Polish Music Journal
Vol. 4, No. 1, Summer 2001. ISSN 1521—6039


PMJ, Vol. 4, No. 1 (Summer 2001)

Granat-JankiSchubert TrochimczykWierzbicki
Paderewski DocumentsStojowski Documents

Maja Trochimczyk: "Paderewski in Poetry: Master of Harmonies or Poland's Savior?"

Public fascination with Polish composer, virtuoso pianist and statesman, Ignacy Jan Paderewski, continued throughout his creative life. His museum in Morges, Switzerland, his Archives at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland and at the Archiwum Akt Nowych in Warsaw, contain numerous gifts, honors, tributes, and awards, bestowed upon Paderewski during his lifetime. This paper presents a range of literary tributes to the pianist-politician, spanning his career, from 1889, following his first international triumphs as a virtuoso in Paris and Brussels, to 1941 and elegies that expressed grief after his death. The overview includes analysis and context of Paderewski-themed poems by Richard Watson Gilder, John Huston Finley, Robert Underwood Johnson, Charles Phillips, Henryk Merzbach, Julian A. Święcicki, Maryla Wolska, Waldemar Bakalarski, and Anne Strakacz-Appleton.

Several thematic threads are singled out and exemplified by poems: "synaesthetic," "erudite," "patriotic," "laudatory" or "commemorative," and "elegiac." The poetic responses, arising as a reaction to current political and artistic events, feature two turning points (a) in 1918 when Poland regained independence and Paderewski became its prime minister and (b) in 1941 when he died. While the literary quality of most of these poems is not consistent, the poetry provides a valuable document of its times and a testimony to Paderewski's close links with the members of the American literary establishment (Gilder and Finley were editors of important journals and influential men of letters; Finley and Phillips taught at universities, etc.). The poems also reveal the virtuoso pianist's unique role in Polish culture, both within the country and in exile communities. The text of Paderewski's patriotic song of 1917 is also discussed; all the poems are collected in an appendix.

Link to the Article
Author's Biography
Poems about Paderewski
PMJ - Current Issue


Anna Granat-Janki: "Tradition and Modernity in the Music of Aleksander Tansman"

This paper presents an overview of the compositional style of Polish-Jewish-French composer, Aleksander Tansman. Born in Łódź in 1897, Tansman spent most of his creative life in Paris (with the exception of the war years when he lived in Los Angeles, California; 1941-1946), married a French pianist and became a French citizen in 1938. The strong impact of neoclassicism on his compositional style reveals this French connection. The paper examines Tansman's relationship to various styles and genres from different historical periods, cultures, and geographical areas. Suspended between "tradition and modernity," the composer was at the forefront of the musical avant-garde in the interwar period (a characteristic use of polytonality, poly-chords, and rhythmic complexities; inspiration by the music of Albert Roussel, Igor Stravinsky, and Darius Milhaud). Tansman's music reveals a penchant for classical formal schemes (e.g. sonata-allegro form; variations), Baroque textures and compositional techniques (repetitive rhythmic patterns, polyphony), romantic lyricism, with a touch of rhythmic flexibility borrowed from jazz, and unusual tone colors assimilated from Asian music. His preference for describing himself as a Polish composer is underscored by his compositions on Polish themes (e.g. Polish Rhapsody); his Jewish heritage became increasingly important during the exile years and after his return to Europe in 1946. A series of large-scale works, operas, oratorios, and cantatas explores various aspects of Jewish culture and tradition, from the Scriptures, Prophets and Psalms, to historical events and figures. After World War II, Tansman did not join the avant-garde and few of his compositions included gestures that could be described as experimental (though he used clusters and 12-tone themes). His adherence to neo-classical aesthetics, forged before the war, and deepened as a result of his experiences, locates him at a unique point in Polish music history.

Link to the Article
Author's Biography
PMJ - Current Issue


James Wierzbicki: "Traditional Values in a Century of Flux: The Music of Feliks Łabuński (1892-1979)"

The adjective "romantic" is often applied to the music of the Polish-American composer Feliks Roderyk Łabuński (or Felix Labunski, as he was known in the West). This description, however, seems based on attention paid only to the surface qualities of Łabuński's work. While his harmonic vocabulary indeed had elements in common with the music of Rachmaninoff, Scriabin, and other Slavic composers whose careers extended into the early decades of the twentieth century, Łabuński's aesthetic in fact leaned far more toward the Apollonian than the Dionysian. Hardly a neo-classicist, Łabuński demonstrated his concern for structural clarity and economy of means even in his earliest works, and he maintained his essentially traditional values throughout the twentieth century's many shifts in musical fashion.

This article surveys Łabuński's life (1892-1979) and works, with emphasis given to the music created in the United States. Based in part on interviews with the composer conducted during the 1970s, the article contains many biographical details never previously published, and it clarifies erroneous information found in various reference works, including Encyklopedia Muzyczna PWM in Poland and entries for the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. The list of compositions is, to the author's knowledge, the most complete ever compiled.

Link to the Article
Writings By/About Łabuński
Łabuński's Works and Performances
Author's Biography
PMJ - Current Issue


Linda Schubert: "Film Scores of Henry Vars in the United States: An Overview"

After World War II, well-known Polish composer Henry Vars (known in Poland as Henryk Wars, 1902-77) settled in Los Angeles to resume his work as a film composer (he is probably best known in the United States for his music for the film and TV series about a dolphin, Flipper). An important pioneering film composer in Poland, who scored one out of every three Polish films made before World War II, Vars ultimately contributed music to at least 90 films in his career. He also penned a number of popular songs, Polish "golden oldies" performed to this day. As an émigré in Hollywood Vars was required to re-establish his identity as a professional composer to make his living in the film industry. This paper provides the most complete filmography now available of Vars' American scores, describes his career in the U.S. and discusses several cues from films illustrating some of the new musical projects and tasks (such as team composing and writing for Westerns and horror films) that Vars undertook in the U.S., including Chained for Life, The Big Heat, The Unearthly, and Seven Men From Now.

Link to the Article
Bibliography and References
Vars's American Filmography
Author's Biography
PMJ - Current Issue


Maja Trochimczyk, ed.: "Paderewski - Lectures and Documents"

The selection of writings by and about Ignacy Jan Paderewski (1860-1941) reprinted here includes documents about three aspects of Paderewski's life:

  1. as a performing musician with a particular approach to style and interpretation (Paderewski's article on tempo rubato first published in 1909 in Henry Finck's book Success in Music and How it is Won);
  2. as an internationally-recognized and honored artist-statesman, who received numerous special awards, governmental medals and honorary doctorates (press notices published in February 1923 in the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Examiner, and the Daily Trojan about Paderewski's honorary degree of the Doctor of Law, conferred upon him by the University of Southern California in Los Angeles; the notices are annotated by Zak Ozmo);
  3. as the former prime-minister of Poland and a tireless advocate for the country's independence, whose role in re-establishing the country in 1918 was celebrated during a dinner sponsored by the Kosciuszko Foundation and held in 1928 in New York and followed by the publication of a commemorative volume with greetings and speeches; the reprinted materials include a selection of these greetings by U.S. governmental officials (current and future presidents, governors), musicians (Damrosch, Hofman), and philanthropists (Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge), as well as speeches by Charles Vauclain, Arthur V. Sewall, John H. Finley, and Paderewski.

Paderewski: "Tempo Rubato" (1909)
Paderewski and Poland I (Greetings)
Paderewski and Poland II (Speeches)
Paderewski and Poland III (Paderewski's Remarks)
Paderewski's Doctorate at USC
PMJ - Current Issue


Maja Trochimczyk and Joseph A. Herter, eds.: "Stojowski - Lectures and Documents"

The selection of writings by and about Stojowski reprinted here includes documents presenting composer-pianist Zygmunt (Sigismond) Stojowski (1870-1946) as a performer, concert promoter, and Polish patriot. The documents come from the Stojowski collection at the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences of America, from the personal collection of Henry Stojowski, the composer's son, and from the manuscript holdings of the Polish Music Center at USC. The selection includes:

  1. a 1911 humorous poem by Arthur G. Burgoyne, written by the Pittsburgh music critic on the occasion of a joint performance by two musicians with last names ending on "ski" (discovered and edited by Joseph A. Herter);
  2. an edition of Stojowski's lectures to young pianists, based on his courses at the Juilliard School of Music and published in Keyboard magazine for music teachers in 1940 (from the PIASA archives);
  3. Stojowski's speech about Polish music and the role of music in life, on the occasion of a fund-raising dinner for the Polish Music Festival held in the spring of 1944 at Carnegie Hall in New York (a copy donated to the PMC by Henry Stojowski).

Burgoyne: "Stokowski and Stojowski" (1911)
Stojowski: "The Evolution of Style" (1940)
Stojowski: "Music and Life - An Address" (1944)
PMJ - Current Issue

Copyright 2001 by the Polish Music Journal.
Editor: Maja Trochimczyk. Assistant Editor: Linda Schubert.
Publisher: Polish Music Center, 2001.
Design: Maja Trochimczyk & Marcin Depinski. Editorial Assistance: Zak Ozmo.
Comments and inquiries by e-mail: polmusic@email.usc.edu