Polish Music Journal
At present I'm working on "In Memoriam" dedicated to Igor Stravinsky, with whom, as you probably know,
I was linked by profound ties of friendship for many years (the commission for this work came from America). As usual, I have to embark on many foreign travels.
With heartfelt greetings,
I enclose an article by Antoine Golea, who knows a bit about music—which is not "le cas" with you r Parisian critics,
even though they wrote enthusiastically
about my work (basing their ideas more on the success of my work with the public than on the musical competence!) I would also like to
recommend to you a friend of mine, an eminent pianist, Juri Bukow, who performs in Warsaw on the 27th of this month.
He does not know anyone there, apart from PAGART, and I would be very grateful if you were able to get in touch with him and show him
Warsaw a little bit. It would also be good to introduce
him to Polish musical life and Polish musicians. I hope that you will return to Paris soon.
Aleksander Tansman to Tadeusz Kaczyński:
Selected Letters (1971-1985)
translated by Maja Trochimczyk 
Letter of 5 December 1971
Envelope for Tansman's first letter to Kaczyński, 1971.
Letter of 8 February 1973
Dear Sir,Thank you very much for your nice letter that Halina Szymulska brought me, and thank you for the book, a lovely souvenir from my visit to Poland in 1967. It is somewhat difficult for me to talk about my own activities, especially because of the fact —as you yourself indicate in your letter— that the interest in my work expressed by music institutions in Poland is, as it were, "platonic." Therefore I am providing you with a list of the most important items [from my work-list] from the recent years; these compositions are often played in Europe, the U.S., South America, Japan, etc.
At present I'm working on "In Memoriam" dedicated to Igor Stravinsky, with whom, as you probably know, I was linked by profound ties of friendship for many years (the commission for this work came from America). As usual, I have to embark on many foreign travels.I would like to use this occasion to comment about an interpretation of certain statements from my interview with Janusz Cegiełła published in Współczesność appearing in Ruch Muzyczny, no. 18 (column by Clavis, last fragment). I have never stated that "development was exclusively based on ideas," independently of the way of their realization, or that "in art the realization of ideas was less important," etc. Perhaps I did not express my thought clearly enough, because in the whole of my oeuvre I have attached great weight to the question of the "realization" of ideas—this is the true "work" of a composer: the solving of individual problems by creative invention (that is why aleatorism is foreign to me; it is, of course, from a purely aesthetic point of view). I merely do not accept one particular type of realization of ideas "without looking" (or, rather, "without hearing") as the source, but I do accept it as an expression of conscious working on one's own product. What is important, therefore, is not its significance, but rather its position in the process of creation.
With heartfelt greetings,
I enclose an article by Antoine Golea, who knows a bit about music—which is not "le cas" with you r Parisian critics, even though they wrote enthusiastically about my work (basing their ideas more on the success of my work with the public than on the musical competence!) I would also like to recommend to you a friend of mine, an eminent pianist, Juri Bukow, who performs in Warsaw on the 27th of this month. He does not know anyone there, apart from PAGART, and I would be very grateful if you were able to get in touch with him and show him Warsaw a little bit. It would also be good to introduce him to Polish musical life and Polish musicians. I hope that you will return to Paris soon.With heartfelt greetings,
Now I receive many invitations from Europe, America (USA and South America), and Japan, etc., but I will travel only to events in Europe, because I am not indispensable everywhere in person and I do not want to waste so much time just to bow down from the stage. I also have to finish some commissions. I hope that you will write more often and perhaps that you will again come to Paris... With heartfelt greetings,
What else? "Le Serment" is based on Balzac's novella La Grande-Bretèche. As far as the Polish Rhapsody is concerned, it was composed in 1940 in Niece, where I was hiding with my family before the departure for America. It is dedicated to the defenders of Warsaw and during the war was functioning as a call for the rebirth of Poland in the programmes of all American orchestras. After the war it played the same function for European orchestras - Paris, Bruxelles, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, London, Rome, Oslo, Copenhagen, Stockholm, etc., etc. The first performance in 1941 was by Cleveland Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Artur Rodzinski. Mazurki - there were four books (48) but the manuscript of the fourth set was lost during the war. I volunteered to fight in the Polish Army in 1918-1919 (Academic Legion), until the regaining of Poland's independence. (I received my awards in the competition while still wearing the uniform!). This seems to be everything. Will I see you in Paris? Unfortunately I am not free in December - I will be in Italy. The Second Piano Concerto was not composed with the purpose to "conquer the world"—it is seriously melodious and rhythmical. Recently I heard it in Napoli, performed by Adrianne Brugnolini under the baton of Francesco Mandera.
The last bit of news: last night I was robbed while sleeping—a large part of my collection, my small Benvenuto Cellini, all the silver, cushions from the Far East, etc.—"sic transit gloria mundi"—a pity because I was sentimentally attached to these things, but it could have been much worse if I had woken up.With heartfelt greetings,
As I told you earlier, if you intend to come to Paris, you have again in my home a "room with a bathroom" and "pension complete." The same also refers to Zieliński. This does not cause me any trouble at all and I hope that you will soon decide to come. Your calendar from the Royal Castle has a place on my door and is very popular. It always reminds me how you continued to "fish for" my francs that fell into the inside of the lining of my coat through a hole in my pocket. Luckily everything has its comic side! The day before yesterday Sartowa beautifully sang my old songs (1927) in Salle Garceau. Yesterday I went to the Laks's—always so nice. I also saw Drewnowski, who has lots of great prospects in Paris, Brussels, etc. I expect to receive news and await your travel to Paris (except in the period between 30 March and 10 April, when I will not be in Paris),With sincere hugs,
With hugs and sincere greetings for your wife,
* at the Dresden Philharmonic during the war!
. These letters, written to Polish musicologist and music critic, Tadeusz Kaczyński (1932-2000), in accordance with his will were donated to the Polish Music Center after Kaczyński's death by his widow, Mrs. Kaczyńska. The originals are on deposit in the Rare Books and Special Collections Department, Information Services Division, University of Southern California. Kaczyński's other correspondence is included with his papers, donated to the Archive of Polish Composers of the Twentieth Century, Warsaw University Library, Poland. This and all subsequent notes by Maja Trochimczyk. [Back]
. This was Tansman's third visit to Poland after his emigration to France in 1919. It took place between 18 April and 6 May 1967 (the previous two visits took place in 1932 and 1936). The visit's program included concerts celebrating Tansman's seventieth birthday and recording sessions. See Janusz Cegiełła, Dziecko szczęścia: Aleksander Tansman i jego czasy [A Child of Luck: Aleksander Tansman and His Times] (Łódz: 86 Press, 1996), 240-245. Halina Szymulska was a soprano and a good friend of Tansman. [Back]
. Quatre Movimenti, or Quatre mouvements pour orchestre (1968); Hommage à Erasme de Rotterdam (1969); Dyptique for chamber orchestra, proper title Diptique pour orchestre (1969); Trois pièces pour clarinette, harpe, et orchestre à cordes (1970); Concerto for Oboe and Chamber Orchestra, prop. Suite concertante pour hautbois avec accompagnement d'orchestre de chambre (1966); Concerto for Flute and String Orchestra, prop. Concertino pour flute, orchestre à cordes et piano (1968). [Back]
. Stéle in memoriam de Igor Stravinsky (1972) was premiered in Paris by the Orchestre National (1973). Stravinsky died on 6 April 1971. Tansman and his French wife, pianist Collette Cras, met and befriended Igor and Vera Stravinsky during the war years spent in Los Angeles, California (1941-46). Tansman published a book about him, Igor Stravinsky, monographie (1947). [Back]
. Janusz Cegiełła's interview with Tansman was reprinted in his book Szkice do autoportretu muzyki współczesnej (Kraków: PWM, 1976). [Back]
. Le serment, composed in 1953, was Tansman's most popular opera to a libretto by Dominique Vincent, based on a novella entitled La Grande-Bretèche by Balzac. [Back]
. This article by Antoine Golea, French musicologist and music critic, could not be located in RILM. Golea wrote books on Debussy, Jolivet, and Marcel Landowski, and published numerous interviews with contemporary composers. [Back]
. Juri Bukov is a Bulgarian pianist, still actively concertizing around the world. [Back]
. The interview by Tadeusz Kaczyński with Tansman was entitled "Rozmowa z Aleksandrem Tansmanem" and featured a photograph of the composer by A. Zborski. Ruch Muzyczny, no. 20 (16-31 October 1973): 3-5. [Back]
. The comic opera Georges Dandin was completed in 1974 and premiered in July that year; it was also recorded and broadcast by French Radio. The summer festival in Salrat-en-Péerigord celebrated the beauty of this small medieval town with outdoor performances held at the Place Royal.[Back]
. Tansman was invited to participate in the committee and jury of the Artur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition in 1972 and composed a set of two piano pieces for this occasion, Hommage à Arthur Rubinstein. The difficult political context of this event was created by the "Yom Kippur War" started by Syria and Egypt attacking Israel on 5 October 1973. [Back]
. The Jerusalem Theatre staged two acts from Sabbataï Zévi, le faux Messie (1958) in January 1977, with the text in Hebrew translation. [Back]
. Here Tansman uses French words in Polonized forms: "regie" for direction and "dekory" (i.e. decors) for stage sets. [Back]
. Musicologists Tadeusz Zieliński, Zofia Helman, singer Halina Szymulska, and conductor Renard Czajkowski attempted to persuade Tansman to attend the fiftieth anniversary of the Association of Young Polish Musicians in Paris, in Warsaw. Without an official invitation from the government he declined. [Back]
. The Polish premiere of Elegia, dedicated to Milhaud (composed in 1975) took place on 24 April 1977 during an inaugural concert of the Poznań Spring Festival. [Back]
. The Fourth String Quartet was composed in 1935. [Back]
. A detailed account of "enthroning" ceremonies is included in Cegiełła's monograph, vol. 2, 280-281. The event included speeches by Rene Bernier and Tansman and a taped performance of the final movement from his Quatre mouvements symphonique.
. Four articles about Tansman appeared in Ruch Muzyczny, no. 13 (19 June 1977): Tadeusz Zieliński, "Klasyk polskiej muzyki współczesnej," 3-4; Zofia Helman, "Estetyka twórczości Aleksandra Tansmana," 4-5; Tadeusz Kaczyński, "Ważniejsze daty i fakty z życia i twórczości artystycznej Aleksandra Tansmana," 3-4, and "Między Polskąa Francją," 6-7. The issue celebrated his 80th birthday and featured him on the cover. [Back]
. The National Philharmonic in Warsaw programmed Tansman's Piano Concerto No. 2 (1927) with Marek Drewnowski as the soloist and Pedro Ignazio Calderon conducting. The performance took place in December 1977. [Back]
. Polish Rhapsody: Rapsodie polonaise aus défenseurs de Varsovie, was composed in 1940 and expresses hope for the imminent military intervention of Great Britain, Poland's ally, by means of intertwining the national anthems of both countries. [Back]
. Tansman won three prizes in a Composition Competition organized by the Polish Art Club of Warsaw, the first prize for his Romance for violin and piano and two honorary mentions. [Back]
. The performance was given by Milan RAI orchestra. [Back]
. The "Benvenuto Cellini" was a salt shaker in the shape of a vase, given to Tansman in Rome by Prince Luchino Visconti. [Back]
. The letter is addressed to "Kochany Tadeuszu" [Beloved Tadeusz], and the expression "My Dear Friend" was chosen to reflect the greater intimacy of this appellation. The visit took place in February 1978 and Tansman was the honorary guest of the 12th Festival of Contemporary Music in Wrocław where many of his works were performed, including Hommage à Erasme de Rotterdam, Concertino for piano and orchestra, Elégie à Darius Mihaud, and Concerto pour orchestre. The Festival's program also included Henryk Gorecki's Symphony No. 3 (Symphony of Sorrowful Songs) composed in 1976.[Back]
. Tansman was delighted with the warm reception he received in Poland, both in person during the meeting with his friends in Warsaw, and in the press, with a range of positive reports from the festival published by Olgierd Pisarenko, Krzysztof Droba, Rafał Augustyn, Ewa Koffin and Izabella Grzenkowicz. See Cegiełła, vol. 2, 276-299.[Back]
. "Sto lat," lit. "A Hundred Years" is a Polish equivalent of "Happy Birthday."[Back]
. "The second Tadeusz" refers to Zieliński. Despite this complaint, Tansman received letters from Kaczyński, Janusz Cegiełła, Tadeusz Natansson, Ryszard Bukowski, Marian Fuks, Jan Weber, Tadeusz Zieliński, and others. See Cegiełła, vol. 2, 299. [Back]
. The Royal Castle of Warsaw [Zamek Królewski] was destroyed by the Germans during World War II and its reconstruction was completed in the late 1970s. [Back]
. The concert featured Cinq mélodies pour chants et piano (1927) and the singer was Maria Sart. [Back]
. The honorary membership in the Polish Composers' Union was awarded on 19 March 1983. Other Polish honors followed: the Golden Cross of Merit, the Award for Cultural Achievements from the Ministry of Culture, and an honorary doctorate of the Łódź Academy of Music. Cegiełła, vol. 2, 346-348.[Back]
. Tansman composed Hommage à Lech Walesa in 1982; the work was published the same year by Max Eschig. He sent the score to the Solidarity leader; it was first played in Poland in 1984 at the Gdańsk Shipyard. See Cegiełła, vol. 2, 337.[Back]
. The concert took place on 9 June 1978 at the Institut Polonais in Paris, where the awards ceremony was also held. [Back]
. The ballet, entitled "La table, ballet d'apres 'Six mouvements pur orchestre'" (music composed in 1965) was performed by the Ballet classic de Versaille in June 1983. [Back]
. Cegiełła discusses the history of finding the film from Tansman's travel around the world (1933), its transfer to modern format, and public presentation on 13 February 1986 at the Institut Polonais in Paris. The film was entitled "Tour du monde en miniature" and later served as the basis for a TV program broadcast in France, Germany and Poland. See Cegiełła, vol. 2, 344-345. [Back]
. "Linka" is the nickname of Pauline Laks, the wife of Polish-Jewish composer and writer, Szymon Laks. [Back]
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Copyright 2003 by the Polish Music Journal.
Editors: Maja Trochimczyk and Linda Schubert.
Editorial Assistance: Krysta Close.
Publisher: Polish Music Center, Summer 2003.
Design: Maja Trochimczyk & Marcin Depinski.
Comments and inquiries by e-mail: email@example.com