Had Adam Mickiewicz been a composer, what would his most famous poems have sounded like? A series of concerts entitled “Ballades and Romances,” organized by the National Institute of Music and Dance as part of the “44 x Mickiewicz” program and operated by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, helps one imagine the possibility. The program seeks to highlight the relevance of the key ideas of Romanticism and promote their presence in contemporary compositions.

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Consisting in five concerts, the series will be presented to international audiences in Italy (Rome, Verbania), Japan (Tokyo, Osaka) and Germany (Hamburg). The recitals will show the reception of Adam Mickiewicz’s poetry in the vocal lyrical pieces by Maria Szymanowska, Fryderyk Chopin, Stanisław Moniuszko and Carl Loewe.

Romanticism was an era of improvisation, which is why two great improvisers have been invited to participate in the project: cellist Marcin Zdunik and pianist Aleksander Dębicz, who, inspired by the Ballads of Chopin, Moniuszko and Loewe, will present a contemporary reading of the Romantic message. Also performing will be other outstanding Polish artists: pianist Marek Bracha and vocalists Lilianna Zalesinska and Robert Gierlach. In order to establish relations with foreign artists, the program will feature an Italian pianist, with the hope of encouraging international performers to deliver new renditions of Polish and German music inspired by the works of Adam Mickiewicz.

The upcoming concert will take place on May 22, 2022 at 21:00 at Villa Simonetta in Verbania as part of the spring season organized by the Association “Note Romantiche” and the Museo “Vivo,” the latter of which boasts a collection of 19th century pianos. The event will be held within the Festival del Pianoforte Romantico “Les Nuits Romantiques” – Primavera 2022, featuring Lilianna Zalesinska (mezzo-soprano) and Tomasz Ritter (historical piano). Apart from compositions by Fryderyk Chopin, Maria Szymanowska and Stanisław Moniuszko, the artists will perform songs by Michał Kleofas Ogiński.

The concert program will include works by Maria Szymanowska, Michał Kleofas Ogiński, Fryderyk Chopin and Stanisław Moniuszko. Referring to the title of Mickiewicz’s collection “Ballades and Romances,” whose 200th anniversary we are celebrating this year, the repertoire will feature both (piano and vocal) romances and ballads, says Lilianna Zalesińska. We will perform romances in the Italian fashion by Maria Szymanowska and in the French fashion by Michał Kleofas Ogiński. The audience will also be treated to the first songs composed to Adam Mickiewicz’s words. They were written by Maria Szymanowska, the bard’s mother-in-law, and inspired by the poetic improvisations of Adam Mickiewicz delivered in her artistic salon. From that moment until nearly the 21st century, the Bard’s poetry was chosen for songs by a great many Polish and foreign composers. From the perspective of the present day, this immense collection demonstrates the continuing fascination with Romantic poetry.

The second part of the program showcases the most mature and deepest form of Romanticism in Polish music, namely the piano works of Frederic Chopin and the vocal compositions of Stanislaw Moniuszko. Both composers musically referred to the oeuvre of Adam Mickiewicz: Fryderyk Chopin in his songs and ballads, Stanisław Moniuszko in an extensive collection of songs set to the poet’s words, including vocal ballads. The concert will be performed on a historic Erard piano from 1838, enabling the unique sound of this instrument to harmonize with the compositions and poetry of the Romantic era, adds Zalesińska.

The “44 x Mickiewicz” program is an original initiative of the Adam Mickiewicz Institute addressed to the cultural institutions subordinate to and supervised by the Minister of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland. The program was created in connection with this year’s celebration of the Year of Polish Romanticism. The main premise of the program is to implement projects illustrating the ideas of Polish Romanticism as a point of intersection of many cultures, opinions and trends in art, as well as highlight the influence of those ideas on Polish and foreign artists, thus creating an opportunity for dialogue through the language of art and artistic expression. The Program co-organizes projects showcasing Polish Romanticism as a vehicle of modernity. One of these projects is implemented by the National Institute of Music and Dance.

About the Adam Mickiewicz Institute:

The Adam Mickiewicz Institute is a national cultural institution established in 2000. The goal of the Institute – fostering a lasting interest in Polish culture around the world – is pursued in collaboration with foreign partners and through international cultural exchange in dialogue with the audience, in accordance with the guidelines of Polish foreign policy. Until 2022, the Institute has carried out projects in over 70 countries across six continents. The Adam Mickiewicz Institute is organized by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland. https://iam.pl/pl

Media contact:

Agata Szymczak (agata.szymczak@nimit.pl, + 48 785 310 000)