Saturday, July 05, 2014

Great Polish Composers: Stanislaw Moniuszko

Great Polish Composers - Stanislaw Moniuszko
May 15, 1918 - June 4, 1872
Stanisław Moniuszko, a composer, is considered the father of Polish national opera. During his lifetime Moniuszko  was recognized as a very important figure, and after his death his very name inspired praise and reverence among all his admirers. Statues have been erected in his memory;  parks and institutions have been named after him, and his image has been featured on stamps, bank notes and official documents in Poland. The Polish National Opera (Teatr Wielki) also named the main auditorium after him.

Even Belarus, the place of his birth bestowed honor upon his name.  Since the 1990s Stanisław Moniuszko has been recognized as an important part of Belarusian culture! They have founded a museum in his name, and the Belarusian National Opera regularly performs Moniuszko's operas.  

Stanislaw was born into nobility, his family having owned land on the eastern edge of the Vilna Governorate. But in 1819 the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was destroyed, having been partitioned for the third time by the Empires of Russia, Prussia and Austria.

Moniuszko demonstrated at a very young age an amazing talent for music and in 1827, a private tutor was appointed to him. Ten years later, Moniuszko began his formal studies in music composition in Berlin with Carl Friedrich Rungenhagen, as well as studying important classical works and particularly the process of staging music.
He achieved early success when he composed music to three poems written by Adam Mickiewicz, Poland's treasured national poet.

Moniuszko returned to Poland in 1840 and married Aleksandra Muller.  He accepted the position of organist in Vilnius, and as well as working as a private tutor to meet the increasing financial responsibilities of a growing family. (They had ten children).
He made great contributions to music, staging choral performances for works such as Mozart's Requiem,  Haydn's The Creations, and Mendelssohn's St. Paul among many others.

His acquaintances with author Jozef Ignacy Kraszewski, and playwright Aleksander Fredro, gave him the impetus to delve into dramatic music.  Around 1840, Moniuszko  was completely immersed in creating compositions for operas, stage works, sacred music and secular cantatas.

In 1843 Moniuszko completed and published the first volume of a collection of songs entitled, "Spiewnik domowy" (Songbook for Home Use) which was hugely popular with the Polish public.   Over the years more volumes were added until the collection grew to 12 volumes which in total contained 267 songs with piano accompaniment.

Moniuszko's performed in St. Petersberg to great acclaim, receiving accolades in particular from his Russian contemporaries, Mikhail Glinka, Alexander Dargomyshsky, Mily Balakirev, Modest Mussorgsky, and Alexander Serov, the latter having referred to Moniuszko's compositions as "brilliant works:".

In his visit to Warsaw in 1848, Moniuszko met three important people who would have an important effect on his career, Jozef Sikorski, who would become the editor of the most prestigious Polish musical journal, "Ruch Muzyczny" (Musical Movement), Oscar Kolberg, a renowned collector of folk songs, and Wlodzimierz Wolski, a poet, who would become the librettist of Moniuszko's best known opera Halka (in two acts).

On January 1, 1848,  the opera was staged and conducted by Moniuszko but it would be ten years before it could be performed again.  The theme was highly nationalistic, and considered subversive by the political powers.  On January 1, 1858, a new four-act version of Halka premiered in Warsaw, after which Moniuszko toured France and met Auber and Rossini.   Halka was performed in Berlin, Prague, and Weimar, and later in Moscow and St. Petersburg to great acclaim.  

By autumn of the same year he was offered the position of principal conductor of the Polish Opera in the Grand Theatre in Warsaw and set upon staging his next opera, entitled Flis.    His subsequent visit to Paris was unproductive due to the shift in the political climate (caused by the January Uprising).

Much of his work shared similar themes, blending of Polish nobility with Polish customs and traditions, embued with patriotic fervour in times of national strife.

Stanislaw Moniuszko passed away on June 4, 1872 in Warsaw of a heart attack, and was buried in Powazki Cemetery.




Biuralisci (The Bureaucrats) c 1835
Nocleg w Apeninach (A Night in the Apennines) c. 1837-9
Cudowna woda (The Miraculous Water) 1840-1841
Ideał, czyli Nowe Precjoza  (Perfection, or The New Preciosa) c. 1841
Karmaniol, czyli Francuzi lubią żartować (Carmagnole, or The French Like Joking) c. 1840-1
Nowy Don Kichot, czyl Sto szaleństw  (The New Don Quixote, or 100 Follies) 1841        
Żółta szlafmyca (The Yellow Nightcap) c. 1841
Loteria (The Lottery) c. 1842-3      
Cyganie (The Gypsies)  (revised as Jawnuta 1860) c. 1852
Beata  c. 1870-1
Pobór rekrutów (Conscription) 1842


Halka  c. 1847–8  & 1857
Sielanka (Idyll)  c. 1848?   
Betty  c. 1852           
Flis (The Raftsman) c. 1858          
Hrabina (The Countess)  c. 1869 
Jawnuta  c. 1860                 
Verbum nobile  c. 1860
Straszny Dwór (The Haunted Manor)  c. 1861–4          
Paria  c. 1859–69    
Trea    incomplete c. 1872  unperformed
Nowy dziedzic (The New Landlord)         incomplete, undated, unperformed
Sen wieszcza (The Seer's Dream)  incomplete, undated, unperformed
Walka muzyków (The Musicians' Struggle)        incomplete, undated, lost


Monte Christo, after Alexandre Dumas (1866)
Na kwaterunku (On the Bilet) (1868)
Figle szatana (Satan's Tricks aka Devil's Frolics) (1870)
Merry Wives of Windsor (c. 1849), ballet music composed for the opera of Otto Nicolai.


Kasper Hauser (1843), melodrama by Anicet, Bourgeois and d'Ennery. First performance: Minsk, November 18, 1843
Sabaudka (Savoyardess or the Mother's Blessing) melodrama in 5 acts by d'Ennery and Lemoine. First performance: Vilnius, May 6, 1845
Hamlet. Shakespeare's tragedy. First performance: Warsaw, March 24, 1871
Zbojcy (Die Rauber). Schiller's tragedy. First performance: Warsaw 1870 and 1871
Hans Mathis, drama (1872). Finished by Adam Munchheimer
Karpaccy gorale, drama by J. Korzeniowski



Milda  1848
Witolorauda  18 December 1848
Nijoła (Wundyny) after 1848         
Florian Szary (The Grey)    ballad from unfinished opera
Rokiczana     1858-9           
Widma (The Ghosts)           before 1859  
Dziady (The Forefathers)  1865
Sonety krymskie  16 February 1868
Pani Twardowska 1869     
Kurmine unfinished        


Litanie ostrobramskie (Litanies of Ostra Brama) no.1   1843
Mass in A Minor   1848
Litanie ostrobramskie  (Litanies of Ostra Brama) no.2  1849
Funeral mass in D minor 1850
Litanie ostrobramskie (Litanies of Ostra Brama) no.3   1854
Litanie ostrobramskie  (Litanies of Ostra Brama) no.4   1855
Mass in E Minor  1855
Mass in E Flat Major 1865
Mass in B Flat Major  1872
"Piotrowinska" (Piotrowin Mass)  1872   
Oto drzewo krzyza  (Ecce lignum crucis)  1872 
Modlitwa Panska "Ojcze nasz" (The Lord's Prayer "Our Father")       June  17, 1859
Psalm "Ne memineris" 
Psalm "Vide humilitatem meam"  
Requiem aeternum


More than 300, listing the most popular:
Chochlik (The Imp). Text by A.E. Odyniec
Czaty (The Ambush), ballad. Text by A. Mickiewicz. Also in a version with orchestra
Czarny krzyżyk (The Little Black Cross). Text by Bruno Bielawski.
Dziad i baba (The Old Man and The Old Woman). Text by J.I. Kraszewski
Dziadek i babka (Grandpa and Grandma). Text by P. Jankowski
Entuzjasta (The Enthusiast). Text by J. Prusinowski
Kozak (Cossack). Also known as Tam na gorze jawor stoi
Kum i kuma (Chums). Text by J. Czeczot
Łzy (Tears). Text by A.E. Odyniec
Maciek. Text by T. Lenartowicz
Magda karczmarka (Magda, the Innkeeper). Also known as W pustej karczmie Magda siedzi, ballad. Text by E. Sztyrmer
Nad Nidą (On Nida River). Text by Włodzimierz Wolski
Panicz i dziewczyna (The Young Master and The Girl). Also known as W gaiku zielonym. Text by A.E. Odyniec
Pieśń wieczorna (The Song at Dusk). Also known as Po nocnej rosie. Text by W. Syrokomla
Piosnka żołnierza (Soldier's Song). Also known as Już matka zasnęła. Text by J. Korzeniowski
Polna różyczka (The Little, Field Rose). Text by J. Grajnert
Powrót taty (Father's Return). Text by A. Mickiewicz
Prząśniczka (The Spinner). Text by J. Czeczot. Also in a version with orchestra
Rozmowa (Conversation). Also known as Kochanko moja, na co nam rozmowa. Text by A. Mickiewicz
Rybka (The Fish). Text by A. Mickiewicz
Świerszcz (The Cricket). Text by J.N. Kaminski
Świtezianka (The Nymph of Lake Switez). Text by A. Mickiewicz
Tren X (Lament No. X). Also known as Urszulo moja wdzieczna. Text by J. Kochanowski
Trzech Budrysów (Three Budryses). Text by A. Mickiewicz. Also in a version with orchestra
Trzy śpiewy: Niepewnosc, Pieszczotka, Sen (Three Chants: Uncertainty, Cuddlesome One, Dream). Text by A. Mickiewicz. German translation Blankensee
Wilija (Christmas Eve). Text by A. Mickiewicz
Znaszli ten kraj (Do You Know Such Land). Text by A. Mickiewicz, after J. W. Goethe



String quartet no.1 in D minor (1839)
String quartet no.2 in F major (before 1840)


Organ compositions on the themes of church songs, among others Vespers and Song of Ostra Brama. Published: Warsaw, 1862.


Fraszki (Trifles). Two books. Published: Vilnius, 1843
Nocturne in A-flat major. Published: Vilnius, 1846
Mazurka in D major. Published: Vilnius, before 1846
Six Polonaises. Published: Vilnius, 1846
Polka in C major. Published: Warsaw, 1851
Polka, "Daniel". Published: Warsaw, 1852
Polka, "Gabirela". Published: Warsaw, 1855
"Spring" Polka. Published: Warsaw, 1860
Vilanelle in B flat major. Published: Warsaw, 1851
Three Waltzes. Published: Warsaw, 1852
"Wedding" Mazurka. Published: Warsaw, 1872
Kolysanka (Cradle Song) in D major. Published: Warsaw, 19 March 1872
Piano transcriptions of opera fragments and of works by other composers, among others Six Polonaises of Michal Oginski. Published: Warsaw, before 1858
Original compositions and transcriptions for piano duet


Bajka (Fairytale), fantastic overture (1848). Two versions. First performed: Vilnius, 1 May 1848
Kain, overture (1856). First performance: St. Petersburg, March 1856
War Overture. First performance: Vilnius, 19 March 1857
Polonez koncertowy (concert polonaise) in A major, for large orchestra (1866)
Polonez obywatelski, civic polonaise in F major (after 1863)


Due to the current obscurity of Moniuszko outside Poland, this list more or less represents a complete discography.


Halka: Andrzej Hiolski, Barbara Zagorzanka, Jerzy Ostapiuk, Ryszarda Racewicz, Wieslaw Ochman. Robert Satanowski cond., Polish National Opera Orchestra & Chorus. 2 CDs, DDD, CPO Records, Live (recorded 1987?), 18 January 1995
Halka (highlights): Andrzej Hiolski, Edmund Kossowski, Barbara Nieman, Halina Slonicka, Bohdan Paprocki. Zdizislaw Gorzynski cond., Polish National Opera Orchestra & Chorus. CD, Polskie Nagrania Muza, 6 April 1994 (originally 1992)
Halka: Harmonia Mundi/Chant du Monde?
Halka: Tatiana Zacharczuk, Władimir Kuzmienko, Zbigniew Macias, Katarzyna Suska, Piotr Nowacki. Antoni Wicherek cond., Soloists, Choir, Ballet and Orchestra of The Great Theatre National Opera in Warsaw. DVD, 2h10m, ZPR Records, 1999
Halka: Tatiana Borodina, Oleh Lykhach, Aleksandra Buczek, Mariusz Godlewski, Radosław Żukowski, Zbigniew Kryczka, Jacek Ryś, Rafał Majzner, Andrzej Kalinin, Rafał Majzner, Janusz Zawadzki. Ewa Michnik cond., Wroclaw Opera Orchestra, Chorus & Ballet. DVD, 2h16m, subtitles in Polish, English, German. DUX Recording Producers/Metronome, 19 March 2007. Cat. no DVD : DUX 9538, Barcode: 5902547095387
Hrabina: Halina Slonicka, Agnieszka Kossakowska, Edmund Kossowski, Kazimierz Pustelak, Bogna Sokorska. Mieczysław Mierzejewski cond., Orchestra & Choir Teatru Wielkiego w Warszawie. CD, Polskie Nagrania Muza, 2004
The Haunted Manor: Adam Kruszewski, Iwona Hossa, Jacek Parol, Anna Lubanska, Krzysztof Szmyt, Dariusz Stachura, Piotr Nowacki, Stefania Toczyska, Zbigniew Macias, Romuald Tesarowicz, Agnieszka Zwierko. Jacek Kasprzyk cond., Wielki Theatre Orchestra. 2 CDs, DDD, EMI Classics, Studio, 13 July 2004
The Haunted Manor: Bozena Betley-Sieradzka, Wiera Baniewicz, Zdzislaw Nikodem, Wieslaw Ochman, Andrzej Hiolski, Leonard Mroz, Andrzej Saciuk, et al. Jan Krentz cond., Orchestra & Choir of the PRiTV, Kraków. 4 CDs, Polskie Nagrania Muza, 1 January 2003. SX 0253
The Haunted Manor: Andrzej Hiolski, Bernard Ładysz, Bogdan Paprocki, Halina Słonicka, Zdzisław Nikodem. Witold Rowicki cond., Orchestra & Choir Teatru Wielkiego w Warszawie. Polskie Nagrania Muza, 1992. PNCD093
The Haunted Manor: Bogdan Paprocki, Edmund Kossowski, Antonina Kawecka, Marian Woźniczko, Barbara Kostrzewska, Felicja Kurowiak, Radzisław Peter, Zygmunt Mariański, Henryk Łukaszek, et al. Walerian Bierdajew cond., Poznań Opera. Early 1950s
Verbum Nobile: Andrzej Kizewetter, Krystyna Pakulska, Marian Kondella, Jan Czekay, Edward Kmiciewicz. Robert Satanowski, cond., Orchestra & Choir Państwowej Opery. CD, AAD, 1h5m, Polskie Nagrania Muza, 1993. PNCD 247


Canons: Krzysztof Szmyt, Pawel Skaluba, Piotr Kusiewicz, Ryszard Minkiewicz. CD, DDD, DUX Recording Producers, 27 March 2001
Litanies of Ostra Brama: Czeslaw Galka, Anna Lubanska, Iwona Hossa, Adam Zdunikowski. Henryk Wojnarowski cond., Warsaw Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra. CD, CD Accord, 5 September 2006
Religious Songs: Andrzej Hiolski, Jaroslaw Malanowicz, Joanna Kozlowska, Piotr Kusiewicz. CD, DDD, CD Accord, 26 June 2001
Religious Works: Marian Sawa, Witold Pilewski, Anna Malewicz, Krystyna Szoslek-Radkowa, Krystyna Szostek-Radkowa, et al. Edmund Kajdasz cond., Warsaw Chamber Orchestra. CD, ADD, Olympia, 4 October 1993
Śpiewnik domowy I: Bożena Betley, Alina Bolechowska, Maria Fołtyn, Jadwiga Romańska, Hanna Rumowska-Machnikowska, Halina Szymulska. CD, Polskie Nagrania Muza, 1996. PNCD348
Śpiewnik domowy II: Andrzej Hiolski, Bernard Ładysz, Wiesław Ochman, Maciej Witkiewicz. CD, Polskie Nagrania Muza, 1996. PNCD349


Opera Overtures: Grzegorz Fitelberg; Jan Krenz; Witold Rowicki cond., Polish Radio Orchestra & Chorus Katowice; Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra. CD, ADD, Olympia, 4 October 1993
Overtures: Robert Satanowski cond., Filharmonia Pomorska Bydgoszcz. CD, DDD, CPO Records, 25 January 1995
Overtures & Dances: Roland Bader cond., Kraków Philharmonic Orchestra. CD, DDD, Koch Schwann, 21 January 1997
String Quartets (w/ Ignacy Feliks Dobrzyński): Camerata Quartet. CD, DDD, DUX Recording Producers, 29 May 2007
Новае неба Станіслава Манюшкі: Classic Avantgarde ensemble (Belarus). CD, 2008.
Mazur from Act IV Straszny Dwór with Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Witold Rowicki, 1967, Orchestral CDs, CD12/2011

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