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April 2017
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Bach, Poland and Polish style in his Music
Lectures by Szymon Paczkowski


Thursday, April 20, 2017 - Tuesday, May 2, 2017


In 1736, Johann Sebastian Bach became Royal Polish and Electoral Saxon Composer (Königlich-Polnischer und Kurfürstlich-Sächsischer Hof-Compositeur), during the era when the Elector of Saxony, Augustus III, also sat on the Polish throne. Bach's well-known and frequently-cited title raises curious questions concerning the composer's Polish connections in the 18th Century, yet the topic remains surprisingly unexplored, even by Polish researchers.


Szymon Paczkowski, a distinguished Bach specialist from the University of Warsaw, will present a series of lectures, reviewing current knowledge of this issue, and will outline promising areas of research. What we know of Bach's contacts with Poland and with Poles raises many fascinating questions about the work of Bach's pupils in Poland, the image of Poland in Bach's music, the reception of Bach's music in 18th-century Poland, the transfer of Bach sources to Poland and further afield in the east, and more. Dr. Paczkowski will also examine the popularity of the so-called "Polish style" in the music of the time and attempt to explain the presence and importance of Polish elements in Bach's music.


The lecture will also provide an opportunity to present Szymon Paczkowski's latest book, Polish Style in the Music of Johann Sebastian Bach (Rowman & Littlefield 2016), which is the first in-depth exploration of the so-called "Polish style" in Bach's music. The book explores the semantic and rhetorical functions that undergird the Polish style in Baroque music. It demonstrates how the notion of a Polish style in music was developed in German music theory, and conjectures that Bach's successful application for the title of Court Composer at the court of the Elector of Saxony and King of Poland would induce the composer to deliberately use elements of the Polish style.


The lectures are presented by the CUNY Graduate Center, Temple University, University of Madison-Wisconsin, and supported by the Polish Cultural Institute New York.


Polish Style in the Music of Johann Sebastian Bach. Use code: 7A30AUTHF for a 30% discount


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