The PMC Archives began when the Polish Manuscript Collection was established in 1985 with a gift of five original manuscripts from Witold Lutosławski (with Mi-Parti, Paroles tissées, Preludes and Fugue, and Novelette). Works by Grażyna Bacewicz, Tadeusz Baird, Joanna Bruzdowicz, Marta Ptaszyńska and Stanisław Skrowaczewski created the core of the collection, enlarged in 2000-2002 by gifts from over 30 Polish composers (Rafał Augustyn, Zbigniew Bujarski, Krzysztof Knittel, Zygmunt Krauze, Hanna Kulenty, Szymon Laks, Roman Maciejewski, Krystyna Moszumanska-Nazar, Krzysztof Meyer, Krzysztof Penderecki, Elżbieta Sikora, Edward Sielicki, Aleksander Tansman, Romuald Twardowski, Tadeusz Wielecki, Lidia Zielińska, and many others).
From the core of the Manuscript Collection, the PMC Archival Collection has grown with the addition of full collections held by several important composers. Encompassing not only original musical manuscripts, but also rare printed scores, letters, photographs, books, personal items and much more, these collections are:
- Henryk Wars [Henry Vars] Collection (donated by the Vars family in 2005) – featuring the composer’s newly discovered symphonic music
- Zygmunt and Luisa Stojowski Collection (donated by Alfred and Henry Stojowski in 2006) – featuring Zygmunt Stojowski’s manuscripts and first editions of scores, as well as articles, personal notes and a portion of his private library
- Bronisław Kaper Collection (donated by his former agent in 2007) – featuring his film scores and popular songs
- Paderewski Archive—the Paso Robles Collection (donated by related persons and collectors in 2008) – featuring items relating to his travels in the US, visits in California, and his life in Switzerland, illustrated by rare photographs, documents and personal memorabilia
- Roman Ryterband Collection (donated by the Ryterband and Eisele families in 2016) – featuring manuscript scores, drafts of compositions, correspondence, photographs, artwork and personal items
The PMC’s decades-long track record in preserving and promoting Polish music has also encouraged a number of individual donors and Polish cultural organizations in the U.S. to entrust the PMC with smaller collections of historically important documents related to Polish cultural history and Polonia’s cultural activities—be it rare recordings of classical and folk ensembles, concert programs and other publications, books and scores (including unique musical arrangements), correspondence, photographs and other, similar materials. This is how the PMC became the recipient of the Ciejka Family Collection (folk music materials), the Walter Martin Collection (songs and vocal arrangements), the Słomiński Collection (vocal and church music, including original arrangements and compositions), the Ossowski Collection and Polish Arts and Culture Foundation materials (books on music and history, tape recordings of radio broadcasts, and music scores), the Reiss Collection (rare books on music theory) and the Różycki Collection (photographs and correspondence).
The historical and cultural significance of our Archives has led to a very fruitful collaboration with the State Archives (NDAP) in Warsaw, wherein the PMC has received annual visits from archivists and preservationists from Poland. Since 2014, specialists have been sent by the NDAP at least once a year to share their knowledge and skills for 2-8 weeks at a time, with the goal of preserving and cataloging our archival collection in preparation for making it available online. As seen above, the process of properly packaging our materials in archival-grade boxes and envelopes is ongoing, and is made possible by the generous contribution of archival enclosures from Poland’s Beskid Company by the NDAP.