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Treasured Polish Folk Melodies: 17 Favorites
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Treasured Polish 
Folk Melodies
Performed by
Bob Johnson

for instant download! 

Bob Johnson of PoloniaMusic.com

Total Running Time: 45 minutes, 06 seconds
Treasured Polish Folk Melodies 
(Running Time - 45:06)

1. Hej sokoły (3:27) - Guitar/Keyboard - Hej Sokoły is a traditional Polish song that was popular among soldiers during the Polish-Soviet War. The title translates roughly as "hey falcons." The lyrics exist in several versions about a Ukrainian girl to whom her betrothed, either a cossack or an ulan says goodbye for the last time. Hej Sokoły is the most searched song on this web site and my instructional video is one of my most popular videos on my YouTube channel. When you listen to the recording you will surely notice the screech of a falcon heard in the background.

Although its exact origins are unknown, the song was believed to have been written by the Polish-Ukrainian poet-songwriter Tomasz Padura in the first half of the 19th century. It is representative of what is known as the Ukrainian school of Polish literature. The song also became popular in Ukraine, with a slightly different text in Ukrainian. The tune was popular among Polish soldiers during the Polish-Soviet War, and was also sung by the Polish Home Army guerrillas during World War II.

2. Płynie Wisła, Płynie (2:13) - Guitar/Keyboard. Percussion - According to "The Polish Heritage Songbook", this song is "the most famous of all krakowiaks written by Edmund Wasilewski (1814-1846). The music by Józef Hofman (the father of the famous pianist of the same name) is a perfect complement to the text." - page 164. The Wisła River (Eng. Vistula) is Poland's main river and, like Poland, shall continue to flow until the end of time.

3. Góralu, czy Ci nie żal (2:49) - Guitar/Keyboard - In this song, a Polish highlander laments having to leave his beloved mountains "for bread". Life in the mountains was hard, and it was often necessary for the górale to travel to the lowlands in search of the resources needed to maintain their unique way of life. The text was written in 1865 and the music was composed in 1812 by well-known teacher and composer, Michał Świerzyński (1868-1957)

5. Haniś, moja Haniś (1:57) - Guitar/Keyboard -  According to "The Polish Heritage Songbook", this was "a military song based on a folk melody, it was made popular by the Legionaries of The First Brigade." - page 165

6. Idzie Maciek (3:26) - Guitar/Keyboard - This song is about Maciek who loved to sing, but had the nasty habit of hitting anyone who got in his way with his cane. He's dead now, but surely a lively mazur (mazurka) dance would bring him back to life. But does anyone really want to extend the favor to such an unkind man?

7. Karolinka (2:06) - Guitar/Keyboard - This is a bright, peppy tune that has always been one of my favorites.

8. Płonie ognisko w lesie (2:27) - Guitar/Keyboard/Mandolin - This is a scouting song in which scouts are advised to always stay alert. My recording includes background sounds of the great outdoors, including crickets, the crackle of a campfire and the hoot of an owl. A wolf heard howling in the distance serves as a serious reminder of the life-threatening dangers we all must face.

9. Nie chodź Marysiu (2:09)  - Guitar/Harmonica/ Vocals performed by Bob Johnson - Speaking of wolves, in this song, Mary is warned by a woodsman not to enter the forest where two wolves were seen searching for their next meal.

10. Szła Dzieweczka do Laseczka (2:51) - Guitar/Keyboard - I always picture pretty Polish girls dancing whenever I play or hear this tune.

11. Czerwone Jabłuszko (2:27) - Guitar/Keyboard - This is a Kujawiak. Kujawiak tunes are romantic, lyrical, and often written in a minor key and therefore slightly sad. One of the features of the Kujawiak that I admire most is its characteristic rubato tempo, allowing the performer to slow down and speed up at his or her discretion. My dad's mother and father were both from the Kujawy region of Poland and some of my fondest memories of my dad playing Kujawiak tunes on his violin. I do my best to recreate his spirit in this piece.

12. Hej z góry z góry (2:40) - Guitar/Keyboard - Just a fun tune popular at weddings and celebrations of all kinds. The last time I heard it was at the Dożynki I attended in Podolsze, Poland.

13. Dorotka (1:50) - Keyboard, with vocals by my grandson, Zachary) - The tune is that of a very sweet lullaby. You will be charmed by the music-box sound of the recording.

I am honored that this track from the CD was selected for the 2014 travel 
documentary "Polen auf die norddeutsche Tour" for NDR, a German TV station.

14. Matuś moja, matuś (2:12) - Keyboard - This is my sister's favorite tune. Hope she likes my redition. In this song, a maiden begs her mother for permission to marry Johnny. One of the things she admires about the you man are buckles that jingle on his belt. The tradition of adhering a fair amount of bling on a man's belt is of military origin. When  Polish hussars rode into battle, the clanking of their buckles created a menacing sound that struck fear into the hearts of their adversaries.

15. To i hola (2:07) - Guitar/Keyboard - Guests are coming! Get ready!

16. Highlander Medley(4:19) - Keyboard - There is nothing more spirited than good gorale music. I had lot of fun stringing together a few of their most iconic melodies for this recording, including, "Zasiali Górale Owies", "Hej, Góral ja se Góral" and "Za Górami, Za Lasami".

17. Jak szybko mijają chwile (3:35) - Guitar/Keyboard - "Na Pożegnanie" or"Jak Szybko Mijają Chwile" is an old favorite. It is especially meaningful on the eve of St. Sylvester (New Year's Eve) and when sung by students at the conclusion of the school year. The song reminds us that the years fly by and ultimately all friends must part, but if the fates allow, we will someday meet again and to share our dreams and join our voices in song.

My version of this song is a bit of a tribute to Juraj Janosik. On the lam, the legendary fugitive runs through the forest pursued by the authorities. Will they catch him? History tells us that in 1713 Janosik was betrayed by a jealous lover, was captured and condemned to a brutal death. He was 25 years old. The violin I used in this song to keep rhythm throughout the song was my dad's. 

4. W murowanej pienicy/Zbójnicki (2:09) - Guitar/Keyboard/Violin - "Zbójnicki" (Robbers, highwaymen or brigands) is a highlander dance  frequently performed to the tune of the song, "W murowanej pienicy" ("In a stone cellar").  In the 17th-18th centuries, bands of robbers roamed the Tatra Mountains. Generally these were men who sought refuge in the mountains from oppressive lords or to avoid conscription into the military. Some also were there in the hope of finding legendary treasures hidden in the Tatra Mountain caves. To some extent these thieves were admired by the locals for their spirit of freedom. Like England's Robin Hood, the most famous was, the son of a Slovak peasant who shared his loot with the poor. He is the inspiration for many Polish highlander songs. Source: "Polish Folk Dances and Songs" - pages 268-269
Also from Polonia Music:

These are the beautiful folk melodies your babcia  
and dziadzia loved the most... and so will you!

  • For the first time, I sing one of the songs in Polish - "Nie chodź Marysiu"
  • The album features a variety of musical styles and techniques; each song is different, so you won't get bored.
  • ​Although the primary instrument is the acoustic folk guitar, other instruments are also featured: keyboard, mandolin, violin, percussion instruments, and the harmonica. That's right, the harmonica! Have you ever heard a Polish folk song played on harmonica? I think you will like it.
  • Sound effects are also used to add realism to the recoding: sounds of nature (including the screeching of a Polish eagle, the crackling of a campfire, the howling of the wind, the baying of wolves, thunder), and the sweet sound of a baby crying. (Special thanks to my grandson, Zachary, for doing the vocals for the lullaby, "Dorotka". Such a talent!
  • These are the songs my babcia loved the most. I bet yours did too. 

Biographical Notes
Bob Johnson is a Polish-American with a deep appreciation for Polish folk music. As a boy growing up in Buffalo, New York, Bob was an active member of the St. Stanislaus Boys Choir and a piano student at the Villa Maria School of Music. He began playing folk guitar when he was in high school and has since enjoyed playing his favorite Polish melodies on guitar for his family. His soothing fingerpicking style is perfect for the Polish songs he cherished as a boy. Proud of his Polish roots, Bob hopes to pass down his love for Polish music to his five grandchildren, one of whom joins him on this album as special guest vocalists.

I am honored that Kalina, a Polish folk choir from Pont-à-Mousson, France uses this CD for their performances.
Polonia Music's Christmas CD
Bob Johnson is the 2011 recipient of the Am-Pol Eagle Newspaper's Citizen of the Year Award for culture
was named an "Outstanding Man of Polonia" by the General Pulaski Association in 2018.
Bob enjoys promoting Polish music and culture, and his website, www.PoloniaMusic.com, is highly valued by the Polish-American community. He is the 2011 recipient of the Am-Pol Eagle Newspaper's Citizen of the Year Award for culture.
 LEFT: My classical guitar is shown here alongside my dad's violin. Plenty of great Polish folk tunes were played on that violin. As an homage, I brought it out of retirement for "W murowanej pienicy"/"Zbojnicki".
Treasured Polish Folk Melodies
I hope my music in some way conveys the feelings I had when I recently visited my family's ancestral village.

RIGHT: Photo of the crucifix in the Kujawy village of Piaseczno where my paternal grandfather was born. Some of my relatives currently live in the house shown to the right of the crucifix in the photo. 
Bob Johnson with folk singers in 
Podolsze, Poland (Bob's babcia and dziadek's village)

"Polen auf die norddeutsche Tour": Reporter Sven Tietzer macht sich mit seinem Oldtimer-Camper auf in die Nachbarschaft Deutschlands, nach Polen. Dort lernt er die Schönheiten Masurens, das Einsiedlerleben, Baustellenalltag in Warschau und eine Wisent-Safari kennen. Ein Roadmovie der besonderen, persönlichen Art voller Abenteuer und Überraschungen. Der aus dem Harz gebürtige Sven Tietzer besucht Menschen, die ebenfalls aus Norddeutschland kommen und in Polen eine neue Heimat gefunden haben. Menschen, ihm einen privaten und spannenden Einblick durch die Hintertür geben und das alles umgeben von den eindrucksvollen Landschaften Polens. In Warschau trifft Sven Tietzer auf den norddeutschen Bauunternehmer Ferdinand Baggeroer. Er klärt ihn nicht nur über die zahllosen Bauvorhaben in Polen auf, sondern spannt ihn gleich auf einer Hochhausbaustelle ein. Sven Tietzer geht aber auch aufs Land. In Masuren trifft er z. B. auf die norddeutschen Aussteiger Basia und Reinhard Schulz-Eisenhardt. Sie leben in der Einöde an einem See, ohne Komfort und Warmwasser. Ganz im Gegensatz dazu stehen die schicken Strandhochhäuser in Gdynia an der Ostsee, die Halbinsel Hel und die Lontzkedüne im Slowinzischen Nationalpark. Zu den Abenteuern auf seiner Reise gehört für Sven Tietzer auch die Wisent-Safari mit Mathias Enger. Er lebte früher in Kiel und ist jetzt schon lange Jahre Stadtrat in Stettin. In Polen leben Wisente noch in freier Wildbahn. Sven Tietzer betreibt in Polen auch Kulturkunde, u. a. über Zungenbrechersätze, Aberglauben, Trinkfestigkeit und überfüllte Kirchen. (Text: NDR)