The „Chodzony – Polonaise – Polska” Concert

Centralna Biblioteka Rolnicza im. Michała Oczapowskiego

The concert makes reference to the musical commonwealth dating back to the Renaissance which still lasts today and has transgressed differences between social classes and nations divided by sea border. The two borderlands – between the manor house and the village and Poland and Sweden – make up an ageless space of related rhythms, music and dance steps. This common space is revealed when we hear kuyaviak, kuyon, chodzony, polonaise and varieties of Swedish polska.

Chodzony (pol: paced dance, pacer) – also known as polonaise – is one of the three great Polish dances (with mazur and krakoviak) which the gentry and peasants had in common. Choreographed in dignified “pacing”, bowing, and dance patterns, with sliding movement and grandiose music the dance was a key element of a peasant wedding rite as well as the opener of courtly balls.

Polonaise gained international fame as Poland’s top export product during Baroque. Not only is it a popular element of baroque dance suites, it has also evolved in different directions and found home in Skandinavia under the name of polska and polsk tanz as the national dance of Sweden. There it continued on its own, with numerous local variations, and became inspiration for musical imaginations of folk musicians and big city composers.

The present concert is composed of four parts, in which four different ensembles reveal various aspects of the same musical root. Folk band from the vicinity of Lowicz, traditional music band from the Swedish southern region of Skania, The Brodas’ Band, which combines old music with vibrant living tradition and last but not least the Royal College of Music band with contemporary polskas lay a unique musical bridge across time and space, which we can cross dancing.


Part I.

Chodzonys, kuyaviaks and kuyons from Lowicz area

Traditional musicians Jan Szymański of Domaniewice (violin) and Czesław Kocemba of Łagów (harmonia accordion) play with students from the Diabubu band.

Jan Szymański/ violin

Czesław Kocemba/ accordion

Jakub Stefanowicz/ violin

Maciej Kurczewski/ accordion

Bartosz Puliński/ accordion

Jakub Korona/ drum

Agata Butwiłowska/ vocals


Part 2.

Traditional polska from Sweden

The Bålgetingen ensemble performs traditional music from Southern Sweden. Its last, double album, was voted the best folk music album across the nation. Its founders, Anders Svensson and Magnus Gustafsson, study and practice different styles of polska found in manuscripts and in oral tradition of the Småland province. Anders Svensson’s father was a renowned fiddler. Magnus Gustafsson is an expert in baroque and traditional music. He has researched the history of polska and the phenomenon of popular dance and music travelling from country to country and wrote books about it. He also has got an honorary title of Riksspelman (National Folk Musician).

Anders Svensson /violin

Magnus Gustafsson/ violin

Peter Rousu/ guitar

Ulrika Gunnarsson/ vocals/ violin


Part 3.

Polish, polonaise, chodzony – three facets of the same dance

In 16th century Poland Polish dance, called by foreigners chorea polonica, grew popular. It was enjoyed by noblemen in courts and manors, played by lute, bagpipes and violin in ¾ time, sometimes in 2/4. It was gracious, dignified and subtle. In 17th century the character of Polish dance settled only to become the most widespread and favourite dance known across Europe. The greatest of composers used chorea polonica in their work, writing, playing and dancing it became fashionable. Great balls in kings’ palaces and noble houses started with it. Villages were not slow to follow: many celebratory dances and wedding songs were in ¾ time and dignified solemn character. Peasants started to call this dance “the paced one” or “the pacer” – chodzony. During the Romantic period, when Poland was partitioned by its neighbours, the dance gained a patriotic quality and a new name – la polonaise.

The present concert is going to take us though all these times. It will be filled with instrumental music, lyrical songs, ritual songs and religious ones.

Witek Broda/ violin, hurdy gurdy

Jacek Mielcarek/ tárogatós, clarinet

Kuba Mielcarek/ double bass, basolia

Paweł Iwaszkiewicz/ bagpipes, goat bag pipe

Marta Maślanka/ cimbalom

Bartek Izbicki/ portative organ, spinet

Justyna Piernik/ vocals


Part 4 

Contemporary polska – written and performed by students of the Kungliga Musikhögskolan from Stockholm

Kungliga Musikhögskolan (Royal College of Music) is the biggest and oldest music academy in Sweden, and also the first that acknowledged folk music and opened a folk music department. Nowadays 40 students study there, almost of all whom alongside their teachers will perform at the festival concert. The Musikhögskolan students present eight pieces, based on profound research into the Swedish traditional music and written especially for this occasion. “Transparency, soloists, extremes, clarity and power” were the artistic ideals behind the project and guiding principles to which they aspired. These musical pieces will be performed in different make-ups, of one to 25 artists.


The Swedish project coordinator – Jonas Hjalmarsson



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