Polish Music

By | September 5, 2021

Polish music, term for the music of the Polish language and cultural area.

The oldest musical tradition can be found in the folk song, which is still alive today and whose peculiarities include five-step scales (pentatonic), church keys, asymmetrical rhythms and short melodic formations. There is evidence of the dance song as early as 1100, which has remained the predominant song genre until modern times. Folk dances such as polonaise, mazurka and Krakowiak show national peculiarities in their characteristic rhythms.

With the Christianization of Poland in the 10th century Gregorian chant came into the country, but surviving sources only date from the time from 1100. The monuments of Polish art music (organum, two-part motets), which first appeared in the 14th century, reflect the development of polyphony in Central Europe contrary. Polish organ music must be given its own importance (first evidence of the instrument in the 12th century), for which the tablature of John of Lublin from the 1st half of the 16th century is the most important source. It also contains works by Nicholas of Cracow (1st half of the 16th century), who stands out among the early representatives of Polish music with polyphonic masses, motets and dances.

Apart from the polyphonic German song (H. Finck in Krakau, 1491–1506), Polish music was influenced in the late 16th century by Italian composers who stayed at the Polish court (L. Marenzio, Tarquinio Merula, * around 1595, † 1665). Representatives of the contemporary polyphonic style included: Marcin Leopolita († 1589), Mikołaj Gomółka (* around 1535, † after 1591) and Mikołaj Zielński, who was committed to the Venetian concert style (proven in 1611). With the development of instrumental music in the 17th century (Adam Jarzębski, † 1648 or 1649, Marcin Mielczewski, † 1651) A change in style began, which in the first half of the 18th century led to a decline in Italian in favor of Viennese influence and in the wake of which national Polish tendencies increasingly came into play. These were strengthened in the 19th century BC. a. by J. Elsner, F. Chopin’s teacher; he mediated the transition from classical to romantic, in which, among other things, S. Moniuszko, the creator of the Polish National Opera, gained prominence, while F. Chopin fused the impulses of Polish national music with the characteristic innovations of European Romanticism into a personal style.

By processing international modern music and Polish folk music, K. Szymanowski was of particular importance for Polish music after 1900. Józef Koffler (* 1896, † 1944) took over the twelve-tone technique around 1928. In the 1950s, names like A. Panufnik and Roman Palester (* 1907, † 1989) stand for twelve-tone music. From 1956, the year of the first Polish festival for modern music (“Warsaw Autumn”), a fruitful engagement with the techniques of serial, aleatoric and experimental music can be ascertained more than in other Central and Eastern European countries at the time of socialism. Since around 1960, the leading Polish composers have shaped the development of European music with their own sound designs (sonoristics). International recognition achieved, inter alia. W. Lutosławski, K. Penderecki, K. Serocki, T. Baird, B. J. Schaeffer. Other important contemporary Polish composers include: Wojciech Kilar (* 1932, † 2013), H. M. Górecki, Zbigniew Penherski (* 1935, † 2019), Tomasz Sikorski (* 1939, † 1988), Zbigniew Rudziński (* 1935, † 2019), Z. Krauze, the Cologne-based K. Meyer, Aleksander Lasoń (* 1951), Hanna Kulenty (* 1961) and Pawel Mykientyn (* 1971).

According to areacodesexplorer, Poland has an interesting and diverse jazz scene, the existence of which is largely unknown in the USA and even in Europe. Only a few musicians such as the trumpeter Tomasz Stanko (* 1942, † 2018), the saxophonist and violinist Michal Urbaniak (* 1946) and the singer Urszula Dudziak (* 1943) have achieved international reputation, but other Polish musicians also have jazz for some time used highly idiosyncratic music. These include the bass guitarist Krzysztof Scieranski (* 1954), the composer and pianist Krzysztof Komeda Trczcinski (* 1931, † 1969)  - he wrote, among others. the music for films by A. Wajda and R. Polanski  -, Zbigniew Namyslowski (* 1939), Adam Makowicz (* 1940) and Jan Ptaszyn Wroblewski (* 1936). The band Milosc, founded in Gdansk in 1988 and called their music »Yass«, turned away from traditional forms of jazz and combined elements of jazz, rock and theater into a whole. Another group of musicians is dedicated to the processing of compositions by F. Chopin and integrates them into a jazz context. Of the numerous jazz events in Poland, the Jazz Jamboree, which has been held annually in Warsaw since 1958, has an international reputation.

Polish rock music is only of regional importance, but keyboard player and composer C. Niemen briefly enjoyed international success with his pathetic, dark music in the 1970s. The music of bands like »SBB« and »Porter Band«, on the other hand, was only known to a small audience.

Polish Music