Polskie Tango 1929-1931 Old world tangos Vol. 3
think that this kind of a CD would not come into being with my participation if I did not happen to have a home and a sort of childhood which still occupies my memory. The post-war period might have been for consciousness of a small child as good as any other but for those, who already had their "first youth" far behind, that time appeared to be dull and of low optimism and hope. And such an atmosphere might have been for adults a good base for frequent recollecting. Especially ladies in those circumstances wanted and needed to remember and to recollect that "enchanted between-wars period", the time of their youth. Absolutely different than the moment they unexpectedly had to encounter - years of fifties. And I, a several years old boy, wanted and was able to be their listener. Memories which were revealed, were accompanied again and again by hummed melodies - wistful romances, melodious waltzes and mawkish tangos, decidedly different than programme music flowing from the socialistic radio. They were the framing for spinning out the tales which always started with a phrase "before the war !". Every now and then somebody reached out for a record which - under an iron needle of a turn-table - sounded peculiarly. I think that it was then, when I heard the word "tango" for the first time. And that was the childish world of my fairy tales and time of the first contact with a "spinning black disc" - an old gramophone record.
My present collection consisting of nearly 3 thousand of inter-war period items, allows me to possess reflections of a personal nature, nevertheless, is also a source of satisfaction arising from a sort of knowledge which may be, I think, called both a history and a legend.
Tango, as a dance, appeared on a Polish ground soon before the outbreak of the WW the 1st. Its first performers were dancing couples of vaudeville artists from Warsaw theatres - Lucyna Messal with Józef Redo and 17 years old lass - who would become one day a famous international film star - Pola Negri and her partner, Edward Kuryllo.
In 1919, Karol Hanusz in cabaret "Black Cat" makes his interpretation of "The Last Tango", music by E. Deloire, with Polish lyrics starting with exotic expression "under the blue sky of Argentina…". Two years later, Stanislaw Radold records at the Beka Grand Record company a Polish version of "Tango du rêve" with music by Eduard Malderen.
Until the midst of twenties, tango was rather a curious detail, being far behind the other popular at that time dance rhythms: shimmy, foxtrot, boston. But the second half of twenties already brought into Polish tastes an air of a feverish fashion for that novelty called tango. Zygmunt Wiehler writes "Nie dzis to jutro" (If not to-day, tomorrow will do), Jerzy Petersburski tango "Wanda", Artur Gold "Pragne twoja byc" (I'm dying to be yours) and Jakub Kagan "Twe smutne oczy" (Your sorrowful eyes).
All Polish tangos of late twenties were, however, to a certain degree an echo of compositions conceived at the source of the genre - Argentina. Upon those patterns a talent of Stanislawa Nowicka, whose speciality was tango chanté, is arising to such an extent that she soon will be called a Queen of Tango.
The turning-point and the climax came in 1929. Jerzy Petersburski composed his "Tango Milonga" and in Spring of that year, St. Nowicka accompanied by a vocal quartet and the band, performed this number on a stage of a cabaret "Morskie Oko". In Autumn 1929, "Tango Milonga" with German, and later English lyrics, as "Oh, Donna Clara" started to conquer the world and is still popular in present days.
In the same year 1929, a young musician, Wladyslaw Dan, organised in Warsaw a tango-night with participation of the male vocal group accompanied by accordion and guitar. The concert arose great curiosity as there were presented not only original Argentine tangos but also two Polish melodies of the kind; both composed by Wl. Dan, according to the Argentine style, with lyrics especially written for that occasion in Spanish language, their titles - "Liana" and "Siempre querida".
At that time, Argentine tangos evoked such an enthusiasm in Poland that the most popular examples of this genre - "Adios Muchachos", "Mama yo quiero un novio", "Sonsa", "Piedad", "Yira, yira", "La Cumparsita" were immediately included to the repertoire of Polish singers and musicians, and finally were recorded with Polish lyrics. However, Polish lyricists absolutely did not bother about the contents of the original text and used to create their own imaginary plots about the customs of Latin countries of those days.
Beginning of thirties brought in Poland change into the style of tango. On the field of pop music activity emerged then a great number of domestic musicians and composers who turned out to be very productive. This fact made tango to acquire a distinct character: it became, in a way, more soft - in harmony, rhythm and in a line of music. Began to be more and more sentimental, if not even melancholic, often full of tearful and tragic incantations.
And that was what public liked most, therefore authors tried to do their best in order to satisfy the increasing demand. In thirties, hundreds and hundreds of those sentimental and pathetic tango-songs were created in Poland. Within that hard-to-count crop, there are still some items which may move and induce a listener to dream even to-day.
But there were also musicians, mainly those connected with Columbia and Odeon recording companies, who tried to keep up the tango to the level and style of Argentine prototype; as if they knew that its expression must be both tender and rapacious.
In the midst of thirties our phenomenon might have already been called a "Polish Tango". I am of opinion that no other country of Europe has instilled tango into its fashions to such an extent as it had happened in Poland. And has conditioned by this rhythm its own predilections in the field of popular music in such a way. Having collected old gramophone records and sheet music for years I became more and more sure about the number of tangos composed "before the war" in Poland. My experience says that for each 5 created items, 4 always must have been tangos.
All recordings proposed for the present record are taken from my collection, which grew long and slowly. Recovery of musical archives in Poland was not and still is not an easy task. Factually, these materials were lost twice: first, fell into ruin during WW the 2nd and later, the time of freedom did not have much heart for them either.
While making selection for the present CD, I was prompted by three elements: technical state and condition of the original record, artistic level of performed music and last but not least, my own taste. I tried to include here, apart from numerous sentimental tangos, also those with caricaturistic and comic features. Predilection of the listener for exotic and oriental atmosphere can also be satisfied by some examples.
In materials regarding history of Polish popular music, which have been published up to the present, the fact that most of Polish composers, musicians and lyricists active before the WW the 2nd were of Jewish origin is rarely presented. And this fact does not seem to be meaningless for the history and development of pop music in that period of time and in that space. Those artists were Polish citizens, born on a Polish ground, were educated in Polish schools, nevertheless their, so to say, inborn ability to practise music and artistic inventiveness, as well as tradition of their ancestors, handed down by generations, must have had eventually considerable impact on the character of melodies of Polish popular songs, tuneful Polish tangos included.
When we take a look at some biographies - their life trace breaks off most often in the middle of 1942. In that year, as we know, they embarked - those who managed to survive until that date - on their last stage. The stage so distant and different from the mood of a music they had had time to create, to write down, to record.
But as early as September the 1st, 1939, characters here recalled, their production as well as its effect, suddenly went away into the past and nothing from that date seemed to be the same. The present CD record came into being from, and is based, on the fragments of that time which now may be found only on so few and rare carriers - old gramophone records, old photographs, newspaper paragraphs and clippings. And, what seems to be also important: it is based on something even more transitory - the memory of those who needed so much to remember.