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The Warsaw Voice » Other » September 16, 2009
The Lower Silesia Voice
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Souls on Fire
September 16, 2009 By Barbara Deręgowska   
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Szczawno-Zdrój, picturesquely located at the foot of the Wałbrzyskie Mountains, is a health resort in Lower Silesia keen to make the most of its history and local traditions.

For over four decades, Szczawno-Zdrój has hosted the Henryk Wieniawski Festival. Wieniawski, a composer and violinist of global fame, visited the resort twice, in 1855 and 1857. At the tender age of 20, Wieniawski was entered on the official guest list of the health resort as the court soloist of the Russian czar. He was also a knight of many orders. While in Szczawno-Zdrój for his health, he was keen to give concerts in the sitting room of what today is the White Hall, where culture lovers liked to gather. Today, most clients who come here mainly entertain themselves to the Polish variety of disco music.

Prof. Vladimir Grigorev, for many years an honorary guest of the festival and the author of an in-depth monograph on Wieniawski, wrote the following about the composer: "It is performers like him that create eras in musical art. They influence composers and stimulate them to write music. It is great artists that have the gift of captivating not only music-craving souls, but also souls that are indifferent to beauty. Touched by the artistry of play, such souls begin to sense the desire to take part in concerts and listen to music to help them forget about their petty daily problems and find joy in true experiences. It is no coincidence that the artistic brilliance of such performers often coexists with the gift of writing music. Such were Wieniawski's contemporaries: Chopin, Liszt and Rubinstein. And such was Wieniawski himself."

This year's festival began with the Violin Concerto No. 2 in D Minor op. 22 by Wieniawski, performed by violinist Jarosław Nadrzycki and the Lower Silesia Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Jerzy Swoboda. The opening concert at the Zdrojowy Theater in Szczawno-Zdrój also featured works by Stanisław Moniuszko and Pyotr Tchaikovsky. Performers during the three festival days that followed included the Wilanów Quartet, who delivered beautiful renditions of works by Edvard Grieg, and violinist Maria Włoszczowska with the Wratislavia Chamber Orchestra conducted by Jan Stanienda. Włoszczowska was accompanied by pianist Krzysztof Stanienda and actors from the Wrocław Puppet Theater. The actors gave the premiere performance of Joseph Haydn's marionette opera Die Feuerbrunst. This unusual show was directed by Robert Skolmowski and featured the Leopoldinum Wrocław Chamber Orchestra, four singers, five actors and nine marionettes. Viewers were surprised by spectacular effects such as a fire suddenly breaking out in the theater.
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