Monthly Archives: April 2012

A little about Shakespeare


It is pointless to try to prove the longevity of Shakespeare’s works, as everyone knows them. On the other hand, it may be interesting to frame in words some personal encounters with his works. 

The first of his books I read was for a mandatory school reading of Hamlet, and later I needed to become familiar with another of his literary works, Romeo and Juliet. I grew up much later to his Sonnets.  Shakespeare’s Sonnets are special, because they were meant for sensitive ears and for those who like to dive into the beauty of poetry.

Given my love of music, it should come as no surprise that the first sonnet which I ever read began with the words: ‘ Music to hear, why hear’st thou music sadly?’ I found it so beautiful; however, all the archaic contractions such as ‘hear’st’ or ‘receiv’st’ seemed very confusing to me, though I still found them charming.

As I have mentioned, everyone knows Shakespeare. His works have been translated into many languages, and obviously into Polish. As stated on Wikipedia, the first translations of Shakespeare’s work into Polish were undertaken by the Polish writer Ignacy Hołowiński in the years 1839-1841. However, many readers are more familiar with Polish poet Stanisław Baranczak’s translations, as they are the most popular.

Several years ago, the Polish singer Stanisław Sojka even went as far as a musical interpretation of the Sonnets and and he turned out to be a pretty good artistic interpreter.  Particularly noteworthy is the sonnet performed by Sojka that starts with ‘ My love is strengthen’d, though more weak in seeming’,  which in Polish means: ‘Mocniej cię kocham, choć na pozór słabiej.’

I am convinced that anyone who is able to understand both the Polish and English languages would agree that the translation of Shakespeare’s works into Polish did not take away their charm.  So, let us read and listen, all the while enriching ourselves with these timeless works.

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Briefly about a baroque genius, George Frederic Handel


When I think of Handel (1685 – 1759), there always comes to my mind his anthem ‘Zadok the Priest’ written especially for the coronation of George II of Great Britain (1683 – 1727). I like it, as it’s not very pompous but still sublime. I’m not going to analyze this work in depth, but only draw a small sketch of his artistic work.

Many people may not be aware that this German composer spent 47 years in Britain and composed for Queen Anne, and later for George I and George II. For example, he wrote the ‘Water Music’ especially for King George I so he could listen to it while he rode with his courtiers on the River Thames.

However, his life was not all roses. According to ‘About music, the most beautiful of arts’, by Boguslaw Smiechowski, Handel had problems with the courtly intrigues against him, as he was a foreigner. Also, his very serious competitor was the so-called Beggar’s Opera. Handel was even thinking about leaving Britain, but then he decided to start composing oratorios, one of them appeared to be incredibly successful – the ‘Messiah’. The oratorio is the best known for the ‘Hallelujah’ and it is said that this piece so impressed the king that stood up.

A few days ago, I presented several pieces of the above-mentioned oratorio to my 13 year old students, as I thought it would be a great prelude to this Easter season. Their reaction to this piece of art astonished me, as most of them sat listening intently to the music. So there is something timeless in this almost 300 year old music, as it can cause a child to stop for a moment in a world where almost everything is dictated by the media.

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