Spotlight on PMC in Poland

During late November and most of December, PMC Dir. Zebrowski travelled around Poland giving concerts, master classes and lectures. He also conducted numerous meetings with various government organizations, foundations and educational institutions with which the PMC has cooperated during the past year and will again in years to come.

Visiting Bydgoszcz marked yet another year of truly wonderful cooperation between the PMC and the Paderewski Music Association under the leadership of Director Henryk Martenka. Dir. Zebrowski presented at the Awards Ceremony and Winners’ Concert of the 2016 Paderewski International Piano Competition held at the Pomeranian Philharmonic Hall in Bydgoszcz on November 20, and personally handed an invitation to the phenomenal First Place winner, Hyuk Lee (right), to appear in the 2017 Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles, CA. Also on that occasion, Dir. Martenka gifted to the PMC the 2016 Paderewski International Piano Competition catalogue, listing all of this year’s participants and their repertoire, as well as a special publication featuring manuscripts of piano music in the Collections of the Prussian State Library in Berlin and the Jagiellonian University with a detailed description of a Paderewski Exhibit (in Polish and English) alongside many rare photographs.

A few days later Marek Zebrowski was in Poznań, following on the invitation extended by Prof. Janusz Stalmierski at Poznań Music AcademyAt noon on November 23 Dir. Zebrowski spoke at the Academy’s Senate Chamber to students and faculty about the PMC and its unique collections. Following the lecture and Q & A, Dir. Zebrowski was presented with books and brochures depicting the artistic and scientific events scheduled at the Poznań Music Academy during the academic year 2016-2017. Prof. Stalmierski also generously donated to the PMC a CD and a DVD featuring his Violin Concerto-Nabożeństwa majowe, world-premiered in Poznań in 2010 as well as The Mother of Masters, a DVD documentary about Prof. Jadwiga Kaliszewska, a longtime professor and chair of the Violin Department at the Academy in Poznań. In addition to these gifts, Prof. Stalmierski also presented the PMC library with a book authored by Poznań Music Academy Rector, Halina Lorkowska: Ignacy Jan Paderewski—człowiek i dzieło [Ignacy Jan Paderewski—the Man and his Work].

Also in Poznań, Dir. Zebrowski met with composer Barbara Kaszuba, who gave several scores of her compositions to our library. These include Kalejdoskop na fortepian (1993), Dwa utwory for accordion (1995), Nas-troje for violin, cello and accordion (1997), Skrzyp-ak for violin and accordion (2000), Tanezzo for accordion (2002), Na wierchowej polaniefor chamber orchestra (2002), and Sześć etiud for accordion (2003).

Moving on from Poznań to Gdańsk, thanks to an invitation from Prof. Krzysztof Olczak (left) at Gdańsk Music Academy, Dir. Zebrowski addressed the faculty and students on November 25 on the subject of PMC’s history and manuscript collections. Just like in Poznań two days earlier, there was much interest among the audience—and many questions—about the PMC and its exceptional place in the world of Polish music. We are also very grateful for the gift of three CDs featuring prof. Olczak’s compositions for accordion performed by Prof. Olczak and Prof. Elżbieta Rosińska published by Soliton Records; an Astor Piazzola CD with performances by Grupa5U, also on Soliton Records; and a Gdański Festiwal Muzyczny CD with works by Hermann Schroeder, Janusz Bielecki, Frank Martin, Cecile Chaminade and Łukasz Woś, published by All Muses Recordings.

The next city on the PMC itinerary after Gdańsk was Warsaw, where on December 1, Dir. Zebrowski spoke at the conference of Polish Music Libraries at the Warsaw University LibraryThe presentation on PMC’s history and our manuscript collection was a perfect fit for the conference topic that included handling, cataloguing, and maintaining the composers’ archives. It was also a perfect opportunity to personally connect with representatives of several music libraries from across Poland, sharing and learning from their experience in addressing the needs of special collections.

While in Warsaw, Dir. Zebrowski met with Director Wojciech Woźniak and his staff at the National Archives to discuss continued cooperation in 2017 on cataloguing and scanning of our Paderewski Collection as well as the additional funding for work that Mr. Robert Górski from the Archives conducted at the PMC during the month of December 2016.

Around the same time several rehearsals were held all across Warsaw with the Royal String Quartet in preparation for a concert at Teatr Nowy, one of the events of the 2016 Kwadrofonik FestivalThe Royal String Quartet was preparing Marek Zebrowski’s score for David Lynch’s short animation film, Fire, which would be accompanied live by the Quartet at the December 3 event. The Quartet also prepared selections from Joanna Bruzdowicz’s string quartet, La Vita, and performed it live to fragments of Agnès Varda’s film, Vagabond, at that concert. It was quite a treat for an overflowing audience on this wintry Warsaw night. Joanna Bruzdowicz, a composer residing in France and a 2003 Paderewski Lecturer at USC, used the opportunity of meeting with Dir. Zebrowski in Warsaw to present the PMC with a CD featuring the world premiere recording of Bruzowicz’s Lella—Oratorio Profane, recently issued by Acte Préalable.

Every performing artist knows that playing concerts is impossible without having access to an instrument. Fortunately, Steinway & Sons has a lovely showroom in Warsaw on Ordynacka Street. Thanks to their dedicated and solicitous staff led by Marcin Fidos, Dir. Zebrowski was able to fit in several hours of much-needed practicing during his week in Warsaw, having at his disposal excellent instruments from the Steinway showroom floor.

One of the concerts that required much careful preparation came to pass thanks to an initiative by Krzysztof Kur and Narodowe Centrum Kultury. Their Second Annual Festival “Polska Muzyka Odnaleziona” gave the PMC an opportunity to present Polish premieres of music by Henryk Wars, Zygmunt Stojowski and Roman Ryterband on December 4, 2016, at the Royal Łazienki Palace. American songs of Henryk Wars(known as Henry Vars in the US) as well as two of Wars’s solo piano works were performed by baritone Tomasz Rak with Marek Zebrowski at the piano. Cellist Jan Kalinowski and pianist Marek Szlezer (known worldwide as the Cracow Duo) performed Stojowski’s sweeping Sonata for Cello and Piano, Op. 18, while the Warsaw-based pianist Julia Samojło performed a selection of Roman Ryterband’s 24 Variations for Piano, a monumental piano work dating from 1942.

We are also extremely grateful to Mr. Kur for several truly regal gifts to the PMC library that include a handsome and unique prints from his personal collection relating to January 1863 Uprising in Poland with two catalogues extensively describing these items. Mr. Kur also donated to our library a rare publication on the activities of the Traugutt Philharmonic Orchestra commemorating the orchestra’s 25th anniversary, as well as three CDs featuring rare recordings of music associated with uprisings in Poland in November 1830, January 1863 and August 1944.

2016 marked another year of cooperation between the Province of Tarnów, the PMC and the Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles. In early November young pianists from Poland and Ukraine came to perform at the Festival in Paso, with the Province of Tarnów underwriting travel costs for a Polish student and a chaperone. Continuing with the Exchange Program calendar, starting on December 7 Marek Zebrowski spent three days at Paderewski’s former estate of Kąśna Dolna, conducting master classes for young pianists from across southern Poland’s Małopolska Region. Over two dozen students and several piano faculty members participated in the event that ended with a December 9 concert at the manor house by twelve young pianists selected for the occasion. The two best Polish pianists from this group will be selected to participate in a week-long Exchange Program that includes master classes and performances in June 2017 at Kąśna Dolna alongside their counterparts from California’s Central Coast and Ukraine’s Podole Region.

Kraków-based pianist Marian Sobula travelled to Kąśna Dolna in December to meet with Dir. Zebrowski and discuss the Kraków Piano Festival, a concert and festival organization that is headed by Mr. Sobula. We are also very grateful for Mr. Sobula’s gift of a CD presenting Sławomir Zubrzycki’s performance on his “Viola Organista” instrument to the PMC.

After spending several days in Tarnów and its environs, Dir. Zebrowski moved for several days to Kraków, taking up residence at the Kraków Music Academy at the invitation of the Academy’s cello and piano faculty, Jan Kalinowski and Marek SzlezerFrom December 11-16 Kraków Music Academy celebrated the fifth edition of their annual Dni Muzyki Festival, dedicated this year to Mieczysław Karłowicz. The Festival opened with a gala concert at Kraków Philharmonic Hall that featured Karłowicz’s Violin Concerto, Op. 8 and his symphonic poem, Odwieczne Pieśni, Op. 10 as well as Alexander Tansman’s dynamic III Symphonie-Concertante. During the scholarly session that began December 12 at the Academy, Dir. Zebrowski presented a lecture entitled “Paderewski at the Piano,” illustrated with documents held in the PMC’s Paderewski Archive: the Paso Robles Collection. While in Kraków, Dir. Zebrowski also gave a master class for piano students and led a workshop on improvisation at the Academy. The highlight of the PMC’s presence in Kraków was the December 13 chamber music concert at the Florianka Hall with the resident string quartet, featuring piano quintets by Gabriel Fauré and Tadeusz Majerski, with Marek Zebrowski at the piano. After duly celebrating the successful completion of all these tasks with the indefatigable Cracow Duo and their accomplices, as a parting gift Jan Kalinowski and Marek Szlezer presented the PMC with their latest recording, Memories featuring  works for cello and piano by Chopin, Chajdecki, Chyrzyński, and Tansman, among others.

The year 2016 also featured extensive and highly beneficial cooperation between the Paderewski Polish-Ukrainian Foundation in Warsaw and the PMC. Thanks to lots of hard work by the Foundation’s President, Mr. Adam Bala, we were able to complete several important initiatives that increased the visibility of PMC at the highest levels of Polish government. Thus, the PMC presented lectures about Paderewski at the Polish Senate in mid-June and again in mid-December (watch the December session at www.youtube.com) and, jointly with Mr. Bala’s Foundation, carried out 3 days international piano workshops for students from Poland and Ukraine at the Pułtusk Castle in late June. The Paderewski Polish-Ukrainian Foundation was also instrumental in obtaining from the Wspólnota Polska Organization funds for Ukrainian students travelling to California on the Paderewski Festival Exchange Program in late October that enabled two young pianists to perform at the 2016 Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles held November 1-6.

Mr. Bala’s assistance and resources also extended to organizing an unprecedented concert of young Polish, Ukrainian and Lithuanian pianists at the Belvedere Presidential Palace in Warsaw on December 19. Attended by the highest representatives of the Polish Senate, including Deputy President Maria Koc, this was a truly memorable event for all participants, headlined by the Lviv-based pianist, Marianna Humetska. Humetska performed solo and chamber works by Chopin (joined by string players from Lviv) and Paderewski’s rarely-heard songs with Aneta Łukaszewska. The Belvedere evening was capped by a spirited interpretation of Paderewski’s 4-hand Tatra Album, performed with Marek Zebrowski.

Katarzyna Renes—a close business partner and Mr. Bala’s right hand—was also the organizer-in-chief, program coordinator and manager of the Kwadrofonik Festival, held from December 2-3 at the Nowy Teatr in Warsaw. The Festival opened with the “Takt der Arbeit” concert, featuring Felix Kubin and percussion duo Miłosz Pękała and Magdalena Kordylasińska, who were joined by guest artist Hubert Zemler. Later the same evening there were three works by Nicole Lizée—Hitchcock EtudesKubrick Etudes, and Lynch Etudes—performed by pianists Eve Egoyan, Emilia Sitarz and Bartek Wąsik.

The December 3 concert of the Kwadrofonik Festival featured works by Wojtek Blecharz, Joanna Bruzdowicz and Marek Zebrowski in performance by the Royal String Quartet, who accompanied live video presentations by Agnes Varda and David Lynch. This rare audio-visual spectacle was crowned with the Kwadrofonik Ensemble’s fascinating performance of the Industrial Symphony No. 1—a musical/visual collaboration between Angelo Badalamenti and David Lynch. It was a great honor and fantastic opportunity for the PMC to participate again in this year’s edition of the Kwadrofonik Festival and share the stage with such groundbreaking avant-garde artists and performers.

At long last, after the last concert in Warsaw in late December, Dir. Zebrowski met with composer and conductor Krzysztof Teodorowicz, a longtime friend and collaborator on the Henry Vars radio broadcast project. Mr. Teodorowicz donated to the Polish Music Center a CD of his arrangement of Christmas Carols, “Kolędy,” recorded by the Warsaw Singers. Since a lot of inquiries to PMC involve folk songs and carols in particular, this item will be a great addition to our library!

Between all of the concerts and rehearsals, Dir. Zebrowski gave interviews regarding the PMC and its collections to two different TV stations – both on Dec. 2.  For our readers in Europe, the Kulturalni.pl program can be viewed at kulturalnipl.tvp.pl and the Halo Polonia program is available at halopolonia.tvp.pl. Unfortunately, however, these interviews cannot be accessed in N. America because of licensing restrictions.

Finally, on the eve of his departure for Los Angeles, Dir. Zebrowski stopped by the office of Anna Czajka, a conservation specialist working at the Archiwum Główne Akt Dawnych [The Central Archive of Historical Records] in Warsaw’s Old Town district. Ms. Czajka spent twoweeks in July of 2016 at the PMC, where she worked on preserving the extensive assortment of photographs and nitrate negatives from the Paso Robles-Paderewski Collection (pictured at right). Thanks to her expert advice, in the coming months the PMC will receive special envelopes and other custom-made boxes from the State Archives in Warsaw, which will protect and better preserve our unique holdings.

Ms. Czajka also presented the PMC with several unique books relating to cataloguing, preserving and restoring such varied collections as our Paderewski, Stojowski, Vars and Kaper collections, among others. The titles received from Ms. Czajka include O opiece nad kolekcją, a publication outlining how to care for a collection (with a chapter authored by Ms. Czajka); Poradnik dla archiwisty instytucji polskiej na obczyźnie [A Manual for an Archivist in Polish Institutions Abroad]; Odkwaszanie zbiorów biblitecznych i archiwalnych w Polsce [Deacidification of Collections in Polish Libraries and Archives]; Obrazowanie cyfrowe zbiorów fotograficznych [Digital Imaging for Photographic Collections]; and Tracking the Reel World—A Survey of Audiovisual Collections in Europe. In addition to these very valuable gifts, Ms. Czajka also presented the PMC with a bilingual catalogue of an exhibit organized by her Archives, entitled Archival Treasures 1155-1939—The Saints, the Blessed and the Eminent Churchmen, published in 2016 to coincide with the 1050th anniversary of the Baptism of Poland and a brochure on the Polish Constitution, The Constitution of May 3 (1791)—The First Modern Constitution in Europe Adopted Democratically. Needless to say, all of these titles are priceless additions to our library and will serve as a guide for years to come as we, together with the State Archives in Poland continue our cooperative project in cataloguing, preserving and digitizing the PMC collections.

To all who hosted, organized and assisted Dir. Zebrowski or endowed the PMC with gifts and far-reaching support during this important trip, we extend a heartfelt “Thank You!” Dziękujemy!