Stanisław Moniuszko

STANISŁAW MONIUSZKO is a classic figure of Polish music and founder of the Polish national operatic style. He was born in the village of Ubiel, Minsk Governorate. From his young age he studied music in Minsk and Warsaw. In 1837, he left for Berlin to study at the Sing-Akademie (1837 – 1840), where he received professional training and made his first compositional attempts. After completing his education, in 1840 he settled in Wilno (now Vilnius, Lithuania) where he worked as an organist at the Saint Paul Catholic Church. He organized a choir and a small symphony orchestra, engaged in composing, taught lessons in piano and composition, wrote articles for music periodicals, participated in the public life of the city. It was here that he began his active composing career. Moniuszko wrote music for the stage, vocal-instrumental and orchestral works, songs and other music, but of special value were his operas and lyrical songs. In Wilno he produced the early version of Halka, his most famous opera (1848), as well as the operatic works Loteria (‘The Lottery’); Ideał, czyli Nowe Precjoza (‘Perfection, or The New Preciosa’), operettas The New Don Quixote or One Hundred Follies and Jawnuta, numerous songs. On January 1, 1858, a revised version of Halka was presented in Warsaw to enormous success. Audiences were delighted, the tunes became popular and the people took up to singing them. In the history of Polish music, the premiere of Halka is considered the birthday of Polish classical opera. In 1858, Moniuszko was invited to take up the post of principal conductor of the Polish Opera at the Teatr Wielki in Warsaw, where he remained until his death in 1872. In 1865, a staging of his opera Straszny Dwór (‘The Haunted Manor’) met with enthusiastic reception, and his new opera turned out a success comparable to that of Halka. In 1864, Moniuszko started lecturing at the Warsaw Institute of Music, simultaneously presenting his works in Germany, France and other European countries. He also authored: operas Flis (‘The Raftsman’, 1858), Hrabina (‘The Countess’, 1859), Verbum nobile (‘The Word of a Nobleman’, 1860), Straszny Dwór (‘The Haunted Manor’, 1865); the ballet Monte Cristo; the cantatas Sonety krymskie (‘Crimean Sonnets’) and Pani Twardowska on texts by Adam Mickiewicz, the Overture Bajka (‘A Fairy Tale’), among others.

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