masters

BRZOZOWY Stanisław

1901–1983

singer

He was born and lived in Krobia near Kadzidło. He was the best representative of  kurpiowski style singing. While he was one of many male singers from the Green Forest, he was undoubtedly one of the most interesting artists of this genre, considering all who have been recorded in the second half of the XXth century.

The employees of the National Institute of Art recorded his singing for the first time in 1952 and then again in 1956, 1978 and 1980. He was also recorded in his native Krobia in the fifties and then in 1978. Finally, he was recorded in 1980 in Rzekunia near Ostrołęka, when visiting his daugther, Maria Orzech, a teacher born in 1936. Maria, similarly to her sister Genowefa, inherited some of her father's repertoire and took after him in singing style. In the recordings from 1978  Brzozowy also sang with Rozalia Pabich (born in 1904). All of the above mentioned recordings are currently kept in the Phonographic Archives of the Art Institute at the Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN). Polish Radio did not manage to record S.Brzozowski in time, or to document his artistic activity.

 From his early years Stanisław Brzozowy felt very much connected to the Forest, he also took to hunting. He acquired a wide singing repertoire which also included wedding songs. He was particularly keen on outdoor singing (“forest” songs – a term coined by priest Władysław Skierkowski). Words of Stanisław Brzozowy illustrate the aesthetics of kurpiowski singing: variety of inspirations (nature scenes, views of animals); co-existence and empathy with the natural environment expressed through sensitivity to echo; clear, natural emotional sensitivity visible in melismas and vocal ornamentations (kulasiki – vocal bending), vocal fluidity (glissando) and finally, a full and far-reaching voice.

His singing usually commenced in a particular manner (whispered pickup – quiet harmonic tones under the starting tone then reached by glissando); he would often finish by apocopa - a cut off or silencing of the last syllable (Brzozowy used to call it “ending within”). Also, he would frequently enrich the ending of a stanza by yodeling (a harmonic tone above the note sang). It was typical for him (if he sang seated, and not, as it is the custom in the Kurpias - standing) to put his cupped palm to his ear to listen to the inner resonance of his own voice. The singer used to say that it made the tone “clang” better.

 Brzozowy was considered an “ancient” singer already in the nineteen fifties. It seems that he deemed dynamism, richness of sound and singing in general  more important than the lyrics. In this regard Brzozowy's performances had a lot in common with the way men in Polesie sang.

 Jan Stęszewski defined Brzozowy's performance style on the basis of his field work and recordings transcription. Piotr Dahlig wrote singer's biography, referring to the interviews with the artist. Jacek P. Jackowski  published an anthology of kurpiowski recordings in the Art Institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences – this collection begins by seven songs performed by Brzozowy. We can observe a massive interest in Brzozowy's singing, repertoire and persona among young people from the cities engaged in the revival movement. This younger generation learned Brzozowy's songs from recordings during the sessions of International School of Traditional Music led by the “Music of Borderlands (Kresy)” Foundation. Olga Kozieł, musicology student at the Warsaw University, is currently conducting research on Brzozowy's impact on his family and musical heirs.

 



Bibliography


2003 – Piotr Dahlig,  Stanisław Brzozowy (1901–1983) jako klasyk wśród śpiewaków ludowych, „Przegląd Muzykologiczny” t. III, red. Z. Skowron. Warszawa


1965 – Jan Stęszewski,  Problematyka historyczna pieśni kurpiowskiej, maszynopis w ISPAN



Discography


2009 - Hen, gdzie piaski i moczary, gdzie zielone zawsze bory...Pieśni Puszczy Kurpiowskiej; Folk Music Collection vol. 5, IS PAN, komentarz etnomuzykologiczny: Jacek P. Jackowski

Archives

Phonographic Archives of the Art Institute at the Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN)

 

Author: Piotr Dahlig