Held under the title “Kontrasty-Niepodległa” [Contrasts-Independence], the 56th Bydgoszcz Music Festival celebrated the centenary of Poland’s regained independence with a wide-ranging presentation of concerts at the Bydgoszcz Philharmonic Hall between September 14 and October 5. A widespread repertoire—representing compositions from the Polish baroque to music by such contemporary masters as Kilar, Lutosławski, Penderecki and Górecki—attracted capacity crowds to all events. The procession of prominent soloists and chamber ensembles, including the Berlin Piano Trio, Rafał Blechacz, Jakub Jakowicz, and Leszek Możdżer, among others, culminated in the closing concert featuring Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Filharmonia Pomorska Orchestra, Bydgoszcz Philharmonic and Toruń University choirs and international soloists under the direction of Kai Burmann.
The Festival opened on September 14 with Szymanowski’s Stabat Mater and Penderecki’s Credo. The National Philharmonic from Warsaw made a guest appearance on September 16 with a program of Szymanowski, Mendelssohn and Weinberg under the direction of Jacek Kaspszyk. The September 21 concert was devoted to music by film composers, with works by Szpilman (Mała Uwertura), Kilar (suite from the film Pan Tadeusz), and Wars (Piano Concerto and orchestral suite City Sketches) led by Maestro Michał Klauza with soloist, pianist and PMC Director Marek Zebrowski (pictured above). Photos and the review of this concert are posted at: tygodnikbydgoski.pl
Other highlights of the 56th Bydgoszcz Music Festival included the violin and piano recital of Bomsori Kim and Rafał Blechacz (works by Mozart, Fauré, Debussy and Szymanowski) on October 1, and Leszek Możdżer’s solo recital on October 3.
In Lyon, the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland organized two events in conjunction with Poland’s independence celebrations honoring Paderewski—the pianist turned politician and father of Poland’s Second Republic. Marek Zebrowski delivered a lecture on “Paderewski and World Politics” at the Conservatoire de Lyon and played a recital of music by Paderewski and Chopin at the Conservatoire’s concert hall on September 29.
For the past 25 years, Prof. Kinga Joucaviel at the Université Jean Jaurès in Toulouse had organized “La Semaine polonaise” [Polish Week] a large and very successful festival highlighting Polish culture. To commemorate the centenary of Poland’s independence, this year’s celebrations in Toulouse were held during the first week of October under the title “Ignacy Jan Paderewski—L’art pour la liberté.” A number of scholars from Poland, France, the UK and the US participated in several scholarly sessions, round table discussions and lecture presentations. An exhibit on Paderewski’s musical career prepared by Jolanta Pol and Wiesław Dąbrowski’s film depicting what Paderewski as a musician gained for his homeland as well as screenings of the 1937 feature with Paderewski in a starring role (Moonlight Sonata) and Polański’s The Pianist (2002) greatly added to the Polish Week’s rich program offering. Finally, to cap the “La Semaine polonaise” celebrations, two concerts—the first on October 4 at the Fabrique culturelle at the Université Jean Jaurès and the second at the magnificent Auditorium Saint-Pierre-des-Cuisines on October 5—featured a selection of Paderewski’s songs with soprano Anna Wilk and pianist Bartłomiej Wezner, as well as Paderewski’s and Chopin’s solo compositions performed by Marek Zebrowski.