• Meakultura ‘Kropka’ Awards

1459681287This is the second year that the Meakultura Foundation in Warsaw has run its ‘Polish Music Critics Competition’, ‘Kropka’ (Dot).  ‘Kropka’ is open to printed texts, blogs, newcomers and popular music, and there’s an award from the Editor-in-Chief of the Polish publishers PWM.

This year’s winners (Polish-language page only) have just been announced and their 2015 submissions covered a wide range of topics, from Baroque performance to Star Wars.  The winning entries came from Paweł Siechowicz, Magdalena Romańska, Antoni Michnik, Karolina Dąbek, Olga Drenda and the opera blogger Dorota Kozińska.

The Special Award for a foreign text went last year to Alex Ross for his review in The New Yorker of Paweł Szymański’s opera Qudsja Zaher (Grand Theatre, Warsaw).  Congratulations to this year’s winner, John Allison of Opera magazine, for his review of Szymanowski’s King Roger (Royal Opera House, London) in May 2015.

• 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.

• Wartime Warsaw Recollections

Back in October 2014, I reported briefly on a new 4-CD boxed set of recordings of Polish music composed, for the most part, during World War II.  Now a book of recollections has been published by the Witold Lutosławski Society in Warsaw to commemorate the composers and performers who went through and, in some cases, died during the Nazi occupation.  It has been put together by Elżbieta Markowska, formerly Head of Music at Polish Radio 2, and Katarzyna Naliwajek-Mazurek, who is the foremost specialist on Polish musical life in 1939-45 and contributes a 30-page essay to introduce Okupacyjne losy muzyków (The Fates of Musicians during the Occupation).


Sadly, for non-Polish readers, it exists only in Polish.  But its photographic documentation more than makes up for any linguistic barrier.  There are photographs of daily life in Warsaw and of musical venues – the Warsaw Philharmonic, Grand Theatre and cafés – damaged during the war.  There are private photographs of the featured musicians, of their documents, letters and postcards (also transcribed alongside), posters, pages from scores and concert programmes, the vast majority of which have not been published previously.

The roster of composers, performers and writers is the most comprehensive yet assembled, although there are absences, possibly because of the lack of personal documentation.  The sources are varied and expertly marshalled, not least in the visual design of the volume, which runs to some 300 pages.  It is an intriguing and insightful compilation, and I hope it will sometime be published in English.  Here is the list of contributors in the order in which they appear:

Andrzej Panufnik (1914-91), composer, pianist and conductor: excerpts from his autobiography (already published in English and Polish), photos of rehearsals for the premiere of Tragic Overture (March 1944) and concert programmes, including one for the Lutosławski-Panufnik duo on 22 March 1942, when the repertoire of Mozart, Brahms, Schubert, Ravel and Albeniz was interlaced with Lutosławski’s Paganini Variations, a slow-fox by Cole Porter, paraphrases of Bizet and Johann Strauss and a jazzowa parafraza on Liszt’s Liebestraum no.3.
Witold Lutosławski (1913-1994), composer and pianist: mostly identity documents and family letters that mention Lutosławski; less extensive than Panufnik’s entry.
• Bolesław Woytowicz (1899-1980), composer (but not during occupation), pianist and initiator of one of Warsaw’s main musical cafés: various sources, including the diary begun while he was in Pawiak prison, plus recital schedules (he gave three complete cycles of the Beethoven sonatas).
Grażyna Bacewicz (1909-69), composer and violinist: mainly letters to her brothers.
• Halina Kowalska (1913-98), cellist, and her husband Henryk Trzonek (1912-43), viola player: Kowalska’s interview for Polish Radio in 1960, recollections by Włodzimierz Kusik of the street arrest and execution of Trzomek, plus reproduction of a poster naming the 100 victims of this police operation in December 1943.
• Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz (1894-1980), writer (cousin of Szymanowski): excerpts from published diary.
• Roman Padlewski (1915-44), composer and underground fighter: letters, accounts and documents; the most extensive entry in the volume.
• Eugenia Umińska (1910-80), violinist: documentation, recollections by Kazimierz Wikormirski (cellist) Stanisław Wiechowicz (composer), transcript (English) of brief interview for BBC radio in 1948.
• Grzegorz Fitelberg (1879-1953), conductor: letters to Stefan Spiess (1945).
• Edmind Rudnicki (1892-1957), pianist and underground organiser: recollections by others.
• Zofia Nałkowska (1884-1954), writer: excerpts from published diary.
 Roman Palester (1907-89), composer: fragments from typewritten memoirs.
• Zbigniew Drzewiecki (1890-1971), pianist: recollections.
Jan Krenz (b.1926), conductor and composer: recollections.
Marian Filar (1917-2012), pianist: recollections.
Andrzej Markowski (1924-1986), pianist and composer (later conductor) and underground fighter: documentation, Polish Radio archive; contributions from his wife Bogusława.  *The cover photo of Okupacyjne losy muzyków shows Andrzej Markowski playing at the Actors’ Café in Autumn 1944, during the Warsaw Uprising.
Jan Krzysztof Markowski (1913-80), composer (especially of underground songs) and pianist, brother of Andrzej: documentation and reproduction of two songs.
• Jerzy Waldorff (1910-99), writer and critic: excerpts from published diary.
• Władysław Szpilman (1911-2000), pianist and composer (subject of the film ‘The Pianist’): Polish Radio archive.


• WL100/75: Lutosławski’s Bookshelves

I took the opportunity when spending three days researching in Lutosławski’s house in September 2002 of taking shots (with permission) of his bookcases: in his studio, the attic room, the upper hallway and the lounge.  It now turns out that in the intervening years many of the volumes on these shelves have been dispersed and so these photos – which I believe were little touched since the composer’s death and that of his wife in 1994 – are perhaps the only surviving survey of Lutosławski’s collection.


The first floor studio is L-shaped, or, more accurately, reversed L-shaped.  The entrance was along the inside wall of the short limb of the L and the first sight that greeted visitors was Lutosławski’s much photographed grand piano.  His wife Danuta moved it out after his death and replaced it with her bed.  Neither piano nor bed was there in 2002.  I took two photographs of the long limb of the room.  The first looks from the patio doors towards the desk (the piano would have been on the immediate left).


The bookcase beyond the desk contained reference volumes, mainly dictionaries; handy for when Lutosławski was writing letters or programme notes.


Behind him, along the wall hidden from view on the main photograph, were shelves and cupboards, with a number of souvenir items, awards etc. on display.  Here there were more reference volumes (such as a Grove dictionaries), other books (including two copies of Steven Stucky’s monograph and my own little volume on Bacewicz) plus his collection of scores by other composers (of which more anon).  It had three divisions; here they are reading from left to right.




The second location photo looks from the entrance to the corner behind the coffee table, with the patio windows onto the veranda just out of shot to the right.  The desk and other shelving are over the left shoulder.

134-3417_IMGThis corner shelving contained quite a miscellany, with Lutosławski’s books of and on foreign literature, especially French poetry, plus other volumes on composers plus his (incomplete) run of ‘Warsaw Autumn’ programme books. Among the items that I found here, but which has sadly now disappeared according to his daughter-in-law, was the one containing his annotation of Desnos’s poem Les espaces du soleil (it can be seen in the second of the next group of photographs, bottom shelf, sixth from the right). In order to try and capture as much of the detail as I could, I split each of the bookcases into top and bottom, so the following sequence runs top right, bottom right, top left, bottom left.






It was in the attic that I discovered the folder containing Lutosławski’s collected folk materials (1950-54) which I have written and talked on several times since.  Also here were two cupboards containing spare copies of his published scores.  Other bookshelves contained a wide range of books for which there was no room downstairs.






On the first-floor landing was a single bookcase, holding a non-musical selection of books, notably volumes by Stanisław Dygat, the brother of Lutosławski wife.  The top shelf contains Hedrick Smith’s The Russians, which spends a couple of paragraphs reporting the reception of the Russian premiere of Lutosławski’s Cello Concerto in 1972.



As a low-level partition, there was a double-sided bookcase containing primarily Polish literature, plays (Genet, Ibsen and Shaw among them) and philosophical volumes.  My apologies that the second photo is poorly focused.



• The Indefatigable William Hughes

It is two and a half years since I first posted on the extraordinary translating odyssey on which William Hughes had embarked early in 2012.  It has been his mission to translate into English a host of Polish articles and documents relating to Karol Szymanowski.  There has been a crying need for this, and you won’t find a finer English-language source than Hughes’s translations.  In earlier posts (20 March 2012, 13 May 2012 and 18 August 2012), I posted links to the growing list on his website http://drwilliamhughes.blogspot.co.uk.  Then on 11 January 2013 I put up a short post marking the completion of his project.

Today I realised my great sin of omission.  I totally failed to write a post celebrating the publication in June 2013, in hard copy, of many of these translations.  My apologies – I had intended to (I did celebrate it on Facebook!), but other work got in the way and I forgot.

ScanKarol Szymanowski. Posthumous Tributes (1937-38) is published by Moon Arrow Press in Norwood, South Australia. It contains over 80 items, ranging from reminiscences, eulogies and letters of condolence to over a dozen photographs from the funeral ceremonies in Warsaw and Kraków.  Hughes’s sources include Muzyka, Muzyka Polska, Prosto z Mostu, Śpiewak and Wiadomości Literackie.  The paperback, which is cleanly and handsomely produced, runs to over 350 pages.  The list of contents is reproduced below.

Scan 3

Scan 2

I had imagined that this enormous labour of love would end here.  Not a bit of it.  In the eighteen months since the volume went to press, William Hughes has taken his project much further.  I have lost count of the new translations, but they must come to over 120, making some 250 in all.  This is truly staggering.  The ‘new’ translations come from a variety of sources: Szymanowski himself, his sister Zofia, his cousin and co-author of the libretto of King Roger (which is the subject of a number of entries) Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz, as well as friends, composers and critics.  There is surely a second or third volume ready and waiting in amongst these treasures.

Although the items in Hughes’s first volume are still available on his website, I do urge you to support his notable – and noble – achievements by purchasing Karol Szymanowski. Posthumous Tributes (1937-38) in hard copy.

Meantime, here’s the link to today’s post, marking the exact 90th anniversary of the publication in Kurier Warszawski of Szymanowski tribute to his lifelong friend, the pianist Artur Rubinstein, who was in Warsaw after an absence of twelve years.  When Rubinstein had last been there, in 1912, Poland was still partitioned.  By 1924, Poland had achieved independence and relative peace after the Great War and several difficult post-war years.  Szymanowski writes eloquently and passionately, and William Hughes – characteristically – brings his article to life as if we were reading it ‘live’ on 8 October 1924.

• Sustained Glissando

Screen Shot 2014-10-02 at 15.44.312014 marks the tenth anniversary of one of the most remarkable publishing ventures in Polish music.
Glissando magazine has ploughed its own furrow determinedly since 2004, despite a few rocky moments around 2008.  It has produced an average of two issues per year, in an A4 format, on no-nonsense matt paper and eschewing colour temptations except everything on the chart between black to white.  Its design is quirky (characteristically Polish) and often reminds me of a cross between underground literature (but of a much higher print quality) and art movements of decades ago.  The most recent issue (no.24) has gone glossy without losing its character.  The contents are listed at the end of this post.

The intent of Glissando has been clear from the start: to provide an alternative to mainstream music journalism and musicology.  It has done so by stressing what is going on in the work of composers and writers in their 20s and 30s and by giving a main focus to each issue (but not to the exclusion of all else).  As you can see from the banner headings given below, there was an early emphasis on music in other countries, on broader issues and concepts, and on digging into the past.  This has been nuanced over the years, with certain themes recurring, notably the exploration of sound and space.  The next issue (no.25, edited by Antoni Michnik) is called ‘Manifestos’ while the one after that (no.26, edited by Krzysztof B. Marciniak) returns to a familiar topic, ‘Soundscape’.

Since the start of 2014, Glissando has gone for guest editors (from within and without its regular team) and this gives great scope for diversity and depth.  But one must acknowledge that there have been, and still are, key figures in Glissando‘s history, among them Jan Topolski and Michał Mendyk.  Topolski is still at the centre of things and, in addition, has written a wonderful study of Gérard Grisey – Widma i Czasy (Spectra and Time; Warsaw, 2012).  Michał Mendyk has moved sideways to develop the independent record company, Bôlt, which has likewise pursued a distinct identity and now has a unique repertoire of archival and new recordings from Poland and elsewhere in Eastern Europe.

Other important contributors to the success of Glissando include Agata Kwiecińska and Eliza Orzechowska, who were part of the team from the beginning, and others, more recently, including Jacek Plewicki and Filip Lech.  The roster of writers includes notable names, of which I will mention only two here – Monica Pasiecznik and Michał Libera, partly because, like Jan Topolski writing on Grisey, they have gone on to publish major studies in the music series published by Wydawnictwo Krytyki Politycznej.  There are two books by Pasiecznik – Rytuał superformuły. Stockhausen Licht (The Ritual of Superformulae. Stockhausen’s Licht; Warsaw, 2011) and  Po zmierzchu. Eseje o współczesnych operachco-authored with Tomasz Bierniacki (After Twilight. Essays on Contemporary Opera; Warsaw, 2013) – and one by Libera (who is also the guest editor of Glissando 24) – Doskonale zwyczajna rzeczywistość. Socjologia, geografia albo metafizyka muzyki (A Perfectly Ordinary Reality. The Sociology, Geography or Metaphysics of Music; Warsaw, 2013).

(In parenthesis, it is worth noting that it was Topolski, Mendyk and Libera who set up the 4.99 Foundation that runs Glissando, Bôłt Records and other projects.)

There has been an important strategic decision made this year at Glissando, and that is to switch to English rather than stay in Polish.  The primary intention is to attract contributors and readers from elsewhere in Eastern Europe rather than from ‘The West’.  This focus on new music in Eastern Europe matches Bôłt’s existing strategy.

The printed edition of no.23 is half-and-half Polish-English, no.24 completely in English.  Both languages are represented online.  The English online choice currently consists of just six articles (up from four last week): one from no.17, one from no.22, three from no.23 and one from no.24.  (A glance at this last item indicates that there may be textual and illustrative differences between the printed and online versions.)  The Polish online choice is much wider; it may even be comprehensive – I can’t tell (it stretches right back to no.1).  The plan for future issues is to have all articles in both languages, one in print and the other online.  It would be a tall task to translate all the past Polish articles into English, but one lives in hope that some of them will be singled out.

The Glissando website is well worth a visit, even if it may take a while to work out how to navigate the differently constructed English and Polish sections.  Long may it and its team challenge and provoke!

• 24   Avant-Avantgarde
• 23   The Cassette Tape (with audio cassette)
• 22   Noise
• 21   Performance/Performativity
• 20  Swiss Music
• 19   Polish Music (German-language issue)
• 18   Sound in Public Space
• 17   Hip-hop – Microtones
• 16   Space – Italy – Mykietyn
• 15   Lithuania
• 13-14   Rock
• 12   Wrocław
• 10-11   Benelux – Music and Cinema
• 09   Austria
• 08   Scandinavia
• 07   The 60s and 70s
• 05-06   Darmstadt School +
• 04   Electronic Music
• 03   Free Improvisation – Young Composers
• 02   New York
• 01   Spectral Music – Japanese Avantgarde

Glissando no.24, ‘Avant Avantgarde’

• Michał Libera, Introducing Avant Avantgarde (p.4)
• Michał Libera, Amplifying the Sound: Technology of delivery – early amplifiers, mutes and the politics of volume (p.10)
• Pamela Granatowski, Projecting the Sound: Listening to Axis Mundi (p.28)
• Ewa Kozik, Processing the Sound: On more or less natural sound alterations (p.40)
• Antoni Michnik, Visualizing the Sound: Pre-phonographic analysis and reproduction of sound (p.50)
• Jan Topolski, Generating the Tone: Stay tuned, keep temper (p.66)
• Barbara Bogunia, Automating the Sound: Ars combinatoria and mystical automata (p.82)
• Maciej Śledziecki & Marion Wörle, Avant Avantgarde Instruments: We wonder why (p.98)

• The Spoils of Warsaw

One of the many joys of visiting Poland over the decades has been searching out scores, books and recordings (not to mention classic posters and dark spadziowy honey).  This year was no different.  I’d not been in Warsaw since last November, so there was plenty to catch up on and to indulge my hunter-gatherer tendencies.

There are two major music shops in Warsaw.  One is SAWART (online Polish-language link here) on Moliera at Plac Teatralny near Teatr Wielki.  The other is the shop in what used to be the Akademia Muzyczna Fryderyka Chopina and what is now the Uniwersytet Muzyczny Fryderyka Chopina.  You can also find CDs and DVDs in branches of EMPIK and at Teatr Wielki’s own shop.


Screen Shot 2014-09-30 at 16.00.45Two Panufnik volumes have appeared in Poland in his centenary year.  The first is a reissue of his autobiography Composing Myself (1987), translated in 1990 as Panufnik o Sobie (Panufnik on Himself), although this paperback omitted the photographs from the UK edition.  It has been republished in hardback as Panufnik. Autobiografia with a supplementary section by his widow Camilla covering the final years of his life.  An English-language reprint, likewise updated and with additional documentation, is in press … watch this space.

The next Panufnik publication is the third in a sequence of interview recollections published by Polish Music Publishers PWM.  Scan 3First was Górecki. Portret w pamięci (Górecki. A Portrait in Memory, 2013), consisting of 42 interviews carried out by Beata Bolesławska-Lewandowska. The second, slimmer volume inaugurated a new series ‘Rozmowy o kompozytorach’ (Conversations on Composers) and heralded a new design.  The interviews for Lutosławski. Skrywany wulkan (Lutosławski. A Hidden Volcano, 2013) were carried out by Aleksander Laskowski and focused on just four conductors: Edward Gardner, Simon Rattle, Esa-Pekka Salonen and Antoni Wit.  Both of these publications won major book prizes in Poland this year. Laskowski’s interviews will be published in English by Chester Music.

Scan 4Now comes Panufnik. Architekt emocji (Panufnik. Architect of Emotion, 2014), with a preface by the poet Adam Zagajewski.  It was launched during this year’s ‘Warsaw Autumn’ in the presence of Panufnik’s widow Camilla.  The author is again Beata Bolesławska-Lewandowska, whose authoritative biography (PWM, 2001) will be published in English by Ashgate in the coming months.  She spoke to twelve people:

Łukasz Borowicz, the conductor of the comprehensive cpo series of eight CDs of Panufnik’s orchestral music
Roxanna Panufnik, Panufnik’s daughter and composer
Andrzej Dzierżyński, the painter and family friend, whose images adorn the covers of all but one (no.2) of the eight cpo CDs
Gerard Schwarz, conductor-laureate of the Seattle SO with whom he made a CD of Panufnik’s music in 1996
Stanisław Skrowaczewski, the conductor and composer, still active on the podium aged 91, who knew Panufnik early in their lives
Wanda Wiłkomirska, the violinist whose 1980 performance of Panufnik’s Violin Concerto can be heard on the new ninateka.pl site
Camilla Panufnik, the composer’s widow and tireless supporter since they met in England in the early 1960s
Ewa Pobłocka, who has made two commercial recordings of Panufnik’s Piano Concerto, one of them under the composer’s baton
Mark Stephenson, the British conductor who worked closely with the composer in his later years
Wojciech Michniewski, an insightful interpreter of contemporary Polish music who shared the podium with Panufnik during the concert when the composer conducted his Tenth Symphony in Warsaw in September 1990
Jem Panufnik, Panufnik’s son and graphic designer and musician
Julian Anderson, composer

I’ve not had time to read the interviews properly, but one observation by Julian Anderson caught my attention.  He concludes (p.243) that ‘one of the main things that Panufnik bequeathed to Polish music after his escape was the Polish experimental creativity that developed after 1956’ (I am translating from the Polish; these may not have been Anderson’s exact words).  This demands more scrutiny than this post allows, so I will return to this anon.

Scan 5Another book just hitting the shops is a compilation of writings by the music critic and broadcaster Andrzej Chłopecki, who died in 2012 in his early fifties: Dziennik Ucha. Słuchane na ostro (Ear Diary. Sharp Listening).  Chłopecki’s loss is still keenly felt, because he was unafraid to speak his mind, was not fazed by the establishment and quizzed everyone and everything.  His writings and charismatic radio broadcasts brought zest and intelligent prickliness to musical and philosophical debate.  This collection, running to over 500 pages,  brings together Chłopecki’s columns for Res Publica Nowa – ‘Dziennik Ucha’ (Ear Diary, 1993-98) and Gazeta Wyborcza – ‘Słuchane na ostro’ (Sharp Listening, 2001-11).  His range was astonishing.  His essays give pause for thought as well as huge enjoyment.  Sadly, they are unlikely to be translated into English.

However, there is good news on a related front.  The collection of Chłopecki’s essays on Lutosławski’s compositions, published as Andrzej Chłopecki. PostSłowie (Andrzej Chłopecki. AfterWord) in 2012, is a testament to his ability to look at – and to enable listeners to hear – music afresh.  And in the case of a composer as much discussed and analysed as Lutosławski, that was a very special gift.  The book, which he oversaw in the smallest detail and signed off just before his death, has now been translated into English by John Comber and may be out by the end of this year.

Encyklopedia Muzyczna

Finally, I have completed the set.  EM’s first volume ‘ab’ was published 35 years ago.  The series was completed by vol.12 ‘w-ż’ in two years ago.  There have also been supplements, necessary given the protracted timespan of the encyclopaedia – ‘ab’ (1998) and cd (2001) – although this process has stalled.  Instead, PWM has brought out special composer supplements: Chopin (2010), Górecki (2011), Szymanowski (2012) and Wieniawski (2011).  The Górecki volume is quite slight.  It runs to just 18 pages and was issued to commemorate the composer after his death in 2010.  It has an updated work list (but does not include posthumously released works like the Fourth Symphony), bibliography and a brand-new essay by Maciej Jabłoński.  The others supplements are more substantive: the Wieniawski has over 70 pages, the Szymanowski over 130 and the Chopin 180.Scan 2

This time I picked up a copy of the Lutosławski supplement (77 pages), published in 2013. In addition to an essay written by the late Jadwiga Paja-Stach and by Zbigniew Skowron, there are individual entries on over 60 performers, composers, poets, publishers and authors closely associated with him.  It is an honour to have been included in this distinguished gathering.


Scan 7Various CDs have come my way in recent months, not least a range of discs from the ever-productive DUX company.  I also received a smart boxed set from Sinfonia Varsovia issued to mark the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising and the end of Word War II.  This non-commercial 3-CD set is called (a little loosely) Anthology of Polish Contemporary Music 1939-1945 and it contains much music that is hard to find elsewhere on disc.  The conducting duties for the twelve pieces are shared between Renato Rivolta (6), Jerzy Maksymiuk (5) and Jacek Kaspszyk (1).  There is an excellent booklet essay by Katarzyna Naliwajek-Mazurek.  The complete repertoire is:

Grażyna Bacewicz, Overture (1943)
Andrzej Czajkowski, Piano Concerto no.2 (1966-71), with Maciej Grabowski
Tadeusz Zygfryd Kassern, Concerto for String Orchestra (1943)
Stefan Kisielewski, Concerto for Chamber Orchestra (1944, 1949)
Witold Lutosławski, Symphonic Variations (1938)
Andrzej PanufnikTragic Overture (1942)
Andrzej Panufnik, Sinfonia elegiaca (1957, 1966)
Karol Rathaus, Music for Strings (1941)
Ludomir RóżyckiPietà. On Smouldering Ruins of Warsaw (1942, 1944)
Antoni Szałowski, Overture (1936)
Aleksander Tansman, Rapsodia polska (1940)
Mieczysław Weinberg, Cello Concerto (1948), with Marcel Markowski

Contemporary composers in Poland have as difficult time as anywhere getting their music heard and recorded, but there have been some initiatives in recent years to plug some of the gaps.  The ‘Warsaw Autumn’ annual chronicle of seven or more CDs provides a permanent reminder of live performances.  The chronicle is non-commercial, but libraries, institutes and interested individuals may request to be put on the distribution list.  The recordings come with either the Polish or English programme book for the year.  Enquiries may be made via this link.

In 2009, DUX launched an initiative called Young Polish Composers in Homage/Tribute to Frederic Chopin, in honour of the composer’s bicentenary in 2010.  The eleven CDs in the series introduced ten Polish composers and one Czech to the wider public:

Stanisław Bromboszcz (b.1980): Chamber Music, DUX 0746
Michał Dobrzyński (b.1980): Expression DUX 0752
Marcin Gumiela (b.1980): Sacred Works DUX 0753
Paweł Hendrich (b.1979): Chamber Works DUX 0754
Michał Moc (b.1977): Emotions DUX 0756
Dariusz Przybylski (b.1984): Works for Orchestra DUX 0721
• Weronika Ratusińska (b.1977): Works for Orchestra DUX 0723
Agnieszka Stulgińska (b.1978): Chamber Works DUX 0759
Sławomir Zamuszko (b.1973): Works for Orchestra DUX 0724
Wojciech Ziemowit Zych (b.1976): Works for Orchestra DUX 0722
+ the Czech composer
• Kryštof Mařatka (b.1972): Chamber Works DUX 0784

DUX prefaced the series in 2008 with a double sampler CD DUX 0635/0636, with mostly different pieces plus works by two other composers who did not go on to have had their own individual CDs: Marcin Stańczyk (b.1977) and Marcin Tomasz Strzelecki (b.1975).

On my visit to Warsaw last week I came across a more recent series devoted mostly to an older generation of Polish composers.  Under the heading Polish Music Today. Portraits of Contemporary Polish Composers, Polish Radio and the Polish Music Information Centre launched ten CDs earlier this year.  They are available via the Polish Radio online shop (click on links below), where you will also find information on each composer and tracks, but only in Polish.  The intention is to develop the project further.  The ten lucky composers so far are:

Magdalena Długosz (b.1954): PRCD 1743
Jacek Grudzień (b.1961): PRCD 1746
Aleksander Kościów (b.1974): PRCD 1750
Zbigniew Penherski (b.1935): PRCD 1741
Jarosław Siwiński (b.1964): PRCD 1747
Michał Talma-Sutt (1969): PRCD 1748
Ewa Trębacz (1973): PRCD 1749
Tadeusz Wielecki (b.1954): PRCD 1744
Anna Zawadzka-Gołosz (1955): PRCD 1745
Lidia Zielińska (b.1953): PRCD 1742

Now I must get down to some serious reading and listening…

• Gloria Artis, 12.04.14

It was a sideshow to the main event of the evening (the world premiere of Henryk Mikołaj Górecki’s Fourth Symphony), but the ceremony that took place in the Thomas Beecham Room at London’s Royal Festival Hall on 12 April 2014 was very special to me.  I had learned late last year that the Polish Government, through the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, had awarded me the Gloria Artis Gold Medal, for services to Polish music.  This was a great honour, not least because the vast majority of recipients of the bronze, silver and gold medals since the award’s creation in 2006 have been Polish creative artists, and consequently relatively few are from other countries. I gathered that Pierre Boulez and Simon Rattle and the historian Norman Davies were previous recipients of the Gold Medal.  Exalted company!

There was no immediate prospect of an award ceremony as I was off to France at the start of 2014 on a four-month walk.  I was scheduled, however, to return to London for a few days to give the pre-concert talk for the Górecki premiere and to attend rehearsals.  This turned out to suit the Polish side too.

The ceremony was carried out at a reception, between the talk and the concert, by the Polish Ambassador to the UK, Witold Sobków, who was very generous in his citation.  I gave a brief response to express my profound gratitude for the award, brief because time was running out (the clock on the tower of the Houses of Parliament was touching 19.20!).  There was still time to grab a photo opportunity with Górecki’s daughter Anna, with her husband Wojciech and their two older children, Jaś and Emi, and Janis Susskind, Górecki’s publisher at Boosey & Hawkes, and also a shot with my sister Gaynor who had come up to London especially.  Then it was into the concert for the premiere, and early the next morning I was back on the train heading for Paris and Limoges to complete my walk.

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You can read a couple of related media reports here:

Polish Radio: http://www.thenews.pl/1/6/Artykul/168180,Top-British-music-critic-Adrian-Thomas-gets-Polish-state-honour
Cardiff University: http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/music/newsandevents/news/schoolnews/14goldmedal.html

• WL100/71: Lissa on Concerto for Orchestra

As a follow-up to WL100/70, here’s the final section (in translation) of a huge article on Lutosławski’s Concerto for Orchestra.  Its author was Zofia Lissa, the dominant presence in Polish musical policy during the post-war decade. She was a musicologist with an early specialism in film, but she is best known for her Marxist ideology and her role in shaping Polish musical thought during the period of socialist realism.

Lissa, Panufnik, Lutosławski in Prague, 1950

Zofia Lissa (left), Andrzej Panufnik (immediately behind) and Witold Lutosławski (right) in Prague, 1950.

With the closing down of the less-than-obedient Ruch Muzyczny (Musical Movement) in 1949, publications on music were tightly controlled in Stalinist Poland.  In came a new journal, Muzyka, and subsequently the much weightier (in all senses of the word) Studia Muzykologiczne (1953-56).  It was in the fifth and final volume of this latter publication that Lissa published an article of over 100 pages: ‘Koncert na orkiestrę Witold Lutosławskiego. (Szkic analyticzny)’ (Witold Lutosławski’s Concerto for Orchestra. (An Analytical Sketch)’), Studia Muzykologiczne (1956), pp.196-299. (The deadly earnest of Studia Muzykologiczne may be demonstrated by the opening item in this fifth volume, an even heftier article by Stefania Łobaczewska: ‘Próba zbadania realism socjalistycznego w muzyce na podstawie polskiej twórczości 10-lecia’ (An attempt at an investigation of socialist realism in music on the basis of Polish composition of the past decade), pp.7-195.)

ZKP visit to Poznań, 1953

A visit by the Polish Composers’ Union to Poznań, 1953.  Zofia Lissa (front row, third from right), Witold Lutosławski (top right, looking characteristically wary).

As might be expected, the analytical aspects of Lissa’s article were embedded in a view of music that promoted a socialist-realist view of the function of the arts in communist society.  The article is far too long to reproduce in a post. Here instead is the concluding section, translated by Michał Kubicki and myself a few years ago, but never published.  It gives a flavour of the musical environment of the time.  It is a curious, transitional mix between the defensive and the confessional, because by 1956 – two years after the premiere of the Concerto for Orchestra – Polish music and musicology, and Lissa herself, were rapidly changing their tune as the barriers to Western music and its aesthetics were brought down.


Lutoslawski’s Concerto in the music of the post-war decade

If the problem of mastery in contemporary Polish music has not to date been taken up by our musicology, it is mainly because there have in fact been few pieces which have borne the hallmarks of mastery.  It seems to me that it would not be an expression of ‘hagiography’ if we were to acknowledge this mastery in Lutosławski’s Concerto.  Mastery in diversity and originality, in the innovative character of its expressive devices; mastery in the economic way of employing them, in the perfect coordination of these devices with a form that is both new and his own in conception; mastery in the new treatment of folklore, in the synthesis of ‘old’ and ‘new’.  In the Concerto Lutosławski has given yet more proof that he has his own style of utterance; the influence of this style can already be detected in works by other composers (such as  Baird’s Lyric Suite [1953]).

Our remarks about Lutosławski’s Concerto would not be complete, however, if we did not pose the question: what is the role of this piece in Polish music of the [post-war] decade. What is the relationship of the work to the various postulates which our life has thrust forward, to the issues which have preoccupied this period?  We can only become fully aware of the significance of a musical piece, having exhausted the analytical aspect connected with the description and explanation of its shape, if we are able to answer this question. And there is another one: what is the role of this piece, when it comes to the composer and the individual development of his talent?

Let us start with an answer to the latter question.  Writing at the end of 1951 and the beginning of 1952 about Little Suite and [Silesian] Triptych [1], I saw in them the first attempts at a synthesis of two strands in the composer’s music: that of monumental works, stemming from the premises of the inter-war period, difficult, long and painstakingly elaborated and by no means easy for the average listener to grasp.  Here belonged the First Symphony, Symphonic Variations as well as the later Overture [for Strings].  The second creative strand focused on charming miniatures, wonderfully carved and strongly linked to folklore,  thanks to which Lutosławski’s music managed to penetrate through to fairly broad layers of the listening public.  Folk Melodies for piano, Children’s Songs set to Tuwim’s verse, A Straw Chain, Bucolics and Dance Preludes for clarinet and piano – these are the main works within this strand.  Little Suite and Silesian Triptych were the harbingers of the merger of these two strands in Lutosławski’s music. On the basis of the analysis of these two works I tried to account for processes which were to be fully confirmed by the Concerto for Orchestra itself.  If those two works constituted a preparatory stage for this synthesis, the Concerto was its full and ultimate realisation.  In it met the experiences and attempts of Lutosławski’s previous development, realised both in symphonic forms and in the other field of his creative activities – the miniatures. It is only on the basis of these activities, in which folklore was the starting point for the conception, material and form, that the composer’s new attitude to folklore, as currently realised in the Concerto, could be born.  It is only on the basis of an organic merger of one’s own reservoir of musical ideas with folk ideas that the kind of unity that can be observed in the Concerto could be brought into being.  This is the characteristic blending of folklore into monumental form, whose concept, however, is the [composer’s] own, individual concept, as in the First Symphony or the Symphonic Variations, and not a concept stemming from non-musical ideas, connected with the people [lud], as in Little Suite or Triptych.  One may have some doubts whether it is valid to employ folkloristic material without linking the concept of the work with a specific content derived from ideas about the people, with the representation of folk scenes.  Indeed, in the majority of pieces using folkloristic material from one’s own or from a foreign country, the folklore was to serve just these aims.  In the Concerto it fulfils a different function, even though it surely contributes to the creation of the ‘atmosphere’ of Polishness in the piece. Under no circumstances does it perform functions that are descriptive, functions that specify aspects relating to content. The same, albeit less consistent manner of employing folkloristic material can also be seen in Szabelski’s Third Symphony [1951].

Lutosławski’s Concerto links together two strands of his music and two musical worlds which in the composer’s imagination have up to now proceeded, as it were, independently of each other, contained in pieces which were somewhat different in style and format.  In this sense the Concerto should be regarded as a crucial moment in Lutosławski’s compositional career.

It should be considered a work of special significance from yet another point of view: the quality of its resources, the perfection/carving of its details, the frugality of their use, the originality of the ideas and the purity of the distinctly national style – all this had also been noticeable in Lutosławski’s small forms, including Little Suite and Triptych.  But the same discipline, inventiveness, originality and stylistic accuracy in such a monumental form as the Concerto, the same national countenance, albeit differently realised, already testify to the full maturity of compositional  craft, to the crystallisation of an individual style, to the composer’s mature mastery.

We should look at Lutosławski’s Concerto from yet another perspective, from the perspective of the development of the totality of our music during the ten years of People’s Poland, the postulates put forward during that period, undoubtedly correct in their essence, but often vulgarised by numerous scribblers on music or civil servants, not always musical experts.

To put the issue unambiguously straight away: Lutosławski does not follow the slogans which call – at the stage of a simplified understanding of the essence of socialist realism – for a rejection of 20th-century technical devices, for a return to romantic-neoromantic means; if there is a clarification of his style, it is as a result of the tremendous discipline of construction, the deep reflection and the frugality in the choice of resources and not in order to return to the stylistic traits of past periods.  At a time when a return to the style of the 19th century was postulated, he managed to be forthright but not academic, accessible but persuasive, with a new type of simplicity, without at the same time rejecting the technical achievements of the inter-war period, achievements which seemed to him to be indispensable for his own compositional craft.  Nor did Lutosławski move in his symphonic pieces towards programme music.  This does not mean at all that he went the way of constructivism, that he renounced expressive content in favour of technical values.  On the contrary,  turning to the form of the song, namely the linking of music with text, shows that his precise goal was the most adequate rendition of content – expression.  The use in Triptych of the textual and vocal aspect confirms that [Lutosławski’s] attitude towards the realisation of content encompassed even symphonic forms.  The same ‘concrete nature’ of ideas, this time relating to dance, lies at the basis of Little Suite.  If we say that Lutosławski avoided an illustrative programmatic approach, it does not mean that his attitude was anti-expression.  Besides, we must stress here that in this respect  he assumed an attitude practically like that of the whole circle  of Polish composers in the [post-war] decade, among whom the slogan of the programmatic in the context of symphonic music met with a very weak response.  Apart from Woytowicz’s Warsaw Symphony, and also Serocki’s Second Symphony, which involved choirs (meaning that the content was manifested verbally), this postulate was realised rather feebly.

One of the decade’s slogans, however, was readily accepted by Lutosławski and realised out of his own inner need: the slogan of crystallising a new, contemporary national style.  Lutosławski brings this out in his entire cycle of ‘miniatures’, to a larger extent in Little Suite and Triptych.  And in a new way in the Concerto.

Lutosławski’s  music is stylistically homogenous, be it a small prelude for piano, an orchestral piece, a children’s song or a monumental symphonic form – all his works are an expression of noble beauty, a beauty created by a man from our epoch, our milieu, our generation.  In this sense Lutosławski’s music is the music of our time, enriching the culture of our country, belonging to the culture and ideological world of our society, despite the fact that is does not speak in concrete and explicit terms either about the revolution that we are living through or about the goals which we set ourselves.  In this sense, too, Lutosławski’s Concerto belongs to the first decade of People’s Poland, even though, with its programme, textual content or selected genre, it does not directly support its ideology, does not immediately contribute to the struggle which is the axis of this decade.  It is music which fights for the enrichment of the inner life of the Polish listener, for the development of Polish musical culture, for a new national style for our time. And this is a great deal.

To put forward the issue once again clearly and openly: Lutosławski’s Concerto for Orchestra does not belong to easy pieces addressed to the unprepared listener.  It is not possible, leaving the concert hall after its performance, to hum or whistle the themes; which would be tantamount to trivialising and vulgarising the practical criteria of ‘musical realism’ for everyday use.  On the contrary, this work is evidently geared to the listener who is already prepared, versed and accustomed to the norms of 20th–century music; a listener whose musical imagination is not confined to the categories of romanticism or neo-romanticism.  Is Lutosławski’s Concerto, therefore, a manifestation of an ‘elitist’ attitude, something which has so far been the most serious accusation levelled against our composers during the decade?

It is impossible to answer this question without throwing light on the key issue of our cultural revolution in the field of music.

The fact that the need for such music was rightly and continues to be rightly propounded – music that would educate, raise those listeners who are unfamiliar with music to a higher level of  their ‘musical consciousness’ – should not at all be understood in such a manner as if all music by contemporary composers was to be directed to this type of addressee.  Millions of copies of Falski’s primer [2] hardly abolish scientific research or hinder the publication of studies addressed to several thousand specialists.  Are we therefore returning to an old concept: one kind of music ‘for specialists’ and another kind of music ‘for lesser mortals’?  Definitely not.  We simply believe that the manifold varieties of ‘musical consciousness’ in our contemporary society, which are a remnant of the class split in the field of cultural needs, must have fairly different musical needs and that there must be fairly different means through which these needs are satisfied.  Under no circumstances can this fact be the reason why contemporary Polish composers should give up their right to look for new devices which correspond to what they want to express with their music today.  One thing is certain and was certain when attempts were made (i.e. when our administration attempted) to classify this as ‘formalist inclinations’: devices adequate to the expressive needs of contemporary composers can in no way be the same as those for composers 100 or 50 years ago, even today, when it is precisely these ‘century-old’ devices which constitute the foundation of the listening habits of the broad masses of end-users in our country.

One of the most serious mistakes committed by many of those who express their opinion about music (in many cases, unfortunately, non-musicians) was that they postulated a uniform front for the music of our epoch, forgetting about the highly heterogenous needs of our society and its perceptive abilities.  But – let us return to the already quoted statement by Marx –  ‘for the non-musical [i.e. unhearing, unprepared – Z.L.] ear even the most beautiful music makes no sense’.  A peculiar ‘Berkeleyism’ has been utilised by us [in Poland] in day-to-day practice: travestying Berkeley’s famous thesis – esse est percipi – it was believed that it is only the music that an opinion-former can grasp, understand and sense which is good, correct, needed by our society and, what is more, realistic.  Everything else was just ‘formalism’.  One’s own, subjective, often very limited categories of musical ideas were objectivised and were merely given labels of ‘commonly binding norms’.  Music that was personally inaccessible, difficult, elusive, was thoroughly mixed up with objective music standing in the enemy camp.  The difficulties of semantic criteria in reference to music rendered this misunderstanding even greater and deeper.

Of course, nobody negates here the uniformity of musical culture conceived as a service to our society which is moving towards socialism; uniformity in the sense of the utterance of the man of our time, of our milieu, the man who senses our reality.   But one cannot also fail to notice the diversity of functions which this music has to fulfil today in our society, the diversity of needs stemming from our cultural heritage, burdened of course by all the negative features of a society split by class.

The musical listener in People’s Poland continues to be highly diversified as regards the categories of musical thinking, which bears deep traces of the class stratification in which Polish musical culture had been shaped for centuries.  The scope of musical needs here is very broad, while listening habits, which listeners use in the perception of music, are historically very diversified.  We have today many music lovers who are genuinely in love with music and yet they do not go beyond Bach or Beethoven, for whom even the world of Debussy and Ravel is already alien to the ear, who have to struggle through Szymanowski as if it was an aural jungle, not to speak yet of the ‘sound worlds’ of Honegger or… Lutosławski.  What in Lutosławski’s miniatures was still ‘digestible’ for them becomes sonic chaos in the Concerto for Orchestra.  They reject from the position of their listening habits (wrongly objectivised as the only correct aural norms) everything which goes beyond their subjective limits of reception.  This conflict has, incidentally, been constant in the history of music.  The struggle for new expressive devices on the one hand and on the other the struggle against them for the sake of the devices that are already well known and mastered by the ‘ear’ of a given generation appears in almost every epoch, in every generation, only to cede victory, of course, to a ‘new’ music which creates in the listeners the aural habits that are specific to it.  Ars nova by Philippe de Vitry (14th cent.), the tract which gave the name to an entire period in music, is already proof of this.

It is clear that this struggle takes on a new shape in periods when social revolution contributes to an intense broadening of the range of music listeners. The backwardness in the musical appreciation of the classes newly emerging on the historical scene is far bigger, because indeed objectively they depend on class conditions which hinder access to the manifestations of culture.  At such historical moments, the stratification of musical needs  manifests itself much more strongly and different ‘musical consciousnesses’ oppose one another far more acutely.  The pressure of the needs of new listeners mounts and it is clear that in the first stage they have to reject the more complex devices which do not get through to them.

Another thing is that they also reject the philosophical point of view – Weltbild – which is often hidden beneath the elitism and sublimation of devices.  The whole picture of the development of Soviet music to date, with its successive variations – of RAPM [3],  of ASM [4], with the breakthroughs of 1937 and 1948,  is precisely a reflection of this fundamental historical and class conflict.

Admittedly, these differences in ‘musical consciousness’  do not always have their own class conditioning, but nevertheless this factor is the basis of objective conflict. This conflict was also present in the music of our decade.  A simplified, anti-psychological and anti-historical approach to the issue led to a situation where the struggle for a new content in the music of the decade became a struggle against innovative devices. The struggle for access to musical culture for the whole nation was for a certain period identified (falsely) with giving up the creative quest.  The need to conform to the tastes of the broad masses was proclaimed.  But when dealing with a society as musically neglected as ours (if only in comparison with our closest neighbours to the East and West), as was but natural, a postulate was made to level down [5], a postulate against which in the 1920s the then Soviet culture minister, Lunacharsky, was still warning.  The postulate for a uniform trend in such conditions was definitely premature.  The time for a fully uniform trend and homogenous devices will come perhaps in a communist society, in which differences in ‘musical consciousness’ will no longer be a result of the ability or inability to have access to musical culture but will be confined solely to individual ‘realisations’, which doubtless will not disappear at that time either.

It was the anticipation of some sort of imaginary, uniform ‘musical consciousness’ of our society already now, 10 years after the revolution, that was the source of many simplifications in our cultural policy in the field of music.  Attempts were made to condemn works, which – just like those by Lutosławski – unquestionably remain inaccessible to the whole nation today but will become a nourishment for the broad masses when these masses eradicate their musical illiteracy just as they had already eradicated their educational illiteracy.  Indeed – what is needed today are works which will help eradicate this illiteracy, which in a considered way will fulfil educational functions.  Lutosławski’s Concerto is not capable of performing such a role.  And we have to admit that there are too few pieces in our music output of the last decade which deliberately undertook such functions.  The great sacrifice of Soviet music – which for over 30 years indeed placed substantial limits on its innovatory explorations in order to give the entire nation the simple nourishment on which its musical categories could develop – was not in vain.  Today,  Soviet music proceeds in its fullness along new roads; it calls in the resonant voice of its most outstanding composers for the right to innovation.  But it has behind it over 35 years of educating its society.  The difficulties of our music stem from the fact that even though it fights, justly and sometimes against the department of culture, for the right to innovation, it has not yet educated its own society in such a way that it could become its end-user.

At any rate – alongside works playing an educational function, we need innovative pieces, just like Lutosławski’s Concerto, pieces which, inaccessible to the masses today, will be accessible to them, will be a document of today for when the level of receptivity of the masses increases.  The theory of a ‘uniform trend’ will by no means resolve this conflict.  If despite this anyone wants to employ such simplifying notions like ‘elitism’ and ‘universality’, it should be clearly stated that Lutosławski’s Concerto belongs rather to the first group.  Not because it expresses some sort of ultra-subjective content, or turns its back on its own society, or is alien to our epoch and our line of development, but because it is difficult, because it does not employ hackneyed devices, because it is – within the framework of the technical achievements of our music – innovative.  These aspects assign it a special place in the music of our decade.

As it happens, this Concerto does not depart in the least either from the general line of the development of music or from the individual line of the development of Lutosławski’s style.  It is inventive but not experimental, it is innovative but never breaks with tradition.  On the contrary, we may notice in it a peculiar though organic blend of such traditions as the Baroque, Romanticism, Impressionism and elements of the style of the inter-war period, presented in a characteristic, individual synthesis of an evidently Polish character. Lutosławski simply derives from the closer and more distant traditions what he needs in order to realise his own concept.  This manner of drawing from traditions, be they close or distant in terms of time or geographical location,  has always existed in music and is hardly deserving of condemnation.  This is just a way and form of blending national styles with the norms of their own epochs, norms which are international.  This is at the same time a manifestation of the continuity of transformations in the development of musical styles.  Lutosławski is to a high degree national and at the same time European, and what strikes the listener above all is what is already the composer’s own, individual face, his original, crystallised style.  This seems to be the highest praise that can be given to a composer during his lifetime: his own individual style which is simultaneously a modern style, i.e. the style of his own epoch and a national style.  It is precisely such individual achievements that should be recognised as the development of a national style, as a new contribution to the tradition of a given national musical culture.  About Lutosławski’s music we can already say today that it is and will be a lasting contribution to 20th-century Polish musical culture.

[1] Z. Lissa, ‘Mała suita  i Tryptyk  Witolda Lutos’awskiego’, Muzyka 5-6 (1952), pp.7-56.
[2] Marian Falski’s Primer was used in Polish primary schools for several decades.
[3]  RAPM: Revolutionary Association of Proletarian Musicians, emerged from the Proletkult organisation around 1924, fully developed around 1928, dissolved in 1932.
[4] ASM: Association of Contemporary Music, equivalent of the Society for Contemporary Music, active around 1934, mainly in Leningrad.
[5]  Here Lissa uses the Russian-based phrase, ‘urawnilovka w dol‘.

• New Book: Polish Music since 1945

A new collection of essays on post-war Polish music has just been published by Musica Iagellonica in Kraków.  It is edited by Eva Mantzourani, who convened a conference four years ago, at the Canterbury Christ Church University in Kent, UK, under the title ‘Polish Music since 1945’.  Scholars young and old came from far and wide, and this volume of 31 essays is the result of those very stimulating days in May 2009.  It may be purchased at the Musica Iagellonica online shop for 85zł (c. £17/$27, plus postage).  The list of contents is given below.

Polish Music since 1945
PART I: Polish Composers in Context

• Charles Bodman Rae: ‘The Polish musical psyche: From the Second Republic into the Third’
• Adrian Thomas: ‘Locating Polish music’
• Marek Podhajski: ‘Polish music, Polish composers 1918–2007’
• Ruth Seehaber: ‘The construction of a “Polish School”: Self-perception and foreign perception of Polish contemporary music between 1956 and 1976’
• Bogumiła Mika: ‘Between “a game with a listener” and a symbolic referral to tradition: Musical quotation in Polish art music since 1945’
• David Tompkins: ‘The Stalinist state as patron: Composers and commissioning in early Cold War Poland’
• Maja Trochimczyk: ‘1968 – Operation Danube, ISCM, and Polish music’
• Alicja Jarzębska: ‘Polish music and the problem of the cultural Cold War’
• Niall O’Loughlin: ‘Panufnik and Polishness’
• Violetta Kostka: ‘Tadeusz Kassern: Music from his American period’
• Barbara Literska: ‘The “commissioned” works of Tadeusz Baird’
• Katarzyna Naliwajek-Mazurek: ‘Paweł Szymański and the multiple narrative in music’
• Marta Szoka: ‘The music of Paweł Mykietyn: In between pastiche, deconstruction and the great narration’
• Caroline Rae: ‘Dutilleux and Lutosławski: Franco-Polish connections’

PART II: Analytical perspectives

• Beata Bolesławska-Lewandowska: ‘Lutosławski’s Second Symphony (1967) and Górecki’s Second Symphony (1972): Two concepts of the bipartite late avant-garde symphony’
• Teresa Malecka: ‘Górecki’s creative journeys between nature and culture: Around the Copernican Symphony
• Stanisław Będkowski: ‘Wojciech Kilar’s last symphonies: Modification of a paradigm’
• Zbigniew Skowron: ‘Lutosławski at the crossroads. Three Postludes: A reappraisal of their style and compositional technique’
• Suyun Tang: ‘Lutosławski’s tonal architecture as defined by a Schenkerian tonal model’
• Aleksandra Bartos: ‘Witold Lutosławski’s Portrait of Woman 2000: New aspects of his compositional technique’
• Amanda Bayley and Neil Heyde: ‘Interpreting indeterminacy: Filming Lutosławski’s String Quartet’
• Cindy Bylander: ‘Back to the future: The interaction of form and motive in Penderecki’s middle symphonies’
• Regina Chłopicka: ‘The St Luke Passion and the Eighth Symphony Lieder der Vergänglichkeit: The key works in Penderecki’s oeuvre’
• Tim Rutherford-Johnson: ‘Theological aspects to Penderecki’s St Luke Passion
• Agnieszka Draus: ‘Infernal and celestial circles in Paradise Lost: Milton and Penderecki’
• Tomasz Kienik: ‘The musical language of Kazimierz Serocki: Analytical aspects of his musical output’
• Iwona Lindstedt: ‘Sonoristics and serial thinking: On the distinctive features of works from the “Polish School”’.
• Anna Masłowiec: ‘The sonoristic score: Inside and outside’

PART III: Polish jazz, film music and the marketplace

• Zbigniew Granat: ‘Underground roads to new music: Walls, tunnels, and the emergence of jazz avant-garde in 1960s Poland’
• Nicholas Reyland: ‘Experiencing agapē: Preisner and Kieślowski’s Three Colours: Blue
• Renata Pasternak-Mazur: ‘Sacropolo or Sacrum in the marketplace’

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