Musical Travel to Poland with Classical Discoveries


On WPRB 103.3FM and Internet at:

Part 1 – Monday,  June 13, 2011  –  5:30 – 11:00am

Part 2 – Wednesday,  June 15, 2011  –  5:30 – 11:00am

and Avant-Garde Edition –  11:00am – 1:00pm


I always had a weakness for music from Eastern Europe especially Poland, long before I met my Polish born wife. A few trips to Poland help me to beef up my already substantial CD and LP collection and my radio program became a good forum to share these findings with listeners.

I will never forget the first time I heard Penderecki’s Threnody on the radio and how overwhelmed and scared I was. That was my first exposure to Avant-Garde music and opened my eyes (and ears of course!) to a totally different world. Next was Stockhausen’s Momente and Pithoprakta of Xenakis.

During my 14 years on WPRB I suspect that I have played more Polish composers than possibly any one else in this country and have devoted at least 7 full programs to Polish music.  In addition I have presented Moniuszko’s operas Halka and Straszny Dwór, Ptaszyńska’s Pan Miramba and Penderecki’s Ubu Rex.

I keep playlists going back to 2001 and you are welcome to check them out. Some links are below.

08-06-2008FROM THE BALTIC SEA TO THE TATRA MOUNTAINS – Millennium of Polish Music

I do not play Chopin (except unusual arrangements) even though I love and perform his music.  He along with others few are well-known here in USA and do not need my support.

Poland is sometimes a misunderstood country, with the preconceived notion that it is just an agricultural country with little culture. Poland actually has one of the oldest Universities in Europe, and the Polish Court was always closer to the West than the East.

Wawel - Royal Castle in Krakow

Some months ago my wife got angry after reading a CD review with music from the Court of Polish Kings. The reviewer was disappointed not to hear any folk and nationalistic tunes in the music. I do understand my wife’s reaction to this comment, after hearing many times snappy remarks that only ham grows in Poland.

This reviewer would not expect to hear traditional tunes in the music from the court of Louis the XIV, and the title of the recording was not “Music from Polish villages and country sides.” It takes only a few minutes on Google to find that Polish Kings employed the best architects, painters, musicians and composers from all over the Europe and some Polish composers were educated abroad. This leads to the following question. Why should the music for Polish Kings sound much different from music in Italy or Germany?

The tradition of Polish music goes back to the Medieval and Renaissance. Unfortunately though, much Polish music has been lost forever during multiple wars and political uprisings.

The political changes after the World War II caused some composers to leave the country. After a few political uprisings, composers were allowed some freedom and this is how the Polish Avant-Garde was born. I call it Music of Defiance.

Electing a Pole to the position as head of the Catholic Church led to more tonal and spiritual music often inspired by religion. His election eventually led to the fall of communism in Eastern Europe.

With the fall of the communist government, Polish composers and artists lost support and subsidy, and began facing same financial problems that plague Americans. The Poles are learning how to survive in the capitalistic world where the arts tend go first under the butcher’s knife.

Despite the problems, much great music is  created in Poland, and I am very happy to always share the treasures of Polish music with others.

Whose music will you expect to hear?

Here are a few names, some of which might be more known to regular Classical Discoveries listeners.

Grażyna Bacewicz, Tadeusz Baird, Miłosz Bembinow, Wojciech Kilar, Piotr Klimek. Zygmunt Krauze, Paweł Łukaszewski, Krzysztof Meyer, Stanisław Moryto, Andrzej Panufnik, Weronika Ratusińska, Marian Sawa and Romuald Twardowski.

There will also be some sampling of early music as well.

These programs will barely scratch the surface, but better these than nothing.

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