After four centuries of a culture that deserved to be positively appreciated, Polish music, which had never yet preceded the musical creation of other nations, could reach its greatest flower in the activity of Federico Francesco Chopin (v.; 1810-1849), whose work represented the most perfect musical emanation of the Polish national spirit. Chopin’s work, which stood out against the background of the numerous but mediocre creation of the Warsaw composers, raised the importance of Polish music in the eyes of the nation itself and of world opinion to a level, which the previous evolution of musical culture in Poland he did not let us foresee.
Some of Chopin’s contemporary Polish musicians deserve to be mentioned, who in their time were known and esteemed outside Poland. Such were: Marja Szymanowska, pianist and composer (1790-1831), Karol Lipiński, one of the most eminent violinists of his time and composer (1790-1861), Franciszek Mirecki, author of some works performed on the Italian stages (1791-1867), Napoleon Tomasz Nidecki (1806-1852), conductor and composer of several hugely popular operettas at the Leopoldstadt theater in Vienna between 1834 and 1840, later opera director in Warsaw; Ignacy Feliks Dobrzyński (1807-1867), Antoni Kątski, composer of brilliant pieces for piano and world-famous virtuoso pianist (1817-1899), Apolinary Kątski, violinist (1825-1879) and Józef Brzowsk i(1805-1888). The second (after Chopin) excellent translator of the national character in Polish music was Stanisław Moniuszko (1819-1872). His importance as a composer is based on two masterpieces of the dramatic genre, namely the tragic opera, full of popular motifs, Halka (composed in a first drafting in 1848 in Vilna, in 1858 expanded into four acts in Warsaw), and on comedy lyric The Mysterious Castle (Warsaw 1865), then about 300 songs of an enchanting melodiousness and some large choral works (Gli Ghosts and Sonnets of Crimeaon words by Mickiewicz, several masses, litanies, etc.). From 1858 until his death Moniuszko held the post of director of the opera in Warsaw. The following list of names includes in every way important figures in the history of Polish music. In the first place must be named: Henryk Wieniawski, great violinist and brilliant composer for his instrument (1835-1880), Władysław Żeleński, meritorious for the development of chamber music, as well as drama (four operas), symphonic music and Lied(1837-1921); Zygmunt Noskowski, valiant composer especially in the field of symphonic music, very fruitful in all other genres (1845-1909). A more modest part in comparison with the activity of these three masters was played by Józef Nowakowski, Adam Minchhejmer (1830-1904), Ignacy Komorovski, Aleksander Zarzycki, Henryk Jarecki, Wojciech Sowiński, Edward Wolf, Ignacy Krzyżanovski. The name of Oskar Kolberg (1815-90) enjoys the most deserved recognition due to his monumental publication of Polish folk songs and his ethnographic studies (more than twenty volumes: Lud[“The people”], published from 1856 until 1890). Among the names of the opera of the younger generations stands out above all that of Ignacy Jan Paderewski (1860), a brilliant pianist and composer, whose piano, symphonic and theatrical creations are appreciated in their high artistic aims and broad ideal horizons. A keen interest evoke the brilliant piano pieces by Juliusz Zargęski (1854-55, a pupil of F. Liszt), the songs of Eugeniusz Pankiewicz (1857-1898), the operas and chamber music of Roman Statkowski (1860-1925)), the Liederand choirs by Jan Gall (1858-1912), the oratory and works by Mieczysław Sołtys (1863-1929). Deserving because of their activity in the field of choral music are Piotr Maszyński (1855-1934) and Aleksander Michałowski (1851), while Stanisław Niewiadǫmski (1859) gained the widest popularity as the author of Lieder. The most modern currents attracted to them numerous musicians of the following generation, such as Henryk Melcer (1869-1928), eminent pianist and composer of two concerts, Zygmunt Stojowski (born in 1870), who demonstrated good composing skills in his symphony, in two concertos for piano and in other compositions, then Emil Młynarski (1870), violinist and excellent conductor, author of two violin concertos, finally Henryk Pachulski, Felicjan Szopski, Franciszek Brzeziński and Henryk Opieński (1869), author of symphonic poems, two works, etc.
A new chapter in the history of Polish music began shortly after 1900 with the appearance of some young composer on the grounds of Warsaw (where the Philharmonic was founded in 1901). This group of real and bold talents, named by the public opinion “Young Musical Poland”, was composed of Mieczysław Karłowicz, author of several symphonic poems of great value (1876-1909), Grzegorz Fitelberg (1879), Ludomir Różycki, very fertile composer in all genres and all forms (1883), and Karol Szymanowski (1883). Examples and influences of Wagner, R. Strauss, Debussy and dei. Russian composers, such as Poland Tchaikovsky, N. Rimsky-Korsakov and A. Skrjabin, have caused an extraordinary development in the field of symphonic poem, opera and lyric forms. At the head of all in the present age,Lieder, Stabat Mater, two quartets for strings and numerous free compositions for piano, violin, etc.). From the very polychrome picture of current Polish music, in which the most diverse currents intersect, we must at least mention the names of the following: Witołd Maliszewski (1872), Eugenjusz Morawski (1876), Adam Wieniawski (1879), Feliks Nowowiełski (1877), Stanisław Kazuro (1881), Ignacy Friedman, Stanislaw Lipski, Michał Ludwik Rogowski, Piotr Rytel, Bolesław Wallek-Wałewski, Lucjan Kamieński, Tadeusz Jarecki, Czesław Marek, Adam Soltys, Aleksander Tansmann, Jerzy Kefikz Maklak, Kazimier Jerzy Fitelberg, Michał Kondracki, Piotr Perkowski, Roman Palester, Tadeusz Kassern.