Polish music at Ravinia

Although I’ve neglected the “American” side of “Polish-American” history thus far, my next postings will be devoted to the history of Polish culture in Chicago.

In the years 1926-1928, the Polski Klub Artystyczny w Chicago (Polish Arts Club of Chicago) was successful in organizing concerts of Polish-composed and Polish-themed music at the Ravinia Festival in Highland Park. From looking at the Polish-language press of the day, the club prepaid for usage of the beautiful venue; arts journalists at these publications made it clear that large audiences were important to keep the annual evenings viable. Appropriately, there was mention of the ease of taking the very same trains we take today for transportation to the park.

It’s a tragedy that the annual concerts only lasted for three years. In hindsight, the ambitious step of devoting the third concert in 1928 to more modernist composers might’ve been overly ambitious!

Here is some detail of these notable evenings from the distant past:

Concert 1: Sunday, August 2, 1926
Program:
1. Polonia, Richard Wagner
2. Jeszcze Polska nie Zginęła (Poland Is Not Yet Dead)
3. Compositions by Ignacy Jan Paderewski and other Polish Composers
4. Three songs sung by Janina Burska of the Metropolitan Opera of New York by Władysław Żeleński, Zygmunt Noskowski, Ignacy Kossobudzki

Concert 2: Sunday, August 7, 1927
Program:
1. Three songs by Stanisław Niewiadomski, Janina Burska, mezzo-soprano
2. Selections by Frederic Chopin, Eleonora Koskiewicz, piano
3. Program of Music by Polish composers, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Eric Delamarter conducting
4. Scheduled opera: Rigoletto

Third Concert: Sunday, August 5, 1928
Program:
1. Tatry, Mieczyslaw Ziółkowski
2. Orchestral works, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Eric Delamarter:
a) Morskie Oko (Eyes of the Sea), 1875, Zygmunt Noskowski, Opus 19
b) Concerto, Mieczysław Karłowicz
c) Ballet Managua, Karol Szymanowski
3. Two choruses: Philharmonic Singing Society, conducted by B. Rybowiak
a) Na cześć wiosny (On the Return of Spring) by Karol Mieczysław Prosnak
b) Sztandary Polskie na Kremlu (The Polish Banner over the Kremlin), Wacław Lachman, sung by the Filarets Singing Society, A.M. Hess conductor
4. Cracovienne Fantastique, Opus 17, Ignacy Jan Paderewski, Mieczysław Ziółkowski, piano
5. Sonata, George Frideric Handel, Stanisław Szpinalski and Wilkomirski, piano
6. Scheduled opera: Carmen (Janina Burska in the title role)

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