Stanisław Moniuszko

Born on 5th May 1819 in Ubel, d. on 4th June 1872 in Warsaw, Moniuszko came from a landowning family in the area of Minsk. He learnt music first in Warsaw, then in Minsk and Berlin. Then he settled in Vilnius, where for 18 years he had a busy artistic career as a composer, organist at St John’s Church, organiser of artistic events, and teacher. In Vilnius he wrote his first compositions for the stage (the operettas and vaudevilles entitled: A Night in the Apennines, Perfection, Carmagnole, The New Don Quixote, and The Yellow Nightcap), as well as the first booklets of his Songbooks for Home Use. For the Vilnius St Cecilia Society, which he founded himself, he composed a Mass and the fourth of his Litanies of Ostra Brama. It was in Vilnius as well that the first two-act version of his Halka was premiered (in 1848). In 1858 he travelled to Paris, where he began his work on The Raftsman. On his return to Poland, he moved permanently to Warsaw, taking over the post of director of Warsaw Opera, and later also of lecturer in harmony and counterpoint at the Music Institute. In the following years he wrote more operas: The Countess (1859), Verbum nobile (1860), The Haunted Manor (1861–1864), Paria (1859–1869), as well as the operetta Beata, the ballets Monte Christo, Satan’s Tricks (aka Devil’s Frolics), On the Billet, and his only non-stage work from that period: Crimean Sonnets (1867).

Moniuszko was, apart from Chopin, the most eminent personality in 19th-century Polish music. His work was of enormous importance for the development of Polish musical culture. His music is simple and straightforward, tailored to the needs and possibilities of the contemporary audience.
It quickly reached the widest circles of the Polish society.

He went down in history first and foremost as the founder of the Polish national opera proper; the first Polish opera composer whose works have stood the test of time, and proved more successful than foreign repertoire. He can also rightfully be called the father of the Polish art song genre. Of his 278 songs, 268 are collected in the twelve booklets of his Songbooks for Home Use.

Phot. Jan Mieczkowski
Przewiń do góry