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Tradition / Chopin Institutions / Events / Chopin Festivals



International Chopin Festivals.


Duszniki Zdrój - International Chopin Festivals
Antonin - "Chopin in fall colors"
Valldemossa - Associacio Festivals Chopin de Valldemossa
Nohant - Les Rencontres Internationales Frédéric Chopin
Mariánské Lázně
Warsaw - "Chopin and his Europe"


Duszniki Zdrój - International Chopin Festivals.

Duszniki Zdrój is the oldest music festival in Poland organized in memory of the composer's stay and benefit concerts at this health resort. In 1826, the 16 year old Fryderyk Chopin, along with his mother and two sisters, were resting at Reinerz Bad, and in letters to family and friends, he extolled the charms of the surroundings and complained about the lack of a good instrument. Nevertheless, he consented to two benefit concerts, that are mentioned in the Warsaw press. The residents of Duszniki have not forgotten this beautiful gesture. The Kurhaus wall that was changed into the resort theater featured a plaque, and in 1897 Chopin's great admirer - Wiktor Magnus from Warsaw, a forester by profession - funded a memorial. Its finding after WWII by Wojciech Dzieduszycki and Ignacy Potocki, became the impetus for a concert that led to the development of the festival. On August 25, 1946, the Polish pianist Zofia Rabcewiczowa appeared in a Chopin recital in Duszniki Zdrój; a day later Henryk Sztompka gave a concert. The initially modest musical meetings, when two, three recitals were given, developed over time into a festival of worldwide renown. The great attraction of Duszniki is the historical Kurhaus, called Chopin's Manor, where the composer gave concerts - a place with a unique climate, that musicians and music lovers like to come back to. At the very outset, outstanding Polish pianists appeared here: Raul Koczalski, Paweł Lewiecki, Jerzy Żurawlew, Zbigniew Drzewiecki, Halina Czerny-Stefańska, Barbara Hesse-Bukowska, Regina Smendzianka and Władysław Kędra. Among the performers, the largest group was composed of first prize laureates of later Chopin Competitions taking place in Warsaw. Artists hosted in Duszniki include: Bella Dawidowicz, Adam Harasiewicz, Vladimir Aszkenazy, Fou Tsong, Bernard Ringeissen, Edward Auer, Garrick Ohlsson, Piotr Paleczny, in later years: Krystian Zimerman, Kevin Kenner, Stanisław Bunin, and recently - Rafał Blechacz. In addition to recitals, for many years there were concerts with the Wrocław Philharmonic and the Wałbrzych Philharmonic at the Hall behind the Shell next to the Mineral Water Pump Room, which - unfortunately - was destroyed during a flood. Concerts are now held in the historical St. Peter and Paul Church, during which chamber orchestras and soloists perform.

Tadeusz Strugała made huge contributions to the development of the festival and, while director from 1975-1985, got artists from many countries interested in the festival. Guests appearing in Duszniki in that period include: Cyprian Katsaris, Yourii Boukoff, Peter Donohoe, Howard Shelley, Elizabeth Loeonskaja and Bruno Leonardo Gelber, as well as - the then aged - Stefan Askenase.

Piotr Paleczny became director of the festival in 1993 and created in Duszniki a true piano forum. Besides concerts, masters courses began in 2002, conducted, among others, by: Vera Gornostajewa, Dang Thai Son, Arie Vardi, Bernard Ringeissen and Katarzyna Popowa-Zydroń. Students and teachers from Poland also participate. The most outstanding pianists of our times accept invitations and gladly return to appear in the place where Chopin gave concerts. Those recently appearing include: Nelson Freire, Brigitte Enegerer, Grigorij Sokołow, Denis Matsujew and Cristina Ortiz. Piotr Paleczny also invites very talented, young artists. Going to hear them we came to know Arcadij Volodos before his famous debut in Carnegie Hall, and Aleksander Gawrylyuk, called the successor to Horowitz. Furthermore, he introduced a trend of concerts presenting first prize laureates of recent editions of prestigious international piano competitions.

Chamber concerts have a long tradition. Performers included: Ewa Podleś, Stefania Toczyska, Konstanty Andrzej Kulka, Krzysztof Jakowicz and Roman Jabłoński. The Festival culminates with the Nocturne, a night concert amidst candles, with beautiful words and music. Polish theater artists as well as musicologists act as hosts, while pianists attending the Festival perform. The charming show in the place where Chopin once gave concerts always leaves an unforgettable impression.

The Foundation of International Chopin Festivals in Duszniki Zdrój, founded in 1989, supports Chopin traditions dating from the middle of the XIX century. Continuing the work of its predecessor, it not only organizes festivals, but also collects archive materials. Furthermore, it released an album titled, International Chopin Festivals in Duszniki Zdrój - 1946- 1999. The International Chopin Centre was founded alongside the Foundation, featuring masters classes, symposiums and meetings of the Chopin Society federations.

Polskie Radio has included programming on the International Chopin Festival in Duszniki from the outset, not only due to coverage, but in large part owing to the live broadcasts. Some of the concerts are also transmitted or retransmitted to many countries of the European Radio Union (additional information: www.chopin.festival.pl).


Antonin - "Chopin in fall colors"

Antonin - after Żelazowa Wola, Warsaw, and Duszniki Zdrój - the next important place of the Chopin cult, is associated with the young composer's stay with duke Antoni Radziwiłł. The larchwood Hunter's Palace erected between 1822- 1824 has survived nearly unaltered. Its enchanting original construction, which alludes to the Greek cross, with a beautiful, three-story salon. Concerts have been held here for years, and in 1982, "Chopin Days" were initiated, which turned into the festival titled "Chopin in fall colors" five years later. The event organizers are the Centre of Culture and Art in Kalisz, along with the Wielkopolska Cultural Centre - Antonin. There are piano recitals here every year for four days in September, during which renowned artists like Halina Czerny-Stefańska, Barbara Hesse- Bukowska, Regina Smendzianka, Ewa Pobłocka, Tatiana Szebanowa, Janusz Olejniczak, Jean Marc Luisada, Ian Hobson, Gabriela Montero, Wiktor Mierżanow and Rafał Blechacz appeared. Just as now, chamber music sounded out here during the times of Duke Radiziwiłł, hence the visits of violinists, singers, cellists, including Konstanty Andrzej Kulka, Krzysztof Jakowicz, Ewa Podleś, Jadwiga Rappe, Roman Jabłoński and Andrzej Bauer. Outstanding Polish stage artists conduct the candle-lit evenings every year.


Valldemosa - Associacio Festivals Chopin de Valldemossa

Valldemossa in Majorca is a very important and unusually charming place of Chopin cult. There is a monastery of Carthusian monks there, where Fryderyk Chopin, George Sand and her children lived during a stay on Majorca at the turn of 1838/1839. Chopin, weakened by an attack of illness, left the island without regret, but his stay wasn't forgotten. In 1929 Anne-Marie Boutroux de Ferrà and her husband, Bertolomeo Ferrà, founded a Chopin Society there. Anne-Marie Boutroux de Ferrà served as the Society's founder, the Museum's curator, and also the spearhead of festivals and concerts devoted to the music of Fryderyk Chopin. As early as 1931 -1936 recitals and annual festivals were held. Among the guests were friends of Anne-Marie Boutroux de Ferrà, including Manuel de Falla, Alfred Cortot, Mieczysław Horszowski, Aleksander Uniński, Artur Rubinstein, Shura Cherkassky, Tamas Vasary, Gyorgy Cziffra and Witold Małcużyński, all remembered by photographs and programs displayed in one of the rooms. New generations of pianists create the contemporary history, including laureates of International Chopin Competitions. Anne - Marie's grandchild, Rosa Capllonch-Ferrà, is the present head of the society, director of the museum and festival. Occasional concerts, exhibits, lectures as well as festivals (in the latter half of August) still take place in a charming setting of of monastery hallways in Valldemossa, at which artists from around the world perform.


Nohant - Les Rencontres Internationales Frédéric Chopin

Nohant - a small town situated 300 km south of Paris in the Berry region is most associated with the figure of George Sand, but also of Chopin, who stayed at her property - mainly in the summer, from 1841 - 1846. Chopin's visits to Nohant, the fact he created many of his works here (26 opuses) including the Sonata in h-minor, Scherzo E-major, Fantasie F minor, selected mazurkas and nocturnes, were not forgotten by the activists of the Chopin Societies in Nohant and Paris. Yves Henry and Jean Yves Clement deserve great credit here, for undertaking the organization of the International Chopin Meetings. The first was held in 1997, in the latter half of July, after the "Fêtes romantiques de Nohant" festival devoted to G. Sand, which has a history of more than 40 years and now many literature and music admirers. Organizers of the 8-day Chopin Meetings propose concerts, masters courses, lectures and celebrative exhibits. Recitals, whose programs include the works of Chopin, along with an extensive piano repertoire, take place in the historical sheepfold adapted into a concert hall with 400 seats. Appearing artists include Brigitte Engerer, Philipe Giusiano, Marc Laforet, Garrick Ohlsson, Janusz Olejniczak, Nelson Goerner and many others. Organizers invite participants to the masters' courses and lectures at the Mauryce Sand Theater in La Châtre. Young artists from various countries attend the festival each year, their stay is provided for along with participation in lessons, lectures and concerts. Performance at the closing of the festival is also encouraged. The masters courses have been conducted by Miłosz Magin and Janusz Olejniczak among others, while known musicologists such as prof. Irena Poniatowska and prof. Jean-Jacques Eigeldinger have lectured on the life, times and works of Chopin.



Occasional concerts having a long tradition, also take place in Paris, where Fryderyk Chopin spent 19 years of his life, organized by the F. Chopin Society that was bought back to life there in 1979. The first festival which took place in 1983 at the initiative of Elisabeth Parmentier, connected with an exhibition, lectures, as well of showing of Krzysztof Zanussi's film "Wege in der Nacht". Artists from many countries have been invited to the concerts, including: Bernard Ringeissen, John Ogdon, Eric Berchot, Akiko Ebi, Marek Drewnowski and Piotr Paleczny. The Chopin recitals took place daily from April 1 to May 12 in the Trianon, in Bagatelle Park of the Bois de Boulogne. The chamber and symphonic concerts whose programs included compositions of Chopin and of modern artists, such as Franchomme, Liszt or Schumann, took place in such halls as: the Ranelagh Theater, the Alfred Cortot Hall, at the French Radio Hall, Polish Library and the Richelieu Amphitheater in the Sorbonne. For many years the festival has taken place in the flower filled orangerie of the Bagatelle Park, being part of the Bois de Boulogne. Each year organizers choose a leading topic, e.g. "Chopin and his times", " the figure of Chopin", "Little known Chopin", or, in 2009, "Chopin invites Szymanowski". Many artists from France and abroad, famous young virtuosos and young pianists, laureates of international piano competitions, have performed at past festivals. The performers present complex programs, not limited to Chopin's compositions, but include works of his more contemporary fellow artists, such as Alkan, Schumann or Mendelssohn, as well as 20th century composers. The festival is present in the media, on television - on channel France 3, as well as France Musique / Radio France and Radio Classique, thus bringing the concerts to listeners of broadcasters associated in the European Radio Union.


Mariánské Lázně

A memorial plaque mentions Fryderyk Chopin's stay in Mariánské Lázně , set in the wall of the home "Under the White Swan" on July 31, 1902, as well as a small museum and festivals, which the the local Chopin Society organizes. It started with the initiative to organize a Chopin Festival modeled after the Duszniki Festival. The festival was first held in 1950 and has taken place in the second half of August ever since. Mariánské Lázně hosts pianists, chamber groups, orchestras and directors. Artists from the Czech Republic, Poland and many other countries perform here. Laureates of the International Chopin Competitions held in Warsaw are frequently invited. They dominated the festival in 1986, commemorating the 150th anniversary of Chopin's stay in Mariánské Lázně. Those appearing at this particular festival included Krzysztof Jabłoński, Jean Marc Luisada, Howard Shelley and Irina Berković, as well as the Western Czech Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Jerzy Salwarowski. The concerts were held in four locations within the city, the Casino concert hall, Gogol Theater, Chopin House and the City Museum. Five recitals, three symphonic concerts and three exhibitions were organized. During the first of them, titled "Documents and Memorabilia Related to Chopin and Maria Wodzińska", invaluable mementos were shown, related especially to the latter. The second exhibit, titled "150th Anniversary of Fryderyk Chopin's Stay in Mariánské Lázně, recollected the Chopin traditions of this place, while the third depicted portraits and sculptures devoted to Chopin and his later artists (including Rossini, Bellini, Liszt and Balzak), created by Jean Pierre Dantan. Jaroslav Simonides, long-term head of the Chopin Society initiated many undertakings, later exhibitions and concerts.



Gaming - a charming place in Lower Austria - has attracted Chopin music lovers since 1984. The initiator and organizer of these meetings is the International Chopin Society in Vienna, one of the most important music societies in Austria. Its beginnings date back to 1949, when the hundredth anniversary of Chopin's death was celebrated. The exhibitions, "Chopin in Vienna" and "Viennese Chopin Recollections", were organized by the Office of Culture and Education in Vienna and the Press Office of the Polish Embassy. On the other hand, the Austrian-Polish Society organized a ceremonial concert in the Music Association Hall, during which the Vienna Symphonic Orchestral performed, directed by Mieczysław Mierzejewski, with Władysław Kędra as a soloist. These events inspired the community to found the Chopin Society in 1952, and two years later, at the general meeting, the name International Chopin Society, was adopted. While the whole world was celebrating the 150th anniversary of Chopin's birth, the Society organized a commemorative mass in a chapel in Hofburg, where Chopin once visited during his stay in Vienna. Celebrations were later moved to Kohlmarkt, where the composer lived from 1830-1831, and in 1949 the Austrian-Polish Society funded a plaque commemorating this event.

When dr Theodor Kanitzer was chosen as the new head in 1976, the activity of the Chopin Society became even more intensive. Owing to him and dr Kurt Eichinger, the first Chopin Festival was held in 1984, for which Gaming in the Oscher region was chosen, with an historical complex of the former monastery of the Carthusian monks. The abandoned historic buildings had deteriorated for 200 years and not until the 1980s did architect Walter Hildebrand undertake to restore them. The government of Lower Austria supported the project. Orchestras are always invited to the inaugurations, among others with performances by the Vienna Sinfonietta, Capella Cracoviensis, the Lower Austria Symphony Orchestra, as well as the Chamber Orchestra of the Slovakian Philharmonic, directed, among others, by Ewald Danel and Tadeusz Strugała.

Choirs performed in the parish church with its historic organ, on which the young Wolfgang Amadeusz Mozart played, including Cantores Minores Wratislaviensis, Poznan Nightengales, Affabre Concinui, Männergesangsverein from Vienna and the Choir of the Budapest Philharmonic, though recitals remain the dominant feature. In the Prelates Hall and the Baroque Library, artists from Austria, Poland, France, Russia, Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Lithuania, Sweden, Romania, Spain, the United States, Japan, Korea, China and Taiwan, have performed. In 1994, a year before his death, world famous pianist Sviatoslav Richter gave an exceptional concert in the confines of the Chopin Festival in Gaming.

An additional attraction here is the "Nocturne" - a candlelit night concert, during which all the Festival participants perform. This evening is combined with lectures dealing with the composer's life. "Chopin and Woman", "Chopin in France" or "Chopin and his German Friends" - are selected titles of meetings that have enjoyed great interest. The festival is held in August every year and lasts four days.



Vienna - a city which Chopin visited in his youth and where he spent eight months after leaving Poland (from November 23, 1830 to July 20, 1831) - remembers the composer. In 1949, on the hundredth anniversary of Chopin's birthday, the referenced concert of the Vienna Symphonists was held there, conducted by Mieczysław Mierzejewski. One of the tasks of the Chopin Society founded there in 1952 was the organization of concerts. Artists were invited to participate in the occasional evenings, and when dr Theodor Kanitzer became the head in 1976, he initiated the Society's first concert cycle. These cycles usually last from fall to spring. In October 1977, Austrian pianists Hans Graf and Carmen Vitis -Adnet performed, along with a chamber group of the Vienna Music Academy. Present at the concert was president of Austria, Herman Kirschläger and his wife, along with the Polish ambassador, dr Ryszard Karski. This event brought about regular music meetings.

Many outstanding musicians attended in the confines of this project, including Halina Czerny-Stefańska, Jerzy Godziszewski, Dang Tai Son, Tatiana Szebanowa, Piotr Paleczny, Philippe Giusiano, Jean Marc Luisada, Marc Laforet, as well as the Łukaszczyk brothers, Jacek and Maciej. Organizers also opened the stage to young, debuting artists. The concert locations have changed during the more than 30 year history, though always in renowned Vienna halls. For several years concerts have most frequently been held in the beautiful interiors of the historical Henkelvon Donnersmark Palace (Radisson SAS) opposite the city park and are always extremely successful.


Warsaw - "Chopin and his Europe"

The youngest festival - "Chopin and his Europe" - takes place in Warsaw, in the city where Chopin spent the first 20 years of his life. The focus of the festival founded by Stanisław Leszczyński, was the creation of an event of artistic renown, conveying the creativity of Chopin in a wide historical context. The Fredyryk Chopin Institute is the festival organizer, in conjunction with the National Philharmonic, Polish National Ballet and Program II of Polish Radio. The first festival took place in 2005 in September in cooperation with the National Philharmonic in Warsaw. Its dominant feature was concerts of the Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century conducted by Frans Bruggen. During the first festival, pianists Dang Thai Son, Fou Tsong, Nikolaj Luganski and Nelson Goerner, performed works of Chopin in historic sounding renditions on period instruments. The orchestra also performed in later festivals. The second festival (held from August 19 to 31, 2006) was entitled "From Mozart to Friedrich Goulda", and, among the performers, were artists of rank, such as Martha Argerich, Garrick Ohlsson, Rafał Blechacz, Lilya Zilberstein, Oli Mustonen, Rico i Paul Gulda as well as directors: Jerzy Maksymiuk, Aleksander Rabinowicz and Antoni Wit. Performing orchestras included the National Philharmonic, Sinfonia Varsovia as well as the referenced Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century with Frans Bruggen.

At the third festival (August 15-31, 2007) entitled "Around the Great Romanticism" (from Mozart to Tomasz Stańko), the 200 performers included Ewa Pobłocka, Kevin Kenner, Roland Pontinen, Christian Tetzlaff, Tatiana Szebanowa and Colleen Ka Ling. Furthermore, there was a concert with others including Tomasz Stańko, who along with Makoto Ozone, presented jazz compositions inspired by Chopin's and Mozart's works. The fourth edition in 2008, entitled "From Pogorelić to Tchaikovski", alluded to both the figure of Piotr Tchaikovski, as well as to the Polish pianist and composer, who died prematurely, Andrzej Czajkowski. Maciej Grzybowski performed his II piano concerto. The concert programs included works from a wide piano repertoire, preformed by many others, including, Grigorij Sokołow, Ivo Pogorelić, Piers Lane, Aleksander Lubimov, Janusz Olejniczak and Philippe Giusiano. Later festivals featuredContinuing concerts on period instruments. In addition to Krystian Bezuidenhout, Nikolai Demidenko, Dina Yoffe, Janusz Olejniczak, Kevin Kenner, Alexander Melnikow and Alexiej Lubimov also played on antique instruments.

At the fifth festival on August 16-31, eleven symphonic concerts, thirteen piano recitals and chamber concerts were planned with the participation of 300 artists.


Anna Skulska

English translation: Philip Stoeckle




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