Łukasz Kuropaczewski

Guitar in the Garden

Thu, July 23, 2015, 7:00pm


It’s a warm July evening. Lush, tranquil gardens embrace a stone relic of generations past, the Medieval Mount, as a light breeze filters through a tall stand of cedars beyond, hovering briefly among the greenery. You’ve entered the Sunken Garden, a placid retreat at the southeast corner of this Italianate campus and the setting for Guitar in the Garden, a serene and intimate listening experience offered each summer at Caramoor.

Łukasz Kuropaczewski returns to Caramoor for his second Guitar in the Garden appearance with favorites of the Classical Guitar repertoire, including Giuliani and Albeniz. Kuropaczewski will also pay homage to his Polish heritage with pieces by three legendary Polish composers, Alexandre Tansman, Kryzysztof Penderecki, and Kryzysztof Meyer.

Giuliani  Rossiniana No. 3
Tansman  Prelude et Interlude
Penderecki Aria and Cadenza
Anonymous Romance d’Amore
Meyer  Sonata
Albeniz Asturias

Audiences relish the free-flowing synergy with artists this peaceful outdoor series allows, as well as the post-concert Afterglow reception and artist meet-and-greet. Experience pastoral listening at its finest with us.


Łukasz Kuropaczewski

Guitarist Lukasz Kuropaczewski is quickly becoming a major figure on the worldwide classical music scene. Born in 1981 in the small Polish town of Gniezno, Lukasz began studying guitar at the age of ten. At 13 his early talent brought him to the attention of the distinguished guitar teacher Piotr Zaleski with whom he studied from 1994 to 2003.

Upon receiving a masters degree from the Academy of Music in Wroclaw, Poland, he came to the U.S. on a full scholarship to study with Maestro Manuel Barrueco at the Peabody Institute, Baltimore, MD where he was awarded an Artist Diploma in 2008.

At the same time, he was playing concerts in his native land and around the world demonstrating his remarkable passion and precision to enthusiastic audiences. Always in great demand to play solo and with orchestras he has been invited to perform in France, Spain, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Iceland, Greece, Bulgaria, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Panama and the United States. Among his outstanding appearances have been solo recitals in London’s Royal Festival Hall, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Warsaw’s National Philharmonic Hall, Tchaikovsky Hall in Moscow and Carnegie Hall in New York. He has collaborated in chamber music with musicians from his native Poland as well as from the Cleveland Orchestra, the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra and the San Antonio Symphony in a wide range of works from Vivaldi to Boccherini. He has received over the years an avalanche of praise from music critics in America and abroad.

“The fast and precise touch of this young musician electrified the audience.” (International Guitar Festival, Ameria, Spain) “Lukasz gave the most dramatic, dynamic and emotional recital I believe I have ever witnessed.” (Manuel Barrueco Masterclass, Peabody Institute, Baltimore, MD) “Kuropaczewski understands music like nobody else does and he seems to love what he does.” (Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland).

Mr. Kuropaczewski was a guitar teacher at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia from 2008-2010. Currently he is on the faculty of the Academy of Music in Poznan, Poland. He is also the Artistic Director of the Polish Guitar Academy Festival held in Poznan, Poland every year.( www.polish-guitar-academy.com ) He has recorded 6 CDs to date. His newest one Nocturnal was published by Ponte Art Production and National Polish Radio. The record is being greatly received by critics and press.

Mr. Kuropaczewski plays on a Ross Gutmeier guitar strung with Savarez Corum Alliance strings. He is represented in Europe by Ludwig van Beethoven Association and in the USA and Canada by Dan McDaniel, LLC.

Łukasz Kuropaczewski previously appeared at Caramoor July 1, 2010.

About the Music


Mauro Giuliani /1781-1829/Rossiniana No. 3

We don’t normally think of the guitar in connection with the Vienna of Beethoven and Schubert, yet the instrument was very popular there (Schubert actually composed for it), sparked by the presence of one of the great masters of the guitar, the Italian‑ born Mauro Giuliani.

Giuliani had left Italy because there was little public interest in any musical genre but opera; he settled in Vienna in 1806 and quickly attained renown as the greatest living guitarist. He was also a professional cellist, and in that capacity he played in the world premiere of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony (in an orchestra that also included Hummel and Spohr). He composed more than 200 works for the guitar, including solo compositions, chamber music, songs with guitar accompaniment, and three concertos.

During Giuliani’s time in Vienna, Rossini’s operas had completely captivated local audiences. (The young Schubert tried to capitalize on the trend by writing a couple of Overtures in the Italian Style, though his genius lay elsewhere.) Giuliani composed six virtuosic guitar pieces with the title Rossiniana, and published them with the opus numbers 119 to 125, respectively. Each one was a medley of arias from several Rossini operas (popular then, though most of them are known only to specialists now), arranged so as to demonstrate his own phenomenal ability on the guitar.

Rossiniana 3 consists of selections from five operas, of which only Cenerentola has been performed with any frequency in this country in recent years: Introduction (Maestoso sostenuto); “Un soave non so che” from Cenerentola (Cinderella); “Oh mattutini albori!” from La donna del lago (The Lady of the Lake); “Questo vecchio maledetto” from Il Turco in Italia (The Turk in Italy); “Sorte! Secondami” from Zelmira; and “Cinto di nuovi allori” from Ricciardo et Zoraïde.


Alexandre Tansman/1897-1986/ Prelude et Interlude

Though he achieved a rapid and widespread fame in his long lifetime—friendships with Stravinsky and Ravel, performances led by conductors such as Koussevitzky, Toscanini, Mengelberg, Stokowski, Monteux and others, acquaintances with Gershwin and Charlie Chaplin, travels worldwide (including to India, where he was the guest of Mahatma Gandhi)—Alexandre Tansman’s name and work have been largely forgotten in the thirty years since his death.

Tansman was born in Poland and always retained pride in his heritage. At the age of twenty-two, he won three separate prizes in the Polish National Music Competition, but when local critics complained that the young man’s music was too bold, he moved to Paris, then the center of musical modernity, and there he joined a substantial group of foreign composers resident there.

His Jewish background made a departure from France imperative in the late 1930s; with the assistance of his friend Charlie Chaplin he was able to go to Los Angeles; during the next several years he composed a few film scores. But after the war he returned to Paris and spent the remaining forty years of his life settled there, turning out an extraordinary body of work, including operas, ballets, nine symphonies, a large number of other orchestral works, eight string quartets, and much other chamber music, including several works for solo guitar.

The two movements form a single piece. The Prélude (Allegro con moto) begins with a lively series of arpeggios running behind a more sustained melody, in the fashion of Bach’s preludes; a middle section drops the arpeggios for a poignant emphasis on melody, after which the arpeggios take up again. The Interlude (Lento cantabile) is a kind of slow, somber processional.


Krzysztof Penderecki /b. 1933/Aria and Cadenza

Krzysztof Penderecki burst onto the musical scene in his native Poland in 1959 when he entered the Youth Circle competition of the Association of Polish Composers. As is normal in such cases, the works are submitted anonymously, coded by number only until the final selection is made. The jurors selected three prize-winning works: one for soprano, narrator, and ten instruments called Strophes, one for string orchestra called Emanations, and one for chorus and percussion called Psalms of David. When they opened the envelopes that identified the prize winners, they learned that all three compositions had come from the pen of a 26‑year‑old composer named Penderecki!

Penderecki grew up in a small town where he witnessed as a small child some of the terrible events of the Second World War. This traumatic experience made him sensitive to the experience of war and occupation, to their effects particularly on the helpless victims. Along with his youthful religious training (his parents at one point hoped he would go into the church), this experience opened the composer to themes of universal significance and of empathy for those who struggle.

Following early training as a violinist, which certainly played a role in his marked predilection for the string orchestra, he began studying composition at the age of 20 and two years later found his first influential teacher, Artur Malawski, at the State High School for Music in Krakow. Later he studied also with Stanislaw Wiechowicz, who had a reputation especially in the field of choral music. He was well on the road to recognition even before winning the top three prizes in the 1959 competition; the year before, at the age of twenty-five, he graduated from the Kraków Academy of Music and was at once named a professor of composition there.

Like many young musicians in Poland in the late 1950s, Penderecki was fascinated by the power of sound in its most elemental guise. But while many other composers whiled away their energies in manneristic games with instrumental tricks of one kind or another, Penderecki used the newly extended vocabulary of sounds to strong expressive purpose in music that made a powerful, direct appeal to the listener. From quite early on he made a strong impression throughout the musical world—and even among listeners who rarely go to hear concerts of contemporary music—with his Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima, his St. Luke Passion, and his Polish Requiem, called forth by the Solidarity movement in Poland during the 1980s. He has also composed symphonies and operas consistently.

Penderecki transcribed the Aria from his Cello Suite (sixth movement), for Lukasz Kuropaczewski. For the lively second movement, he transcribed for guitar his 1984 Cadenza for viola, a much more modernistic and virtuosic work, providing profound contrast to the first movement.


Anonymous /Romance d’Amore

This is a hugely popular work that has been attributed to a number of composers, but there seems to be no documentation sufficient to determine for sure who actually wrote it. The name most commonly associated with it is that of Antonio Ribeira, whose name appears on one source manuscript (all of which date from the late 19th century). Another simply says “Melodia di Sor” (melody by [Fernando] Sor.” The piece became widely known when it was performed in the film Jeux interdites (“Forbidden games”) of 1952, where it is ascribed to Narciso Yepes, but he was born long after the song was first published. It appears in an earlier film, Blood and Sand of 1941, for which Vincete Gomez claimed authorship.

Since then the tune has appeared in a wide range of versions—in films, in recordings by pop stars of various styles (and in various languages), even in the soundtrack to a video game. It has been sung in Spanish, French, English, Swedish, Cantonese, and no doubt other languages. But barring the unlikely discovery of a signed manuscript predating the late 19th-century copies made by unknown hands, it is unlikely that the mystery of the songs’ origin will ever be resolved. It will simply continue to be played and enjoyed in its anonymity.


Krzysztof Meyer/b. 1943/ “Triptych” for guitar

Krzysztof Meyer began his musical studies early in his native Krakow. He played piano and organ as a boy and began the study of composition at age eleven, with Stanislaw Wiechowicz, continuing with him at the State College of Music there until his teacher’s death in 1964. He worked with Krzysztof Penderecki to achieve his diploma the following year. After that he went to Paris to study with Nadia Boulanger and later studied privately with Witold Lutoslawski.

An active composer, he has also held significant academic positions: Dean of the Department of Music Theory of his alma mater (now renamed the Academy of Music in Krakow), President of the Union of Polish Composers in the late 1980s, and—from 1987 until his retirement in 2008, as professor of composition at the Hochschule für Musik in Cologne, Germany.
His compositions include eight symphonies, of which numbers 2, 3, and 8 have vocal components; four works for the stage including a “fantastic comic opera,” Cyberiada, based on a story by the Russian science fiction writer Stanislaw Lem, a children’s opera, and a completed version of Shostakovich’s The Gamblers, which had been left unfinished.
Meyer composed his “Triptych” for Lukasz Kuropaczewski; this performance is the American premiere.


Isaac Albeniz /1860-1090/Asturias

Isaac Albeniz (1860‑1909) is to Spain what Aaron Copland is to the United States—a prime force in the creation of a truly national music. During the nineteenth century, the use of Spanish rhythms and melodic turns as an exotic device was much used by composers as diverse as Lalo, Bizet, Rimsky‑Korsakov, and Victor Herbert. In the early years of this century, too, both Debussy and Ravel made much use of the Spanish idiom. But by that time the influence had become a two-way street. Isaac Albeniz, after showing precocious gifts as a pianist, traveled widely to perform and study. His peripatetic youth took him to Argentina (as a stowaway at the age of twelve!), Brazil, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and all the way across the United States to San Francisco. He returned to Spain in 1873, then went to study with the distinguished pedagogues of the Leipzig Conservatory, Salomon Jadassohn and Carl Reinecke.

Fatefully, he met the Spanish composer and musicologist Felipe Pedrell, who encouraged him to delve into the musical resources of his own country, and who opened up to him the riches of true Spanish music, as opposed to the flashy imitations of foreign visitors. He became a teacher in the Schola Cantorum in Paris, where he lived, on and off, for nearly ten years. He was, of course, active as a composer and pianist during this time, and thus was part of the great ferment of musical activity that we lump under the general designation of “impressionism.”
Albéniz’s instrument was the piano, and he composed any number of truly Spanish works for that instrument. He assembled his Suite española in 1886, gathering his versions of traditional songs and dances from Andalucia and other Spanish regions. The number entitled Asturias, leyenda (a legend from Asturias), though composed for piano, so perfectly captures the idiom of the guitar—on which Albeniz originally heard them performed—that many have been transcribed for what we might call the original instrument.

© Steven Ledbetter