• Szymanowski Letters in English, vol.1

Other than Polish publications, the greatest insights and investigation into the life and music of Karol Szymanowski have come from English-language authors.  Jim Samson, Christopher Palmer and Stephen Downes are just three major contributors over recent decades.  But when it comes to documentary sources in translation, only now is the interested reader able to appreciate something of the range of material available to Polish readers for a much longer time.

Since February 2012, William Hughes has undertaken the gargantuan task of translating a host of Polish articles about Szymanowski.  The tally continues to rise (see http://drwilliamhughes.blogspot.co.uk); today’s post is ‘Karol Szymanowski – Diary of the First Journey to America (1921)’.  Hughes published the first stage of his project – Karol Szymanowski.  Posthumous Tributes (1937-38) – in hard copy in 2013.  I wrote about his book in an earlier post, The Indefatigable William Hughes.

Since 1999, however, there has been one printed source in English, and it is a real treasure trove: Szymanowski on Music.  Selected Writings of Karol Szymanowski, edited and translated by Alistair Wightman.  Wightman is also the author of two hard-copy studies of the music: Karol Szymanowski.  His Life and Work (1999) and Szymanowski’s King Roger: The Opera and its Origins (2015).Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 20.27.58Wightman has now published – and it would appear to be online only – the first volume of a series devoted to the composer’s letters: Karol Szymanowski: Correspondence,  Volume 1: 1902-1919.  There are 401 letters in the volume and it is available from Smashwords at $15.99.  I have not yet had time to read it, but it includes explanatory footnotes, a very brief Bibliography, a Personalia and Indexes.  The first years of the correspondence are available to read as a free sample at https://www.smashwords.com/extreader/read/622747/2/karol-szymanowski-correspondence-volume-1-1902-1919.

Such acts of selfless dedication by Hughes and Wightman to broaden the readership of Szymanowski materials is hugely to be applauded and supported, so the more people who buy Hughes’s hard-copy book and Wightman’s new online volume the better.

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