|Polish Music Newsletter|
June 2014, Vol. 20, No. 6. ISSN 1098-9188. Published monthly.
RECENT DONATIONS TO THE PMC
Piano Secrets in Etude
From our dear friend in Santa Barbara area, Betty Harford, the gift of a copy of the November 1933 issue of The Etude magazine was given. In pristine condition, the magazine has a rare portrait of Chopin on the cover and many articles about Polish music and musicians inside, including a fascinating photo of Chopin’s piano that apparently toured the U.S. with the French virtuoso Maurice Dumesnil. Leopold Godowsky’s extensive article entitled “The Best Method is Eclectic” has fascinating insights into piano technique by an acknowledged super-virtuoso. Also, interviews with many other musicians and sheet music reproduced inside gives the reader a privileged perspective on music-making in America in the 1930s.
Chopin Choral Music
Exciting things do happen at PMC from time to time. Last week, there was a large cardboard box addressed to us from a person in the Bay Area whose name wasn’t familiar to us. When we opened the parcel, we found a very nice letter from Ms. Sonia Seeman alongside a thick folder of choral and vocal music from the estate of her deceased parents, Joseph and Janina Swadowski. It is a fascinating glimpse into the music activities of the Chopin Chorus of Los Angeles in the middle decades of last century. In the coming months we will examine and process the collection, and make it available to students, faculty, researchers and other interested parties using the resources of the Polish Music Center. We plan to name it the Joseph and Janina Swadowski Collection and eventually have it listed online.
KNAPIK OPERA PREMIERE
The World Première of the new opera by Eugeniusz Knapik will be held on June 25 in the Teatr Wielki -Opera Narodowa [Grand Theater - National Opera] in Warsaw as a part of the Terytoria series. With a libretto by Krzysztof Koehler based on Herman Melville's novel, Knapik’s Moby Dick will be directed by Barbara Wysocka, and the National Opera Orchestra will be conducted by Gabriel Chmura.
The composer himself calls this opus a mystery opera. “From the beginning I knew that it wouldn't be a typical opera, but some kind of a show” - he explains in an interview with Magdalena Stochniol. Read the full interview in English at pwm.com.pl.
Eugeniusz Knapik is one of the most important contemporary Polish composers, a student of Henryk Mikołaj Górecki, a classicist of modernity. His opera trilogy, created in collaboration with the great Flemish director Jan Fabre (The Minds of Helena Troubleyn), dazzled opera audiences some years ago. Moby Dick (1851) is the legendary novel by American writer Hermann Melville, the story of Ishmael who, after several voyages on merchant ships, decides to go on a whaling expedition. The skipper is the mysterious and grim Captain Ahab whose sole purpose is to take revenge on a legendary white whale. Is this pure madness? Or dreams coming true? Transcending the boundaries of life and death? The world premiere of this opera commissioned by the Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera is being staged by Barbara Wysocka, a recipient of the Polityka Passport award for her production of The Fall of the House of Usher by Glass.
PREMIERES AT KRAKÓW COMPOSERS’ FESTIVAL
From June 8-14, the 26th edition of the International Festival of Kraków Composers (previously called the “Music Days of Kraków Composers” Festival) will be held. During the Festival, the following World Premieres will take place.
On June 9 at 5:00 p.m., the World Premiere of Piotr Moss – Dédicace VI pour violon et alto à Bogusław Schaeffer pour son 85e anniversaire (2013) and Jarosław Płonka – Rich and Timeless (2014) for two violas will be given by violists Bogusława Hubisz-Sielska and Lech Bałaban and violinist Jan Bałaban at the Kraków Philharmonic. Later that evening in the same hall, the Polish premiere of Jakub Polaczyk – Zamrożone chwile (2014) for oboe, violin and cello will be given by Mariusz Pędziałek – oboe, Maria Sławek – violin, and Michał Dąbek – cello.
On June 11, the Cracow Duo of pianist Marek Szlezer and cellist Jan Kalinowski will present the World Premiere of M. Di Gesù – Arc-en-cello (2014) for cello, as well as the Polish premieres of Piotr Moss – Sternlicht Sonate (2014) for piano and Krzysztof Meyer – Sei Intermezzi op.121 (2013) for piano.
On June 12, during a concert dedicated to premieres of songs by Juliusz Łuciuk, soprano Bożena Harasimowicz and pianist Krystyna Pyszkowska will give the World Premieres of the following songs by Łuciuk: W intymnym nastroju – wokaliza (1958); The Children’s Tabernacle(1993); Pieśń o żołnierzach z Westerpalatte (1970); 4 Pieśni: Krzaczek róży (1990), Ćma (1990), Drobna kaszka (1990), Pożegnanie elementarza (1988); and 3 Pieśni młodzieńcze (1957-58): Rozmowa z księżycem, Dzień bez ciebie, Kupię sobie jeża.
More details are below in the Festival section, and the full schedule is available at zkp.krakow.pl.
BEAUTIFUL NEW HALL FOR SZCZECZIN PHIL
On May 20, Sylwia Wysłowska of Culture.pl posted an article about the new hall being built for the Mieczysław Karłowicz Philharmonic in Szczeczin, Poland. Based on press releases and other source material and translated with edits by Paulina Schlosser on May 23, excerpts from the article are below.
To continue reading about the new hall for the Szczecin Philharmonic, visit culture.pl.
PADEREWSKI SCHOLARSHIP FUND BENEFIT CONCERT
On June 28, the Borowsky family will offer their incredible musicianship in support of the Paderewski Scholarship Fund in a concert at the Embassy of the Republic of Poland Auditorium in Washington, D.C. Hailed by the international press as “American Virtuosi,” the Borowsky family–two cellists, a violinist, a pianist, and a vocalist–has been praised world-wide for their outstanding musicianship. The members of this extraordinary family have won their way into the hearts of millions of people through their concerts in the Americas, Asia, the Middle East, and Europe; radio and television performances; and CD recordings.
The Paderewski Scholarship was established by General Edward L. Rowny (at left) in 2004. Since then, the Fund has enabled eight outstanding Polish students to attend summer courses at George Mason University in Washington D.C. as well as intern in an organization of their choice in the nation's capital. The Paderewski Scholarship Fund has partnered with The Fund for American Studies (TFAS) and George Mason University in order to expose aspiring Polish leaders to American political, business and academic culture. Since 1967, TFAS has educated young people from around the world in leadership and in free-market economy.
[Sources: press release, padpiano.org]
SINFONIA IUVENTUS PERFORMS KILAR
On May 29 and June 1, the Sinfonia Iuventus Orchestra presents film music concerts, during which the screen will display multimedia fragments of known Polish and foreign films that were scored by Wojciech Kilar. The concert will feature great Polish soprano Iwona Hossa and Sinfonia Iuventus, conducted by Tadeusz Wojciechowski. The program includes selections from the following films: Dracula, Smuga cienia, Ziemia obiecana, Bilans kwartalny, Kronika wypadków miłosnych, Trędowata, Dziewiąte wrota, Śmierć i dziewczyna, Zemsta, and Pan Tadeusz.
DISCUSSION OF CHOPIN’S 24 PRELUDES
In an article entitled “Breaking Down Chopin's 24 Preludes,” Wojciech Oleksiak of Culture.pl explores the context and history of Chopin's quintessential 24 Preludes, op. 28, as well as a brief discussion of each individual Prelude. The article is based on Mieczysław Tomaszewski Chopin, information from chopin.com, and an interview with Urszula Oleksiak. Below is an excerpt:
To read the entire article, visit culture.pl.
2014 LUTOSLAWSKI STIPEND
The Board of Directors of the Witold Lutosławski Society announces the annual competition for the Lutosławski Scholarship, awarded by the family of the composer. The grant in the amount of $10,000 will be given to one candidate for further studies abroad. Polish students, graduates of music schools, composers, conductors, instrumentalists and vocalists are invited to apply. All interested candidates are requested to provide a biography listing major accomplishments, diplomas or certificates of completing musical studies, plans for studies abroad (indicating the choice of professor in charge), and letters of recommendation from two academic faculty. The application must be postmarked no later than June 23, 2014 and sent to the Witold Lutosławski Society, Bracka 23, 00-028 Warszawa. The envelopes should be marked “Witold Lutosławski Scholarship 2014.” More information is available at www.lutoslawski.org.pl
FREE JAZZ EXPLORATION
According to a new article in Biweekly.pl, anthologies of Grupa w Składzie and Andrzej Bieżan released in early 2014 along with the upcoming Tie Break box set offer a good review of avant-garde jazz in Poland. Written by Rafał Księżyk and entitled “The Institutionists,” the article explores both the history and the mythology of the development of the jazz movement in Poland through these three groups and their networks.
NEW BOOKS FROM PWM
Górecki. Portrait in memory
Górecki. Portrait in memory by Beata Bolesławska-Lewandowska is a record of interviews with people from Henryk Mikołaj Górecki's circle: his loved ones (wife and children), friends, students, publishers, musicologists, journalists, figures from the world of culture, etc. From this mosaic of memories, splashed in a variety of colors, shades and hues, a portrait of the composer like we've never known emerges.
The project was realized with the financial support from the Universitatis Varsoviensis Foundation and the City of Katowice.
Lutosławski. Skrywany wulkan
Lutosławski. Skrywany wulkan is a record of talks that Aleksander Laskowski carried out with renowned conductors regarding the person and work of one of the greatest composers of the twentieth century. Do the answers from the speakers confirm the existing beliefs about Lutosławski's peaceful and quiet personality? Maybe they will reveal a previously unknown side of the composer's personality ...? Certainly they bring interesting new views about at his work, as perceived from the angle of the baton and the score.
ROBERT THIES PLAYS CHOPIN
A pianist of "unerring, warm-toned refinement, revealing judicious glimmers of power" (Los Angeles Times), Robert Thies will perform Chopin’s ‘Revolutionary’ Etude in C Minor, op. 10 no. 12, as well as works by Debussy, Brahms, Scriabin and Beethoven during the "Second Sundays At Two" concert at Rolling Hills United Methodist Church on June 8. Renowned for his consummate musicianship and poetic temperament, Thies first captured worldwide attention in 1995 when he won the Gold Medal at the Second International Prokofiev Competition in St. Petersburg, Russia. With this victory, Thies became the only American pianist to win a Russian piano competition since Van Cliburn's triumph in Moscow in 1958. Two years later, in 1997, Thies was chosen to perform some of Henryk Mikołaj Górecki’s most touching chamber music for the composer during his “Górecki Autumn” residency at USC in Los Angeles (pictured at right).
Robert Thies enjoys a diverse career as an orchestral soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician. He has already performed 40 different concerti with orchestras all over the world, including the Saint Petersburg Philharmonic, the Auckland Philharmonia (New Zealand), the Mexico City Philharmonic, Mexico's National Symphony, the Fort Worth Symphony, the Pasadena Symphony, the Louisville Orchestra, and the Naples Philharmonic.
A dedicated chamber musician, Thies is highly sought after as a recital partner and collaborator in both instrumental and vocal chamber music. He frequently shares the stage with members of the LA Philharmonic and the LA Chamber Orchestra. He also performs frequently with his unique ensemble, the Thies Consort.
PADEREWSKI ACADEMY OF MUSIC CONCERT
The Paderewski Academy of Music invites you to a very special concert featuring participants in the Piano Master Class of Igor Lipinski (at left). These performers are young pianists, age 8-16, who are students of Paderewski Academy of Music: Brian Barnas, Filip Basaj, Agata Frisch, Beata Frisch, Amelia Kabat, Paulina Kotarski, Ola Lujano, Andrzej Mareczko, Julia Termanowski, Sabina Turbiarz, Karol Turbiarz, Julia Urbanek, Karolina Urbanek. The program ranges from great classical masterpieces by Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin or Debussy to entertaining contemporary arrangement for four hands.
The Paderewski Symphony Orchestra and Academy of Music is a not-for-profit cultural organization.
[Source: press release]
ALLDAYNIGHT – SONGS IN FRENCH, POLISH & ENGLISH
On Friday, June 13, the AllDayNight ensemble presents a free concert entitled “Voyage Musical: Original Instrumental Music & Songs in French, Polish & English” at the Music on the Plaza series at the Brand Library and Art Center in Glendale. AllDayNight is comprised of Frederic Michot (Prize winning Music Composer and Songwriter), Adriana Zoppo (Violin), and Karolina Magdalena-Naziemiec (Viola and vocals – pictured at right).
The new “Music on the Plaza” Series presents a variety of free public performances for the community. Admission is free. Bring a picnic to this outdoor concert!
[Source: press release, glendaleca.gov]
KORZISTKA PLAYS CHOPIN
The Polish American Club of Roseville in the Sacramento area presents a classical piano concert featuring Michał Korzistka, a prominent Polish pianist from the University of Silesia, on Sunday, June 29.
Michał Korzistka has studied classical piano at the Academy of Music in Katowice, Poland, at the Postgraduate Piano Department of Academy of Music in Warsaw and then continued his studies in Zurich, Switzerland. He currently is a full time piano professor at Cieszyn Branch of the University of Silesia.
Michał Korzistka has a special place in his heart for classical and romantic composers: Beethoven, Mozart, Liszt, Szymanowski and Chopin.
KOLBERG & PANUFNIK YEAR 2014
KOLBERG CONFERENCE IN POZNAŃ
“The Work of Oskar Kolberg as National and European Heritage,” a two-day international academic conference, was held in Poznań, Poland on May 22-23. Poland’s president Bronisław Komorowski was the honorary patron of this important event, co-organized by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, Marshall of the Wielkopolska Province, Polish Academy of Sciences, Polish Ethnological Society and Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań. The conference highlighted Kolberg’s contributions to Polish and European culture, focusing on the source materials collected by Kolberg that described and defined the heritage of various Polish regions.
More information on the conference and the program at: www.kolberg2014.org.pl
KOLBERG IN KIELCE
Since Oskar Kolberg figures in the official name of the Kielce Philharmonic—aka Filharmonia Świętokrzyska im. Oskara Kolberga w Kielcach—the Philharmonic Auditorium as well as the Hall of the provincial Cultural Centre hosted several programs devoted to the bicentenary of Kolberg’s birth on May 30-June 3. The opening night, May 30, featured a recital of songs by Kolberg, Noskowski and Chopin, presented by Iwona Kowalkowska (soprano), Wojciech Maciejowski (tenor), and Andrzej Tatarski (piano). The official unveiling of an exhibit dedicated to Oskar Kolberg was also held that evening alongside promotion of a newly-recorded CD with Kolberg’s songs.
The May 31 concert featured several folk ensembles and finalists of a composers’ competition for a short electroacoustic work based on music of the Kielce region. The June 1 matinee program featured old folk tales and children’s games, collected by Kolberg. They were presented by the Janusz Prusinowski Ensemble with children participating in the performance. Later that evening, the Regional Cultural Centre hosted a showcase entitled “The Mosaic of Polish Folklore” and performed by the finalists of national folklore competitions.
On Monday, June 2, various spaces in Kielce’s Philharmonic Hall were converted to children’s playgrounds with educational seminars, games, as well as classes in art and music, all based on local folklore as collected by Oskar Kolberg. This was the third such event organized by the office of the Marshall of Kielce Province for children in grades 1-3.
The Kolberg Festival in Kielce concluded on June 3 with a concert featuring works by Józef Elsner (“Overture” to the opera Leszek Biały), Frederic Chopin (Fantasy on Polish Airs, Op. 13), Edward Pałłasz (Three Kaszubian Folk Tales), and Ignacy Feliks Dobrzyński (Symphony No. 1, Op. 11). Radosław Sobczak was the piano soloist and the Świętokrzyska Philharmonic was led by maestro Jacek Rogala.
KOLBERG’S TOMB RENOVATED
Oskar Kolberg died in Kraków on June 3, 1890 and was buried at the Rakowicki Cemetery. On June 3 this year, Kolberg’s tomb was unveiled after undergoing extensive renovation. The ceremonies began at 1 p.m. with a procession and a short musical program presented by students from the Kolberg Music School in Radom. The rededication of Kolberg’s tomb was attended by the members of his family, as well as representatives of the Polish government. The restoration work was financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and organized by the Institute of Music and Dance together with the officials of Kraków City government.
[Source: kolberg2014.org.pl; Photos: Anna Kaczmarz]
KOLBERG’S OPERA REVIVED
Besides his monumental ethnographic research, Oskar Kolberg also composed a number of vocal works, including an opera: Król Pasterzy [King of Shepherds]. It was shown in Kraków on June 3, 2014, 155 years after its premiere. This one-act work to a libretto by the romantic poet Teofil Lenartowicz depicts an idyllic setting in the rural countryside of the Kujawy Region, and celebrates a tradition of selecting a king of shepherds by the peasant folk.
Originally staged at Warsaw’s Grand Theatre in 1859, the opera ran for only seven performances. While the public received the work with great enthusiasm, the critics found some faults with the extensive orchestral writing. The score calls for an ensemble of 23 performers, a chorus of 12 and five soloists and it exists in only one manuscript copy. Stanisław Moniuszko, who served as director of Warsaw Opera for many years, knew of Kolberg’s opera and added—in his own handwriting on the title page of the score—“recommended for performance.”
For the Kraków performance this manuscript was copied and corrected and will be publically available through the Oskar Kolberg Institute in Poznań. The Kraków performance included soloists Aleksanda Buczek, Jerzy Butryna, Piotr Gawron-Jedlikowski, Tomasz Maleszewski, Jadwiga Niebielska, and Jacek Jaskuła. They were assisted by the Octava Ensemble, the Orkiestra Projektowa, the Vox Angeli Ensemble, and the Integrated School Dance Ensemble, Krakowiak. Led by maestro Zygmunt Magiera the opera was broadcast by Polish Radio 2 in order to encourage interest in this work among musicians elsewhere. The concert was organized by the Kraków Chamber Choir, Institute of Music and Dance, Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and the City of Kraków. More information about the event is available at: www.krolpasterzy.pl or krakow.gazeta.pl
As a corollary to the Kolberg Year Celebrations, please see an English-language interview with Andrzej Bieńkowski, a painter, photographer and ethnographer who answers Agnieszka Grzybowska’s questions about Kolberg’s legacy and the social isolation of individuals living in rural areas of Poland. The full interview is available at culture.pl.
NEW PANUFNIK SITE
On May 16, the new website dedicated to composer Sir Andrzej Panufnik - www.panufnik.polmic.pl - was officially unveiled in the Chamber Hall of the Warsaw headquarters of PWM. Created by the Polish Music Information Centre in Warsaw (POLMIC) to celebrate Panufnik’s centenary, the site features musical excerpts and detailed biographical information as well as an extensive photo collection from the family’s personal archives. Following the unveiling, there was a concert of Panufnik’s music performed by Janusz Wawrowski – violin, Magdalena Bojanowicz – cello and Bartłomiej Kominek – piano. The event took place as a part of the Warsaw Musical Encounters Festival.
Below is an excerpt of a review written by Adrian Thomas, a British musicologist whose career has been dedicated to Polish music. Read the full text on Thomas’ blog at onpolishmusic.com:
NEW LEGACY RECORDING RELEASED
Andzej Panufnik: Symphony No. 9 and Bassoon Concerto
To mark the centenary of the birth of Polish composer Sir Andrzej Panufnik, Heritage Records is proud to release a composer-conducted performance of his Symphony No. 9 ‘Sinfonia di Speranza’ (1987) and his Concerto for Bassoon and Chamber Orchestra (1986). Recorded shortly before Panufnik’s death in 1991, the performance features bassoonist Robert Thompson, for whom the Concerto was commissioned by the 'Polanki' Polish Women's Cultural Club of Milwaukee. The album includes the composer’s remarks and performances of the two works made during a studio recording on October 6, 1987 for BBC Radio 3, which was first broadcast in 1990.
PANUFNIK IN WROCŁAW
Every summer, the “LEOPOLDINUM” Chamber Orchestra in Wrocław hosts the week-long LEO Festival. This year, the concert held on June 1 will feature the music of Panufnik in celebration of his centenary. Entitled “Mentor & Student,” the program will be performed by students from the Lipiński Academy of Music in Wrocław as well as performers and pedagogues from LEOPOLDINUM: Christian Danowicz – violin, Michał Micker – viola, and Marcin Misiak – cello. The program is comprised of Panufnik’s approachable String Quartet No. 3 ‘Wycinanki,’ Mendelssohn’s String Octet in E-flat major (written specifically for mentoring young musicians) and Tchaikovsky's sextet "Souvenir de Florence" (written to comfort his ailing benefactress).
TRIPLE HIT FOR KWIECINSKI
Canzon de’baci by Andrzej Kwieciński (b. 1984) won a prize for the best work by a young composer and a recommendation in the general category at the 61st International Rostrum of Composers (IRC). As an additional prize, Kwieciński was awarded a commission for a new composition from the International Music Council and Radio France.
The International Rostrum of Composers (IRC) is organized by the International Music Council with the financial assistance of participating radio networks. It is an international forum of representatives of broadcasting organizations who come together for the purpose of exchanging and broadcasting contemporary art music.
Andrzej Kwieciński says the following of his work on culture.pl:
Kwieciński studied composition in The Hague with Richard Ayers, Diderik Hakmy-Wagenaar, Martijn Padding, Yannis Kyriakides and Louis Andriessen as well as at the Institute of Musicology of Warsaw University. In spite of his young age, Kwieciński was a finalist at the 2004 Tokyo International Competition for Chamber Music Composition, received the 2011 Bosmans Prize, and the First Prize at the Young Masters Competition for Composers in 2010.
Last year’s edition of the IRC Competition featured another Polish prizewinner, Agata Zubel, for her work Not I. The 2016 edition of this competition will be held in Wrocław, the European City of Culture 2016.
KRAKÓW COMPOSERS’ FESTIVAL
From June 8-14, the 26th edition of the International Festival of Kraków Composers will be held. The Festival is organized by the Kraków branch of the Polish Composers’ Union (ZKP), led by artistic director Marcel Chyrzyński.
The program will include works by Marek Stachowski, Maciej Zieliński, Zbigniew Bujarski, Michał Jakub Papara, Witold Lutosławski, Mikołaj Górecki, Henryk Mikołaj Górecki, Grażyna Bacewicz, Krystyna Moszumańskiej-Nazar, Bolesław Szabelski, Juliusz Łuciuk, Bogusław Schaeffer and Tadeusz Baird, as well as World Premieres listed in the News section above.
POLISH FESTIVALS AROUND THE US
Polish Day in L.A.
On June 14, Polish Day in L.A. will celebrate Polish culture with music, crafts, delicious treats, good beer, and fun during the 2nd Saturday Art Walk in Long Beach, CA. There will be not only entertainment but also craft booths where you can make wycinanki (traditional multi-color cut-outs), malowanki (folk painting on egg shells), and other surprises. There will be a small Fashion Show, a bookstore, a quick class to learn basic Polish phrases, and much more.
For those interested in history and culture, organizers will provide film documentaries about Poland, an exhibition of Polish works of art, displays about famous Poles in the US and California, and even the traditional armor of the famous Polish Winged Hussars.
All evening long, dance classes teaching the Polka, Oberek and Polonez will be offered to new brave students. A dance party will be the grand finale of the night. Along with the latest Polish hits, and great dancers (by this time) you will be having a blast!
Fun, entertainment and a professional atmosphere is the goal here. Over 15 Polish-California institutions and Organizations, including the Polish Consulate in Los Angeles, have worked hard to make sure everyone has a great time. Volunteers are also welcome!
For info and to submit yourself as a volunteer, please write to Marek Dzida at email@example.com
Polish Festival at Seattle Center
Polish Festival returns to Seattle Center on July 12, 2014 as part of the Festal series of cultural programs. Come explore and experience Polish culture and traditions through live music and dance performances, workshops, traditional folk costumes, exhibits and children’s activities. Merchandise market place will showcase Polish glass art, hand-crafted pottery, amber jewelry, crystal, and cut-out paper art, as well as information about local Polish-American community organizations. The beer garden will be well stocked with a variety of imported Polish beer, and food vendors will serve plenty of authentic delicious Polish food.
New this year will be presentation of cultural traditions from northern Poland’s region Pomerania and Kashubia. The festival will also showcase the “traditional passions of Poland” cultivated for generations. Through interactive activity, conversation, literature, photographs and food tasting, the demonstration will highlight the custom of honey-making; mushroom gathering and use in traditional Polish dishes; the art of sausage making and tasting of traditional products.
For over a century, the Polish-American community of the Puget Sound has been active locally and is proud to participate in Festal to present Polish cultural traditions at the Seattle Center.
Polish Festival Seattle is produced by the Polish Home Foundation (PHF), a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, in collaboration with Seattle Center. For more information please visit www.polishfestivalseattle.org or write to PHF, 1714 18th Avenue Seattle, WA 98122.
[Source: press release]
CLASSICAL PIANO MEETS ELECTRONICA
This album project presents the new sounds of classical music in an unconventional arrangement with electronic music, which, in the 20th and 21st centuries, has become part of both the most avant-garde trends in arts as well as the trend in mass culture. The album by Katarżyna Borek and Wojciech Orszewski presents the works of the most outstanding composers of the 19th- and 20th-century piano classics. These compositions are performed in their original versions and improvised along with computer electronics or other instruments, which in real time influence the sounds of the piano, thanks to the use of technologically advanced effect processors.
According to Borek and Orszewski:
Katarzyna Borek is an outstanding pianist of the Polish young generation. She studied at the F. Nowowiejski Academy of Music in Bydgoszcz/Poland, Hochschule fur Musik, Theater und Medien in Hannover and Royal Conservatory of Music in Brussels. She proved her artistry by receiving awards in many prestigious international piano competitions among others: International Ignacy Jan Paderewski Competition in Bydgoszcz, the International Chopin Competition in Moscow, Gottingen and Szafarnia and a finalist of The International Busoni Competition in Bolzano.
Wojciech Orszewski has had an interest in music since his childhood. Already at the school age, he co-founded music bands who participated in numerous popular music contests and festivals. He has graduated from the Wrocław School of Jazz and Popular Music. He has participated in many music workshops, where he was learning to play the guitar under the supervision of outstanding guitarists (Artur Lesicki, Martin Schaberl).
[Sources: press release, pianoelectronica.eu]
SZYMANOWSKI ON HYPERION
Karol Szymanowski - Masques, Métopes & Études
In French pianist Cédric Tiberghien’s first solo recording for Hyperion he embraces the sensual, crepuscular sound-world of Szymanowski’s piano music. Tiberghien’s expressive, mercurial, quicksilver playing with its extraordinary pianissimos and kaleidoscopic range of color makes him an ideal performer of this repertoire.
Szymanowski’s most celebrated works have been recorded here. The early 4 Études include the popular Andante in modo d’una canzone, a sorrowful song above slow repeated chords. The rest of the (later) works show the maturing of Szymanowki’s unique piano style and in particular the salutary influence of Ravel’s and Debussy’s weightless, diaphanous textures.
‘POLAND ABROAD’ PRESENTS FITELBERG, KASSERN & SPISAK
Poland Abroad – Concerto-Concertino
In new CD has been released in the EDA label’s “Poland Abroad” series has been released. Entitled “Poland Abroad – Concerto-Concertino,” the album presents three outstanding works of Polish classical modernism for string orchestra. The CD opens with Jerzy Fitelberg’s Double Concerto, which experienced its posthumous premiere under the auspices of the 25th Warsaw Musical Encounters Festival in 2011, and is simultaneously a new window to the hitherto omitted genre of the solo concerto. EDA also expands the circle of composers introduced in “Poland Abroad” with Michał Spisak (Concertino for String Orchestra) and Tadeusz Zygfryd Kassern (Concerto for String Orchestra), whose works enjoy recognition appropriate to their importance neither on the concert stage nor on the market for recorded music, which is oversaturated with multiple versions of standard repertoire.
Other albums in this series:
NEW AGATA BIENKOWSKA CD
La Prima Diva – Arie per Faustina Bordoni
On this new album, Polish mezzo-soprano Agata Bienkowska explores the repertoire of Venetian mezzo-soprano Faustina Bordoni (1697-1871), who was one of the most acclaimed celebrities in the forerunner of a star system that appeared in the world of Italian opera and thrilled the whole of Europe during the 18th century. One of the great bel canto voices coupled with a marvelous dramatic talent, her 35-year career from 1716-1751, intersected with most of the composers of two or three generations in all the major European opera centers.
Agata Bienkowska studied the piano in her native Gdynia, before taking up singing and acting at the Akademia Muzyczna in Gdańsk and then at the Hochschule für Musik in Stuttgart. She has sung over thirty roles from a list of operas that includes Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia, L'italiana in Algeri, Il viaggio a Reims, Tancredi and La donna del lago, Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea, Mozart's La clemenza di Tito, Donizetti's Lucrezia Borgia, Bellini's I Capuleti e i Montecchi, Berlioz's Beatrice et Benedict, Massenet's Werther, Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin and The Maid of Orleans, and Rimsky-Korsakov's May Night. She has worked with conductors such as Alberto Zedda, Jesus Lopez-Cobos, Nello Santi, Daniel Oren, Zoltan Pesko,Vladimir Jurowski, John Neschling, Daniele Gatti and Josep Caballe-Domenech in venues around the world, among them the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, Teatro Comunale in Bologna, Teatro Massimo in Palermo, Opera di Roma, Teatro Regio in Turin, Theatre des Champs-Elysees in Paris, Theatre Royal de Wallonie in Belgium, and the Teatro de la Maestranza in Seville. She has also appeared at Festival Mozart de la Coruña, the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro and, in 2001, at the Wexford Festival Opera. Her recordings include Rossini's Matilde di Shabran and Elisabetta, regina d’Inghilterra (Bongiovanni), La pietra del paragone (Naxos 8.660093-95), Luigi Mosca's L'italiana in Algeri and Massenet's Sapho (Fone).
[Sources: press release, naxos.com]
NEW ON DUX
Polish Cello Music
Dedications | works for cello and piano
JOPEK & OZONE - HAIKU
Anna Maria Jopek & Makoto Ozone – Haiku
Jazz songstress Anna Maria Jopek has released a CD entitled Haiku, featuring a collaboration between the Polish singer and Japanese pianist Makoto Ozone. It was released in Japan in 2012 and is now becoming available worldwide.
A Polish review of this album is available at: meakultura.pl
CONCERT & CONFERENCE REVIEWS
STANKIEWICZ AT UCLA
As the sun disappeared behind the western horizon on the evening of June 3, dark blue skies became the backdrop for the Fowler Museum amphitheater, where the audience gradually took their seats. Besides the piano, a large screen and several speakers were set up, with a lectern and a microphone to the side. Soon, the floodlights lit the stage area and Mariusz Brymora, Consul General of the Republic of Poland in Los Angeles, came out to greet the public.
His short speech was but an introduction to the first attraction of the evening—a 10-minute Polish TV report from the visit of President Obama in Warsaw. He was in Poland to attend the festivities celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Round Table discussions in 1989 and the first free elections in modern-day Poland that led to the fall of the Communist regime there and, in the months that followed, throughout the rest of Eastern and Central Europe.
The political part over, it was time for music to speak. Presented by pianist Kuba Stankiewicz and bassist Darek “Oles” Oleszkiewicz, the concert featured music by recently deceased Polish contemporary composer Wojciech Kilar, and Victor Young, a composer born in Chicago 115 years ago, but raised and educated in Warsaw. The concert began with Stankiewicz’s three opening solos, embracing the well-known hits from Kilar’s film scores: “Paulina’s Theme” from Death and the Maiden, Trędowata [The Leper], and Dracula. Although Kilar is generally regarded as a concert hall composer, it’s worth remembering that throughout his life he amassed well over 160 film credits, working with such iconic directors as Roman Polański, Krzysztof Zanussi, Jane Campion, and Francis Ford Coppola. Kilar’s film music—as demonstrated by Stankiewicz on this particular occasion—can be just as evocative and original as his other symphonic works.
Given the soft atmosphere of the evening, Stankiewicz’s gentle approach to Kilar’s music was largely introspective, focusing mainly on the melodic lines that were gently embellished with standard jazz harmonies, spread across all registers of a small Yamaha grand. The audience warmly acknowledged the pianist’s thoughtful renditions of Kilar’s film tunes.
In turn, Stankiewicz introduced Darek Oleszkiewicz, with whom he had just recorded a CD of music by Victor Young. Although his career began as a virtuoso violinist in pre World-War I Warsaw, by the early 1920s Young was back in his hometown of Chicago and began to work in radio, changing his focus from classical to popular music and jazz. In the mid-1930s, Young moved to Los Angeles and formed his own, very popular orchestra. Working with top lyricists of the era, Young wrote music for over 350 films, including such greats as For Whom the Bell Tolls, Samson and Delilah, The Greatest Show on Earth, and Around the World in Eighty Days, for which he earned (posthumously) the 1956 Academy Award for Best Score. He was also musical director for Decca and Brunswick Records and worked with such entertainment giants as Bing Crosby, Marlena Dietrich, Judy Garland, Al Jolson, Danny Kaye, Ethel Waters, and countless others. Young contributed a long list of standards to the repertoire, including Sweet Sue, Street of Dreams, Love me Tonight, Love Letters, My Foolish Heart, Golden Earrings, Mad About You, and Stella by Starlight.
With Darek Oleszkiewicz on board, the duet gained a highly musical presence and heft, given to the musical textures by suave and well-timed bass contributions and extended solos. Several of Young’s hits were heard, including his tender Love Letters. Quite appropriately for the evening under the stars, the concert ended with the immortal Stella by Starlight.
Overall, the Stankiewicz-Oleszkiewicz Duo delivered a deeply musical and satisfying reading of music by two great film composers. The audience was quick to rush and congratulate the performers and acknowledge with warm applause the presence of Victor Young’s relatives in the audience, including his niece, Bobbie Fromberg . The gentle sounds of music still drifted across the UCLA campus as the crowds gathered at the Fowler courtyard slowly dispersed into the night.
[Photos: Małgorzata Cup]
MARIA SZYMANOWSKA CONFERENCE IN PARIS
On April 28-29 in the Paris Division of the Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN), the Second International Conference “Maria Szymanowska (1789-1831) and her Times” took place. The conference was organized by Elisabeth Zapolska Chapelle, president of the Société Maria Szymanowska in Paris. Following the pattern created for the first Conference in 2011—that is two days of presentations, a min-recital and an artistic salon at the end—this meeting of scholars created an opportunity for a review of the state of research about the life and work of Maria Szymanowska, in the context of the contemporary culture and her connections to eminent artistic personalities from Germany (poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe), Denmark (sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen) and Poland (historian-writer-politician Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz, and his sponsor Duchess Maria Czartoryska de Wurttemberg). Participants of the conference came from many countries: the U.S. (Halina Goldberg, Anna Kijas, and Maja Trochimczyk), Poland (Jerzy Miziołek, Hubert Kowalski and Adam Gałkowski representing the University of Warsaw, as well as Irena Poniatowska from the National Fryderyk Chopin Institute), Germany (Maria Stolarzewicz from the Instytute of Weimar-Iena), Denmark (Karen Busk Jepsen from the Thorvaldsen Museum), Sweden (Benjamin Vogel), and France (Piotr Daszkiewicz from the Natural History Museum, and Jean-Marc Warszawski from the Musicology Instytute).
The session was opened by Prof. Zbigniew Kuźnicki, director of the PAN Section in Paris, and the participants were warmly welcomed by Ms. Zapolska Chapelle, before scholars ventured into their presentations and discussions in three languages: French, English and Polish (the latter in discussions only). Two presentations were dedicated to general stylistic topics: Jean-Marc Warszawski discussed the aesthetic and stylistic trends in Polish music of Szymanowska’s time and afterwards, while Prof. Irena Poniatowska presented an analysis of the concept of “salon music”—contrasted with serious, concert music—that this genre shared only some features with, being a predecessor of hit songs and popular musics of today. Dr Jerzy Miziołek, the director of the Warsaw University Museum, presented a fascinating panorama of the artistic culture of Warsaw and its surroundings, emphasizing the connections to neo-classical revival of Roman art, especially those recently discovered in Pompea. After the concert, with great interest, he studied in the Museum at the Polish Library in Paris a portrait of Maria Szymanowska as a Roman Goddess, painted by Walenty Wańkowicz (the portrait-maker of Adam Mickiewicz). Posed as a Roman goddess, in fashionable 19th century evening gown, but with a putto holding a book for her, the pianist is seated in an opulent music room, with a smoking volcano in the window. In my 2011 paper, I identified the location of this portrait as Naples, where Szymanowska travelled in early 1825, after a visit to Rome. In terms of setting, this portrait is a twin of a portrait of the composer as a Queen of Tones (according to Benjamin Vogel), made in Rome by Aleksander Kolular in 1824. With his broad knowledge of Roman and classical iconography and the arts of 19th century, Dr. Miziołek undoubtedly will add a lot to my interpretation of the painting. Such artistic-scholarly dialogues were at the core of the conference’s activities.
Prof. Goldberg—well known from her studies of reception, milieu, and performative aspects of Chopin’s music—presented a fragment of a larger project dedicated to the study of 19th century albums as a medium for preserving and shaping memory. In the albums of autographs, music fragments, and poetry collected by Maria Szymanowska and her daughter Helena Malewska, Prof. Goldberg found examples of music that illustrates the multilevel connections of albums and memory—constructs of half-private and half-public self images, recorded in an intimate, personal voice, but for posterity, to be seen by others. She found examples of three aspects of memory—its psychological aspect, national-patriotic memory, and nostalgic emotional dimensions of memory and memorabilia found in personal albums. As a part of her project she created her own “album” and my inscription in it is reproduced in the photo to the right.
Dr. Vogel, specialist in the history of pianos, revealed places where this “memorialization” of the past took place—that is aristocratic and middle-class salons and parlors where the piano had the place of honor. These pianos took the strangest shapes, including square, upright, cabinet, and giraffe, but they were always in the central spot in the home, where meetings focused on performances of songs, dances, and a variety of miniatures. The piano was once the “heart” of the home—by now replaced by the multiplicity of electronics connected to omnipresent wifi. It is a sad testimony to the change of musical culture—from participatory and performative to passive and receptive—that in the period that separated the two Szymanowska conferences, the renowned piano maker based in Paris, Pleyel, went bankrupt. The demand for pianos is not what it used to be even 50 years ago, let alone in the 19th century where everyone had to have a grand instrument in the salon and a smaller one in the separate living room for women.
In the next paper, Maria Stolarzewicz discussed the connections of Maria Szymanowska and her sister Kazimera Wolowska with the famed German poet, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. This topic was earlier extensively studied by a New York-based scholar, Anne Swartz, but Stolarzewicz added a lot to her predecessor’s research, including a handout that featured a comprehensive collection of excerpts in Goethe’s letters, writings and diaries with mentions of the great pianist. To bring this poetic-musical friendship closer to the listeners, at the final Salon, Elizabeth Zapolska Chappelle recited the poem that Goethe dedicated to Szymanowska, Aussohnung – with musical accompaniment of Szymanowska’s pieces, in the “melodrama” style popular in 19th century salons. Stolarzewicz highlighted the many different aspects of the friendship of the aging poet and the beautiful pianist, and corrected mistakes made by previous biographers of both in the interpretation of the nature of this artistic relationship. At least this friendship was never hidden by either party—something that surprisingly happened to the relationship of Szymanowska with a Danish sculptor, Bertel Thorvaldsen. The prudish and suspicious biographer of the sculptor, Just Mathias Thiele, decided to omit from the artist’s biography and editions of letters all mentions of Szymanowska’s 15 letters, but also correspondence with two other artistic women that were close friends with Thorvaldsen: “Zinaïda Volkonskaia (Russian princess, singer, writer, arranged salons first in Moscow, then Rome), and Adelgunde Vogt (Danish sculptor, animalière, virtually forgotten).” According to Karen Busk-Jepsen neither of these women had an affair with the talented Dane, but Thiele thought otherwise and removed them in order to “purify” and “sanctify” the national artist of Denmark. How easy it is to vilify women! The fact that a romance with anyone was completely out of place in the life of a divorced pianist with three children and siblings to support, never crossed the mind of Mr. Thiele. The affectionate tone of Szymanowska’s letters indicated an emotional relationship that was not revealed in the only preserved letter of Thorvaldsen to her. In any case, leaving romance aside, we should pay more attention to his presence in Polish culture.
An important step in this direction was made in the research of Hubert Kowalski, deputy director of the Museum of Warsaw University. In his presentation (read by his boss, Dr. Miziolek), Kowalski discussed the impact of the neoclassical style of Thorvaldsen on the artistic landscape of Warsaw, going far beyond the two known monuments that beautify the capital: Prince Jozef Poniatowski and Mikołaj Kopernik (Copernicus). The unveiling of the latter monument was one of the tasks performed by the then President of the Society of the Friends of Learning, Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz, the author of the famous Historical Chants [Śpiewy historyczne]—a bestseller of the 19th century, present in every patriotic Polish home, including the Chopin salon in Warsaw. This volume and Szymanowska’s contribution to it was the subject of my presentation, illustrated by engravings of scenes and songs from the lives of the kings and heroes published in the original edition and its subsequent reprints. The author, poet, journalist and politician and one of his main sponsors, Duchess Maria Czartoryska de Wurttermberg (Wirtemberska), are fascinating personalities in Poland’s artistic and musical history, and deserve a lot more attention than could be bestowed on them in my overview. The reading and singing of chants that were being assembled for publication took place in Czartoryska’s Azure Saturdays—literary gatherings in the Czartoryski Azure Palace in Leszno near Warsaw (1806-1816). The salons provided a venue for meetings of Warsaw’s literary elite, with Kajetan Kozmian, Maksymilian Fredro, Franciszek Lessel, Karol Kurpiński, Niemczewicz and Szymanowska as frequent guests. The Czartoryski and Zamoyski families were among the main sponsors-subscribers to the first edition of the Historical Chants, also supported by Potocki and Tarnowski magnates, Warsaw school professors, the clergy and minor gentry. In PRL-period histories, the role of aristocracy in the creation of Polish culture was under-appreciated for obvious ideological reasons. Only now, 25 years after the fall of the system we can approach this topic anew, without “socialist” prejudices.
In the Śpiewy historyczne, the song about hetman Chodkiewicz was penned by Duchess Chodkiewiczowa, and the song about Hetman Zamoyski was written by Duchess Zofia Zamoyska (née Czartoryska). Maria Wirtemberska set to music a song about Stefan Potocki and the whole project was inspired by a setting of “Duma o Stefanie Zolkiewskim” by Konstancja Narbutt, composed thirty years earlier and popular in the nobility’s salons. The greatest number of songs was by professional composers Karol Kurpiński (6) and Franciszek Lessel (10, plus a two-voice version of “Bogurodzica”). Eva Talma’s contribution to the discussion was invaluable as she has shown that the first edition of 1816 was incomplete. Irena Poniatowska relayed the information found by Zofia Chechlińska about the fact that two composers, Cecylia Beydale and Lessel, were siblings and could not marry, as they had intended to. They were, apparently, out-of-wedlock children of the adventurous and amorous Maria Wirtemberska.
These relationships and others between the various personalities in Szymanowska’s life, as well as archival documents about them, could be plotted in an open, free access website that could be developed, as Anna Kijas proposed in the closing paper of the conference. A trained librarian as well as musicologist, Kijas has published a bio-bibliography of Szymanowska that showed some previously unknown letters of her daughter to an American friend, preserved in a library in North Carolina. Indeed, it would be beneficial to have these letters scanned and made public—the letters in the Thorvaldsen Museum are already posted online. A visit to the Polish Library in Paris, to see the notebooks and letters of Szymanowska family in the Museum of Adam Mickewicz, provided me with proof of the importance of this step for the future of research. The archives, always crowded by researchers, have amazing resources and I discovered, to my great pleasure, the vast scope of patriotic songs copied by hand for personal use by Szymanowska’s children, Helena and Romuald. The little hand-made notebooks, which can fit in the palm of a hand and be used for group singing in the salon, included hundreds of krakowiaks, mazurs, polonaises, as well as various versions of the “Dabrowski Mazurka,” “Bogurodzica,” and other patriotic hymns. My study of the history of Polish anthems will find a follow up in these documents. While I was reviewing the content of children’s notebooks, Halina Goldberg focused on the famous albums with composers’ manuscripts, in wonderful leather bindings, made to be kept and shown. She started her own album, and I had the pleasure of writing a personal note for her, as well as a silly little collage with a rain poem, inspired by our wanderings around Paris and a story by Mrozek.
The conference was supported by the Paris Station of the Polish Academy of Sciences that hosted the events, provided excellent audiovisual support and lovely French-and-Polish style luncheons and receptions for the scholars, as well as the Polish Institute in Paris that hosted the scholars, Air France and KLM that offered discounted air flights, and the Polish Library in Paris that welcomed scholars for archival visits. None of that would have been possible without the energetic and talented organizer, Ms. Zapolska Chapelle, who delighted all present with her rendition of all five songs of Szymanowska and fragments of two songs by others (Paris and Kurpiński) that replaced her versions in the published edition. The singer has already issued all of Szymanowska’s songs on a CD (Acte Prealable 0260) that is a must for all 19th century music scholars, as well as those studying the biographies and work of Adam Mickiewicz and Fryderyk Chopin. Pianist Małgorzata Kluźniak-Celińska performed solo pieces by Szymanowska at the close of the conference and at the final salon—where we heard Goethe’s poem dedicated to Szymanowska, as well as two of mine, along with other assorted productions of, as the case may be in an impromptu performance, a dramatically varied artistic quality.
[Photos: Maja Trochimczyk]
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Newsletter Editor: Krysta Close
Layout assistance: Charles Bragg
Translation Assistance: Marek Żebrowski
Katarżyna Borek, Hanka Kolberg, Karolina Magdalena-Naziemiec,
Maja Trochimczyk, Marek Żebrowski
Sources of information: Polish Cultural Institute (NY & UK), Adam Mickiewicz Institute, PWM,
Nowy Dziennik, Polish Music Information Centre - Warsaw, Polish American Journal,
Poland.pl, PAP, ZKP, infochopin.pl, Ruch Muzyczny, Gazeta Wyborcza
Formatting by Krysta Close, June 10, 2014.
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