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Bernadetta Kochman Rediscovered Pearls

For nearly two hundred years these works were not performed. For two hundred years, the sheet music remained unplayed. And when it finally saw the light of day, all expectations were surpassed. The echoes of applause rang on and on following a concert on Sunday, 10 October 2010 in the Ballroom of the Łańcut Castle, promoting the “Łańcut Musicalia” project of the Horizon Art Society.

First there was silence and anticipation. Then finally, the sounds of violins, cellos and the piano began to flow. With the hall’s huge mirror, situated above the marble fireplace, the number of musicians and instruments seemed to be greater than in reality. The ballroom – one of the most beautiful interiors of the Łańcut Castle – was lit with thousands of lights reflecting in its crystal chandeliers.

The concert begins with young Łańcut pianists Julia Ulman and Agnieszka Kopeć. Polish music; the past intertwining with the present; mazurkas, polonaises, songs…

The same ones, which Princess Lubomirska (the wife of Stanisław Lubomirski, the Grand Marshal of the Crown) had listened to. She had gathered the sheets of music in Łańcut. Had she brought them from Krakow or from Warsaw? From Vienna or from Paris? What an amazing woman! She had such taste! In the end, it was she who had brought Marcello Bernardini di Capua to Łańcut and made him the court composer, responsible for the musical life of the residence.

Lewandowski’s mazurka, Lipiński’s and Wroński’s polonaises, with Mirosław Herbowski at the piano. And the sounds flow…

This music contains something magical. It’s no surprise, then, that I’m not the only one enchanted by the Łańcut collection. I remember the stories told by the director of the museum’s library, Tadeusz Baj, that many years ago individual pieces had been performed during the May Festival of Music in Łańcut, and also during the summertime Zenon Brzewski International Music Courses in Łańcut. But these were only individual pieces.

Sometimes good things begin by accident. A dozen years ago, flutist Ewa Bocian and harpist Joanna Supranowicz were walking around a park in Łańcut, seeking inspiration. They found it. Shortly thereafter, they performed in the Rzeszów Philharmonic, playing works by, amongst others, Krumpholz from the Łańcut sheet music.

The pieces for harp were so well received that they were presented to guests of Count Stanisław Potocki and his wife, Countess Rosa Larco de la Fuente Potocka. The European and world aristocracy heard the concert during a meeting of the Potocki family and their friends in the Łańcut Castle in the summer of 2009. The beauty of the music was additionally accentuated by the uniqueness of the interior of the palace theatre and the original and elegant gowns of the ladies.

When Anna Krawczyk, in a duet with Przemysław Winnicki, present songs by Madejski, Lubomirski and Troszel, both sounds and thoughts flow…

The Ballroom’s walls remember many sounds. Were the griffins from the stucco able to talk, they would relate many complicated musical histories of this place… The griffins won’t say a thing, but I remember several days in July 2006 during a very hot summer and a conference entitled “Music in European Culture”. Anna Wiślińska, then a doctoral student of the Jagiellonian University, delighted the audience with her performance, which revived the musical collection of Princess Izabela Lubomirska née Czartoryska gathered in the castle library. From that moment, Łańcut music became a more popular topic of conversation and writing.

Anyone who visits Łańcut Castle once yearns to return. Barely a year later (September 2007), during a conference entitled “European Musical Culture in Polish Libraries and Archives”, musicologists and music librarians from across Poland came to Łańcut. Jolanta Byczkowska-Sztaba (National Library, Warsaw) showed Łańcut music in the light of new research, while Hubert Wojno (Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University, Warsaw) highlighted the works of Italian composer Domenico Cimarosa in the Łańcut collections. And once again the music flowed, when in the evening the Prima Vista string quartet performed compositions by Ignaz Joseph Pleyel in the year of the 250th anniversary of his birth in the ballroom. An overwhelming desire to close your eyes and swirl in a dance took over, thanks to the clear blue sky painted on the ceiling of the ballroom overhead, and wheel motifs inlaid underfoot in the ancient wooden intarsia floors.

Chandeliers, fireplaces and mirrors are not the only reminders of Izabela Lubomirska and the concerts that took place over two centuries ago in Łańcut. The marble statue of Henryk Lubomirski, carved by Antonio Canova, is another. Here, everything is imbued with music. In the Parade Apartment stands a giraffe-piano, imported from Vienna. In Boucher’s salon, a harp, decorated with lacquer and Chinese motifs, brought from Paris, recalls the musical past of the venue. And in the tower there’s the study called the Little Library, where you can probably hear Rossini and Bernardini in your imagination – perhaps even Mozart, whose works could be seen at the musical exhibition during the Music Festival in Łańcut in May 2006.

In the second part of the promotional concert, the musicians of Kamerata Krakowska introduce unknown works by Naumann, Arnold, Kreutzer and Elsner. In the conductor’s spot is Matthias Hermann – the ensemble’s founder and professor at the Stuttgart Academy of Music. The soloist for the cello concerto is Lev Sivkov, a talented artist of Russian origin, residing in Stuttgart.

Not too long ago, other works from the Łańcut collection were played and sung here when Grzegorz Oliwa (Rzeszów University) took an interest in them. To this day he has recorded two albums with these works (in 2007 and 2010). The first initially enchants with the sounds of Bernardini’s overtures and symphonies, only to later change the mood with Haydn and Reutter’s masses. The second seduces with concertos: Krumpholz’s for harp, Conti’s for violin and Zumsteeg’s for cello.

The promotional concert is nearing its end. It has been an incredible journey back to the time of Princess Izabela Lubomirska. The awareness that we have been listening to works from her era, in this castle, which she had shaped according to her taste, in which she spent so many years of her life, has been amazing.

Applause, giving thanks, flowers…

And the announcement that it is the beginning, not the end – the beginning of extensive labour, with the goal of restoring these true gems of musical history to the public. How wonderful that Beata Płoska, president of the Horizon Art Society in Krakow, found herself in Łańcut a few months ago.

Outside it’s dark. I step out into the darkness. A late evening chill covers me. I walk over the castle bridge. With a look back, I say goodbye to the lit up castle – I can see music, hear music… and I think that now, when the notes of the Łańcut musical works will be available in a digital library, this music will visit the salons of the world. And we will certainly hear it many times.

Bernadetta Kochman – a teacher, librarian, journalist, editor-in-chief of Gazeta Łańcucka.

Translated by Xymena Pietraszek-Płatek
Proofread by Ben Koschalka

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