Chopin and his Europe Chopin and his Europe

[Rok] Our Europe

It is worth pondering this festival’s name afresh, since it gives rise to some fundamental questions.

What was Europe for Chopin? What was (and is) Chopin for Europe?

Above all, however, what does European culture mean to us today (and within that culture, that which is most important: art and philosophy)? What does Europe with its culture mean to us?

Well, it means… everything! Without Europe and its culture, we would simply not exist!

This must be pointedly stated and forcefully repeated, in opposition to the injudicious ‘Eurosceptic’, ‘Euro-critical’, relativist views occasionally voiced, reducing all the cultures of the world to a single level of value – to equivalence. We need today, like never before, a completely different, contrary view, ostensibly ‘old-world’, outdated, but in keeping with the truth, Eurocentric: the sense that European culture, genetically Mediterranean, rooted in ancient Greece, Judea and Rome, its origins in equal measure both Christian and (older) also pagan and Jewish, is, out of all the world’s cultures with which we are familiar, the highest, the most valuable, and the richest in achievements; the only culture which has been developing continuously, dynamically (and dramatically, not without breakdowns, crises and catastrophes), for three millennia, with its evolution, history and significant events; by no means aloof, but, on the contrary, open to other cultures, since it is, like no other culture, curious about the world, utterly insatiable in its curiosity! It is European and Eurocentric culture that is guided by the ostensibly utopian watchword of the concord of nations, in defiance, perhaps, of history, which appears to comprise a constant succession of feuds and wars.

And that – Eurocentrically – is just how our festival’s name should be understood.

Europe – as the centre of the cultures of the world. And European culture in relation to the works of Chopin. In this sense, the festival Chopin and his Europe, with all the riches of its programme, might be termed ‘Chopinocentric’. So let us take a look at the musical culture of Europe – modern and contemporary – in precisely that way: Chopinocentrically. After all, the phenomenon of the Chopin oeuvre, on account of the extraordinary power of inspiration it contains, can constitute, in the more recent history of music and musical culture, a fascinating point of reference.

Bohdan Pociej