Saturday, November 26, 2011

"The Shooting Star" - More on Maria Szymanowska

Chopin Plays Piano for George Sand Vintage Postcard from Maja Trochimczyk's CollectionIs there a day in this world of seven-billion people that at least a million do not listen to Chopin? I wonder if it were possible to measure that. His music is everywhere: in films, TV shows, ads, on the radio, heard from windows, in cars, and, last but not least, in concert halls. Poets in the Chopin with Cherries anthology brought this "ubiquity" of Chopin's music to our attention. In contrast, his predecessor, twenty year older pianist-composer Maria Szymanowska remains virtually unknown.

The First International Symposium dedicated to her life and work, held in Paris in October 2011, is over, but the project of the Maria Szymanowska Society continues. Elizabeth Zapolska-Chapelle is close to finishing her work on the CD with all of Szymanowska's songs, to be issued by Acte Prealable in Poland. The recordings are done and the booklet is being prepared.

Portrait of Maria Szymanowska by Wankowicz, Polish Library, ParisFor those who live in Paris or nearby, the Second Maria Szymanowska Salon will take place on December 14, 2011, exactly on her 222nd birthday. Her music will be associated with poetry and music by different authors, including composers Sophie Gail, Claude Debussy, Arthur Lourié, Dmitri Shostakovich, poets Louise Labé, Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Adam Mickiewicz, Aleksandr Puszkin, and Marina Tsvetaeva.

The participants will include actress Monique Stalens, as well as Florence Launay, soprano, Elisabeth Zapolska, mezzo-soprano, Małgorzata Kluźniak-Celińska, piano and
Jean-Pierre Armengaud, piano. The concert is sponsored by the Maria Szymanowska Society, the Polish Literary-Historical Society in Paris and the government of the 4th Arrondissement in Paris. It will be held on Wednesday, 14 December 2011 at 7:30 p.m. at the Salle des Fêtes de la Mairie du 4e, at 2 place Baudoyer, 75004 Paris
Métro : Saint-Paul, Hôtel de Ville. For more information or to reserve your seat, contact the Szymanowska Society,

Reports from the Szymanowska Symposium have appeared or are scheduled to appear in: La Lettre du Musicien (November issue), Muzyka21 and Ruch Muzyczny in Poland, News of Polonia and Polish Music Newsletter in the U.S. The proceedings of the conference will appear in the Annals of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Paris Station.

Here's a new version of my poem, "The Shooting Star," based on Szymanowska's life and first presented at the First Maria Szymanowska Salon on October 1, 2011 in Paris.

The Shooting Star

Reflections on Maria Szymanowska (1789-1831)

“He brought a horse to her bed, that’s why” – they said.
“No, he did not let her play. She left…”
“Not the only one, mind you.”
Rossini wrote: “Madam, I equally adore your modesty and talent.”
“At least she was a mother – that redeemed her.
Three children, two daughters, that sort of thing.”
“Did she love them? Was she doting?”
“Didn't she leave them for three years to play her music?”

“Did she travel alone?” Always with her sister –
Paris, London, Dresden, Marienbad.
Devastated by Ulrike’s youthful charms,
Goethe found comfort in Maria’s nocturnes,
Reconciliation in the kindness of her voice.
In her, he saw Das Ewig Weiblich.
For her, he wrote Die Aussöhnung.

A Roman Goddess? In the latest London fashions?
She was the Queen of Tones for Mickiewicz,
the Polish bard. A friend of Prince Vyazemsky.
The Court Pianist of the Tsarinas.
A Warsaw brewer’s daughter,
She rose to royal heights,
Shining with the brilliance of her art.

She was elegant, refined
In her pristine muslin gowns,
With sleek belts and jewels.
Her satin slippers dared to
Outlive her by two hundred years.
They sit on a shelf, laughing.
She’s gone. Her daughters,
orphaned in a fortnight of cholera,
Are gone, too. And their daughters’ daughters.

What remains of this dazzling life?
A gold bracelet with a round-cut sapphire?
A handful of songs, etudes and dances
Scattered along the way? Sweet melodies
Frozen in the air above vast plains
of snow drifts and tundra?
The sparks of a shooting star
Falling across our dark winter sky?

Maria Szymanowskia's Brooch at Polish Library, Paris, France

Illustrations: 1) Chopin plays at a salon, vintage postcard, Maja Trochimczyk Collection; 2-4) photographs from the exhibition on Maria Szymanowska held at the Polish Library in Paris in October 2011, curated by Anna Czarnocka. Portraits of Szymanowska based on a painting by Jozef Oleszkiewicz, and a panting by Waclaw Wankowicz.

1 comment:

Gleydson Góes said...

I think Chopin is the best among all the other fabulous classical music composers, Like Bach, Mozart, etc...

I really LOVE "The Turkish March" and "Nocturne".
Chopin is wonderful, and so is your blog. Congrats for talking about such a serious and complex subject: Chopin!

Hugs from Brazil,

Gleydson Góes