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For the second concert of EMV’s collaboration with the Vancouver Chopin Society, Tobias Koch will play an all 19th century programme of music by lesser well known but accomplished Polish composers Oginski, Kurpinski, Krogulski, Mikuli, Elsner, Szymanowska, Friedman, Paderewski and, of course, Chopin.
A collaboration with the Vancouver Chopin Society
This concert is generously supported by Chris Guzy & Mari Csemi
Click here for information about parking around / transiting to Christ Church Cathedral
MICHAL KLEOFAS OGINSKI (1765-1833)
Polonaise in A Minor, Farewell to the homeland 
KAROL KURPINSKI (1785-1857)
Polonaise in D minor 
Polonaise in C major (1818)
MARIA SZYMANOWSKA (1789-1831)
Polonaise in F minor (1820)
JOZEF ELSNER (1769-1854)
Rondo à la mazurka C major (1803)
FRYDERYK CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Polonaise in B flat major KK IVa (1817)
JOZEF KROGULSKI (1815-1842)
Mazurka in E minor „À la Chopin“
KAROL LIPINSKI (1790-1861)
Mazurka in E-flat minor(1862)
EDWARD WOLFF (1816-1880)
„Hommage à Chopin“ Rêverie-Nocturne Op. 60
IGNACY FELIKS DOBRZYNSKI (1807-1867)
Mazurka in A minor Op. 37 No. 2 (1840)
FRYDERYK CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Mazurka in C sharp minor, Op. 50 No. 3 (1841/42)
KAROL MIKULI (1819-1897)
Mazurka in F minor Op. 4 (1860)
IGNACY FRIEDMAN (1882-1948)
Mazurka in C major Op. 49 No. 2 (1912)
RAOUL KOCZALSKI (1885-1948)
Mazurka in C minor Op. 60 (1898)
IGNACY JAN PADEREWSKI (1860-1941)
Mazurka in A minor (1882)
FRYDERYK CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Polonaise in F sharp minor Op. 44 (1841)
This programme of keyboard music by Polish Romantics might also be called Music of Stateless Poland. Between 1795 and 1918, Poland as a nation disappeared from the map of Europe, divided among the Kingdom of Prussia in the west, the Russian Empire in the east, and Hapsburg Austria in the south. During this period, the desire for freedom became a powerful force, encouraged by the rise of Napoleon, the creation of the Duchy of Warsaw (1807) and the Congress Kingdom (1815), then ignited in the uprisings of 1831, 1848 and 1863, all with disastrous consequences. Writers, artists and musicians became the bearers of national identity, many of them part of the Great Emigration to receptive nations in the west.
By mid-century, the Polish-ness of Chopin’s music, most of it written in Paris between 1831 and 1849, came to define the age. The Polish-American scholar Maja Trochimczyk writes that Chopin “held an elevated position in the national pantheon as a poet-prophet [wieszcz] whose musical statements equalled in significance the poetic proclamations of Adam Mickiewicz, expressing the true spirit of the nation,” a position still held by Paderewski in his famous Chopin anniversary speech of 1910.
With the rise of the modernist “Young Poland” [Młoda Polska] movement, however, the Polish image of Chopin became overshadowed by Chopin as a European of universal significance. In 1910, for example, the Kraków critic, Franciszek Bylicki, proposed that Chopin’s music was “above time,” the “summit of raising music to the great dignity and meaning in universal culture.” Perhaps the assessment that best represents Chopin is found in the words of the poet Norwid (1821-1883): “a Varsovian by birth, a Pole by heart, and a citizen of the world by talent.”
The works on this programme cover the period 1794 to 1912, more-or-less chronologically, and represent precursors, contemporaries, and followers of Chopin. It is significant that three of the four genres represented on this programme are based in Polish folk music, the only exception being the nocturne (a genre established by the Irish pianist John Field and perfected by Chopin). There are eight mazurkas, six polonaises (including boyhood and mature works by Chopin), and one krakowiak (in fast duple metre). Given the need to express Polish cultural identity in a political vacuum, it is not surprising that Polish dance is paramount among Polish Romantic composers.
In general terms, the two triple-metre dances have different associations. The polonaise is a courtly, processional dance, requiring continuous motion through its three beats. The second-beat emphasis results from a dance gesture whose graceful lowering of the body on the first beat requires recovery on the second beat. In contrast, the mazurka, with potential accents on any or all of its three beats, has diverse peasant origins. The accents represent points of arrival in the dance gesture which require time and can disturb the regularity of the metrical pulse (as shown for example in Meyerbeer’s famous observation of Chopin playing a mazurka in four beats rather than three, despite the composer’s insistence otherwise).
The diversity of beats and gesture in the mazurka derives from its origins in three different regional peasant dances with different characteristic tempi, rhythmic patterns, and gestures: mazur (or mazurek in the diminutive—hence mazurka); the slower kujawiak; and the faster oberek. The urban mazurka which Chopin improvised for dancers in Warsaw ballrooms was thus open to a greater flexibility of style. Even rhythms of the equally popular triple-metre waltz can be found in some Chopin mazurkas. However, what is Chopin’s alone in his mazurkas written “not for dancing” (unlike those of Szymanowska, for example) is their extreme expressive range with its attendant harmonic, chromatic, and textural originality.
The nationalist significance of the polonaise and the mazurka finds clear representation in two works from the time of the dissolution of the Polish state. The first polonaise on the programme arises directly out of the Kościuszko Uprising of 1794 whose defeat led to the Third Partition of Poland and abdication of the Polish King in 1795. Ogiński, a diplomat as well as a musician, having participated in the Uprising, lost his property, and fled to Venice—hence his “Farewell to the Homeland”. The eminent Polish musicologist Irena Poniatowska writes that the “melancholy tone of the principal section, adorned with simple, but charming ornamental figures, became iconic of the polonaise in the early Romantic period of sentimentalism in Polish music.” Also characteristic is the military rhythm used in the contrasting section which establishes a heroic mode.
A piece not on this programme helped to set the nationalistic importance of the mazurka for the freedom-seeking Polish Romantics. The Dąbrowski Mazurka (whose folk melody was long misattributed to Ogiński), originated in 1797 in the Polish Legion in Italy whose hope had been to join Napoleon’s troops in liberating Poland. Although the song became the Polish national anthem only in 1926, its expression of Polish patriotism made it popular from the beginning but also resulted in its being banned in 1815 and again in 1860. Chopin was known to improvise on this nationalist mazurka in social settings with his compatriots. Hence both polonaise and mazurka can embody political meaning.
In the following vignettes, the remaining composers are cited in the order
in which their music appears in the programme, rather than in strict chronological order.
Kurpiński was one of the most important musical figures in Warsaw musical life during Chopin’s time. He arrived in the city in 1810, the year of Chopin’s birth, at age 25. With Elsner’s help, he became conductor at the opera for which he composed numerous nationalistic stage works. He conducted Chopin’s first public concerto concerts in 1830. Polonaises in major keys occur in his orchestral and operatic works. His polonaises for solo piano also include minor keys, perhaps influenced by the model established by Ogiński.
Szymanowska had an international career as a pianist and was much praised by Goethe. She published a set of twenty-four mazurkas for dancing in 1824 but wrote only three polonaises. In the Polonaise in F minor, she incorporates the stile brillante, resulting in a more virtuosic use of the keyboard than did Ogiński. She also avoids the military style. It is almost certain that Chopin attended Szymanowska’s Warsaw concert on a specially imported Broadwood piano in 1827. (Viennese or German piano types were most common in Warsaw.) Szymanowska also wrote in other piano genres associated with Chopin, including preludes, etudes, and three nocturnes (one of which Chopin probably knew).
Elsner was head of the newly-formed High School for Music at the University of Warsaw when Chopin began his studies there in 1826. He was a well-rounded musician and a thoughtful pedagogue who allowed the young composer to go his own way, citing his “amazing capabilities” and “musical genius” in a third-year report. Elsner wrote in all the classical genres: symphonies, concertos, chamber works, solo pieces, operas and oratorios. His early piano miniature on this programme is classical in nature but incorporates mazurka rhythms. He was one of the first to integrate elements of Polish folk music into his works.
Krogulski studied composition with Elsner and Kurpiński. Five years younger than Chopin, he remained in Warsaw until his early death, writing church music as well as symphonic and piano works. The title of the piece on today’s programme shows his familiarity with Chopin’s music. His mazurka incorporates expressive markings indicative of the type of rubato found in Chopin.
Lipinski was a Polish virtuoso violinist of international reputation who in his early years performed with Paganini, including an 1829 Warsaw concert heard by Chopin. He also performed with Szymanowska and later with Liszt. Schumann dedicated his piano cycle Carnaval to him. Lipinski met Chopin in Paris in 1835/36 where they played together in salon concerts. Lipinski composed mostly music for violin including concertos and trios. He also transcribed five of Chopin’s piano pieces for violin. Lipinski’s mazurka on today’s programme was published in the year of his death.
Wolff was born in Warsaw and studied piano with his mother before going to Vienna at the age of twelve. He returned to Warsaw four years later to study composition with Elsner. In 1835 he went to Paris where Chopin introduced him to society. For a time he acted as Chopin’s copyist but his relations with the composer broke down when Chopin discovered that “he will pinch something and print it” as his own. Most of Wolff’s three hundred pieces are for piano. The title of his work on today’s programme, written three years after Chopin’s death, is self-explanatory.
Dobrzyński was three years older than Chopin but was Chopin’s contemporary at the High School of Music in Warsaw from 1826 to 1828, where he studied with Elsner. A respected piano performer and pedagogue, he published a School for Piano in 1845. Dobrzyński spent most of his life in Warsaw, conducting, composing symphony and opera, and teaching. His mazurkas are highly influenced by Chopin especially in their use of chromaticism, modulation, and key combinations.
Mikuli, a Moldavian-Armenian from Austrian Poland, studied medicine in Vienna from 1839 to 1844, then moved to Paris where he studied with Chopin until 1847. Chopin had high regard for Mikuli and made him his teaching assistant. Mikuli toured widely as a pianist before settling in Lviv (now Ukraine) where he was active as composer, teacher, and conductor. For his edition of Chopin’s music published in 1879 (and still available in Dover reprints), he relied on sources written or corrected by Chopin himself. Mikuli took detailed notes of Chopin’s comments in lessons and interviewed people who had heard him perform. Mikuli also composed a large number of virtuosic piano works. The mazurka on today’s programme was written two years after his move to Lviv. Irena Poniatowska writes that it is “dominated by sadness and pensiveness, and the return of the principal section is varied, with a coda invoking a drone effect in the bass”—characteristics also found in Chopin’s mazurkas. >
The remaining three composers on the programme—three great Polish pianists—were born
long after Chopin’s death and had careers that encompass the first part of the twentieth century.
Friedman was born in Kraków and studied with Leschetizky in Vienna. He became one of the leading piano virtuosos of the first half of the twentieth century, with a large repertoire and a huge concert career. His recordings, particularly of Chopin’s mazurkas, are regarded as iconic for their highly individual rhythmic character. As a composer, Friedman wrote piano works and transcriptions as well as chamber music and songs. As an editor, he was involved with critical editions of music by Schumann, Liszt and Chopin. His mazurka on today’s programme is a small, quiet work which, in the words of Irena Poniatowska, “refers to the chromaticism of Chopin’s ‘last mazurka’, attaining a tone of Chopinian wistfulness.”
Koczalski made his piano debut as a child prodigy in Warsaw in 1888 at the age of three. Between 1892 and 1896 he studied at the Music Conservatory in Lviv with Mikuli, Chopin’s student. Koczalski performed and recorded most of the Chopin repertoire, including one of the first programmes on a period instrument (Chopin’s 1847 Pleyel) in 1948—now available as a Chopin Institute CD. Koczalski composed more than two hundred works, including piano pieces, chamber music, orchestral works and operas. His mazurka on today’s programme was written at the age of thirteen, after his studies with Mikuli.
Paderewski is a name that is perhaps second only to Chopin in the history of Polish Romantic music and one with direct political significance. After study in Warsaw and Vienna, he made his debut as a pianist in Vienna in 1885 at the age of twenty-five, followed by Paris in 1888, London in 1890, and the United States in 1891. He achieved extraordinary popular celebrity through his charismatic stage appearance. He became one of the leading Polish composers at the turn of the century, writing not only piano works but also symphony and opera. His Minuet in G became a parlour standard. He recorded a substantial amount of piano repertoire though not always with the best technique. His political activity became intensive during the First World War. He successfully advocated for an independent Poland, became its first Prime Minister in 1919, and represented Poland at the peace conference in Versailles. A noted philanthropist, he received many honours. In 1937 he became the first editor-in-chief of a complete edition of Chopin’s works which bears his name. The two works on today’s programme were written when Paderewski was in his twenties and represent two aspects of his patriotic and virtuosic style.
About the Instrument
1852 london boudoir grand pianoforte by john broadwood & sons
by John Glofcheskie
No. 989 in a series of Broadwood Boudoir Grands manufactured between 1835 and 1890.
Oak case: 7’1″ in length, and 4’2″ in width.
Veneer: Bookmatch Brazilian Rosewood.
Open-bottom case covered with loose-woven burlap.
Lid with short stick only.
Iron composite frame has two tension bars to stabilize
Soundboard grain runs across the strings
(parallel to keyboard).
Soundboard is flat, not crowned as on modern piano.
Keyboard range: 6 ¾ octaves, from CC to a4.
82 keys covered in ebony and ivory.
Straight stringing: single in the bass from CC to FF,
double in the octave up to F, and triple for
the remainder of the instrument up to a4.
Tuning: A 430 Hz, slightly under modern pitch.
Tuning pins are oblong (not square as on the modern piano).
Two wooden pedals: damper and una corda.
Hammer action is simple (without Erard’s double escapement), but still allows good key repetition.
Marinus van Prattenburg, Abbotsford, Spring 2017
This 1852 Broadwood originated with an English family who brought it with them to British Columbia in the 1950s. The fact that the wood on the sustaining pedal is hardly worn is a good indication that the 1852 instrument was not much played. The original hammers, felts, and dampers were restored to playing condition and did not need to be replaced. All other parts are original except for the strings which were replaced by Röslau steel wire, using the original gauges. The result of the restoration is an instrument with a true Broadwood harmonic sound spectrum. This piano was bought for use by the Vancouver Chopin Society in 2018 and first used in two concerts of Chopin’s music performed by the renowned Janusz Olejniczak.
Marinus van Prattenburg
In a career spanning more than fifty years, Marinus has restored many Broadwoods, both squares and grands, the earliest being a 1784 square piano. Square pianos, both British and American, have been a special passion of his. He has restored French pianos including several Erard grands, and occasionally Pleyel and Gaveau instruments. His Viennese restorations include some fine 18th and 19th-century fortepianos. Steinway, Bechstein, and other modern pianos have also been through his workshop. The 1852 Broadwood was his final restoration. Now that he has retired, his final project is for himself—a new Viennese fortepiano, ca. 1800, of his own design. Marinus is also a published author whose books include Mr. Sebastian: the life story of a mid-nineteenth century grand piano.
Sound characteristics of a London Broadwood
from Richard Burnett’s book, Company of Pianos (2004),
about instruments in the Finchcocks Collection
“Considerable power, coupled, due to sympathetic vibrations, with an obfuscating sea of sound, are the salient characteristics of this piano [1846 Broadwood Grand similar to those used by Chopin in England and Scotland in 1848 and to the 1852 instrument being used this evening]. The dampers are light for such an instrument and quite fail to extinguish totally any notes in the bass for up to ten seconds, according to how forcefully one depresses the keys. Old traditions die hard, and the tonal wash, so relished by the first performers on English pianos, here reaches its pinnacle, before receding into the greater clarity of later nineteenth century instruments. The 1846 Broadwood thus represents in this respect the link between the classical and the modern grand.” (p. 54)
Sound ideal of the Paris Pleyel
(Chopin’s preferred piano) from the same source
“Like so many contemporary French grand pianos, the Pleyel  is essentially an English instrument, with four iron bars reinforcing the case to allow high tension wire to be safely used. The dampers, however, are longer than those found in pianos of similar date by Broadwood and so there is less aftersound, [a characteristic] which is more typical of pianos of Germanic origin. The instrument is of particular interest for pianists since it is the same model as the Pleyel of 1839 owned by Chopin. Chopin had enjoyed a very close relationship with the Pleyel firm, the instruments of which possessed a specially beautiful and intimate tone colour, which clearly appealed to the composer: … The expression of my inner thoughts, of my feelings, is more direct, more personal [than on an Erard, which produces its bright limpid tone colour effortlessly]. My fingers feel in more immediate contact with the hammers, which then translate exactly and faithfully the feeling I want to produce, the effect I want to obtain.” (p. 139)
To probe the mysteries of sound with open-mindedness, versatility and with a sense of joy for discovery is the musical credo of Tobias Koch. Right from the beginnings of his musical career, Koch has been fascinated by the expressive potential of period keyboard instruments; he plays the harpsichord, clavichord, tangent piano, fortepiano, orphica, piano-pédalier, organ, and romantic grand piano in unorthodox and spirited performances — “with disarming spontaneity,” as a large German weekly put it. Koch chooses the most suitable instrument after extensive musicological research and performance practice studies, always leading to new results.
For years, he has been considered one of the leading interpreters in the field of romantic performance practice, and particularly of the work of Robert Schumann. The German Radio MDR Figaro wrote: “Inspired and inspiring right from the beginning. Tobias Koch plays Robert Schumann’s music the way it should be played: revolutionary, romantic, with technical brilliance, emotional but without any hint of sappiness or pretence. Koch’s playing conjures up images that appear just as quickly as they fade away. Koch’s playing is infectious, every moment is an adventure.“
Koch’s comprehensive musical career as a soloist, chamber musician and Lied accompanist has taken him to music festivals throughout Europe including the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, Ludwigsburger Schlossfestspiele, Verbier Festival, the Warsaw Chopin Festival, Rheingau Music Festival, Beethovenfest Bonn, the Schumann Festivals in Düsseldorf, Bonn, Leipzig, and Zwickau, and the Mendelssohn Days at the Gewandhaus Leipzig.
Koch gained valuable artistic impulses in master classes with David Levine, Roberto Szidon, Walter Kamper, Jos van Immerseel and Claire Chevallier. He is a recipient of the music sponsorship award of the city of Düsseldorf and teaches at the Robert Schumann Hochschule as well as at the Academies in Verbier and Montepulciano. Koch has worked with musicians such as Andreas Staier, Gottfried von der Goltz, Joshua Bell, Steven Isserlis, Markus Schäfer, the Pleyel and Hoffmeister Quartets, Concerto Köln and the Stuttgarter Hofkapelle under Frieder Bernius. He also collaborates closely with instrument makers, restoration specialists, and major instrument museums.
Koch has published on the topics of performance practice, rhetoric and musical aesthetics. He has featured in numerous productions for radio and television and recorded over 25 CDs with works by Mozart, Beethoven, Burgmüller, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Chopin, Liszt, Wagner, and Brahms. Drawn to the irresistible sound of period keyboard instruments, Koch has performed exclusively on historic instruments for many years.