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, Waltz), as well as modern dance, contemporary dance and ballet are all widely performed today throughout the Polonia community.
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The song featured in the video on the right is a beloved Polish-Ukrainian folk song called Hej Sokoły (Hey Falcon). This particular rendition is performed by Krzystof Krawczyk, a popular Polish singer.
Hej Sokoły relates the emotions of a soldier who had to leave his Ukrainian sweetheart to defend his homeland. As he lay dying on the battlefield, he calls out to falcons flying overhead and begs them to carry his love back to her, though he knows he shall never see her again. CLICK HERE for chords and lyrics.
CLICK HERE if you would like to sing and play along with Maryla Rodowicz, another great Polish performer, as she performs Hej Sokoły!
Polonia Music's Christmas album "Graj, Panu, Graj!" is now available for purchase.
“Graj, Panu, Graj!:
23 Instrumental Kolędy i Pastorałki Treasures”
The album is the creation of Bob Johnson, a Polish-American with a deep appreciation for Polish music, especially Polish Christmas carols. As a boy growing up in Buffalo, 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 Christmas songs 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 four grandchildren, who join him on this album as special guest vocalists.
CLICK HERE for resources to help you locate your family's ancestral village(s) in Poland.
CLICK HERE to pray the Rosary with Blessed Pope John Paul ll.
CLICK HERE to view Caribbean Polka Cruise photos and videos.
Polonia Music's mission is to provide an online collection of the most cherished Polish songs enjoyed by people of Polish heritage. It is hoped that the collection will serve as a resource for anyone interested in traditional Polish music, Poland, and Polonia. Whenever possible, video, audio, links, lyrics and chords are provided to enhance your visit.
Rotamaster Witold Pilecki (1901-1948) was the only person in history who volunteered to be imprisoned in Nazi German concentration camp. Pilecki was a founder of prisoners underground organization in KL Auschwitz - Union of Military Organizations (Związek Organizacji Wojskowej, ZOW). After World War 2, Pilecki has been murdered by the communists in Stalin's occupied Poland.
The tradition of burning or drowning an effigy of Marzanna to celebrate the end of winter is a folk custom that survives in Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Typically taking place on the day of the vernal equinox, the rite involves setting fire to a female straw effigy, drowning it in a river, or both. This ritual represents the end of the dark days of winter, the victory over death, and the welcoming of the spring rebirth.
Drowning Marzanna / Topienie Marzanny
Learn more about Polish Lenten and Easter Traditions: CLICK HERE