|Polish Music Newsletter|
January 2008, Vol. 14, No. 1. ISSN 1098-9188. Published monthly.
2007 HIGHLIGHTS IN POLISH MUSIC
The World Premiere of Zbigniew Preisner’s Silence, Night and Dreams was presented in the Herod Atticus Theatre in Greece on September 4th. This piece was recorded on EMI Classics (0094639399925)
PMHS Vol. 10 – Zygmunt Stojowski: Life and Music by Joseph A. Herter – is the first comprehensive biography of this long-neglected and undeservedly forgotten virtuoso pianist, composer, and pedagogue. The most recent in the PMC’s distinguished Polish Music History Series, this and other volumes can be ordered via email: email@example.com or by phone: (213) 821-1356
Herbert Rutkowski, winner of the International Chopin Competition in Hanover, Germany, recorded a world premiere album featuring the works of Julian Fontana, Chopin’s close friend and colleague (Acte Prealable AP0160 or US distributor: www.spinningdogrecords.com)
LIBRARY DONATIONS TO PMC
Many interesting items were recently donated to the Polish Music Center from our friends all over the world. We are particularly grateful to the following persons and institutions for enriching our library holdings:
LUTOSŁAWSKI ON MUSIC
Book Description: The writings of twentieth-century Polish composer Witold Lutosławski reveal many important aspects of his approach to music and his viewpoints as an artist and as a man. In Lutosławski on Music, the first full collection of writings by this famous composer, Zbigniew Skowron has amassed an exciting assortment of essays, speeches, lectures, and articles, many of which are newly translated in English and previously unpublished.
Zbigniew Skowron is a professor at the Institute of Musicology at the University of Warsaw and the editor of Lutosławski Studies (2001).
KULENTY CONCERTS / PREMIERE
In January, there will be two concerts in the Netherlands devoted to the music of Polish composer Hanna Kulenty (pictured at right). The first concert on January 18 will include the World Premiere of Kisses & Crosses, written in 2007 for piano and percussion. These concerts will feature the Ensemble de Ereprijs, conducted by Wim Boerman, with soloists Frank Peters (piano), Marco Blaauw (trumpet) and Arnold Marinissen (percussion). The performance dates and venues are: 18 January 2008 at the Korzo Theater, The Hague, The Netherlands and 22 January 2008 at Musis Sacrum, Arnhem, The Netherlands.
MOSS WORLD PREMIERE
The world premiere of L’abbaye dans la forêt by Piotr Moss will take place at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris on January 13. This work is the next section in Moss’s orchestral cycle Five Tableaus of Caspar David Friedrich. The composition, commissioned by Musique nouvelle en liberté, will be performed by the Lamoureux Orchestra under the direction of Daniel Kawka. Each section of the Five Tableaus is being performed over the course of the Lamoureux Orchestra’s 2007-2008 season, culminating in a presentation of the work in its entirety during the final concert on June 1, 2008.
PAY DISPUTE AT OLSZTYN PHILHARMONIC
Sixty musicians at the Olsztyn Philharmonic are demanding higher pay. According to the union spokesman, Cezary Gryc, the players’ average monthly paycheck is 1700 PLN [700 USD] before taxes, which is the lowest pay of any orchestra in Poland. The musicians demand an increase to 3000 PLN per month [1250 USD] whilst the management has offered only a 12% increase. Jacek Protas, Marshall of the Mazury Province, promised to hold talks with the Philharmonic’s Board of Directors and the protesting musicians. This conflict is taking place at the same time as Janusz Przybylski steps in as the new Artistic Director of the Philharmonic (as of Jan. 1, 2008).
Olsztyn Philharmonic does not have its own concert hall and for many years the orchestra has performed in the local music school auditorium. Late last year there was a groundbreaking for the new building that will house the Philharmonic. The construction cost, estimated to be about fifteen million dollars, is to be partially defrayed by European Union funds.
A HAPPY NEW YEAR FOR MOTION TRIO
Poland’s celebrated accordion ensemble, Motion Trio, is ringing in the New Year on quite a high note. On Jan 3rd 2008, Motion Trio members Janusz Wojtarowicz, Paweł Baranek, and Marcin Gałażyn visited famed Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki to present their arrangement of Ciaccona in memoriam Giovanni Paolo II. This arrangement for three accordions will have its world premiere at Carnegie Hall in New York on January 13th, 2008. Motion Trio’s Carnegie Hall performance is dedicated to the memory of the great accordionist Andrzej Krzanowski. In addition to the Penderecki premiere, the concert program will feature music by Henryk Górecki, Janusz Wojtarowicz/Jacek Holubowski, Wojciech Kilar, and the Motion Trio members. For concert details, visit the Carnegie Hall website, www.carnegiehall.org.
BIAŁYSTOK PHIL CONCERTS
The Białystok Philharmonic Orchestra has two very interesting concerts on their calendar this January. On Friday, January 4th at 7:00 pm, the Philharmonic will present a program entitled “The Unknown face of Witold Lutosławski,” featuring several different compositions by this major figure of 20th century music. Artists include Mariusz Klimek – vocalist, Artur Grudziński – piano, Krzysztof Herdzin – piano and keyboard instruments, Cezary Konrad – percussion, Marek Podkowa – saxophone (tenor), and Marcin Murawski – bass guitar.
BENEDETTI & SZYMANOWSKI
Nicola Benedetti will make her U.S. debut in a recital at Pepperdine University in Malibu on January 13th and then a repeat performance at the Irvine Barclay Theatre in Costa Mesa on January 15th. This young rising violin star has released two special Deutsche Grammophon recordings that speak for themselves, musically. On the first one she offers a stunning Szymanowski Violin Concerto together with works by Massenet, Saint-Saens, and Tavener. The second CD features magnificent performances of Mozart, Mendelssohn and MacMillan. You will not want to miss these concerts!!!
Ms. Benedetti was the winner of BBC Music’s Young Musician Award in 2004. See her award-winning performance of the Szymanowski Violin Concerto here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJia2-wfqk8&feature=related.
From January to April, on the last Saturday and Sunday of the month, the Florida Council of the Chopin Foundation of the U.S. will present its 2008 Chopin Festival: Chopin for All. The concerts on Saturday are in Ft. Lauderdale at 7:00 pm, in the Broward County Main Library at 100 S. Andrews Avenue. The concerts on Sunday are in Coral Gables at 3:00 pm, at the Granada Presbyterian Church at 950 University Drive.
January’s featured musician is emerging American artist Sean Chen. In February, the duo of Stanisław Drzewiecki, pianist, and Margot Zarzycka, violinist, will take the stage. March will bring the Young Pianists Concert: a complete program of the music of Chopin played by the finest classical piano students from both Miami-Dade and Broward Counties. Finally, in April, the Chopin Foundation will present the winners of the 2007 National Piano Competition in Poland. Details are available here: www.chopin.org.
CHOPIN & SZYMANOWSKI IN NY
Three “Musicians from Caramoor” – Timothy Fain, violin; Edward Arron, cello; and Andrew Armstrong, piano – will perform on Sunday, January 20, at 3pm at the Kosciuszko Foundation in New York. Their all-Polish program consists of works by Chopin and Szymanowski, and features the virtuosic but rarely-heard Piano Trio in G minor, Op. 8, of Chopin. This same Piano Trio was also recently heard on the West Coast at the gala concert of the Paderewski Reprise in Paso Robles, CA.
TOMASZEWSKI PLAYS STOJOWSKI
Tomasz Tomaszewski will be the featured soloist in performances Zygmunt Stojowski's Violin Concerto with the Olsztyn and Bialystok Philharmonic Orchestras during the 2008-09 concert season. Piotr Borkowski will be the conductor of both performances. Mr. Tomaszewski has been the concertmaster of the Deutsche Opera in Berlin since 1982 and became a full professor at the University of Arts in Berlin in 2001.
CHOPIN IN TEXAS
This January, the city of Corpus Christi in Texas will host the Annual Chopin Piano Competition organized by the Fryderyk Chopin Society of Texas. On Saturday, January 19, an international group of pianists aged 16 – 26 will compete for the main prize. The young artists will be evaluated by a jury consisting of prominent European and American judges. The repertoire requirements are based on the first stage of the 2010 International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw. The performances will be open to the public. More information is available on the Chopin Society website.
[Information provided by www.infochopin.pl]
THE KUDAJCZYK SAGA CONTINUES
You may remember the story from our July Newsletter about a Polish janitor at Glascow University in Scotland who was discovered to be a virtuoso pianist. Aleksander Kudajczyk’s talent has continued to emerge, as he has begun playing for University dinners and even film scores. But the real metamorphosis will begin on December 8th, when Mr. Kudajczyk will leave his janitorial job behind and begin (or rather continue) his career as a professional musician.
Andy McSmith from the UK’s Independent talks about the many stages of Mr Kudajczyk’s saga, and its implications for the Polish immigrant situation in the UK, in his article “From a cleaner to a concert pianist, the Polish immigrant who hit the right note in Britain” (7 December 2007):
[Mr Kudajczyk’s] gift for music had not passed unnoticed in his home town of Katowice, where he started playing piano at the age of four, graduating from the town's Karol Szymanowski Academy of Music, and tried to earn a living by teaching.
The Juliusz Ligon Prizes for Outstanding Contributions to the Region of Silesia were awarded in Katowice on December 22, 2007. Bishop Gerard Bernacki, the President of the Award Committee, presented awards to Father Professor Zygfryd Glaeser, visual artist Wiktor Ostrzolek, and the President of the Katowice Music Academy, Professor Eugeniusz Knapik. A Special Prize was awarded to the Library of Silesia.
Formerly a student of Henryk Mikołaj Górecki (composition) and Czesław Stańczyk (piano) at the State Higher School of Music in Katowice, Eugeniusz Knapik is currently a professor in the Department of Composition, Conducting and Music Theory and President of that same institution, which is now called the Music Academy of Katowice. In 1976, he received a French government scholarship to study composition with Olivier Messiaen in Paris. For more information about this composer and pedagogue, please visit the website of Warsaw’s Polish Music Information Centre.
CHOPIN - PIANO MUSIC
“The piano bard, the piano rhapsodist, the piano mind, the piano soul is Chopin”
Attention: all lovers of Chopin and piano – Dover Publications has published a series of books of Chopin compositions for piano. These include the following:
Chopin was the greatest composer of piano music in the 19th century, and perhaps of all time. He was the only great composer who wrote almost entirely for the piano, and his works are of such a uniformly high quality that they are all absolutely essential in the repertoire of any aspiring pianist.
The Preludes & Etudes (Dover 0-486-24052-5) are exquisitely beautiful examples of his genius. Numbering 52 pieces in all, they are reproduced from the authoritative Mikuli edition and are now available for the first time in a low-priced, one volume publication. The opus listings are: 25 Preludes – Op.28, Nos. 1-24; Prelude in C-sharp Minor. Op. 45.
The Complete Ballades, Impromptus & Sonatas (Dover 0-048-24164-5) includes Chopin’s four ballades, four impromptus and three sonatas, which are amongst the composer’s most mature works, rivaled only by his scherzos and polonaises for extended thematic development and formal structure. In their broader scope and more dramatic impact, these important compositions show us Chopin’s other face, balancing those brief, melodious pieces – the waltzes, preludes and mazurkas – that make up his very popular repertoire. The opus listings included are as follows: 4 Ballades – Op. 23, No. 1 in G Minor; Op. 38, No. 2 in F Major; Op. 47 in A-flat Major; and Op. 52, No. 4 in F Minor.
Waltzes & Scherzos (Dover 0-486-24316-8) illustrates Chopin’s special gift and remarkable ability to transform conventional musical forms into unique and memorable works of art for solo piano. Some are as compact as his fifteen waltzes. Some are as complex and extended as his fifteen scherzos.
The waltzes bear only a superficial resemblance to the popular Viennese dance music of the time. Sparkling graceful and tinged with an ineffable melancholy, these compositions succeed in conveying an air of mystery while retaining their ballroom splendor. Though they yield countless treasures even to keyboard veterans, most of these pieces present little technical difficulty to the player of only moderate and modest skill.
A “scherzo” was originally a musical joke. One finds little humor, however, in Chopin’s musical scherzos. Of them, Schumann once asked, “How is gravity to clothe itself if jest goes about in dark veils?” Chopin’s scherzos are truly novel metamorphoses of the form – tumultuous emotional outpourings that frequently attain tragic heights. Their originality and profundity well reward the effort required to master these relatively difficult compositions. This volume includes the following compositions and opus numbers: 15 Waltzes – Op. 18; Op. 34, Nos 1-3; Op. 42; Op. 64, Nos. 1-3; Op.69, Nos. 1-2; and Op. 70, Nos. 1-3, E Minor (1830) and E Major (1829). 4 Scherzos – Ops. 20, 31, 39, and 54.
Mazurkas (Dover 0-486-25548-4) are amongst the best-loved and most performed of Chopin’s piano compositions. This volume includes 51 works – remarkable for their wide emotional appeal, advanced chromatic techniques and piansistic devices, and ranging in difficulty from relatively easy, for advanced beginners, to quite challenging, for the accomplished pianist.
Fantasy in F Minor, Barcarolle, Berceuse and other works for Solo Piano (Dover 0-486-25950-1) feature piano works of exquisite quality. Chopin’s piano works, reknowned for their technical brilliance, also invariably project the composer’s mercurial moods. Their complex emotional content often lies close to the surface. A sparkling and graceful passage may be tinged with melancholy. A dark moment may be crowned with a note of triumph. This superb collection of fifteen of Chopin’s works for piano reflects these compelling qualities in some of the greatest piano compositions of the Romantic period.
First and foremost amongst these piano pieces is perhaps the most magnificent Fantasy in F Minor, Op. 49; as well as the often played Barcarolle, Op. 60; Berceuse, Op. 57; Allegro de Concert, Op. 22; and Andante spianato, Op. 22. One can also not neglect Bolero, Op. 19; Tarantelle, Op. 43; Funeral March in C Minor, Op. 72, No. 2; Three Ecossaises, Op. 72, No. 3; Introduction and Variations on “Je vends des scapulaires,” Op. 12; Introductions on a German Air; Variation no. 6 from the Hexameron; Rondo in C Minor, Op.1; Rondo “a la Mazur” in F Major, Op.5; and Introduction and Rondo, Op.16.
Chopin Masterpieces for Solo Piano – 46 Works (Dover 0-486-40150-2) is a collection containing 46 of Chopin’s best loved and most important pieces. One might say Chopin’s greatest hits. Included are Ballade No. 1 in G Minor, Berceuse, three Ecossaises, five Etudes (including the fiery “Revolutionary”), Fantasy Impromptu, eight mazurkas, seven Nocturnes, three Poloniases (including the enormously popular “Militaire”), nine preludes, Scherzo no. 2 in B-flat Minor and six waltzes (including the ‘Minute Waltz”)
As Chopin’s student and later his teaching assistant, Karol (Carl) Mikuli (1919-1897) – Polish pianist, composer, conductor and teacher – was in a particularly privileged and advantageous position to take into account all that the master brought to his playing and teaching. His editorial contribution to these volumes reflects his understanding of the principles that underlie this body of work, imparted to him in word in deed by the composer directly himself.
Mikuli’s historical and interesting forward “Chopin, Pianist and Teacher” included in these authoritative volumes (originally in German) was written in 1879, for his landmark edition of Chopin’s piano music, originally published by FR. Kistner, Leipzig. Lamenting all the innumerable errors found in earlier French, German, and English publications, he sought to provide the reader with a reliable edition based on several sources – especially printed scores corrected in Chopin’s own hand; scores in which Mikuli himself noted down the composer’s comments during lessons of students; and significant reminiscences by discerning witnesses to Chopin’s rare performances. The English translation of the original text – lightly edited for the present publication – was first prepared for the 1895 American edition. While markedly shorter than the original, this note touches on all the essential issues, concerns and points of view involved in this comprehensive edition.
Whether entertaining yourself or family and friends, or at concert performances, you can spend hours playing the piano works of the great composer and pianist Fryderyk Chopin. These reasonably priced Dover editions give students of all levels the opportunity to explore his greatest works
20th CENTURY CAROLS
Karolju: Christmas Music from Rouse, Lutoslawski and Rodrigo
A delightful and varied collection of some the best Christmas music that the 20th century has to offer! Julie Amacher of Minnesota Public Radio has this to say about the Lutosławski contributions to the disc: “Seventeen of his 20 Polish carols appear on this new Christmas collection. I never tire of listening to these beautiful songs. They vary in energy and style.”
IMPROMTU MULTICOLORE ON DISC
This disc includes a rare recording of Impromptu multicolore, a work for two pianos by Krzysztof Meyer. It features performances of pieces for 4 hands/2 pianos by piano duo Adrienne Soos and Ivo Haag.
It is now possible to buy the Deutsche Grammophon recording of the complete Chopin Preludes as performed by Rafał Blechacz, winner of the 2005 Chopin Competition in Warsaw, online as MP3 files. Visit www2.deutschegrammophon.com for more information.
SZYMANOWSKI ON DUX
KAROL SZYMANOWSKI: VIOLIN & PIANO WORKS
SZYMANOWSKI: PIANO WORKS
KAROL SZYMANOWSKI - SONGS OP. 5, 7, 32, 41, 54
WAJDA FILM WEEKEND: A REAL WINNER!
During mid December, five of Wajda’s films were featured in public and private screenings in Los Angeles. Four of these were organized by American Cinematheque, a Los Angeles institution devoted to showcasing classic movies and holding film forums at their flagship landmarks—The Egyptian Theatre in Santa Monica and the Aero Theatre in Hollywood. The other screening that followed the weekend-long celebrations of film and music from Poland was held at the Writers’ Guild Theatre.
The Guild’s invitation-only screening featured Wajda’s latest film, Katyń. Like many other Wajda films, it carries a strong political message. Based on the book Post Mortem by Andrzej Mularczyk, Katyń is Poland’s official entry for the Academy Awards and the Annual Golden Globes. The film depicts the events surrounding the mass murder of thousands of Polish military officers and intelligentsia by the Soviet Secret police during World War II. Wajda’s father was among those killed and t tragic chapter in Wajda’s family history affected him deeply and personally:
Wajda’s Katyń uses material from diaries and letters to narrate the lives of four fictional officers and their families, showing Poland’s tragic predicament as the country was invaded by the Nazis on September 1, 1939 and by the Soviets some two weeks later. After almost two months of heroic and unequal struggle, many Polish soldiers were taken prisoner by the two conquerors. At first, the disappearance of over 15,000 Polish officers in the Eastern borderlands was a mystery. The families, who had been receiving letters from the imprisoned soldiers, were unable to find out why the correspondence had suddenly stopped. The explanation came a few years later, when in the spring of 1943 the Nazis had invaded Soviet Union and discovered the mass graves. However, Soviet propaganda blamed the deaths on Hitler and harshly punished anyone who dared to think otherwise. Only in 1990 the new Russian government officially recognized that Stalin’s secret police, the NKVD, bore responsibility for the Katyń forest mass murder.
Katyń is certainly one of Wajda’s most important and long-awaited films, perhaps even the most important among many of his other masterpieces. It is particularly dramatic, evocative, and well-made. Katyń’s tragic message and powerful imagery are likely to remain with the viewer for a very long time. In addition to featuring a stellar Polish cast and the award-winning Director of Photography, Paweł Edelman, the film uses a wide selection of music by one of the greatest contemporary composers, Krzysztof Penderecki.
The American Cinematheque retrospective, “Last of the Titans: Classics From the Legendary Polish Filmmaker Andrzej Wajda,” presented four of the director’s most famous features, including Kanał (1957), Ashes and Diamonds (1958), The Promised Land (1975), and Man of Marble (1977). This retrospective was made possible by Akson Studio, Telewizja Polska S.A., Polish Film Institute and ELMA (European Languages and Movies in America), with additional support from the Skirball Cultural Center.
Andrzej Wajda was born in northeastern Poland in 1926. After the war he relocated to Kraków, where he enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts. In the early 1950s he studied directing at the famous Łódź film school and went on to become one of the most prominent filmmakers in Poland. He rose to prominence with the 1955 debut feature, Generation. A great many of Wajda’s fifty films deal with pressing political and social issues, ranging from the nineteenth-century Polish capitalism in The Promised Land (an Academy Award nomination) to the Communist-era dissent (Man of Marble or the Man of Iron). After his homeland regained its independence, Wajda was elected Senator of the Republic of Poland and served as Presidential Advisor on culture. Among his numerous distinctions, he received an Academy Award and the Golden Bear Award for his contributions to cinema.
The special screening of Katyń at the Writers Guild of America theatre on December 17, 2007, was followed by a reception attended by Wajda’s compatriots as well as numerous representative of film and music community in Los Angeles. It was a truly memorable occasion that combined powerful cinema and dramatic music to a deeply satisfying final effect.
CONCERTSTÜCK AROUND THE WORLD
Tomasz Strahl (pictured at left) performed Zygmunt Stojowski’s Concertstück in Wrocław, Poland on the 14th of December. Strahl and the W. Lutosławski Philharmonic of Wrocław were conducted by Łukasz Borowicz. Other pieces on the program were S. Moryto’s Violin Concerto and N. Rimsky-Korsakov’s symphonic poem Scheherazade. Tomasz Strahl is the Chair of the strings department at the F. Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw, from which he is also a graduate. To read his full biography, visit www.chopin.edu.pl.
The Concertstück was again performed on the 15th of December in London at the Onslow Garden Residence. Marek Zebrowski, piano, and Lars Hoefs, cello (pictured at right), gave a private benefit performance for the charities of the Marie Curie-Skłodowska Trust and the Marie Curie-Skłodowska Hospital for Women. Other works featured on the program were Chopin’s Polonaise Brilliante, Paderewski’s Nocturne, op. 16 (arrangement by M. Zebrowski), and Chopin’s Nocturne in C# minor (arrangement by G. Piatigorsky). Mr. Zebrowski and Mr. Hoefs have also performed these and other pieces for several Polish Music Center concerts throughout California over the past year.
Geoff Brown, a reviewer for the Times of London, had mixed remarks about the Dec. 2nd performance of Zbigniew Preisner (pictuered at right) and the performance of his new work for orchestra, Silence, Night & Dreams, at Barbican Hall in London:
The program for the evening included Silence, Night & Dreams (conducted by Preisner) and a suite of Preisner's themes for films by Krzysztof Kieslowski, including The Double Life of Veronique and the Three Colors: Blue, White, Red trilogy (conducted by Kriss Russman). Performers included special guest Teresa Salgueiro from Madredeus, the London Symphony Orchestra and Crouch End Festival Chorus.
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Copyright 2008 by the Polish Music Center
Send your comments and inquiries to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Newsletter Editor: Krysta Close
Assistant Editor: Daniel Kamiński
Contributions from: Marek Zebrowski,
Gary Fitelberg, Joseph A. Herter
and Daniel J. Kij
Sources of information: Polish Cultural Institute (NY & UK), Adam Mickiewicz Institute, American Record Guide,
PWM, Nowy Dziennik, Polish Music Information Centre, Polish American Journal, Poland.pl, PAP,
ZKP, infochopin.pl, BBC Music Magazine, Associated Press, The Independent,London Times
Formatting by Krysta Close, 10 January 2008
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