Chopin News, Reviews, and Previews:

Sejm declares 2010 Year of Chopin – Warsaw,Poland

The Polish Parliment makes an Official Proclamation, preceded by “lively debate.” And just what DID happen to the Piano in the House?

The Sejm, Polish lower chamber of parliament, has unanimously passed a bill declaring 2010 the Year of Frederic Chopin.

The vote on the bill was preceded by a lively debate. Minister of Culture Bogdan Zdrojewski stated that the primary objective would be to celebrate and popularize the work of Chopin, adding that the celebrations around the Year of Frederic Chopin, which also marks his 200th birthday anniversary, will require a certain amount of organized effort.

Zrojewski concluded in saying that some work is already in progress, like renovating the seat of the Frederic Chopin Association (TFIC) in Warsaw.

Wide-ranging preparations for the Chopin Year also include a thorough refurbishment of the manor house in Zelazowa Wola near Warsaw, the composer’s birthplace, and the opening of a Chopin Centre in Warsaw.

MP Tadeusz Cymanski from the Law and Justice (PiS) opposition reminded his colleagues that there was a piano on display in the parliament’s building since 1989 but it was sold last year in what could be regarded as rather unclear circumstances. Cymanski expressed hope that the instrument will return to the Sejm.

See all stories on this topic

Chopin: 10 steps to greatness – United Kingdom

Coinciding with the launch of the BBC Radio 3 Chopin broadcast extravaganza – a Top Ten-type list of reasons of what makes Fryderyk so distinct:

4 Conquering the world

Chafing in Warsaw, the 21-year-old Chopin set off round Europe, pitching up in 1831 in Paris. Within a few months he was friendly with writers such as Victor Hugo, painters such as Delacroix and of course musicians including Liszt and Berlioz. All these arts were becoming more “poetic”, but what Paris lacked was a “poet of the piano”. Chopin was attractively melancholy, always à la mode, and had impeccable manners.

5 Being the perfect romantic

In 1832 Chopin gave his first concert in Paris. He hated the experience, and in all his life gave no more than 30. But those were enough to make him the perfect image of the romantic pianist. One critic said: “Nothing equals the lightness, the sweetness with which this artist preludes on the piano.” Chopin’s Nocturnes and Waltzes are the perfection of the Romantic miniature – but small doesn’t mean negligible. “Guns buried in flowers” is how Schumann described them.

See all stories on this topic

Whatever Happened to Michal Baranski?
All About Jazz – Philadelphia,PA,USA

A check-in on the careers of a trio of teen prodigies from Poland, including jazz/classical pianist Mateusz Kolakowski:

Nine years ago, the clarinetist, improvisational whistler and musical educator Brad Terry hosted in the United States three young musicians he had worked with in Poland. I mean young.

Mateusz Kolakowski, the pianist, was thirteen. In this picture from that period, we see him with Terry. Bassist Michal Baranski and drummer Tomek Torres were fifteen. Terry toured the country with them in his old Dodge van, overnighting in RV parks and driveways and playing whenever they could, sometimes in paying gigs.

As for Baranski’s former trio mates, Kolakowski is still pursuing Chopin, Paderewski and jazz. Torres, though he is Polish, is exploring his Latin heritage.

See all stories on this topic

Pianist Hamelin sets high bar
Denver Post – Denver,CO,USA

A preview to a Denver recital appearance by pianist Marc-Andre Hamelin, where he reveals his Chopin-inspired composing ambitions:

In addition to a couple of Haydn sonatas, two Chopin works and Leopold Godowsky’s Symphonic Metamorphoses on Johann Strauss’ “Wine, Women and Song,” Hamelin will perform two of his recently composed etudes.

“They are part of my soon-to-be-completed project to compose an etude in every minor key,” said the virtuoso, who began his piano studies at age 5 on the urging of his pharmacist father. “I was much younger when I started the project, but then, composing was never the preponderance of my work. I think of myself as a pianist who writes, not the other way around.”

Hamelin describes his compositional style as “tonal with lots of chromaticism.”

See all stories on this topic