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9.03.2010
Category: Reports

Chopinspira

An exciting book collecting Polish contemporary composers’ reflections on Chopin was launched on 24th February. The launch took place at the Historical Museum of Warsaw.

“Thank you for this insightful testimony, a source of quotations, and a call for examining our conscience in Lent time. All [the authors] have sprinkled ash on their heads, standing penitent in the face of Chopin, displaying different shades of humility, aware of a certain distance or non-distance, and of the difference Chopin made in their lives,” said Professor Mieczysław Tomaszewski about the new book Chopinspira. Współcześni kompozytorzy polscy o Chopinie (Chopinspira. Polish contemporary composers about Chopin), just released by the Polish Composers’ Union in association with the Chopin 2010 Celebrations Office.  

Krzysztof Droba, the man behind the publication and its editor, outlined the project’s idea and the main themes of the collection. “Chopin’s presence, not necessarily directly in the music, but his presence in the mind, the consciousness of a contemporary artist, reveals a lot about our times, the state of contemporary art, music, about the presence – in Roman Berger’s words – of art in music. With this idea in mind, I turned to my fellow composers to share their reflections on Chopin’s presence in them. I didn’t want them to quote other composers’ talking about Chopin, but to search their own artistic souls. The publication features 23 texts, yet these are not all I received. Apart from input coming from the composers themselves, there is also a text written by Wojciech Maciejewski about his brother Roman – a very interesting example of a composer born under the Chopin star, as Maciejewski was born precisely 100 years after Chopin.

“Are 23 texts too many?” asked Krzysztof Droba. “It is very difficult for a contemporary composer to talk about Chopin. On one hand, one must be aware that everything has already been said about Chopin, it is almost axiomatic. The fear of clichés looms around the corner. On the other hand, not everybody is ready to examine his or her artistic conscience publicly. And finally, not every composer has the need to talk about music at all. For this reason, I’m pleased that we have managed to collect input from as many as 23 authors, incidentally, starting from A and ending with Z – from Rafał Augustyn to Lidia  Zielińska. The texts are very different in their form, or literary genre: there is a rhymed epigram, a piece of prose poetry, a diary, a philosophical essay. Most of the texts are short, juxtaposing biographic themes and the significance of Chopin’s legacy, in other words, texts which could go under the title Chopin in my life. What is their common denominator? They are sincere. Most of them are very personal; even those attempting to be very objective (e.g. Krzysztof Meyer’s text), tell a lot about the author. Polish contemporary composers approach Chopin in a variety of ways: some keep a cold distance, or are mildly indifferent, others have warmer, or even enthusiastic attitudes. Still, even the reluctant or indifferent ones do not negate the value and significance of Chopin’s work, while the majority admit that Chopin is genetically instilled in our contemporary music,” he said.