Author Topic: Little-known Polish composers before 1945  (Read 19225 times)

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Offline Maciek

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Little-known Polish composers before 1945
« on: April 17, 2007, 01:24:06 PM »
This here is a continuation of a thread from the old forum.

I thought I'd bring it over to the new forum, because two of the composers mentioned there have got their anniversaries this year. It's 200 years since Ignacy Feliks Dobrzynski's birth, and 150 years since Karol Kurpinski's death. Sadly, here in Poland neither of these anniversaries is given the attention it deserves. The National Opera in Warsaw is going to give a concert performance of Kurpinski's concert pieces much later this year. One wonders whatever happened to the operas?

Please feel free to mention and discuss in this thread any of the lesser known Polish composers who lived and worked before 1945.

Maciek

[Edit:]
And here's a link to the new Little-known Polish composers from 1945 on thread.

[Edit no. 2:]
Here are links to threads on this new forum dedicated to Polish composers who composed anything before 1945 (I'll be updating this list as new threads appear - let me know through this thread or PM me if I miss anything):

Zygmunt Stojowski (1870-1946)
Mieczyslaw Karlowicz (1876-1909)
Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
Jozef Koffler (1896-1944?)
Tadeusz Szeligowski (1896-1963)
Aleksander Tansman (1897-1986)
Grazyna Bacewicz (1909-1969)
Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
Andrzej Panufnik (1914-1991)


Chopin Recordings
Chopin's Mazurkas
Polish Art Song - Chopin, Moniuszko, Karlowicz, Szymanowski and others
Halka by Stanislaw Moniuszko
The Haunted Manor (Straszny dwor) by Stanislaw Moniuszko
Even Less Known Operas by Stanislaw Moniuszko
Paderewski's Manru
Potentially Good News for Szymanowski fans
Ludomir Rozycki - Eros and Psyche
« Last Edit: June 17, 2008, 10:19:46 PM by Maciek »

Lilas Pastia

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Re: Little-known Polish composers 966-1945
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2007, 04:30:39 PM »
Maciek, have you heard Gorecki's third string quartet? I saw that in the record store today (Kronos Quartet, just released).

I didn't know he had dabbled in that medium. Coincidentally, it's about the same length as his famous third symphony...

Robert

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Re: Little-known Polish composers 966-1945
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2007, 04:39:41 PM »
Maciek, have you heard Gorecki's third string quartet? I saw that in the record store today (Kronos Quartet, just released).

I didn't know he had dabbled in that medium. Coincidentally, it's about the same length as his famous third symphony...
Hi Andre
I asked the same question today.....He did not hear it yet....I heard it last week on contemporaryclassical.com. I was not that impressed. It just seemed to go on and on and on...I have owned his first two for a long time....I enjoy those two so, was looking forward to the third...I had talked with Maciek about the third about four months ago when on the Kronos site they mentioned that the third was being released soon...I probably need to hear it again to make a better call.  I usually need more than one listen to make a intelligent decision.....Hope everyone is well.....Hopefully it will warm up soon
Robert

Lilas Pastia

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Re: Little-known Polish composers 966-1945
« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2007, 04:22:21 AM »
Thanks, Robert. Gorecki's armoury of musical tricks includes slow moving phrases that seem to circle each other rather aimlessly. I guess it demands repeated hearings, because the connection is harder to grasp than in other kinds of contemporary music.

Still snow on the ground, and near freezing teps here. The weekend should be nice though. Mr Weatherman forecasts 20 degrees. Can't wait.

Offline Maciek

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Re: Little-known Polish composers 966-1945
« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2007, 05:25:40 AM »
Just dropped in to certify that what Robert said was true. :)

And to add that there's a thread dedicated solely to Gorecki here. :)

Maciek

Offline Maciek

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Re: Little-known Polish composers 966-1945
« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2007, 02:25:10 PM »
I've added links to other related threads into my initial post. Please let me know if I missed anything or if I miss anything in the future.

Cheers,
Maciek

Offline Maciek

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Re: Little-known Polish composers 966-1945
« Reply #6 on: June 03, 2007, 01:20:10 AM »
Some rarities for you to enjoy while I'm away (I'll be going on vacation next week):

A composer from the "Gurnian period" and one of his best known works (though no recordings on CD that I could find). He was a virtuoso violinist, Mozart dedicated his KV 470 to him. Spent a large part of his life in Britain where he died in 1848 (born in 1762 in Vilnius)

Feliks Janiewicz Violin Concerto No. 5 in E Minor



A wonderfully colourful orchestral piece from the early 20th century that reminds me of Dukas in many places. Outside Poland Nowowiejski is best known as a composer of organ works but here he's also famous for his songs (especially Rota which is a sort of national anthem) and orchestral pieces.

Feliks Nowowiejski "King of the Winds" Concert Overture op. 37



This guy has been mentioned in the old incarnation of this thread, so you can search him out there. Lessel was Haydn's pupil and the PC is one of his best known works.

Franciszek Lessel Piano Concerto in C Major



Here's yet another mp3 of Melcer's Piano Concerto No. 1 - I've posted this piece before (on the old forum) but sound wasn't very good. Here it's better (the performance is the same). This is, in my opinion, one of the forgotten masterpieces of the genre. Anyone who likes Paderewski's PC is bound to love this one too.

Henryk Melcer Piano Concerto No. 1 in E Minor



Carlos mentioned Paderewski's Violin Sonata a while back. There are in fact quite a few CD releases of this piece but here is a radio recording of an excellent performance that you won't get anywhere else ( 8)).

Ignacy Jan Paderewski Violin Sonata in A Minor



Here's a real treat! 2 pieces from Ludomir Rozycki, Szymanowski's contemporary. A wonderful 19th century composer who through some quirk of fate landed in the 20th century and thus became destined for obscurity (also, if we are to trust Rubinstein's memoirs, Rozycki wasn't the most pleasant of all people). There are precious little of his pieces available on CD. These two here you will not find anywhere else!

Ludomir Rozycki Piano Concerto in G Minor op. 43

Ludomir Rozycki Cello Sonata in A Minor op. 10



And finally, a little-known piece from Stojowski, whose Piano Concerto (in the Hyperion series) many on GMG enjoy. A cello and piano version of this has been released (with a lesser known cellist) by Acte Préalable.

Zygmunt Stojowski Concertstüke in D Major for Cello and Orchestra Op. 31

Enjoy!
Maciek
« Last Edit: October 19, 2011, 02:15:21 AM by Maciek »

Offline Maciek

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Re: Little-known Polish composers 966-1945
« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2007, 04:49:26 AM »
A there's a generous helping of downloads on the other thread as well. ;D

Remember to post your thoughts on what you hear! ;D

Maciek

Offline Maciek

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Re: Little-known Polish composers 966-1945
« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2007, 02:40:07 AM »
Stumbled upon this very interesting site today:

Before Chopin

Maciek

Offline Maciek

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Re: Little-known Polish composers 966-1945
« Reply #9 on: July 01, 2007, 02:32:17 PM »
A very favorable review by one of our most discerning listeners of some of the downloads offered on this (and the post-1945) thread has prompted me to write a few words about Feliks Nowowiejski. (The piece André liked is still available for download here.)



I suppose the average Pole has never heard of Feliks Nowowiejski but I'd also venture a guess that there does not exist a single grownup Pole in the world who does not know one of the composers songs - Rota (1910). It was close to national anthem status for a while, and practically everyone knows at least the first few lines (the words are from a poem by Maria Konopnicka). Yet no one knows who wrote it, or perhaps even that it is not an anonymous composition.

As for recordings and performances, Nowowiejski remains known today only for his organ works. Though notoriously difficult to play they remain quite popular. Do a search on jpc or amazon - a couple of discs are bound to come up. Even I own one, and that's about 33% of my entire organ recordings collection!

He was quite popular in his time though, mostly for large scale vocal-orchestral works. Born in 1877, he won the Prix de Rome in 1902 for an oratorio titled The Return of the Prodigal Son (yes, just like Debussy) and a piece called Romantic Overture. Two years later he won the prize again, this time for two symphonies (apart from the two Roman prizes, he was awarded an impressive amount of other ones in his lifetime but I'm not going to list them here - too tedious ;D). He was already an accomplished musician at that time, having studied composition and the organ in Berlin. Until 1906 he continued studying in Regensburg (among his teachers was Max Bruch). The Roman Prize enabled (and required) him to travel around a bit - he visited France, Austria, Italy, Belgium, Bohemia, Africa, and Palestine. During these travels he met Anton Dvorak whose advice he is said to have valued very highly. Among the other composers he met then were Mahler, Saint-Saëns, Pietro Mascagni and Ruggero Leoncavallo.

He returned to Poland in 1909 and after a 10-year teaching and conducting career devoted himself entirely to composing. He had a notable conducting repertoire, it included music by Bruckner, Mahler, Beethoven, Brahms, Wagner and Palestrina! He was married and had 5 children. He died shortly after World War II, in January 1946.

During Nowowiejski's lifetime his most famous work was the oratorio Quo vadis, based on the famous novel by Henryk Sienkiewicz (the 1895 novel may have been the main reason Sienkiewicz received the Nobel Prize). It was apparently a very eclectic work: the chorus part was in the old fashioned style of Haydn and even Handel, while the orchestral part was very Wagner-like. It was premiered in Amsterdam in 1909 and had been performed in more than 150 cities in Europe and America (including Carnegie Hall in 1912). Today it is largely forgotten, it has not been released on CD or LP. His other oratorios also gained considerable fame in their time, though never really comparable to that of Quo vadis.

He was also a very successful opera composer (stylistically similar to Puccini, according to my sources). Yet, again, not even his most famous opera The Legend of the Baltic has been recorded (only a few arias) - though it has been staged 4 (only four!) times after World War II. His ballets (download of an overture available above :)) have not been staged after the war at all. His 4 mature symphonies (he had also written one unnumbered piece in that genre) are practically never performed. Sadly, he is a splendid but completely forgotten composer. This overture is a precious acquisition, you'd better apprecite that. ;)

Maciek

Lilas Pastia

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Re: Little-known Polish composers 966-1945
« Reply #10 on: July 01, 2007, 02:49:53 PM »
Thanks for this article, Maciek. From when does the ballet Overture date ? I was very much taken by its strong Janacek and Bruckner overtones. But I wonder if he knew Janacek ? In any case, he doesn't sound like a composer under influence. I wish his symphonies and esp. the whole ballet were recorded....

Offline Maciek

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Re: Little-known Polish composers 966-1945
« Reply #11 on: July 01, 2007, 03:05:45 PM »
Thanks for this article, Maciek. From when does the ballet Overture date ? I was very much taken by its strong Janacek and Bruckner overtones. But I wonder if he knew Janacek ? In any case, he doesn't sound like a composer under influence. I wish his symphonies and esp. the whole ballet were recorded....

Sorry, forgot to mention that. Believe it or not, the ballet dates from 1929! It doesn't sound that late, isn't it? Well, maybe it does - just not cutting edge 1929. ;D I don't know if he knew Janacek, either in person or by music... Can't find any info on that, sorry.

His orchestral writing, at least in that Overture, is unlike anything written in Poland at that time - at least unlike anything I've heard. There was Szymanowski, of course - but they are universes apart. None of the less avantgarde composers however had this same sort of precise, clear instrumentation. Not even Ludomir Rozycki (who, it seems to me, was in some respects similar to Nowowiejski). I think there's something a bit "French" about this piece........?

Offline Maciek

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Re: Little-known Polish composers 966-1945
« Reply #12 on: July 18, 2007, 04:30:28 AM »
Guido, here's something new especially for you (but others are allowed to donwload it too, I'm so noble! 0:)) - the Cello Concerto by Jan Maklakiewcz from 1929. The concerto is somehow based on the Liturgy of the Hours which should explain the titles of the first and final parts (Ad matutinum and Ad vesperas). The second part is an Intermezzo, the third - a Berceuse (apparently the composer slept the whole day). Performers are: Tomasz Strahl - cello, the Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra (PRNSO or NOSPR in Polish) conducted by Slawek Wroblewski.

The file name proved to be too long for RapidShare, so it has cut off the extension. Therefore you have to add the ".mp3" extension after downloading (by renaming the file).

DownloadLink: http://rapidshare.com/files/43335016/Maklakiewicz_Jan_Cello_concerto__1929__Tomasz_Strahl_NOSPR_Slawek_Wroblewski_Ad_matutinum-Intermezzo
File-Size: 37,03 MB

Enjoy. 8)
Maciek

Offline Maciek

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Re: Little-known Polish composers 966-1945
« Reply #13 on: July 18, 2007, 04:32:19 AM »
That's two pieces from 1929 we have now. Let's see if we can find one more... ;D

Lilas Pastia

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Re: Little-known Polish composers 966-1945
« Reply #14 on: July 18, 2007, 01:05:06 PM »
Thanks, Maciek (and Guido ;D). I downloaded it. Any reading material??

Offline Maciek

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Re: Little-known Polish composers 966-1945
« Reply #15 on: July 18, 2007, 03:02:12 PM »
Hi, André!

First of all, I have to say that I was a bit disappointed with this Concerto. I had never heard anything by Maklakiewicz before and always wanted to (he went to my high school ;D). Perhaps my expectations were too high but I found the piece a bit boring on the first two listens. The "religious cello concerto" premise seemed interesting and there's lots of originality in the general concept (a sort of archaic musical style) but I simply couldn't connect with the music on an emotional level. I'm not giving up on it yet, though - I might re-listen again in a month or two.

A few words about the composer himself: Jan Adam Maklakiewicz was born in 1899, died in 1954. He was brought up in a musical family. Both his brothers (Franciszek b. 1915 and Tadeusz Wojciech b. 1922) became composers as well. Of the three, he is the one who eventually gained the best musical reputation but still you could hardly call him a famous composer. He studied both in Poland and abroad (with Paul Dukas!). He was a distinguished choir conductor, organist, and musical journalist before the war. After the war he was, among other posts, the director of the Warsaw Philharmonic - he oversaw the reviving of its choir and orchestra.

He may have been all in all a decent fellow but for me one nasty incident stands out in his biography: An infamous musicologists' and composers' conference was held in the town of Łagów in the autumn of 1949. During that event Włodzimierz Sokorski, the Polish Minister of Culture attacked "formalist" tendencies in Polish contemporary music and pointed towards "socialist realism" as the only proper style of composing. Essentially, he proclaimed the beginning of the socialist realism era in Polish music. Embarrassingly enough, Jan Maklakiewicz was one of the very few composers who joined in, attacking practically all of his colleagues.

But that's just an anecdote - I'm sure he was later sorry for acting like that. (Or maybe he wasn't? Consider his career in these years: 1945-47 director of the Cracow Philharmonic, 1947-48 director of the Warsaw Philharmonic, 1950-51 Dean of Composition, Theory and Conducting Department at the Warsaw Academy of Music).

You should also check the Wojciech Kilar thread - I've posted some files there too, including one of his newest pieces (not yet released on disc).

Offline Guido

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Re: Little-known Polish composers 966-1945
« Reply #16 on: July 20, 2007, 05:23:44 AM »
Cheers Maciek *Downloading*
Geologist.

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Offline Guido

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Re: Little-known Polish composers 966-1945
« Reply #17 on: July 20, 2007, 05:46:57 AM »
Are we talking about the same Maklakiewcz concerto here?! :)

It's so beautiful! Almost too focussed on this aspect... it might come off as a shade Mawkish and I admit that it's probably too long, but I like it alot!

Unfortunately it seems to skip at 5.36 where it starts sounding jazzy - or at least it sounds very disjointed - what's going on here?


BTW - Honegger's cello concerto was also composed in the same year, and is a little gem. It's actually quite similar harmonically to this piece, jazzy (a bit like this piece) - a wee bit like Gershwin.

This piece reminds me also a bit of Caplet's masterpiece - Epiphanie for cello and orchestra - that is another forgotten gem of the cello repertoire - the cello concerto that Debussy never wrote. I just remembered - the obvious religious connection too (didn't even think of that!) - I was just thinking that it was similar in purely musical terms. The Maklakiewcz also sounds a bit like Bloch's Voice in the Wilderness, another quasi religious work (or less so like Schelomo of course).
« Last Edit: July 20, 2007, 06:47:16 AM by Guido »
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Offline BachQ

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Re: Little-known Polish composers 966-1945
« Reply #18 on: July 20, 2007, 06:10:48 AM »
I'm only interested in Polish composers that lived before 966 ........ So I guess this thread isn't for me ..........

Offline Maciek

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Re: Little-known Polish composers 966-1945
« Reply #19 on: July 20, 2007, 07:48:04 AM »
Are we talking about the same Maklakiewcz concerto here?! :)

Apparently not. ;D I'm talking about the one I hear. >:D

Quote
Unfortunately it seems to skip at 5.36 where it starts sounding jazzy - or at least it sounds very disjointed - what's going on here?

It's a very serious issue I'm experiencing with the Polish TV server. Basically, I have 2 servers to choose from when I'm listening to the Polish Radio on-line: 1) the Polish Radio server, which is very fast with no glitches but has poor audio quality (64 kbit/s), 2) the Polish TV server which has decent quality sound (192 kbit/s) but has this problem that every 20 mins or so I "lose" anything from a couple of secs to 2-3 mins of the stream (it just suddenly "cuts forward"). I tend to choose the latter, hoping that the inevitable glitches will come between pieces - unfortunately, that usually isn't the case (I have now figured a workaround for those programs which include a lot of talk in between the music - I simply restart the player; but that, of course, won't work for longer pieces either). 64 kbit/s wouldn't be so bad but apparently they're compressing the sound the wrong way - there's a real lot of noise. If you want to get an idea of what I'm talking about - download the Ludomir Rozycki Piano Concerto posted somewhere earlier on this thread.

And thanks for the musings on other cello concertos from that period and/or in a religious vein - very interesting stuff! 8)