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The Kosciuszko Foundation Philadelphia Chapter
Newsletter No. 24
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  Quo Vadis 

Newsletter of the KF Philly Chapter  • July 2020 •  Issue No. 24

In this Issue:


NOTE FROM THE PRESIDENT 

RECENT EVENTS 
  • Polish Cultural Salon: June 6th, 2020
HISTORY
  • The Warsaw Uprising: 76th Anniversary  by Sylwia Czajkowska
INTERESTING READS
  • Musical Genius Beyond Chopin by Wanda K. Mohr
 

Note from the President

Dear Friends of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Kosciuszko Foundation:

My sincere thank you to those members who have joined us for our first virtual Cultural Salon in June. We are all longing for more interactions with you. Seeing your participation and engagement with the speaker at the even gave us much needed encouragement to look into scheduling more sessions after the summer. We will share the dates & events with you shortly.

As for the summer of 2020:  bright smiles, warm sunshine (with no humidity) and happy thoughts are my only wishes for you this summer. Many of us had to adjust our vacation plans for this year, but let’s look at this as an opportunity to travel locally and discover places that always seem “too close” to visit. Hope you make some interesting discoveries. And if you do, please share your story with us so we can encourage others to visit your gems.

Happy and Healhy Summer to you and your Families.  
Sylwia

Recent Events

The 14th Polish Cultural Salon Returned in Zoom!

 


Our first ever Polish Cultural Salon in Zoom took place on June 6, 2020.
Maria Werner-Wasik and Mariusz Wasik remotely hosted a presentation by David Dunning, PhD, an expert in History of Science. The presentation was entitled "What Is Polish Logic? National Identity in a Universal Science".

His fascinating talk explored the rise of the Warsaw School, its characteristic practices, and its global legacy in postwar computer science. The presentation described the lives and careers of Stanislaw Lesniewski (1886–1939) and Jan Lukasiewicz (1878–1956), the School’s founders, as well as several others, logicians, philosophers, mathematicians, who were the graduates of Lvov University.  A specifically Polish approach to mathematical logic established Warsaw School as the world’s most vibrant center for logic between the World Wars.

This premiere event was well attended by our Chapter members remotely from the safety of their homes.  Photos below.
 

History 

 

76th Anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising    August 1st, 2020   

by Sylwia Czajkowska


 

Probably many of us have seen a short movie on youtube titled ”There is a City” showing how the entire city of Warsaw stops for one minute at 17:00, which is the “W-Hour” of the Warsaw Uprising.  Personally, this video always gave me chills, but participating in-person celebration at the Józef Piłsudski Square in Warsaw, moved me to tears seeing many generations coming together to pay tribute to the Heroes who fought and died for Independent Poland and its free capital. 

And how about the music/songs associated with the Warsaw Uprising? These forbidden war songs aren’t exclusively for fighting, they also express hope for a regaining freedom. These battle songs are more than 70- years old and were conceived mostly during the first days of the Warsaw Uprising, yet there are very few people in Poland who aren’t familiar with the music and lyrics of rousing Uprising anthems such as Warszawskie dzieci (Children of Warsaw), Pałacyk Michla (Michler’s Palace) or Marsz Mokotowa (Mokotów’s March)….Are you humming those songs right now?
“Warszawskie dzieci, pójdziemy w bój,
Za każdy kamień Twój, Stolico, damy krew!
Warszawskie dzieci, pójdziemy w bój,
Gdy padnie rozkaz Twój, poniesiem wrogom gniew!”
 

Many residents of Warsaw played major roles in the movement including:
  • Children/ Scouting Battalions
    • Szare Szeregi,
    • Battalion Parasol,
    • Battalion Zośka
  • Polish Home Army (per Wikipedia): 
    • Krzysztof Kamil Baczyński, poet and Home Army soldier, killed in action on August 4
    • Gustaw Billewicz, codename Sosna, commander of Battalion "Chrobry I"
    • Tadeusz Bór-Komorowski, codename Generał Bór, highest commander of the Home Army in Poland. During Warsaw Uprising fought in Wola, Stare Miasto and Southern Śródmieście.
    • Antoni Chruściel, codename Monter, commander of Home Army Warsaw district (later renamed to Warsaw Home Army Corps - Warszawski Korpus Armii Krajowej); direct commander of Polish forces in Warsaw Uprising.
    • Jan Mazurkiewicz, codename Radosław, commander of Group "Radosław"
    • Mieczysław Niedzielski, codename Żywiciel, commander of II Sector: Żoliborz, after September 20 commander of the reconstructed 8th Romuald Traugutt Infantry Division
    • Jan Nowak-Jeziorański, the Courier from Warsaw
    • Eugeniusz Lokajski - a photographer
    • Leopold Okulicki, codename Niedźwiadek, a Cichociemni Chief of Operations
    • Witold Pilecki, codename Druh, commander of second company of "Chrobry II" battalion, fought in Northern Śródmieście, commander of the fortified area "Great Bastion of Warsaw"
    • Tadeusz Pełczyński, codename Grzegorz, Chief of Staff of Home Army Warsaw district, second in command to Generał Bór. Fought in Starówka and Śródmieście, commanded the second assault on Dworzec Gdański.
As you tour Warsaw, you will see a lot of monuments in commemoration of the Uprising. Just to name a couple: Museum of Warsaw Uprising (detailed history for each day of the Uprising), Mały Powstaniec (the "Little Insurrectionist"), Warsaw Uprising Monument, not to mention multiple Tchorek plaques placed around the city where executions took place.

What is so unusual about the Warsaw Uprising?
If you look at the picture above (www.warsawrising.eu /chapter 5) you will note the weaponry figures. How determined the people of Warsaw have been to last 63 days (August 1, 1944- October 5, 1944) with the resources they had in hand?
It’s also worth noting that even the Wola Massacre that happened at the beginning of the Uprising (August 5-12) didn’t discourage Warsaw residents from fighting. The German forces began carrying out Heinrich Himmler's orders for brutal and systemic murders: German troops went from house to house, shooting the inhabitants regardless of age or gender and burning their bodies. Estimates of civilians killed in Wola were up to possibly 50,000 Poles.

 

 
After 63 days of fighting, the agreement to cease the war operations in Warsaw was signed. Under the accord, the home army troops were to lay down their arms and go into captivity. In addition, the remaining civilian population was forced to leave Warsaw. In the aftermath, the city of Warsaw was destroyed.
I encourage you to give a minute of your time on August 1st to think of all those brave children, women and men who survived the Warsaw Uprising and those who have lost their lives: 18,000 insurgents died fighting the Germans, civilian losses were around 150,000 people and 2,000 soldiers of the First Polish Army who fought at the Soviets’ side died.
There is a lot of literature on the topic, providing more granular details about specific battles, battalions, city plans etc.  Recently, I came across New York Review Books highlighting “A MEMOIR OF THE WARSAW UPRISING by Miron Białoszewski, translated from the Polish by Madeline G. Levine (2015). I am intrigued to learn how then 22-year old poet described what he has witnessed over the course of the 63 days of the Warsaw Uprising. The New York review notes: “ Białoszewski’s blow-by-blow account of the uprising brings it alive in all its desperate urgency. Here we are in the shoes of a young man slipping back and forth under German fire, dodging sniper bullets, collapsing with exhaustion, rescuing the wounded, burying the dead. An indispensable and unforgettable act of witness, A Memoir of the Warsaw Uprising is also a major work of literature. Białoszewski writes in short, stabbing, splintered, breathless sentences attuned to “the glaring identity of ‘now.’” His pages are full of a white-knuckled poetry that resists the very destruction it records”.

More information about the Warsaw Uprising can be found at: http://warsawrising.eu/ Chapter 5 and at the Warsaw Rising Museum at https://www.1944.pl/
If you know of any good sources that cover the history, please drop me a line.
I will be happy to hear from you. 
Sylwia Czajkowska

Interesting Reads 

Musical Genius Beyond Chopin 

by Wanda K. Mohr

          

Much, if not most, attention in Polonia with respect to musical genius, is accorded to Frederik Chopin. Indeed, entire concerts are devoted to his works.  But there are other extraordinary Polish musicians and composers that remain unacknowledged, under performed and even unrecognized. One of those is Henryk Mikołaj Górecki, a remarkable artist who achieved enormous worldwide popular and commercial acclaim.
 

Henryk Mikołaj Górecki was a Polish composer of contemporary classical music. Górecki was born on December 6,1933 in Southwest Poland in the village of Czernica to parents who were musically inclined, but was discouraged in his pursuit of music by his family.

Nevertheless, he persisted in his art and began his formal musical training at the National Music School, a type of performing arts school, in Rybnik and going on to study composition at the State Academy of Music (1) in Katowice from1955-1960. He studied under, and was strongly influenced by, Bolesław Szabelski, a composer of modern Polish classical music, best known in his musical grounding in Polish highland folklore and for his atonal (2) compositions. Later Górecki was to emulate his mentor’s love of Polish folklore and incorporate it into some of his own work. Górecki wrote his First Symphony in 1959 and graduated with honors from the Academy in 1960.
 

In 1975, Górecki became a Professor of Composition at the University of Music in Katowice, where he served as a mentor to several students who would become well known classical composers in their own right. These included Eugeniusz Knapik and Andrzej Krzanowski.

During his tenure at the University in Katowice, Gorecki became concerned that Polish Communist authorities were interfering unduly in the schools academic activities and he was in frequent conflict with the authorities with his efforts to protect his students and staff from political influence. In 1979 he resigned from the University in protest against the government’s refusal to allow Pope John Paul II to visit Katowice. He continued to compose and his compositions reflected important events in contemporary Polish history. In 1981, he composed his Miserere for a large a cappella mixed choir in remembrance of police violence against the Solidarity movement. After the imposition of martial law, the piece was banned and not performed again until 1987. In 1987 Górecki composed Totus Tuus Op. 60 to celebrate Pope John Paul II's third pilgrimage to his native Poland that summer, and the work remains his best-known, if not critically acclaimed, a cappella choral piece of the 1980s.

During his early career Górecki’s work was radically modernist, but he began to move away from the avant-garde toward a more traditional mode of expression that was dominated by the human voice. In 1972 he composed Symphony No. 2, 'Copernican', Op. 31 (II Symfonia Kopernikowska) to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the birth of the astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus. This work was commissioned by the Kosciuszko Foundation in New York, and it allowed for Górecki to have exposure outside of his native Poland.

But Górecki remained mostly unknown outside of Poland until the 1990s when he achieved world wide fame with his Symphony No. 3, Op. 36, also known as the Symphony of Sorrowful Songs (Polish: Symfonia pieśni żałobnych). Although first performed in 1977, the work was known only to a few avante-gard connoisseurs until its release on the Nonesuch label by conductor, David Zinman. The composition became an extraordinary commercial success, selling more than a million copies and making it one of the best-selling classical records ever. Recorded with Dawn Upshaw, an American operatic soprano and the London Sinfonietta, it was released to commemorate the memory of those lost in the Holocaust. The symphony consists of three movements, rather than the traditional four, and each is a lament of loss.  The movements are composed in slow tempo and are played at low dynamic levels throughout. They are based on a modal canon (3) in which there is a repetition of short melodic fragments that are re-stated at another pitch level, several more times. The repeated orchestral lines are typical of musical minimalism which employs an extreme simplicity of form and few traditional musical embellishments. The music builds upward from low strings to the soprano voice singing the lamentations in Polish. The first is a 15th century monastic song, the second is a message written by a young girl on the wall of a Gestapo cell during World War II, and the third is a folk song of a mother searching for her son believed to have been killed by Germans during the Silesian Uprisings (4) expressing grief and mourning in the context of a conflict she cannot understand. The themes tying the three movements together are motherhood and loss, especially through war (5).

Despite its very modern feel, it is a symphony in which Górecki used a conventional melodic structure to say something profound about war, its legacy and Poland’s part in it. The work appeared to touch on a human fascination with the unknown, as musical tensions in the work rise and fall and dissonances are resolved through the power of singing and a repeated major chord (6).

Gorecki insisted that his symphony was neither religious nor about World War II. But it is a work that could only have been written by a deeply spiritual man and by one who has suffered through the horrors of the Hitler era in which he lost members of his family at Auschwitz, and through its almost equally horrible aftermath under Stalin.

It is safe to say that no piece by a classical composer has ever touched so many people who do not ordinarily listen to symphonic music. Górecki’s music has been adapted for film soundtracks, most notably fragments and pieces of the Symphony of Sorrowful Songs have been adapted for film soundtracks and used in ballet. In 2016 the Pennsylvania Ballet performed “In the Mirror of Her Mind” and in 2017, Philadelphia’s Ballet X premiered a new work, “In Between the Passing” by choreographer, Tommie-Waheed Evans, set to the Górecki's symphony.

In the years between the end of the 20th and the turn of the 21st century, Górecki composed or revised 15 works, consisting mainly of vocal compositions and pieces for small ensemble. His final work—The Song of Rodziny Katynskie, Opus 81 (Piesn Rodzin Katynskich), was completed in 2004 and premiered by the Polish Radio Choir in Kraków in 2005.

During most of his life Górecki suffered from various illnesses which became more frequent during his last decade. He died on 12 November 2010, in his home town of Katowice from complications arising from a lung infection.

 

Footnotes:

1. Academy of Music today

2. Tonal music is what most of us think of when we think of music. It has a harmonic center and the individual elements form a cohesive whole. It feels familiar and certain notes have certain expected roles to play with traditional roles to follow to form the structure of the piece. By contrast, atonality in music refers to the absence of functional harmony.

3. Modal music uses diatonic scales (stepwise arrangement of the seven “natural” pitches forming an octave) that are not necessarily major or minor and does not use functional harmony as we understand it within tonality.

4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silesian_Uprisings

5. Watch and listen to the symphony performed:  

6. A chord is a combination of two or more sounds or notes. A major chord in one made up of three notes and are often described as happy chords.

 

Bibliography

Libbey, Theodore. 2006. The NPR Listener’s Encyclopedia of Classical Music. Workman’s Publishing Co:  New York, NY.

Robin, William. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/09/arts/music/how-a-somber-symphony-sold-more-than-a-million-records.html

Thomas, Adrian. 1997. Górecki. Oxford Studies of Composers. New York: Oxford University Press: New York, NY.

Smith Brindle, Reginald. 1987. The New Music: The Avant-Garde since 1945. Oxford University Press: New York, NY.

Whittall, Arnold. 2003. Exploring Twentieth-Century Music: Tradition and Innovation. Cambridge University Press: New York

  ***************

With much appreciation to Richard Hoffert, CEO (ret.) Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, and North Carolina Symphony Orchestra for his feedback.

Call for Contributions & Contributors

Our newsletter welcomes contributions, comments, and news from our members and friends, as well as from collaborating organizations. Please consider writing a short article for our newsletter on any subject related to Polish culture.
Send contributions to:
Margaret Zaleska: margaret.m.zaleska@gmail.com
Learn more about our recent and past events & subscribe to Quo Vadis here.
 
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Join the Kościuszko Foundation!

For more information about the KF Philadelphia Chapter, or if you would like to become a  Kościuszko Foundation member and join us on our celebration of all things Polish, please visit the website:  https://www.thekf.org/kf/chapters/philadelphia/membership/
We warmly welcome you!

Kościuszko Foundation Philadelphia Chapter Board Members

Sylwia Czajkowska
President

Margaret Zaleska 
Vice President

Peter Obst
Vice President


Hanna Wewiora 
Treasurer

Elizabeth Zechenter 
Secretary


 
Directors:

Ela Gosek
Bozena Korczak
Maria Werner -Wasik
Andre Zlotnicki



Quo Vadis Editor:

Margaret Zaleska




 
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