Cracow Duo at PMC

For two weeks in February, Jan Kalinowski and Marek Szlezer conducted extensive research in the Polish Music Center’s Zygmunt and Luisa Stojowski Collection. The two performers, scholars, and faculty members at the Kraków Music Academy came to Los Angeles on a grant from their institution to survey the manuscripts of various cello and piano works by Zygmunt Stojowski.

Otherwise known as the Cracow Duo, Kalinowski and Szlezer were particularly interested in Stojowski’s Sonata for Cello and Piano, since the manuscript of it—together with a treasure trove of other scores and documents related to Stojowski and his wife—was donated to PMC by Stojowski’s family in 2006. Comparing the published editions with the manuscript proved very instructive for the two musicians who championed the Sonata by performing it on numerous occasions in a variety of concerts. Undoubtedly it’ll inform their upcoming interpretations of this work and it may also become a subject of a scholarly article published by the Kraków Music Academy in the coming year.

Kalinowski and Szlezer pictured with the portrait of Zygmunt Stjojowski in the PMC’s Stojowski Room

While researching Stojowski’s compositions, Kalinowski and Szlezer also turned their attention to Stojowski’s analytical writings, which form a considerable portion of the Stojowski Collection at PMC. In particular, the Kraków-based scholars were interested in Stojowski’s extensive commentary and fingering of Chopin’s Mazurkas. Since there are very few recordings of Stojowski’s performances, his writings and interpretative remarks on Chopin are of great interest to all pianists and musicians. Kalinowski and Szlezer plan to share the fruits of their research by publishing them under the aegis of the Kraków Music Academy.

The Cracow Duo’s visit at USC had another important component—official visits with the Dean of the USC Thornton School of Music, Robert Cutietta, and Ralph Kirshbaum, head of the Thornton String Program. As faculty at Kraków Music Academy, Kalinowski and Szlezer are eager to initiate a process of academic and artistic exchange between the two music schools. In this they are supported by Professor Zdzisław Łapiński, Rector of the Kraków Music Academy, who sent an official letter of invitation to Kraków for Dean Cutietta. There is a wide scope of possible cooperation, since the Polish Music Center and Thornton School of Music have much to offer to the Polish partners, just as Thornton students could benefit from programs and interactions with the Kraków Music Academy and its faculty through various academic exchange programs.

While on the USC campus, the Cracow Duo also participated in a conference on Music Diplomacy, organized by the USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism’s Association of Public Diplomacy Scholars. Marek Szlezer’s piano performance of works by Aleksander Tansman and participation in a discussion forum on the role of music in international relations rounded off this very productive and meaningful visit in Southern California.