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.

More about me

About me – continues

So what is so special about the radio and me?

I do not know? Maybe the fact that after 14 years I am still passionate about what I do. Luckily my wonderful wife, Beata, supports what I do. On our first date instead of ordering dinner we talked about Hovhaness, Penderecki, Bacewicz and the Górecki Third Symphony, which was little known here in the west then. I think I impressed her with my knowledge of Polish music!! I remember she also loved the way I played Chopin! I think I melted her heart at the time since she is very fussy about the interpretation of Chopin!

You must be thinking that I am crazy to do all this work as a volunteer. I am crazy and enjoy every moment of it.  I am also excited that I am in the position to share all the obscure works I air with my listening audience.

From the beginning, whether it was early or new music, I always wanted the listening audience to hear something that other radio stations were not playing.

Yes, I am very lucky that my radio station does not impose any guidelines and programming restrictions, otherwise it would not be possible to develop my program the way it is, and prove to the world that listeners are ready for change.

So far, I have broken every rule governing traditional classical music programming with the exception (to the point), of the more difficult modern music, which I never program during drive time but after 11:00am.

And yes, some might think that I do have rather unorthodox ideas regarding classical programming, but every one of my programs is well thought out and unique and has to my knowledge never offended anyone.

Oh no, I lied, on my first WPRB program I played the Rossini Cat Duet without announcing it and some lady called, yelling at me. She told me that everyone at WPRB was off the deep end or something to that effect.  I politely thanked her for her call, with the wild satisfaction of waiting to announce the composer. I would have loved to see her face at that moment. I also had a listener that I considered to be a stalker. He called me often and criticized my work all the time. I was wondering why he was listening, but now after all this time I actually might know why.

I always want to prove to the world that there is so much wonderful new music fitting every discriminating taste in our century. To illustrate this I presented my 1st annual program devoted to music of 21st century on January 1, 2003.

In addition, I have presented 4, 24 hour Marathons of new music. I have presented hundreds of $0 budget special programs focusing on various countries and regions as well as variety of programs on different subjects. I have presented programs on Young Composers (age 30 and below) and women composers. I have had over 60 guests, presented many Voyages Around The World and early music specials, etc.  All of these are posted on my website, where I have a page which lists all the special programs.

In addition to the programs I have created already, my head is still full of ideas about programs that I never will be able to share due to the lack of time. With all the new music coming from all over the world something must give.


I have presented many world and American première broadcasts. My listeners have known Peteris Vasks and Paweł Łukaszewski long before they hit the NY radio waves and yes, Grażyna Bacewicz was on my first program 14 years ago.

I do not believe in occasional tokens in between the warhorses. I do not believe that you only can play certain types of music during drive time (no choral music) etc.

My listeners come from all social and age groups from college professors to tractor-trailer drivers. I am always trying to prove that there is music for everyone!

I have found out that once a listener develops trust in you, they would be willing to give anything a chance. My listeners have told me that because of my program they now attend concerts of new music.  With today’s CD prices, no one will buy music that they never heard before.

I know for a fact that many listeners have purchased CDs they have heard on my program and composers have gotten commissions for new works, after someone heard their music on my show.Yes, this is music to my ears.

I do not claim that every work written today is good. I do not claim that the music I present is or will be considered a masterpiece in the future.

Based on the past experience it would be arrogant of me to do that.

The music that I share with my listeners must have some value for me and bring me joy. I must like it or find it interesting.

Only the future will tell if the various works I play from the end of the 20th or 21st centuries will someday be considered great, stipulating that we have a 22nd century and our planet survives mistreatment, abuse and rape.




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