PMC Gifts: January 2021

Bacewicz by Fierro

Pianist Nancy Fierro, a longtime PMC friend and a Grażyna Bacewicz expert, recently made another important donation to our library. It includes the piano reduction score and a full orchestral score of Bacewicz’s late work, the 1966 Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra (see our Manuscript Collection for information on the manuscript of this work). The piano reduction score includes numerous interpretative markings by the performers, Nancy Fierro and her brother Charles, relating to their 6 February 1982 appearance with the Ventura County Symphony under the direction of its musical director and conductor, Frank Salazar. This concert—during which Charles and Nancy Fierro also performed Mozart’s magnificent Concerto for Two Pianos, KV 365—represented the U.S. West Coast premiere of Bacewicz’s Concerto.

A delightful surprise was included on the inside cover page of the score: a copy of a letter from Wanda Bacewicz, Grażyna’s sister, dated August 27, 1982. In it, Wanda is thanking Nancy and Charles Fierro for performing the Concerto for Two Pianos and notes with approval Nancy’s plans to perform Grażyna’s set of Ten Etudes for Piano.

Also in this donation, Nancy Fierro included the original booklet from the concert as well as copies of reviews published after the concert. Musical America in the June 1982 dispatch noted that, “both pianists acquitted themselves handsomely,” while Ventura County’s Star Free Press called the “Concerto debut stirring” in its February 8, 1982 concert review headline. It also reported that it attracted an audience of “nearly 1600,” a fact that also headlined The Press-Courier Feb. 8, 1982 report: “Oxnard Auditorium Filled” and “Music of 4 Composers Hailed.” The Press-Courier review also found that, “Nancy and Charles Fierro are a remarkable pair. They are both brilliant pianists” and, later on in the article, praised Nancy Fierro’s efforts in promoting music of women composers and concentrating on the works by Grażyna Bacewicz (1909-1969).

Nancy Fierro recently uploaded her recording of Bacewicz’s Second Piano Sonata to YouTube. This is the same recording that Nancy sent to Nadia Boulanger many years ago. Boulanger was Bacewicz’s composition teacher in Paris in the 1930s and this is how she reacted to Nancy Fierro’s interpretation of Bacewicz’s Sonata: “Your playing is indeed most musical and well-articulated—the form coming to light quite naturally, and the whole Sonata of Grażyna Bacewicz is given an excellent natural rendition.”

For anyone interested in hearing this performance of Grażyna Bacewicz’s Second Piano Sonata, please follow this link:

Skrzeszewski Poetry & Libretto

Through the good offices of our colleague in Warsaw, archivist Robert Górski from the State Archives, we were recently connected with Stan Skrzeszewski of Ontario, Canada. Mr. Skrzeszewski is the author of several interesting historically-based poems and libretti, some of which have been set to music by his collaborators. In late December, the CD recording and poetry booklet of his Therefore, We Must Remember! The Katyń Poetry and Song Cycle was donated to the PMC, along with the book of his new 3-act libretto: HOPE and the War of 1812. These will join the Polish Music Center’s library and we will be happy to share these resources with interested students, faculty and researchers.


Muzyka’s Latest Issue

The Art Institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences [IS-PAN]] just sent us the latest issue of their quarterly journal, Muzyka (No. 4/259/2000). As usual, it is filled with many interesting articles, opening with Ewa Chamczyk’s essay on Henryk Wieniawski’s interpretations of Paganini’s Caprices for solo violin. Issues relating to Teodor Leschetizky’s piano technique are discussed by Ewa Boguła and—still on the subject of piano playing—Michał Bruliński examines selected 19th century publications on learning to play this instrument. Ryszard Daniel Golianek weighs in on Franz Schubert’s song cycle, Winterreise, while Bartłomiej Gembicki discusses early music recordings on the example of Monteverdi, and Oskar Łapeta digs into the reception of Eugeniusz Morawski’s symphonic poems in post-World War I Poland.

Two fascinating essays on the subject of correspondence close the article section of this Muzyka issue. Beata Bolesławska-Lewandowska discusses Roman Palester’s letter exchanges with Polish Music Publishers [PWM], whie Małgorzata Sieradz examines the history of friendship between Stefan Jarociński and Witold Lutosławski through the lens of letters between these two towering figures in Polish music.

In the Contributions Section of Muzyka, Piotr Szalsza’s detailed research into Zofia Lissa’s family history in Lwów at the very beginning of the 20th century highlights many heretofore unknown facts from Lissa’s fascinating life.

We are truly grateful to our friends at the Art Institute of PAN for keeping us supplied with an excellent publication that continues to enrich the holdings of the Polish Music Center’s library.