14.00 100th Birthday of Professor Jan Ekier (Marathon concert, Exhibition)
Fryderyk Chopin Museum
- Fryderyk Chopin - Piano Concerto in F minor, Op. 21 (version for piano solo)
- Fryderyk Chopin - 3 Mazurkas, Op. 59
- Fryderyk Chopin - Nocturne in E major, Op. 62 No. 2
- Fryderyk Chopin - 4 Mazurkas, Op. 33
- Fryderyk Chopin - Ballade in A flat major, Op. 47
- Fryderyk Chopin - Ballade in G minor, Op. 23
- Fryderyk Chopin - Etude in E major, Op. 10 No. 3
- Fryderyk Chopin - Variation in E major on the march from Bellini`s opera "I Puritani"
- Fryderyk Chopin - Fantasy in F minor, Op. 49
- Fryderyk Chopin - 5 Mazurkas, Op. 6
- Fryderyk Chopin - Scherzo in B minor, Op. 20
- Fryderyk Chopin - Etude in A minor, Op. 10 No. 12
- Fryderyk Chopin - Waltz in A flat major, Op. 34 No. 1
- Fryderyk Chopin - 3 Waltzes, Op. 64
- Fryderyk Chopin - 3 Mazurkas, Op. 56
- Fryderyk Chopin - Barcarolle in F sharp major, Op. 60
- Fryderyk Chopin - Nocturne in C sharp minor [op.posth]
- Fryderyk Chopin - Rondo in C minor, Op. 1
- Fryderyk Chopin - 4 Mazurkas, Op. 30
- Fryderyk Chopin - Etude in C minor, Op. 10 No. 12
- Fryderyk Chopin - Preludes, Op. 28
- Fryderyk Chopin - 3 Eccossaises, Op. 72
- Fryderyk Chopin - 3 Mazurkas, Op. 68
- Fryderyk Chopin - 3 Waltzes, Op. 34
- Fryderyk Chopin - Polonaise in G sharp minor [op.posth]
- Fryderyk Chopin - Waltz in E flat major, Op. 18
- Fryderyk Chopin - Nocturnes in E minor, Op. 72
- Fryderyk Chopin - 4 Mazurkas, Op. 24
- Fryderyk Chopin - Polonaise in F sharp minor, Op. 44
- Fryderyk Chopin - Ballade in F major, op. 38
- Fryderyk Chopin - Polonaise in C minor, op. 40 No. 2
- Fryderyk Chopin - Scherzo in C sharp minor, Op. 39
- Fryderyk Chopin - Polonaise in A flat major, Op. 53
- Fryderyk Chopin - Polonaise-Fantasy in A flat major, Op. 61
- Fryderyk Chopin - 3 Mazurkas, op. 50
- Fryderyk Chopin - Andante spianato and Grande Polonaise Brillante in E flat major, Op. 22
- Fryderyk Chopin - Ballade in F minor, op. 52
- Fryderyk Chopin - Prelude in D flat major, Op. 28 No. 15
- Fryderyk Chopin - Nocturne in C minor, Op. 48 No. 1
Ewa Iżykowska - soprano, Adam Kruszewski – baritone, Ella Susmanek – piano
- Fryderyk Chopin - Songs (selection)
- Fryderyk Chopin - Piano Concerto in E minor, Op. 11 (version for piano solo)
- Fryderyk Chopin - Fantasie-Impromptu in A sharp minor, Op. 66
- Fryderyk Chopin - 4 Mazurkas, Op. 17
- Fryderyk Chopin - Polonaise in B flat major [op.posth]
- Fryderyk Chopin - Polonaise in G minor [op.posth]
- Fryderyk Chopin - Waltz in A flat major, Op. 69 No. 1
- Fryderyk Chopin - Waltz in B minor, Op. 69 No. 2
- Fryderyk Chopin - Waltz in E flat major, Op. 18
- Fryderyk Chopin - Ballade in A flat major, Op. 47
- Fryderyk Chopin - Nocturne in F sharp minor, Op. 48 No. 2
- Fryderyk Chopin - Polonaise in A major, Op. 40 No. 1
- Fryderyk Chopin - Sonata in B flat minor, Op. 35
- Fryderyk Chopin - Etude in B minor, Op. 25 No. 10
- Fryderyk Chopin - Etude in A minor, Op. 25 No. 11
- Fryderyk Chopin - Scherzo in C sharp minor, Op. 39
- Fryderyk Chopin - Nocturne in F major, Op. 15 No. 1
- Fryderyk Chopin - Scherzo in B flat minor, Op. 31
- Fryderyk Chopin - Etude in C sharp minor, Op. 25 No. 7
- Fryderyk Chopin - Sonata in B minor, Op. 58
- Fryderyk Chopin - Nocturne in C sharp minor, Op. 27 No. 1
- Fryderyk Chopin - Nocturne in D flat major, Op. 27 No. 2
- Fryderyk Chopin - Balade in G minor, op. 23
Ending around midnight
Approximate duration of a recital: 30 minutes
Free admission (allowing also to visit the regular Chopin exhibition)
About the programme [+]
On 29 August 2013, the composer, pianist and teacher Jan Ekier, editor-in-chief of the Polish National Edition of the Complete Works of Fryderyk Chopin, will be celebrating his one hundredth birthday. A graduate of the Warsaw Conservatory (now the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music), from the piano class of Professor Zbigniew Drzewiecki (diploma in 1937) and the composition class of Professor Kazimierz Sikorski (diploma in 1939), from 1932 to 1934 he studied musicology at the Jagiellonian University of Cracow under Professor Zdzisław Jachimecki. He won Eighth Prize in the Third International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw (1937). During the Nazi occupation, he risked his life to give underground concerts (around thirty concerts during the period of the Warsaw Rising). On one special day – 17 October 1945 – he played one of Chopin’s piano concertos for a grand ceremony at the Roma Theatre to mark the return of Fryderyk Chopin’s heart from Milanówek to Warsaw. As a pianist, he performed in many European countries, as well as in South America and Japan, and recorded discs featuring mainly works by Johann Sebastian Bach, Fryderyk Chopin, Karol Szymanowski and Sergey Prokofiev. He gave masterclasses in Annecy, Hamburg, Bonn, Cologne, Darmstadt, Mannheim, São Paolo, Tokyo and elsewhere. In the years 1953–2000, Jan Ekier taught piano at the State College of Music in Warsaw, and in 1995 he was awarded an honorary doctorate of that institution. He also taught at the Stage College of Music in Cracow (1962–1969). He trained many pianists, including Bronisława Kawalla, Piotr Paleczny, Alicja Paleta-Bugaj and Yuko Kawai. Since 1959, to the present day, Professor Jan Ekier has been editor-in-chief of the Polish National Edition of the Complete Works of Fryderyk Chopin, a criticalsource edition comprising thirty-seven volumes (series A – works published during the composer’s lifetime; series B – works published after his death). In 1974, the first part of the Professor’s Introduction to the Polish National Edition of the Complete Works of Fryderyk Chopin (on editorial issues) was published, with the second part (on performance issues, in collaboration with Paweł Kamiński) issued in 2012. Professor Ekier has received many awards, orders and honours, including the highest Polish civilian decoration: the Order of the White Eagle (2010).
It is impossible to enumerate all Professor Jan Ekier’s achievements and areas of activity. He has devoted the greater part of his life – over half a century – to the National Edition, the aim of which was to prepare the text in accordance with the composer’s intentions, and thereby transmit the true Chopin, cleansed of later editorial changes and accretions – to grasp ‘Chopin in every detail’. The comparing of all available manuscript sources and first editions (including pupils’ scores), note after note, represents a truly monumental task and a milestone in the editing of Chopin’s works.
‘Close to Chopin. 100 years of Professor Jan Ekier’ is the title of an exhibition to mark Professor Jan Ekier’s centenary. Besides facts from his remarkably fruitful life, the exhibition also presents the professor’s very personal attitude towards the person and work of Chopin, which prompted him to create the monumental Polish National Edition of the Works of Fryderyk Chopin.
Some say that the music is to be found between the notes, that the notes themselves are not so important. Well, the premise is correct, but the conclusion is false. If the music is to be found between the notes, then it is not a matter of indifference as to which notes we are to seek it between – between notes placed with genius by a great composer or between the same notes sullied with additional notes by a pseudoindividuality. I use a strong word to describe that kind of artistic individuality, but then it is actually an example of a lack of individuality; incapable of filling out the text with music, such a person must deform it, in a substitute form, simply in order to draw the listener’s attention to his or her playing, to surprise him with something.
The exhibition is designed by Migliore + Servetto Architetti Associati, which in 2010 prepared the Fryderyk Chopin Museum’s permanent display. The exhibition will be open from 29 August 2013 to 5 January 2014 (11 a.m. – 8 p.m.) in the Concert Hall of the Fryderyk Chopin Museum in the Ostrogski Palace at 1 Okólnik Street.
To commemorate Jan Ekier’s one hundredth birthday, a marathon concert will be given in the Concert Hall of the Fryderyk Chopin Museum, starting at 2 p.m. Chopin’s works will be performed by a succession of talented students and graduates of institutions of higher musical education in Poland.
17.00 Piano recital
Witold Lutosławski Studio of the Polish Radio
Ludwig van Beethoven
- Sonata in G minor, Op. 49 No. 1
- Sonata in G major, Op. 49 No. 2
- Piano sonata in C major, Op. 53 'Waldstein'
- Preludes (book 1)
About the programme [+]
Does anything at all connect the music of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827) with the work of Claude Debussy, his junior by four generations (1862–1918)? The former laid the foundations of the Romantic aesthetic; the latter quite radically broke with it. Beethoven was so yielding to his emotions, so often expressed a state of agitation in his music, that some observers perceived, alongside his genius, the shadow of a simpleton. Debussy seems to have been forever submerging himself in subtleties. He was fascinated by the delicacy of sonorities (not power) and signalled emotions solely through symbols – and highly refined symbols at that. Although he held Beethoven in great esteem and defended the unpretentiousness of his Seventh and Ninth Symphonies against the over-interpretation of conductors raised on the Romantic aesthetic, he did not refrain from accusing the ‘Pastoral’ Symphony – in his review of a concert led by Felix Weingartner, printed in the daily Gil Blas of 16 February 1903 – of overly literal illustration. And yet, disregarding their different temperaments, one may say that Debussy as a composer of piano music owes quite a lot to Beethoven. He gives many works a form close to collage, pieced together from fragments arranged in a startling way, set right up against one another, without academic bridges or the processing of material. Beethoven was a master of processing and developing and of preparing the appearance of new material through the transformation of motives already in play. But he was not afraid of radical cuts, and although in other sonatas they are even starker, it is in the Sonata in C major, Op. 53 that the huge contrast between the first and second musical ideas in the first movement astonishes us irrespective of the short transitional segment. In the third movement, meanwhile, the range of textures and their sequencing appears to bring this work close to improvisation, to changes made à l’improviste. At times, it might seem that the creation of a diversity of timbral textures becomes an aim in itself, that Beethoven carries on a narrative by means of those timbres. Did Debussy follow his lead?
The Sonata in C major, Op. 53, dramatic in its first movement and lyrical in its finale, dedicated to Count Ferdinand Waldstein, was written in 1804 and appeared in print the following year. Around the same time, Beethoven was also publishing his two Leichte Sonaten, written ten years before, hence their close opus number (49), in spite of their different character to the ‘Waldstein’. The texture of the Sonata in G major, No. 2 is highly Classical, and only the song-like first movement of the Sonata in G minor, No. 1 heralds musical narrative the like of which Schubert cultivated – wittingly referring to Beethoven’s achievements – during the 1820s.
Debussy appreciated simplicity more than anything else in music, and so Beethoven’s Sonata, Op. 49 was doubtless much to his liking; we also know that the French composer had a very high regard for the music of Chopin. Yet Debussy’s Preludes, the first book of which was published by Durand in 1910 (the second, comprising twelve works, dates from three years later), represent music of a completely different kind. Here, what is important is not what refers to tradition, but what transcends tradition and points the way forward to further experimentation. That was the path, as he freely admitted, that Lutosławski later pursued. In the Preludes, we find many sudden changes, quotations or tropes broken off. The composer also plays everywhere with tonality, which at times is prosaically clear but elsewhere is entirely blurred. Each of the works was given a title, but it was placed… at the end of the work, beneath the last bars of music, enclosed in brackets and preceded by three dots. So it is not an idea that is intended to guide the reception of a particular composition, and it does not indicate that the music was used for the interpretation in sound of a notion or image or some truth expressed in words. Some of the titles seem concrete and literal, such as Danseuses de Delphes [Dancers of Delphi], if we assume that our image of priests dancing in the smoke of incense is similar to that pictured by the person sitting in the chair next to us, but Voiles may be translated as ‘Sails’ or… ‘Veils’. We will have no problems with interpreting Ce qu’a vu le vent d’ouest [What the west wind has seen], whilst the title Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l’air du soir [The sounds and fragrances swirl through the evening air], a quote from Baudelaire’s poem Harmonie du soir [Harmony of the evening], is merely a free metaphor, a delicate, symbolic association of the music with the sound layer of the poetry. From Les collines d’Anacapri [The hills of Anacapri], we hear an echo of Neapolitan songs, but are Des pas sur la neige footprints or footsteps in the snow, the sounds of winter or the silence of the emptiness that remains when someone has passed and gone?
20.00 Symphonic Concert
Warsaw Philharmonic Concert Hall
- Symphony No. 3
- Three fragments from poems by Kasprowicz, Op. 5 (instrumentation: Grzegorz Fitelberg)
- Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 83
About the programme [+]
The first ideas for Witold Lutosławski’s Third Symphony date from 1974, when, after receiving an honorary doctorate from Northwestern University in Chicago, the composer was reminded by the directors of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra of its erstwhile request for a new work. The idea for a four-movement composition arose quite quickly, but work on it was continually interrupted by other, more urgent, tasks. The new, crystallised concept for the Third Symphony was born in 1981, and the finished score bears the date 31 January 1983.
Though formally in a single movement, this work displays a clear internal division into two movements with epilogue. It combines all Lutosławski’s most crucial discoveries in terms of compositional technique, but also anticipates solutions that were to manifest themselves in the near future. After the world premiere, which took place in Chicago, under the baton of Georg Solti, it was considered that ‘this piece is exactly what might be expected from a Polish composer at the moment’. And although more than a hundred years had passed since the November Rising in Poland and Chopin’s Parisian debut, it was as if time had stood still. Lutosławski had to deal with the myth of ‘sobbing Poland’ in his scores. As a few years earlier, in connection with the Cello Concerto, here too commentators discerned an affinity between the expression and emotion borne by the music and the dramatic situation in a country choked by martial law. As before, in the case of Chopin, now too the composer’s robust assertions of a complete lack of any kind of programme or even extra-musical inspiration were received with disbelief. In the end, Lutosławski agreed to a compromise. During a meeting with musicologists in Warsaw, he declared: ‘If we are to agree that music can signify anything extra-musical at all, then we must at least consider music to be an ambiguous art. Yet a person has one soul, and what he experiences must have some effect on him. If a person has one psyche, then for all the autonomy of the world of sounds it is a function of that psyche. For that reason, I would like to confine myself here to the rather nebulous statement that if the last movement of this Symphony makes such an impression and keeps the listener in suspense, then it is certainly not a question of chance. I can admit that I would feel honoured if I succeeded in expressing something that could be linked not just to my personal experiences, but also to those of other people. If that were the case, for me, it would be a mark of the greatest recognition’. Of all Lutosławski’s utterances on the subject, this was the most far-reaching admission of the possibility of an extra-musical interpretation of his music. The expressive force of this work is the best justification for the search for its hidden meaning, although attempts at describing it will doubtless remain equally ineffective as accounts of the content of Chopin’s ballades. This is a symphony par excellence; that is, a work that constitutes its own cosmos, in nothing but sound, a tale from the world of man’s experiences, emotions and sensations, which can only be expressed in music. A description of the technical solutions used by the composer would tell of years of experimentation, leading to original discoveries in the areas of harmony and counterpoint (with the revelatory use of the element of chance), orchestration, ways of focussing and disrupting the listener’s attention, the expressive quality of particular sonorities and the logic of melody leading. Today, the conclusions drawn from such investigation form the content of many composition handbooks and music academy lectures. Yet even the utmost familiarity with its design cannot diminish the astonishment and admiration at the beauty and strength of this musical drama. Witold Lutosławski’s Third Symphony is one of the greatest works of music of the twentieth century, at the same time opening a series of late works by the master that represent the symbolic ending of an era. This was put more forcefully by the excellent critic Andrzej Chłopecki, who died quite recently: ‘The four notes E that open the Symphony, like the four-note crashing at the outset of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, promise that the work will unfold into a drama. By laying down such a simple, and at the same time expressively powerful, motif, intense in its fortissimo, Lutosławski appears to be announcing: cast aside your delusions and abandon all preferential treatment – here begins a weighty composition, as fundamental as the symphonies of Beethoven and Brahms, a sinfonia maxima… Here is something absolutely serious, since we are dealing with the building of the world in all its complexity. That four-note motif, always in unison, will bring the Symphony to a close, ending its Coda; its second movement will arise from it; it will order the form of the first movement […] Why is this a masterwork? Because it is an emanation of beauty. And beauty can be not just “hybrid”, but also painful. Like the world. A symphony is the building of the world’. Soon after the work’s premiere, on 29 September 1983, Witold Lutosławski received for his Third Symphony the prize of the underground Culture Committee of the Independent Solidarity, and two years later the American Grawemeyer Award, known as the musical Nobel on account of its value. The composer set aside the 150,000 dollars he received to be spent on grants for young Polish musicians, which are still being awarded today.
The Three Songs for voice and piano, Op. 5, arranged for orchestra by Grzegorz Fitelberg, an indefatigable propagator of the music of Karol Szymanowski, were written in 1902, in Warsaw. That is an enigmatic time in the biography of the barely twenty-year-old Karol Szymanowski, who chose to pursue systematic studies in composition, although his portfolio already boasted works that raised him high above all his peers – including Stravinsky and Bartók, who had not yet revealed their talents to the world. The drama of Szymanowski’s music matches the forces of Jan Kasprowicz’s poetry – rebellious, iconoclastic, blasphemous and beseeching all at once. Newly written at the time, these poems were published again in 1921, under the title Hymny [Hymns], which was later transferred also to Szymanowski’s compositions. Kasprowicz’s frightful, apocalyptic visions received a musical interpretation from a sphere of expression ranging from Wagnerian pathos to folk religiosity. In the first song, ‘Święty Boże, Święty Mocny, Święty a Nieśmiertelny’ [Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy and Immortal], we hear the tune of a hymn of the same title, returning several times, always in a different harmonic light. In the climactic and most dramatic second song, ‘Jestem i płaczę, Biję skrzydłami’ [I am and I weep, I’m flapping my wings], it seems that we can hear the patriotic song ‘Z dymem pożarów’ [With the smoke of fires], which was pursued by the tsarist censors. Symptomatically, Kasprowicz’s ‘black crow’ sitting ‘on one arm of the crucifix’ drew attacks of rage eighty years later from the censor of the martial law period. The third song, ‘Moja pieśń wieczorna’ [My evening song], is a rustic tableau in an aura of pain and longing, referring musically to Chopin’s mazurkas. The emotional intensity, force of melodic inventiveness and visionary harmonies of those youthful compositions had to give way to the discipline of systematic studies with Marek Zawirski and Zygmunt Noskowski. They would return many years later in Szymanowski’s most mature works: Stabat Mater, the Kurpian Songs and Harnasie. One would like to pose a mischievous question: might his studies not have delayed the maturing of such a brilliantly promising self-taught composer?
Johannes Brahms completed his Second Piano Concerto in B flat major, Op. 83 in 1881, and the work was first performed that same year in Budapest. The solo part was played by the composer, who went on to present his new work, on an intensive concert tour, in the major musical centres of Germany and Austria. His partner on the conductor’s rostrum was most often Hans von Bülow, who now transferred his former enthusiasm for the music of Wagner to Brahms. The Concerto in B flat major confirmed Brahms’s inclination, already suggested in the First Concerto in D minor and the Violin Concerto, towards a dramatic elaboration of form, treating the solo instrument as a more sonorous instrument within a large orchestra; in a nutshell, the symphonisation of concertos. Thus was created a large, four-movement work lasting over forty minutes. Yet for the listener it is the scene of an engrossing adventure, thanks to the composer’s remarkable ingeniousness in developing a harmonic idea and his talent for creating moving and distinctive melodies. The Concerto in B flat major was very successful from its first performance onwards, and it certainly helped consolidate Brahms’s lofty position in European music. Still current today is the concise opinion of the influential Viennese critic Eduard Hanslick, for whom the B flat major Concerto ‘only had to be heard to triumph’. It is another matter that the intensity of musical disputes (undoubtedly fired by the involvement of the energetic and passionate Bülow) also resulted in contrary opinions. One monumentally malicious opinion about this work was issued by the highly talented composer Hugo Wolf: ‘Who can swallow this concerto with appetite, can calmly await a famine; it is to be assumed that he enjoys an enviable digestion, and in time of famine will be able to get along splendidly on the nutritive equivalent of window glass, cork stoppers, stove pipes, and the like.’* Life came to show that it was rather Hugo Wolf who should have eaten his own review.
*Quoted in Nicolas Slonimsky, Lexicon of Musical Invective (New York, 2000).