• Panufnik, Penderecki, Zubel

To add to forthcoming Polish music events in the UK, there are two celebrations this month, in Glasgow and Manchester.  Next Saturday and Sunday (20-21 June), ‘Panufnik. A Celebration’ takes place at City Halls, Glasgow, with three concerts devoted almost entirely to his music.  A few days later (23-26 June), the RNCM in Manchester hosts ‘Seven Gates: The Music of Poland Explored’. Penderecki will conduct the first UK performance (!) of his Seven Gates of Jerusalem, only 18 years after it was premiered; his music and that of the much younger Agata Zubel (b.1978) take the foreground.  Lutosławski features at both events in a supporting role, with Górecki and Szymanowski also included in Manchester.  The Manchester repertoire has some little-known Penderecki works embedded in it, and of the three films Andrzej Wajda’s feature on Katyń and Wiktor Skrzynecki’s documentary about the ‘Warsaw Autumn’ will be well worth seeing.  For repertoire details, see below.

While I am delighted that these composers are being played and heard, I can’t help feeling that the repertoires of both events reinforce the impression in the UK that Polish music still consists of composers (Zubel excepted) who are either dead or reaching their creative dotage.  The one exception in this country, largely confined to sacred music, is Paweł Łukaszewski (b.1968), who has made a strong impact in choral circles here and was featured last year at the Presteigne Festival, which also promoted another Polish composer in his 40s but little-known in the UK, Maciej Zieliński (b.1971).  Zubel’s music is especially welcome this year in this context, and anyone wanting to hear her recent music, but who can’t get to Manchester, is recommended to seek out her CD ‘Not I’ on the Kairos label.

In case you missed it, Hyperion released a CD earlier this year of string quartets by Paweł Szymański (b.1954) and Paweł Mykietyn (b.1971), both of whom are well-established and no longer up-and-coming in Poland yet are virtually unknown here, despite Szymański having had some exposure with the London Sinfonietta some 25 years ago.  I am still waiting for high-profile performances of composers now in their 30s, like Szymański was when the BBC commissioned Partita IV for premiere at the Sonorities Festival in Belfast in 1987.  What about – and this is to name just a few composers in addition to Zubel, some deeply involved in multi-media work, who are headline figures in Poland and have international profiles elsewhere – Wojtek Blecharz (b.1981), Andrzej Kwieciński (b.1984), Dariusz Przybylski (b.1984), Marcin Stańczyk (b.1977) or Jagoda Szmytka (b.1982)?  There are dozens more (by focusing on those born in the late 1970s and early 1980s, I am not forgetting that there are older – even younger – composers equally worthy of investigation!).

…….

Panufnik.  A Celebration
City Halls, Glasgow, 20-21 June 2015

BBC Scottish SO, conducted by Łukasz Borowicz, Alexander Sitkovetsky, Ewa Kupiec

Panufnik: Divertimento, after Janiewicz (1947), Lullaby (1947), Sinfonia rustica (1948), Polonia (1959), Piano Concerto (1961/several times revised), Sinfonia sacra (1963), Violin Concerto (1971), Symphony 10 (1988), unidentified piano music
Lutosławski: unidentified piano music

…….

Seven Gates: The Music of Poland Explored
RNCM, Manchester, 23-26 June 2015

RNCM New Ensemble, Dominic Degavino, RNCM SO, Chamber Choir and Chorus, Piero Lombardi Eglesias, Maciej Tworek, Krzysztof Penderecki (other soloists and ensembles tba)

Penderecki: Violin Sonata no.1 (1953), Three Miniatures for clarinet and piano (1956), Brigade of Death (tape, 1963), Agnus Dei (1981, arranged for eight cellos), Cadenza for solo viola (1984), Entrata (1994), Symphony no.7 ‘Seven Gates of Jerusalem’ (1996), String Quartet no.3 (2008),
Górecki: Harpsichord Concerto (1980)
Lutosławski: Dance Preludes (1954), Chain 1 (1983), Piano Concerto (1988)
Szymanowski: Songs of a Fairytale Princess (1915), Masques (1916)
Zubel: Suite for percussion trio (2011), Streets of a Human City (2011), Shades of Ice (2011)

Films:
• Katyń (Andrzej Wajda, 2007)
• Górecki: The Symphony of Sorrowful Songs (Tony Palmer, 1993, not 2008 as given in the brochure)
• 50 years of [the] Warsaw Autumn (Wiktor Skrzynecki, 2007)

• Panufnik Revised: 2. Nocturne & Lullaby

For the second of five articles on Panufnik’s revisions made after he had fled to England in 1954, I have combined two works from 1947: Nocturne and Lullaby.  They remain two of his most enduring compositions, and Lullaby in particular has recently won a new following.  Nocturne is also a special piece and was subsequently held up by commentators as a pre-echo of the sonoristic developments in Polish music in the 1960s.  Curiously, Panufnik chose in his revisions of both pieces to cut out textural features that might have cemented this link to younger composers back in his native Poland.

Click here for the link to the article on Nocturne & Lullaby.

P.S.  I have not yet discovered why Nocturne was first published as Notturno.  Does anyone out there know?

• Panufnik Revised: 1. Tragic Overture

With last year’s Panufnik centenary and this year’s imminent publications – an expanded reissue of his autobiography (Toccata Press) and the English-language translation of Beata Bolesławska’s 2001 monograph (Ashgate) – it seems a good time to share a series of articles that I hope will shed new light on Panufnik’s music from his Polish period.

Panufnik was an inveterate reviser, but the post-war decade was also conditioned by his situation in communist Poland, especially by his decision to leave in 1954 and settle in England.  (Last October I put up a couple of posts and related articles on this latter topic: Panufnik’s Escape (1) ☛ article: Berne Legation Memo // Panufnik’s Escape (2)article: Scarlett’s Memoir.)

While I was preparing a conference paper for a Panufnik conference in Warsaw last September (‘Rustic – Heroic – Elegiac.  Panufnik and his Revisions’), I became aware of undiscussed processes of revision lying behind the compositions that were published first by PWM in Kraków and subsequently by Boosey & Hawkes in London.  I followed this up by examining autograph scores in Kraków.

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This little series will include just the orchestral pieces, which will be covered in chronological order over the coming weeks.  (Last December I also wrote about his first mass songs from 1948: Panufnik: One Song or Three? ☛ article: Panufnik’s 3 Songs for the PZPR.)  Future posts and articles will be on Nocturne, Lullaby, Sinfonia rustica, Symphony of Peace/Sinfonia elegiaca and Heroic Overture.  The first article is on Tragic Overture, his earliest surviving orchestral composition and one which is particularly interesting for his attention to graphic detail as it was prepared for publication.

• 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).

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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.

 

• Panufnik: One Song or Three?

343px-POL_PZPR_logo.svgLast month I spent a few days researching Panufnik manuscripts in Kraków’s Jagiellonian Library.  I was interested mainly in his working versions of major pieces from the 1940s and 50s; I will write on these shortly.  Another set of manuscripts also caught my eye.  These were of three songs written for a competition celebrating the imminent formation in December 1948 of the Polish United Workers’ Party (PZPR).  Although Panufnik professed in his autobiography to writing just one song, and that under duress, it has been known for a while, from other archives, that like five of his colleagues he wrote music to all three set texts.  But the existence of these fair copies in his own hand has not been so well-known.  I have written a short article exploring these manuscripts and their history.

• Polish Composer Doodles Revealed

Last week I posted two doodles cropped from working materials of the 1950s by two Polish composers.

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Screen Shot 2014-12-12 at 16.29.58Here they are on their full pages.

The first comes from the first score of Symfonia pokoju (Symphony of Peace, 1950-51) by Andrzej Panufnik.  The blue-ink score is not in Panufnik’s hand, but it is overlaid with many markings and revisions in pencil and coloured crayon that are in his hand.  It is clear that Panufnik used this score to conduct the rehearsals for and first performance of Symfonia pokoju on 25 May 1951.  The revisions may or may not have been made during rehearsals for the premiere.  Panufnik would revise it again for publication by the Polish publishing house PWM (1952) and yet again when he renamed it Sinfonia elegiaca (1957).

Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 10.41.18The doodle – the only one on this score – comes during the central movement.  It seems decorative rather than compositionally functional.  I am no expert, but like so many doodles it has repetitive, symmetrical qualities.  These, of course, tie in with Panufnik’s lifelong obsession with mirrored patterns.  Here there is an untidy vertical dislocation between the bottom and top parts of the doodle (or is it an attempt at perspective?).  More intriguingly, the top part seems to be built around a cross, with lines radiating outwards from its centre.  I can find no reason why it appears where it does, but then that is also a common feature of doodles.

The second doodle is of a different character and arguably is more like a graphic representation of an aural intention.  It comes from Henryk Mikołaj Górecki’s first sketchbook and relates to his pre-compositional work on the First Symphony ‘1959’.  The intersecting angular lines of different strengths are typical of Górecki’s directness and forcefulness.

Screen Shot 2014-12-12 at 16.38.11The annotation indicates that it relates to the second movement, ‘Antiphon’.  Below the line is a short sequence of seven notes.  This is the opening phrase of Poland’s most famous hymn, Bogurodzica, a source of inspiration for a wide range of composers, Górecki and Panufnik included.  In this instance, Górecki may have been echoing it in the finished score by using unison notes in ‘Antiphon’ and an oscillation between D natural and C natural in the third movement, ‘Chorale’.

 

• Panufnik’s ‘Silesian Hammers’

Leafing through Trybuna Robotnicza (Workers’ Tribune) as one does – I came across an entry yesterday that brought me up sharp.  Trybuna Robotnicza was the daily newspaper in Silesia of Poland’s United Workers’ Party PZPR between 1945 and 1990.  Its pages in the late 1940s and early 50s are filled with the customary eulogies to Stalin, Lenin, Bierut, to peace, culture for the masses, etc..  I’ve been looking for musical items, of which there are precious few.  Most of these centre on workers’ ensembles, opera and ballet, and most of all on the Silesian Philharmonic.

Occasionally, national musical items appear, and I suspect that this little column published on 27 April 1950 was syndicated from Warsaw, and it therefore may well have appeared elsewhere in the Polish press at that time.  It’s a list of composers with pieces they have proposed, are still writing or have completed as Labour Day approaches.  Top of the list is Andrzej Panufnik, with a work whose title is not only completely new to me but I suspect will be new to everyone else.

Silesian Hammers is enough to make the mind boggle.  What magnificent industrial heroism did Panufnik intend to evoke?  It seems highly improbable that the score was ever begun, let alone completed, but one never knows.  One possibility, which I have yet to explore fully, is that Silesian Hammers may have been an intermediate stage in the convoluted history of Panufnik’s Heroic Overture, which was first heard under this title at the end of 1950.  Some of the other composers are familiar, although some of their pieces, like Silesian Hammers, may never have materialised.

AP TR 1950 27.04.50 115 p.6 Screen Shot 2014-11-15 at 10.52.37
New Musical Works for 1 May

Numerous Polish composers, wanting to mark the approaching Labour Day, have undertaken to write or complete by the First of May a range of new mass songs, cantatas, symphonic pieces etc..

Andrzej Panufnik – has proposed an orchestral piece called Silesian Hammers.
Grażyna Bacewicz undertook to complete a Suite of Polish Dances for symphony orchestra.  She has fulfilled her compositional commitment ahead of schedule.
Stanisław Skrowaczewski has completed a cantata called A Word about Stalin [this almost certainly became the Cantata about Peace (1951)].
Alfred Gradstein has proposed two youth songs.
Stanisław Kazuro has undertaken to orchestrate his 128-page score of Polish Rhapsody.
Jerzy Sokorski is composing a solo song called Song about the Coal Basin.
Aleksander Wielhorski has proposed a youth song called Heroes of Labour.
Apolinary Szeluto has finished his May Song to words by Orłow.
Henryk Swolkień is writing for 1 May a song for solo, choir and orchestra to words by Tadeusz Kubiak.
Stanisław Prószyński has committed to composing a song for ZSCh [Zwiążek Samopomocy Chłopskiej – Union of Peasant Self-Help] called Shared Harvest.
Jan Krenz has proposed a cantata to a text by K. I. Gałczyński [Conversation of Two Cities (1950)].
Jerzy Młodziejowski is finishing a cantata called Hey, Hammers, To Work!.

In addition, similar commitments for 1 May have been made by many other composers.

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