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Event Details Ptaszyńska Bio


The Polish Music Center at the USC Thornton School of Music presents the 2005 Paderewski Lecture, given by the distinguished composer-percussionist, Marta Ptaszyńska on Friday, October 14, 2005 at 8PM in the Newman Recital Hall on the USC campus. Performers for this concert include Amy Dissanayake, piano, Juliana Gondek, soprano, and members of the USC Thornton School of Music Percussion Ensemble led by Professor Erik Forrester. The Annual Paderewski Lectures highlight Paderewski's special links to Southern California and USC, which awarded him an honorary doctorate in 1923. By presenting outstanding Polish musicians, the Paderewski Lectures also emphasize achievements of Polish contemporary music. Previous speakers in the series included Zygmunt Krauze (2002), Joanna Bruzdowicz (2003), and Stanis?aw Skrowaczewski (2004).

Ptaszyńska's latest composition, Pianophonia, commissioned by the Chicago Symphony and given a world premiere in Chicago on February 16, 2005 by pianist Amy Dissanayake, will be featured on the 2005 Paderewski Lecture program in its West Coast premiere. Pianophonia received outstanding praise and accolades from critics and audiences, with the Chicago Times critic John von Rhein calling it "an instant classic." The program will also feature the U.S. premiere of Elegia for John Paul II for solo viola, featuring USC's Lauren Chipman.

Marta Ptaszyńska, the Helen B. and Frank L. Sulzberger Professor at the University of Chicago, is one of the most prominent Polish composers in the world. Her extensive catalogue includes numerous orchestral works (including three concertos), chamber pieces (several works for strings and percussion ensembles), compositions for choral and orchestral ensembles, and solo works. Born in Warsaw in 1943, Ms. Ptaszyńska received three Masters' of Arts Diplomas with distinction in music theory, composition and percussion performance. After working privately with Witold Lutos?awski she moved to Paris, where she studied with Nadia Boulanger and attended Olivier Messiaen's classes at the Paris Conservatory. She moved to the United States in 1972 to complete her studies at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Since then, Ms. Ptaszyńska has been on the faculty of Indiana University, Northwestern University, Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, the University of California in Berkley and Santa Barbara, and Bennington College in Vermont. In 1998 she was appointed professor in music and humanities at the University of Chicago.

In 1985 Ms. Ptaszyńska received a first prize from UNESCO in Paris at the International Rostrum of Composers for Winter's Tale. Her first opera, Oscar of Alva, was presented in Salzburg in 1989, and her children's opera, Mister Marimba, has been in the repertory of the National Opera in Warsaw since 1998. Ptaszyńska's Holocaust Memorial Cantata was performed in 1993 under the baton of Yehudi Menuhin, and her compositions were featured worldwide at the Schleswig-Holstein, Salzburg, Huddersfied, Heidelberg, ISCM, Warsaw Autumn, and Aspen music festivals. Also a highly sought after composer, Ptaszyńska has been commissioned by the BBC, Evelyn Glennie, Ewa Podleś, and the Cincinnati Symphony, among others.

2005 Paderewski Lecture featuring Marta Ptaszyńska
Friday, 14 October 2005, 8 PM
Newman Recital Hall, USC Campus
Admission: Free

For further information please contact:
Polish Music Center
Telephone: 213. 821. 1356
Fax: 213. 821. 4040
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For directions and venue information:


In addition to giving the Paderewski Lecture, Ms. Ptaszyńska will also spend a week in residency at USC from October 10-14. She will holdseveral lectures and masterclasses for students in the composition and percussion departments. The Music @ Noon concert series that week will feature students from Erik Forrester's percussion studio performing Ms. Ptaszyńska's challenging piece for percussion ensemble, Mobile. This concert is free and open to the public.

Event Details:
Music @ Noon
Wednesday, October 12 2005, 12:10
United University Church, USC Campus
Hoover Ave. & Jefferson Blvd.
Free Admission


Marta Ptaszyńska, composer, percussionist and professor of music, was born in 1943 in Warsaw, Poland. She completed her musical studies at the Academy of Music in Warsaw and in Poznań, receiving three Master of Arts diplomas with distinction in music theory, composition, and percussion performance. As a French government grant recipient, she studied composition in Paris with Nadia Boulanger, attended Olivier Messiaen's classes at the Conservatoire National, and worked at Groupe des Recherches Musicales (GRM) at 1'ORTF. In 1972, Ptaszyńska came to the United States on the invitation of the Cleveland Institute of Music to finalize her studies in percussion performance and composition. She has remained in the United States, enjoying a multi-faceted career as a composer, percussionist and teacher. Professor in Music and Humanities at the University of Chicago since 1998, in June 2005 Ptaszyńska became the Helen B. and Frank L. Sulzberger Professor of Music. She was on the faculties of the Indiana University School of Music in Bloomington, Northwestern University, Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, University of California in Berkeley and Santa Barbara, and Bennington College in Vermont.

Acclaimed as one of the best composition teachers in the United States, Ms. Ptaszyńska's international fame comes primarily through the widespread performances of her compositions. They were presented at such prestigious festivals as the ISCM World Music Days in Stockholm, Brussels, and Oslo, the International "Warsaw Autumn" Festival in Poland, the Gulbenkian Foundation Festival in Portugal, the International Percussion Forum in Paris, the New Music Forum in Mexico City, the Huddersfield New Music Festival in England, Prix Futura in Berlin, the Schleswig-Holstein Festival, the Heidelberg Contemporary Music Festival, the Salzburg Festival, the Aspen Music Festival, the International Conventions of Percussive Arts Society in the United States, and the Vratislavia Cantans Oratorio Festival in Poland.

Over the years Ms. Ptaszyńska received a number of commissions from outstanding musicians and major institutions, such as the BBC, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Südwestdeutsche Rundfunk Orchester, the Kosciuszko Foundation, the Polish Chamber Orchestra, Sinfonia Varsovia, the Pacifica String Quartet and International Caramoor Music Festival. She has worked with some of the greatest musicians of our time, including Lord Yehudi Menuhin, Evelyn Glennie, the renowned Japanese marimbist Keiko Abe, Poland's foremost contralto Ewa Podle?, American mezzo-soprano Julia Bentley, and Jerzy Maksymiuk, conductor of the Polish Chamber Orchestra.

In 1985, Ms. Ptaszyńska received a First Prize from UNESCO in Paris at the International Rostrum of Composers for her string orchestra piece, Winter's Tale. Her opera Oscar of Alva, which received awards from Polish Radio and Television, was presented in Salzburg at the International Festival of Television Operas organized by the International IMZ Congress and Salzburg Festival. Her opera for children, Pan Marimba [Mister Marimba], which has been in the repertory of the National Opera in Warsaw since 1998, has enjoyed phenomenal success with sold-out performances for four consecutive seasons.

Marta Ptaszyńska's long list of honors includes an award from the Polish government for outstanding contributions to Polish culture in 2000, the "Officer Cross of Merit" from the Republic of Poland in 1995, a medal from the Union of Polish Composers, and the 1997 Alfred Jurzykowski Award in New York for overall creative achievements. Ms. Ptaszyńska's interest and devotion to the young generation of musicians is very well known. She frequently serves as juror at such international competitions as the ASCAP Composers Contest in New York and the Krzysztof Penderecki Contests for Performance of Contemporary Music in Kraków.

Ms. Ptaszyńska is also known in the music world as an outstanding percussionist. For many years she has performed as soloist and chamber player, actively promoting contemporary music. She has premiered many works for percussion written especially for her by such well-known composers as Bogusław Schäffer, Krzysztof Meyer, Emma Lou Diemer, Vittorio Gelmetti, Brion Fennelly, Krystyna Moszumańska-Nazar, Bernadetta Matuszczak and Zbigniew Bargielski. From 1969 to 1972, Ms. Ptaszyńska performed with the famous French percussion ensemble Les Percussions de Strasbourg. Her music is recorded on the Polish Records MUZA, Polygram-CD Accord, Olympia, Chandos, Dux Records, Pro Viva, and Bayer labels. In December 2001, Polish Music Publications in Kraków released a book entitled Music-The Most Perfect Language: Conversations with Marta Ptaszyńska. Ms. Ptaszyńska's music is published in the United States by Theodore Presser Co., Fallen Leaf Press in Berkeley, and B. Willson Publishing in New York.



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