Karol Szymanowski — an outstanding Polish composer of global fame. Some call him a second Chopin, others claim that his fame would have grown even greater had he lived in different times.
An unusually colourful personality, he deserves recognition and commemoration. It is for persons who want to come as close to Szymanowski as possible during the second edition of the Competition, that we prepared a series of short articles focusing on particular stages of the composer’s life. We want to gather all facts, myths, and trivia together. We will do our best to make your reading not only fascinating, but pleasurable as well.
Meanwhile, we would like to invite instrumentalists to follow our social media channels and invite composers to take part in your category of the Competition.
See you soon at another Szymanowski 101 lesson!
“45. Karol Szymanowski Music Days” festival begins today! The event celebrates the 140th anniversary of the composer’s birthday. The festival is organised by our friends and the Competition’s co-organisers - The Karol Szymanowski Music Society. The program is really extensive, especially in the works of the Competition's patron. Therefore, we highly recommend visiting Zakopane between 24th and 31st July. It is also a great opportunity for the Competition’s participants who would like to prepare themselves really well.
The festival will be held in several places in the capital of Tatras. One of them is Atma - the famous villa where Szymanowski lived for a few years. One of the attractions is a film about the composer. A cappella concert on 29th July deserves special attention. On this day you can listen to a new composition by Joanna Wnuk-Nazarowa who is a member of the Competition’s Honorary Committee.
Among the performers at the festival will be: Marta Kuziy, Joanna Domańska, Wojciech Pyrć, the Polish Radio Choir, and the Silesian String Quartet.
We strongly encourage you to participate in the event, you will find more information here.
Italy is a charming country, attracting the entire world with its art and culture. Every step you take, architecture and landscapes amaze your eyes, your nose is filled with the scent of traditional dishes made of local ingredients, and your ears - with sounds of Vivaldi…
Italy also means a lot to the Competition.
This is where Giovanni Bonato and Daniele Gasparini come from, the two laureates of the Composition category in the 1st edition of Szymanowski Competition. This year, the Head of the Jury in the Composition category of the 2nd edition of the Competition is Francesco Filidei. The composer born in Pisa works with the I Teatri Foundation of Reggio Emilia, and with Villa Medici as an art director of the contemporary music festival Controtempo.
Italy enraptured Karol Szymanowski himself. The artist returned to this marvelous country multiple times. Sicily was especially dear to him. So much that he decided to dedicate his greatest opera, “King Roger”, to this island. The composer sought inspiration in the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, Syracuse, the ancient amphitheatre in Taormina, Palermo's archaeological museum, and Arab and Norman monuments. After returning to Poland, Szymanowski created a number of works inspired by the Sicilian discoveries. These works include: “The Love Songs of Hafiz”, Symphony No. 3 “Song of the Night”, “Nocturne and Tarantella”, and the piano miniatures “Myths” and “Métopes”.
In 2017, in the garden of Teatro Massimo, the biggest opera theatre in Italy and one of the biggest in the entire Europe, there was held a reveal of the plaque commemorating the Polish composer. Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Poland and Italy and the city Mayor - Leoluca Orlando participated in the celebrations of the 80th anniversary of Szymanowski’s death. The plaque's location is a fair distinction itself, as it is located nearby a bust of Giuseppe Verdiego, the king of Italian opera. The plaque resembles the metopes referred to in one of the composer's works, i.e. a plate on a frieze, known in ancient architecture, decorated with a bas-relief.
Also, it was Teatro Massimo that restored "King Roger" to world fame in 2005, staging it for the first time since a long hiatus. A few months after this event, "King Roger" opened the season of the Saint Cecilia National Academy in Rome.
Karol Szymanowski was honoured with The Officer Order of the Italian Crown, The Commander Order of the Italian Crown, and The Honourary Plaque of Reggia Accademia di Santa Cecilia.
We are looking forward to seeing the Italian artists in the Competition, and we are curious about the participants from other countries.
14th November 2021 saw the 11th ceremony of the Koryfeusze Muzyki Polskiej [Coryphées of Polish Music] awards. They are the music industry’s awards, coordinated by the National Institute of Music and Dance. This year, Danuta Gwizdalanka, a musicologist and a writer publishing on music, was awarded for her book Uwodziciel. Rzecz o Karolu Szymanowskim [The Seducer. On Karol Szymanowski] published by PWM Edition. She won the „Event of the year” award for „an intriguing and in-depth monograph on Karol Szymanowski, analysing the composer’s personality; for inspiring interest in the portrait of not only an outstanding artist, but also that of a human”. The book has already become a bestseller.
We offer our sincere congratulations to the Author!
This edition is going to be a special one, as its repertoire and logistics will be based on the SZYMANOWSKI Visegrad Music Platform, established at the beginning of the year, bringing together institutions of culture from the Visegrad Group countries.
The activity of the platform resulted in the Leoš Janáček Philharmonic in Ostrava Orchestra being invited to open the festival. Conducted by Robert Jindra, the Czech musicians will present Bohuslav Martinů’s Magic nights, three songs written for Chinese texts, with Kateřina Kněžíkova, as well as the Penthesilea op. 18and the Symphony No. 4 (Symphonie concertante) op. 60 by the festival’s patron, Karol Szymanowski. The solo part will be performed by the Czech pianist Tomáš Vrána.
The festival, spanning from 4th to 25th September, will include performances from the Cracow Philharmonic conducted by its artistic director Alexander Humala and ensembles from associated institutions of Central and Eastern Europe. The Ostrava Philharmonic Orchestra will be joined by the Slovak Sinfonietta from Žilina, while the epilogue of this year’s Szymanowski / Polska / Świat festival to take place in November 2021 will feature artists from Hungary.
The programme of the festival includes works which have already become permanent points of its host’s, Cracow Philharmonic’s, programme, such as Harnasie, the Symphonie concertante and the Symphony No. 2. The No. 2, however, will be presented in Alexander Humala’s interpretation based on the original 1910 version, and twice – on 17th September in Cracow and on 18th September at the W. Lutosławski Polish Radio Concert Studio in Warsaw. Nonetheless, there will also be room for more rarely performed works by composers such as Eugen Suchoň, Ján Cikker, Ľubica Čekovska and Ilja Zeljenka, presented by the Slovak musicians.
Stabat Mater, one of Karol Szymanowski’s most stirring works, will open the13th „Music on the Heights” international festival in Zakopane.
The concert, conducted by Marzena Diakun, will take place in the Saint Cross church in Zakopane on 11th September at 7 p.m., presented by the Wrocław Philharmonic NFM ensemble and the NFM Choir. In the solo parts of the Stabat Mater, we are going to hearIzabela Matuła (soprano), Ewa Marciniec (alto) and Szymon Komasa (baritone).
Szymanowski’s work will be preceded by Krzysztof Penderecki’s Concertino for trumpet and orchestra with Jan Harasimowicz in the solo part, as well as the premiere of Paweł Szymański’s new piece Simple music for cello&orchestra, the latter with solo part performed by Magdalena Bojanowicz-Koziak.
The 13th edition of the Music on the Heights festival will finish on 18th September. The programme of the festival can be found here.
The second edition of the Karol Szymanowski International Music Competition will begin as soon as in a year’s time! The Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra in Katowice, the organiser of the Competition, has just announced the dates and the rules for the second edition.
First organised in 2018, the Competition was a perfect fit for the cultural panorama of Katowice – a UNESCO City of Music – gathering the best young vocalists and instrumentalists of the world in the capital of Upper Silesia. The challenge they are facing is no mean one. What Karol Szymanowski’s music requires from artists is not only technical perfection, but first and foremost charisma, maturity and passion – all the factors which make the greatest personalities of the musical world really stand out.
The second edition is bound to make even more opportunities open before its participants. The most significant change will be the temporal separation of the Composition discipline from the competition in the performing disciplines, which will enable their artistic alignment. The Competition in the Composition discipline is scheduled as early as summer 2022. The works awarded in it will become mandatory for the participants in the performing disciplines of the Competition in 2023. Thus, works created thanks to the Competition will come to life and the young performers will face challenges presented by new music. One could hardly imagine a better tribute to Karol Szymanowski!
There will be the most famous artists of our time and the most influential personalities of international musical circles to be found among the jurors. There is also the total prize money of €300,000 and opportunity to make one’s name among global press and audiences awaiting the participants.
Entries in the Composition discipline will be accepted from 1st July to 31st August 2022.
Recruitment for participation in the performing categories will take place from November 2022 to January 2023.
Please sign up for our newsletter and follow our website and social media! More information about the second edition of the competition, the jurors, and preceding events will appear there very soon.
44th Karol Szymanowski Music Days are just beginning in Zakopane. Along with the Evenings with Karol Szymanowski’s Music in Katowice, it is one of only two annual festivals devoted to this composer’s work in the world.
This year, a special place in the Festival’s programme is given to the composers of the so-called Stalowa Wola Generation, also known as the ’51 Generation: Eugeniusz Knapik, Aleksander Lasoń and Andrzej Krzanowski. In many respects, their works constitute a natural continuation of those by Karol Szymanowski, the father of Polish 20th-century music.
One of the performers present at the festival is Tymoteusz Bies, laureate of the 1st edition of the Karol Szymanowski International Music Competition
Complete programme of the 44th Karol Szymanowski Music Days can be found here.