Roman Statkowski – Maria (live webcast)
The Polish Radio is offering a rare treat on Sunday evening (well, evening over here, in Warsaw): they will be airing a live concert performance of Roman Statkowski’s opera Maria. As far as I know, this has never been recorded, not even in excerpts.
Statkowski is a largely forgotten composer. The only piece of his that sometimes (very rarely) gets performed is a set of piano Preludes (op. 37) and a Krakowiak (Cracovienne) for violin and piano. He was born in 1859, started composing quite late (initially, he trained to become a lawyer) and then practically stopped after 1904, when he embarked on a successful teaching career (among his students were composers Jan Maklakiewicz, Piotr Perkowski and Bolesław Szabelski). Tchaikovsky was his musical idol and the Russian composer’s influence is supposed to be clearly visible in Statkowski’s pieces (as I say, he rarely gets performed, so I’m just repeating what I read). His most notable compositions include two operas (Filenis and Maria, both considerably successful during the composer’s lifetime – the former was awarded the first prize at an international competition in London, the latter – at a national competition in Poland) and some string quartets (which the great Polish writer Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz referred to as masterpieces). Many of his works were lost during World War II. He died in 1925.
Maria was composed for a competition held in 1904. Entrants were requested to write an opera based on Antoni Malczewski’s verse novel Maria (they had to supply their own librettos). It is considered Statkowski’s best work and one of the best Polish operas written after Moniuszko. The music is said to be very dramatic and colorful, with many Ukrainian elements (the action takes places in the Ukraine). While the music is said to be wonderful, the libretto, written by Statkowski himself, was often criticized (by Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz, among others), and in later years attempts had been made to “repair” it. Antoni Malczewski’s Maria is one of the finest Polish long poems of the 19th century, an unquestionable masterpiece and apparently Statkowski’s libretto does not give it full justice. As most Polish novels in verse of its time (it was written in 1824), Malczewski’s novel was strongly influenced by Byron’s poems. The tale, based on real events, is one of love and murder. To make a long story short: the father who opposed his son’s marriage has the bride, Maria, murdered.
The broadcast begins tomorrow (Sunday, Sept. 21st), at 19:00 CEST (UTC+2) (that’s roughly 2 hours from now, tomorrow). This is the opening of the season of the Witold Lutosławski Concert Hall (Polish Radio Concert Hall S-1).
Performers: Polish Radio Choir and Polish Radio Orchestra in Warsaw conducted by Łukasz Borowicz, Wioletta Chodowicz – soprano, Dariusz Pietrzykowski – tenor, Artur Ruciński – baritone, Wojciech Gierlach – bass-baritone, Krzysztof Kur, Rafał Łukomski.
And here’s a direct link to the radio station.