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe), Denmark (sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen) and Poland (historian-writer-politician Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz, and his sponsor Duchess Maria Czartoryska de Wurttemberg). Participants of the conference came from many countries: the U.S. (Halina Goldberg, Anna Kijas, and Maja Trochimczyk), Poland (Jerzy Miziołek, Hubert Kowalski and Adam Gałkowski representing the University of Warsaw, as well as Irena Poniatowska from the National Fryderyk Chopin Institute), Germany (Maria Stolarzewicz from the Instytute of Weimar-Iena), Denmark (Karen Busk Jepsen from the Thorvaldsen Museum), Sweden (Benjamin Vogel), and France (Piotr Daszkiewicz from the Natural History Museum, and  Jean-Marc Warszawski from the Musicology Instytute).

The session was opened by Prof. Zbigniew Kuźnicki, director of the PAN Section in Paris, and the participants were warmly welcomed by Ms. Zapolska Chapelle, before scholars ventured into their presentations and discussions in three languages: French, English and Polish (the latter in discussions only).  Two presentations were dedicated to general stylistic topics: Jean-Marc Warszawski discussed the aesthetic and stylistic trends in Polish music of Szymanowska’s time and afterwards, while Prof. Irena Poniatowska presented an analysis of the concept of “salon music”—contrasted with serious, concert music—that this genre shared only some features with, being a predecessor of hit songs and popular musics of today.  Dr Jerzy Miziołek, the director of the Warsaw University Museum, presented a fascinating panorama of the artistic culture of Warsaw and its surroundings, emphasizing the connections to neo-classical revival of Roman art, especially those recently discovered in Pompea.  After the concert, with great interest, he studied in the Museum at the Polish Library in Paris a portrait of Maria Szymanowska as a Roman Goddess, painted by Walenty Wańkowicz (the portrait-maker of Adam Mickiewicz). Posed as a Roman goddess, in fashionable 19th century evening gown, but with a putto holding a book for her, the pianist is seated in an opulent music room, with a smoking volcano in the window. In my 2011 paper, I identified the location of this portrait as Naples, where Szymanowska travelled in early 1825, after a visit to Rome. In terms of setting, this portrait is a twin of a portrait of the composer as a Queen of Tones (according to Benjamin Vogel), made in Rome by Aleksander Kolular in 1824. With his broad knowledge of Roman and classical iconography and the arts of 19th century, Dr. Miziołek undoubtedly will add a lot to my interpretation of the painting. Such artistic-scholarly dialogues were at the core of the conference’s activities.

Prof. Goldberg—well known from her studies of reception, milieu, and performative aspects of Chopin’s music—presented a fragment of a larger project dedicated to the study of 19th century albums as a medium for preserving and shaping memory.  In the albums of autographs, music fragments, and poetry collected by Maria Szymanowska and her daughter Helena Malewska, Prof. Goldberg found examples of music that illustrates the multilevel connections of albums and memory—constructs of half-private and half-public self images, recorded in an intimate, personal voice, but for posterity, to be seen by others.   She found examples of three aspects of memory—its psychological aspect, national-patriotic memory, and nostalgic emotional dimensions of memory and memorabilia found in personal albums. As a part of her project she created her own “album” and my inscription in it is reproduced in the photo to the right.

Dr. Vogel, specialist in the history of pianos, revealed places where this “memorialization” of the past took place—that is aristocratic and middle-class salons and parlors where the piano had the place of honor.  These pianos took the strangest shapes, including square, upright, cabinet, and giraffe, but they were always in the central spot in the home, where meetings focused on performances of songs, dances, and a variety of miniatures. The piano was once the “heart” of the home—by now replaced by the multiplicity of electronics connected to omnipresent wifi. It is a sad testimony to the change of musical culture—from participatory and performative to passive and receptive—that in the period that separated the two Szymanowska conferences, the renowned piano maker based in Paris, Pleyel, went bankrupt.  The demand for pianos is not what it used to be even 50 years ago, let alone in the 19th century where everyone had to have a grand instrument in the salon and a smaller one in the separate living room for women.

In the next paper, Maria Stolarzewicz discussed the connections of Maria Szymanowska and her sister Kazimera Wolowska with the famed German poet, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.  This topic was earlier extensively studied by a New York-based scholar, Anne Swartz, but Stolarzewicz added a lot to her predecessor’s research, including a handout that featured a comprehensive collection of excerpts in Goethe’s letters, writings and diaries with mentions of the great pianist. To bring this poetic-musical friendship closer to the listeners, at the final Salon, Elizabeth Zapolska Chappelle recited the poem that Goethe dedicated to Szymanowska, Aussohnung – with musical accompaniment of Szymanowska’s pieces, in the “melodrama” style popular in 19th century salons.  Stolarzewicz highlighted the many different aspects of the friendship of the aging poet and the beautiful pianist, and corrected mistakes made by previous biographers of both in the interpretation of the nature of this artistic relationship.  At least this friendship was never hidden by either party—something that surprisingly happened to the relationship of Szymanowska with a Danish sculptor, Bertel Thorvaldsen.  The prudish and suspicious biographer of the sculptor, Just Mathias Thiele, decided to omit from the artist’s biography and editions of letters all mentions of Szymanowska’s 15 letters, but also correspondence with two other artistic women that were close friends with Thorvaldsen: “Zinaïda Volkonskaia (Russian princess, singer, writer, arranged salons first in Moscow, then Rome), and Adelgunde Vogt (Danish sculptor, animalière, virtually forgotten).” According to Karen Busk-Jepsen neither of these women had an affair with the talented Dane, but Thiele thought otherwise and removed them in order to “purify” and “sanctify” the national artist of Denmark.  How easy it is to vilify women!  The fact that a romance with anyone was completely out of place in the life of a divorced pianist with three children and siblings to support, never crossed the mind of Mr. Thiele.  The affectionate tone of Szymanowska’s letters indicated an emotional relationship that was not revealed in the only preserved letter of Thorvaldsen to her.  In any case, leaving romance aside, we should pay more attention to his presence in Polish culture.

An important step in this direction was made in the research of Hubert Kowalski, deputy director of the Museum of Warsaw University. In his presentation (read by his boss, Dr. Miziolek), Kowalski discussed the impact of the neoclassical style of Thorvaldsen on the artistic landscape of Warsaw, going far beyond the two known monuments that beautify the capital: Prince Jozef Poniatowski and Mikołaj Kopernik (Copernicus). The unveiling of the latter monument was one of the tasks performed by the then President of the Society of the Friends of Learning, Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz, the author of the famous Historical Chants [Śpiewy historyczne]—a bestseller of the 19th century, present in every patriotic Polish home, including the Chopin salon in Warsaw. This volume and Szymanowska’s contribution to it was the subject of my presentation, illustrated by engravings of scenes and songs from the lives of the kings and heroes published in the original edition and its subsequent reprints.  The author, poet, journalist and politician and one of his main sponsors, Duchess Maria Czartoryska de Wurttermberg (Wirtemberska), are fascinating personalities in Poland’s artistic and musical history, and deserve a lot more attention than could be bestowed on them in my overview. The reading and singing of chants that were being assembled for publication took place in Czartoryska’s Azure Saturdays—literary gatherings in the Czartoryski Azure Palace in Leszno near Warsaw (1806-1816). The salons provided a venue for meetings of Warsaw’s literary elite, with Kajetan Kozmian, Maksymilian Fredro, Franciszek Lessel, Karol Kurpiński, Niemczewicz and Szymanowska as frequent guests. The Czartoryski and Zamoyski families were among the main sponsors-subscribers to the first edition of the Historical Chants, also supported by Potocki and Tarnowski magnates, Warsaw school professors, the clergy and minor gentry.  In PRL-period histories, the role of aristocracy in the creation of Polish culture was under-appreciated for obvious ideological reasons. Only now, 25 years after the fall of the system we can approach this topic anew, without “socialist” prejudices.

In the Śpiewy historyczne, the song about hetman Chodkiewicz was penned by Duchess Chodkiewiczowa, and the song about Hetman Zamoyski was written by Duchess Zofia Zamoyska (née Czartoryska).  Maria Wirtemberska set to music a song about Stefan Potocki and the whole project was inspired by a setting of “Duma o Stefanie Zolkiewskim” by Konstancja Narbutt, composed thirty years earlier and popular in the nobility’s salons.  The greatest number of songs was by professional composers Karol Kurpiński (6) and Franciszek Lessel (10, plus a two-voice version of “Bogurodzica”).  Eva Talma’s contribution to the discussion was invaluable as she has shown that the first edition of 1816 was incomplete. Irena Poniatowska relayed the information found by Zofia Chechlińska about the fact that two composers, Cecylia Beydale and Lessel, were siblings and could not marry, as they had intended to. They were, apparently, out-of-wedlock children of the adventurous and amorous Maria Wirtemberska.

These relationships and others between the various personalities in Szymanowska’s life, as well as archival documents about them, could be plotted in an open, free access website that could be developed, as Anna Kijas proposed in the closing paper of the conference. A trained librarian as well as musicologist, Kijas has published a bio-bibliography of Szymanowska that showed some previously unknown letters of her daughter to an American friend, preserved in a library in North Carolina. Indeed, it would be beneficial to have these letters scanned and made public—the letters in the Thorvaldsen Museum are already posted online. A visit to the Polish Library in Paris, to see the notebooks and letters of Szymanowska family in the Museum of Adam Mickewicz, provided me with proof of the importance of this step for the future of research. The archives, always crowded by researchers, have amazing resources and I discovered, to my great pleasure, the vast scope of patriotic songs copied by hand for personal use by Szymanowska’s children, Helena and Romuald.  The little hand-made notebooks, which can fit in the palm of a hand and be used for group singing in the salon, included hundreds of krakowiaks, mazurs, polonaises, as well as various versions of the “Dabrowski Mazurka,” “Bogurodzica,” and other patriotic hymns.  My study of the history of Polish anthems will find a follow up in these documents. While I was reviewing the content of children’s notebooks, Halina Goldberg focused on the famous albums with composers’ manuscripts, in wonderful leather bindings, made to be kept and shown. She started her own album, and I had the pleasure of writing a personal note for her, as well as a silly little collage with a rain poem, inspired by our wanderings around Paris and a story by Mrozek.

The conference was supported by the Paris Station of the Polish Academy of Sciences that hosted the events, provided excellent audiovisual support and lovely French-and-Polish style luncheons and receptions for the scholars, as well as the Polish Institute in Paris that hosted the scholars, Air France and KLM that offered discounted air flights, and the Polish Library in Paris that welcomed scholars for archival visits. None of that would have been possible without the energetic and talented organizer, Ms. Zapolska Chapelle, who delighted all present with her rendition of all five songs of Szymanowska and fragments of two songs by others (Paris and Kurpiński) that replaced her versions in the published edition. The singer has already issued all of Szymanowska’s songs on a CD (Acte Prealable 0260) that is a must for all 19th century music scholars, as well as those studying the biographies and work of Adam Mickiewicz and Fryderyk Chopin.  Pianist Małgorzata Kluźniak-Celińska performed solo pieces by Szymanowska at the close of the conference and at the final salon—where we heard Goethe’s poem dedicated to Szymanowska, as well as two of mine, along with other assorted productions of, as the case may be in an impromptu performance, a dramatically varied artistic quality.


Born This Month

  • June 1, 1909 – Maria DZIEWULSKA, composer and theoretician (d. 2006)
  • 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 – Stanislaw 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 GARBUSINSKI, pianist, organist, composer
  • June 30, 1957 – Michal SWIERZYNSKI, composer and choral conductor