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Polish musicians pay tribute to Oscar-winning composer Victor Young

21.09.2022 07:30
A festival in tribute to the famous film composer Victor Young will be held this weekend in the Polish town of Mława, some 120 kilometres north of Warsaw.
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The Victor Young Jazz Festival, scheduled for Friday and Saturday, September 23-24, is expected to bring together several leading Polish and international musicians, including the Jan ‘Ptaszyn’ Wróblewski Quartet, the Turn Out The Stars group, the Maciej Grzywacz Quintet, Ricardo Pinheiro from Portugal, Massimo Cavalli from Italy, and Eric Ineke from the Netherlands.

The programme features, among other compositions, a selection of works by Victor Young, whose ancestors came from Mława.

Born in Chicago in 1899 as Abe Jabłoń, Young had Polish parents. He was sent to Poland at the age of 10 to stay with his grandfather and study at the Warsaw Conservatory. His teachers included composer Roman Statkowski and violinist Stanisław Barcewicz.

While in his late teens, Young was a violinist with the Warsaw Philharmonic. During his time in Poland he visited Mława.

He returned to the United States in 1920 and soon turned to popular music, moving to Hollywood in the mid-1930s. He composed soundtracks to some 300 films, including box-office hits such as Rio Grande and For Whom the Bell Tolls.

As many as 22 of his soundtracks received Academy Award nominations. He received his only Oscar posthumously, in 1957, for Around the World in Eighty Days, less than a year after his death, aged 56.

Pianist Kuba Stankiewicz, a member of the Maciej Grzywacz Quintet, has explored Young’s musical legacy for several years. In doing so, he got in touch with Young’s niece, Bobbie Hill Fromberg, a resident of Los Angeles.

She gave him access to a wide range of documents and photographs relating to Young’s career and offered a special gift – Young’s 1918 graduation diploma from the Warsaw Conservatory. Stankiewicz handed it over to the Museum of the History of Polish Jews.

The programme of the Victor Young Jazz Festival in Mława includes a panel discussion on Polish composers in Hollywood. In addition to Young, it will be devoted to Bronisław Kaper, Henryk Wars and Krzysztof Komeda, all of whom scored notable successes in film music.

This year’s Victor Young Jazz Festival will be held in Mława for the fourth time.