Sosnowieckie Centrum Sztuki - Zamek Sielecki
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IIn 1951, when Documentary and Feature Film Studios was changing the opening sequence of the Polish Film Chronicle to a new one, the choice of Władysław Szpilman as the author of the new theme was obvious, or it appears as such today. The composer was at the time possibly the most universal Polish musician. The task of negotiations with Szpilman about this matter was assigned to Stefan Jarociński (1912-1980), newly employed at the Institute of Art, who did not simply pass the commission through formal channels, but communicated to the composer visions of how the future theme was to sound with considerable aesthetic clarity. These suggestions are mentioned in several sources, and include the idea of the form of polonaise […]. This is how Szpilman remembered this moment years later: “In 51 the musicologist Stefan Jarociński, [who] was a film consultant, approached me with an offer of writing the theme for the [Polish] Film Chronicle. This was a very difficult task, because the thing is 25 seconds long, this is a very short form and you must be succinct, and then it has to be Polish in its character. I wrote three projects and the one that was selected has been played since 51 in cinemas. A critic once accused me that because of my devilish character nobody is capable of singing the theme. But I did not write it to be sung. Themes are not for singing – they’re for listening”.
M. Gołąb, Władysław Szpilman’s opening theme of Polish Film Chronicle (1951), “Kwartalnik filmowy”, 2017, no. 97-98, p. 281.
The object of our attention is, let us say this straight away, a theme whose musicianship is masterful […]. Szpilman had the choice: to hide the polonaise-making rhythm in the background of the accompaniment, or through giving a peculiar form to the leading motif, to bring it out even more. He chose the latter option, which was common in the tradition of the genre anyway. This is a certain rhythm of the leading figure with accent on the first beat, which extends the rhythmic value of the quaver by the value of the semiquaver.
M. Gołąb, Władysław Szpilman’s opening theme of Polish Film Chronicle (1951).
Szpilman was a very “nimble” pianist, with a great sensitivity for violin instruments. He knew its advantages, after all, he had played with the very young Henryk Szeryng, and later also with Bronisław Gimpel, and above anything else in the beautiful duo with Tadeusz Wroński.
B. Maliszewski, Stefan Kamasa. Portrait with a Viola, Wydawnictwo Bernardinum, Pelpin 2021, p. 142.
Fragments of radio shows from the years: 1974, 1980, 1995, from the archive of Polish Radio.:
History of Polish Radio [fragments], duration 0:03:4, credits: Bobrowska Maria – author, Kunewa Iwanka – producer: Polish Radio, Radio BIS, recorded and broadcast on: 26.03.1995.
Thirty years went flying by [fragment], duration 0:01:31, author: Strycka Ines, producer: Committee of Radio and Television, Head Office of Literary Broadcasts, Program 2, recorded on: 29.06.1974, broadcast on: 10.08.1974.
Radio station is working [fragments], duration 0:04:19, credits: Orliński Jan – producer, Semkowicz Anna - author, producer: Committee of Radio and Television, Office of Social Broadcasts, Program 3, recorded on: 12.03.1980, broadcast on: 16.03.1980.
Sopot festival memories part 1, 1993, from the archives of Polish Television.
The film “Władysław Szpilman 2011 – 2022. In His Own Words”, dir. Marek A. Drążewski, 56 min, 2004, from the archives of Polish Television.
Theme of the Polish Film Chronicle 3B/68, from the archive of Documentary and Feature Film Studios


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