The first edition of the Competition took place at the Artur Malawski Podkarpacka Philharmonic Hall in Rzeszów between 20 and 27 September 2019, and was divided into two categories: pianists and chamber ensembles. The qualifiers consisted of 17 pianists and 24 chamber ensembles. In total, there were 81 musicians from Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Romania, Hong Kong and Israel.
The jury for the category of pianists, headed by Prof. Jarosław Drzewiecki, awarded the first prize to the Russian pianist Pavel Dombrovsky, a graduate of several Moscow art schools. The second prize, funded by the PKO Bank Polski Foundation, was won by the Polish pianist Piotr Ryszard Pawlak. The third prize was funded by the Polish Society of Authors and Composers ZAiKS and given to Mateusz Krzyżowski. Honourable mentions in this category went to Michał Dziewior, Tymoteusz Bies and Ivan Shemchuk from Ukraine. In the final stage, all the pianists performed a piano concerto of their own choosing with the accompaniment of the Symphony Orchestra of the Artur Malawski Podkarpacka Philharmonic conducted by Tadeusz Chmiel or Jerzy Salwarowski.
In the category of chamber ensembles, the jury presided over by Prof. Andrzej Tatarski awarded the first prize to a violin duo from Poland – the Gidaszewska / Łaguniak Duo (currently known as the Polish Violin Duo). In this category, the second prize was shared by a string quartet (Atma Quartet) and a wind quintet (Cracow Golden Quintet). The prize for the Atma Quartet was funded by STOART – Association of Performing Artists. There was no third prize in the chamber ensembles category, but there were three honourable mentions, which fell to Roksana Kwaśnikowska / Łukasz Chrzęszczyk, the Novi Piano Duo and the Apeiron Trio.
The Competition was rounded off by an evening gala featuring an award ceremony and a prize winners concert. The concert was rebroadcast by the Polish public service television channel TVP Kultura, with excerpts presented by Polish Radio 2. For those music lovers who could not travel to Rzeszów, the concert was repeated at the Concert Hall of the National Philharmonic in Warsaw.
The main cash prizes of the Competition amounted to 84 000 euros in total. There were also additional special prizes: 20 concerts in Poland and abroad, two prizes awarded by young critics and two prizes in the form of year-long media support.
The initial edition of the Competition was organised in accordance with the latest worldwide tendencies in the organisation of such events, i.e. as both an important event celebrated by the music industry and an open initiative for everyone interested in discovering, especially Polish, music by means of multiple accompanying enterprises and events.
There were fairs with music sheet publishers and record labels presenting their products; a meeting with an author, Dr Danuta Gwizdalanka, who promoted and talked about her book titled 100 lat z dziejów polskiej muzyki (100 Years from the History of Polish Music); workshops for “Krytyka muzyczna 2.0” (“Music Critics 2.0”), a programme addressed to future music reviewers; and a lecture on nationality in music, given by a distinguished Polish musicologist, Prof. Irena Poniatowska. All the Competition auditions were open to the public, broadcast live on the Internet, with commentary on the website of the Competition and on Facebook, and covered by the traditional media (newspapers, magazines and radio stations). The listeners could consult a voluminous, comprehensive catalogue printed in two language versions, which featured the biographical information on the jury members, participants and composers; and extensive photo documentation of all the events was taken during the Competition. TVP Kultura produced a special documentary, which was aired on 9 October 2019. The reviews of the young critics attending the “Music Critics 2.0” workshops were published soon after the Competition.
The Competition provided the jury members and the audiences alike with a rare opportunity to listen to plentiful obscure yet fascinating pieces of music. The recordings made during the Competition auditions proved to be some of the most interesting documentation of original Polish music in concert ever to be made. Out of this expansive material, the Institute of Music and Dance picked and chose the most valuable gems, which were released by the DUX label on six CDs: in total, forty-five works written by nineteen Polish composers. Three compositions featured on the discs – the Duo concertant in F minor for two violins by Joachim Kaczkowski, as well as Bajka and Burlesque for violin and piano by Artur Malawski – were thus given their world premiere recordings. The CD releases fulfilled some of the primary initial objectives of the Competition, i.e. to disseminate, and introduce into concert practice, the forgotten and neglected part of the Polish musical legacy and to promote talented musicians. The recordings caught the attention of the Belgian Crescendo Magazine, whose reviewers gave them a very favourable write-up and high critical acclaim.
The documentation of Polish music performed at the Competition also extends to sheet music publishing. A sizeable database of compositions to be used during the Competition was available on the website of the Competition.
We are now awaiting the second edition of the Stanisław Moniuszko International Competition of Polish Music to be held in September 2021. We are looking forward to greeting new musicians who will participate in the future editions of the Competition, to making even more musical discoveries and to being a part of the unfolding history of this unique enterprise.