Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Fourth Salon Maria Szymanowska in Paris on December 3, 2013 (Vol. 4, No. 12)

If you are in Paris next week, do not forget to stop by the Salle des Fêtes of the Fourth District of Paris on December 3, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. to participate in the Fourth Salon of Maria Szymanowska.

This poetic-musical event, subtitled Female Voices, Infinite Dreams (Voix de femmes, rêves inachevés) has been designed and planned by Elżbieta Zapolska, and directed by Ella Jaroszewicz. This is yet another cultural event in the International Project Maria Szymanowska (1789-1831) - The Woman of Europe, realized by the Parisian Société Maria Szymanowska together with many sponsors and cooperating partners.

The Szymanowska Society also manages a website in several languages, noting all events world-wide relating to the Polish composer and pianist, still delighting us with the modernity of her talent. www.maria-szymanowska.eu.

The program of the December 3rd Salon features songs and poetry by female artists of Szymanowska's time: Fanny de Beauharnais, Marceline Desbordes-Valmore, Christine Lavant, Louise Labé, Anna de Noailles, Joy Morgan, Christine de Pisan, Catherine Sayn-Wittgenstein, Aviva Shavit-Wladkowska and, of course, Maria Szymanowska.

 The Salon will be presented by Florence Rigollet, Monique Stalens, Elżbieta Zapolska (musicians) as well as actors Katarzyna Wolf, Hye Min Yang and Alexandru Pribeagu – from the theater of Ella Jaroszewicz called Studio MAGENIA.

 The Salon has been produced by the Société Maria Szymanowska with the cooperation of: Mairie du 4 e Arondisement of Paris, Historical Literary Society / and Polish Library in Paris, publishing house Les Editions Noir sur Blanc, the Polish Institute in Paris, Studio Magenia and Gazeta Paryska.


The Szymanowska Society is preparing the Second International Conference on Maria Szymanowska, planned for April 28-29, 2014 in Paris.  Live performances and lectures by scholars will be on the program. Prof. Slawomir Dobrzanski will show detailed relationships between works by Szymanowska and Chopin (Szymanowska's were composed and published at least 10 years earlier). I will focus on Szymanowska's songs to Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz's Spiewy Historyczne and their relationship to other songs from the same volume. Details about the Conference will be announced later.

Szymanowska specialist, pianist Slawomir Dobrzanski recently released a complete recording of all of Szymanowska's piano music, while Elizabeth Zapolska has recorded all of Szymanowska's songs. Both recordings, - two sets of 2 CDs each - are available from Acte Prealable in Poland and online via major booksellers.

Here's a preview of Dobrzanski's performing Szymanowska for the Kansas Public Radio:


Dobrzanski's book on Szymanowska, with a CD Sample of her music is available from Polish Music Center at the University of Southern California and published by Figueroa Press associated with USC.



A mini-reunion happened at the International Conference "The Musical Worlds of Polish Jews, 1920-1960" at the Arizona State University in Tempe, where Prof. Dobrzanski performed some of piano solo pieces by Tadeusz Zygfryd Kassern.

Through October  I worked on my music history project, "Jewish Composers of Polish Music in 1943" -  a paper invited for the conference at the Arizona State University.  It was an amazing gathering of minds, with a keynote address by Prof. Antony Polonsky of Brandeis University, live music by the ART Ensemble of the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, and many fascinating lectures by scholars from Poland, U.K., Australia, Canada and the U.S.  

In my project this time I decided to count the names, this time: from 173 composers listed in 1939, 101 were still alive abroad (most of them have emigrated before the war) and 12 in Poland. Looking through the outlines of the composers' lives - destroyed and twisted by absolute evil, tossed around the world by winds of history... It is not an easy topic. We want to hear about the winners, the survivors, the heroes: we do not want this senseless, absurd, pointless death. 

I was not even born then, so what I can do? The only thing - remember: Koffler and Gold who died, Tansman, Palester, Kassern, Laks who survived... And be thankful for their gift of music.

Alexandre Tansman (1895-1986), the most famous Polish composer between the wars, a friend of Stravinsky, Ravel, Koussevitzky, Rodzinski, Mitropoulos, and Segovia, wrote more mazurkas than any other composer after Chopin. His symphonies were toured around the world by major orchestras. In 1940, he composed Rapsodie Polonaise dedicated to the defenders of Warsaw and major performances of the Rapsodie took place in Washington, Baltimore, Cleveland, under the baton of Rodzinski, Mitropoulos and Tansman himself.  

Tansman's love and knowledge of Polish folklore was expressed throughout his life, not only in pieces entitled "mazurka"  but also in in using elements of rhythm and melody from polonaises and mazurkas in various orchestral pieces.  A slow movement could be a kujawiak, a fast one - an oberek.  Seventy years of composing in Polish style! With many direct tributes to Chopin.

Here is Hommage a Chopin for guitar by Alexandre Tansman performed by Frederic Zigante: 


That's definitely something to be thankful for! Tansman's friendship with Andre Segovia, the master of classical guitar, and his intense musicality, resulted in creating the most important body of music for this instrument, beloved by guitarists world-wide, as can be witnessed on youtube.


Szymanowska and Tansman. Two musicians, two approaches to Chopin - before his time and long after. A predecessor who influenced Chopin's musical ideas and artistic aspirations, and a disciple, breathing a thorough knowledge of his oeuvre. Two musicians, two expressions of talent - a romantic virtuoso, a neoclassical master. Both were composer-pianists. Both toured internationally and had their music published throughout Europe.  Both are vital to the history of Polish music.