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Stanisław Moniuszko
Graj, Panu, Graj!

New Christmas CD
Welcome to the world of Polish heritage music!

 Stanisław Moniuszko  
(b Ubiel, 5 May 1819; d Warsaw, 4 June 1872) was a Polish composer, conductor and teacher. His output includes many songs and operas, and his musical style is filled with patriotic folk themes of the peoples of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (predominantly Polish and Belarusian). He is generally referred to as the father of Polish national opera.

The source of Moniuszko's melodies and rhythmic patterns often lies in Polish musical folklore. One of the most visibly "Polish" aspects of his music is in the forms he uses, including dances popular among upper classes such as polonaise and mazurka, and folk tunes and dances such as kujawiak and krakowiak

Stanisław Moniuszko - Kurant

                                  Stanisław Moniuszko - Overture for "Halka"

In 1848 in Vilnius, Maniusko staged and conducted the premiere performance of the first, two act version of his opera Halka. The story is that of the tragic love of the title character, the highlander girl Halka, for the noble Janusz, who abandons her to wed the daughter of the Esquire. It is a tale of jealousy and sacrifice.

 It took ten years before the political climate cooled enough to be able to perform such a nationalist-themed opera again. After the triumph of his new four-act version of Halka during the Warsaw premiere on 1 January 1858, he toured France, thanks to the help of the pianist Maria Kalergis, where he met Auber and Rossini. After a visit to Berlin, he met Smetana in Prague, who prepared the Prague premiere of Halka, and finally Moniuszko visited Weimar, where he met Liszt. Halka, after being shown in two acts in 1848 in Vilnius, was premiered with great success in 1858 in Warsaw in its final four act form. On that evening the composer, shy and limping slightly, thanked the audience, bowing many times to incessant applause. It was soon later staged in Prague, Moscow and St. Petersburg,where it met with great success.

Stanisław Moniuszko
Heroine of what is reputedly Poland's most cherished opera, Halka is beautiful, bright, passionate and irresistible. Yet in the eyes of Gianni, a handsome, dashing young landowner, she has two fatal flaws: she is poor, and she is a peasant. Nonetheless they have a fervent romance that leads to the birth of a child. But promises of marriage seem to become increasingly vague and elusive. Suddenly Gianni disappears. Halka, deeply in love, cannot believe that he has abandoned her. Accompanied by a faithful friend who has been in love with her since childhood, she goes out searching for her missing lover and succeeds in finding him on the very day that his engagement to the daughter of a wealthy noblemen is being announced. The worst is yet to come, whereby Halka joins the magnificently tragic ranks that include Norma, Donna Elvira, Gilda, Jenufa, and Cio Cio San -- unforgettable women who fell in love with the wrong man and in so doing inspired some of the most hauntingly beautiful, heartrending music ever written. 
Stanisław Moniuszko  

"Without a Master"
1868, oil on canvas
Maksymilian Gierymski
1846 -  1874

Polonia Music