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Tatra Highlander Folk Culture in Poland and AmericabyThaddeus V. Gromada
Graj, Panu, Graj!


New Christmas CD


Tatra Highlander Folk Culture 

Essays devoted to the folk culture of the Tatra Mountain region in Poland and to the Tatra Highlanders (gorale) who brought this culture in America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The essays are designed to spread the good news; of the richness of this folk culture that impacted on Poland's high; culture. The book will give the reader a new and refreshing perspective on Polish culture.

The sixty-fifth anniversary of The Tatra Eagle is what prompted the compilation of this book, Tatra Highlander Folk Culture in Poland and America. It contains a collection of essays that appeared  over the span of more than half century in this unique

Polonia Music
Product Details:
    Paperback: 184 pages
    Publisher: Tatra Eagle 
    PressPublication Date: February 10, 2012
    Language: English
    ISBN-10: 0984918701
    ISBN-13: 978-0984918706
    Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.3 x 0.5 inches 
immigrant parents Jan and Aniela Gromada that has had a significant impact on the “high” culture of  Poland. His essays  were designed to spread the “good news” of the richness  of this folk culture not only to persons of Polish góral origin  but to all people  interested in cultural pluralism  and in getting a new and refreshing perspective on Polish culture.

The essays in the book are divided into five parts: a. Introduction b. Podhale, Poland’s “Mystical Altar”, c.  Górale and American Polonia, d.  The Gromada Family and Góral Folk Culture in America, and e. Profiles of Eminent Personalities.


“A sentimental and illuminating collection of insights about a unique mountain region of Poland which pulsates with invigorating mountain air, native patriotism, regional culture, distinctive traditions, and physical beauty characteristic both of its landscape and of its people.  Engaging to read, educational to absorb, it is the product of genuine scholarship and personal affection on the part of its editor, a distinguished Polish-American educator with deep family roots in the Tatra Highlands.”

Zbigniew Brzezinski, Center of Strategic and International Studies.  National Security Advisor under President Carter

“There are many reasons to read this book.  Part family memoir, part the story of a diasporic community, and part a history of USA and Polish relations, , Tatra Highlander Folk Culture in Poland and America, is first and foremost a story about human struggles and triumphs.  Drawing  from sixty-five years  of  the quarterly ,The Tatra Eagle, this book is a singular accomplishment that captures the story of the górale, the people from the Polish Tatra Mountains, the beautiful alpine region in the south of Poland on the border with Slovakia.  I personally have found  the book to be an invaluable source of information about Central Europe and ultimately about the many diasporic communities that are so vital to the USA.  This collection in a single volume of Gromada’s best articles is a real treasure.”

Timothy J. Cooley, Professor of Ethnomusicology, University of California, Santa Barbara

About the Author:
Thaddeus V. Gromada received his Ph.D. in East Central European History at Fordham University. He is Professor Emeritus of European History at New Jersey City University.  He served as Executive Director of the Polish Institute of Arts & Sciences of America from 1991 to 2011 and its President from 2008 to 2011.  Member of the Editorial Board of The Polish Review;  editor and contributor of several books and author of many articles  in scholarly journals dealing with Polish-Czech-Slovak relations, Immigration and Ethnic History and Polish Tatra folk culture.  He is founder and co-edtor  with his sister Jane Gromada Kedron of the quarterly, The Tatra Eagle (Tatrzański Orzeł).  Elected honorary member of the Związek Podhalan (Highlanders Alliance) in Poland as well as in America.  In 2000 he received the Commander’s Cross of Merit from the President of Poland.

   This is a must read for anyone interested in learning more about the impact the górale have had on Polish history and culture. Basically the book is a collection of essays written for The Tatra Eagle extolling the virtues of the people of the Podhale region and its capital, Zakopane. Not only does Gromada provide intriguing historical and cultural information concerning this unique and highly romanticized region of Poland, but he also provides interesting insight into the lives of the górale who emigrated to America.
   Personally I enjoyed reading about the górale style of architecture, the role the highlanders played for the Polish Resistance during World War ll, and the recent efforts the people of the region have made to improve the local environment and resist irresponsible expansion of tourism. The author also provides advice for scholars interested in writing the history of the Polish Highlanders.
Although the book is not a collection of folk tales, the author includes the following  story, (originally told in Kazimierz Przerwa-Tetmajer’s novel, Jasonik Nędza Litmanowskito give the reader insight into the górale character:

Tatra Highlander Folk Culture in Poland and America
Thaddeus V. Gromada

My favorite passage from Jasonik Nędza Litmanowski deals with the confrontation between Janosik, the Robin Hood figure and chief of a Tatra brigand band, and the Polish King, Jan Kazimierz whose reign in the 17th century coincided with Poland’s “time of troubles”. Tetmajer described how Janosik and his highlander brigands thwarted the Swedish attempt to ambush the king’s party as it moved through a Tatra Mountain Pass. A bloody battle took place between Janosik’s men and the foreign Swedes that saved the king’s life. Jan Kazimierz could now return to his throne in Poland from his exile in Silesia thanks to the heroism of Janosik’s brigands. Following the battle King Jan Kazimierz according to Tetmajer’s imagination shouted to the brigands, “Men who are you? And who brought you here?” The response was, “Jasonik Nędza Litmanowski.” Suddenly the Archbishop of Krakow, Gębicki, called out. “Peasants, the king is standing in front of you.” The highlander brigands began removing their hats. “But where is your leader, this Janosik?” queried the King? Janosik stepped forward, still dripping with blood from head to toe. He removed his hat, politely greeted the king and then put his hat back on his head. “Sir, you can now return to your realm”, he said. Archbishop Gębicki interrupted Janosik and screamed, “Man! Get your hat off. You are speaking to the King.” Another member of the King’s entourage interjected sarcastically, “On your knees, boor.” Janosik, trying to restrain his anger responded haughtily, “We two can talk to each other with our hats on. As for kneeling, I have been taught in church to kneel only before God.” This reply did not exactly please the King, but he did not command Janosik to kneel or remove his hat. Instead, he asked “How can I reward you?” Janosik thought a while and said, “Slap the face of the one who told me to kneel before you.” The King burst out in laughter and said, “I may just do that but what else do you want?” “Nothing”, responded Janosik, “I helped you as one gazda (husbandman) to another. So return to your kingdom.” The King smiled and said, “If you should ever need my help, Janosik, “I will come with my troops to the Tatras.” “I don’t think it will be necessary. I can manage alone”, replied Janosik. “Well then, Janosik, I can only show you my gratitude with what I have with me.” The King took out a purse filled with gold and threw it to Janosik. The bishops and the lords did the same. Janosik shouted, “Men, grab the gold and you, Sir accept this ciupaga (a combination walking stick and hatchet) from me.” The King ordered his servant to accept the ciupaga still stained with blood and said, “It’s only because of this ciupaga that I am able to return to my kingdom.” Then Jan Kazimierz advanced toward Janosik and embraced him.
pp.26 and 27

In conclusion, I should mention that the book is a springboard for further reading. I also would like to read a few of the novels mentioned in Gromada's book, although I suspect they may be hard to find in English. Here are just a few:
  • Tańiec Zbójnicki (The Brigand Dance), Bunt Napierskiego (Napierski's Rebellion), Pieśń o Waligórze (A Song About Waligórze) and Księga Ubogich (A Book of the Poor) by Jan Kasprowicz

Of course, if I can't find more to read about the Polish Highlanders, I can always listen to their music!​

Making Music in the Polish Tatras

Tourists, Ethnographers, and Mountain Musicians 2006 Orbis Book Award winner

Timothy J. Cooley

Challenging myths that mountain isolation and ancient folk customs defined the music culture of the Polish Tatras, Timothy J. Cooley shows that intensive contact with tourists and their more academic kin, ethnographers, since the late 19th century helped shape both the ethnic group known as Górale (highlanders) and the music that they perform. Making Music in the Polish Tatras reveals how the historically related practices of tourism and ethnography actually created the very objects of tourist and ethnographic interest in what has become the popular resort region of Zakopane. This lively book introduces readers to Górale musicians, their present-day lives and music making, and how they navigate a regional mountain-defined identity while participating in global music culture. Vivid descriptions of musical performances at weddings, funerals, and festivals and the collaboration of Górale fiddlers with the Jamaican reggae group Twinkle Brothers are framed by discussions of currently influential theories relating to identity and ethnicity and to anthropological and sociological studies of ritual, tourism, festivals, globalism, and globalization. The book includes a 46-track CD illustrating the rich variety of Górale music, including examples of its fusion with Jamaican reggae.​
Product Details:
Distribution: World
Publication date: 3/22/2005

Format: cloth 320 pages, 34 b&w photos, 59 figures, 3 maps, 1 index
6.125 x 9.25

ISBN: 978-0-253-34489-2
quarterly publication devoted to the folk culture of the Tatra Mountain region in Poland and to the Tatra highlanders (górale) who brought this culture to America in the late 19th century and early 20th century. The essays were authored by Thaddeus V. Gromada, who founded and co-edits this periodical with his sister Jane Gromada Kedron. He  was smitten by the folk culture of his