edited by Maja Trochimczyk

1907 Recital (Cello Sonata) | Stojowski’s Compositions (1908) | 1911 Liszt Program | 1912 Recital (Violin Sonata) | 1915 Monographic Concert | Lindstrom: Silhouette (1943)

Stojowski’s Compositions (1908)

Review from the Musical Courier [1]

Sigismund Stojowski, one of the best pianists in New York, is far and away our most prolific composer of high class music for piano. His works include a concerto, which he has played at numerous symphony concerts with unequivocal success.[2] Those of his volumes at present under consideration in this department are Stojowski’s Symphonic Rhapsodie for piano and orchestra and his set of six solo pieces called Aus Sturm und Stille.[3] The Rhapsodie, dedicated to Harold Bauer,[4] is an opus revealing true musical inspiration fortified with technical knowledge of a masterful kind. The opening theme, an introduction broad and melodic, sounds a deeply impressive note, and is treated with fine harmonic and rhythmic variety. The allegro moderato which follows serves as an effective contrast, with its gentle mood, leading gradually to the joyous mazurka movement and the grandiose poco maestososubject which closes the work. The Musical Courier does not believe in written descriptions of music, and therefore the above is not to be regarded as in any way an adequate analysis. Only those who play piano themselves or who have an opportunity to hear this Symphonic Rhapsodie played will be able to appreciate all its many gracious phases, melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic, and the high order of musical inspiration and skillful facture which its interesting pages represent. Stojowski has been engaged to play his work with the London Symphony Orchestra next June. [5]

The set of pieces Aus Sturm und Stille, six in number, are called Ballade, Aufschwung, Zwielicht, Capriccio, Ständchen and Valse Impromptu. The Ballade is vividly dramatic in character, exceptionally free in harmonic utterance and splendidly adapted for exploitation on a recital program. It is dedicated to Adele aus der Ohe.[6] Aufschwung is literally an uplifting conception, with a right hand employment that will bring joy to players of the virtuoso order. To Mark Hambourg falls the honor of the dedication.[7] Zwielicht is a subtle study in shifting harmonic colors, beautifully tinted and toned. Capriccio is a whimsy as fantastical as Schumann’s Grillen. The Ständchen, gracious and appealing, will be liked best of all by seekers after surface melody and moderate technical difficulty. As the title of the Valse Impromptu might imply, it is a brilliant concert number and reflects much of the spirit of Liszt, with no small share of that Polish charm of which Chopin was the greatest exponent. All of the Stojowski music has the Polish national coloring, and he is, in fact, the leading composer turned out by that melodious country within the past half century. The compositions hereinto fore reviewed are published by the Edition Peters, Leipzig.

Mr. Stojowski’s Recital: A Programme of His Own Cello Sonata and Paderewski’s New Variations

New York Times, 1907 [8]

A concert of Polish music was given yesterday afternoon in Mendelssohn Hall by Mr. Sigismund Stojowski, who is himself a Pole, and has taken part in the creative work of contemporaneous musical Poles. He began his concert with a Sonata for Piano and Violoncello, in which the violoncello part was played by Mr. Alwin Schroeder, by the hand of a master.[9] The sonata shows the traits of Polish melody as it has been made known by Paderewski’s earlier compositions. One of the most characteristic of these is the opening theme of the first movement, foreshadowed in the slow introduction, which returns in the last. Many of Mr. Stojowski’s themes, however, do not seem striking or pregnant upon a first hearing. He has developed them often at too great length, and the sonata suffers somewhat from prolixity. The slow movement has genuine feeling and poetic quality. But it is skillfully written throughout by one who understands and intelligently uses the true idiom of the violoncello, and never forces it to the uncouth tricks of agility that some composers and performers delight in. Its utterance is always noble and dignified, and the work is one which, excepting for its too great length, gives pleasure.

The other more important number of the programme was a new set of variations with fugue by Ignace Paderewski.[10]In this interesting work may be heard a new voice from the composer of Manru, the earlier piano pieces, the Chant du voyageur, the nocturne, and the Violin Sonata, even the earlier variations. It is a stronger, robuster voice, and one that is in tune with some of the more modern tendencies of piano composers. He has heard new harmonies, sometimes of a rough and dissonant kind, but a kind that gives vitality to his theme, and its efflorescence into variations under the play of his fancy. They have taken new and ingenious forms, and there are some delightful effects of color. Mr. Paderewski also has not quite known when to stop, and the effect of his work is somewhat too long. The final fugue is a true climax, and is wrought with a fine understanding of how new wine may be put into the old bottles of this form without bursting them asunder.

There were songs by Żeleński, Stojowski, and Paderewski sung by Mme. Von Miessen Stone, all in French. She sang them with much intelligence and conviction. The most interesting were Mr. Stojowski’s Pourquoi le cueillir, graceful and melodious, which she had to repeat, and the strongly dramatic L’ennemi of Mr. Paderewski’s superbly vigorous and passionate music, original in its form and its musical content.[11]There were also upon Mr. Stojowski’s programme minor pieces by Moszkowski, Żeleński, and himself. His playing had warmth and flexibility to a greater degree than has sometimes been the case and of the Variations by Paderewski extremely difficult on the whole, he presented a truly superb performance.

Interesting Liszt Program: Stojowski, Polish Pianist, Wins Veritable Triumph

The Indianapolis News, 21 November 1911 [12]

The Musikverein under the direction of Alexander Ernestinoff, with the assistance of Sigismond Stojowski, the eminent Polish pianist, gave a brilliant concert last evening before a large audience at the German House in celebration of the one hundredth anniversary of the great composer, Franz Liszt or Abbe Liszt, as he was known the latter part of his life. While the program was long, too long almost, Mr. Ernestinoff in arranging the music had endeavored to represent in it teh various branches of teh composer’s works. Then, too, the audience insisted on calling back the pianist many times and the long applause after the numbers helped to prolong the time. The program was such as is seldom heard at any concert, and in the choice of compositions those that were melodious were selected.

Stojowski Real Liszt Pianist

In Mr. Stojowski the Musikverein was fortunate to have a real Liszt pianist, for while he played with great brilliancy and a remarkable technique, he never pounded, as so many do who attempt the intricacies and pyrotechnics of this composer. He gave Liszt’s First Concerto with the orchestra. That work is interesting throughout and the fresh, clean tones, the masterly scales and the crystaline trills gave pure enjoyment, while the expression was full and true. the orchestre gave a very good support. Three times the pianist waas obliged to come back to acknowledge the applause.

Later the pianist gave a group [of works], the Etude in F Minor, a Valse Impromptu in A-flat Major, and last the well0-known Rhapsocie hongroise No. 2. They were gorgeous in their variety and richness, the scale work and trills again holding the hearers with their beauty. An ovation follwed, and there was no cessation of the hand clapping until the pianist offered still another Liszt composition, the “Waldesrauchen.”

Magnificent Interpreter

Mr. Stojowski is such a magnificent interpreter of Liszt he made one wish to hear him in the works of other composers. He is dramatic without too much force and he is poetic without undue sentiment—a thoroughly satisfying pianist.

Polish Music Programme

New York Evening Mail, 19 March 1912 [13]

A very large audience attended the last of three recitals by Sigismond Stojowski and Arthur Argiewicz, who gave a programme of Polish Music in which the chief number of interest was a Sonata in E Major for violin and piano by Mr. Stojowski. This Polish pianist has frequently proved himself a composer of more than ordinary merit, especially in music of the larger form, and the Sonata heard last night confirmed the impression of those who believe Mr. Stojowski to be one of teh most talented men whose lot has been cast in our country. More than most writers he has a gift of warmth and of melody, he has a fine sense of values, and he is modern without being aggressive.

The Sonata was received with spontaneous enthusiasm, and so it should be received by those who look so frequently in vain for works of a serious and dignified nature. Mr. Stojowski and Mr. Argiewicz gave it a very beautiful presentation, as they did an interesting sonata by Selenski, who figured again in Mr. Stojowski’s piano solos along with two numbers by Paderewski and one by Moniuszko-Melcer. Mr. Argiewicz played a melodie by Stojowski which had been transcribed by A. Wilhelmj, a mazurek by De Konski, and Scherzo-Tarantelle by Wieniawski.

1915 Monographic Concert in New York
Nine Reviews Reprinted in the Musical Courier [14]

“Mr. Stojowski’s Concert: A Resident Pianist and Composer Presents his Own Music”

(The New York Times, 2 March 1915)

Sigismond Stojowski gave an orchestral concert of his own compositions yesterday afternoon in Carnegie Hall that was planned on an elaborate and ambitious scale. The Philharmonic Orchestra, under Mr. Stransky’s direction, was employed, Willem Willeke, cellist of the Kneisel Quartet, played a cello concerto, and it was his first appearance in New York as a soloist with an orchestra.[15] Mr. Stojowski himself, who is well known to be a pianist as well as a composer, also appeared as soloist, and played with the orchestra his second concerto for piano.

Mr. Stojowski has been a resident of New York for a number of years. He has given several piano recitals before this, in which he naturally has played pieces of his own composition. Such pieces have appeared on the programs of other pianists, as of Mr. Paderewski, his friend and compatriot. So Mr. Stojowski’s music is not unknown in New York though it has become known mostly in minor forms. The Symphony in D minor, Op. 21, with which the program began, won the prize given by Mr. Paderewski for Polish compositions, and was written in 1900. Mr. Stojowski writes well and intelligently for the orchestra; he is never extravagant, but he secures effects of richness and appropriateness in his instrumentation, in his combinations and contrasts.

Mr. Stojowski has made an excellent attempt to supply the cellists’ crying need for concertos in the one he presented yesterday, played by Mr. Willeke with stirring spirit and enthusiasm, with great technical brilliancy, and with richly vibrant tone.[16]It is not free from the reproach that clings to most compositions of its kind, of exploiting the instrument in a manner that does not best become it; but very much of it is written skillfully and effectively, and the instrument has something to say of musical value, in which the orchestra joins in an appropriate voice. There is a special interest in the experiment in form that Mr. Stojowski makes in this work, seeking to condense and concentrate the traditional plan of the sonata.

Of still greater interest and value is the piano concerto which Mr. Stojowski himself played.[17]Here again there is an experiment in form. The concerto is in three movements, Prologue, Scherzo, and Variations, and use is made to some extent of the device called community of theme. The variations seem to be the finest portion of the work, and, indeed, in many respects the finest of all that Mr. Stojowski presented yesterday. The theme has emphatic individuality and musical significance and the variations show a rich fancy, abundant technical resource in the treatment both of the piano and the orchestra and originality of conception. Mr. Stojowski played the concerto with assured mastery and evident conviction.

it is to be said of his music that it shows a personal quality, a touch that can be realized as the composer’s own. Mr. Stojowski in these compositions is not a “national” composer: he has not undertaken to make use of the idioms that have become known as specifically Polish or characteristic of Polish folk-song. Nor is his music “modern” with the modernity of today or tomorrow, and there are few of the signs in it of prevailing fashion, but it is obviously music of today. The best of it has abundant vitality.

“Stojowski’s Music at a Special Concert”

(The Sun, 2 March 1915)

With the cooperation of Willem Willeke, cellist, and the Philharmonic Society’s orchestra, Josef Stransky, conductor, Sigismond Stojowski, pianist and composer, gave a concert of his own works yesterday afternoon in Aeolian Hall. The compositions heard were a Symphony in D Minor, a Cello Concerto in the same key and the second piano concert, A-flat, Op. 32. The Symphony was written in 1900 and won a prize for Polish composers given by Mr. Paderewski, Mr. Stojowski’s teacher. The Cello Concerto was played for the first time yesterday. The piano concert was produced at a concert of the London Symphony Orchestra in June 1913. Arthur Nikisch conducting and Mr. Stojowski at the piano.

It will be gathered from these records that Mr. Stojowski’s undertakings have been serous and have been respectfully regarded by musical people. The hearing of them yesterday demonstrated their right to such consideration, for all three works showed the composer to be a man of taste, talent and technical accomplishments. The Symphony follows classic lines in its general structure, but some of the themes heard in the beginning recur in subsequent movements, usually slightly modified.

The composer’s Polish nationality is suggested in some of his melodic compositions and also in their treatment. Curiously enough, the results not infrequently recall these reached by Dvorak in his American music, for the Poles have their syncopations and their pentatonic progressions too. The symphony is a dignified composition, albeit not evenly sustained in merit. The slow movement is pleasing without sounding any depths , while the scherzo is unusually effective in its figuration and its orchestral treatment.

The Cello Concerto is in one movement of four sections, built on three principal themes. It is closely made and has some interesting formal features, such as the inclusion of a brief slow movement between the two main sections of the first allegro. The finale recalls the andante subject for its second theme. The Piano Concerto was perhaps the most satisfying piece of the three, though certainly not as strongly conceived or built as the Symphony. But Mr. Stojowski is a pianist and he writes well for his instrument. The Concerto was originally called “Prologue, Scherzo, and Variations,” and this title clearly outlines its form. The transfer of themes from one part to another is again used and the variations are evolved out of two subjects previously heard. These variations are skilfully made and the composer has indulged in the striking device of permitting the Concerto to end in a prolonged diminuendo instead of the customary brilliant bravura close. On the whole these compositions were worth a hearing and they were all presented well.

“A Stojowski Concert”

(The Evening Post, 2 March 1915)

Probably no piece is more frequently played by Paderewski than the “Chant d’Amour” of Sigismond Stojowski, an exquisitely melodious composition piquantly harmonized—a piece that should be in the repertoire of every pianist, professional or amateur. Stojowski, who was born in Poland, in 1870, was for a time a pupil of Paderewski, and fifteen years ago his Symphony in D minor won the prize in a competition founded by Paderewski for Polish composers and judged in Leipzig. This Symphony opened the concert given in Carnegie Hall yesterday afternoon by Mr. Stojowski, who played the piano part in his own second concerto, which closed the entertainment, the middle number being his Cello Concerto, which was played by Willem Willeke, of the Kneisel Quartet.

The Symphony opens with a solo for bass-clarinet, followed by some rich and luscious pages of harmonization and orchestral coloring. In the slow movement one of the features is a lovely clarinet solo. Mr. Stojowski has a great variety of tints on his palette, and he uses them lavishly in this andante. It is followed by a scherzo, which suggests “dancing elfs in a moonlit night.” Nikisch liked it so much that he has often played it as a separate number. It deserves the compliment, for it is cleverly conceived and carried out.

The Symphony was played by the Philharmonic Orchestra under Stransky, who had evidently devoted conscientious labor to its careful rehearsing. There were a number of recalls for both composer and conductor. Then came the concerto for cello, which Mr. Willeke played with beauty of tone and brilliant execution. This concerto had never been played anywhere. It is, on the whole, as idiomatic and effective as most works of its kind, the florid element being subordinated to the cantabile style, which is better suited to the knee fiddle.

Mr. Stojowski has written two concertos for piano. the second one, composed at the suggestion of Paderewski was the one played yesterday. After a brief introduction, the pianist pounces on the keyboard like a lion in hiding. It is an effective beginning, and while the concerto, like the Symphony, is too long drawn in the Teutonic fashion, it contains many interesting details. At the close all display is cast aside, and the composition ends as poetically as the Symphony begins. The composer, it is needless to say, played his work as it should be played, and the reward in applause was abundant.

“Stojowski’s Work Shown in Concert”

Many Well Known Artists in Crowd of Auditors at Carnegie Hall

Composer Appears in Solo

Writer Comes Forward As an Interpreter as Well as a Creator

(The New York Press, 2 March 1915)

Sigismond Stojowski gave a concert of his own compositions yesterday afternoon in Carnegie Hall, at which he himself also took part as soloist. Among his auditors were many fellow artists, including Leopold Godowsky, Josef Hofmann, Harold Bauer, Leonard Borwick, Ernest Schelling, Henry Holden Huss, and Mischa Elman.[18] It was in his Second Piano Concerto, Op. 32, heard for the first time in New York, that Stojowski came forward as an interpreter as well as a creator. The Cello Concerto in D minor Op. 31, which had its first production anywhere on this occasion, enlisted the services of Willem Willeke, cellist of the Kneisel Quartet. The orchestra, which opened the program with the Symphony No. 1 in D minor, op. 21 (a new work also to Americans) was that of the Philharmonic Society, Josef Stransky, needless to say, wielding the baton.

Such a privilege as Stojowski enjoyed yesterday does not fall to the lot of every musician whose works deserve a hearing. Most composers have to rely on more normal, and often slower, ways of winning recognition. Yet each of the scores presented yesterday—and the final “Prologue, Scherzo and Variations” in particular—proved to be distinctly worthy of the honors it received. Indeed, a man who can write as cleverly, as interestingly, and as pleasingly as Stojowski ought to receive public support without the stimulus of artificial propaganda.

Detailed comment, furnished to yesterday’s audience in comprehensive program notes, is not feasible at this time. In the rush of so torrential a musical season as the present, one much has to be left unsaid. Briefly, however, it may be recorded that Sigismond Stojowski, in throwing off the conventional bonds that formerly held him in check and adopting a musical idiom that shows the influence not only of France, but of Russia, has made a decided step forward. There are brilliantly effective pages in the Cello Concerto, and the quietly expiring conclusion of the piano variations is not only unusual, but decidedly effective. At the close of the concerto, which he played admirably, Stojowski was presented with a huge wreath of laurels. In response to insistent demands he gave one of his own piano pieces as an encore.

“Philharmonic Plays New Music by Polish Pianist”

Program of Works by Sigismond Stojowski Presented for First Time in This Country

(New York Herald, 2 March 1915)

In Carnegie Hall yesterday afternoon a special concert of the compositions of Sigismund Stojowski, Polish pianist, was played by the Philharmonic Society. None of the works ever have been performed in this country through the composer has lived here several years. A Symphony opened the program. It gave the impression of being a smoothly moving, well orchestrated piece of music. the themes were often of a pleasing, melodious character, especially the andante movement and their development was skilfully executed. The second work was a concerto for cello, with orchestra, played by Willem Willeke, cellist of the Kneisel Quartet. It is a difficult work to play, and Mr. Willeke performed the feat very creditably. The concerto is more modern in spirt than the Symphony, but its harmonic treatment is never harshly dissonant,. Rhythmically its scherzo-like third movement is attractive, but the most interesting part was again the slow movement.

In the third and last number the composer himself was the soloist and the work his Second Piano Concerto. It is hardly a concerto that will appeal to many virtuosi, because the orchestra takes a very prominent place in its performance and the piano part fits in almost like one of the instruments of the band. There is a beautiful theme which is first heard in the prologue and alter is repeated in the other movements in various forms. It sent the audience home humming just as any popular musical comedy might have done to a less musical audience. The conductor of the orchestra, Josef Stransky, evidently had spent much effort in preparing the new music, as it was all played well.

“Stojowski Program Played by Stransky”

(The Evening Mail, 2 March 1915)

Several weeks ago the Philharmonic Society presented an orchestral suite by Sigismond Stojowski. Yesterday afternoon the same orchestra in Carnegie Hall, played an entire program of the same composer’s works. There were only three numbers, to be sure, but they were all of the type known as “major compositions,” a concerto for piano and orchestra, a concerto for cello and orchestra, and a Symphony. All three were received with enthusiasm by an audience which included many distinguished musicians.

Mr. Stojowski had not invented an original idiom nor discovered a new system of harmony. He is not a cacophonist, nor a futurist, nor a post-concussionist, nor an indigestionist. He is content with composing themes of some musical value and developing them in an intelligible form. His themes are generally the “motive” type, rarely complete melodies. But they have an individuality which renders them easily recognizable and that indefinable versatility of content which makes possible a widely varied structural treatment.

At a first hearing the Symphony seemed in every way superior to the two concertos. It is classic in form, fairly modern in its harmonies, and intelligently artistic in its orchestration .There is no attempt at a “program.” The first movement is built upon sturdy and rigorous themes: the second exhibits a contrasting tenderness. In the fairy-like scherzo there is much that suggests such music as the “Midsummer Night’s Dream.” The finale contains the most striking thematic material.

With more opportunities for rehearsal, Mr. Stransky could unquestionably bring greater musical beauties from this Symphony, and it is to be hoped the work will appear on some of the regular Philharmonic programs in the future. The composer himself played the piano concerto, which is in the unique form of a prologue, scherzo and variations, with no division into movements. The variations are on two themes, and some of them are played by the orchestra alone. This section, and particularly the final combination of the themes, forms the most interesting part of the composition.

“Sigismond Stojowski Dominated This Concert”

He Wrote All the Music Performed and Appeared as Piano Soloist

(The World, 2 March 1915)

Sigismond Stojowski was the important figure in a special concert given yesterday afternoon in Carnegie Hall. Besides writing all the compositions performed by the Philharmonic Orchestra, Willem Willeke, cellist, and himself, he appeared as piano soloist. A large audience was in attendance, and largely because Mr. Stojowski during his years of residence here has become known as a serious and able musician with high ideals.

The Symphony is a composition of manifest pretensions, molded in a deal of color, and it abounds in variety of treatment and rhythms. The Philharmonic, under Jose Stransky’s directions, played with sincerity and skill, while both Messrs. Willeke and Stojowski performed their services with taste and perfect command of their resources and attained commendable successes.

Review by Elizabeth Remington

(North and South, 2 March 1915)

A concert of compositions by Sigismond Stojowski was given last Monday afternoon at Carnegie Hall by the Philharmonic Orchestra, under the direction of Josef Stransky. Willem willeke, cellist of the Kneisel quartet, made his first appearance with an orchestra, playing the concerto in D Major, Op. 31, for cello and orchestra. the Symphony in D Minor, Op. 21, was the first number on the program and the last number, the Second Piano Concerto, Op. 32, had the assistance of Mr. Stojowski at the piano. None of the compositions had been heard in this country before and the Cello Concerto was given its first public performance in any country.

Mr. Stojowski’s work as a composer is interesting for many reasons; the first and most important is its entire freedom from affectation and in not being “program music,” the kind that tries to represent the shooting of deer or hanging of men or even the play of brooms without natural agency. It seems impossible but all of these things have been done this season. Mr. Stojowski’s music is not of this sort. The Symphony in d Minor suggests strongly a pastoral influence which includes all the moods that nature inspires. There is a suggestion in the last part, of the Polish national character, but not enough to make the Symphony what might be called genre m usic. The whole effect is cheerful and optimistic as if the struggles had succeeded and the desired goal had been reached.

The Concerto for Cello and Orchestra was well performed by Mr. Willeke. It is in one movement with three main themes and four sections. The andante sostenuto was particularly enjoyable and was played without the exaggeration that a cellist might easily fall into. In the finale the andante theme was used an sounded emphatically by all cellos and horns, bringing the concerto to a triumphal conclusion. The Piano concerto in which Mr. Stojowski played was a real concerto, not a series of piano solos, with orchestral accompaniment, as so many are. the piano was really a part of the orchestra and the way the composer carefully followed the able direction of Mr. Stransky was delightful to see and also to hear. A radical change has been made in the form of this concerto. The movements are entitled “Prologue, Scherzo, and Variations.” In some parts the orchestra plays the variations and in some the piano. The ending is mysterious and while conclusive seems to leave much to the imagination. It is the only piano concerto that does not end in a crash of chords.

Review from New York Staats-Zeitung, 2 March 1915

It means a fine success for a contemporary composer—the more so for one living, in our midst—if he can point to the fact that an offering of his lasting over two hours and consisting of three exceedingly ambitious compositions, could be attended without “ennui” or fatigue. This has been bestowed yesterday upon the known pianist and composer, Sigismond Stojowski, who gave at Carnegie hall in the afternoon a well-attended concert, with the assistance of the New york Philharmonic Orchestra, of Willem Willeke, cellist, and of his own powers, Stojowski’s Symphony in D Minor, his Cello concerto, Op. 31, and Second Piano concerto, Op. 32, were heard. Of these works I consider as the most important the Cello Concerto, which I heard for the second time yesterday, Mr. Willeke having played it with much success a few weeks ago at an evening given by Water Damrosch. Not only in its form—its one movement being well divided into four definite sections, but also in its whole conception and thematic material, it is not without individuality, goes into the thing with manliness and much power.

The Symphony is of good workmanship, effectively contrasted in its component parts and cleverly orchestrated. . . The Second Piano Concerto is a decidedly effective if too long drawn out work. . . It is written with an exceptionally skillful hand, the piano part, which the composer played with splendid virtuosity and poetic lights, is grateful, the accompaniment discrete.

“Silhouette – S. Stojowski”

by Carl E. Lindstrom [19]

Do you musicians remember the first time you really got the feel of music in your fingers? I don’t mean the first time you were affected by the pleasant, orderly sound, but the thrill of discovering that you could make music yourself. The writer recalls with great vividness a barren couple of years of trekking once a week to a small town piano teacher for an hour’s ordeal with scales, elementary studies and pieces that were every bit as dull as the studies. He was reasonably successful in dodging the prescription of daily practice and occasionally even missed a lesson by hiding the music roll in a lilac bush and enjoying a truancy with the gang. Then one day a miraculous thing happened. Seated one day at the keyboard and, as the lyrics have it, weary and ill-at-ease, the piano keys suddenly began to give forth some very mesmeric sounds.

They obviously weren’t all they should be because they piece was in six flats and there were a good many “near misses and total misses” but the design was apparent and out of it all came a wondrously shaped melody. It wasn’t so much what the piece sounded like; the ear was charmed by the ghostly outline of what it might sound like. From that moment began your columnist’s interest in piano playing and with time it spread to all the fields of music.

The title of the composition was Barcarolle by one Sigismond Stojowski who doesn’t especially recall the work now.[20] It probably dates from his 18th year or earlier, says the man who didn’t begin his own career by playing the piano at all but by writing a treatise on harmony at the age of six. After that he became a composer: then a pianist and is now what would perhaps be called a pedagogue by those who do not know him. Teacher is somehow a better word and he is a most inspiring one. He is the heir, moreover, to a very valuable tradition. When Stojowski says that Chopin was the first pianist to produce a good round forte by using two fingers—that is the middle finger supported by the thumb—the statement is based on observations directly traceable through Stojowski’s artistic genealogy. He is the pupil of Paderewski and custodian of that master’s illimitable experience and cultural lore. If it’s about Chopin and Stojowski doesn’t know it, then it probably isn’t true. Stojowski will remark on the many conflicts between the various editions of Chopin on just the condition of the composer’s manuscripts, his method of correcting proof and his attitude towards his publications once off the press.

All this and much more comes out in the master classes which the Polish teacher is conducting at the Deckelman Studios in West Hartford. Walton Deckelman is a Stojowski pupil; so is Guiomar Novaes; so was Mischa Levitzki. Chopin, says Stojowski, was meticulous to the point of pedantry in the preparaton of his manuscripts: he was singularly careless in checking proofs. Besides that, he changed his mind regarding some details so even if the proofs were now available, one could not be sure of his meaning in all cases. Chopin had an impressive list of editors in Mikuli (who was a pupil), Joseffy, Niecks, Kullak, Klindworth and others, but there are still glaring discrepancies. Somehow when Stojowski asks for a B-flat in place of a C, you have the feeling that that was the composer’s ultimate intention.

His memory is phenomenal. Even in the most complex passage, he can sit on his chair some distance from the piano, close his eyes and name the notes. “Now the melodic F at that point should have a downward pointing stem. I can tell by the way you played it that your edition does not have it so. None of the modern editions of Schumann do because the editors thought that that the downward pointing stem was superrogatory. Not so! It indicates the polyphonic force of that particular note and you must think of the single tone as being the coincidence of two voices.” He is extremely modest about his memory, saying that he has taught these things for so many years, he couldn’t help but remember, but on the other hand, should anyone chance to make the remark about the now almost-never-played and seldom taught piano sonatas of Weber, he can pick up at random the A-flat, D minor and C major and play any movement of any of them.

As a teacher he has the gift of calling errors uncompromisingly without hurting the feelings of the players. While it is inconceivable that he would compromise with artistic rectitude, he makes it clear that he has no wish to dogmatize and that what he expresses is merely a personal perspective. A young lad plays the C-sharp Minor Etude from Chopin’s Second Book and does what most of the auditors think is a pretty nice job of it but Stojowski will pull it apart, bar by bar, without looking at the text and leave players and listeners alike with a feeling of the absolute rightness of his commentary. So also with Beethoven’s Opus 110, the Brahms B Minor Rhapsody, Schumann’s Papillon,, and pieces by his beloved Paderewski.

Stojowski resembles Paderewski as to features and bearing: the beard somewhat suggests Tschaikovsky. While he is heir to the Paderewski tradition and the Chopin tradition, his lineage comes nearer to Beethoven: that is, he studies with Paderewski who studied with Leschetititzky who studied with Czerny who studied with Beethoven.

Stojowski was born at Strzelce, Poland, in 1870. He began his studies with Żeleński at Cracow; at the Paris Conservatoire with Diemer, Dubois, Delibes, Massenet, and later with Górski. He toured Europe as a piano virtuoso with the greatest of success and early in the 20th century came to this country where he had at one time headed the piano department at the Institute of Musical Art in New York. He has composed two concerti for piano, one for the cello, one for the violin, a Symphony in D and a symphonic fantasy for piano and orchestra.


[1]. This and all subsequent notes by Maja Trochimczyk. All information about Stojowski’s compositions from Joseph A. Herter, “Zygmunt Stojowski – Annotated Catalogue of Works” in the current issue of PMJ. Article reprinted from The Musical Courier, 15 January 1908, unsigned column entitled “New Publications.” Press clipping from the Zygmunt And Louisa Stojowski Collection. [Back]

[2]. For a list of Stojowski concert appearances as a soloist with orchestra see the appendix to paper by Joseph A. Herter in this issue of the PMJ. [Back]

[3]. Stojowski’s Opus 23, Rhapsodie symphonique pour Piano et Orchestre (1900) was published by Peters in Leipzig and premiered with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. The set of six solo pieces called Aus Sturm und Stille, Op. 29, was written in the early 1900s and published in 1908. It consists of: Ballade (dedicated to Adele Aus der Ohe), Aufschwung (Mark Hamburg), Zwielicht – Crépuscule – Twilight (Ethel Parrish), Capriccio (Joseph Lhévinne), Serenade (Mary Ruth Lockwood), Valse – Impromtu (Theodore Hardt). [Back]

[4]. Harold Bauer (1873-1951), American pianist of English descent, associated with promoting Beethoven, Schumann and Brahms, and French composers. He made his American debut with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1900. He later was associated with the Manhattan School of Music. [Back]

[5]. Stojowski played his Symphonic Rhapsodie with the London Symphony Orchestra in June 1908 with Emil Młynarski conducting. [Back]

[6]. Adele aus der Ohe was an American pianist of Austrian descent, a friend of Paderewski and Stojowski. Her name is not listed in the newest edition of the New Grove online. [Back]

[7]. Mark Hambourg (1879-1960), British pianist of Russian descent, child prodigy, student of Leschetitzky, later piano teacher in London and author of memoirs. [Back]

[8]. The press clipping in the Zygmunt and Louisa Stojowski Collection does not provide the exact date of the concert or the review. Stojowski’s first name was usually spelled “Sigismond” though “Sigismund” was also common. [Back]

[9]. Alwin Schroeder (1855-1928) was a viola player and cellist who emigrated from Germany to the U.S. He settled in Boston, performing in the Boston Symphony Orchestra as well as in became the Kneisel (1891-1907) and Hess (1904-10) quartets. [Back]

[10]. Paderewski’s Variations et fugue sur un theme original in E-flat Minor, Op. 23, was composed in 1885 and 1903 (dedicated to W. Adlington).
Chants du voyageur Op. 8 (dedicated to H. Górska), 1881-82, five movements. Nocturne in B major, ca. 1890-92 (dedicated to R. de Brancovan), No. 4 from Miscellanea. Série de morceaux Op. 16. Sonata in A minor Op. 13, composed in 1885, dedicated to P. de Sarasate, and published in 1886. Variations et fugue sur un theme original in A minor Op. 11 (dedicated to E. d’Albert) composed in 1882/3 and 1884. [Back]

[11]. Pourquoi te cueillir [Nie będę cię rwała] is No. 3 from Polish Poems by Adam Asnyk, translated into French by Stéphan Bordčse and published in 1895. Paderewski’s L’Ennemie” is No. 12 from Douze Mélodies sur des Poésies de Catulle Mendès, Op. 22 to poetry of C. Mendès, 1903 (dedicated to M. Trélat). [Back]

[12]. Full title: “Brilliant Concert is Given by Musikverein. Stojowski Polish Pianist Wins Veritable Triumph. interesting Liszt Program.” Press clipping of 21 November 1911, The Indianapolis News. ZLSC. Copy in PMC. [Back]

[13]. Press clipping. ZLSC. Copy in PMC. [Back]

[14]. Reviews of a concert of 1 March 1915, held at Carnegie Hall, reprinted from Musical Courier (17 March 1915): 33. Press clipping from ZLSC. [Back]

[15]. Josef Stransky (1872-1936), Czech conductor, active in Germany and since 1911 principal conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra (following Mahler). Willem Willeke was a member of the Kneisel Quartet in 1907-1917. The Quartet was founded in 1885 by Franz Kneisel, concertmaster of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. [Back]

[16]. Stojowski’s Cello Concerto, Opus 31 was actually called Concertstück in D Major, composed in 1915, dedicated to Willem Willeke, and published in Paris in 1922. [Back]

[17]. Chant d’amour [Love song], is No. 3 in Quatre Morceaux pour piano, Op. 26 (1903). The work was published by Schirmer in 1908 and was a staple of Paderewski’s recitals in 1907/8, continuing to appear in his repertoire until 1930s. [Back]

[18]. Leopold Godowsky (1870-1938), American pianist of Polish-Jewish background, famous for phenomenal technique and unusual arrangements of Chopin’s etudes (two in the same key to be played simultaneously). Josef Hofman (1876-1957), American pianist of Polish birth, director of Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. Leonard Borwick (1868-1925), English pianist who gave numerous international tours before World War I. Ernest Schelling (1876-1939), American pianist, composer and conductor, student of Paderewski. Henry Holden Huss (1862-1953), American pianist, composer and teacher at Hunter College. Mischa Elman (1891-1967), American violinist of Russian birth. [Back]

[19]. Article reprinted from The Hartford Times (March 1943): 10. Press clipping from ZLSC. [Back]

[20]. This Barcarolle was probably No. 4 in Cinq Miniatures pour piano, Op. 19, composed in 1900 and published by Heugel in Paris in 1912. Another youthful Petite Barcarolle in F-sharp Major was composed in May 1885 in Cracow (Stojowski was then 15 year old). He must have mixed up both works when responding to the author’s question. [Back]