|Polish Music Newsletter|
Ściskam dłoń—I shake your hand—was the recurring refrain expressed in person or at the close of every handwritten letter from Maestro Stanisław Skrowaczewski, who passed away on February 21 in Minneapolis. Congratulating the Maestro after his concerts, too, was a rather formal ritual: smiles and warm words were fine, but please no embraces! Just a firm handshake—ściskam dłoń—nothing less and certainly nothing more. Instead, the music would provide warmth and embrace—of the metaphysical kind—and the Maestro would magically conjure it up from the orchestra. He led and inspired scores of them all over the globe—each concert a discovery and revelation of music’s mystical powers for the conductor and his audience.
The orchestra was his instrument, even though he first studied piano and violin in Lwów, where he was born on 3 October 1923. There was also his early interest in composition and the encounter with music’s powerful spell at the age of seven after hearing the Adagio of Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony. “It was the same shock that someone who believes would have from seeing God in front of him,” he later said. His debut as a pianist in Lwów in 1936 elicited positive reviews: Skrowaczewski performed the solo part and led the orchestra in Beethoven’s C minor Piano Concerto. Only a few years later a wartime injury to his hands when a wall collapsed on him during a bombing raid put an end to his pianistic career.
When the war ended, Skrowaczewski and his parents were forced to leave Lwów (it became part of the Soviet Union) and resettled in Kraków. He became an assistant to Walerian Bierdiayev, a well-known conductor on the faculty of Kraków Music Academy, and passed exams to receive his diploma in conducting and composition. His first professional engagement in Kraków was to lead the Philharmonic in performance of Andrzej Panufnik’s Five Polish Peasant Songs for voices and winds. By fall of 1946 Skrowaczewski was appointed associate conductor in Wrocław and began to lead other orchestras in Poland. After one of these engagements, he was offered a French government scholarship and arrived in Paris where he soon met Nadia Boulanger, Igor Stravinsky, Paul Kletzki, and Charles Munch, and was invited to lead L’Orchestre Philharmonique de France. Soon, performances of Skrowaczewski’s Overture 1947, Music at Night, and Symphony for Strings established his credentials as a composer. He left Paris in 1949 to take the reins of the Silesian Philharmonic in Katowice and, after a five-year tenure there, was appointed conductor of the Kraków Philharmonic.
The next big break came in 1956 when Skrowaczewski won the Santa Cecilia Competition in Rome which led to concerts across Europe and to principal conductorship of Warsaw Philharmonic. George Szell, who toured Europe with the Cleveland Orchestra, met Skrowaczewski in Poland in 1957 and invited him to Cleveland. Skrowaczewski’s success there—both with the orchestra and the public—led to his second U.S. visit and a tour arranged by the legendary Arthur Judson. A year later Skrowaczewski was offered the music directorship of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra. Leaving Poland at that time was difficult, but Skrowaczewski managed to persuade the Communist authorities to allow him to fulfill his February 1960 engagement in Amsterdam. He also insisted that on this occasion his wife, Krystyna, accompany him. Luckily, at the last minute Polish government issued a passport for her. Carrying one suitcase each, a few hours later both left Warsaw by train, reaching their destination safely a day later. “We are in the free world,” Skrowaczewski said in a phone call from Amsterdam to the manager of Minneapolis Orchestra.
Soon thereafter, the thirty-six year old Skrowaczewski arrived in the U.S., settled in the Twin Cities and enjoyed a long tenure with the orchestra lasting over fifty years. For the first two decades—until 1979—he served as the Minnesota Orchestra’s Music Director. In due course Skrowaczewski began to record and tour and was invited as guest conductor all over the world. His unerring sense of line and elegant, insightful approach to a wide range of orchestral repertoire was well-received by the public and critics, who praised him for “honesty, cleanliness, and shining detail.” After his long stewardship in Minnesota, Skrowaczewski began his seven-year tenure as principal conductor of the Hallé Orchestra in the mid-1980s. During the following decade he was principal guest conductor for the Saarbrücken Radio Symphony with whom he recorded, among others, the complete cycle of Bruckner’s symphonies. During the last twenty years he often appeared in Japan with the NHK Symphony Orchestra and the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony in Tokyo.
Skrowaczewski’s worship of Bruckner that began in Lwów in 1930 intensified with the passing years. Aware of his fondness for German Romantics and superb recordings of Beethoven, Bruckner, Schumann and Brahms,I asked the Maestro about Mahler’s symphonies. It was right after his very successful concert with the USC Thornton Symphony in 2004 that ended with a rousing performance of Berlioz’ Symphonie fantastique followed by long standing ovation from the capacity audience at Bovard Auditorium. “Mahler?” The Maestro’s eyebrows rose up a notch. “Mahler? Not my cup of tea. Weak and feverish. Bruckner is different: manly and so much stronger.” The topic of Mahler thus closed, we walked back to his hotel off campus. Was the room comfortable? “Yes, fine. But the restaurant! There’s nothing to eat there!” This was pure Skrowaczewski—direct and honest, as always. Walking at his usual brisk pace, I did my best not to fall behind. I also had to explain to him that we were to attend an event in Beverly Hills, a meeting with the local Polonia. “Do I have to go?” he testily asked, adding, “There’s so much work I have to do.” I insisted he should—also because Polish cuisine served there would be really exquisite. “All right; count me in.” Ściskam dłoń—do zobaczenia. A customary firm handshake, a quick farewell, and he vanished inside the cavernous hotel lobby.
The meeting with an overflowing crowd of Polish expatriates a few days later went very well. The Maestro was in fine spirits, enjoyed discussing his life and career with a mix of modesty and a touch of gentle, self-effacing humor. The food was superb and Skrowaczewski—always a fastidious eater and lifelong champion of physical exercise—enjoyed the elegant and bountiful buffet provided by his beaming hosts. His two-week residency at the Thornton School of Music eventually led to the commissioning of his magnificent Music for Winds that was world-premiered at USC in October of 2011. As one of the founders and original manuscript donors to the Polish Music Center in 1984, Skrowaczewski continued to generously support the PMC annually and, a few years ago, sent us several boxes of books about music and orchestral scores from his home library. Annotated with interpretative remarks and bearing dedications from close friends like Witold Lutosławski, they are among the finest treasures in our collection.
For years since we first met, there were many handwritten letters dispatched from hotels all over the world. Correspondence was something that the Maestro—in spite of his failing eyesight—kept up meticulously, often apologizing for being late with his news. His closing lines, Sciskam dłoń—Stanisław, usually ended with a flourish of his pen, large letters climbing skyward or gently sliding down. They would be just like the crescendos and diminuendos that made Bruckner’s heavenly adagios glow and whisper in turns, responding to the graceful aerial arabesques traced by his hands. Marked Sehr feierlich und sehr langsam, the Adagio from Bruckner’s Seventh was always his favorite, alongside that of the Eighth—Feierlich langsam, doch nicht schleppend, which he conducted in Minneapolis last October, right after his ninety-third birthday. Returning to this music throughout his life gave him the opportunity to rediscover it every time, seek the metaphysical rush of touching the infinite and feel the spark of the otherworldly realm of ecstatic experience. Other than music, the mountains he began to scale as a young boy, climbing the peaks of the Carpathians and the Tatras, were always his favorite dominion. The limitless skies and veiled views of distant horizons freed one’s mind from the mundane worries, at long last allowing for a peaceful contemplation of the Universe. Just like the mysterious Rückenfigur in Caspar David Friedrich’s Der Wanderer über dem Nebelmeer there was the Maestro at the lofty summit with his back to audience, contemplating the still undiscovered worlds beyond.
Please see also the following interviews and performances Maestro Skrowaczewski around the web:
IN MEMORIAM LEONCJUSZ CIUCIURA
Leoncjusz Ciuciura, an ardent advocate for contemporary music and co-organizer of the Polish Chapter of Jeunesses Musicales International, died on February 28. He was 86 years old.
Born 22 June 1930 in Grodzisk Mazowiecki, Ciuciura studied composition with Tadeusz Szeligowski in Warsaw during the years 1954-1960. Laureate of numerous prizes, Ciuciura’s early works from the 1960s (Suita warmińsko-mazurska, Canti al fresco, Concertino da camera, and Ornamenti) were recognized by the Ministry of Culture and Arts, Polish Composers’ Union, International Competition for Composers in Prague, and Fitelberg Competition in Katowice. In 1992 Ciuciura was recognized for his achievements in the field of contemporary music with the Medal of the 20th Century by the International Biographical Centre in Cambridge, England. In 2004, Ciuciura received an honorary title of Great Mind of the 21st Century from the American Biographical Institute. His compositions were performed at various festivals, including Warszawska Jesień, ISCM World Music Days, and in concerts all across Europe and the U.S.
A member of the Polish Authors’ Society, ZAiKS, from 1962, many of Ciuciura’s compositions combined elements of improvisation, linking music and pantomime, dance, theatre and other forms of art. A firm believer in the “self-improvement” of his compositions, Ciuciura argued that:
Ciuciura’s deeply idealistic credo can be found in a statement attached to his cycle Creatoria, begun in 1963 and continued for several decades thereafter:
Over the past two decades, Leoncjusz Ciuciura had generously donated several of his scores to the PMC library, including Rencontre I per uno e piu’ for any set of instruments, Intarsio II for any set of instruments, as well as his cycles Creatoria I and Creatoria II for any set of instruments.
GNARWHALLABY & POLISH AVANT-GARDE
On March 25 at 4:00 p.m., the adventurous gnarwhallaby ensemble will reveal rare facets of avant-garde expression in contemporary Polish music through the works of such visionary composers as Henryk Mikołaj Górecki, Zygmunt Krauze, Hanna Kulenty, Krzysztof Meyer, Bogusław Schaeffer, Witold Szalonek, and Tadeusz Wielecki. Entitled “Exploring the Avant-Garde,” the 2017 PMC Spring concert presents a survey of avant-garde expression as it has existed throughout contemporary music history in Poland, with a program ranging from the 1950s until today.
A unique L.A.-based ensemble, gnarwhallaby is built around the unusual instrument combination of the 1960s ‘Warsztat Muzyczny’: clarinet (Brian Walsh), trombone (Matt Barbier), cello (Derek Stein), and piano (Richard Valitutto). Join us!
RECENT GIFTS TO THE PMC
A Warsaw-based musicologist, Dr. Grzegorz Zieziula, recently sent us two very interesting publications containing his scholarly articles. The first, O Słowackim—Umysły ludzi różne [About Słowacki—The Variety of Human Minds] was published by the Institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences in 2009 to coincide with the bicentennial celebrations of Słowacki’s birthday. The substantial written oeuvre of this very important Romantic-era Polish poet has been used quite often in music. Słowacki’s epic 1834 tragedy Balladyna about a mythical Slavic queen’s quest for power and the evolution of her criminal mind has been sometimes compared Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Half a century later, Balladyna served as story line for Władysław Żeleński’s opera, Goplana, which was world-premiered in Kraków in 1896. Dr. Ziezula’s article, Wokół opery Goplana Władysława Żeleńskiego: pytania o genezę i styl [About Władysław Żeleński’s Goplana: Questions of the Origin and Style] contains much interesting detail about this very important and still little-known opera, which only recently began to return to stages across Poland.
The other book we just received from Dr. Zieziula is Music, Politics and Ideology in the Visual Arts. This 2015 publication of the Institute of the Arts of the Polish Academy of Sciences features many fascinating articles on topics ranging from “Soft anti-Turkish Propaganda in some Seventeenth Century Savoy Court Celebrations” to “The Iconosphere of Music in the Stalinist USSR and the Third Reich—A Tentative Comparison.” Dr. Zieziula’s contribution to this volume includes a well-researched and amply-illustrated article, “From Ariadne to Halka: The ‘melodrama model’ in Moniuszko’s opera.”
Following Dir. Zebrowski’s November 2016 visit and lecture about the PMC at the Gdańsk Music Academy, the Academy’s Dean of Conducting, Composition and Music Theory, Dr. Renata Skupin organized a large shipment of books that was recently delivered to us. Thanks to the unprecedented generosity of the Gdańsk Music Academy and Dean Skupin, our library is now enriched by several excellent publications from the publishing arm of the Music Academy, many of which are in English and German. The list is headed by a fascinating book by Dr. Skupin dealing with the poetics of compositions by Giacinto Scelsi and his position as a musician between the East and the West. There is also an excellent biography of composer Tadeusz Kassern by Violetta Kostka, a unique and authoritative source of information about this still little-known 20th century composer.
Editors Danuta Szlagowska and Danuta Popingis authored a terrific, richly illustrated and extensively annotated edition of works by Bernardino Borlasca—it’s the first volume of Thesaurus Musicae Gedaniensis, a publication series issued by Gdańsk Music Academy in 2016. We also received three volumes of Music Collections from Gdańsk, edited by Danuta Popingis, Barbara Długońska and Jolanta Woźniak, an encyclopedic index with a thematic catalogue of the music in manuscript held at the Gdańsk Library branch of the Polish Academy of Sciences.
Other periodicals that were included in the Gdańsk Music Academy donation included four volumes of Musica Baltica. Published in 2000, 2004, 2010 and 2015, these volumes are filled with captivating articles on topics such as Gdańsk and European Musical Culture, Music Culture of Baltic Cities in Modern Times, and Music-making in Baltic Cities. The Music Academy also publishes a series titled Organy i Muzyka Organowa. Each of the four volumes donated to us (published in 2000, 2003, 2006, and 2014) contains several interesting articles on aspects of various historical instruments, tuning and performance practice, as well as discussions of a wide spectrum of Polish and foreign composers.
The six volumes of Muzyka fortepianowa (published by Gdańsk Music Academy in 1998, 2001, 2004, 2007, 2012, and 2015) represent a goldmine of material dealing with all aspects of piano music—from discussion of selected works by various composers to analysis of newly-discovered manuscripts and discussion of piano pedagogy. We can also find philosophical essays (“Nietzsche on Chopin” or “Phenomenology of Musical Interpretation from the Perspective of a Performer and the Audience”), articles tracing Polish influence on the music of various European composers, as well as a historical look at the piano building traditions in Gdańsk, among many other topics.
On the practical side, we also received an excellent manual for ear training, Przestrzenie wyobraźni muzycznej—Od tonalności po atonalność, authored by Wiesława Anczykowska-Wysocka, Dagmara Dopierała, Eugeniusz Głowski, Alina Kowalska-Pińczak, Romuald Szyszko and Teresa Świercz. Accompanied by 2 CDs, this publication will be of interest to all pedagogues interested in comparing teaching methods and approaches to mastering this difficult subject.
Finally, Dr. Skupin’s gift also included several orchestral scores by composers associated with the Gdańsk Music Academy. The PMC library gratefully acknowledges the receipt of the following scores: Marek Czerniewicz: Pamiątki z ziemi i ognia na orkiestrę symfoniczną i taśmę, Tadeusz Dixa: Koncert na róg i orkiestrę, Andrzej Dziadek: Stabat mater na głos solowy i orkiestrę, Radosław Łuczkowski: Concertino na fortepian i smyczkiand Krzysztof Olczak: Koncert na flet i orkiestrę.
Many of these articles are in English and/or German, so accessing the impressive scholarship displayed in these publications should be easy for anyone interested in studying these sources. They certainly represent a significant addition to our collection of books and scores of Polish music.
Grażyna Teodorowicz and the Witold Lutosławski Society in Warsaw sent us a beautiful two-volume publication, Okupacyjne losy muzyków—Warszawa 1939-1945 [The Fate of Musicians—Warsaw 1939-1945]. Authored by Elżbieta Markowska and Katarzyna Naliwajek-Mazurek, this 2014 publication received the prestigious Warsaw Literary Prize in 2015.
Both volumes have stunning selection of documents, photographs, and detailed depictions of lives of the leading Polish musicians during World War II in Warsaw. The fates of such composers and performers as Grażyna Bacewicz, Zbigniew Drzewiecki, Grzegorz Fitelberg, Witold Lutosławski, Andrzej Panufnik, Władysław Szpilman, Eugenia Umińska, and Bolesław Woytowicz, among others, receive a thorough and gripping exploration. In these two volumes we find Nazi-issued permits for “Exercising the Profession of a Musician” alongside correspondence, concert programs, and photos of rehearsals and performances, both public and private. Extensive, first-person narratives culled from all of the musicians represented in this book give a spellbinding insight into the everyday dangers of living under German occupation, fighting in the tragically-ended Warsaw Uprising of 1944, and ending the war with Warsaw totally in ruins and a Communist government in charge.
It would be wonderful to have an English language version of this book; perhaps this project is already in the works. Certainly, many readers worldwide—and not only those who are interested in music—should become familiar with this remarkable publication.
Mr. Wiesław Dąbrowski, president of the Ave Arte Foundation in Warsaw and director of the International Paderewski Festival in Warsaw donated to us a booklet of this year’s edition—the third—of the Festival. Held November 5-12 in several venues around Warsaw, the Festival featured a number of chamber and orchestral concerts with Polish and foreign artists as well as lectures and a variety of special presentations.
Dir. Mieczysław Kominek of the Polish Music Information Centre in Warsaw has recently sent us the Sound Chronicle of the 2016 Warszawska Jesień [Warsaw Autumn] Festival of Contemporary Music, as well as several copies of the Festival program and other accompanying items. Thanks to the rich history and the incredibly informative program notes of this Festival, these recordings and programs represent some of the most often used resources in our library. We look forward to this annual donation so that we may share it with the eager scholars and performers who use our collection.
As always, many thanks to all of our generous donors. Dziękujemy!
7TH FESTIVAL OF PREMIERES POLISH MODERN MUSIC
From March 24-26, Katowice will once again become the capital of New Music during the Festival of Premieres Polish Modern Music. This year’s seventh edition of the festival will present premiere performances of nearly 30 works by Polish composers of various generations, from young novices to Polish leaders of the art of composition.
Organized by the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra (NOSPR), the festival will host some of the foremost Polish ensembles, such as AUKSO, Camerata Silesia, Silesian String Quartet, and the New Music Orchestra, as well as soloists: Daniel Costello, Barbara Kinga Majewska, Alina Mleczko, Piotr Orzechowski, Geneviève Strosser, and Hannah Weisbach.
A biennial festival of Polish modern music, the Festival of Premieres has been organized in Katowice since 2005. Its originator was Joanna Wnuk-Nazarowa, Director General of the NOSPR. The event owes its unique character primarily to the main idea of the program – only works which have never been performed or which so far have not had their Polish premiere can be presented during the festival concerts.
During the seven concerts of this year’s edition of the festival, the audience will hear the works of the following eminent Polish composers: Marcin Bortnowski (String Quartet no. 3), Ryszard Gabryś (Salomé-Satz for soprano and string quartet), Jarosław Mamczarski (QUARTETT Fis), Lidia Zielinska (Threesome C for amplified string quartet, tape and live electronics), Krzysztof Wołek (Spin for symphony orchestra and live electronics), Dariusz Przybylski (Fontana di amore per nessuno. Omaggio a Pasolini saxophone, boy soprano and symphony orchestra), Rafał Augustyn (Krótka rozprawa), Zbigniew Bargielski (Domino for flute, violin and cello), Aleksander Nowak (Infraludium for flute, violin and cello), Krzysztof Meyer (Trio, Op. 129 for flute, violin and cello), Piotr Moss (Trauermusik for chamber ensemble), Grzegorz Duchnowski (USHUAIA for voices and orchestra), Sonia Brauhoff (Mój Bóg jest głodny for choir and percussion), Justyna Kowalska-Lasoń (Istnieje przestrzeń for mixed choir soloists), Jacek Domagala (Normandia), Hanna Kulenty- Majoor (Viola Concerto No. 1), Prasqual (MASHRABIYYA for English horn / oboe, French horn, 93 orchestral musicians in 6 groups and the electronic music), Piotr Radko (Medytacja wielkanocna for string orchestra), Krzesimir Dębski (Musicophilia II), Zygmunt Krauze (Rondo for Rhodes piano and small string orchestra), Slawomir Kupczak (Pełnia for Rhodes piano, string orchestra and electronics), Marcin Stanczyk (A due for Rhodes piano, string orchestra and electronics), Slawomir Czarnecki (Divertimento).
PREMIERES AT THE ŚWIĘTOKRZYSKIE PHIL
Under the honorary patronage of Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and the governor of Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship and Kielce, the 25th edition of the Świętokrzystkie Voivodeship Days of Music Festival will take place from March 4–April 7 at the Świętokrzyskie Philharmonic. This year’s program includes a number of symphonic and chamber concerts, film screenings and exhibitions.
The opening concert on March 24 will feature recent Grammy award winner Maestro Krzysztof Penderecki conducting his own works: Hymn do Św. Wojciecha, Agnus Dei, Stabat Mater, Hymn do Św. Daniela and Symphony No. 2 (Kielce premiere). On April 2, soprano Joanna Freszel will perform three world premieres of Polish music (J. Siwiński’s Ornitologia, A. M. Huszcza’s Owadologia, and A. Robak’s Odpływy) with the New Music Orchestra (OMN), under the baton of Szymon Bywalec. On April 4, Beata Bilińska and the Krakowski Kwintet Dęty will present the world premiere of Z. Bargielski’s Piano Sextet. Concerts will also include several other Kielce premieres of works by Polish composers, including Paderewski, Chopin, Moniuszko and Lutosławski.
The Świętokrzystkie Voivodeship Days of Music Festival was established in the 60’s by the former director of Kielce Philharmonic, Karol Anbild, with the aim of promoting Polish music. After 30 years of break in organizing the festival, the Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship Days of Music was revived by Polish conductor and composer Szymon Kawalla; since 2002, the festival has been directed by Jacek Rogala, whose aim is to promote Polish music with the particular emphasis on the works which had never been performed in Kielce before.
HENDRICH PREMIERE BY OMN
On March 5, 2017, the Orkiestra Muzyki Nowej (OMN) presented a concert entitled “Matematyka i asceza” [Mathematics and Asceticism] at the NOSPR Concert Hall in Katowice. The highlight of the evening was the world premiere of Paweł Hendrich (b. 1979) – Hordiaver, which was commissioned by OMN and co-financed by the Institute of Music and Dance’s “Composer-in-Residence” program. The program also featured works by Anton Webern (Five Pieces for Orchestra op. 10), Beat Furrer (Still) and other pieces by Polish composers: Paweł Szymański (b. 1954) - Through the Looking-Glass... for chamber orchestra and Cezary Duchowski (b. 1971) – acc+ca (for accordion and computer performed by Rafał Łuc). The event was co-organized and co-financed by IMiT as a part of “Artist-Resident” program.
40th ANNIVERSARY OF THE SZYMANOWSKI MUSIC SOCIETY
In 2017, the Karol Szymanowski Music Society is celebrating their 40 anniversary. The celebration started on March 1 in Katowice with the 20th edition of the “Evenings with music by Karol Szymanowski” Festival [Wieczory z muzyką Karola Szymanowskiego]. The 2017 “Evenings” Festival will include five monographic concerts (March 1, 8, 15, 23 and 29) performed by teachers and students of the Academy of Music in Katowice, where Karol Szymanowski is the patron. The final concert happens to fall on March 29, 2017: the 80th anniversary of Szymanowski's death, when there will be a gala concert performed by the Academic Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Mirosław J. Błaszczyk.
The Karol Szymanowski Music Society was established in 1977 in Zakopane in Villa Atma – the house where Szymanowski lived from 1930-35. In 1976 the villa was transformed into a museum and the headquarters of the Karol Szymanowski Music Society. The initial board of members of the society featured figures such as Andrzej Bachleda Curuś, Wojciech Kilar and Witold Rowicki. Currently, the Karol Szymanowski Music Society is run by prof. Joanna Domańska (president), Eugeniusz Knapik, Arkadiusz Kubica, Sławomir Czarnecki and Józef Kolinek. Their main aim is to promote music by Szymanowski through organizing festivals, exhibitions, concerts, competitions and lectures. In 2012, the Society initiated the “Karol Szymanowski International Music Competitions in Katowice” project, featuring current competitions for composers and ensembles, as well as future plans to include violinists, singers and pianists.
SZYMANOWSKI COMMEMORATION IN CAIRO
In collaboration with French Cultural Institute, the Cairo Symphony Orchestra gave a recital of romantic music under the baton of Ahmed El Saedi, featuring solo violinist Hossam Shehata and mezzo-soprano Katarzyna Krzyżanowska. The program included Karol Szymanowski’s Love Songs of Hafiz, in commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the composer’s death, as well as Philipe Hersant’s Au temps d’un rêve, Édouard Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnole, Ali Osman Al-Haj’s An Hour in Boswil, and Ravel’s Rapsodie Espagnole.
JAN JARCZYK FUND
As a jazz pianist, composer, arranger and all around musician, Jan Jarczyk had a profound impact on students and colleagues at McGill University’s Schulich School of Music. He was at the heart and soul of the jazz program for almost three decades: even those who weren’t lucky enough to study with Jan are well acquainted with stories that speak of his formidable musical skills, powerful mind and humorous spirit.
To honor Jan’s devotion to his students and his love of music, the Jan Jarczyk Fund has been established at McGill to provide financial support to outstanding jazz piano students at Schulich. The Fund will be celebrated with a concert at McGill University on March 24. The program will feature a selection of arrangements for two pianos/six hands, performed by prof. Jean-Michel Pilc and two exceptional students from McGill’s jazz program: Daniel Arthur & David Osei-Afrifa. The evening will start with a glass of wine and will end with a reception.
According to Jan Jarczyk’s widow:
Jan has left great gifts for both the current and future generations to enjoy. His music will continue to exist through the wealth of his recorded material and in live performances of his compositions. His teachings will keep guiding all those that he touched. Above all else, Jan will serve as inspiration to artists around the world in their pursuit of what he loved most: music.
TANSMAN CELEBRATED IN WROCŁAW
Organized by Lipiński Music Academy in Wrocław, the international conference “Homage to Aleksander Tansman (1897-1986)” will be held from March 13-14 and devoted to the 120th birth anniversary of composer Aleksander Tansman. Performances of Tansman’s music will be given by students and faculty of the Academy and the conference will be accompanied by an exhibit, “Aleksander Tansman—Composer, Pianist and Conductor.” Special guests at this event will include guitarist Łukasz Kuropaczewski and two of Tansman’s daughters, Mireille Tansman-Zanuttini and Marianne Tansman-Martinozzi.
More information the conference and concerts can be found at: www.amuz.wroc.pl. A full program of events is available at: polmic.pl. The conference is presented by the Faculty of Composition, Conducting, Theory of Music and Music Therapy, and the Chair of Music Theory and History of Silesian Musical Culture.
MUSIC OF OUR TIMES
The Penderecki European Music Center in Lusławice will present a concert on March 11 that launches a four-year cycle called “Muzyka naszych czasów” [Music of Our Times]. Besides the Penderecki Center, this program is coordinated and carried out by Music Academies in Gdańsk, Katowice, Kraków, Łódź, Poznań, and Warsaw as well as Music High Schools in Białystok, Bydgoszcz, Konin, Kraków, Radom, and Warsaw.
Each year, works composed and performed by students of the participating institutions (six Music Academies and six high schools) will fill twelve concert programs on the stage of the Lusławice Concert Hall. A specially selected Review Committee and representatives from DUX Records (which will record all concerts) will provide detailed documentation and archive of this program. During the first concert in this series, works by Michał Dobrzyński, Ewa Fabiańska-Jelińska, Szymon Godziemba-Trytka, Aleksandra Kac, Kamil Kruk, Dariusz Przybylski, Mateusz Śmigasiewicz and Ignacy Zalewski will be heard.
SZYMANOWSKI QUARTET COMPETITION
2017 marks the 2nd edition of the Karol Szymanowski International String Quartet Competition in Katowice. In collaboration with the Karol Szymanowski Music Society, the competition will be hosted by the Karol Szymanowski Academy of Music in Katowice on September 18-23. The aim of the contest is to promote the work of Karol Szymanowski and other Polish composers through obligatory pieces in the competition, which translates into the promotion of Polish culture in general. Organizers have noted the absence of Szymanowski’s quartets in the programs of other competitions and hence, the lack of them in the curricula of foreign music schools.
The deadline to submit an application is June 30, 2017 and should be sent to the following address:
Additional requirements and regulations can be found here: szymanowski-competition.com
The total value of prizes for this year’s competition is 32,000 PLN (approximately 8,000 Euros). The awarded compositions will be performed at the 41st Days of Karol Szymanowski Music Festival (Zakopane), the Silesian Quartet and Its Guests Festival (Katowice), and in various programs in Katowice during the 2018/2019 season. The jury will consist of internationally renowned artists and teachers, such as Peter Schuhmayer of the Artis Quartet in Vienna, Marek Czech of the Royal String Quartet, Tim Frederiksen of the Danish String Quartet, Mats Lindstrom from the Royal Academy in London, and Arkadiusz Kubica of the Silesian Quartet in Katowice—who will also serve as the Artistic Director of the Competition.
2017: KOSCIUSZKO YEAR & COMPETITION
UNESCO proclaimed the year of 2017 as "Year of Kosciuszko" honoring the bicentennial of his passing in 1817. As part of the bicentennial celebrations, the Kosciuszko Heritage Inc (Sydney), together with the Kosciuszko Mound Committee (Kraków) and the Kosciuszko Foundation (New York and Warsaw), has announced an international competition in music, literature and graphic arts. The Kosciuszko Bicentenary International Competition aims to promote Poland and Polish history through Kosciuszko’s heroic story to younger generations and broader communities, as well as expand contemporary repertoire of Kosciuszko’s songs and iconography. Entrants will be divided into two age categories—adults and high school students (aged 12 to 18) —and will allowed to submit up to 3 works, under the condition that they depict 3 different episodes of Kosciuszko's life. Additional guidelines and the online entry form can be found here: kosciuszkoheritage.com.
The deadline for submission is July 31, 2017 and must be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The jury panel will be led by prof. Alex Storożynski, the executive director of the Kosciuszko Foundation in Manhattan. Results will be announced on October 3 during a gala event in Sydney, where more than AUD $10,000 in prize money may be awarded.
General Thaddeus Kosciuszko (1746-1817) was a national hero in Poland and the United States, freedom fighter and military leader, ardent advocate for the rights of European serfs, African Slaves, Native American Indians, Jews, women and all other disenfranchised social groups on two continents. He was also an engineer and a founder of West Point. Kosciuszko represented a precursor in the development of national awareness in its modern sense,an embodiment of the principle of tolerance, and called by Thomas Jefferson "the purest son of liberty, I have ever known."
NEW MUSIC IN THE OLD CITY HALL: MUSIC & COMPUTERS
On March 2, 2017, the Nadbałtyckie Centrum Kultury in Gdańsk presented the first of this year’s concerts in the series called “Nowa Muzyka w Starym Ratuszu” [New Music in the Old City Hall]. The title of the concert was “Music and Computers” and explored how computers entered the world of music as musical instruments. The concert was performed by the Laptop Ensemble – a group specializing in performing computer music—with guest violinist Przemysław Czekaj. The audience had a chance to listen to works composed by ensemble members: Stanisław Krupowicz, Marcin Bortnowski and Marcin Rupociński. The organizers of the event were the Polish Society for Electroacoustic Music (PSeME), and the Stanisław Moniuszko Academy of Music in Gdańsk.
From the event website:
MANAZ PLAYS MEYER AT WARSAW PHIL
On March 7, the Manaz Trio (Magdalena Rezler-Niesiołowska - violin, Aziz Kortel - piano and Antoine Billet – cello] performed Piano Trio, Op. 50 by Krzysztof Meyer on March 7 at the Warsaw Philharmonic. The concert program also featured Piano Trio in E-flat major, Op. 70 No. 2 by Ludwig van Beethoven and a single-movement Sonatensatz in B-flat major D. 28 by Franz Schubert.
More about Meyer’s Piano Trio from the website of the Warsaw Phil:
MIERNIK: ALL-POLISH PROGRAM IN FL
On March 11-12, the Chopin Foundation of the United States will present afternoon recitals performed by award winning pianist from Poland, Anna Miernik. The program will feature music by Polish composers, including Chopin, Szymanowski, Paderewski, Nowowiejski and Tansman. The two concerts are a part of the 2016/2017 Chopin for All Free Concert Series, celebrating outstanding young pianists, including newly crowned laureates from the organization’s preceding event, the National Chopin Piano Competition (NCPC).
Since her debut in 2015, Anna Miernik has already performed on 5 continents in 24 countries as a soloist and a chamber musician. She has also presented several premiere works and has won several international and national prizes. Miernik received her degree with honors from the Academy of Music in Kraków in 2013, after completing her studies with Prof. Andrzej Pikul. She has also studied under Prof. Sławomir Zubrzycki (the builder of the Da Vinci’s Viola Organista). She actively promotes Polish music abroad by including works of more than 20 Polish composers in her concert programs.
[Source : press release]
XVII “MUSIC DAYS ON THE ODER” FESTIVAL
The XVII International “Dni Muzyki nad Odrą” [Music Days on the Oder River] Festival will take a place from March 3 – 22 in Poland and Germany, celebrating artistic collaboration between the two countries. This year’s edition of the festival will be comprised of 21 events; seven orchestral concerts, six chamber concerts and a piano recital will be presented in Sulechowo, Zielona Góra, Nowa Sól, Rzepin, Słubice, Łagów, Żary and Krosno Odrzańskie in Poland. Traditionally, the Polish musicians touring the Oder also perform in German cities, such as Frankfurt, Müncheberg and Berlin. In addition to concerts, the International Forum of Young Conductors will led by professor Czesław Grabowski, the director of Zielonogórska Philharmonic, on March 22 to bring together conductors from both countries.
The “Days of Music on the Oder” Festival was created as a fusion of two other festivals: Międzynarodowe Spotkania Wschód-Zachód [International Meetings East-West] and Frankfurter Musiktage [Frankfurt Days of Music].
The first chamber concert will take place on March 3 in Sulechów, while the opening concert of the festival will occur the following day in Zielona Góra. The March 4th concert will be performed by the festival orchestras (Symphony Orchestra Philharmonic of Zielona Góra and the Lviv Virtuosos Chamber Orchestra) and the Choir of the Academy of Art in Szczecin, featuring pianist Pawel Kowalski and a team of German horn players, under the baton of Czesław Grabowski. During this event, Karłowicz’s Serenade will be performed based on the original version of Skriabin’s Prometheus - poem of fire.
As a part of the festival, Georgijs Osokins – a participant of the last Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw-will play a piano recital on March 11 at Zielona Góra Philharmonic. His repertoire features works by Chopin, Scriabin and Rachmaninov. The closing concert of the festival will be held in Frankfurt (Germany) on March 22. At this concert, the members of Zielona Góra Philharmonic Orchestra will perform along with soloist Amelia Maszońska.
LORENC WINS CZECH LION AWARD
On March 4, Polish composer Michał Lorenc and Czech composer Kryštof Marek received the Czech Lion Award for “Best Music” during the gala event at Dvořák’s Hall of the Rudolfinum in Prague. The artists won the award for score to the film Masaryk [A Prominent Patient] by Julius Ševčíkm, which indisputably dominated the ceremony, taking home 12 awards out of its 14 nominations (including Best Film, Best Director, Best Script, Best Music, and prizes in the technical categories).
Since 1993, Czech Film and Television Academy (CFTA) has been awarding the most prestigious Czech film award – the Czech Lion Award, and nominates Czech films or documentary features for foreign film awards to support and promote Czech cinematographic art in the Czech Republic and abroad. This 24th edition of the Awards was broadcast on CT1 channel. The full list of the 2016 winners is here at filmovaakademie.cz.
Michał Lorenc is a self-taught musician who has composed original scores to several Polish and foreign films. He has previously won the Czech Lion Award in 1998 for his music featured in Je třeba zabít Sekala, and was nominated in 2001 for his compositions in Babí léto. In addition, Lorenc received awards at the Festival of Polish Feature Films in Gdynia three times (for music to Dogs, Bandit, and Provocateur), as well as the special prize at the Camerimage Festival in Toruń (1998) and Grand Prix at the Film Music Festival in Bonn (1999) for music composed to Nothing. In 1989, he was nominated in Berlin for the Felix Award for film music to 300 Miles to Heaven.
PENDERECKIS WIN ALEKSANDER GIEYSZTOR PRIZE
On February 8, Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki and his wife, cultural organizer Elżbieta Penderecka, received the 18th Aleksander Gieysztor Prize at the Royal Castle in Warsaw. The award, granted by Citibank Handlowy's Leopold Kronenberg Foundation, was given for the creation of the Krzysztof Penderecki European Center for Music in Lusławice, supporting young artists and promoting classical music in Poland and abroad. The center is a meeting place for talented young musicians and professors – eminent specialists in the art of performance, composition, and humanities in the broad sense. During the ceremony, Professor Andrzej Rottermund, chair of the Award Committee, recognized the engagement of the Pendereckis in the international cultural cooperation and popularizing Polish cultural heritage. In the previous years, the winners were: Andrzej Wajda, Krystyna Zachwatowicz, Anda Rottenberg and Norman Davies.
WARSAW PHIL PLAYS SZYMANOWSKI FOR WARNER CLASSICS
Szymanowski - Warsaw Philharmonic
In their follow-up to the Grammy-winning album “Penderecki conducts Penderecki,” the new album by the Warsaw Philharmonic features music by eminent Polish composer Karol Szymanowski. The performers are the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir under the baton of the Philharmonic’s artistic director, Jacek Kaspszyk, as well as outstanding soloists: soprano Aleksandra Kurzak, mezzosoprano Agnieszka Rehlis, baritone Artur Ruciński, and tenor Dmitry Korchak.
Szymanowski’s Litany to the Virgin Mary, Stabat Mater and Song of the Night were written between 1914 and 1933, which is considered to have been the most fruitful period in his creative life. Set to a poem by Jerzy Liebert (1904-1931)—a poet known for his love of lyrical verse on philosophical and religious subjects— Litany to the Virgin Mary is a piece which Szymanowski began to compose in 1930.
Stabat Mater, completed in 1926, was officially commissioned from Szymanowski by the Polish art collector Bronisław Krystall to commemorate his wife’s death. The work was inspired, however, by a tragic event that affected Szymanowski’s family. Szymanowski’s Stabat Mater holds a special place in the history of Polish music after Chopin. It exerted a powerful impact even on eminent composers working fifty years later, wrote Marcin Gmys, PhD, professor of Adam Mickiewicz Institute.
The last work on this CD—Symphony No. 3 ‘Song of the Night’ for solo voice, mixed choir and orchestra (1914-1916)—explores a whole new world of musical imagination, whose protagonist and speaker is an artist at first unable to express his own feelings.
MIELCZEWSKI ON CD ACCORD
MIELCZEWSKI, M.: Vocal Music
Andrzej Kosendiak, who serves as General Director of Wrocław Philharmonic and the International Festival ‘Wratislavia Cantans,’ recently found himself experiencing a renewed fascination with repertoire from 17th and 18th century composers with whom he'd been acquainted with at the beginning of his musical path. During his preparation for this release, he was torn between the availability of knowledge about the works in question and the sensibilities of a performer living in the second decade of the 21st century. The idea of performing Mielczewski's vespers in the way they were performed in larger and richer centers like Gdańsk or Wrocław in the second half of the 17th century seemed highly appealing.
In the double choir works, Kosendiak was particularly mindful of the ensemble’s spatial arrangement (placed opposite each other) and that it be reflected in the sound of the recording. For space plays an exceptionally vital role in Mielczewski's works written in the spirit of the Benetian polychoral tradition. The acoustics of the National Forum of Music in Wrocław offered fantastic opportunities of realizing the composer's spatial concepts.
[Sources: press release, naxos.com]
NEW ON NAXOS
WEINBERG: VIOLIN SONATAS
MONIUSZKO: BALLET MUSIC
Stanisław Moniuszko (1819–1872) was Poland’s leading nineteenth-century opera composer, and has been called the man who bridges the gap between Chopin and Szymanowski. Statues were erected in his honor, competitions were named after him, and his portrait was included on postage stamps and banknotes. His life and prolific output ran parallel to the Polish romantic movement; the political upheaval of the times generated a need to express national identity through art; and Moniuszko found a particularly important niche as the Father of Polish National Opera. In addition to operatic works, he also composed purely orchestral music. Unsurprisingly, Polish folk dances found their way into both his stage and concert works. Raymond Bisha introduces us to Moniuszko’s fertile orchestral foray into this world of Polish ballet.
[Sources: press release, blog.naxos.com]
RUTKOWSKI ON LESCHETIZKY’S PIANO IN WARSAW
Pianist Hubert Rutkowski visited Warsaw late last year and appeared as soloist at the inaugural concert of the Third International Paderewski Festival held in the Warsaw Philharmonic Hall. On November 5, 2016, Rutkowski performed Leschetizky’s one-movement Piano Concerto in C minor Op. 9 and Paderewski’s Polish Fantasy Op. 19 with Polish Radio Orchestra led by Michał Klauza.
Rutkowski also recorded an interview (in Polish with English subtitles), discussing the Bösendorfer piano once owned by Leschetizky that was brought to Warsaw Philharmonic Hall for this occasion from a piano collection in Göttingen, Germany. You can see and hear this historic instrument—on which Paderewski played during his piano lessons with Leschtizky in Vienna in the mid-1880s—in a 15-minute video clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26dRi60KGaA
More about Leschetizky and the concert from the website of the Warsaw Philharmonic:
Hubert Rutkowski graduated from the Music Academy in Warsaw and later studied piano in Hamburg. He recorded works by Julian Fontana and Teodor Leschetizky for Acte Préalable in 2007 and 2008. Since 2010 he is on the faculty of Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Hamburg, Germany. An active recitalist, he also performed as the Gala pianist at the Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles in 2009.
[Source: performer; Photo: facebook.com]
CHAMBER MUSIC AT ŁÓDŻ PHILHARMONIC
A concert featuring chamber works by Wojciech Kilar, Benedykt Konowalski, Waldemar Kazanecki and Henryk Kuźniak was held on February 28 at the Łódź Philharmonic. Artists, such as Duet Clarigotto, Trio Andare, Antidotum Quartet, el-Men Brass, Apertus Quartet, and Grohman Orchestra (under the baton of Elizabeth Stępnik), performed a variety of chamber compositions that were written for double bass duo, string quartet, wind trios, string quintet and other ensembles. Apart from works by Polish composers, the program included compositions by Vittorio Monti, Giovanni Bottesini, Astor Piazzolla, Norman Hallam, Peter Hope, Marc Berthomieu, Duke Ellington, Scott Joplin and others.
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Newsletter Editor: Krysta Close
Layout Assistance: Charles Bragg, Thuy Le
Translation Assistance: Marek Żebrowski
Danielle Raymond, Hubert Rutkowski, Marek Żebrowski
Sources of information: Polish Cultural Institute (NY & UK), Adam Mickiewicz Institute,
Nowy Dziennik, Polish Music Information Centre - Warsaw, Polish American Journal,
Poland.pl, PAP, ZKP, infochopin.pl, Ruch Muzyczny, Gazeta Wyborcza
Formatting by Krysta Close, March10, 2017
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