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Olga Tokarczuk - Nobel Prize for Literature 2018

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Diary entries:

March 23  2018
Last night I attended an interview/lecture Olga Tokarczuk gave at the British Library in London. Thought provoking in the extreme. I suggest you buy this book ('Flights' or 'Bieguni' in Polish) published quite some time ago now (2007) but recently long-listed for the International Booker Prize. It will sell out after she wins! My prediction....


May 1st 2018

Am at present reading the Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk's 'Flights'. 'Bieguni' in Polish.




A brilliant and unique vision and formal experiment in composition. Formal experiment so rarely happens in English books - publishers with their eye on sales dare not but will publish translations that experiment of course!
The book is based upon the idea of self contained sequences that concern travelling, human anatomy and experiences during periods of mobility disconnection from everyday predictable routine and habit. The sequences are of different lengths yet discrete, stories and pe…

18th International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition 2-23 October 2020

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18th Chopin Competition Warsaw


A record number of applications for the Chopin Competition!

On 1 December there was a deadline for submitting the applications for the 18th International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition, which will take place in 2020, organised by The Fryderyk Chopin Institute. In the period given by the Regulations, the record number of over 500 applications were submitted. It is the next record number in almost 100-year history of the Chopin Competition – in every next edition, a bigger number of applications are submitted. In 2015 452 pianists applied, and in 2010 – 353.

The applications were sent by pianists from as many as 53 countries. The biggest groups of candidates come from China (over 100 applications), Japan (over 90 applications) and Poland (over 60 applications); there are strong representations from the USA, Canada, South Korea, Italy and France. The pianists applied from such various places as: Argentina, Australia, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Georgia, Iceland, Ka…

Grigory Sokolov - Warsaw Recital - 1 December 2019 - Songs of Innocence and Experience

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In Warsaw last night, Grigory Sokolov hypnotized the entire audience of a fully packed hall into complete silence with his conception and recreation of the joyful innocence of Mozart and the profound seriousness of Brahms. Pure music of the greatest integrity and truth reigned supreme here, quite beyond the medium of the performer and the instrument, both becoming merely a conduit to the spirit of man laid out before us, man an atom in the spinning firmament. 
Innumerable hidden details were revealed by his consummate technique and by his profound philosophical and musical penetration. I was reminded of a comment made by Arthur Rubinstein when he observed that in live performance in a concert hall in the presence of a great artist, one is affected by their 'electromagnetic vibrations' that fill the space, electrical connections that cannot be captured on a recording, the way the artist plays directly on your soul and takes hold of it. Such a miraculous phenomenon went far beyon…

All Saints Day in Poland - 1 November 2019 - A Triumph of Humanity - A Memory Recalled

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Click on photographs to enlarge - far superior rendition


[Polish translation of this passage is in green below - scroll down]
The original fabric of eighteenth and nineteenth-century Warsaw has almost disappeared except paradoxically among the dead at Powązki cemetery. In many respects it is an extension of the tombs at Wawel in Kraków. Particularly eminent citizens are buried there among the legions of the forgotten. An autumn funeral at Powązki is particularly moving. The mourner emerges into a chill sun from under the cupola of the cemetery church of St. Charles Borromeo. The last leaves of summer flutter down like flakes of gold from an azure sky. One follows the coffin drawn by men dressed in eighteenth century livery of gilded black behind the priest and swaying cross along far-reaching allées to the waiting vault.

On this day Poles not only honour departed members of their own families but all who have contributed to the national identity – in politics, the military, the arts and …