At the beginning of February 1997, daily newspapers in Warsaw (Rzeczpospolita, Slowo Warszawskie,
Gazeta Wyborcza) published reports about the creation of the
Witold Lutoslawski Society [Towarzystwo im. Witolda Lutoslawskiego].
The Society objectives are to promote the music of LUTOSLAWSKI, to coordinate events
associated with this great composer (concerts, festivals, conferences), and to gather documents,
such as concert programs, reviews, articles, etc. The founding members include the most prominent Polish
intellectuals, artists and scholars, including Henryk Mikolaj GORECKI ,
Pawel SZYMANSKI, Wojciech KILAR, and Zygmunt KRAUZE(composers),
Antoni WIT and Ewa POBLOCKA (musicians),
Tadeusz KACZYNSKI, Andrzej CHLOPECKI, Zbigniew SKOWRON,
Mieczyslaw TOMASZEWSKI (musicologists),
Andrzej WAJDA and Krzysztof ZANUSSI (film-directors), and many others.
We thank Tadeusz Kaczynski for information about the Society.
John CASKEN reports that the LUTOSLAWSKI FESTIVAL held at the Guildhall School of Music and at the Barbican with the BBC was a fantastic success! Casken and Adrian THOMAS acted as Artistic Advisors to the Festival which was filled with concerts, lectures and workshops:
We were joined by Steven STUCKY and Charles BODMAN RAE who gave very interesting lectures. Adrian gave an excellent talk about the "functional" music of the late 40's and 50's, and also gave a revelatory workshop with a student ensemble on Jeux Venitiens. I was blessed with having two excellent student quartets for a workshop on the String Quartet, and I also chaired a round-table discussion on Lutoslawski with all four of us, Zbigniew SKOWRON from the Institute of Musicology at the University of Warsaw, and with Marcin BOGUSLAWSKI, Witold's stepson. Marcin's contribution was lovely: he spoke of Witold from a very close, personal perspective and shed fresh light on a man we all recognised but saw even more clearly after marcin's words. We were also joined for the week by Tadeusz KACZYNSKI who added a dignified and witty presence to our proceedings.
The level of performance was very high, and the BBC orchestras made the music sound more colourful, more three-dimensional and more brilliant than I've ever heard it. Virtually all the published works were performed between Tuesday and Sunday, and the Guildhall students were thrilled to be able to work with Jacek KASPRZYK and with Wojciech MICHNIEWSKI, the latter conducting an entire programme (including the Second Symphony!!!) from memory!
NEWS FROM THE U.S.:
Recent American tour of the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra with Kazimierz KORD received mixed reviews.
Danuta PAWLAK of the Polonia Kalifornijska was very impressed with the Warsaw Philharmonic's concert at the Escondido Center for the Arts in California (January 19, 1997). The program included Brahms's Haydn Variations op. 56a, Mozart's Piano Concerto no. 21, and Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherezade; the performances received ovations from the enthusiastic audience. The concert ended with two encores, Stanislaw MONIUSZKO's Mazur from the opera Halka and Richard Strauss's Polka. Pawlak writes:
This was my first opportunity to hear the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra in the U.S. The orchestra was led brilliantly by Kazimierz Kord, one of the best conductors; I have to admit that the concert was a feast for the soul. On the day following the concert an enthusiastic review appeared in the local San Diego Union Tribune; I wholeheartedly agree with its author. . . It is obviously due to the excellent leadership of Kazimierz Kord as the conductor, and due to the mastery of his musicians that the Warsaw Philharmonic is considered in the international musical arena as an ensemble of the highest rank.John von RHEIN the music critic of the Chicago Tribune entitled his review "Warsaw Concert Polished, Not Very Polish" (published on January 27, 1997). This concert took place at the Orchestra Hall in Chicago on 24 January 1997 and, according to von Rhein, had
an unimaginative, generic program one would harldy need to send all the way to Poland to hear: Brahms' Variations on a Theme by Haydn, Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21 in C (K.467) and Rimsky Korsakov's Scheherazade. . . Apart from the high-stepping polonaise that music director Kazimierz Kord directed as an encore, Polish music was notably absent. Szymanowski? Lutoslawski? Penderecki? Sorry, not this time.
Bernard HOLLAND from The New York Times really liked the Warsaw Philharmonic performance of Witold LUTOSLAWSKI's Fourth Symphony at the Carnegie Hall (review of Tuesday, 4 February 1997). However, he regretted the absence of more Polish music on the program and entitled the review: "A Pole's Work on Its Own Terms." The program included Rachmaninoff's "Paganini" Rhapsody and, again, Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherezade. Holland wrote:
Every bar, I must admit, increased my depression, not just for the shallowness of the musical experience but for the cynical use of ubiquitous music to placate lazy ears. . . My not-quite-up-to-date record catalogue lists 48 available CD's of the Rachmaninoff and 55 of the Rimsky. How music was served by playing them--both of them--here and yet again, I leave for others to answer. How healthy more Polish music on the program might have been: something to help solidify a tradition, to show how Polish performing styles inform Polish composers and the other way around. Ah well, safety first, music second.(Reviews sent in by Ms. Danuta Pawlak, Ms. Helene K. Blake, and Mr. Walter Lasinski. Many thanks!!! Excerpts selected and edited by Maria Anna Harley.)
Wanda Wilk's Note: This has been a long-standing peeve of mine. Invariably, soloists and/or orchestras from Poland do not include Polish composers in their presentations. One exception: Lord Yehudi MENUHIN always conducts at least one Polish work when he travels with the Polish Sinfonia Varsovia. I still remember their excellent performance of the BACEWICZ Concerto for Strings at the Ambassador Auditorium in Pasadena several years ago.
The Polish-American Daily, Nowy Dziennik of New York is devoting a series of articles to the winners of the Alfred Jurzykowski Foundation Awards. Composer Marta PTASZYNSKA, who recently won the award for music, received a full page spread in the February 13th issue. The article is written by Zbigniew GRANAT. In Polish.
Highlights from last summer's Music Festival in Lucerne, Switzerland were just reported by James KELLER in the March-April issue of Strings.
The 120th anniversary program commemorating the birth of Feliks NOWOWIEJSKI (1877-1946) held at the University Concert Hall in Poznan featured the composer's choral works. The soloists and combined choruses of the Schola Cantorum Posnaniensis and students of the Music Academy also sang the famous Rota, an anthem written by Maria KONOPNICKA with music composed by Nowowiejski.
The world premiere of Maciej MALECKI's Offenbachiana Suite was presented on February 14th under the baton of Jaroslaw LIPKE at the National Philharmonic in Rzeszow. The composer has been president of the Polish Composers Union since 1993.
28-year old pianist Piotr ANDERSZEWSKI recently performed in Poznan in a MOZART program with the Amadeus Chamber Orchestra of Polish Radio under the direction of Agnieszka DUCZMAL.
IN THE U.S.:
The CHESTER STRING QUARTET (Aaron Berfosky and Kathryn Votapek, violins, David Harding, viola and Thomas Rosenberg, cello) performed the SZYMANOWSKI String Quartet no. 2, op. 56 at the Kosciuszko Foundation Chamber Music Series in New York on February 23rd. June LEBELL is the WQXR announcer and host for the series. The concert will be broadcast over WQXR 96.3 FM on Saturday, March 1 at 9 p.m. The radio broadcast is made possible by LOT Polish Airlines.
The MUSIC OF KAROL SZYMANOWSKI. A live broadcast over WNYC-FM
93.9. Members of the AMERICAN SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, with Richard
WILSON, the ASO's composer-in-residence, discussed and performed
works of the Polish composer, as a preview of the Orchestra's
concert at Avery Fisher Hall on January 24th, which was devoted
entirely to the music of Szymanowski.
On the program: Pianists Stephen TOSH, Elaine LUST and Lorenzo SANCHEZ will perform piano compositions by PADEREWSKI, CHOPIN, SZYMANOWSKI and LUTOSLAWSKI. Selections from Paderewski's opera, Manru are also scheduled.
For additional concert programs, see EVENTS.
DG 447 0906-2GH2: SZYMANOWSKI Violin Concertos by the BBC Philharmonic
Both Gorecki recordings were reviewed by Michael STEWART in Gramophone; he stated that he would prefer seeing a premiere recording of another work by GORECKI instead!!!
THREE NEW CHOPIN DISCS:
EMI : Three reissues from Itzak PERLMAN recordings dating from the 1970s.
Soloists and orchestras from Poland and Germany will take part in an Easter Festival in Warsaw commemorating the 170th anniversary of Ludwik van BEETHOVEN's death. An exhibit of several Beethoven manuscripts from the archives of the Jagiellonian University library will be of particular interest to many music scholars.
POLISH COMPOSERS BORN IN MARCH:
Mar 1, 1810: Fryderyk CHOPIN
Mar 3, 1922: Kazimierz SEROCKI (75th birthday)
Mar 6, 1785: Karol KURPINSKI
Mar 7, 1911: Stefan KISIELEWSKI
Mar 10, 1937: Bernadetta MATUSZCZAK (60th birthday)
Mar 17, 1901: Piotr PERKOWSKI
Mar 21, 1936: Marek STACHOWSKI
Mar 28, 1954: Pawel SZYMANSKI
POLISH COMPOSERS WHO DIED IN MARCH:
Mar 21, 1973: Antoni SZALOWSKI
Mar 29, 1937: Karol SZYMANOWSKI (60th anniversary)
Mar 31, 1880: Henryk WIENIAWSKI
COMPOSER OF THE MONTH: KAZIMIERZ SEROCKI (1922-1981)
This being SEROCKI's 75th birthday anniversary and knowing that Serocki is considered an important Polish composer of this century, I decided to select him as composer of the month. I set about looking for information to write a little bio on him. To find something in English I immediately looked for the Warsaw Autumn International Contemporary Music Festival Program books. My most recent copy at home was from 1993. Imagine my surprise to find that his music was scheduled only twice in the 1980s! I wonder has he been performed in the 1990s?
As one of the co-founders of the Warsaw Autumn festival, I should think that he would not be forgotten so easily. I looked up the other co-founder, Tadeusz BAIRD and found that he did not fair any better. He too was performed twice, in 1984 and 1985. Very interesting!
I am quoting from the 1977 program book:
Kazimierz Serocki was born in 1922 in Torun. He studied at the State Higher School of Music in Lodz with Kazimierz Sikorski (composition) and Stanislaw Szpinalski (piano). He completed his complementary studies in 1947-48 in Paris with Nadia Boulanger (composition) and Lazare Levy (piano). He frequently gave concerts as a pianist, both at home and abroad. Since 1952 his main interest has been focused entirely on composition. He has been awarded many artistic prizes - Polish and foreign ones, including State Prizes (1952 and 1972) and the Prize of the Minister of Culture and Fine Arts (1963).
Principal works: First Symphony (1952), Second Symphony (1952), Sinfonietta for two string orchestras (1965), The Heart of the Night, a cycle of songs with texts by K. I. Galczynski, first version: for soprano and piano (1957), second version: for soprano and chamber orchestra (1960), Musica concertante for chamber orchestra (1958), Episodes for strings and three percussion groups (1959), Segment for chamber ensemble (1961), A piacere for piano (1963), Symphonic Frescos (1964), Niobe, poem for two reciting voices, mixed choir and orchestra on text by Galczynski (1966), Continuum, sextet for percussion instruments (1965-66), Forte e piano, music for two pianos and orchestra (1967), Poetry for soprano and orchestra on text by S. Rozewicz (1969), Swinging Music for instrumental ensemble (1970), Dramatic Story for orchestra (1968-1970), Fantasmagoria for piano and percussion (1971), Fantasia elegiaca for organ and orchestra 91971-72), Impromptu fantasque for orchestra (1973), Concerto alla cadenza per flauto a becco e orchestra (1974) and Ad libitum (1973-77) for symphony orchestra commissioned by Norddeutscher Rundfunk in Hamburg and performed at the 1977 Warsaw Autumn Festival.