Chopin in the writings and music of 20th-century Polish composers

Beata Bolesławska (Bolesławska-Lewandowska)

Institute of Art, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw (Poland).
ORCID ID 0000-0002-4158-8109


Keywords: Polish XX century music, Polish composers on Chopin, Chopin influences on Polish music, Chopin genres in Polish XX century music, Chopin and the Polish composers.


Many volumes have already been written about the Polishness of Chopin’s music and about his influence on composers of various nationalities active in the Romantic and later periods. In this text the author looks at how Chopin was viewed by 20th-century Polish composers regarding two aspects: 1) how they interpreted his music in the context of its links to Polishness and 2) whether and how they took on his musical concepts in their own oeuvres. This will allow to shed some light on the reception and resonance (to use the terminology of Mieczysław Tomaszewski, a distinguished expert on Chopin and 20th-century Polish music) of the figure and music of Chopin in Polish music of the previous century. There will be examined an extremely patriotic public speech given by Paderewski in 1910, as well as Szymanowski’s opinions from the 1920s. Moreover, the politically driven celebrations of Chopin Year in 1949 will be recalled. The special attention will be put on the musical genres associated with Chopin: preludes, mazurkas, etudes, and piano concerto. The author will look for their reinterpretations in the output of 20th-century Polish composers: Szymanowski, Panufnik, Lutosławski, Serocki, Knittel, Mykietyn, or Baculewski. At the end, the question about the legacy of Chopin will try to be answered by recalling opinions of composers active in the 21st-century (Knapik, Zielińska, Wielecki). All the presented views draw the picture which perhaps might be best explained by Stefan Kisielewski’s expression: “Chopin is like a magic object with a different reflection in each mirror.”

Authors Biography.

Beata Bolesławska (Bolesławska-Lewandowska), musicologist, professor at the Institute of Art, Polish Academy of Sciences, Chair of the Board of the Musicological Section and member of the Board of the Polish Composers’ Union, Warsaw (Poland).


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Published: 2023.04.04.

Vol 23 No 1 (2023).