In 2022, we celebrated the 150th anniversary of the death of the Polish composer, author of national operas – Stanisław Moniuszko (1819-1872). This was an excellent opportunity – bearing in mind the experience of the Moniuszko Year three years ago – to present and promote what, apart from operas, turned out to have the greatest international potential, i.e. the composer’s sacred music.
The composer’s family came from Ubiel near Minsk, where he gained his first skills in music education. In the years 1837-1840, Moniuszko studied in Berlin – his first works were written and published there. Before he was invited to Warsaw, he lived and worked in Vilnius for eighteen years (1840-1858). His activity (excluding travels) covered the territories of today’s Germany, Lithuania, Belarus and Poland, and the composer, knowing many languages, moved freely in the culture of his time, drawing from it for himself and his work, and cooperating in these places with artists of various nationalities.
Today’s world is changing dynamically before our eyes. The indescribable cruelty of the war in Ukraine started and waged by Russia is intended to re-introducing long-lasting divisions not only in our region, but also throughout Europe. That is why it is so important to show that our differences do not distance us from each other, but can inspire and support each other. Therefore, artists from Poland, Lithuania and Germany, and with them institutions from these three countries, will jointly focus on Moniuszko’s work, looking for values resulting from the cultural roots that we all share. When planning this event, we did not think that this cultural cooperation of Poles, Lithuanians and Germans would become a clear and strong message, that also in this way we can act together on the international arena in our region, and oppose those, who want to divide us one more time to introduce chaos, fear, terror and distrust in our mutual relations.
After the events of the Moniuszko Year, we already know that historically informed performances of Moniuszko’s sacred compositions, in various aspects, not only regarding the instruments, but also the location and size of the singing groups, the use of revised sheet music, restores the compositions’ remarkable expression and depth, testifying to a great and often excellent an almost innovative compositional workshop in the context of the time in which they were created and the creators of his generation. And above all, it is a deeply emotional work.
The Moniuszko Year sped up work on revising the source music also in the context of religious works. We are very pleased, that thanks to the cooperation with PWM, many of them was presented during our concerts for the first time in a new, but as close to the original as possible, form. We presented an overview of the various musical forms that Moniuszko practiced, from great symphonic compositions, to small and intimate arrangements for a choir with organ accompaniment. In order for such ambitious plans to obtain the appropriate artistic shape, we engaged high-class singers from the Gellert Ensemble from Leipzig, outstanding soloists from Poland and Germany, as well as the Goldberg Baroque Ensemble instrumental group specializing in historically informed performance, reinforced by artists from Germany and Lithuania, and with instruments from the composer’s era. We hope that in many cases, this fundamentally new approach allowed us to get closer to the prototype to verify some auditory as well as aesthetic habits regarding his work, and monographic concerts devoted to sacred music allowed you to enter, at least for a moment, the romantic world of inner thoughts and experiences of the original creator, Stanisław Moniuszko.