Finally, the time has come to recognize and commemorate a great Polish pianist and composer, Zygmunt Stojowski (1870-1946) with a street named after him in Warsaw. Notwithstanding the profusion of streets and squares in the center of Poland’s capital that could have competed for this honor, the powers-that-be finally decided to locate Stojowski Street in Białołęka Dworska, a distant suburb north of Warsaw, known for its surrounding forests with lots of fresh air and a microclimate.
This action represents a success of sorts for Joseph Herter, an American scholar and author of the definitive biography of Stojowski (see Polish Music History Series Vol. 10), who had ardently championed Stojowski’s cause worldwide for years. Herter, who has lived in Poland for several decades now, almost single-handedly presided over a rediscovery and revival of Stojowski’s music through numerous articles, lectures, and concerts organized in Europe and North America.
Zymunt Stojowski: Brief Bio
After being born near Kielce, Zygmunt Stojowski spent his young years in Kraków before leaving to study in Paris and permanently settling in the United States in the early 1900s. A concertizing pianist and a highly respected pedagogue in New York City, Stojowski was also a lifelong friend of Paderewski and actively assisted him in fundraising and political actions in the U.S. on behalf of restoring Poland’s independence during the years of World War I.
In 2006, the Zygmunt and Luisa Stojowski Collection of musical manuscripts, scores, photographs, artwork and correspondence was deposited at the Polish Music Center, also thanks in a large part to Mr. Herter’s efforts. That year marked 60th anniversary of Stojowski’s death and was commemorated with a series of concerts on the USC campus throughout the fall semester, culminating with the 2006 Paderewski Lecture-Recital dedicated to the composer, and the unveiling of the “Stojowski Room” archive space in the Polish Music Center. The October 11-12 events included a lecture by Joseph Herter, entitled Zygmunt Stojowski—Composer, Pianist and Pedagogue, followed by a recital of solo piano works by Stojowski and Paderewski given by Jonathan Plowright, a British pianist specializing late Romantic Polish repertoire. The composer’s two surviving sons, Alfred and Henry Stojowski were present at the event, alongside Dean Robert Cutietta and faculty representing Thornton School of Music. For more information of the commemorative events of 2006, see https://polishmusic.usc.edu/events/pad-lec/paderewski-lecture-recital-2006/ .
[Source: press release. Photo courtesy of Michał Osmycki]