A Poem by Arthur G. Burgoyne
edited by Joseph A. Herter
Zygmunt (Sigismond) Stojowski (1870-1946) was a composer, pianist and teacher who studied with Władysław Żeleński in Cracow and Léo Delibes, Louis Diémer, Theodore Dubois and Jules Massenet at the Paris Conservatoire. He was also in a select group of Paderewski students. Since October 1905 he lived in the USA, where his career gradually shifted from composition to appearing as a soloist with orchestras and in recital; he also taught piano performance at a number of prestigious institutions.
Stojowski was an active member of the Polish-American Community until the end of his life; his functions included serving as:
- the founder and—for over twenty years—the president of the Polish cultural club Koło Polskie (Polish Circle);
- the founder of a short-lived Polish Institute, which was the prototype for today’s Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences of America in New York,
- and a vice-president and member of the executive committee of the American Polish Relief Committee of New York, which raised money for Paderewski’s Polish Victims’ Relief Fund.
Because of his charitable ventures for Poland during the First World War, Stojowski was awarded the order Polonia Restituta in 1924. His fervor for promoting the American cause during World War I through the sale of War and Victory Bonds also saw him decorated with the Distinguished Service Medal by the U.S. Government.
Between the wars, Stojowski was an associate member of the American Polish Chamber of Commerce & Industry in the USA and a contributor of articles on Poland and Polish music for the chamber of commerce’s Poland America magazine. During World War II, he once more rose to serve Poland: He was the editor of the Polish Review, a weekly magazine which was published with the assistance of the Polish Government Information Center; he also founded and chaired the Polish Musicians’ Committee. One patriotic service that Stojowski fulfilled which has been forgotten, is that of being an overseer for the safe-keeping of Poland’s gold reserves in the USA. Proof of this latter claim can be found in the Stojowski archive at the Julliard School and in a 1944 letter from the New York attorney office of Sullivan & Cromwell, which is the possession of the composer’s son, Henry Stojowski.
The poem reprinted below was found among Zygmunt Stojowski’s press clippings in the home of his son Henry on Long Island in August 2001; no date was given on the clipping. From such clues in the poem such as the Cincinnati dilettantes and Carnegie Music Hall—and with the help of the archivist of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and a librarian from the Cincinnati Historical Society—it was possible to find out that this concert took place on February 20, 1912, at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Music Hall, which opened in 1895, four years after the opening of New York’s famous Carnegie Hall. Leopold Stokowski (1882-1977), music director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra from 1909 to 1912, conducted Stojowski (1870-1946) in a performance of Ferenc Liszt’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 1 in E-flat. This concert was the third of four Pittsburgh Series concerts which the orchestra played while on tour. The other composers mentioned in the poem were also heard on that same concert: Brahms with his Academic Festival Overture, Schumann with his Symphony No. 4 in D Minor and Richard Strauss with The Dance of the Seven Veils from Salome.
The poet of this humorous verse was the Pittsburgh journalist Arthur G. Burgoyne (1861-1914), who was the “town poet” for nearly all of the Pittsburgh papers at various times. For more than three decades he produced daily poems—both humorous and sometimes serious—on current topics of the day. This particular poem appeared in the poet’s column “All to the Point” in The Pittsburgh Chronicle Telegraph, where Burgoyne was on the editorial staff from 1907 until his death. In addition to Burgoyne’s journalistic vocation, he was also a professionally trained musician, a pianist who taught music history at one of the local Pittsburgh colleges. Thanks to this vintage poem by this musician/journalist, we are able to share some of the delight which must have been experienced by the audience when Stokowski and Stojowski performed together.
Stokowski and Stojowski
Stokowski and Stojowski—oh, the combination rare!
Our music-loving folk will rush to hear the famous pair
Whose joint exploits are certain to enrapture and enthral
Their auditors this evening at Carnegie Music Hall.
To look for standingroomski half the crowd may be compelled
When Stokowski and Stojowski do their stuntski unexcelled.
Stokowski leads the orchestra which regularly treats
The Cincinnati dilettantes to symphonies and suites
To preludes, postludes, serenades, concertos, fantasies
And other masterpieces meant to edify and please.
By himself he is a trumpski. Hence things surely ought to hum
When Stokowski and Stojowski to the frontski jointly come.
Stojowski from the ivories brings out a magic tone.
Among the pianistic sharps he nobly holds his own.
He plays glissandos, tremolos, sforzandos, trills, et cet
With dexterity that never fails excitement to beget,
Alone he is a starski. So it should be a delight
When Stokowski and Stojowski for high artski’s sake unite.
A Schumann symphony is billed, an overture by Brahms,
A savage dance by Richard Strauss that causes inward qualms,
A mighty Liszt concerto—’tis a most attractive list;
Is the knowledge that the marvelous alliterative pair
But after all what makes the thing too tempting to resist
Stokowski and Stojowski in the triumphski will share.