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Works by Roman Maciejewski




Utgivningsår: 2002

CD:n kan kostnadsfritt beställas från Musikhögskolan i Malmö.

Roman Maciejewski is, in many ways, difficult to categorize. Of course, his rather original life philosophy affected his work. He could be called "anticareerist". I personally think it is most significant that Maciejewski did not care at all if his musical language was perceived as traditional. Free from all "musts", he developed his own, very individual, musical universe. Antitheses, such as his gigantic "Requiem" and fascinating mazurkas, are the basis of his musical creation.

It is also difficult to describe Roman Maciejewski’s evolution. His violin sonata composed in 1938 is much more complicated than Trio, from 1948. Whereas Trio could be described as a charming, little pastoral and illustrative piece bound by close ties to folklore, the form of the sonata is much more developed – very serious and far from "easy listening". Furthermore, Trio has three movements with subtitles – from sunrise to the bustle of the main square – and does not invite any deeper reflection, while the sonata is written in one movement and has a very consistent structure. Ther are also traces of Maciejewski’s studies with Nadia Boulanger. This is a Polish tradition: all important Polish composers have been student of hers. She and the French atmosphere have made an impression on all of them. The French influence on Polish culture is, by the way, evident through the centuries in literature, visual arts and architecture as well as music. This partly explains why the works of the cosmopolitan Maciejewski – who had a Polish heart – often have an air of French palette colour. The same can be said for Lutoslawski. But one must not forget that "French" does not only stand for colour and elegance, but also for clarity and structure! The violin sonata starts with a short, improvisatory introduction that is soon transformed into a very motoric main theme. Naturally, the subsidiary theme is of a different charcter and culminates in a "golden section". To complete the form, the work dies away slowly, yet without loosing its emotional tension.

Now, to the Mazurka, which is a very difficult form – small, intimate, and based on Polish folk songs and folk dance. Unfortunately, it has far too often appeard as a "salon piece", which is quite contrary to the general idea of the mazurka. Not even great composers such as Alexander Scriabin could approach the mazurka and its rich, touching soul. There are only three composers that could, and they are all of Polish origin: Frédéric Chopin, Karol Szymanowski and Roman Maciejewski. Only they could capture the soul of the mazurka and make the music as genuine and deeply human as a plain folk song can be. I do not think that the anonymous creators of the great folk treasures were of lesser genius than the famous composers. Although nearly all composers have been influenced by folk music treasures, there are only a few who have managed to penetrate into the deep soul of folk music. Maciejewski is one of the chosen few.

In the years before the Second World War, Roman Maciejewski imbibed everything that was accesible and let himself be influenced by Paris and by Szymanowski while he tried to find his own path.

Maciejewski started to compose Mazurkas 1–4 at the age of 19, and only these have been published. Artur Rubinstein played some of them at some of his concerts – as did Maciejewski, who was an excellent pianist. These four mazurkas are already original, despite the strong influence of Szymanowski, and are quite different from the others that were never published. According to Maciejewski, composing mazurkas was a kind of "must" for him, a natural, creative expression that went on very irregularly for some 60 years, until 1990! But only a few have been "specified", most of them are sketches or "naked notes" without information about tempi, dynamics and phrasing and, moreover, without dates. Since no. 5 and no. 6 were dedicated to Rubinstein’s wife and her mother (and "Mazur" to Artur hemself), we know that they must have been written during Maciejewski’s stay in Rubinstein’s home, shortly before the war. Whereas no. 5 has a certain kinship with no. 3, no. 6 is very different, more developed and poetic. The ending, however, was written much later, perhaps even 10 years later. The next seven, nos. 7–13, must have been composed before 1960, together with some mazurkas of higher number. The musical language is here very different to the early ones’.

The expression in these mazurkas presents a great variety: from a plain tune in nos. 3 and 5, through merry dances – often in fast tempi – in nos. 4 and 10, poetic ambience in nos. 6, 7, 9, 11 and 13 to frenzy and obsessed, uninhibited whirling in no. 8 and the dramatic no. 12. The harmonics are daring, but are always the fundamental element for the emotional changes. Sometimes the harmonics are completely tonal, more often bitonal, but never totally atonal, which would be contrary to the folk music roots.

Roman Maciejewski is certainly a child of the 20th century, and although his musical language is rather advanced it is totally comprehensible to most listeners. I know this for sure from having played a series of his mazurkas in Europe as well as in Japan and in the USA: critics and audiences were agreed – Maciejewski’s music is something extraordinary, a true discovery!


Michal Wesolowski - piano (1–13)
Peter Spissky - violin
Torbjörn Helander - viola
Mariusz Kowalski - cello
Manlio Giordano - piano (17)



1. Allegro ma non troppo  3´08
2. Moderato  3´54
3. Andante non rubato  1´52
4. Maestoso – Allegro molto  2´54
5. Allegretto  1´58
6. Allegro moderato  3´36
7. Grazioso  0´54
8. Presto  2´05
9. Echo z Tatr ("Echo from Tatra Mountains")  2´12
10. Con brio  1´22
11. Allegretto rubato  2´42
12. Maestoso  4´49
13. Moderato  4´48

Trio "Matinata"

14. I Nightshadows  2´13
15. II Song at Sunrise  4´40
16. III The Daily Rush  2´34

17. Sonata for violin and piano  17´09

Recorded in January-July 1996 and in April-Maj 1997 at the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation (Studio 7), Malmö.
Produced by Bosse Bergkvist


Roman Maciejewski (1910–1998)

Roman Maciejewski was born in Berlin in 1910. At the age of six he was enrolled in S. Goldenweiser’s piano class at the Stern Conservatory in Berlin. Three years later, however, Roman’s family moved to Poland, where he entered the Poznan Conservatory. After completing his piano education, he took up composition with K. Sikorski. At sixteen, he became the leader of a choir named after Stanislaw Moniuszko (a 19th century Polish composer of national operas), with which he gave concerts in Poland and abroad. Later, Maciejewski continued his composition studies in Warsaw, but did not finish them, even thought he was considered to be one of the most promising of the younger composers. He was expelled from the Conservatory for organising a student strike in support of the outgoing rector, Karol Szymanowski, an important influence in Roman’s life. In 1933 Roman Maciejewski left Poland for good. After concerts in Sofia, Bucarest and serveral cities in Yugoslavia, Maciejewski was invited to play in Paris, where he settled for a period of time and joined the circle of French avant-garde composers led by Milhaud, Honegger, Poulenc and Stravinsky.

When Maciejewski went to England, invited by the German choreographer Kurt Jooss to write a ballet piece, he fell in love with and married one of Jooss’s ballet dancers, a Swedish woman from Gothenburg. Just when they left England to visit her parents in Sweden, the Second World War broke out and Roman Maciejewski never returned to England. He stayed in Sweden, making his living by monthly Chopin recitals on Swedish Radio and by writing music for theatre plays, mostly staged by a young director named Ingmar Bergman.

At the age of thirty, Roman fell seriously ill. Despite several operations his condition remained poor. So he changed his lifestyle completely – vegetarian diet, psycho-physical excercises including a special breathing technique, running, and swimming became his daily routine. Prayer and meditation made him feel closer to Nature, Cosmos and the Maker. And, miraculously, he recovered completely. Taking a detached view of life and its nervous rhythm, he remained a little on the sidelines. However, there was a price to pay for this independence. He gave up his pursuit of success, fame and money and, consequently, turned down many attractive offers. He turned down writing a concerto for the great concert pianist Artur Rbinstein, who was the encouragement for Maciejewski to come to the United States in the fifties, and he also said no to Samuel Goldwyn who offered him a prestigious position with MGM.

Roman Maciejewski preferred a quiet life in California where he made his living modestly as an organist and choir-master, as well as conductor of his own "Roman Choir". He enjoyed his lonely, almost reclusive way of life which favoured his work on his monumental "Requiem", which he completed in 1959, and dedicated to the victims of human ignorance, wars and tyrants’ prisons.

Although Roman Maciejewski did not try very hard to get "Requiem" played after its first performance in 1960 during the "Warsaw Autumn" festival, it was finally performed in the USA under one of the greatest American choir conductors, Roger Wagner, on the 1st of November 1975, and Maciejewski’s name became famous. In consequence, Roman left America in 1976 for the Canary Islands, where he spent months in the desert of one of the islands living in a tent! After his desert experience, he spent a short period in Poland. Then Maciejewski went back to Sweden for a visit, where he went into a music store and came upon an upright piano that delighted him so much that he spontaneously bought it. Then, he needed somewhere to put it, so he also bought a flat and stayed in Gothenburg until his death in 1998.

Dispite his modest attitude, Roman Maciejewski composed throughout his life. His music includes orchestral works, chamber music, choral pieces (masses with organ), ballet and theatre music, and, not least, piano pieces, including for example some thirty completed muzurkas and even pieces for two pianos.

However, Maciejewski never treated composing as a profession, but as something that "comes from the heart". This is why he never concerned himself very much with the fate of his compositions. As a result, some have been lost, others have been scattered all over the world, and only a few have been published. It is therefore a pleasure to be able to present at least some of his works on this CD.