Kochański’s Collaborative Work as Reflected Through his Manuscript Collection

by Tyrone Greive


Part I: Kochański’s Life and Manuscripts

1. Biographical Sketch
2. Overview of Collaborations
3. Manuscripts and Career


Part II: Studies of the Manuscript Collection

4. Collaboration with Szymanowski
5. Kochański’s Creative Work Habits
6.Markings in Manuscripts
7. Conclusions


Part I: Kochański’s Life and Manuscripts

110 years after his birth Polish violinist Paul Kochański is remembered mostly for the technical assistance he gave composer Karol Szymanowski; however, the violinist collaborated with other important composers as well. Patterns in the type of work habits and attitudes which Kochański brought to these collaborations are suggested by examining the violinist’s endeavors in the following steps: (1) a biographical sketch outlining Kochański’s professional importance and qualifications including (2) an overview of his collaborations, (3) the relationship between the violinist’s personal manuscript collection and his career, and, in the second part of this paper, (4) connections between the collection and Szymanowski’s violin writing of 1915-16, (5) Kochański’s work habits and (6) attitudes as reflected through the collection, as well as (7) conclusions offering insights into his collaborative work.

1. Biographical Sketch

Paul [Paweł] Kochański was born in Orel, Russia on September 14, 1887. After starting the violin with his father he began his formal training at the age of 7 in Odessa, where he studied with Emil Młynarski, a Polish student of Leopold Auer. In 1897 Kochański went with Młynarski to Warsaw; when the latter became director of the Warsaw Philharmonic in 1901, his fourteen-year-old student was appointed concertmaster. In 1903 Kochański pursued further studies with César Thomson at the Brussels Conservatoire, where he was awarded the first prize after only a few months.

That Kochański successfully established and sustained an international solo concert career during a period when there were many excellent concertizing violinists with large followings—e. g. Elman, Enesco, Heifetz, Huberman, Kreisler, Powell, Spalding, Szigeti, Thibaud and Zimbalist—is in itself evidence that he was a unique artist. His concert reviews reveal that beyond his abilities as a violinist he possessed “sterling musical qualities and [an] absence of sensationalist methods”[1] and that it was as a “musician and interpreter that he won” his audiences.[2]

Kochański was esteemed by other musicians as well. German violinist Carl Flesch described Kochański as an “inimitable interpreter,”[3] and fellow violinists’ tributes at the time of his death included such statements as “. . . [one of the world’s] most distinguished artists” (Mischa Elman), “. . . not only a great artist but a great person” (Efrem Zimbalist), and “a fine colleague and valued friend.” (Jascha Heifetz).[4] English violist Lionel Tertis regarded Kochański as “brilliant”,[5] and Artur Rubinstein, a close life-long friend and frequent recital partner, wrote that from the beginning they played together as if musically they had been “made for each other.”[6] Furthermore, Kochański frequently performed chamber music with many outstanding musicians such as Pablo Casals, Eugene Goossens and Fritz Kreisler. Possessing a strong sense of humor, Kochański was also often included in musically-important social events. Hence, when the violinist prematurely died from cancer in 1934, “more than 1500 mourners including nearly every prominent musician in New York” attended his memorial, and 41 internationally-known personalities of the music world comprised the list of honorary pallbearers.[7]

On the basis of his relatively few recordings of mostly miniature works, in which he was a specialist,[8] Kochański’s playing can be described as reflecting his training through “a marvellous blend of the Russian school as represented by Auer’s finest pupils and the older, grandly romantic Belgian school as epitomized by [Eugčne] Ysaďe.”[9] Moreover, unlike many violinists of his day, Kochański’s playing was both musically and technically oriented toward late twentieth-century standards.[10] How Kochański’s musicianship transcended the violin itself has been described in a recollection of when the violinist expressively sang most of Franz Schubert’s Die Winterreise “with his small, well-trained voice and intensity of expression.”[11]

As a performer Kochański become known for his interest in new music. In addition to his brilliant interpretations of Szymanowski’s music, he presented works by many other composers of the time such as Ernest Bloch’s First Sonata and the revised version of Arnold Bax’s First Sonata for Violin and Piano. Among his last public appearances is the first New York performance of Sergei Prokofiev’s Sonata for Two Violins, which took place in April 1933 (with Louis Persinger).[12]

The virtuoso violinist also taught throughout his career. Beginning in 1909 at the age of 21, he was professor of violin at the Warsaw Conservatory for two years, and between 1916 and 1918 he succeeded Leopold Auer at the Imperial Conservatory in St. Petersburg. After teaching at the Kiev Conservatory between 1919 and 1920 and immigrating to the United States in 1921, Kochański taught at the Juilliard School from 1924 until his death. In addition to demonstrating a serious approach to violin pedagogy,[13] these appointments were also instrumental in making contacts with other musical artists.

Finally, Paul Kochański was also a composer and arranger. In more than one case, Kochański’s transcriptions represent a personal connection with the original composer. For example, in 1907 Kochański had not only performed in Bilbao with Manuel de Falla as pianist[14] but also financially assisted the Spaniard to go to Paris,[15] thus furthering the latter’s professional growth. The transcription of de Falla’s Siete canciones populares espanolas for voice and piano (1914-15), for which the violin and piano parts were revised by Kochański and the composer, respectively, [16] also lists the violinist as a dedicatee.[17] Retitled Suite populaire espagnole, the work is among the most popular of Kochański many transcriptions.[18]

A chronology of Kochański’s published work is shown in Table 1.[19]

Table I. Paul Kochański’s Compositions and Transcriptions

Nicolo Paganini Campanella Carl Fischer 1922
Alexander Glazunov Melodie Arabe Carl Fischer 1923
Fryderyk Chopin Mazurka, Op. 6, No.3 Carl Fischer 1923
Paul Kochański (vln.) Karol Szymanowski (pno.) Danse sauvage [Wild Dance] Carl Fischer 1925
Paul Kochański (vln.) Karol Szymanowski (pno.) L’Aube [The Dawn] Carl Fischer 1925
Manuel de Falla Suite populaire espagnole Max Eschig 1925
Joaquin Nin Chants d’Espagnole Max Eschig 1926
Karol Szymanowski Roxana’s Song from King Roger Universal Edition 1926
Maurice Ravel Pavane pour une infante défunte Max Eschig 1927
Paul Kochański Flight (Caprice) Carl Fischer 1928
Manuel de Falla Danse rituelle du feu [Ritual Fire Dance] tirée de El amor brujo Max Eschig c.1930
Franz Schubert Impromptu, Op. 90, No. 4 Carl Fischer 1930
Karol Szymanowski Dance from Harnasie Universal Edition 1931
Karol Szymanowski Kurpie Song Universal Edition 1931
Fryderyk Chopin Nocturne in C # Minor Carl Fischer ??
Manuel de Falla Pantomine (El amor brujo) Chester 1931
Aleksander Scriabin Etude, Op. 42, No. 4 G. Schirmer 1933
Manuel de Falla Danza del Terre Chester 1934
Paul Kochański Souvenir d’un lieu cher, Op. 42, No. 3 published (?) (?)

Note that the dates of Kochański’s published works span from 1922, i. e. the year after Kochański moved to the United States, to 1933, the year before his death. This increasing focus on composition indicates that writing and transcribing had become important priorities alongside performing and teaching during approximately the last quarter of Kochański’s life. The data gleaned from Table 1 are supported by a statement of Dr. John Erskin, dean of the Juilliard School, who said about Kochański: “Had he lived, I believe he [Kochański] would have distinguished himself in composition, to which his attention was turning.”[20]


2. Overview of the Kochański Collaborations

Paul Kochański’s most lasting contribution to new music was his collaborative work with several important composers. The collaboration with Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937) had the most far-reaching scope.

The two Poles first met in Warsaw in 1901, when Szymanowski was 19 years old and Kochański was 14, and their final collaboration on the composer’s Violin Concerto No. 2 (1932-33) took place at the end of the violinist’s life. The two were intimate friends, and their friendship motivated Szymanowski to write for the violin.[21] Kochański and Szymanowski often performed together in recital presenting the composer’s violin-piano works. These international performances, as well as Kochański’s appearances with prominent conductors and other pianists, served to make Szymanowski’s music more widely known, and the violinist came to be considered “the most authentic exponent” of Szymanowski’s music.[22] Szymanowski greatly valued Kochański both professionally and personally; his respect and admiration is well-documented in Szymanowski’s published letters as well as reflected by the number of works the composer dedicated to the violinist and his wife.[23]

Kochański’s principal contribution to the violin idiom of Szymanowski’s works is usually described as the introduction of the technical means through which the composer-pianist was able to blend his uniquely-imaginative conceptions with an idiomatic use of the full virtuoso resources of the violin. The result was the creation a new type of violin writing which is “in the highest degree refined and exploratory.”[24] The works which launched the new style include the Nocturne and Tarantella, Op. 28 (1915), the Myths, Op. 30 (1915) and the Violin Concerto No. 1, Op. 35 (1916). It is interesting to note that Szymanowski did not continue to fully develop his new violin idiom in compositions written after 1920. This fact can has a twofold explanation:(1) the composer attempted to create a national style based on folklore, within which the new violin writing would have been inappropriate, and (2) he no longer had direct contact with Paul Kochański, who since 1921 was living in America.[25] The latter reason strongly suggests the significance of Kochański’s role in the development of Szymanowski’s new violin writing.

Kochański’s three transcriptions of Szymanowski’s music were either “authorized” by the composer or made with the composer.[26] The closeness of the entire Kochański-Szymanowski collaboration is evident in the facts that not only were the solo parts to both violin concerti written as a joint effort, but the violinist wrote his own cadenzas in precisely the same style, thus recalling a similar relationship between Joseph Joachim and Johannes Brahms in the writing of the latter’s violin concerto.

Later in their collaboration, Szymanowski himself came to realize that their work had truly innovative results:[27] “. . .Paul and I have created a new style in Mity and Koncert, a new utterance in violin playing, something you might call epochal.” According to Alistair Wightman, one composer strongly influenced by the Poles’ efforts was Béla Bartók.[28] Technical and musical influences from the Myths can be found in Bartók’s Sonata No. 1 and Sonata No. 2 for violin and piano (1921 and 1922, respectively) as well as the Second Violin Concerto (1938).[29]

At the same time Szymanowski was also aware that the influence of their new violin style was disseminated both through his own compositions and through Kochański’s collaborative work with other composers. The latter was considered by Szymanowski to be an extension of his own collaboration with the violinist; this conviction is implicit in his statement that:[30]

All works by other composers related to this style (no much how much creative genius they revealed) came later, that is through direct influence of Myths and the Violin Concerto [No. 1] or else through direct collaboration with Paweł.”

Works known to have been written with Kochański’s collaboration are chronologically listed in Table 2.

Table 2. Works Resulting from Collaboration with Paul Kochański

Karol Szymanowski Nocturne and Tarantella, Op. 28 1915 Auguste Iwański
Karol Szymanowski Myths, Op. 30 1915 Sophie Kochańska
Karol Szymanowski Concerto No. 1 1916 Paul Kochański
Serge Prokofiev Concerto No. 1 in D Major 1917
Arnold Bax First Sonata (revised) 1920 Paul Kochański
Ernest Bloch First Sonata 1921 Paul Rosenfeld
Serge Prokofiev Five Melodies, Op. 35-bis 1925 Nos. 1, 3, 4: Paul Kochański, No. 2: Cecilia Hansen, No. 5: Joseph Szigeti
Igor Stravinsky [31] Suite for violin and piano, after themes, fragments and pieces by Giambattista Pergolesi 1925 [32]


Paul Kochański
Karol Szymanowski [33] Three Paganini Caprices, Op. 40 1926 No. 20, 21: Paul Kochański No. 24: Józef Ozimiński
Karol Szymanowski Concerto No. 2 1932-33 Paul Kochański

Kochański’s collaborative influences represented in Table 2 and their inter-relationship with the new violin style of Szymanowski, along with its direct influence on Bartók, chronicle the remarkable impact of the Szymanowski-Kochański collaboration within less than twenty years. In the words of H. H. Stuckenschmidt,[34]

His [Szymanowski’s] compositions for violin [. . .] mark an enormous advance in the repertory of that instrument. [. . .] He was as much a pioneer in that domain as Debussy was in the pianoforte.


3. Relationship of Kochański’s Manuscript Collection To His Career

The Paul Kochański Manuscript Collection is an important resource in examining the violinist’s written creative work. Housed in the Music Department of the National Library in Warsaw, Poland since 1989, the collection was purchased at Sotheby’s New York location in December 1988 by using funds provided by the Polish Ministry of Culture. Prior to the sale it was probably owned by the Kochański family in the United States.[35] The majority of the individual items are signed or stamped, thus indicating the violinist’s personal ownership at one time.

Consisting of forth three numbered manuscript items and three printed scores, the collection represents all of Kochański’s professional life beginning with his student days in Brussels. The earliest dated items are from 1904 – i.e. his manuscript copies of Joseph Joachim’s cadenza to the Brahms Concerto (Mus.6028)[36] and Eugčne Ysaďe’s cadenza to the Tchaikowsky Concerto (Mus.6029), and the inscribed printed score to Francis Poulenc’s Huit chansons polonaises for female voice and piano is dated 1934.

Also, when viewed as a whole the manuscript collection mirrors different facets of Kochański’s career. First, the collection reflects Kochański as a violinist-performer. Short works and multi-movement suites make up most of the collection, thus paralleling the violinist’s specialty of performing pieces from the small-scale genre. Cadenzas to standard violin concerti (e. g. Brahms, Mozart and Tchaikowsky) mirror Kochański’s frequent role as soloist with orchestra. Representing Kochański’s broad musical tastes, composers range from Baroque masters (e. g. J. S. Bach, Antonio Vivaldi and Arcangelo Corelli) to nineteenth-century virtuosi (e. g. Nicolo Paganini) and active writers of the early twentieth century (e. g. Alexander Gretchaninov, Piotr Perkowski and Karol Szymanowski). Some composers also represent a personal relationship with Kochański (e. g. Manuel de Falla, Igor Stravinsky).

Second, as is to be expected, creative work by Kochański himself is included within this collection. Original pieces in both completed and unfinished (or “in progress”) stages are represented. For example, Młynek (Mus.6008) consists of four pages in ink and 4 blank score pages; in the last three systems the piano part seems finished but the violin part has yet to be begun. The Introduction and Tarantella (Mus.1616) consists of a penciled violin part of one complete page (11 lines) for the “Introduction” and 3 1/2 lines for the “Tarantella.” Likewise, there are numerous manuscripts of Kochański’s transcriptions in varying degrees of completion. Some original composers and/or pieces are the same as those found in Kochański’s published transcriptions, e. g. Fryderyk Chopin, Maurice Ravel, Manuel de Falla and Aleksander Scriabin (Mus.6017 and 6018, 6019, 6020, 6039, respectively).

Third, the collection includes numerous other composers’ manuscripts, including some autographs which directly relate to Kochański’s collaboration with Szymanowski. [37]Suggesting possible use in some of the many joint concerts given by Kochański and Szymanowski, several works from the latter group appear to have been used in performance (Mus.6001, 6003, 6004, 6005 and 6006).[38] Reflecting Kochański’s popularity with other musicians are the items bearing signed dedications to the violinist. Good examples are three pieces by Poldowski (1879-1932), Henryk Wieniawski’s youngest daughter, Irena Wieniawska, who was known in England as Lady Dean Paul (Mus.6024 – Mus.6027).

Most of the collection’s items are not dated, but those which are by other composers and dated or can be dated through other sources are listed in Table 3.

Table. 3. Dated Items by Other Composers in the Kochański Collection

Karol Szymanowski Sonata in D Minor for Violin and Piano, Op. 9 (Mus.6003) 1903, Warsaw
Karol Szymanowski Kochański’s manuscript copy of Violin Concerto No. 1, Op. 35 (Mus.6007) (1916) yes, but not this manuscript
Karol Szymanowski Three Paganini Caprices, Op. 40 (Mus.6001) 1918 yes (first two), but not this manuscript
Paul Kochański – Karol Szymanowski Danse sauvage (Mus.6005) May, 1920, Warsaw
Tivador Nachez Concerto in B Flat Major by Antonio Vivaldi (Mus.6042) London Aug. 18, 1920 yes
Jules Conus Suite Sept Caprices rythmiques(Mus.6034) 1923 yes
Alexander L. Steinert Barcarolle (Mus.6041) 1925 yes
R. Stoklas Lento assai (Mus.6023) 10/8/25
Karol Szymanowski- Paul Kochański Air de Roxane from the opera King Roger (Mus.6004). (1926)
Alexander Gretchaninoff Romance, Op. 112, No. 1 (Mus.6033) 8/27/27 yes
Paul Kochański Flight (Mus.6043) March 1928, N. Y. City
Emil Młynarski Second Concerto for Violin with Piano Reduction, Op. 16 (printed score) 1931 yes
Karol Szymanowski – Paul Kochański Transcription of Dance from the ballet Harnasie (Mus.6002) 1931
Karol Szymanowski 36-page sketch to Violin Concerto No. 2, Op. 61 – (Mus.6043) (1932- 33) yes, but not this manuscript
Francis Poulenc Huit chansons polonaises for Female Voice and Piano (printed score) 1934 No. 5 to “Madame Kochańska”

Table 3 clearly shows that the time span of most of the dated materials of the Kochański Manuscript Collection (i. e. 1916 – 1934) roughly coincides with that of the violinist’s collaborations as outlined in Table 2 (i. e. 1916 – 1933) as well as indicating a concentration of the collection’s dated materials coinciding with the period when Kochański’s own works and transcriptions were published, i. e. 1922 – 1933 as shown in Table 1. Furthermore, it is probable that a number of Kochański’s undated manuscripts were written and worked on during this time. For example, undated transcriptions by Chopin and Ravel (Mus.6017 and Mus.6020) were published in 1923 and 1927, respectively. In short, the coinciding of the dates of a sizeable amount of the collection’s materials with (1) the writing and publication of Kochański’s original pieces and transcriptions and (2) the span of the collaborations further points to the violinist’s creative musical breadth during those years.


Part II: Studies of the Manuscript Collection


4. The Kochański Collection of Manuscripts And Szymanowski’s Violin Writing Of 1915-16

The violin techniques recognized as characteristic of Szymanowski’s color-oriented violin writing of 1915-16 are also found in a number of manuscripts from the Kochański Collection, composed either by the violinist himself or by other composers. As amply pointed out by previous researchers, while the techniques themselves are traditional in their origin, their uniqueness consists in that they are used in new ways or to create new colors within musically-innovative contexts.[39] The materials from the Collection suggest that Kochański and other composers continued to work imaginatively with these technical devices, either by using the technique within a context that emphasizes its uniqueness or by using it to an unusually extensive degree in order to create an unusual color. In either case (as in the pieces created by the Szymanowski-Kochański collaboration), each technique seems to have been used in a highly idiomatic manner. The point will be illustrated by demonstrating six techniques appearing in selected manuscripts from the Kochański Collection: (A) the use of different registers – especially the very high, (B) harmonics, (C) trills, (D) double stops, (E) chromatic glissandi, and (F) pizzicati. (A) Use of registers. The colorful use of the violin’s different registers, especially the high “E” string in order to create a singing quality as well as an dreamy, soaring effect, is widely found within the collection’s many works. It has long been recognized that this quality was directly transferred from Kochański’s playing into Szymanowski’s works. In the words of Christopher Palmer, that the Violin Concerto No. 1, “an apotheosis of instrumental song,” was “specifically conceived with the ‘captivating sweetness’ of Kochański’s tone in mind can scarcely be doubted.” [40] In addition to the first two solo violin’s entrances in this concerto, among the most famous of the many other specific passages that could be cited in Szymanowski’s works are the first violin solo in the first of the three Myths, La Fontaine d’Arethuse, Op. 30, No. 1, especially measures 9 – 17 which feature the violin in a high register with a relative low piano part. Measures 14 – 18, 27 -30 and 57 – 64 of the idyllic Lento assai (1925) by R. Stoklas (Mus.6023) are written very similarly, with the latter passage being particularly expressive since its musical gesture is reminiscent of the opening of Claude Debussy’s Prélude a l’Apres-Midi d’un Faune (see Example 1).

Example 1: R. Stoklas: Lento assai (Mus. 6023) bars 58-59.

An equally-effective use of the high “E” string register is also found in the straight-forward, much more traditionally written Serenade by Kochański (Mus. 6010); again, the violin’s high register contrasts with a low piano part (see Example 2).

Example 2: Paul Kochański: Serenade (Mus. 6010), bars 22-23.

An extension of this technique is the designation of another single string for the sake of a single, unique tone color, e. g. the use of the “G” string on the return of the violin solo in La Fontaine d’Arethuse, measures 87 – 98. One of the many such indications in the Kochański Manuscript Collection is the specification of “IV” (i. e. the “G” string) for the opening violin solo in Kochański’s transcription of the famous Pavane by Ravel (Mus. 6019); see Example 3.

Example 3: Ravel-Kochański: Pavane pour une infante défunte (Mus. 6019), bars 1-4.

(B) Harmonics. Among the most famous examples of Szymanowski’s and Kochański’s highly colorful use of harmonics are those in double stops in measures 49 – 50 and 53 – 55 of La Fontaine d’Arethuse and the sequence of natural harmonics imitating the pipes of Pan in measures 55 – 57 in Dryades et Pan, Op. 30, No. 3. Equally effective is the return of the opening in the Lento assai (1925) by R. Stoklas (Mus.6023): in measures 48 – 55 the haunting character of measures 1 – 4 is given a new color through the use of a mixture of natural and artificial harmonics dividing the vibrating string into segments of quarters and thirds (see Example 4).

Example 4: R. Stoklas: Lento assai (Mus. 60