Between the 22nd and 27th of February, 2004, the city of Wroclaw will play host to the 24th edition of the "MUSICA POLONICA NOVA" FESTIVAL OF POLISH CONTEMPORARY MUSIC. The event has been organized in Wroclaw as the "FESTIWAL POLSKIEJ MUZYKI WSPOLCZESNEJ" / "FESTIVAL OF POLISH CONTEMPORARY MUSIC" since 1962, and traditionally takes place during the month of February.
Between the 22nd and 27th of February, 2004, the city of Wroclaw will play host to the 24th edition of the "MUSICA POLONICA NOVA" FESTIVAL OF POLISH CONTEMPORARY MUSIC. The event has been organized in Wroclaw as the FESTIWAL POLSKIEJ MUZYKI WSPOLCZESNEJ / FESTIVAL OF POLISH CONTEMPORARY MUSIC since 1962, and traditionally takes place during the month of February. National in character since 1964, the festival has featured occasional international accents. It has been a bi-annual event since 1970, but did not take place in 1982 as Poland was under Martial Law at the time. The festival has been known under its current Latin name, "Musica Polonica Nova," since 1988.
When in 1962 a group of Wroclaw-based composers organized the first edition, the event was only the third regular festival in Poland to be devoted to the newest in contemporary music, this after the international "WARSZAWSKA JESIEN" / "WARSAW AUTUMN" Festival, initiated in 1956, and the POZNANSKA WIOSNA MUZYCZNA / POZNAN MUSICAL SPRING, which came into being five years later. Composer and conductor Radomir Reszke devised the concept for the Wroclaw event, gaining the support of Tadeusz Natanson and Ryszard Bukowski almost immediately. Initially, the festival was local in nature, presenting the works of composers based in and around Wroclaw and Poznan, and drawing primarily on the talents of local performers.
The first few festivals (1962-1968) were organized by the Wroclaw branch of the Union of Polish Composers (UPC) with the support of various music institutions. In subsequent years (1969-1978), the UPC shared responsibility with the Wroclaw Philharmonic, which went on to be the event's sole organizer from 1980 to 2002. This year, the Union of Polish Composers will once again lead the organizational effort, for the first time working closely with the Centrum Sztuki "Impart" / "Impart" Arts Center.
Initially, festival programs were devised collectively by programming committees formed of members of the Union of Polish Composers and other interested musicians. When Andrzej Markowski took over as director of the Wroclaw Philharmonic, the role of the festival's artistic director began to grow in significance. Conductors Andrzej Markowski, Tadeusz Strugala, and Marek Pijarowski have served in this capacity with varying degrees of independence. The first two managed the festival with the support of a Repertoire Committee; Pijarowski on the other hand chose to work closely in a duo with other individuals, initially with Rafal Augustyn, then with Grazyna Pstrokonska-Nawratil. Since Pijarowski stepped down as director of the Wroclaw Philharmonic, Grazyna Pstrokonska-Nawratil has been managing the festival with the assistance of a Programming Council.
The twenty-three editions of the festival that have taken place thus far have featured appearances by leading Polish orchestras, chamber ensembles, and soloists. These have included the WIELKA ORKIESTRA POLSKIEGO RADIA W KATOWICACH / POLISH RADIO GREAT SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA IN KATOWICE, the "SINFONIA VARSOVIA", a series of philharmonic orchestras, the "Amadeus" ensemble, the Polish Chamber Orchestra, a number of outstanding quartets, and the ensembles of the Grand Theatre in Warsaw and the Grand Theatre in Poznan. Orchestras from Berlin and from Cluj (Romania) have been featured as guests (the latter conducted by Witold Lutoslawski
). Festival concerts have been conducted by Jerzy Maksymiuk
, Kazimierz Kord
, Antoni Wit
, and almost all of Poland's top conductors, and have featured outstanding performers like Konstanty Kulka, Elzbieta Chojnacka, Ewa Poblocka
, as well as foreign soloists Claude Helffer (one of the few outstanding Western musicians to participate in the festival during its early years), Aurele Nicolet, Borys Pergamenshchikov, Ivan Monighetti, and the exotic Japanese singer Shieko Shirasaka, who performed the solo in the thoroughly Polish III SYMFONIA / 3rd SYMPHONY of Henryk Mikolaj Gorecki
. The festival has also drawn the participation of exceptional jazz musicians like Zbigniew Namyslowski
and Tomasz Stanko
, who has performed a multiple of times.
It was at this festival that Witold Lutoslawski first appeared on the domestic stage after Martial Law, and Wroclaw was the site of the Polish premiere of his PARTITA and the premiere performance of Henryk Mikolaj Gorecki's I KWARTET SMYCZKOWY / 1st STRING QUARTET (with the special consent of the KRONOS QUARTET). The festival has also featured the world premiere performance of the last musical work of Stefan Kisielewski, namely, his KONCERT FORTEPIANOWY / PIANO CONCERTO, and served as a platform for the domestic debuts of many generations of Polish musicians, from the second wave of the "Polish school" of the 1960s, through the "new generation" of the 21st century. Also, more than any other event, the festival has highlighted the works and talents of Wroclaw-based artists.
Since 1969, the festival's organizers have mounted monographic concerts of the works of leading Polish composers (also of those residing abroad - a rarity at one time), and in 1984 introduced a permanent fixture in the form of unconventional collage concerts, which critics have come to consider a distinguishing feature of the Wroclaw event. The festival now features many different forms for the presentation of music, from classic "tuxedo" concerts, through musically illustrated meetings with composers (a novelty introduced in recent years), to quasi-theatrical forms and even performances that take place in Wroclaw galleries and simultaneously spill out into the city's streets.Festival's Internet pages