|Polish Music Newsletter|
March 2010, Vol. 16, No. 3. ISSN 1098-9188. Published monthly.
CHOPIN BICENTENNIAL &
MARATHON CONCERT AT USC
This month marks an important anniversary in the history of Polish music: two hundred years ago on March 1, Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin was born in Żelazowa Wola near Warsaw. Chopin’s father, Nicolas, was a French national who had immigrated to Poland, settled there, and became a devoted Polish patriot who fought in the Kościuszko Uprising. Chopin’s mother, Justyna Krzyżanowska, was a relative of the Skarbek family who lived in their modest village manor house where Chopin was born. The Skarbeks hired Nicolas Chopin as their French tutor.
Frédéric Chopin (the spelling which he used throughout his life) was a precocious child who began to compose when he was seven years old. By that time the family already lived in the center of Warsaw on the fashionable Krakowskie Przedmieście Boulevard. First tutored at home, Chopin then attended the Warsaw Lyceum and later studied at the Warsaw Conservatory. Remarkably, Chopin had only two music teachers. The first, Adalbert Żywny, was a violinist with whom Chopin studied for six years. Sensing extraordinary gifts of his young pupil, Żywny allowed Chopin’s talent to develop naturally by introducing him to the music literature canon of Bach and Mozart. Józef Elsner, a noted composer, was Chopin’s second teacher who took over from Żywny—first as a private tutor, then as Chopin’s professor at the Warsaw Conservatory.
By the time Chopin was fourteen, he already had a catalogue of a few Polonaises, a Military March and a Mazurka. His first published work, Rondo in C minor, Op. 1, dates from 1825, when he was fifteen; his last composition, the Mazurka in F minor, Op. 68 no. 4 was written in 1849, the year he died at the age of thirty-nine. During the period of almost twenty-five years devoted to composing, Chopin produced some of the most beautiful and enduring repertoire that remains without doubt the highest achievement of Romantic-era piano music. As a result, Chopin occupies a truly unique position in the history of music: his ground-breaking opus is at once revolutionary in its treatment of melody and harmony and its discovery of distinctive piano textures, as well as classical in the sense of the supreme perfection of form and content that inhabits all of his music.
Chopin’s singular dedication to the piano—the instrument he understood intimately and played like no one else before or since—is among the greatest assets of his legacy. He was quite conscious of his ability to compose for this medium and thus was able to give free reign to his creative imagination. The luxurious sounds and coloristic effects Chopin drew from the piano inspired his contemporaries, left his public spellbound, and served as the foundation of music written by composers who followed him decades later, well into the twentieth century. Liszt’s account of Chopin’s importance as a composer is worthy of quoting; the two were friendly in Paris and Liszt genuinely admired Chopin’s refined style and exceptional virtuosity. He also understood that Chopin’s music pointed towards the future:
The legacy of Chopin covers many themes, with the Polish national spirit felt most strongly in his Polonaises, Mazurkas, and Ballades. Chopin’s Nocturnes, as well as his Berceuse and Barcarolle are examples of unparalleled romantic piano literature where beauty of sound and intimacy of experience strike a chord in every listener’s heart. Chopin’s Etudes and Preludes are essays that speak to Chopin’s pianistic prowess and poetic inspiration. His Impromptus and Waltzes dazzle with their elegance, dash and spontaneous flow of exquisite musical ideas. The three piano Sonatas and the monumental Cello Sonata chart the development of Chopin as a composer, from a student of classical forms in Professor Elsner’s class to a fully mature artist who charted the course of music well into the twentieth century. The two piano Concertos and his shorter works for piano and orchestra remain the mainstay of concert repertoire to this day.
A sampling of Chopin’s catalogue of compositions will be presented to the public on 27 March 2010 at Newman Hall on the University of Southern California campus. In conjunction with the Thornton School of Music, the Polish Music Center is organizing a Chopin Marathon that will feature faculty and graduate students performing a variety of solo and chamber music repertoire. In addition to the two piano sonatas and the Cello Sonata, lesser-known piano works and chamber music (including selections of Chopin’s beautiful songs) will be presented. The music will be heard in four approximately 50-minute segments with intermissions between them, allowing for the public to hear Chopin’s music a la carte. The admission is, as always, free, and on a first come, first served basis. Come celebrate this wonderful anniversary with us!
A BOOK REVIEW OF
The original version of this article in Polish was published in MUZYKA, Quarterly LIV 2009 N 3-4. English translation provided by Michael J. Oczko. Reprinted by permission.
A long awaited and much needed first monograph of the once famous Polish composer and pianist Zygmunt (Denis Antoni Jordan) Stojowski (1870-1946), known as Sigismond abroad, has finally appeared. The work is the tenth volume in the highly regarded collection Polish Music History Series published by the Polish Music Center of the University of Southern California at Los Angeles, introducing foreign readers to the history of Polish musical culture which is edited by specialists distinguished by their service to the propagation of knowledge about the musical contributions of our country: Wanda Wilk, Maja Trochimczyk, Linda Schubert and, recently, Marek Żebrowski. The ambitious undertaking to present selected aspects of the history of contemporary and nineteenth century Polish music in English can be compared only to Stefan Sutkowski’s monumental series The History of Music in Poland which by design is, however, a thorough review of Polish musical culture in general.
The more than 300-page study dedicated to this outstanding artist and pianoforte virtuoso was written by Joseph Herter, an American who has resided in Poland since the 1970s, a graduate of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Herter, a conductor and musicologist, combining the abilities of theoretician and practitioner, has not only written this book concerning the Polish composer but has also taken pains to restore many of the composer’s works to their rightful place in the concert repertoire. Even before the publication of the monograph in question, he made his mark as a cultivator of Stojowski’s music, organizing (among other events) the “Music of Zygmunt Stojowski Festival” in 2003 in Warsaw at which the first Polish performance of the First World War cantata A Prayer for Poland [Modlitwa za Polskę] (set to a text by Zygmunt Krasiński) was presented.
To date, the level of research on the life and works of Zygmunt Stojowski, as reflected in the Introduction (XV - XXI) is extremely impoverished; in fact, the most recent bibliographical notes in English date from the 1970’s,1 while those in Polish from as far back as the nineteen fifties.2 In writing his monograph, Joseph Herter was obliged to consult source materials as not much help was forthcoming from the literature on the subject and, as he himself writes—his work often was more reminiscent of that of a detective than of a musicologist (p. XV). The author established, for example, that the artist’s date of birth was the 8th of April, 1870, thus rejecting numerous errors found in the literature and ranging from between 1863 to 1876. A review of the composer’s life, the reconstruction of the catalogue of his works and their performance history required research in several European countries (Poland, France, Great Britain, Germany and Switzerland) and in the United States—an exceptionally detailed archival quest conducted in many libraries (the archives and other materials engaged by Stojowski’s biographer are listed in the Acknowledgements, pp. XI - XIV).
The work is clearly written and divided into two basic parts: the first describes the personal and professional life of the Polish composer and concert pianist (pp. 25-144), while the second presents his creative output in the form of a complex chronological catalogue. The highly detailed biography is divided into chapters of which the first describe Stojowski’s educational and professional development; these are Ancestry and Childhood (pp. 25-30), Triumph in Paris (pp. 31-50), Pianist and Professor in America (pp. 52-56) and later chapters - The Composer in Decline (pp. 110-118), and Twilight of a Great Musician (pp. 128 -137). Other fragments concern to a large degree persons whose paths crossed with those of the composer: his students and his wife (who was also his student) and children—Teacher and Students (pp. 63-86) and Family (pp. 87-93). Two chapters are dedicated to the currently little known activities of Stojowski on behalf of Poles during both world wars and the systematic propagation of Polish culture throughout the world —The Great War (pp. 94-109) and Proud to be Polish (pp. 119-127). The final chapter, Remembering Stojowski (pp. 138-144) describes the posthumous fate of the composer’s body of work which, thanks to Joseph Herter, has been enjoying something of a renaissance over the last few years.
Much abridged, the musical career presented in the book can be summarized as follows: Stojowski’s first music teacher was his mother Maria, well known in Kraków for the establishment of an artistic salon hosting such bright lights as Hans von Bülow, Anton Rubinstein, Maurycy Rosenthal and Józef Hofman. Stojowski took piano and composition lessons with Władysław Żeleński thanks to the patronage of Duchess Marcelina Czartoryska, a student of Chopin; it was in her salon that Stojowski made his debut as a pianist. In 1887, he graduated with distinction from St. Anne’s Gimnasium (high school) in Kraków; in his class were the painters Józef Mehoffer and Stanisław Wyspiański (also a celebrated playwright). In the same year, following his debut as a composer, he entered studies at the Paris Conservatory which he finished with double medals. The departure to Paris was recommended by Żeleński, who had also studied there, and whose advice Stojowski remembered with gratitude. He studied piano with Louis Dièmer, harmony with Théodore Dubois, and composition with Léo Delibes (he also consulted with Jules Massenet and Camille Saint-Saëns). Léo Delibes was so proud of his student that he wanted to adopt him so that he could take part in the Prix de Rome competition which, at the time, was reserved for French citizens. Perhaps due to Stojowski, Delibes took an interest in the folk music of southern Poland, collecting folk melodies during a lengthy sojourn in Kraków, Lwów and Zakopane for later use in two of his major works—the opera Kassya and the ballet Coppélia. Among the teachers who had the greatest influence on him Stojowski also included Władysław Górski, the violinist and composer, with whom he studied the interpretation of chamber music, and Ignacy Jan Paderewski, the pianist and composer, his teacher and mentor from 1891. As Paderewski’s student, Stojowski was another link in the great chain of Viennese pianistic tradition (Paderewski had been a student of Téodor Leszetycki, he of Carl Czerny, a student of Ludwig van Beethoven who—as we know—was the student of Joseph Haydn). During his stay in Paris, the Polish artist also attended the Sorbonne at lectures in the fields of history, philosophy, literature and foreign languages. There he became friends with Peter Tchaikovsky and Johannes Brahms. Upon completion of his studies he gave concerts in Paris, London, Brussels, Berlin and Poland. In 1898, he won the first prize at Ignacy Jan Paderewski Composers’ Competition in Leipzig for his Symphony in d minor, opus 21 (1898). The symphony was performed under the direction of conductor Emil Młynarski in Warsaw at the inaugural concert of the newly formed National Philharmonic Orchestra on 5 November 1901, in France, Great Britain and Denmark. Since 1894, his oeuvres had been published by major companies such as Stanley Lucas, Weber, Pitt and Hatzfeld Ltd., Schott and Co., Peters, Heugel, Gebethner and Wolff, and Schirmer. His career as pianist and composer was evolving very successfully. In 1905, he departed for the United States on the invitation of Frank Damrosch to take up duties as the director of the pianoforte chair and remained there until his death (he also received American citizenship). The Institute of Musical Art in New York directed by Damrosch was later renamed the Julliard School of Music (as the result of a merger with the Julliard Graduate School). Although the fundamental reason for arrival of the Polish artist in America was his pedagogical work—he was highly regarded from the beginning for his work in this area—he soon established his reputation as an outstanding virtuoso appearing in New York’s most important venues, and later in many cities in the united States, Canada and in South America. In 1918 he founded his own school, among whose students were Alexander Brachocki, Antonia Brico, Phyllida Ashley, Oscar Levant, Mischa Lewitzki, Arthur Loesser, Alfred Newman, Guiomar Novaes, and Harriet Ware, among others. Besides his concert, compositional and pedagogical activities, he published a number of texts on the problems of pianoforte pedagogy (for thirty years he was a correspondent of the musical magazine “The Etude”).
During the First World War he engaged in the organization of assistance for his Polish countrymen—he was the vice-chairman of the American Polish Relief Committee founded by Metropolitan Opera diva Marcelina Sembrich-Kochańska, and also a director of the Polish Concert Bureau in New York, supported by Paderewski and organizing concerts in support of the Polish Victims’ Relief Fund. Paderewski even proposed Stojowski a position in the first Polish government that he was forming, but the composer declined the honor. During World War II he became involved in the work of the Polish Musicians Committee. He was among the founders of institutions promoting Polish culture in America - the Polish Institute of Arts and Letters (PIAL) founded in 1932 as a prototype of the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences functioning in Poland since 1942 and originally the extraterritorial representative of the Kraków Polish Academy of Learning. For twenty years he also participated in the work of the Kosciuszko Foundation. On 28 February 1926, the Polish Government decorated Zygmunt Stojowski with the medal of the Polonia Restituta Order for his work on behalf of Poles during the First World War. The United States honored him with a number of distinctions including the Distinguished Service Medal.
His compositions could be found in the repertoire of the greatest orchestras of his time: The Berlin Philharmonic, The Vienna Philharmonic, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic. They were performed by the leading soloists, such as I. J. Paderewski, Aleksander Michałowski, Józef Hofman, Mieczysław Horszowski, Antonina Adamska, Rudolf Ganz, Carl Friedberg, Aleksander Brachocki, Arthur Loesser, Percy Grainger, Olga Samaroff, Mischa Levitzki, Michael von Zadora, Władysław Górski, Paweł Kochanski, Henryk Opieński, August Wilhem, Jacques Thibaud, Jascha Heifetz, George Enescu, Pablo Casals, Gregor Piatigorsky, Józef Adamski, Marcelina Sembrich-Kochańska, and Karol Fürstenberg.
The second half of the book is made up of complete chronological creative catalogues (pp. 145-253) divided into five categories: published works with opus numbers, published works without opus numbers, unpublished and lost works, unpublished works from the archives of Zygmunt and Luisa Stojowski, and, separately, unpublished works from other collections. The descriptions of the works in the catalogues are very exhaustive and include—besides the basic information regarding ensemble specifications, movements, occasional dedications, location of manuscripts, publication and recording information—much commentary, often occupying several pages; these are, at times, concise analytical descriptions, or commentaries and reviews penned by Mr. Herter and other authors. The value of such a thoroughly formulated catalogue for future researchers and performers of the music of Stojowski is inestimable.
In the two sectional format of the book, essentially no place was earmarked for a broader summary of the body of composed works by Zygmunt Stojowski to trace the evolution of his style, to indicate his most important works, or to present the technical elements used in his composing work. A scanty description of the characteristics of his music is included in the chapter, The Composer in Decline, indicating his affinity with the traditional musical media particular to romanticism and his resistance to modernist tendencies appearing at the beginning of the twentieth century. As the author remarks, the work of Albéniz, Debussy, Granados, Scriabin and Szymanowski marked the boundaries of Stojowski’s tolerance for musical experimentation (p. 113). His contact with the avant-garde artist Henry Cowell in the thirties (during his work at Mills College in California) left no impression on him whatsoever.
Following the catalogues are two indices of which the first (p. 254 - 258) contains listings of orchestral performances of Stojowski’ works in the years 1885 - 1938, while the second (pp. 259-273) lists the manuscripts contained in the Zygmunt and Luisa Stojowski Archives at the Polish Music Center in Los Angeles presented in the same order as is to be found in the archive, divided into sections and folders. It would be wise to consider changing the title of the second index (“Stojowski’s manuscripts. Zygmunt and Luisa Stojowski Collection at the Polish Music Center, USC”) as section VI - IX of the listing contains Published Works.
The bibliography (pp. 274-299) divided into two parts begins with a valuable listing of Writings by Zygmunt Stojowski (pp. 274-279) in alphabetical order by title, followed by the literature on the subject (Other Sources, pp 279- 299). It would be most interesting to read the musical and non-musical writings of Stojowski of which more than seventy were published in English, Polish, French, German and Spanish (p. 122); these articles were not employed in the contents of this book. Somewhat puzzling is the inclusion of written materials by Stojowski dedicated to his writings, but in forms not generally regarded as “writings,” such as personal letters, program and biographical notes. Documentation of source materials should be extracted from the listings of published work regarding the artist and presented separately (cf. e.g., p. 295 “Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences. Sigismond Stojowski Papers, Collection No. 046, Folders 1-51, New York”) and—in a separate listing—unsigned daily press notices generally reporting on the appearances of Stojowski. The work is richly illustrated (pp. 300-312) and contains concert programs, portraits of the composer, and pictures of his family among others. The index occupies pages 313-327.
The book is an exceptional achievement required reading for researchers and amateurs of Polish musical art of the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The author’s scrupulous attention to detail is quite amazing. The narrative is not reminiscent of a novel in style because Joseph Herter (pictured at left) in his precise research has not allowed himself to fantasize on the composer’s personality, and never exceeds the boundaries of facts. One might well wish for further endeavors of a similar degree of detail concerning the work of forgotten composers active in the nineteenth and at the beginning of the twentieth century whose music also deserves to be more often included in the concert repertoire such as Ignacy F. Dobrzyński, Józef Deszczyński, Julian Fontana, Karol Lipiński, Antoni Stolpe, Józef Krogulski, Emanuel Kania, Józef Wieniawski, Teodor Leszetycki, Karol Mikuli, Henryk Melcer-Szczawiński, Witold Maliszewski or Zygmunt Nosowski. An additional value of the book on Stojowski is the fact that it was published in English thus increasing to a substantial degree the broadening of knowledge of Polish musical heritage. We are grateful to Joseph Herter for bringing back to life the music of Zygmunt Stojowski and wait impatiently for the appearance of the Polish language version of his book.
[Images: Property of the Polish Music Center, Zygmunt & Luisa Stojowski Collection]
1 Frank Cooper. 100 Years Later, the Centenary of an Extraordinary Musician, Clavier 9 (1970) no. 9, pp. 4- 9. See also Frank Cooper’s notes of 1976 stored in the International Piano Archives at Maryland (IPAM), University of Maryland, (then, the International Piano Archives, New York).
2 Maria Macharska-Wolańska. Twórczość fortepianowa Zygmunta Stojowskiego (The Pianoforte Works of Zygmunt Stojowski), Masters thesis, typewritten. Jagiellonian University, Kraków: 1950.
CHOPIN & PADEREWSKI YEAR
Blechacz Kicks Off the Birthday Celebrations
On February 22, pianist Rafał Blechacz joined Antoni Wit and National Philharmonic in Warsaw to inaugurate the celebrations of Chopin’s birthday in Poland. Although historians now generally agree that Chopin was born on March 1,1810, his birthday was long thought to be February 22 due to confusing historical documents and calendar discrepancies. Thus many of the Chopin birthday celebrations fall on either February22 or March 1, or last the whole week long. In the case of the National Philharmonic, this meant concerts every day between February 22-28, featuring such artists as Ivo Pogorelić, Sinfonia Varsovia, Murray Perahia, Garrick Ohlsson, Kevin Kenner, Nerlson Goener, Janusz Olejniczak, Evgeny Kissin, Nikolai Demidenko, Daniel Barenboim performing Chopin repertoire.
During the inaugural concert, Blechacz performed Chopin’s Piano Concerto in F Minor. According to Jacek Marczyński, a reviewer from Rzeczpospolita, Rafał Blechacz is now presenting a new artistic persona. Marczyński remarks that Blechacz is no longer the boy from five years ago who won the Chopin competition—now he is a mature artist and, as such, has the right for his own explorations.
“In the first movement of the Concerto, Blechacz enriched the dramatic narration. In the lyrical Larghetto, he did not allow himself to indulge in too much sentimentalism. Some of the timbral concepts were even surprising. If anyone had doubts regarding that particular interpretation, the Finale convinced them of the pianist’s vision. The final Allegro was performed extraordinarily, with surprising ease, unmistakably feeling Chopin’s changing rhythms,” said Marczyński.
According to Krzysztof Komarnicki of the National Chopin Institute’s Magazyn Chopin: “After the concerto, Blechacz performed two encores: both were Mazurkas, and the first, in A Minor op. 17 no. 4, was performed phenomenally. Blechacz was able to give an unforgettable interpretation, charming and hypnotizing his listeners. Nobody dared to applaud—long after the last note has sounded there was absolute silence. Everybody was trying to stay as long as they could in this world created by Frederic Chopin and discovered by Rafał Blechacz.”
“The Longest Birthday” Marathon
“The Longest Birthday” [Najdluzsze Urodziny] was conceived to celebrate Chopin’s birthday with a continuous concert starting on February 22 and ending on March 1 in Warsaw. This marathon concert was organized by a group of Chopin enthusiasts and took place in the Dom Polonii of Wspólnota Polska on Krakowskie Przedmieście. All of the concerts were free and open to the public.
The list of performers for this over 170 hour celebration was very long and impressive and included some of the greats: Filip Wojciechowski Trio, Maria Pomianowska, Ravel Piano Duo, Janusz Olejniczak, Camerata Quartet, Andrzej Jasiński, Andrzej Jagodziński, Kazimierz Gierżod, Andrzej Bohdanowicz, and many, many others. See a complete list of performers www.najdluzszeurodziny.pl. On that website you can also see the photographs from this unusual event as well as reactions from the press and online communities around the world.
For more Chopin performances in February, see our Performances section below
PMC Director on KUSC
Recently, KUSC host Kimberlea Daggy sat down with PMC Director Marek Zebrowski to discuss the inimitable Chopin during his anniversary year. The broadcast featured insights into the life and works of this great pianist and composer, with musical illustrations provided by Mr. Zebrowski, as well as a few surprises!
The program was broadcast on Sunday, February 28th at 2:00 p.m., on FM 91.5 and KUSC's affiliated stations around California. The program is no longer available online, however a recording is available from the PMC.
From the celebratory (“Chopin We Love”) to the ridiculous (“We Apologize In Advance: A Chopin-oply Of Chopuns”), the American National Public Radio network (NPR) joins the celebration of Chopin’s 200th anniversary with their dedicated site, Chopin at 200. Read and listen to features, including The Life And Music Of Frederic Chopin, A World Of Expression In A Tiny Chopin Mazurka, and Chopin With A Polish Touch, about the “special bond” between Polish pianists and their compatriot.
Polish Radio reports
The External Service of Polish Radio celebrates the International Chopin Year 2010 with many different broadcasts and articles in English, including “Chopin - citizen of the world.” See a list of all features here: www.thenews.pl.
ZET Chopin Radio
Polish Radio ZET, in cooperation with Frederic Chopin Society, has created an internet radio station dedicated to highest quality performances of Chopin’s music—ZET Chopin. Performers include: Rafał Blechacz, Bella Davidovich, Yundi Li, Alieksiej Sułtanow, Krystian Zimmerman and many other highly esteemed artists. Repertoire for the station was selecte by Chopin scholar Antoni Grudziński, General Director of the Frederic Chopin Society, musicologist and author of numerous publications about the composer.
Chopin with Cherries: A Tribute in Verse
Chopin with Cherries: A Tribute in Verse was compiled by former PMC Director Maja Trochimczyk in celebration of Chopin’s 200th birth anniversary. Poetry from the project has been featured in forums from the 3rd International Chopin Congress in Warsaw to the Evening of Music by Chopin and Poetry about Chopin in Los Angeles. Ninety-one international poets are represented in the volume. The anthology includes more than 122 poems in English, and one important Polish poem, Cyprian Kamil Norwid's masterpiece Fortepian Szopena, in its first English translation by Leonard Kress. English-language classics include verse by T. S. Elliot, Emma Lazarus and Amy Lowell. Chopin with Cherries is published by Moonrise Press.
For the great German expatriate poet, Henrich Heine, who shared Parisian exile years with the composer, Chopin was "the great genius tone-poet" (1837). The search for the "poetic" in Chopin's music persisted over the years. Numerous poets dedicated their work to the "eternal eloquence, immortal pain" (phrases from Emma Lazarus, 19th century) or "nothing but moonlight" found in Chopin's music (a phrase from the composer's lover, writer George Sand). The latter expression was cited by poets Milicent Borges Accardi and Susan Rogers in the current collection.
Chopin with Cherries brings together a variety of approaches and poetic forms, such as free verse, letter-poems, villanelle, sonnet, rhymed poems in couplets, prose poetry, and tanka. Some poets write about details from Chopin's life, women he loved, Wodzinska and Sand, as well as the circumstances of his illnesses and death. Others focus on his music - on its meaning as a symbol of fragile beauty in the modern world, or on the emotional impact of individual pieces. Nocturnes are particularly popular as a genre (16 poems), but three miniatures attracted the greatest attention: the Prelude in D-flat Major, Op. 28, No. 15 "Raindrop" (5 poems), the Waltz in D-flat Major, Op. 64, No. 1 "Minute Waltz" (6 poems, including a cowboys' dance), and the Waltz in A Minor, Op. Posthumous (4 poems).
Chopin is heard everywhere: in a Parisian church (Rick Lupert), on the plains of North Dakota (Thom Tamarro), in Ohio (Donna L. Emerson), in his birthplace in Żelazowa Wola (Margaret C. Szumowski), and on the radio (Ryan McLellan). Marian Shapiro considers the meaning of Chopin's art "as if each measure were a casual ripple in a spring stream of melting centuries." Australian-born poet Katrin Talbot envisions Chopin's music as an accusation for ourfailures:"'Why didn't you . . . ? Why did you . . . ?'" John Guzlowski writes about Chopin's music replacing traumatic memories of "the hollow surge and dust of German tanks" ("A Good Death"). Ruth Nolan hears Chopin in the desert, "between the spaces of darkness and sound, blown across the sand dunes into magnificence." Poets fondly remember playing or listening to the music associated with their childhood, evoking moments of happiness and feelings of nostalgia or loss (Trochimczyk's "A Study with Cherries" that gave rise to the title of the collection).
Chopin: Prince of the Romantics
A completely new edition of the definitive biography of Chopin, Chopin: Prince of the Romantics (first published 1979), is available again after an absence of many years. The book is by one of the finest of contemporary European historians, Adam Zamoyski, and published by HarperPress.
Two centuries have passed since Chopin's birth, yet his legacy is all around us today. The quiet revolution he wrought influenced the development of Western music profoundly, and he is still probably the most widely studied and revered composer. For many, he is the object of a cult. Yet most people know little of his life, of the man, his thoughts and his feelings; his public image is a sugary blur of sentimentality and melodrama. Adam Zamoyski cuts through the myths and legends to tell the story of Chopin's life, and to reveal all that can be discovered about him as a person. He pays particular attention to recent revelations about the composer's health, and places him within the intellectual and spiritual environment of his day.
Adam Zamoyski is an award-winning British historian and author of the best-selling epic 1812. Napoleon’s Fatal March on Moscow and its sequel Rites of Peace. The Fall of Napoleon and the Congress of Vienna. Zamoyski has published several other acclaimed books, on key figures and aspects of European and world history. His comprehensive history of Poland, The Polish Way, not only featured in the best-seller lists for several weeks when it came out in 1987, but has never been out of print since.He is also a distinguished commentator and reviewer, and has contributed to all the major British papers and periodicals, and lectured widely in England, Europe and the United States.
Read a review of this book in The Economist.
[Source: Polish Cultural Inst. UK]
Ignacy Paderewski: Poland
Ignacy Paderewski: Poland, written by Anita Prażmowska, is an English-language book exploring Paderewski’s critical role in Polish and world history after 1919. A part of the series Makers of the Modern World, this monograph is published and sold by Haus Publishing. The following description of this English-language book, which explores Paderewski’s role in Polish and world history after 1919, is taken from the website of the Polish Cultural Institute UK:
Ignacy Paderewski: Poland by Anita Prażmowska, one of 32 in the series Makers of the Modern World, describes the personalities, circumstances and events surrounding the countries that were remade after the Paris Treaties. Poland, a country poised to be reborn after its multiple partitions between the Prussian, Russian and Austro-Hungarian Empires, became a pawn for the Central Powers who all wanted a strong Poland for different reasons.
A resolution of the Polish Question was a great unknown throughout the war, as nobody knew who the victors would be. The Central Powers were indifferent to Polish territorial demands until the fall of the three empires and the Russian Revolution of 1917. Russia had been a valued ally of France, which was now faced with both a stronger Germany and its fear of Bolshevism; Britain feared retaliation by a Germany pushed too far by loss of territory and reparations and tried to prevent France from gaining a firm foothold in Central and Eastern Europe.
Ignacy Paderewski, world famous and indefatigable concert pianist, was one of the three major figures involved in establishing a post-war Poland, together with Roman Dmowski, the intellectual socialist and Jan Pilsudski, the military chief. He was considered the public face, almost the “soul” of Polish nationalism. A pianist in the romantic mould, his field of battle was the concert hall and his audiences were the elites of France, Britain and the United States. He is credited with swaying President Woodrow Wilson in favour of Poland in a memorandum he submitted on the Polish Question. The Polish case became Wilson’s 13th Point, the strongest guarantee that Poland would be restored: “My dear Paderewski, I can tell you that Poland will be resurrected and will exist again.” But, his lack of political awareness and naiveté made his later years as Prime Minister of Poland deeply unhappy. […]
Continue reading here: Polish Cultural Institute UK
Nocturne (Book &CD)
Amid the lush tonal landscapes of Chopin, a killer stalks unseen in Harrison Slater’s page-turning new novel, Nocturne (Peabody Mason, $24.95, January 2010). Nocturne combines culture and passion in a gripping narrative of love, fatal attraction and, ultimately, redemption.
Internationally known author, scholar and pianist Harrison Slater continues on the path of his acclaimed best-selling novel, Night Music, which was optioned as a film in Europe. Just as Night Music opened the world of Mozart to mystery readers, Nocturne brings the poetic panoramas of Chopin to those who love novels of obsession and romance.For Nocturne, a CD of Chopin’s piano music has been integrated into the text … the first example of a novel with a soundtrack performed by the author.
A Ph.D. in musicology, Harrison Gradwell Slater is the author of four books including Night Music and In Mozart’s Footsteps. In addition to writing and recording, Slater coaches many world-class pianists, thanks to his musical association with Paul Doguereau, whose experience links him to the greatest pianists of the twentieth century. Slater is also Artistic Director of an international Chopin piano competition scheduled for May 2010 in Boston. Nocturne is Slater’s second novel. The author divides his time between Boston, Milan and Paris.
Chopin Manuscripts on display in London
“Chopin: The Romantic Refugee” is the title of an exhibition opening in the Folio Society Gallery of the British Library on March 1. The exhibition will be open until May 16 and features manuscripts from the British Library collection as well as some rare archival recordings. Additionally on display are concert programs, letters and portraits. The main theme of the exhibition is Chopin’s two visits to Great Britain in 1837 and 1848, when he fled the French revolution.
According to the Polish Cultural Institute UK, “the story of his tour of Great Britain will be told in the context of the Polish fervour which had taken over the artistic and political life of the country.”
Chopin Stamps displayed in Wrocław
The Museum of Post and Telecommunication in Wrocław, Poland has prepared an exhibition entitled "Fryderyk Chopin... sercem Polak, a talentem świata obywatel" [Fryderyk Chopin… Pole at heart, Citizen of the World by talent]. The exhibition was opened on February 26 and will continue until April 8, 2010. According to representative of the museum, Agata Kreska, the exhibition will feature Polish Postal Service releases as well as international postal prints dedicated to the artists and Chopin Piano Competition.
"The Polish Post has released the first stamp dedicated to Fryderyk Chopin in 1927 based on a design by Zygmunt Kamiński. Since that first stamp there have been several editions and prints, including the Kultura polska series from 1947 created by Stefan Żechowski, where Chopin was presented in addition to other well known personas from Polish cultural life" said Kreska. Since 1954 there also have been designs dedicated to the International Chopin Competition in Warsaw.
The exhibition will be augmented by original designs of post stamps and posters as well as a new printing created by the Polish Postal Service for 2010, entitled +Rok Fryderyka Chopina+. Additionally there will be map on display of the postal route from Warsaw to Duszniki Zdrój, which Frederic Chopin traveled in 1826; a letter that Chopin wrote to his friend, Wilhelm Kolberg; and the painting "Marsz żałobny Chopina" [Chopin’s Funeral Procession] by Stefan Żechowski.
Summer at Nohant in D.C.
The Ambassador Theater is delighted to present the Washington DC premiere of Summer at Nohant, a romantic comedy in three acts directed by Hanna Bondarewska, celebrating the 200th Anniversary of Frederic Chopin’ birth. The original play by famed 20th century poet, prose writer, playwright and essayist, Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz, is presented in a translation by Celina Wieniewska.
In this play, George Sand, the famed French writer and emancipated woman, brings together artists at her celebrated summer retreat in Nohant. Frederic Chopin, one of her lovers and most inspiring of artists, echoes all the longings and frustrations of the inhabitants as he composes his Sonata in B minor. His music is transcendent and affects everyone in the household… “And what stirs me so greatly each time he plays a new composition, is the fact that here, in Nohant, in these vulgar surroundings, among kitchen squabbles- something so full of transcendental genius is being produced!”
The Ambassador Theater’s mission is to build international cultural awareness, provide a high standard of international repertoire based on close relations with the diplomatic and cultural representatives of different countries in the United States, and provide international interactive educational programs for the youth of the District of Columbia, the D.C. Metro area, and around the United States.
Monsieur Chopin in Laguna Beach
Created by the same team that brought George Gershwin Alone to life, Monsieur Chopin begins at Frédéric Chopin’s salon at 9 Square d’Orléans in Paris. Monsieur Chopin will teach a piano lesson that
PADEREWSKI & CHOPIN IN D.C.
Paderewski - The Pianist and the Diplomat
George Washington University's Klub Polonia presents “The Pianist and the Diplomat”—an evening of music, history and food exploring the life of Jan Ignacy Paderewski who, in his various roles as diplomat, prime minister, performer, humanitarian, and composer, fiercely advocated for a free and independent Poland. The evening will feature two of the foremost American Paderewski experts: former US Ambassador and retired Lt. Gen. Edward Rowny, and world-renowned concert pianist and cultural ambassador John Robilette.
For more information on this event and the presenters, please visit Facebook.
Ewa Pobłocka performs Chopin
Distinguished Polish pianist Ewa Pobłocka will perform a recital of Chopin’s music in honor of the 200th year of Chopin's birth and in cooperation with the Embassy of Poland. The event will take place at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, March 14 at 6:30 pm.
Die Welt has ranked Ewa Pobłocka “among the greatest pianists of her own country and others too." She studied at the Music Academy in Gdańsk and received top awards from piano competitions in Vercelli, Bordeaux and Warsaw. Ms. Pobłocka has performed throughout Europe, North and South America, Singapore, Korea, Japan and Australia—appearing in such famous venues as the Herkules-Saal in Munich, the Musikhalle in Hamburg, the Auditorio Nacional in Madrid, the Barbican Centre and Wigmore Hall in London, the Musikverein in Vienna, New York's Lincoln Center and Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto.
The new work 2010: A Chopin Odyssey was written especially for the AUKSO Chamber Orchestra of the City of Tichy, Poland, and Mateusz Kołakowski (pictured below), a prominent pianist, jazz trio leader and soloist. The music was composed and arranged by Mr. Kołakowski and Piotr Steczek.
2010: A Chopin Odyssey was presented by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute at the Vilnius Philharmonic on February 24th. It was performed by AUKSO with Director Marek Moś and soloists: Mr. Kołakowski – piano, Mr. Steczek – violin & woodwinds, Maciej Garbowski – bass, and Krzysztof Gradziuk – drums. Future performances include Tychy (March 22), Bytom (April 30), and Katowice (August 29) in Poland, as well as possible performances in Warsaw, New York, Paris and elsewhere. For more details on the performers, see www.aukso.pl/pdf/aukso_press_eng.pdf
According to Piotr Steczek and Mateusz Kołakowski:
[Source: AUKSO Press Release]
NOSPR IN THE CHOPIN YEAR
The Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra (NOSPR) is joining the celebrations of the Chopin Year 2010 by going abroad on tour. Starting in March the orchestra willperform the works of Frederic Chopin in Germany, Switzerland, Qatar, Kuwait and United Arab Emirates. Listen to an interview about the orchestra’s upcoming projects with Music Director Łukasz Borowicz on Polish Radio.
On March 11 NOSPR will begin a five-day concert tour of Stuttgart, Fribourg and Lucerne where, under the baton of Jacek Kaspszyk, they will perform works by Chopin, Tchaikovsky and Panufnik with pianist Angela Hewitt. Between March 16 and 20 the chamber ensemble of NOSPR will be joined by conductors Krzysztof Penderecki and Michał Klauza in the Middle East to perform works by Chopin, including: Waltz in E flat Major, Andante spianato and Grand Polonaise in E flat Major, Fantasy on Polish Themes, Rondo a la Krakowiak, Variations on “La ci darem la mano,” as well as both piano concertos. Soloists for the Middle East tour will be Philippe Giusiano and Krzysztof Jabłoński.
Free Chopin in New York
Midwestern anniversary celebrations
“Chopin l'européen” Series in Paris
A tour of Chopin’s world in one week…Chopin's complete works for solo piano will be presented in chronological order from Tuesday, March 9 to Sunday, March 14 at the Cité de la Musique in Paris, France. These solo recitals will be performed by some of the greatest Chopin interpreters of this generation, including: Pierre Goy, Kevin Kenner, Abdel Rama El Bacha, Vanessa Wagner, Nelson Goerner, and Janusz Olejniczack. All recitals will be performed on a historical fortepianos from the collections of the Musée de la musiqe or the Paris Conservatory.
For a detailed list of all concerts and repertoire, please visit www.citedelamusique.fr. Presented in collaboration with the Chopin Institute in Warsaw.
This recital series will coincide with the opening of the exhibition “Chopin, l'atelier du compositeur” in an adjoining exhibit space at the Cité. This exhibit will explore Chopin’s life as both composer and performer, through historical instruments and other artifacts.
Kevin Kenner – world-wide Chopin Programs
The year 1990 was a milestone for American pianist Kevin Kenner, whose artistry was recognized throughout the world by three prestigious awards: the top prize at the International Chopin Competition in Warsaw (together with the Peoples' Prize and prize for the best Polonaise), the recipient of the International Terrence Judd Award in London, and the Bronze Medal at the Tchaikovsky International Competition in Moscow (together with the prize for best performance of a Russian work). In the years leading up to those accomplishments, he won prizes at the Van Cliburn International Competition (Fort Worth, 1989) and the Gina Bachauer International Competition (Salt Lake City, 1988). To celebrate the anniversary of Chopin as well as these great achievements 20 years ago, Kevin Kenner will present several interesting programs in venues around the world in March.
For Chopin 2010 events in the UK - get The Guide
For Chopin 2010 events world-wide – visit chopin2010.pl
PENDERECKI US PREMIERE
The Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Los Angeles and the La Jolla Symphony & Chorus Association will present a concert honoring Poland’s musical legacy in the 20th century on March 13 and 14, 2010.
The first half will feature the US Premiere of Penderecki’s heartfelt Chaconne—In Memoriam John Paul II and Szymanowski’s unique Symphonie Concertante for piano and orchestra, expertly interpreted by Palomar College Artist in Residence, pianist Peter Gach. Chorus and soloists join the orchestra on the second half for the Stabat Mater of Szymanowski, which the composer intended as a “Polish Requiem.” Vocal soloists include Renee Calvo – soprano, Janelle DeStefano – mezzo-soprano, and Philip Larson – bass.
MYKIETYN PREMIERE AT OTHER MINDS
On March 5, Eva-Maria Zimmermann will perform the US Premiere of Paweł Mykietyn’s Epiphora (1996) for piano and pre-recorded media at the Other Minds Festival (March 4-6, 2010). On the same program, the Del Sol String Quartet will perform Mykietyn’s String Quartet No. 2 (2006). For notes about these pieces, see p. 17 of the OM15 Program Notes.
This year's Festival will bring to the San Francisco Bay Area three highly influential senior composers: Chou Wen-chung, perhaps the first modern Chinese composer to emigrate to the US who then founded a movement for contemporary Chinese music; Kidd Jordan of New Orleans who organized the first World Saxophone Quartet and in 2005 was knighted by the Republic of France; and Tom Johnson, American composer and formerly one of the most influential new music critics in the US.
These new music stalwarts will be joined by local talents Gyan Riley and Carla Kihlstedt, Bay Area ex-pat Lisa Bielawa, Switzerland's radical minimalist Jürg Frey, Poland's rising star, Paweł Mykietyn, and Natasha Barrett, an electroacoustic and acousmatic sound installation composer from Norway. Performers will include ROVA Saxophone Quartet, Quatuor Bozzini, the Del Sol String Quartet, and Eva-Maria Zimmermann (piano).
LACHERT CHORALES PREMIERED
While many have heard about the skiing accident that left Pope Benedict XVI with a broken wrist of the right hand, few know that this incident has prompted Polish composer, Piotr Lachert, to write a special composition for the Pope. His holiness is an avid piano and harpsichord player and always has an instrument at his disposal. In August 2009, Lachert composed Sieben Choräle für die linke Hand alleine [7 chorales for the left hand] and dedicated them to “patient no. 917,” which was Pope’s number while in the hospital. The chorales took two weeks to finish and are based on chorales from the XVI and XVII centuries. Lachert received a letter from the Pope, thanking him for the gift.
The chorales were premiered on February 19, 2010 at the Auditorium “Petruzzi” in Pescara, Italy, where the composer currently resides. Performers on the clavicembalo were Massimo Salcito and his students Luisa Torrese, Chiara Pulsoni, and Emiliano Giannetti. The composer was present for the premiere.
PENDERECKI ON SCORSESE SOUNDTRACK
Shutter Island, the new feature film by American director Martin Scorsese, features music by Krzysztof Penderecki. The soundtrack includes Penderecki’s Passacaglia – Allegro Moderato from Symphony No. 3 performed by the Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra and conductor Antoni Wit.
Shutter Island opened in America on February 19, 2010. The Polish premiere of the movie is scheduled for March 26. The double-CD original soundtrack, including Penderecki’s work, will be released in the US on April 6.
WHERE’S THE MUSIC?
From the External Service of Polish Radio comes the following commentary on the recent issues concerning public media in Poland and how the reduction of funds for public media might affect awareness of classical music amongst the general public. See the News section last month’s Newsletter for background on these issues.
PENDERECKI MONOGRAPH, PART II
PWM has just released the second part of the recent monograph about Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki, entitled Penderecki. Odzyskiwanie raju [Penderecki. Retrieval of Paradise]. The book was premiered during a meeting with the author, Mieczysław Tomaszewski, in the PWM Salon in Kraków on February 4, 2010.
POCKET OPERA PERFORMS HALKA
The affiliation between San Francisco’s Pocket Opera and the Polish Cultural Foundation continues in 2010 with a presentation of Halka. Following last season’s Haunted Manor, Donald Pippin has created an English setting for a second opera by the Polish composer, Stanisław Moniuszko. Performances will take place on March 27 & 28 at 2pm at the Legion of Honor and April 3 at 7:30 pm at the Julia Morgan Theater. This production is part of a city-wide celebration of a sister city status San Francisco has forged with Kraków.
The 33rd season of Pocket Opera will be a celebration of the artistry and lifetime of dedication of Donald Pippin to the musical wealth of San Francisco and the world of opera. Pocket Opera will present six different operas this season: La Cenerentola by Rossini, Halka by , Moniuszko, Puccini’s La Rondine, Rinaldo by Handel, La Vie Parisienne by Offenbach, and Verdi’s La Traviata. With the exception of Handel's Rinaldo, all the operas will be performed in English, using Donald Pippin's acclaimed translations.
MUSICAL STYLINGS OF KULKA’S DAUGHTER
The music of Gaba Kulka, daughter of famous violinist and Chopin Music Academy professor Konstanty Kulka, was featured on the Polish Radio program “Studio 15” in February. Polish Radio describes Ms. Kulka as “an independent songwriter, pianist and a performer whose work fits into the broad spectrum of 'alternative' music - combining elements of jazz, rock and pop, with a theatrical and cabaret twist to it.” Read and hear more at www.thenews.pl/radio/studio15/artykul125232.html
US NAT’L CHOPIN COMPETITION
The winners of the 8th US National Chopin Piano Competition have been announced in Miami on Sunday, February 28. The Competition Jury was Agustin Anievas, Chair, Gersende de Sabran (France), Mark Malkovich III, Piotr Paleczny (Poland), Robert Sherman, Ruth Slenczynska-Kerr, Juana Zayas (Cuba/USA), and Tian Ying. And the winners are…:
All five finalists will also receive a paid trip to Warsaw, Poland this April, enabling them to participate in the Preliminary Round of the International Chopin Piano Competition.
[Source: Chopin Foundation of the US]
CHOPIN COMPETITION - ROUND 2
Between February 11 and 21, the pianists who will proceed to the secondary round of the XVI International Frederic Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw were selected. Based upon DVD recordings provided by the 353 original candidates, the jury, chaired by Prof. Andrzej Jasiński, has selected 160 artists.
The majority of chosen pianists come from: Japan – 28, Poland – 21, China – 19, Russia – 17 and the United States – 15. Polish representation features: Marek Bracha, Agata Gładysiak, Arnold Gniwek, Oliwia Grabowska, Jacek Kortus, Marcin Koziak, Grzegorz Niemczuk, Monika Quinn, Joanna Różewska, Piotr Szychowski, Gracjan Szymczak, Karolina Tomaszewska, Łukasz Trepczyński, Krzysztof Trzaskowski, Paweł Wakarecy and Nikodem Wojciechowski, as well as dual nationality representatives, Poland-Japan: Ri-Hwa Cho, Ai Kayukawa and Marie Kiyone and Poland-Great Britain – Mateusz Borowiak. The complete list of pianists qualified for the eliminations is available at konkurs.chopin.pl.
The next round of eliminations will take place at the National Philharmonic in Warsaw between April 12-21, 2010. In this next round, each participant must perform 3 etudes, a nocturne, a ballade or scherzo and one. From this group the jury will select 80 pianists who will perform in the final round of the competition, held from October 12-21 at the National Philharmonic. The participants will be judged by a jury of international specialists: Ludmil Angelov (Bulgaria), Akiko Ebi (Japan), Bernd Goetzke (Germanz), Adam Harasiewicz (Poland), Krzysztof Jabłoński (Poland), Andrzej Jasiński (Poland), Kevin Kenner (USA), Ivan Klansky (Czech Republic), Alberto Nose (Italy), Piotr Paleczny (Poland), Boris Petrushansky (Russia), Jerome Rose (USA), Jacques Rouvier (France), Marta Sosińska-Janczewska (Poland), Wojciech Świtała (Poland), Xu Zhong (China), and Dina Yoffe (Israel).
ZIMERMAN RECIEVES GLORIA ARTIS
On February 1, Polish pianist Krystian Zimerman was presented with the Gloria Artis Gold Medal of Cultural Merit from Polish Minister of Culture, Bogdan Zdrojewski. The presentation ceremony took place at the La Scala theater in Milan, Italy, after Zimerman gave an all- Chopin recital, a program he performed again on February 10 at the Parco della Musica in Rome.
The Polish Radio External Service reports the following about Zimerman’s reaction: “According to the Polish consul in Milan, the pianist was very moved by both the Polish distinction and his return to La Scala after a lapse of twenty four years. He was given an enthusiastic reception and reciprocated with encores, something he does very rarely.”[Sources: www.thenews.pl, mkidn.gov.pl]
EASTER BEETHOVEN FESTIVAL
The inauguration of the 14th Easter Ludwig van Beethoven Festival will take place on March 21, 2010 in the Grand Theater-National Opera in Warsaw. The concert will feature conductor Long Yu and Shanghai Symphony Orchestra. The program includes works by Chinese composers and Robert Schumann’s Cello Concerto. The cello solo will be performed by Jian Wang, and vocal soloists include: Qi Lu – soprano and Xiaoyong Yang – baritone.
The Easter Beethoven Festival will continue until April 3 with the motto "Beethoven, music and the piano phenomenon. The year of Chopin and Schumann." The program of the festival includes outstanding ensembles, such as: Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, Deutsche Symphonie Orchester, Basel Chamber Orchestra, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Warsaw National Philharmonic, Sinfonietta Cracovia, Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra, Grand Theater-National Opera Orchestra and Choir, Warsaw National Philharmonic Choir, Polish Radio Choir, and Artis Quartet.
Additionally the festival will host a number of outstanding pianists: Elisabeth Leonskaja, Rudolf Buchbinder, Louis Lortie, Nelson Goerner, Boris Berman, Alexander Lonquich, Wei-Yi Yang, Kirill Gerstein, Krzysztof Jabłoński, Michaela Ursuleasa. There will also be excellent conductors: Charles Dutoit, Antoni Wit, Long Yu, Ingo Metzmacher, Marco Guidarini, Paavo Järvi, Paul McCreesh, Łukasz Borowicz. And fantastic soloists: Paul Groves, Roberto Scandiuzzi, Anatolij Kotscherga, Tamar Iveri, Małgorzata Walewska, Francesco Hong, Andrzej Dobber, Izabela Matuła, Arto Noras, Jurek Dybał, Christian Frohn, Reiner Koneck.
The festival will also host an international musicological symposium and an exhibition of the manuscript collections of Jagiellonian University Library.
For more information please visit the official website of the festival www.beethoven.org.pl.
PLOWRIGHT AT WARSAW PHIL
Jonathan Plowright has performed at the Warsaw National Philharmonic on February 5 and 6 with conductor Martyn Brabbins in a program of Polish music for piano and orchestra. He performed works including I. J. Paderewski’s Polish Fantasy in G sharp Minor, Henryk Melcer’s Piano Concert No. 1 in E Minor and Dobrzyński’s Symphony No. 2 “Characteristic.” This concert was in honor of Paderewski’s 150th anniversary in 2010 and was a part of the official celebrations of the Chopin Year at the National Philharmonic. While in Poland, the artist was also interviewed by Polish Radio Channel 2—hear the interview at polskieradio.pl.
Called “one of the finest living pianists” by the prestigious Gramophone Magazine, British pianist Jonathan Plowright is highly sought after as a performing and recording artist. He specializes in the forgotten masters of the XIX century, with an emphasis on Polish composers, such as Paderewski, Chopin, Zygmunt Stojowski and Henryk Melcer. Mr. Plowright gave a phenomenal performance at the 2006 Paderewski Lecture-Recital and Paderewski Reprise (the first year of the revived Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles), and he will return in November 2010 for the celebration of Paderewski’s 150th anniversary in both Los Angeles and Paso Robles.
CHOPIN AT NYC BALLET
To celebrate the 200th birthday of Frederic Chopin the New York City Ballet prepared a show choreographed to the music of Chopin. The performances took place in David H. Koch Theatre between Febraury 18 and 24. The choreography was created by Jerome Robbins. The same performance also featured choreography of excerpts from Bernstein’s West Side Story.
Jerome Robbins is a world class choreographer and a director of theater, TV and feature films. He has choreographed over 60 ballet, including "Afternoon of a Faun", "In the Night" (also to the music of Frederic Chopin), "Glass Pieces" and "Ives Songs," among others. His shows are constantly in the repertoire of the New York City Ballet and numerous other ballet companies around the world.
NOWAK RETURNS TO SWITZERLAND
According to the 8 February 2010 review in the Bieler Tagblatt, Maestro Grzegorz Nowak led the Sinfonia Varsovia ensemble in a concert held in a church in Saanen, a municipality in the Canton of Bern, Switzerland. Performers Plamena Mangova, piano and Johannes Moser, cello were featured in two solo concertos: Mozart’s Piano Concerto in E-flat major, KV 271 and Saint-Saens’ Concerto for Cello and Orchestra in A minor. Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony rounded off the program.
The review by Daniel Anders and entitled “Full Freedom for the Soloists” stressed the excellence of the guest artists, but the most fulsome praise was reserved for the qualities of Mr. Nowak’s conducting. “The exactitude of eliciting perfect orchestral sound and also his captivating musicality was in full display,” Mr. Anders wrote in response to Mr. Nowak’s leadership of the orchestra. “It was truly exquisite how the conductor had laid a red carpet for the cello soloist, so that he could indulge himself in all of his wished-for freedom… and with perfect technique all kinds of color shading and sound details [cellist Johannes Moser] engaged in a fascinating dialogue with the conductor and his orchestra.”
The piano soloist, Plamena Mangova, earned praise for her “deeply expressive Mozart” Concerto, especially the interpretation of the middle movement, which Mr. Anders compared to a tragic opera scene. “A fresh and precise reading of Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony” summed up the experience of the concert led by Grzegorz Nowak who, as Mr. Anders noted, was welcomed in Switzerland after many years of absence.
[Source: Bieler Tagblatt]
MIRECKI SYMPHONY SUCCESS
A loud standing ovation concluded the recent performance of the Symphony in C Minor by Franciszek Mirecki at the Lutosławski Concert Studio of the Polish Radio. The performance took place on February 24 with Paweł Przytocki conducting the National Polish Radio Orchestra.
The composition was written ca. 1855 and serves as a proof that there are many unknown and unrecognized Polish compositions from that period. It has been over 20 years since the last presentation of the work and credit should be given to director of the Polish Radio Orchestra, Łukasz Borowicz, conductor Paweł Przytocki, and musicologist Maciej Negrey, for putting this performance together.
Franciszek Mirecki was born in Kraków in 1791. He was a son of the organist from the Church of the Holy Virgin Mary. In 1814, after finishing his language studies at the Warsaw University he moved to Vienna, where he studied piano with Jan Nepomucen Hummel. In 1838 he returned to Kraków and opened a school of operatic singing. He died in 1862 leaving, in addition to the Symphony, operas, songs, chamber and solo works.
The Symphony in C Minor, written for the city of Mannheim, was supposed to be published in Milan. However the first publication of the work was prepared by Polish music publishers PWM in 1972, along with some of the other works by Mirecki.
Paweł Przytocki, director of the Kraków Philharmonic, has already begun planning a performance of the Symphony by Mirecki in Kraków for May 28 and 29.
BERENIKA PERFORMS CHOPIN IN SANTA ROSA
The Santa Rosa Symphony honored the 200th birthday of two classical masters by presenting Robert Schumann's poetic 4th Symphony and Manfred Overture and Frederic Chopin's stirring Piano Concerto No 2. The program also included the world premiere of MITHRA, was inspired by an ancient
This formidable program was performed by celebrated Polish-born Canadian pianist Berenika, whom reviewer Diane Peterson calls “a rising talent boasting rock-solid technique and interpretive depth way beyond her 27 years” in her piece entitled “Berenika adds lustre to Santa Rosa Symphony” in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.
UPCOMING MARSTON RECORDINGS
A Century of Romantic Chopin
A Century of Romantic Chopin is a four CD-compilation commemorating the Chopin bicentennial year. The set will include some 65 pianists, going back to Francis Planté and Vladimir de Pachmann who were born when Chopin was still alive. Other pianists in the set include Josef Hofmann, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Ferruccio Busoni, Moritz Rosenthal, Ignace Jan Paderewski, Ignaz Friedman, Alfred Cortot, Jan Smeterlin, Rosita Renard, Claudio Arrau, Guiomar Novaes, Benno Moiseiwitsch, Solomon, Arthur Rubinstein, Emil Gilels, Earl Wild, Jorge Bolet, and others. All of Chopin’s etudes will be represented, as well as a selection of preludes, mazurkas, waltzes, nocturnes, ballades, and scherzi, each performance conveying a personal approach to the music. Some of the recordings will already be familiar to pianophiles because of their legendary status, while many others will be delightful surprises, as they are taken from concert performances and out-of-print recordings.
The Complete Raoul von Koczalski vol. 1: Polydor Recordings 1924 – 1928
Today, the name “Kaczalski” is not a well-known quantity, yet his credentials, and more importantly his recordings, should garner better recognition. Raoul von Koczlaski was born in 1885, and before he was six years old he caught the attention of Anton Rubinstein and music critic Edward Hanslick. At six, he was a pupil of Liszt-student Ludwig Marek and was studying composition with Henryk Jarecki. At the age of seven, Koczalski’s life was changed; he began studying with Chopin-student Karol Mikuli. This relationship defined Kaczalski’s musical destiny as a pre-eminent interpreter of Chopin. The first impression of Kaczalski’s playing is often one of the fluency and grace of his execution, coupled with his subtlety of phrasing and smooth legato, but what one is often left with is his use of rubato. This aspect of his playing has given rise to debate about Chopin’s musical intentions and has sparked both criticism and admiration of Kaczalski’s playing; it will delight many and dissuade some, while asking all to consider if this is the definitive interpretation of Chopin. This two CD-set is the first volume of the important, and somewhat controversial, complete Raoul von Kaczalski recordings.
The Complete Josef Hofmann: vol. 9
The culmination of over a decade of releases, Marston is issuing the final volume of the complete Josef Hofmann recordings. Hofmann combined unparalleled virtuosity with emotion, understanding, and spontaneity to create some of the finest piano playing ever recorded. This two-CD set contains the earliest extant Hofmann recordings (three wax cylinders from 1896), alternate takes of his Columbia and Brunswick sessions, and a soundtrack from a short Bell Telephone Hour promotional film. Since this is the last volume, we are making ever effort to leave no stone unturned. We are previewing all known sources of Hofmann’s Bell Telephone Hour broadcasts since the Telephone Hour programs were performed twice, once for an east coast audience, the second time for the west. Previously issued Bell Telephone Hour broadcasts were not identified as “east” or “west,” so comparing all available sources is necessary.
Pre-order any Marston “Upcoming Releases” at marstonrecords.com/html/futureorder.htm.
[Source: Marston email newsletter]
RUTKOWSKI ON NAXOS
Pupils of Chopin – Tellefsen, Mikuli, Filtsch, Gutmann
BACEWICZ RADIO OPERA
Grażyna Bacewicz – The Adventure of King Arthur
Radio opera – the term sounds like an oxymoron, since the genre of opera is so strongly tied to on-stage action combining theater and music. However in the middle of the last century, Polish Radio commissioned several radio operas, among others: Przygody Sindbada Żeglarza by Tomasz Sikorski, Neffru by Zbigniew Wiszniewski, Sąd nad Samsonem Zbigniew Penherski and Upadek Ojca Suryna by Romuald Twardowski. Among the composers enlisted to write such works was also Grażyna Bacewicz.
Grażyna Bacewicz was fond of the satirical convention, and she found it in the libretto by Edward Fiszer. The libretto is loosely based on an adaptation of the King Arthur story created by Beata Hłasko and frequently adds elements of contemporary language, including colloquialisms. The broadcast premiere of the opera took place on November 10, 1959.
NEW FROM POLISH RECORDINGS
Maciejewski - Requiem. Missa Pro Defunctis
Elżbieta Chojnacka w hołdzie Wandzie Landowskiej [Elżbieta Chojnacka’s homage to Wanda Landowska]
NEW FROM DUX
French Music for piano duo
O Królach Polskich
Krzysztof Baculewski. Works for orchestra
Wojciech Ziemowit Zych. Works for orchestra
Weronika Ratusińska. Works for orchestra
Adam Kaczyński, pianist, composer and creator of the MW2 new music ensemble, has passed away on February 15, 2010 at the age of 77.
Adam Kaczyński was born on October 13, 1933 in Warsaw. He studied piano at the State Higher Music School in Kraków with Barbara Korytowska. In 1962 he created and directed the New music performance ensemble MW2 (Młodzi Wykonawcy Muzyki Współczesnej, or Young Performers of Contemporary Music), specializing in performances of aleatoric music, spontaneous music performances, instrumental theater, graphical music, and open forms. The ensemble won the Competition for Young Performers of Contemporary Music in Utrecht (1965), Poznań Spring Festival Award (1978), and the ZKP Award (1973). With MW2 he performed across European and in Mexico, Iran, Lebanon and South Korea. He was also participated in numerous international festivals and created recordings.
Adam Kaczyński was the recipient of numerous awards and honors, among others: Pierre Schaeffer Award in Paris (1970), I. J. Paderewski award in Rochester (1975), Minister of Culture Award (III Degree) (1976), Minister of Culture Award (II degree) (1983), Gold Cross of Merit (1983), City of Kraków Award (1986, 1987, 1988), Polish Society of Contemporary Music Award (1994).
Marek Jasiński, composer and professor of the Music Academy in Bydgoszcz, has passed away on February 15, 2010 at the age of 61.
Marek Jasiński was born in 1949 in Stargard Szczeciński. He was a graduate of the State Higher Music School in Poznań with degrees in Music Education and Composition. Since 1995 he served as faculty at the Music Academy in Bydgoszcz.
He was a laureate of numerous competitions, among others: II Prize at the Wiechowicz Composition Competition in 1981, II and III Prizes at the Wiechowicz Composition Competition in 1984, I and II Prize at the Polish Episcopate Composition Competition in 1984, II Prize at the International Composition Competition in Tours, France in 1987, in 1996, I Prize at the International Composition Competition in Gdańsk.
Marka Jasiński’s works have been performed throughout Europe, South America, USA, Canada, Japan, Australia, and Indonesia. Many compositions were recorded in Poland, Switzerland, France, the Vatican, Denmark, Germany and USA. He is published by: PWM, PZChiO, Agencja Autorska, Brevis, Ars Nova, Gehrmans Musikforlag (Sweden), Edition Coeur Joje (France), Musikverlag Ferrimontana and Edition Musik-Contact (Germany), and the Roger Dean Publishing Company (USA).
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Copyright 2010 by the Polish Music Center
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Marek Żebrowski, Gen. Edward L. Rowny, Tomasz Magierski,
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Formatting by Krysta Close, March 6, 2010.
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