Zygmunt Stojowski Symphony gets a new recording

Zygmunt Stojowski may not be a familiar name today, but he was a major figure in 20th Century music. In 1905, he became piano department chair for the Institute of Musical Art (later Julliard). His teaching over the next four decades would influence hundreds of pianists.

Stojowski was also well-respected as a composer, although here his influence was minimal. This release presents two of his orchestral works, both worthy of attention.

Stojowski’s Symphony in D minor, Op. 21 was his most famous composition and the one that established his career.

The Symphony won first prize at the 1898 Paderewski Competition in Leipzig. And for a time, it was regularly programmed in concerts throughout Europe.

This is a full-blown late-Romantic symphony. Stojowski uses Brahms as his model, creating strong, dramatic melodies. He was also a fine orchestrator. His use of winds and percussion is masterful. Stojowski had something to say, and he said it in his own voice.

Also included is his earlier Suite in E-flat major.  Stojowski dedicated it to Hans Bülow, who performed it with the Berlin Philharmonic. Brahms heard the Suite in concert and enthusiastically admired its orchestration.

Brahms wasn’t wrong. This is a real showpiece for the orchestra. Stojowski has some unusual instrumental combinations, but they all work. The Suite also has more overtly Polish elements in it than the Symphony. They also add to the work’s appeal.

Antoni Wit leads the Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pflaz in some fine performances. Wit’s a champion of Polish music. His direction brings out those elements — particularly in the Suite.

Zygmunt Stojowski: Symphony in D minor, Op. 21
Suite for Orchestra in E-flat major, Op. 9
Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pflaz; Antoni Wit, conductor
Capriccio C5464

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