Stanisław Moniuszko was born in Ubiel, near Minsk, settled in Vilnius, and earned a living as a piano teacher, organist and conductor of the theatre orchestra. He began studying music with August Freyer in Warsaw and completed his training with Carl Friedrich Rungenhagen at the Berlin Singakademie. Moniuszko’s compositions include seven Masses, string quartets, several cantatas and over three hundred songs. A visit to Warsaw had been the inspiration for his opera Halka, which brought him national acclaim. After a European tour, during which he met Smetana in Prague and Liszt in Weimar, he served as director of Polish productions at the Wielki Theatre, in Warsaw. Work on his most popular opera Straszny dwór was affected by the political unrest that led to the January Uprising. Moniuszko consequently lost his position at the theatre and his opera was declared nationalistic by the tsarist censors. He was working on another opera at the time of his death, from a sudden heart attack, on 4 June 1872. His funeral was an event of national importance. Lennox Berkeley once wrote that Moniuszko’s music may “bridge the gap in Polish music between Chopin and Szymanowski.”
Jörg Widmann is a German clarinettist and composer. He was born in Munich and studied composition with Kay Westermann. His composition style is reflective of a fascination with sound, the use of traditional concepts, and the creation of unique landscapes. Widmann’s cycle of string quartets is notable. The third quartet of five, Jagdquartett, has been described as an exploration of musical violence. Throughout the one-movement quartet, but particularly the sadistic conclusion displays an interplay of musical tones and ‘noise’ in an intriguingly non-traditional depiction of ‘the hunt.’ Tom Service of The Guardian wrote of Widmann’s music, “The reason I think Widmann’s music is so invigorating and important is that it not only charts a new musical and imaginative terrain, one that is joyously free to plunder the entirety of music history from Mozart to Lachenmann for its own ends, but also has so much to say about the way we hear the music of the past.”
Krzysztof Meyer, born August 11, 1943, is a Polish composer, musicologist, and pianist. He studied composition with Wiechowicz and Penderecki at the Academy of Music in Kraków and took lessons with Boulanger, in Paris. He received first prize at the Prince Rainier of Monaco competition and the Szymanowski competition as well as the Herder Prize, the Polish Composers’ Union prize and the award of the New York Jurzykowski Foundation. He served as the Dean of the Department of Music Theory at the State College of Music in Kraków from 1972 to 1975, the president of the Union of Polish Composers from 1985 to 1989, and as professor of composition at the Hochschule für Musik, in Cologne prior to retiring in 2008. Meyer composed 13 string quartets between 1963 and 2014 containing a wide range of emotions. His music has been described as elegant, energetic and intense. While he did have a passing curiosity with Polish sonorism, his modern style draws on mainstream 20th century music from Hungary, Russia and Poland, and on 18th and 19th century musical forms.
Alixandra Porembski, English Language Annotator