Polish Music History Series. (Music in Eastern Europe)

By Rosenblum, Sandra P. | Notes, June 2002 | Go to article overview

Polish Music History Series. (Music in Eastern Europe)


Rosenblum, Sandra P., Notes


Polish Music History Series. Edited by Wanda Wilk. (Los Angeles: Friends of Polish Music, University of Southern California; Hillsdale, N.Y.: Pendragon Press).

Szymanowski. By Wanda Wilk. 1982. [16 p. out of print.]

Karol Szymanowski: His Life and Works. By Teresa Chylinska. Translated by John Glowacki. 1993. [v, 355 p. ISBN 1-916545-00-8. $30.]

Grazyna Bacewicz: Her Life and Works. By Judith Rosen. Foreword by Witold Lutoslawski. 1984. [ii, 70 p. ISBN 1-916545-024. $10 (pbk.).]

Grazyna Bacewicz: Chamber and Orchestra Music. By Adrian Thomas. 1985. [iii, 128 p. ISBN 1-916545-03-2. $15 (pbk.).]

Polish Music Literature (1515-1990): A Selected Annotated Bibliography. Compiled by Kornel Michalowski and revised with additions by Gillian Olechno-Huszcza. 1991. [iv, 244 p. ISBN 1-916545-04-0. $30 (pbk.).]

After Chopin: Essays in Polish Music. Edited by Maja Trochimczyk. 2000. [ix, 333 p. ISBN 0-916545-059. $36 (pbk.).]

This much under-publicized and generally well-presented series is devoted to filling the gap in the English literature about Polish music and musicians. The slim, opening booklet, Wanda Wilk's Szymanowski (no longer in print) recognized the "most neglected composer of the century" on the one hundredth anniversary of his birth. It has since been supplanted by several major studies, including Teresa Chylinska's Karol Szymanowski: His Life and Works as well as her pictorial volume on the composer (Szymanowski [New York: Twayne Publishers; Kosciuszko Foundation, 1973]).

As editor of Szymanowski's Korespondencja (Krakow: Polskie Wydawn. Muzyczne, 1982- ), his literary writings, and his music, Chylinska ranks as an authority to whom later work on the composer is indebted. The "life and works" volume is notable for its extensive extracts from the composer's correspondence--which reveals much about his changing psychological moods and thoughts about his recent compositions--and from his articles about music, which became an increasingly larger part of his productivity and influence on Polish musical culture after 1920. Szymanowski's life was not unproblematic and Chylinska presents it with sensitivity and perception. She also includes contextual information about his works, with critical reactions to first performances and important performers, including those in the United States. Her writing about the works themselves. however, is more descriptive than analytical and the only musical examples are reproduced in two letters by the composer. A worklist and a very good bibliograph y conclude this engaging and significant addition to the literature on Szymanowski, a composer who has recently gained recognition as "an outstanding artist and a great humanist" of the twentieth century (p. 293).

In spite of Grazyna Bacewicz's remarkable achievements from the 1940s through the 1960s, only a few short articles had been written about her in English until Judith Rosen's Grazyana Bacewicz.: Her Life and Works appeared. In this gracefully written monograph, the remarks on Bacewicz's music are almost without exception accessible to Liebhabern of modest musical background. Much of the biographical information was obtained from the composer's sister Wanda. Rosen characterizes Bacewicz as a creator who, building on a foundation forged in part by her studies with Boulanger, was able to adapt some of the "new tools and revolutionary techniques" of the twentieth century and "synthesize [them] with the old" to create her individual voice. Along with some of her colleagues, she "bridges the gap between the neo-romanticism of Szymanowski and the modernism of Lutoslawski" (p. 15). Rosen emphasizes the "slow and subtle evolutionary process ... [of Bacewicz's development] that is best comprehended by following the inte rnal and external events of her life" (p. 16). She concludes that the composer's important contribution to the stringed-instrument literature in a large variety of forms "should insure her standing as a composer of exceptional merit" (p. …

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