August 2015

Polish Music Newsletter Vol. 21, no. 8


In Memoriam: Anne Strakacz-Appleton

By Marek Żebrowski

Anne Strakacz-Appleton died in Sacramento, California on Friday, 31 July 2015. She was 93 years old. Widow of Louis B. Appleton, Jr., she leaves daughters Amy and Louise, residing in California, daughter Marguerite, a resident of Kansas, and four grandchildren.

Born in Warsaw on 17 March 1922, Anne Strakacz was the only child of Sylwin Strakacz, a career diplomat and longtime secretary to Ignacy Jan Paderewski. Anne’s mother, Aniela Karszo-Siedlewska, came from a very prominent Warsaw family of politicians, doctors and lawyers.

Known to her family and close friends as Anetka, she grew up between Warsaw and Riond-Bosson, Paderewski’s long-time residence near Lausanne, Switzerland. A precocious child, she was articulate and outspoken from an early age. Her mother recalled Anetka’s christening at the Sypniewski estate in Poland in November 1924 (pictured at left). As soon as Anetka was held up by Paderewski, she solemnly enquired if he had his own teeth. This unexpected question elicited gales of laughter, also from her new godfather, who obligingly demonstrated that the teeth were still firmly his.

Educated in the prestigious Miss Platter’s School in Warsaw, throughout her life Anetka was fluent in Polish and French, and later mastered English when she and her family followed Paderewski on his last voyage to the United States in 1940. Throughout the 1930s, Anetka’s spirited presence was much appreciated by Paderewski, especially after his wife died in 1934. Her summer visits in Switzerland gradually extended to a permanent residence as the political situation throughout Europe worsened on the eve of World War II.

As a teenager, Anetka was a direct eyewitness to many truly fascinating events and met a great number of prominent musicians, intellectuals and politicians. Blessed with clear and unfailing memory, she faithfully remembered Paderewski’s piano students (Aleksander Brachocki, Stanisław Dygat, Stanisław Szpinalski, Henryk Sztompka, Albert Tadlewski), Paderewski’s co-editors of the monumental Chopin Edition (Ludwik Bronarski, Józef Turczyński), the visits of Polish politicians associated with the so-called Front Morges political faction (Józef Haller, Wojciech Korfanty, Gen. Władysław Sikorski), as well as many other notables from practically every corner of the world. Conversing with Anetka about almost any topic—history, politics, music or poetry—was always a rare delight, since probing insights and mesmerizing details were invariably forthcoming, oracle-style, practically without prompting.

Just like her father to whom she was especially close, Anetka was a devoted and courageous advocate for Paderewski, her benevolent and ever-present godfather. It became especially true after Anetka’s father died in Los Angeles in 1973, and she resolutely continued the family mission of honoring Paderewski’s good name. Anetka’s dedication to this task was exemplary and unrelenting: her steely wit and unassailable intellect are on full display in an op-ed published by the New York Times in 1990, where in a bravura argument she methodically demolished a myth about Greta Garbo visiting Paderewski in Switzerland in 1938. Over Paderewski’s long and eventful life, there were many wild tales about him and those she could refute, Anetka certainly did. After all, she was there, she met the people, she saw things, and she knew the facts.

Some facts were almost too cinematic and needed no embellishment, like Paderewski’s last moments, witnessed by Anetka and her mother in a New York hotel on a hot June 1941 evening. In his last breath Paderewski’s quietly had asked for a sip of champagne. Indeed, it was exactly like that and, quite possibly in honor of Paderewski’s memory, Anetka always had a chilled bottle of choice champagne on standby for visitors who called on her for decades to come.

Strakacz family in Riond-Bosson, c. 1940

After Paderewski’s death, the Strakacz family moved from the East Coast to Los Angeles, where Anetka—with her beauty and unmistakably continental flair—enjoyed a brief acting career in Hollywood and worked as a make-up artist and the main representative for Max Factor in Europe. Endowed with a great singing voice and truly spellbinding stage presence (inheriting her father’s musical talents and her mother’s 1930s glamour), Anetka often performed with such notable Hollywood film composers as Henry Vars or Bronisław Kaper, who accompanied her at the piano.


Also in Hollywood, Anetka met Louis B. Appleton, Jr. (pictured below), a producer, writer and director whom she married in 1949. They were married for 63 years until Louis died in 2013 at the age of 98. Eventually retiring to Rancho Murieta in northern California, Anetka bravely continued to champion Paderewski’s legacy. She gathered a number of memorabilia left to her by Helena Liibke (Madame Paderewska’s secretary who came to live with the Appletons in Rancho Murieta) and cooperated on preserving them with Małgorzata Perkowska at the Institute of Musicology at Jagiellonian University in Kraków as well as with a number of researchers at the Hoover Institution at Stanford and the Polish Music Center at the University of Southern California. This is how young Paderewski’s letters to his future wife were donated to Jagiellonian University, that’s how Hoover Institution over the years has amassed a significant portfolio of Paderewski’s papers, and that’s how Polish Music Center became a repository for many of Paderewski’s personal items, correspondence, photographs and concert programs.

Anetka and Louis, 2008

Surrounded by books and still more books, and propped in her favorite, semi-reclined position with an old-fashioned IBM Selectric typewriter on permanent stand-by, Anetka would engage in her other great hobby—writing and translating poetry. This she did almost to the end of her life, patiently correcting proofs and continuing to devour volumes of Polish, French and English poets. Reading well into the night, as was her lifelong habit, she finally fell asleep to the cadence of music and verse that accompanied her entire storied life.

[Photos from the Paso Robles Collection of Paderewski Memorabilia, Polish Music Center USC, Los Angeles. All rights reserved]

Adam Walaciński

On August 3, Adam Walaciński—composer, music critic, retired professor and vice-president of the Music Academy in Kraków—passed away at 87 years old. He was a student of a violin class at the Eugenia Umińska Music School in Kraków, but then he changed his major and attended the composition class of Artur Malawski. After some time he left the school to become a private student of Stefan Kisielewski. After completing the class of Bogusław Schaeffer, he finally graduated in 1974 from the Kraków Music Academy, where he later became a professor.

He was an active member and afterwards the president of the Polish Composers Union (ZKP) and the “Grupa Krakowska” Artistic Association. He also worked with the Polish Music Publishers (PWM) as the head of the 20th Century Composers department.

In addition to his symphonic and chamber works for the concert stage, he also composed film and theater music (such as scores for Faraon and Matka Joanna od Aniolow directed by Jerzy Kawalerowicz, and Czterej Pancerni I Pies, the TV series by Konrad Nalecki), for which he won several awards. He was also honored with the City of Kraków Award (1976), the Ministery of Culture and Art Award for pedagogy (1981) and the ZKP Award (2003), among others.


PMC News

The 2015 Paderewski Exchange: A Chronicle

By Marek Żebrowski

Read or print the full article at:

Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles logoJointly run by the Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles and Tarnów Province in Poland, the 2015 edition of the Cultural Exchange Program was held June 27-July 6 at Paderewski’s former manor house in Kąśna Dolna, Poland. Initiated with an official agreement signed in 2008, this unique program now joins the three places associated with Paderewski—Paso Robles on California’s Central Coast, Kąśna Dolna in the southern province of Poland’s Małopolska region, and the area of Khmilnyk in the Podolia Region of today’s Ukraine, where Paderewski was born in 1860.  Selected by locally held competitions, young musicians from these three very diverse constituencies gather under Paderewski’s hospitable roof in southern Poland during the odd-numbered years, while in even-numbered years the same group of students visits Paso Robles to participate in the annual Paderewski Festival held in early November.

This year’s program began when Daniel Ha and Kannan Freyaldenhoven touched down at the Kraków Airport on Friday, June 26. These two Central Coast musicians—winners of the Youth Piano Competition in Paso Robles—were accompanied by Kannan’s mother, Misha, who served as the group’s chaperone.

As always, the staff of the manor house in Kąśna sent a car to Kraków to collect the Californians at the Balice Airport. The ever-cheerful Mr. Witold Baran welcomed the visitors and drove them to Kąśna, located about 90 miles southeast of Kraków. Hot weather and keen interest in sightseeing necessitated a quick stop for ice cream and a stroll through the main square in the town of Brzesko. A statue of St. Florian with a bucket (he is the patron saint of firefighters) elicited much interest from the American visitors. After arriving at the manor house’s peaceful grounds, the group relaxed and unpacked before supper. It was, as usual, expertly catered by Pan Mariusz, the good-natured owner of the Galicja Restaurant in the nearby town of Ciężkowice, the source of many delicious meals throughout the entire stay at Paderewski’s former residence.

2015 Cultural Exchange Program participants, in front of Paderewski’s former manor house in Kąśna Dolna
Photo: Misha Freyaldenhoven

By the end of Saturday, the entire complement of students had arrived in Kąśna. The Province of Tarnów was represented by two young pianists, Magdalena Kuropatwa and Miłosz Marcinkiewicz. They were delivered to the manor house by their parents, who appeared slightly anxious to leave their offspring with their American and Ukrainian peers.

After a very long drive from Khmilnyk in central Ukraine, Sasha Dzvinkovskiy, Yulia Medynska and their chaperone, Galia Terentieva, arrived at the manor house just in time for supper. With pianist Marek Zebrowski already in Kąśna from Los Angeles, and cellist Lars Hoefs also arriving late Saturday from very distant Sao Paulo, everybody was finally—and happily—under the same roof….

Continue reading this article at:

The workshops begin!

[All photos are by Misha Freyaldenhoven. Used by permission]

PMC Hours In August And September

USC Polish Music Center, Stonier Hall Suite 120Due to upcoming international travels by PMC Director Marek Żebrowski and Assistant Director Krysta Close, the Polish Music Center will have limited hours of operation from August 14 – September 14, 2015.

  • Friday, Aug. 14 – Monday, Aug. 24:  PMC is closed
  • Tuesday, Aug. 25 – Friday, Sept. 11: Limited hours on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday – please email or call (213) 821-1356 for an appointment
  • Monday, Sept. 14: PMC re-opens for normal hours
  • Monday – Friday, 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Thank you for your understanding as the Polish Music Center continues to expand its network into the world and improve its services for you, our patrons!


World Premieres At Summer Festivals In Poland

During the Karol Szymanowski Music Days Festival (July 25 – Aug 2) in Zakopane, there were two premieres: Ewa Fabiańska-Jelińska’s String Quartet ‘Mater Dei’ and Mikołaj Górecki’s Trio Concerto for clarinet, horn, piano and strings. Mater Dei was performed on July 27 by the Navis Quartet. Trio Concerto by Sinfonietta Cracovia under the direction of Maestro Massimiliano Caldi, with soloists Joanna Domańska – piano, Roman Widaszek – clarinet and Tadeusz Tomaszewski – horn. The August 2 program also included works by M. Karłowicz, W. Lutosławski, W.Kilar and H.M.Górecki.

Sunday, August 2, 2015 | 8:00 p.m.
World Premieres by Fabiańska-Jelińska and M. Górecki
@ Karol Szymanowski Music Days
Kościół Św. Krzyża, ul.Chałubińskiego 30, Zakopane, Poland

This year’s Opening Gala of the Transatlantyk Festival (August 7-14) in Poznań will feature the premiere of Jan A.P. Kaczmarek’s Interlude, performed by the Transatlantyk Symphony Orchestra led by Monika Wolińska, as well as Bartosz Michałowski’s Poznań Chamber Choir.

Friday, August 7, 2015 | 8:00 PM
World Premiere by Jan A.P. Kaczmarek
@ Transatlantyk Festival
Adam Mickiewicz University Concert Hall, Poznań, Poland

Later in August, world premieres of pieces by Andrzej Czajkowski – Sonata for viola and piano and Paweł Szymański – Sonata for viola and piano will take place at the Chopin and His Europe Festival (August 15-29). The two new works will be performed by Maciej Grzybowski (piano) and Krzysztof Chorzelski (viola) on August 17, 2015 at the Witold Lutosławski Studio of the Polish Radio.

Monday, August 17, 2015 | 5 p.m.
World Premieres by Czajkowski and Szymański
@ Chopin and His Europe Festival
Witold Lutosławski Studio of the Polish Radio
ul. J.P. Woronicza 17, 00-977 Warsaw
Info & Tickets:

Finally, during the Solidarity of Arts Festival (August 14-23, 2015) in Gdańsk, the Baltic Philharmonic will perform a concert featuring world premieres of pieces by Polish composers Paweł Pudło – War Horns (the ten French horns concerto) and Paweł Łukaszewski – Arioso for flute and organ on August 23. Entitled “Stars present World Premieres,” the concert will feature soloists from around the world—for the full list of performers, visit

August 23, 2015 | 7:00 PM
World Premieres by Pudło and Łukaszewski
@ Solidarity of Arts Festival
Polish Baltic Frederic Chopin Philharmonic
ul. Ołowianka 1, 80-751 Gdańsk
Info & Tickets:


Camerata Silesia: 25th Anniversary & World Premieres

In 2015, the Katowice-based ensemble Camerata Silesia—one of the best chamber choirs in Europe today—celebrates 25 year of excellence of musical work. Critics have noted the group’s skills and the beauty of its sound, emphasizing the role of founder Anna Szostak, who meticulously trained each of the musicians.

Camerata Silesia extraordinarily wide repertoire spans music from the renaissance, baroque, romantic and contemporary periods, including popular music, musicals and even Christmas carols. The group’s openness to new music and to developments and trends in contemporary music has  made them extremely attractive to composers—not only in Poland but also abroad. They have performed often at many of the world’s greatest contemporary music festivals, including Warsaw Autumn. Their repertoire and recordings include a number of works from Polish contemporary literature, such as compositions by Roman Palester, Andrzej Panufnik, Henryk Mikołaj Górecki, Wojciech Kilar, Krzysztof Penderecki and Agata Zubel, among others.

Camerata Silesia’s upcoming concerts with the Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra in Katowice (NOSPR) include performances with pianist Leszek Możdżer (Sept. 5), guitarist Paco Peña (Sept. 12) and the London Baroque Orchestra (Sept. 6). The September 5 performance with Możdżer will feature program of all Polish composers with several World Premieres:

  • Krzysztof Baculewski – Refren (world premiere)
  • Marcin Rupociński – Psalm 96 (world premiere)
  • Ryszard Gabryś – Psalm radosny
  • Aleksander Gabryś ‒ PrāṇāhTron
  • Henryk Mikołaj Górecki – Niech nam żyją i śpiewają [Let us live and sing]
  • Stanisław Krupowicz – Miserere
  • Sabina Myrczek – Psalm 117 (world premiere)
  • Joanna Wnuk-Nazarowa – Psalm (world premiere)
  • Przemysław Scheller – Judica me Deus  (world premiere)
  • Paweł Szymański ‒ Phylakterion
  • Paweł Tomaszewski ‒ Psalm (world premiere)
  • Leszek Możdżer ‒ Psalmy


New Leadership At ZKP: Kominek & Penderecki


On June 18, at the XXXVIII General Assembly of the Polish Composers’ Union (ZKP), internationally renowned composer Krzysztof Penderecki received the first ever title of Honorary President of the Polish Composers’ Union. During this General Assembly marking the 70th anniversary of the Union, Mieczysław Kominek was elected president of ZKP. A musicologist, Kominek currently serves as the Director of the Polish Music Information Centre in Warsaw. He replaces outgoing ZKP President Jerzy Kornowicz, who has fulfilled the role since 2003.

Also during the meeting, renowned Ukrainian composer, pianist and pedagogue Andrzej Nikodemowicz, who has resided in Poland for 35 years, was named an Honorary Member of ZKP.


New Publication From The Chopin Institute

Fryderyk Chopin – Życie twórcy [Fryderyk Chopin – Life of the creator]
Mieczysław Tomaszewski
Narodowy Instytut Fryderyka Chopina, 2015
Polish, English, German

The multimedia lexicon Fryderyk Chopin. Life of the creator, by the eminent Chopin scholar Mieczysław Tomaszewski, is an exceptional source of knowledge about the most outstanding Polish composer and is the fruit of many years of research into Chopin’s life and work. The elaborate structure of the lexicon comprises dozens of multi-layered screens, designed in detail by the author, filled with facts from the composer’s life, excerpts from correspondence, quotations and interpretations regarding his music, musical analysis of selected works and a voluminous Chopin bibliography. The work comes with hundreds of illustrations and musical examples, as well as recordings of Chopin’s compositions made by world-famous artists in the series The Real Chopin.

To purchase, visit


Jan Kiepura Documentary

Documentary filmmakers Michał Góral and Bogusława Plisz-Góral are currently preparing the first ever documentary feature length film about the life and career of the world famous Polish-American opera tenor and actor, Jan Kiepura.

Jan Kiepura (1902-1966) led a fascinating life from his modest upbringing in the little town of Sosnowiec, Poland, to the spotlights of the world’s most famous opera houses and onward to starring roles in many Hollywood features. His place in the pantheon of the world’s greatest tenors was best described by Placido Domingo: “… If he were alive today, there would either be four of us, or one of us would have to give up our place to Kiepura.”

The project, entitled Idol, is being produced in Poland for a world-wide market. Partial funding for the film has already been secured in Poland and the filmmakers are currently looking for additional funding sources either in the form of sponsored donations (sponsorship) and/or through possible co-production financing arrangements.

The filmmakers are also seeking individuals who personally knew or knew of Jan Kiepura and are interested in sharing their personal recollections or mementos related to him or his professional career.

Interested parties are invited to contact the filmmakers – Michał Góral or Bogusława Plisz Góral at: The trailer for the film can be viewed at: Password: jan2015

[Sources: press release]

Warsaw Camarata Performs Polish Music

During the final concert of their Letni Festiwal Nowego Miasta [New Town Summer Festival], the Warsaw Camerata will perform an all-Polish program featuring violinist Zbigniew Pilch and the ensemble’s Artistic Director, conductor Paweł Kos-Nowicki. The program includes: Feliks Janiewicz – Violin Concert No. 5, Romuald Twardowski – Suita staropolska, and Mieczysław Karłowicz – Serenade for strings.

August 9, 2015 | 2:00 p.m.
Warsaw Camerata: all-Polish concert
Kościół Stygmatów św. Franciszka
ul. Zakroczymska 1, Warsaw, Poland


Misiewicz At Edinburgh Fringe Festival

The Polish and Taiwanese-Canadian duo of Barbara Misiewicz (cello) Grace Mo (piano) will perform on August 18 at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Entitled “C H O cello P I N,” their program includes Chopin’s cello sonata – ‘meditative, introspective and profoundly original’ (Jim Samson), together with Debussy’s cello sonata – a programmatic masterpiece, evoking old Italian theatre, as well as one of Chopin’s earliest published pieces: the exquisite Introduction and Polonaise Brillante, Op.3.

These internationally acclaimed musicians bring their technical wizardry and impressive attention to detail to this concert at the request of The Chopin Circle in Scotland, which promotes continuing the appreciation of Fryderyk Chopin, his music and his influence on subsequent composers.

August 18, 2015 | 12:30 pm
C H O cello P I N at Edinburgh Festival Fringe, feat. Barbara Misiewicz
St Andrew’s and St George’s West,
13 George Street, EH2 2PA, Edinburgh, Scotland
Tickets & info:

[Sources: press release,]

‘Mostly Chopin’ In L.A.

On August 19, L’Ermitage Foundation Concert Series presents a “Mostly Chopin” concert presented by pianist Mary Au and friends. Mary Au is a graduate of the Royal Academy of Music and the University of Southern California. She is much loved by aficionados as a favorite collaborative and ensemble pianist on Southern California’s vibrant chamber music scene. This is a chance to experience her artistry in a solo recital.

One of Los Angeles’ best-kept secrets, L’Ermitage Foundation offers its members a rare concert series in an intimate salon setting by internationally recognized artists who perform on leading concert stages worldwide. Now in its 31st year, the Foundation currently is financially supporting Center Stage Strings, Children’s Hospital, Education through Music, Luzerne Music Center, Para Los Niños, and Venice Family Clinic.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015 | 8:00PM
L’Ermitage Foundation Concert Series: “Mostly Chopin” with Mary Au
Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel
11461 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles CA

[Source: Clickable Chamber Music Newsletter]

Eric Lu Performs Chopin In L.A.

Eric Lu, the First Prize Winner of the US National Chopin Competition in 2015, continues his US tour with a Los Angeles debut at the South Pasadena Public Library on August 30. This is one of Lu’s final concerts before he competes in the prestigious International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw, Poland, and his program will consist entirely of Chopin repertoire.

For details please go to: or

Sunday, August  30, 2015 | 4:00  P.M.
South Pasadena Library Community Room
1100 Oxley Street, South Pasadena, CA
Info: or
Admission: Members – FREE, Students – $15, General – $25
(prepaid admission only; tickets will not be available at the door)
For payments please click the Donate button and use the following address to complete the transaction:

[Sources: press release,]


Poles Honored With L’orphée D’or 2015

Ewa Podleś is widely recognized as the most authentic contralto of her generation by Opera International, Orpheus, Gramophone, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Examiner, Opera News and The Financial Times due to the specific color, huge range and agility of her voice. On June 24, Ewa Podleś was awarded the Prix Prestige Lyrique l’Orphée