Archive for 'Culture'

Great Polish libraries

Posted on 27. Aug, 2015 by in Culture, Literature, Science

Many predict that the digital age will wipe public bookshelves clean, and permanently end the centuries-old era of libraries. As libraries’ relevance comes into question, librarians face an existential crisis at a time when students need them the most. Despite their perceived obsolescence in the digital age, both libraries and librarians are irreplaceable for many reasons.

Not Everything is Available on the Internet (Nie wszystko jest dostępne w Internecie): The amazing amount of useful information on the web has, for some, engendered the false assumption everything can be found online. It’s simply not true. Google Books recognizes this. That’s why they take on the task of digitizing millions of books from the world’s largest libraries. But even if Google does successfully digitize the sum of human knowledge, it is unlikely that the sum of contemporary authors and publishers will not allow their works to be freely accessible over the internet. It is already prohibited by law to make copyrighted books fully accessible through Google Book search.

Another important thing: the Internet isn’t free (Internet nie jest bezpłatny). Numerous academic research papers, journals, and other important materials are virtually inaccessible to someone seeking to pull them off the web for free. Rather, access is restricted to expensive subscription accounts, which are typically paid for by college libraries. Visiting a college library in person or logging in to the library through your school account, is therefore the only way to affordably access necessary archived resources.

There are some amazing libraries in Poland! You should definitely try to visit them in your spare time. Lots of them have a unique architecture, an impressive collection or a modern technology. Places, I would like to share with you, stand out among the others.

The University of Warsaw Library (Biblioteka Uniwersytecka w Warszawie)

The UW Library is one of the most important Polish libraries. A modern building consists of two parts: a commercial area (shops, cafes, offices) and a library space (reading rooms, a lending room, open stacks). Both structures are covered with an amazing garden. It is opens for all visitors, not only for students and employees.

We can distinguish to parts – lower and upper garden which are connected with lots of paths and bridges. During a walking we can admire a wide range of plants. Definitely a fish pond and a small fountain are noteworthy. When you see swimming ducks, fishes, blue or pinkish-white trees and shrubs, you will never think that this is the Library’s roof!

Certainly everybody will enjoy a visit here, and working in the office with an outstanding panorama of the whole Warsaw is without a doubt a pleasure.

FOT. ZIEMOWIT WARDECKI / AGENCJA GAZETA

My own photo taken 3 years ago

My own photo taken 3 years ago

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Another great library to visit is The Jagiellonian Library in Kraków (Biblioteka Jagiellońska w Krakowie). History of the Jagiellonian Library is combined with the Jagiellonian University (Uniwersytet Jagielloński) which was established in the fourteenth century. A quantity and a diversity of collection is a reason to including the Library to the National Repository. Many rare books like medieval manuscripts or a collection of Polish underground literature can be found here. The main building has ten various reading rooms. The greatest is the Main Reading Room, also called Lectorium, can fit in 164 readers and allow using the reference collection which contains the newest and most important books from all the fields of knowledge. Bookshelves itself are impressive. They are situated on the two floors in each side of room. An imposing stained glass window on the ceiling let a light in. Additionally, old-fashioned, heavy, wooden tables create an exceptionally pleasant atmosphere.

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As always, please let us know about your experience with Polish libraries:) We would love if you share them with us in comments below.

What international festivals in Poland would you like to see?

Posted on 12. Aug, 2015 by in Countries, Culture, music

Poland is a place where many cultural events happen, no doubt about that! Throughout the years big Polish cities organized a bunch of festivals. Their range vary from smoky jazz sessions and students days to serious classical music performances. There are also all kinds of folklore and sailor festivals. Here are some of these great festivals

One of the oldest is Wratislavia Cantans (Check this website out for more details) an international music and fine arts festival organized in Wrocław since 1966. It’s creator was a conductor, director of Philharmonic and composer Andrzej Markowski. Thanks to this excellent artist Wrocław might see live performances of numerous masterpieces of oratorio music by Monteverdi, Bach, Händel and others. His successors (Tadeusz Strugala, Lidia Geringer d’Oedenberg and Andrzej Kosendiak) first extended festivals’ formula, including chamber concerts, recitals and the visual art presentations ballet, opera in concert or film version and instrumental works, to back once again to vocal music. This festival takes place every Autumn (this year September 6-19th). So if you are a connoisseurs of classical music, reserve yourself time in September to visit Poland!

05.09.2002 PARADYZ KONCERT BRYTYJSKIEJ SKRZYPACZKI RACHEL PODGER Z ORKIESTRA ARTE DEI SUONATORI FOT.MARCIN LOBACZEWSKI / AGENCJA GAZETA TCGWR Co Jest Grane - Wroc³aw SLOWA KLUCZOWE: MENEL MENELE ZDJÊCIE DO WK£ADKI: TCGWR Co Jest Grane - Wroc³aw

Another great festival to see is  “Warsaw Autumn” (Warszawska Jesień). It is a festival with a long tradition and a true witness to music history. It is the only contemporary music festival in Poland on an international scale and with an international status. This annual event was founded in 1956 by two composers and dedicated to contemporary music. The aim of this festival was and is to present new Polish and world music. Established in hard times of comunism was an island of creative freedom and art. It’s formula was always based on ecltecticism in its positive meaning. You can find there not only musical radicalism, references to tradition, past and culture that it’s connected with but also an audio-art or sound instalation. Nowadays there are books and musical records published after each edition. This year it takes place September 20th through September 30th.

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Also a very important event is happening in Kraków: the Jewish Culture Festival. The First Festival took place in 1988 and it function as a field of dialogue between Jewish and Polish cultures. It was also a good occasion to talk about lost matter of Auschwitz and especially Auschwitz Concentration Camp back then. But next year brought a different adjustment and this festival became a place of meetings Jews and non-Jews from all over the world and sharing the living Jewish tradition. There are films, performances, presentations, and exhibitions to see. Presently there is also a possibility to participate in creating that tradition as there are organized workshops in Hasidic dance and song, Hebrew calligraphy, Jewish paper cutting and cooking. Every year festival is bringing more and more guests interested in celebrating life, Jewish culture and trying to build good relations.

Concert Jewish Culture Festival Krakow

If you ever took part in any of these festivals in Poland, please share it with us in comments below. I personally would love to hear about your experience!

Music and musical instruments in Poland

Posted on 18. Jul, 2015 by in Culture, music, Vocabulary

Poland is home to a lively and varied musical tradition. Since the early middle ages, when around the 13th century the region’s earliest composers were experimenting with European composition styles and creating innovative works, Poland has nurtured its musical talent. Consequently, there are a whole range of eclectic musical styles that have thrived in Poland over the centuries, from the rhythmic fusion of Eastern European folk, to the flowing and timeless compositions of high Romanticism.

Most musical historians trace the roots of Poland’s successes to the 13th century, when composers began to experiment with polyphonic chant in much the same way that the musicians of the Franco-Prussian school in Germany and the West were doing. But it’s not until the 15th century that the first towering figure of Polish classical music emerges. Mikołaj Radomski, probably lived and worked in Kraków, but is really only known by the signature that identifies his works, which were excessively religious in theme.

At the court of Zygmunt III Vasa, who reigned as Poland’s king from 1566 to 1632, many musicians from Western Europe flocked to take advantage of increased patronage of the arts. The result was a sudden influx of baroque classical styles that came to be the trademark of the native Polish composers well into the next century (Adam Jarzębski and Bartłomiej Pękiel are particularly notable in this period).

The 19th century could fairly be considered as Poland’s golden age of musical success. After a period of artistic floundering, which saw musician after musician try to reinvigorate the previous successes of Poland’s opera boom, which had made Warsaw a centre of musical focus in the first half of the 16th century, Poland underwent a musical renaissance. In fact, the successes of the era are often put down to the development of what are now considered the central Polish folk and classical traditions. The polonez, for example, became popular in the early 19th century, but actually originated in the late 16th, permeated through Europe very prolifically, and a number of really recognisable composers tried their hand at the form (these include Beethoven and Bach).

However, it is widely recognised that the master of composition in the polonez form, was one of Poland’s own: Fryderyk Chopin. Today, he is regarded as one of the central figures in the rise and success of European Romantic music, and in Poland he is still a proud reminder of the nation’s historical musical prowess. The most famous of his polonez compositions is perhaps ‘The Military Polonaise’, which evokes the overarching nationalistic theme of Polish knighthood and victory over foreign invaders.

Poland also boasts a strong folk music heritage, and while this genre was heavily suppressed during the years of communist rule, it has undergone something of a modern resurgence, still enjoying popularity in many rural parts of the country today. In Zakopane in the south, for example, the central street, Ulica Krupówki, is lined with live music bars playing the region’s own Podhale folk style into the early hours.

In the late half of the 20th century, and particularly after the fall of communism, Poland has embraced a really wide range of musical styles. Most notably perhaps is the nation’s successes in the genre of Heavy Metal. Bands like Turbo, have been hailed as Poland’s answer to metal giants Iron Maiden, while hard rock festivals in the country continue to be extremely well attended.

Polish pop music is also alive and kicking, and you’d be hard pushed to find a Karaoke bar that doesn’t play at least one Polish hit in a night! What’s more, you only need to wander into any of the live jazz bars on offer in Poland’s major cities to realise how popular and successful the style has become among young musicians.

Like all things of culture in Poland, the country’s musical tradition is very much alive. Not only can the country lay claim to some of the great names in the European classical tradition, but there’s a certain atmosphere of enjoyment that prevails in the live music bars and open mic nights of the country, which makes Poland simply a great place to be playing music.

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Image by Incredible Things on incrediblethings.com

Here are names of some instruments in Polish:

accordion – akordeon
bagpipes – dudy
banjo – banjo
bassoon – fagot
brass instruments –  instrumenty dęte blaszane
castanets – kastaniety
cellist – wilonczelista
cello – wiolonczela
clarinet – klarnet
cymbals – cymbałki
double bass – kontrabas
drummer – perkusista
drums – perkusja
drumstick – pałeczka /do gry na bębnie/
flute – flet
gong – gong
guitar – gitara
guitarist – gitarzysta
harp – harfa
horn – róg
instrument – instrument
instrumental – instrumentalny
lute – lutnia
lyre – lira
mandolin – mandolina
mouth organ – harmonijka ustna
organ – organy
pianist – pianista
piano – fortepian/ pianino
play the piano – grać na pianinie
saxophone – saksofon
saxophonist – saksofonista
string – struna
tambourine – tamburyn
triangle – trójkąt
trombone – puzon
trumpet – trąbka
trumpeter – trębacz
violin – skrzypce
violinist – skrzypek
wind instruments – instrumenty dęte
zither – cytra