• WL100/76: Lutosławski Learns To Drive

The most unexpected volume on Lutosławski’s bookshelves was an undated notebook with a green binding.  On the cover he had written: W Lutosławski, Warszawa – 33, Zwycięzców – 39.  Lutosławski lived with his family in a flat at 39 Ulica Zwycięzców (Street of the Victors) from 1946-68.  The ’33’ seems to relate to the district’s Post Office (there are now offices closer to his old flat).  Apologies for the out-of-focus shot of the cover.

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When I opened the notebook I was surprised to find its pages filled with notes about how to drive.  I took just a single further photo, of one of the early double pages, mainly because it included his diagrams of how to do three-point turns and how to navigate junctions.  Evidently, preparation was the key for everything in Lutosławski’s life!  It is also possible that the notes were written not for himself but for someone else in his family.

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• 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.

Studio

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).

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

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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.

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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.

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Attic

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.

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Landing

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.

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Lounge

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.

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• WL100/74: Lutosławski Rules!

Another drawer in Lutosławski’s desk contained various odds and ends, loose scraps of unused manuscript paper and strips of card held together with a strong clip.

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These strips turned out to be 20 individual hand-drawn rulers, no doubt measured from the three-edged ruler (or its predecessor) that was also in the drawer.  Some of the card rulers were double-edged, and there was a number (and usually a letter) attached to almost every one.  I imagine that he used them in his sketching: there are quite a few instances of the regular pattern being overwritten as the compositional process took over.

I laid them all out on Lutosławski’s blotting pad to photograph them.  The last five on the RH side of the top photo also appear as the first five on the LH of the lower photo (don’t ask me why).  Someone may have fun trying to match them up with the music…

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• WL100/73: Lutosławski’s Batons

One drawer in Lutosławski’s desk contained batons with different cork handles, their plastic sleeves and, with one exception, orange protective tubes.  I am not sure which makes or models are represented here (one tube says ‘GLASS FIBER 340mm’) – does anyone recognise them or know about Lutosławski’s preferences in batons?

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• WL100/72: Lutosławski’s Desk

My series WL100 was curtailed at the end of last year as I was preoccupied with preparations for my four-month walk across France at the start of this year.  I am going to try to bring it up to my goal of 81 posts (chosen because that was Lutosławski’s age when he died in 1994).  So that’s ten more to go, including this one.

WL100/9: Lutosławski’s Carpet included a distant shot of Lutosławski’s desk, as it was in September 2002.  Here are two closer shots.  Lutosławski was innately neat and tidy, but I have no idea how much the desk was rearranged, added to or subtracted from after his death.  Some familiar items are here: the blotting pad, pencil sharpeners, and brush (see A Brush with Lutosławski).  There’s something rather melancholic about these photos, despite the red roses.  The day was dark and light very poor.  Tomorrow I will post what I hope will be intriguing shots of the desk drawer and some of its contents. (I should add that permission was granted by Lutosławski’s family to investigate his work spaces and take photographs.)

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• Reviews in translation (Górecki-Gibbons)

Penderecki_Gorecki_LutoslawskiFacebook friends will know that I posted last week about an unusual event at Warsaw’s Grand Theatre that was taking place on Saturday 29 November.  Here are my translations of two reviews that have since reached me (apologies for any linguistic infelicities).  I don’t usually occupy myself with reviews, as others are better placed to do them.  But the nature of the event is such that I think these opinions from Sunday 30 November may be of interest. They were written for well-regarded newspaper outlets, polityka.pl and wyborcza.pl.

I’m not going to develop the arguments here, but I may well return, in another post, to the trend of not leaving composers’ works alone.  Chopin is one thing, and his music has been used a creative resource for many years.  But in recent years in Poland it has been the music of lately deceased or living composers that has come in for treatment that ranges from ‘dressing-up’ to something more materially radical.  But that is for another day.

The first of the reviews comes from Dorota Szwarcman’s online blog for Polityka.

Three People, Two People and Spotlights (Trzech, dwóch i reflektory)

Dorota Szwarcman

The purpose of the concert at the Grand Theatre was to record it for DVD, but the audience had to endure aggressive noise emanating from antediluvian spotlights.  It was impossible to convince the organisers to do something about it.  In fact, ‘noise’ is an understatement.  It was a din.  It impeded hearing the performances, was superimposed on them and distorted them, especially in the quiet moments. I understand that it will be filtered out in the recording, but why then invite an audience?  They could have recorded it in rehearsal.  And so we felt simply as if we’d been given a kicking.

OK, but we must consider the pieces.  The ‘Three People’ are Penderecki, Lutosławski and Górecki.  As the only surviving member of this trio, it fell to Penderecki to conduct the works of all of them.  There was a continuation of the Penderecki-Greenwood project (48 Responses to Polymorphia was performed again), extended by the new Réponse Lutosławski by Bryce Dessner; plus works by the members of Radiohead and The National (the ‘Two People’), conducted by Bassem Akiki.  And NOSPR [National Symphony Orchestra of Polish Radio] played.

What can one say about these pieces?  My reflection is that people who play music every day which is completely different, sharper, become awfully polite when they suddenly enter the classical world.  Isolated timid clusters are lost in a sea of wistful tonal fragments, this tonality being slightly disturbed, so that everything is not just repeated literally, but is still all very discreet. While the relationship between Greenwood’s piece and Penderecki’s is very obvious – its successive fragments originate in Polymorphia‘s famous final C-major chord – it is hard to see what links Dessner’s composition with Lutosławski’s Funeral Music, perhaps two notes, not more.  It is easier to hear connections with Philip Glass, who has nothing in common with Lutosławski.  The responses therefore do not constitute in either case a counterbalance to the ‘questions’, i.e. the works by Penderecki and Lutosławski.

Another thing: the visuals were terribly distracting, supposedly attractive and interesting (made by the same people who have been in charge of the staging of concerts at Wrocław’s Centenary Hall), but here too expressive and riveting.  It was hard to take in the music at the same time.  There may be some for whom it was easier…

The second half was another story.  Starting with the visuals themselves, which were the work of John Milton, who is in charge of the packaging and staging for Portishead concerts, and ending with the introduction of Beth Gibbons in Symphony of Sorrowful Songs.  In an “excuse me for living” position (I thought that, in her situation, she was being unusually shy, but it turns out that she is always like this), she sat on a chair and sang into a microphone.  It has to be said that she had been really well coached by an expert – after all, she does not read music, knows no Polish and, moreover, has never sung in any language other than English, and furthermore has never sung with an orchestra [AT: although she and Portishead have performed with a backing orchestra]. Somehow she made it happen, even if in some places she had to sing down an octave; she sang in her own way, just as she does with Portishead, the voice slightly murmuring, slightly whining, but clear for all that…  The greatest advantage of this singing was its sincerity and directness – she knew what she was singing about and tried to express it; one may say that her singing was ‘sorrowful’ in reference to the work’s title, though this term is ambiguous.  The visuals underlined the claustrophobic-despressive mood, showing a wall of lichens, murky corridors without end, guttering candles.  All in all, I don’t know the reason for this experiment, because Górecki’s Third Symphony has just no need of popularisation, but apparently foreign concert halls are already interested in this concert.  Well, let’s see.

The second review, also dated 30 November 2014, is by Anna S. Dębowska for Wyborcza.

Anglo-Saxons from the World of Pop in a Concert with Music from the Polish Classics (Anglosasi ze świata popu na jednym koncercie z muzyką polskich klasyków)

Anna S. Dębowska

Radiohead, The National and Portishead connected with Polish music in a National Audiovisual Institute project.  The result was at least debatable, but what kind of art is without controversy?  A review of Saturday’s concert in the Grand Theatre – National Opera in Warsaw.

Commissioned by the National Audiovisual Institute, Jonny Greenwood and Bryce Dessner composed short pieces for string orchestra inspired by Krzysztof Penderecki’s Polymorphia from 1961 (Greenwood) and by Witold Lutosławski’s Funeral Music from 1958 (Dessner).  Beth Gibbons sang the soprano part in Henryk Mikołaj Górecki’s Third Symphony ‘Symphony of Sorrowful Songs’ (1976).  The performances of the Polish music were conducted by Krzysztof Penderecki and the new pieces by Bassem Akiki, the young Lebanese-Polish conductor who made his debut at Wrocław Opera a few years ago.  The National Symphony Orchestra of Polish Radio played.

That about sums it up.  The idea came from Michał Merczyński, head of the National Audiovisual Institute, the artistic selections made by Filip Berkowiczm director of the Kraków festival Sacrum Profanum. “I’m very interested in bringing together the worlds of serious music and ambitious entertainment”, he told Wyborcza. “Such collaborations provide an extraordinary boost to the participants, for their work reaches a whole new audience.  I am glad that Michał Merczyński has once more invited me to collaborate and again allowed me to stir it.”

Water and Fire One Year Later

Indeed, Berkowicz has stirred things up.  He’s already done it many times.  It is sufficient to recall projects like ‘Penderecki Reloaded’ – initiated jointly with Merczyński, processing the classics through performances by Greenwood and Aphex Twin – or ‘Polish Icons’ – with Skalpel remixing Penderecki, Górecki and Lutosławski at Sacrum Profanum [AT: 2014].  But this is nothing compared with Beth Gibbons, the vocalist with the trip-hop group Portishead, cast in the oratorio-cantata soprano role in Górecki’s Third Symphony.

Saturday’s concert was due to happen a year ago during the jubilees of the three great Polish composers.  I do not think that the change of date influenced its reception.  For some it was from start to finish a proposition that was hard to take, while others saw in it an interesting attempt to link different worlds, for which the blurring of boundaries is a trump card.  For others it is an alarming attempt to tamper with copyrighted musical texts.

That is why Gibbons fans reacted enthusiastically, in contrast to classical music connoisseurs, who took the thing with chilly scepticism (the family of Henryk Mikołaj Górecki disassociated themselves from the project). This attempt to reconcile fire with water convinced me more, however, than the compositional proposals of Greenwood and Dessner, who entered too willingly into the role of imitators.

Simple and Authentic Beth Gibbons

Accepting Gibbons in the Górecki demanded openness and a reorientation to a different kind of vocal expression.  It is difficult to measure the star of Portishead as a classical singer and compare her to Stefania Woytowicz, Dawn Upshaw or Zofia Kilanowicz, great performers of the Third Symphony.  Not that vocal strength, that range or that technique.  That is not what it is about.  Despite obvious vocal shortcomings, she found herself surprisingly at home in the atmosphere of Górecki’s music, inspired by the lament of a mother in pain at the death of her son.  The trump card was the musicality, simplicity and authenticity of a non-professional.  She was herself – she sang sitting at the microphone, sheltering behind her hair like an introvert. She must have put in a great deal of work on her Polish, because it sounded impeccable at times.  The high notes were evidently problematic for her, but the amplification helped in producing them.

It was an interesting experiment, but one hopes even so that Gibbons does not spawn imitators (Bjork once turned down an invitation to sing the Third Symphony).  Górecki is only superficially simple and wistful, not suitable for the stage.  Rather he did not approve the use of his music for other purposes, as when he did not permit the Polish distribution of the film in which the director Tony Palmer illustrated the Third Symphony with images of war.

Rockers Write in a Twentieth-Century Fashion

In the case of Greenwood’s and Dessner’s meeting with the classics there was nothing new.  The commissioning of orchestral works from them was the result of compositional try-outs by both musicians. Dessner has had a classical training and has written for the Kronos Quartet.  It is great that someone suggested Lutosławski to him, although Philip Glass was a greater influence in his piece (Réponse Lutosławski) than the great Pole, except maybe for the cluster from Funeral Music.  Even so, the Dessner seems a more interesting, more independent composer that Greenwood with his 48 Responses to Polymorphia, in which he drew liberally from the arsenal of avant-garde and sonoristic devices from the second half of the twentieth century.

Time will tell whether Dessner’s piece will be an encouragement to fans of The National to reach for Lutosławski.  If that happens, there awaits them a meeting with unusually complicated musical material of outstanding expressive qualities.  Saturday’s performance of Funeral Music once again showed that it is a masterpiece.  Likewise, Polymorphia under the baton of its creator, Krzysztof Penderecki, has lost nothing of its freshness and acuity.

It was moving that these pillars of Polish music (Polymorphia, Funeral Music, Symphony of Sorrowful Songs) sounded out under the baton of Krzysztof Penderecki, the only performer who had been a witness and co-originator of the era in which these works were created.  He naturally became the keystone of all of the concert’s themes.  Recruiting him for this project was Michał Merczyński’s and Filip Berkowicz’s unquestionable success.

The concert will be released on DVD by NiNA.

 

• Letters from 1950

Reproduced here for the first time is a letter dated 21 April 1950.  It is from Andrzej Panufnik, who expresses his desire to write a Revolutionary Symphony.  Not heard of this work before?  That’s not surprising, because he never wrote it. Instead, the project transmuted itself into his Symphony of Peace (1951).

Scan 4The source of this letter, and of letters from over 50 other Polish composers, is a file I stumbled across in a Polish archive, half a century after it was sent.  I have written about Panufnik’s letter and Lutosławski’s before, and my article on this collection was published online by the Polish Music Center in Los Angeles in 2002.  I have now republished it here – File 750: Composers, Politics and the Festival of Polish Music (1951) – alongside updated appendices.

These letters from 1950 provide an insider’s view of how composers navigated the system of commissions and funding at the height of socialist realism, what they had already written that they deemed suitable, what they wanted to write, how they justified their proposals, how much they thought they were worth financially, and how much the Minister of Culture rated them.  There are further research questions to be asked of this primary material, not least of which is the fact that the majority of the proposed compositions never materialised.  Here, for starters, is my initial survey from 2002.

• 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.

Books

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.

Recordings

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…

• NINATEKA: WL, KP & HMG

My preparations for and execution of my peregrinations in France prevented me from highlighting a major online resource that was launched in Poland at the end of 2013.  I have been provoked into posting details now by the world premiere on 21 April of Henryk Mikołaj Górecki’s Kyrie.  Although a recording has already been posted on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNuWAb_5OPk), there is also an audio file on NINATEKA: Three Composers.  It can, however, take some time for the NINATEKA files to load on the in-built player, although I can’t tell if this is down to the strength or weakness of the wifi signal.

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NINATEKA is hosted by Poland’s Narodowy Instytut Audiowizualny (National Audiovisual Institute) and covers a wide range of creative arts.  It is a Polish-language site, with the notable exception of Trzej Kompozytorzy (Three Composers).  Witold Lutosławski, Krzysztof Penderecki and Górecki all had significant anniversaries in 2013, and this initiative brings together archive recordings of their music, mostly from Polish Radio.  Here you will find not only the major concert works but also smaller, less familiar pieces.  There are timelines, biographies and glossaries (‘alphabet’).  Tucked away is the roster of the editorial team, led by Dr Iwona Lindstedt.

The navigating tools are fairly straightforward once you have worked them out.  Under ‘music’, you can pick an individual year or span of years, you can see a composer’s complete repertoire (‘all forms/genres’) or narrow it down under this same heading or in groups (scroll down ‘all categories’).  You can be guided by ‘recommended’ or ‘popular’ or read the playlists suggested by musicians and family members.  Or you can use ‘advanced search’ to filter by duration, instrumentation etc..  But if you want to look chronologically, you may initially be stumped.  For this, you have to look higher up the page and click on ‘creative periods’.

Happy exploration.  NINATEKA: Three Composers really is a treasure trove.

• Poles in Presteigne

UnknownThe 2014 Presteigne Festival in mid-Wales (21-26 August) has designed a special focus on Polish music.  This includes a new commission and premieres as well as sampling the music of composers such as Bacewicz, Lutosławski, Penderecki and Górecki.  There is a particular emphasis on the music of Andrzej Panufnik, on the centenary of his birth.  The full schedule may be found at: https://www.presteignefestival.com/PDFs/PF2014_brochure_for_web.pdf.

Here is an alphabetical-by-composer list of the Polish repertoire plus details of relevant talks and discussions
(** World premiere, * UK premiere):

Grażyna Bacewicz
• Concerto for String Orchestra (1948)
• Two Etudes for piano (1956)

Henryk Mikołaj Górecki
Two Sacred Songs for baritone and piano (1971)
• String Quartet no.1 ‘Already It Is Dusk’ (1988)

Witold Lutosławski
Dance Preludes for clarinet and piano (1954)
• Grave for cello and piano (1981)
• Partita for violin and piano (1984)

Paweł Łukaszewski
• Piano Trio (2008)
• Requiem** (2014, Festival commission)

Andrzej Panufnik
Miniature Etudes (Circle of Fifths), Book II, for piano (1947)
Landscape for string orchestra (1962/65)
Song to the Virgin Mary for choir (1964/69)
• Sinfonia Concertante for flute, harp and strings (1973)
• Love Song 
for mezzo-soprano and piano (1976)
• String Quartet no.3 ‘Wycinanki’ (1990)

Krzysztof Penderecki
• Prelude for solo clarinet (1987)
• Quartet for clarinet and string trio (1993)
• Serenade for string orchestra (1997)

Maciej Zieliński
• Lutosławski in memoriam for oboe and piano (1999)
Trio for MB for clarinet, violin and piano (2004)
Concello* (2013)

Talks and Discussions

• Warsaw Variations (award-winning Fallingtree Production, first broadcast on BBC R4 in 2012, with contributions by Beata Bolesławska-Lewandowska, Camilla Panufnik and Adrian Thomas), followed by a discussion with Camilla and Roxanna Panufnik, radio producer Alan Hall, chaired by David Wordsworth
• Pre-concert event: Roxanna Panufnik, with Stephen Johnson
• Pre-concert event: Paweł Łukaszewski, with Thomas Hyde
• Pre-concert event: Paweł Łukaszewski, with Adrian Thomas
• Talk: Three Generations of Polish Composers (Adrian Thomas)
• Pre-concert event: Maciej Zieliński, with Adrian Thomas

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