Monday, July 21, 2014

Great Polish Composers: Karol Kurpinski

Great Polish Composer- Karol Kurpinski
March 6, 1785 -Sept 18, 1857
Karol Kurpinski was among the most celebrated and revered composers in Poland, before Chopin was even born.  Kurpinski was instrumental in establishing the foundations for Polish music of the Romantic period.

Karol Kurpinski was born on March 6, 1785 in the Wielkopolska region of Poland and learned to play the violin and organ from his father. Karol became an organist in the church in Sarnow (near Rawicz) where his uncle was the parish priest. But needless to say, it was not a case of nepotism. When Karol was only fifteen years of age, he moved to Myszkow (eastern Malopolska), to become the second violinist in Feliks Polanowski's court ensemble. 

In his trips to Lvov, Karol immersed himself in the genre of Italian and German operatic music.  His talent was so extraordinary, in fact genius, that his was expertise was easily acquired largely through self-study.

In 1810 Karol arrived in Warsaw, and gave private music lessons in order to earn his living. Several months later, he landed an appointment as second conductor of the opera of Wojciech Boguslawski's National Theatre. (Boguslawski was the director of the National Theatre, and was  considered the "Father of Polish Theatre")  Karol also assumed the position of tutor and elevated the performances of the opera's soloists and choir.

Kurpinski made his conducting debut on August 5, 1810.  Soon after he made his composing debut and performed a cantata on December 4th of the same year, in honour of Napoleon Bonaparte.  Two years later he became a music teacher at the National Theatre School of Drama, and the Warsaw School of Music and Dramatic Arts. 

Kurpinski was appointed the cour kappelmeister in 1819 by tsar alexander I, and was decorated in 1823 with the st. stanislaus order.

In 1820 Karol Kurpinski established the first Polish music magazine, "Tygodnik Muzyczny" and became one of its regular contributors.

At the behest of the National Theatre, Karol embarked on a fact-finding journey across Europe, visiting Germany, France, Italy, and Austria  He studied the operation of their operatic theatres and published his findings in Dziennik z podozy (Travelling Diary) in 1954.  (Published by PWM, edited by Zdzislaw Jachimecki).

Karol Kurpinski became the only conductor-director of the National Theatre when Jozef Elsner resigned his position in July 1824.  Kurpinski produced many foreign operas including Gasparo Luigi Spontini's " La Vestale", Wolfgant Amadeus Mozart's "Don Juan", Carl Maria von Weber's "Der Freischutz", Francois-Adrien Boieldieus's "The White Lady", Daniel Francois Augerr's "La Muette de Portici"  and FraDiavolo, Giacomo Meyerbeer's Robert "Le Diable", Ferdinand Herold's, "Zampa", Gaetamp Donizetti's "L'Elisir d'amore", Vincenzo Bellini's "La sonnambula"; and operas by Gioacchino Rossini (Tankred, The Thieving Magpie, The Barber of Seville, The Italian Girl in Algiers), Polish operas, and many of his own operatic productions.
Kurpinski was involved in conducting almost all of Warsaw concerts, including the very first performance given by Federick Chopin, a solo - Piano concerto in F minor (March 17, 1830).

After the failure of the 1830 Polish Uprising, the Main School of Music was closed.  In its wake, Kurpinski set up the Teatr Wielki's School of Singing in 1835, and managed it for the next five years.  He left the National Theatre in 1840, and spent the remainder of his life in solitude.

Karol Kurpinski died in Warsaw on September 18, 1857.


Orchestral music:

Bitwa pod Mozajskiem / The Battle of Mozajsk (Grand symphony representing this battle)
Concerto for clarinet and orchestra in B flat major
Elegy in C minor (ca 1825)
Harmonic elegy in memory of the death of two heroes of Russia
Concerto for horn and orchestra
Polish dance in D major composed for the day of the city ball for Her Majesty the Mother of the Emperor of all Russia and the King of Poland
Polonaise in D major on the themes of "Rule Britannia" and "God Save the King"
Polonaise played for the Tsar of Russia and Polish King at a ball at His Imperial Highness Duke Governor
Polonaise in D major for dancing composed from the first finale of G. Spontini's opera "La Vestale"
Polish dance in D major played at the ball at His Imperial Highness Duke Governor
Polonaise in B flat major for dancing
Polonaise in C major for the annual nameday ceremony of His Majesty the Tsar of All Russias and Polish King
Polonaise in F major called "Pustota", from an allegory staged at the Warsaw Theatre on the Eve of the New Year 1823
Polonaise in A major played for His Majesty the Tsar of All Russias and Polish King at the ball at Duke Governor's (using the themes of Rossini's opera "Zelmira")
Polonaise in B minor for the annual nameday ceremony of His Majesty the Tsar and Polish King
Polonaise in D major for the benefis concert of Zofia Kurpinska
Polish dance in D major played at the ball at His Highness Duke Governor's on the occasion of the ceremony of birthday of His Imperial Highness Tsarevitch Constantine
Polish dance in B flat major played at the ball at His Highness Duke Governor's on the occasion of the ceremony of birthday of His Imperial Highness Tsarevich Constantine
Polonaise played in C major at the ball at His Highness Duke Zajaczek's last Tuesday
Polonaise in D major composed for the distinguished annual nameday ceremony of His Majesty Tsar and King Nicholas I
Polonaise [Pocztarka] in E flat major composed for the annual nameday ceremony of His Majesty Tsar of all Russias, King of Poland Nicholas I
Polonaise in D major composed for a ball at the Court
Polish dance in D major composed for the National Ball held at the Exchange Hall for Their Imperial and Royal Highnesses
Polonaise in E flat major played at a ball at the Court
Polonaise in C major played at a ball at the Exchange Hall on the occasion of the announcement of His Imperial Highness Crown Prince Grand Duke Alexander Nicholaievich's coming of age
Mazurka in D major played at the ball at His Highness Duke Zajączek last Tuesday
Grand waltz in B flat major using the motifs from Weber and Rossini, danced by Miss Mierzyńska and composed for orchestra and pianoforte

Chamber music:

Fantasia in C major for string quartet (ca. 1823?)
Nocturne in G major for horn, bassoon and viola
Musical scene in F major for horn and bassoon
Reverie over Wanda's tomb in B minor for clavichord and violin
Cavatina for trumpet or trombone and piano (ca. 1823)
Fantasia for horn and bassoon

Piano music:

Six variations in C major
Nine variations in D minor
Potpourri or Variations on various national themes composed by Karol Kurpiński for the seven-year-old J. Krogulski
Fantasia in C minor "A Dreadful Dream"
Fantasia in A minor
Fantasia in F major
Fugue and coda in B flat major (on the theme of "Jeszcze Polska nie zginęła" / "Poland Has Not Yet Perished")
Ball mazurka in D major
Angloise in D major
Mazurka in D major (1821)
Mazurka in D major (1823)
Waltz in B flat major
Grand waltz in B flat major
Polonaise in G major
Polonaise in D minor
Polonaise in G minor
Polonaise in E major
Polonaise in F minor
Polonaise in A major
Polonaise in A minor
Le reveil de J.J. Rousseau au printemps, romanza (1823)
Polonaise dedicated to Zofia Mentzel (1834)

Songs for many voices:

March of the year 1812 (Do koni, bracia, do koni / Get on your horses, brothers) for a 4-voice male choir and piano (1812)
To a Hero (Nieśmiertelność nieba w nagrodę co dały / The immortality which heavens have bestowed in reward), mason chant for a mixed choir (1814)
Hymn (Próżno na piasek słonce śle oświaty / Idle are the Sun's reflexes on the sand) for 4 equal voices (1820)
Vocal canon (Szanuj niewinność, szanuj mądrość / Respect innocence, respect wisdom) for 3 voices
Songs for voice and piano:
Bolesław Krzywousty / Boleslaus the Wry-mouthed
Krol Aleksander / King Alexander
Zygmunt August / Sigismund Augustus
Władysław IV / Ladislaus IV
Stefan Czarniecki
Michał Korybut Wiśniowiecki
Dumka (Gdy słowik zanuci / When the nightingale croons)
Elfryda (Gdy w kwiecie młodości/ When at the peak of youth), romanza
Ludmiła in Ojców (Nastała cisza z nocą ponurą / Silence has fallen with a gloomy night)
Song of Jabłonna's peasants about their master (Była ta pora przeszła nie wróciła / The past is gone, will not be back )
Czerna (Piękna i śmiała / Bold and beautiful)
Etwin and Klara (Klara przecudnej urody / Klara of wondrous beauty)
To Ludmiła (Ozdobo wioski / The gem of the village)
For Zosia (Sprawiedliwość Zosiu śmiała / Justice, bold Zosia) (1823)
Potpourri or variations on Polish chants composed for Miss Henrietta Sontag (1830)
Lament on Generał Jasiński (Ze łzą bracie wspomnij sobie / Remember tearfully, brother)
War Mazur (Nasz Chłopicki wojak dzielny, śmiały / Our Chłopicki, brave and valiant soldier) (1830)
Camp March (Bracia do bitwy nadszedł czas / Brothers, the battle time is come) (1831)
Warszawianka / Varsovienne (Oto dzień dziś krwi i chwały / Today is the day of blood and glory)
A Lithuanian, or the Hymn of Lithuanian Legionaries (Wionął wiatr błogi na Lechitów ziemie / A blissful wind has blown onto the Lechian land)
The Patriot's Feelings - A National Chant (Jakiż to odgłos uszy me uderzą / What is the Sound that Strikes My Ears)
The Day of Holy Fighting Is Approaching, a march (1831)
A Serenade, or the Deadly Goodnight (1835)

Songs for voice and orchestra:

A Song to the White Eagle (Powstań Biały Orle czarne pióra z siebie zrzuć / Rise up, White Eagle, throw off the black feathers) (1831)
The Siege of Warsaw (Moskal chce dostać Warszawy / The Muscovites want to get Warsaw), a mazur (1831)


Elegy on the Death of Tadeusz Kościuszko for reciting voice and orchestra
Sacred music:
Hymn for the Holy Mass of the Polish Catholic Community [Country mass] for soprano, tenor, bass and organ
Mass in C major for mixed 3(4) voice choir and organ (ca. 1835)
Mass in E minor for mixed 4 voice choir and organ
Oratorio in C major for alto, 2 tenors, bass, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, double bass, kettledrum and organ (ca. 1840)
Hymn to God - Pleading to Remain Free for solo voice and piano
Zdrowaś Maryjo / Hail Mary for solo voice, choir, wind instruments and organ
Pious chants by Karol Kurpiński to poetry by Feliński, Minasowicz and others, in honour and glory of one God in the Holy Trinity, for use by the Roman Catholic Christians in Poland for 1-3 voices accompanied by organ or piano and trombone ad libitum
Te Deum laudamus for solo voice, choir and orchestra
Święty Boże / Good Lord, a psalm for solo voice, choir, harp and organ
Na śmierć Chrystusa / On Christ's Death for solo voice and harp
Wzniesienie myśli do Boga / Offering Up Our Thought to God for solo voice and organ or piano

Stage music:

Two Cottages, comic opera in 1 act
Lucifer's Palace, comic opera in 4 acts
The Ruins of Babylon, melodrama in 3 acts
Marcinowa z Dunaju w Stambule w seraju / Mistress Marcin of the Harem, comic opera in 3 acts
The Charlatan, comic opera in 2 acts
The Emperor's Generosity, comic opera in 1 act
Jadwiga the Polish Queen, comic opera in 3 acts
Alexander and Apelles, melodrama in 1 act
Reward, or the Resurrection of the Polish Kingdom, melodrama (?) in 2 acts
Zabobon czyli Krakowiacy i Górale / Superstition, or Cracowians and Mountaineers, opera in 3 acts
The Grandfather and the Grandson, melodrama in 2 acts
Jan Kochanowski in Czarny Las, comic opera in 2 acts
Bateria o jednym żołnierzu / The Story of a Soldier, melodrama [intermezzo] in 1 act
Czaromysł the Slavic Prince, or the Nymphs from the Goplo Lake, comic opera in 1 act
The Castle of Czorsztyn, or Bojomir and Wanda, comic opera in 2 acts
Kalmora, or the Paternal Right of the Americans, melodrama in 2 acts
The Forester from Kozienice, comic opera in 1 act
Cecylia Piaseczyńska, comic opera in 2 acts
Terpsichore's New Colony on the Vistula in 1 act
Mars and Flora, allegorical ballet in 1 act

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