The losses and destruction suffered by Polish science, culture and art during the Second World War also affected the pre-war phonographic collections, among them traditional music recordings collected by organisations formed during the inter-war period. The work started by Professor Lucjan Kamienski, who initiated the systematic phonographic documentation of music folklore in Poland and founded the Regional Phonographic Archive at the University of Poznan, was continued after the war by Jadwiga and Marian Sobieski. At first, the reconstruction of the collection was an extremely difficult task; in the post-war period, researchers even lacked recording equipment. Rather than wait for conditions to improve sufficiently to obtain proper tools for the work of the archive, Marian Sobieski together with Tadeusz Wrotkowski themselves constructed equipment which enabled them to make sound recordings. The first recordings were made as early as August 1945. The early years of the Sobieskis' activity resulted in the phonographic documentation of Polish musical folklore in the following regions: Ziemia Lubuska, Wielkopolska, Kaszuby, and later on also the Opoczynskie, Lubelskie and Rzeszowskie regions. The years 1945-1950 saw the creation of 420 discs which formed the first post-war collection of Polish traditional music. The early post-war recordings of Polish folk music were made on Decelith high-speed soft plates and on Presto varnish plates. These types of audio plates were recorded and played back at 78 rpm, which allowed only 5-8 minutes of music per disc. It soon became evident that there was a technical problem regarding multiple playback (particularly for transcription purposes). The lack of suitable playback equipment, which would not destroy the recordings, made it necessary to copy them as quickly as possible onto more durable carriers. This was achieved in the late 1950s, when the material was copied onto reel tapes Concern for the preservation and safety of this unique music collection remains a priority for the organisations currently involved in this field. Participation in the DISMARC (DISscovering Music ARChives) project, co-financed by the European Commission, enabled the Institute of Art of the Polish Academy of Sciences to digitalise the metadata of the historic sound recordings. The authors of this article have also produced a selection of recordings from the regions of Wielkopolska, Opoczynskie, Rzeszowskie and Lubelskie, made during the years 1945-1950. This material, prepared as part of this project, is presented on the CD included with the current issue of 'Muzyka'. In spite of the technical quality often being poor, these recordings represent an invaluable document and source of knowledge about the authentic music culture of the countryside from the period which preceded stylisation, change, and even the disappearance of tradition. The majority of the performers who recorded the repertory presented here were born in the second half of the nineteenth century.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.