Aleksander Tansman at St. John’s Smith Square

Aleksander Tansman at St. John’s Smith Square, 15th and 16th November 2008

Aleksander Tansman was born in Lódz, Poland in 1897 and died in Paris, 1986. During the war years, he spent some time in Hollywood.

The Alvarez Chamber Orchestra is presenting two concerts in the season Northern Ayres; an Anglo-Polish Celebration. They will be focusing on the music of the Polish Jewish composer Aleksander Tansman performed in the presence of his daughters Mesdames Mireille Tansman-Zanuttini and Marianne Tansman-Martinozzi who will give a pre-concert talk on the 16th at 6.30.

The concerts also celebrate the 70th birthday of composer and pianist Maestro Zygmunt Krauze who was awarded the Legion of Honour for services to French culture earlier this year and whose works form the title of each programme: the first programme on the 15th, Terra Incognita, features Aleksander Tansman’s Sinfonietta n° 2 (1978), and Fantasia on Tansman’s Last Theme: Alla Polacca, (2007) a homage to Tansman based on his last work, Alla Polacca (1985) for viola and piano, by the orchestra’s conductor and musical director, Geoffrey Alvarez, who was a prize winning composer and soloist with the Arthur Rubinstein Lódz Philharmonic Orchestra in the Final of the Tansman 6th International Competition of Musical Personalities, Composers Competition, Lódz.

The second programme on the 16th contains two works by Tansman: his Diptyque (1969) and his Clarinet Concerto (1957).

Tansman’s compositional personality reflects many aspects of his life: his Polish nationality, his love of France, his close friendships with composers such as Prokofiev, Ravel, Stravinsky and Gershwin, the conductors with whom he worked, such as Koussevitzky and Toscanni, the guitarist Segovia, and luminaries in other disciplines such as Charlie Chaplin, Gide and Einstein all have some bearing on his very individual style and choice of medium; his neo-classicism resulting from his great admiration for Stravinsky, and his many works for guitar owing something to his association with Segovia, for instance.

The other aspect of his compositional personality was an expression of his Jewish heritage, and resulted in the opera Sabbatai Zevi, le faux Messie (1958). However, he always cared deeply about his kraj rodzinny, his ‘home country’; in 1980 he wrote Mazurka for Lech Walesa.

Further details may be obtained from the Alvarez Chamber Orchestra website.