Polish folk music was collected in the 19th century by Oskar Kolberg, as part of a wave of Polish national revival. With the coming of the world wars and then the Communist state, folk traditions were oppressed or subsumed into state-approved folk ensembles. The most famous of the state ensembles are Mazowsze and Śląsk, both of which still perform. Though these bands had a regional touch to their output, the overall sound was a homogenized mixture of Polish styles. There were more authentic state-supported groups, such as Słowianki, but the Communist sanitized image of folk music made the whole field seem unhip to young audiences, and many traditions dwindled rapidly.
Polish dance music, especially the mazurka and polonaise, were popularized by Frederick Chopin, and they soon spread across Europe and elsewhere. These are triple time dances, while five-beat forms are more common in the northeast and duple-time dances like the krakowiak come from the south. The polonaise comes from the French word for Polish to identify its origin among the Polish aristocracy, who had adapted the dance from a slower walking dance called chodzony. The polonaise then re-entered the scene and became an integral part of Polish music.
Poland's five national dances
(Mazur, Polonez, Kujawiak, Krakowiak, Oberek), as well as modern dance, contemporary dance and ballet are all widely performed today throughout the Polonia community.
"Jak to wieczór miło bywa" is an anonymously composed traditional canon, originally in German, but popular throughout Europe and the United States as early as the beginning of the 19th century. The simple text, with the sound effect of the chiming bells,translates well into many languages. It is included in various song collections in Polish, English, German, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Italian, Russian and probably many other languages.
Here are the English lyrics:
Oh, how lovely is the evening, is the evening,
When the bells are sweetly ringing, sweetly ringing!