Giancarlo Guerrero, a native of Costa Rica, is a five-time Grammy award winning Music Director of the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, a post he has held since 2009 and recently committed to through the 2024-25 season. Guerrero previously held posts as the Principal Guest Conductor of The Cleveland Orchestra Miami Residency from 2011 to 2016, Music Director of the Eugene Symphony between 2002 and 2009, and Associate Conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra from 1999 to 2004. The Narodowe Forum Muzyki is very pleased with the appointment of Giancarlo Guerrero to the position of Artistic Director of the Wroclaw Philharmonic! Guerrero will conduct four weeks during the 2017 season in Wrocław, and beginning with the 2018 season, he will spend eight weeks per season with the orchestra in addition to touring and recording activities.
Szymon Nehring was born on September 29, 1995, in Kraków. He currently studies under Stefan Wojtas at Bydgoszcz Academy of Music. In 2014, he won First Prize at the Arthur Rubinstein in memoriam Competition in Bydgoszcz, Second Prize at the Premio Academia in Rome, and First Prize at the Halina Czerny Stefańska in memoriam Competition in Poznań. In October 2015 he performed in the finals of the 17th Fryderyk Chopin International Piano Competition garnering an Honourable Mention and the Audience Prize. He was honoured in 2016, with the Supersonic Pizzicato Award from Pizzicato Magazine after the debut of his album Chopin, Szymanowski, Mykietyn. Nehring is a recipient of the Pro Musica Bona Foundation Scholarship and the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage Scholarship and he also received a Krystian Zimerman Scholarship. In 2017 Nehring won First Prize at the 15th Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition.
Agnieszka Franków-Żelazny was born on March 24, 1976, in Głubczyce. She graduated from the University of Wrocław in 2000 with a degree in biology. That year, she founded the Kameralny Chór Akademii Medycznej (Medici Cantantes Choir at the Medical University of Wrocław). In 2004, she received a diploma from the Karol Lipiński Academy of Music in Wrocław, where she studied Music Education and was awarded a diploma in 2005 from the Vocal Department. During this time, she was honoured with the first prize in the National Contest for Choir Conductors. In 2006, she completed the Postgraduate Voice Production and Training Programme at the Academy of Music in Bydgoszcz. Since June 2006, Franków-Żelazny has been the artistic director of the National Forum of Music Choir. In 2008, she was awarded a special prize for conductors from the 39th Legnica Cantat National Choir Contest. Franków-Żelazny became the head of Polish National Youth Choir, which she also founded, in 2013. She completed course work at the Academy of Culture Leaders at the Economic University of Kraków, in 2014 and was distinguished with the Gloria Artis Bronze Medal for Merit to Culture. The following January, she was named the programme director of the Choral Academy of the National Forum of Music. In 2016, Franków-Żelazny was a music curator for the year that Wrocław served as the European Capital of Culture. The album DE PROFUNDIS – Polish Psalms of the 20th and 21st Century with the NMF Choir under her direction was awarded the Fryderyk prize for the best choral, oratorio and orchestra music, 2017. She currently works as an Associate Professor at the Academy of Music in Wrocław.
Ignacy Jan Paderewski was born in Kursk, Podolia, on November 6, 1860. He wrote the allegro of his Piano Concerto in A minor in 1882 and finished it in the summer of 1888 in Paris. Though the composition was written over several years and in various locations, one portion for instance, in 1884 in Zakopane, Kraków and Vienna, while Paderewski was studying piano under Teodor Leszetycki, to whom the concerto is dedicated. The first performance was given January 20, 1889, in Vienna by Anetta Jessipowa, Leszetycki’s wife, accompanied by an orchestra conducted by Hans Richter. Music critic Jan Kleczyński wrote, “Paderewski’s work has beautiful themes, full of warmth in the first part, poetic in the romance and packed with passion in its finale; the orchestra is often combined with the piano in witty combinations, whereas the solo instrument is conducted exquisitely.”
At an early age, Paderewski had taken lessons with Piotr Sowiński, but he was mostly self-taught, and he quickly gained a reputation as a gifted pianist and outstanding improviser. In the summer of 1872, he was taken to Warsaw where he was admitted to the Music Conservatory, from which he graduated in 1878. Paderewski’s work has inspired artists, poets, and painters as well as other composers. Sir Edward Elgar used various motives taken from Paderewski's Fantaisie Polonaise in his symphonic Prelude 'Polonia' and Camille Saint-Saens dedicated a Polonaise for two pianos to Paderewski. The American poet John H. Finley directed the following poem to the pianist,
Your touch has been transmuted into sound
As perfect as an orchid or a rose,
True as a mathematic formula
Yet full of color as an evening sky.
But there's a symphony that you've evoked
From out of the hearts of men, more wonderful
Than you have played upon your instrument...
Ludwig van Beethoven began work on the Ninth Symphony in 1822 although some of its musical material was sketched as early as 1812. He completed it in February 1824. Michael Umlauf conducted the premiere performance on May 7, 1824, at the Kärntnertor Theater in Vienna. It was dedicated to Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia. Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony influenced composers like Schubert, Brahms and Mahler and the composition not only affected them stylistically but also left them to ponder whether to write more than nine symphonies. Wagner, perhaps the composer most influenced by the Ninth, argued that Beethoven had pointed the way to the "Music of the Future," a universal drama uniting words and tones, much likened to Wagner’s own operas. Schubert, who attended the premiere, went as far as mirroring the "joy" theme in his Ninth Symphony, the Great C Major, written one year later. Additionally, almost every Bruckner symphony begins in the manner of the Ninth with the whisperings of low strings seemingly suggesting the creation of a musical world and the model of a choral finale was implemented by Mendelssohn, Mahler, and Shostakovich.
The struggle to communicate is the narrative that runs throughout the work and Beethoven made it clear in the finale when he literally gives voice to sound. Jan Swafford noted in his biography, Beethoven: Anguish and Triumph, "the composer was a teenager when he first declared his intention to set Friedrich Schiller’s An die Freude to music, in the heady days of the Aufklärung,” referring to the fact that Beethoven had come of age during the American and French revolutions and had experienced war first hand when Napoleon's troops invaded Vienna in 1805 and 1809. Beethoven was an ardent believer in Enlightenment values and found ways to express them throughout his compositions. He meant for his Ninth to be music’s first crossover composition and the work indeed pushed the boundaries of art as Beethoven understood them. His own search for new compositional procedures and a striving toward what Goethe called “the fulfilment of beautiful possibilities,” underlies the entire opus. Whereas Mozart had shifted the weight of the classical symphony to the finale with his Jupiter Symphony, Beethoven pushed it to the limit. The finale of the Ninth, unlike anything in symphonic music, is scored for four soloists, full chorus, and orchestra, and serves almost as a symphony in miniature, given its own introduction, scherzo, slow section, and grand ending. The Presto finale opens with what Wagner called the "terror fanfare,” and Beethoven liked to say, “always keep the whole in mind.”
Hector Berlioz protests that “There is a small minority of musicians, whose nature inclines them to consider carefully whatever may broaden the scope of art… and they assert that this work is the most magnificent expression of Beethoven’s genius… That is the view I share.” However, Beethoven’s grandest and most influential composition was not recognized in its time as a landmark or a pivotal moment in the history of music. Many early audiences discounted the work as the raving of a deaf lunatic. Beethoven’s contemporary Louis Spohr, who was an enthusiast of Beethoven’s early works, drew the line at the Ninth. Its first three movements, he wrote, “in spite of some flashes of genius, are to my mind inferior to all the eight previous symphonies,” and he found the finale “so monstrous and tasteless… that I cannot understand how a genius like Beethoven could have written it.” Nearly three decades later, a reviewer for the Boston Atlas tried to explain it away politely as “the genius of the great man upon the ocean of harmony, without the compass which had so often guided him to his haven of success; the blind painter touching the canvas at random.” For several years after Beethoven’s death, the Ninth Symphony was considered too difficult to perform and too long to program. Thus it was not established in the repertory until the middle of the nineteenth century. In truth, It was not until after Wagner conducted the work at the dedicatory concert for his Wagner-only Bayreuth Festspielhaus in 1872, that it was able to maintain its singular status as a cultural symbol of unsurpassed importance.
Alixandra Porembski, English Language Annotator