translated by Maja Trochimczyk [1]

Letter of 5 December 1971

Dear Sir,

Thank you very much for your nice letter that Halina Szymulska brought me, and thank you for the book, a lovely souvenir from my visit to Poland in 1967.[2] It is somewhat difficult for me to talk about my own activities, especially because of the fact —as you yourself indicate in your letter— that the interest in my work expressed by music institutions in Poland is, as it were, “platonic.”Therefore I am providing you with a list of the most important items [from my work-list] from the recent years; these compositions are often played in Europe, the U.S., South America, Japan, etc.[3]/a>

  1. Quatre Movimenti (commissioned by the French Ministry of Cultural Affairs);
  2. Hommage à Erasme de Rotterdam (commissioned by the Rotterdam Philharmonic for the 500th anniversary of Erasmus)
  3. Dyptique for chamber orchestra (commissioned by the Denver Symphony Orchestra, USA)
  4. Trois Pieces pour Harpe, Clarinette et Orchestre à Cordes (commissioned by French Radio)
  5. Concerto for Oboe and Chamber Orchestra (commissioned by ORTF)
  6. Concertino for Flute and String Orchestra (commissioned by ORTF).

At present I’m working on “In Memoriam” dedicated to Igor Stravinsky, with whom, as you probably know, I was linked by profound ties of friendship for many years (the commission for this work came from America).[4] As usual, I have to embark on many foreign travels.

I would like to use this occasion to comment about an interpretation of certain statements from my interview with Janusz Cegiełła published in Współczesność appearing in Ruch Muzyczny, no. 18 (column by Clavis, last fragment).[5] I have never stated that “development was exclusively based on ideas,” independently of the way of their realization, or that “in art the realization of ideas was less important,” etc. Perhaps I did not express my thought clearly enough, because in the whole of my oeuvre I have attached great weight to the question of the “realization” of ideas—this is the true “work” of a composer: the solving of individual problems by creative invention (that is why aleatorism is foreign to me; it is, of course, from a purely aesthetic point of view). I merely do not accept one particular type of realization of ideas “without looking” (or, rather, “without hearing”) as the source, but I do accept it as an expression of conscious working on one’s own product. What is important, therefore, is not its significance, but rather its position in the process of creation.

With heartfelt greetings,
Sincerely yours,
A. Tansman

Envelope for Tansman’s first letter to Kaczyński, 1971.

Letter of 8 February 1973

Dear and Revered Mr. Tadeusz,

I sincerely thank you for the book and the New Year Wishes. I send you mine, with a certain delay, because I had a premiere at the end of January, my “Stele in Memoriam of Igor Stravinsky” was performed by the Orchestre National at the Theatre de Champs Elysees (conducted by Maurice Sagan), I also had to deal with rehearsals, etc., and—later—auditions for singers for the repeat performances of my opera Le Serment (29 March).[6]

I enclose an article by Antoine Golea,[7] who knows a bit about music—which is not “le cas” with you r Parisian critics, even though they wrote enthusiastically about my work (basing their ideas more on the success of my work with the public than on the musical competence!) I would also like to recommend to you a friend of mine, an eminent pianist, Juri Bukow, who performs in Warsaw on the 27th of this month.[8] He does not know anyone there, apart from PAGART, and I would be very grateful if you were able to get in touch with him and show him Warsaw a little bit. It would also be good to introduce him to Polish musical life and Polish musicians. I hope that you will return to Paris soon.

With heartfelt greetings,


Letter of 18 June 1973

Dear and Most Revered Mr. Tadeusz,

For some time I have not been receiving issues of Ruch Muzyczny which had been sent to me regularly for many years. I regret this because it was really my only contact and opportunity of learning about musical life in Poland, which always interests me greatly. Do you know, my Dear Mr. Tadeusz, what could be the reason for this sudden interruption? I hope that you already forgot about your broken leg and that you returned to a normal, active life. I anxiously await my Venetian vacation at the end of July, because I have a very active season here and abroad and I still have to go to Spain. I hope to see you soon in Paris.In the meantime, I enclose my heartfelt greetings,

Sincerely yours,


 Letter of 12 November 1973

Dear and Most Revered Mr. Tadeusz,

I received the last issue of Ruch Muzyczny which gave me great pleasure.[9] You conducted the interview in an excellent manner (“est ce pied pas toujours le cas”—at times the questions are extremely banal, and of course, the answers also!). Most sincere thanks! Are you coming to Paris? I heard that there were plans for performing my Hommage à Erasme de Rotterdam in Paris. Do you have any information about this performance?Recently I did a lot of work—I have a commission from the Ministry for an opera “Georges Dandin,” based on Molière’s play to be premiered next summer (September 1974, Festival de Périgord).[10] It is a difficult project because there are longish monologues in the text. In December I am invited to Israel and will serve on an honorary committee for the Artur Rubinstein Piano Competition, which, despite these sorrowful events, will still take place.[11] On the way back I will stop over for a week in Rome. I heard that Penderecki and Skrowaczewski also plan to be there. I would be glad to meet them there.A bientôt,With heartfelt greetings,
A. Tansman

P.S. Where on earth did you find this great photograph for Ruch Muzyczny? I have never seen it!

Letter of 12 January 1977

Honored and Dear Mr. Tadeusz,My sincere thanks for the postcard and I enclose my best wishes on the occasion of New Year. Yesterday I returned from Jerusalem where I had a wonderful performance of Sabbatai Zevi, False Messiah with a fantastic orchestra, soloists and choirs.[12] Before that I was in Darmstadt for the premiere of Le Serment at the Stadtstheater, which was greeted with great success, it has already been performed 17 times so far. The staging is first class, full of ideas, the sets are wonderful, and it is a first-class music performance.[13]Upon my return here I was greeted by the nice news that I was elected to become an honorary member of the “Academie Royale des Sciences, et des Lettres et des Beaux-Arts” of Belgium. This is very pleasant, because among the musicians are the names of Brahms, Verdi, Liszt, Fauré, Stravinsky, Ravel and de Falla. I am the first person of Polish background in this 300-year-old Academy.Now I receive many invitations from Europe, America (USA and South America), and Japan, etc., but I will travel only to events in Europe, because I am not indispensable everywhere in person and I do not want to waste so much time just to bow down from the stage. I also have to finish some commissions.I hope that you will write more often and perhaps that you will again come to Paris…With heartfelt greetings,

Sincerely yours,

Letter of 26 February 1977

Honored and Dear Mr. Tadeusz,

Sincere thanks for the letter to which I respond immediately, before leaving for Italy. I am deeply moved by the attempts of yourself, Zieliński, Helman, Szymulska, and obviously, Renard Czajowski, who is the only Polish conductor who knows that I exist (or existed).[14] I enclose some photographs from my travels, but Mr. Baculewski (Warsaw University Library) has many other photographs that I donated to the collection.

Now let me return to real facts. From my home country I did not receive any invitations on the occasion of the anniversary, neither for March, nor for the Poznań Spring [Festival]. I know that Czajowski will conduct my Elegia in Memory of Darius Milhaud, but obviously I cannot come just for a single performance.[15] Czajowski wrote to me that he will be in Paris at the end of May, and I am very happy about this, but I do not even know the exact date of the concert in Poznań. It is supposed to be at the end of April, but I am already busy at this time. It somehow does not fall into place, because celebrations are quite concentrated everywhere—operas, symphonic concerts, etc.—but in my country, as usual, there are difficulties even if a String Quartet (written, I think, at least 45 years ago) is to be performed for the first time.[16] As for Le Serment in Łódź, I received a nice letter from Mr. Madey last year, to which I responded, but this is where it ended. If anything happens, I perhaps I could come to the Warsaw Autumn, if I am free.

As I wrote to you already, I will not travel to America nor to Japan, where there are also serious celebrations of my anniversary. At the end of April and May: Holland and Belgium (on 5 May, an “enthroning” ceremony (sic!) at the Royal Academy of Belgium in Brussels.[17] In addition to all this, I need to complete the pieces that were commissioned, correct orchestral material, etc. However, independently of results, I deeply respect the efforts made by a group of friends on behalf of my work in Poland: you, Dear Mr. Tadeusz, Mr. Zieliński, Szymulska, Czajowski and Helman (exactly five people)—”la qualite remplace la quantite.”

As far as your conversation is concerned, obviously it could be published in any issue of Ruch Muzyczny, because the so-called anniversary celebrations (jubilee), last for the whole year of 1977.[18]

I enclose sincere greetings,
Sincerely yours,

Cover of the “Tansman” issue of Ruch Muzyczny.

Letter of 17 October 1977

Dear Mr. Tadeusz,

Thank you very much for a letter which I found after returning to Paris. Here I still have on 24 October the premiere of “Musique à Six” and then I go to Germany and to London.

As far as the Piano Concerto is concerned, it is certain that its placement in the program of the National Philharmonic, owes a lot to Ruch Muzyczny.[19] A strange coincidence: the first performance of this work in Poland takes place exactly on the fiftieth anniversary of its premiere (16-17 December 1927), with the Boston Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sergei Koussevitzky. I later played it hundreds of times and it is still often performed in Germany, America, Italy, Argentina, etc. The work consists of four movements as usual; it is structured, as it is typical for me, in a “bridge” form and has clear traits of “Polishness.” The score and the piano reduction for 2 pianos are at the University Library.

What else? “Le Serment” is based on Balzac’s novella La Grande-Bretèche. As far as the Polish Rhapsody is concerned, it was composed in 1940 in Niece, where I was hiding with my family before the departure for America.[20] It is dedicated to the defenders of Warsaw and during the war was functioning as a call for the rebirth of Poland in the programmes of all American orchestras. After the war it played the same function for European orchestras – Paris, Bruxelles, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, London, Rome, Oslo, Copenhagen, Stockholm, etc., etc. The first performance in 1941 was by Cleveland Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Artur Rodzinski. Mazurki – there were four books (48) but the manuscript of the fourth set was lost during the war.

I volunteered to fight in the Polish Army in 1918-1919 (Academic Legion), until the regaining of Poland’s independence. (I received my awards in the competition while still wearing the uniform!).[21] This seems to be everything.

Will I see you in Paris? Unfortunately I am not free in December – I will be in Italy. The Second Piano Concerto was not composed with the purpose to “conquer the world”—it is seriously melodious and rhythmical. Recently I heard it in Napoli, performed by Adrianne Brugnolini under the baton of Francesco Mandera.[22]

The last bit of news: last night I was robbed while sleeping—a large part of my collection, my small Benvenuto Cellini, all the silver, cushions from the Far East, etc.—”sic transit gloria mundi”—a pity because I was sentimentally attached to these things, but it could have been much worse if I had woken up.[23]

With heartfelt greetings,

Letter of 2 February 1978

Dear Tadeusz,

I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your friendship during the whole visit to my native country, which moved me very deeply.[24] Indeed, I felt to be under the protection of sincere friends and this last evening with “my musicologists” stirred up old memories from youthful times; the return to the Hotel also evoked nostalgic feelings.[25] For the first time in so many years I had the impression of not being “foreign” in my own country.

Thank you for everything,
with sincere hugs,
and expecting to see you soon in Paris,


Letter of 4 March 1978

My Dear Friends,

Your letter must have crossed paths with mine, of March 2. The Hotel is reserved for 30 April. The same, honor guard, 21 cannon shots, good weather, a reception with the “President” of the future, Georges Marchias, etc.

I will tell you about Poland in Paris. I had never expected such a triumphant reception: encores, standing ovations, flowers, the whole hall at the end was singing “Sto lat,” etc.[26] I talked a lot about Israel and I had the impression that . . . Poland is the most pro-Israeli country in Europe!

Therefore, ’til the 30th,

With hugs,

Dore(?) says that “Colin ” went up in price by 100%! I intend to get a Bechstein!

Tansman’s postcard from Siena, August 1978: “When are you going to come to Paris?”

Letter of 18 March 1978

My Dear Friend,

I am surprised that since returning to Paris, after such a warm display of hospitality in the country, I have had no news from anybody. I wrote to all my friends in Warsaw and Wrocław, but nobody answered my letters until now. You promised that you will “improve” in regards to correspondence, but so far I do not see any “progress” at all! Do all of you regret my travel to such an extent that you are not able to write (sic!)? Or, more prosaically, is this visit, which personally moved me so much, already forgotten? I was also promised photographs from Wrocław, etc. I hope that gradually everyone will contact me—you, the second Tadeusz, Zofia Helman, Bukowski, Natansson, Czajkowski.[27]

As I told you earlier, if you intend to come to Paris, you have again in my home a “room with a bathroom” and “pension complete.” The same also refers to Zieliński. This does not cause me any trouble at all and I hope that you will soon decide to come. Your calendar from the Royal Castle has a place on my door and is very popular.[28] It always reminds me how you continued to “fish for” my francs that fell into the inside of the lining of my coat through a hole in my pocket. Luckily everything has its comic side! The day before yesterday Sartowa beautifully sang my old songs (1927) in Salle Garceau.[29] Yesterday I went to the Laks’s—always so nice. I also saw Drewnowski, who has lots of great prospects in Paris, Brussels, etc. I expect to receive news and await your travel to Paris (except in the period between 30 March and 10 April, when I will not be in Paris),

With sincere hugs,

Letter of 5 July 1979

My Dear Friend,

I am very sorry but I cannot be your host this time, as I suspected, I had to leave for London on the 4th and not the 14th, and there was no way to cancel that. Moreover, my maid left yesterday to “conga paye” and took the keys with her. I hope that next time I will have more luck, and truly I had no other solution, except to cancel concerts and recordings. I am awfully sorry about that.

The visit to Poland was a dream come true, and the evening at your home was unforgettable. In this joyous atmosphere I had the impression that I returned to my student times, without worries and I felt like a “young bachelor” who has the whole future ahead of him. I was deeply moved by the warm, touching welcome and the friendship that surrounded me in my native country.

I wish you a pleasant stay in Paris and, for us, a meeting soon. Do write! Do not forget about the photographs.

Sincere greetings to your wife, whose hospitality I will never forget,

With warm hugs,

Letter of 25 April 1983

My Dear Friend,

Today I received your (first) letter and with all my heart I thank you for having personally undertaken the initiative of awarding me an honorary membership in the Polish Composers’ Union.[30] This is a great joy and a great honor.

In these years of my life you could not bring me greater joy. In the text with signatures I immediately recognized your handwriting style.

About the other case: I do not need to write on what side I am. The title of my last published work, appearing in various musical shops outside London, is “hommage à Lech Walesa.”[31] Moreover, we did a film together in Warsaw and in Łódź. A concert at the Polish Institute was planned in old times and there is nothing political about it. My position is known in artistic circles of Western Europe. I was invited to Poland for the beginning of March, for celebrations of Szymanowski, but I preferred not to come for obvious reasons. It is not easy for a composer to follow his conscience. After the war a Dutch conductor, Van Kempen (during the war he was in Dresden), seeing that I looked at him in an unfriendly manner, brought me programmes from Dresden with performances of my works, even of Four Polish Dances.*

Write more about yourself. How are things going for you? What is up with the Zielińskis? Are you somehow able to take care of yourself? We also remain in “slavery” to a degree – we cannot travel abroad for financial reasons. It seems that I’ll spend my vacations this year in “Paris-sur-Seine.” Let us remain in touch.

With hugs and sincere greetings for your wife,
Your devoted,

* at the Dresden Philharmonic during the war!

Letter of 17 June 1983

My Dear Friend,

With my whole heart I thank you for the letter and the telegram. I was very moved. The concert was very successful and ended with a long standing ovation. In acknowledging my awards I stated that I received them from my “native country.”[32] I hope that you do not doubt that I assume the same position as you do. I have a lot of concerts here: a new ballet (next Wednesday), to the Six movements pour orchestre à cordes, etc. [33]

When will we see each other?

With heartfelt greetings and hugs,
Your devoted,
Aleksander T

Tansman’s Letter to Kaczynski, 1983.

Letter of 22 December 1985

My Dear Friend,

I sincerely thank you for the program and for the letter that profoundly moved me. I’m sending to you and to your loved ones the most sincere best wishes on the occasion of the Holiday of the New Year.

I would be extremely happy to see you in Paris on 13 February. There will be the first presentation of a film that I did in 1933 during my travel around the world. I simply never thought about this. (It was accidentally found by Cegiełła in my cabinet.[34] It was edited by Polish and West-German TV companies with my commentary, and the result is sensational. The screening will take place at the Polish Institute in Paris.

I am sorry that I cannot welcome you to my home at this time because on 11 February Cegiełła comes here (he organized the whole event) with his wife (who will stay at the Institute and he will live with me, as usual). Perhaps you could somehow arrange something with Linka?[35] I hope to hear from you soon.

With heartfelt hugs,
Your devoted,
Aleksander T


[1]. These letters, written to Polish musicologist and music critic, Tadeusz Kaczyński (1932-2000), in accordance with his will were donated to the Polish Music Center after Kaczyński’s death by his widow, Mrs. Kaczyńska. The originals are on deposit in the Rare Books and Special Collections Department, Information Services Division, University of Southern California. Kaczyński’s other correspondence is included with his papers, donated to the Archive of Polish Composers of the Twentieth Century, Warsaw University Library, Poland. This and all subsequent notes by Maja Trochimczyk. [Back]

[2]. This was Tansman’s third visit to Poland after his emigration to France in 1919. It took place between 18 April and 6 May 1967 (the previous two visits took place in 1932 and 1936). The visit’s program included concerts celebrating Tansman’s seventieth birthday and recording sessions. See Janusz Cegiełła, Dziecko szczęścia: Aleksander Tansman i jego czasy [A Child of Luck: Aleksander Tansman and His Times] (Łódz: 86 Press, 1996), 240-245. Halina Szymulska was a soprano and a good friend of Tansman. [Back]

[3]. Quatre Movimenti, or Quatre mouvements pour orchestre (1968); Hommage à Erasme de Rotterdam (1969); Dyptique for chamber orchestra, proper title Diptique pour orchestre (1969); Trois pièces pour clarinette, harpe, et orchestre à cordes (1970); Concerto for Oboe and Chamber Orchestra, prop. Suite concertante pour hautbois avec accompagnement d’orchestre de chambre (1966); Concerto for Flute and String Orchestra, prop. Concertino pour flute, orchestre à cordes et piano (1968). [Back]

[4]. Stéle in memoriam de Igor Stravinsky (1972) was premiered in Paris by the Orchestre National (1973). Stravinsky died on 6 April 1971. Tansman and his French wife, pianist Collette Cras, met and befriended Igor and Vera Stravinsky during the war years spent in Los Angeles, California (1941-46). Tansman published a book about him, Igor Stravinsky, monographie (1947). [Back]

[5]. Janusz Cegiełła’s interview with Tansman was reprinted in his book Szkice do autoportretu muzyki współczesnej (Kraków: PWM, 1976). [Back]

[6]. Le serment, composed in 1953, was Tansman’s most popular opera to a libretto by Dominique Vincent, based on a novella entitled La Grande-Bretèche by Balzac. [Back]

[7]. This article by Antoine Golea, French musicologist and music critic, could not be located in RILM. Golea wrote books on Debussy, Jolivet, and Marcel Landowski, and published numerous interviews with contemporary composers. [Back]

[8]. Juri Bukov is a Bulgarian pianist, still actively concertizing around the world. [Back]

[9]. The interview by Tadeusz Kaczyński with Tansman was entitled “Rozmowa z Aleksandrem Tansmanem” and featured a photograph of the composer by A. Zborski. Ruch Muzyczny, no. 20 (16-31 October 1973): 3-5. [Back]

[10]. The comic opera Georges Dandin was completed in 1974 and premiered in July that year; it was also recorded and broadcast by French Radio. The summer festival in Salrat-en-Péerigord celebrated the beauty of this small medieval town with outdoor performances held at the Place Royal.[Back]

[11]. Tansman was invited to participate in the committee and jury of the Artur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition in 1972 and composed a set of two piano pieces for this occasion, Hommage à Arthur Rubinstein. The difficult political context of this event was created by the “Yom Kippur War” started by Syria and Egypt attacking Israel on 5 October 1973. [Back]

[12]. The Jerusalem Theatre staged two acts from Sabbataï Zévi, le faux Messie (1958) in January 1977, with the text in Hebrew translation. [Back]

[13]. Here Tansman uses French words in Polonized forms: “regie” for direction and “dekory” (i.e. decors) for stage sets. [Back]

[14]. Musicologists Tadeusz Zieliński, Zofia Helman, singer Halina Szymulska, and conductor Renard Czajkowski attempted to persuade Tansman to attend the fiftieth anniversary of the Association of Young Polish Musicians in Paris, in Warsaw. Without an official invitation from the government he declined. [Back]

[15]. The Polish premiere of Elegia, dedicated to Milhaud (composed in 1975) took place on 24 April 1977 during an inaugural concert of the Poznań Spring Festival. [Back]

[16]. The Fourth String Quartet was composed in 1935. [Back]

[17]. A detailed account of “enthroning” ceremonies is included in Cegiełła’s monograph, vol. 2, 280-281. The event included speeches by Rene Bernier and Tansman and a taped performance of the final movement from his Quatre mouvements symphonique.

[18]. Four articles about Tansman appeared in Ruch Muzyczny, no. 13 (19 June 1977): Tadeusz Zieliński, “Klasyk polskiej muzyki współczesnej,” 3-4; Zofia Helman, “Estetyka twórczości Aleksandra Tansmana,” 4-5; Tadeusz Kaczyński, “Ważniejsze daty i fakty z życia i twórczości artystycznej Aleksandra Tansmana,” 3-4, and “Między Polskąa Francją,” 6-7. The issue celebrated his 80th birthday and featured him on the cover. [Back]

[19]. The National Philharmonic in Warsaw programmed Tansman’s Piano Concerto No. 2 (1927) with Marek Drewnowski as the soloist and Pedro Ignazio Calderon conducting. The performance took place in December 1977. [Back]

[20]. Polish Rhapsody: Rapsodie polonaise aus défenseurs de Varsovie, was composed in 1940 and expresses hope for the imminent military intervention of Great Britain, Poland’s ally, by means of intertwining the national anthems of both countries. [Back]

[21]. Tansman won three prizes in a Composition Competition organized by the Polish Art Club of Warsaw, the first prize for his Romance for violin and piano and two honorary mentions. [Back]

[22]. The performance was given by Milan RAI orchestra. [Back]

[23]. The “Benvenuto Cellini” was a salt shaker in the shape of a vase, given to Tansman in Rome by Prince Luchino Visconti. [Back]

[24]. The letter is addressed to “Kochany Tadeuszu” [Beloved Tadeusz], and the expression “My Dear Friend” was chosen to reflect the greater intimacy of this appellation. The visit took place in February 1978 and Tansman was the honorary guest of the 12th Festival of Contemporary Music in Wrocław where many of his works were performed, including Hommage à Erasme de Rotterdam, Concertino for piano and orchestra, Elégie à Darius Mihaud, and Concerto pour orchestre. The Festival’s program also included Henryk Gorecki’s Symphony No. 3 (Symphony of Sorrowful Songs) composed in 1976.[Back]

[25]. Tansman was delighted with the warm reception he received in Poland, both in person during the meeting with his friends in Warsaw, and in the press, with a range of positive reports from the festival published by Olgierd Pisarenko, Krzysztof Droba, Rafał Augustyn, Ewa Koffin and Izabella Grzenkowicz. See Cegiełła, vol. 2, 276-299.[Back]

[26]. “Sto lat,” lit. “A Hundred Years” is a Polish equivalent of “Happy Birthday.”[Back]

[27]. “The second Tadeusz” refers to Zieliński. Despite this complaint, Tansman received letters from Kaczyński, Janusz Cegiełła, Tadeusz Natansson, Ryszard Bukowski, Marian Fuks, Jan Weber, Tadeusz Zieliński, and others. See Cegiełła, vol. 2, 299. [Back]

[28]. The Royal Castle of Warsaw [Zamek Królewski] was destroyed by the Germans during World War II and its reconstruction was completed in the late 1970s. [Back]

[29]. The concert featured Cinq mélodies pour chants et piano (1927) and the singer was Maria Sart. [Back]

[31]. Tansman composed Hommage à Lech Walesa in 1982; the work was published the same year by Max Eschig. He sent the score to the Solidarity leader; it was first played in Poland in 1984 at the Gdańsk Shipyard. See Cegiełła, vol. 2, 337.[Back]

[32]. The concert took place on 9 June 1978 at the Institut Polonais in Paris, where the awards ceremony was also held. [Back]

[33]. The ballet, entitled “La table, ballet d’apres ‘Six mouvements pur orchestre'” (music composed in 1965) was performed by the Ballet classic de Versaille in June 1983. [Back]

[34]. Cegiełła discusses the history of finding the film from Tansman’s travel around the world (1933), its transfer to modern format, and public presentation on 13 February 1986 at the Institut Polonais in Paris. The film was entitled “Tour du monde en miniature” and later served as the basis for a TV program broadcast in France, Germany and Poland. See Cegiełła, vol. 2, 344-345. [Back]

[35]. “Linka” is the nickname of Pauline Laks, the wife of Polish-Jewish composer and writer, Szymon Laks. [Back]

Aleksander Tansman (b. Lódź, 1897, d. Paris, 1986) was a composer, conductor, and pianist. He studied at the Lódź Conservatory (with Piotr Rytel) and took courses in law and philosophy at Warsaw University. In 1919 he settled in Paris where he met the leading artists of his time, including Maurice Ravel, Igor Stravinsky, and others. As a pianist he toured Europe, Canada and the Middle East with the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Serge Koussevitzky. His music was performed by the most famous soloists and ensembles of his time; his champions included conductors Stokowski and Toscanini. Tansman survived the war in the U.S.; after returning to France in 1946 he contiunued to compose and to write about music, including a book on Stravinsky. The composer repeatedly expressed the conviction that his music is rooted in Polish culture, and he included Polish dances, rhythms, and topics in many pieces (e.g. cycles of Mazurkas, the Polish Rhapsody, works inspired by and dedicated to Chopin). The composer also cherished his Jewish heritage, expressing it in many works written throughout his career, e.g. the Hebrew Rhapsody (1938), oratorio Isaiah The Prophet (1950), Apostrophe to Sion (1978), and other pieces. Tansman’s music belongs to the realm of neoclassicism, enriched by a plurality of influences and models, including jazz, folk dances, and the music of the Far East. The author of a Javanese Dance, he also composed a Blues, an Oberek, and the virtuosic Mazurka and Toccata. During the post-war years he displayed no interest in avant-garde experimentation and remained faithful to his unique brand of the neoclassical style. Tansman’ s extensive list of works contains compositions for the stage (operas, ballets), pieces for orchestra, chamber music, and songs in several languages. [MT]