Table Of Content
- About the author
- About the editor
- This eBook can be cited
- Emotions in music
- The Lublin Repertoire of Patriotic Songs During World War I
- The Role of Patriotic and Religious Songs in the Shaping of the Peasants’ Civic and Patriotic Attitudes under the Influence of Peasant Movements (until 1939)
- Politics in Music, Music in Politics: Reflections on the Press Discourse of National Democracy
- “My Most Beautiful Homeland:” Rock Music Serving the Nation in the PRL (during the 1960s)
- Political Music on the Agenda of the Polish Film Chronicle (1981–1988)
- Music Journalists and Politics: The Case of the Polish Music Press of the 1980s and 90s
- The Opole Voivodship: Festival of Political Songs
- The Orle Gniazdo [Eagle’s Nest] Festival in Poland (2013–2017) as a Tool of Political Communication of the Polish National and Nationalist Movements
- Popular Music and Polish Geopolitical Imaginations After 1989: An Overview
- The City as a Political Phenomenon in Popular Music: The Case of the Band Maanam
- Music in Auditory Political Communication: A Case Study
- The Role of Music in Election Adverts during the 2015 Presidential Campaign in Poland
- Interdisciplinary Studies in Performance
Anna Szwed-Walczak / Tomasz Bichta (eds.)
Communication and Mobilization
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Cover illustration: Courtesy of Benjamin Ben Chaim
This publication was financially supported by Maria Curie-Skłodowska University.
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Anna Szwed-Walczak / Tomasz Bichta (eds.)
The volume explores the influence that music exerts on emotions and on social and electoral mobilization. Music shapes social moods, which is crucial both in times of political stabilization and crisis. As corroborated by the presented research results, music enhances group solidarity, loyalty toward the ruler and toward ideas. The authors of individual chapters argue that both in past and present contexts, a specific type of music can be distinguished, namely political or engaged music. The volume aims to address various uses of music in politics in differing political and social circumstances. For this reason, the authors of the texts included in the volume – political scientists, media scholars, sociologists and historians – analyze Polish political music in various historical periods.
Anna Szwed-Walczak, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Political Science and Journalism at the Maria Curie Skłodowska University (MCSU) in Lublin, Poland. Her research interests include political communication with focus on the Polish national movement.
Tomasz Bichta, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Political Science and Journalism at the MCSU in Poland. His research interests are political parties and party systems, and politico-cultural transformations in Africa.
This edition of the eBook can be cited. To enable this we have marked the start and end of a page. In cases where a word straddles a page break, the marker is placed inside the word at exactly the same position as in the physical book. This means that occasionally a word might be bifurcated by this marker.
Anna Szwed-Walczak←5 | 6→
Music has been used as a tool for affecting emotions and attitudes since antiquity. Fearing its improper use, Plato suggested creating a list of acceptable melodies that could be played during public occasions and in the raising of youth.2 Music shapes moods and thus can be used for propaganda purposes, for example to convince the society to support military action or to underscore the significance of the moment or the solemnity of the situation. Oliver Thomson, a scholar of propaganda, indicated that this quality stems from music’s ability to awaken group and social solidarity and loyalty.3 Music can be treated as a “cultural common,” as there are no cultures without music. For the reasons mentioned above, politicians tend to take advantage of music, and music’s significant role in politics should come as no surprise. Music has a role to play in “other systems – religious, political, media, economic, etc..”4 These qualities of music were pointed out by, among others, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Johann Gottfried Herder and Friedrich Nietzsche.5
The value of music as an ideological tool was recognized by Iwona Massaka, who pointed out that music “awakens communal instinct, solidarity, enthusiasm, unanimous will.”6 In light of this, political music – its communicating and mobilizing properties and, indirectly, its contribution to social integration – is worthy of scholarly attention. British scholars Dorothy Miell, Raymond MacDonald and David J. Hargreaves noted that “music is a ←7 | 8→fundamental channel of communication: it provides a means by which people can share emotions, intentions, and meanings.”7 Music whose message pertains to politics or music used for political purposes acquires a yet another sense. Ideological content exerts a bigger impact when enhanced by music.8 Scholars have begun to more readily term such music political music. A definition of this category of music was proposed by Zbigniew Kantyka, according to whom political music “refers to the sphere of politics, serves political aims and brings about political results, playing a role in shaping communal awareness and regulating attitudes, opinions and behaviours as regards issues important for the functioning of the public sphere and for the integration of the community. When it comes to content, this music most frequently refers to state values (patriotic and national) and/or to group values (class and cultural).”9
Political music is one of “the means of social and political communication.”10 It requires engagement on the part of the recipient as it carries an intentional message. As Umberto Eco pointed out, a “gastronomic song” can be a background, while “an »other« song demands respect and interest;”11 political music can be classified as belonging to an in-between category for a number of reasons. First, the musical message of a political character requires the recipient’s attention, secondly, verbal communication and its conative character is important for it, and, finally, political music contains a melody that enhances the verbal ideological message.
This book constitutes an effect of a scholarly debate initiated by media studies and political studies scholars and continued together with sociologists and historians. The chapters included in Volume 1 study the relationship between music and politics. The authors explore the ways in which music is used by state ←8 | 9→authorities, political organizations, electoral committees but also by supporters of a given ideology and by socially and politically involved music bands themselves. Communicating through music brings about desired consequences in a specific context (situational and temporal). To properly interpret a musical piece, it is essential to know the social, political and cultural circumstances of its creation. This enables an analysis of hidden meanings (aims intended by the addresser). Individual chapters in this volume focus on the deployment of political music in Polish compositions in various historical periods: the fight for independence during the partitions and World War I (1914–1918), the period of the Second Republic of Poland (1918–1939), selected years of the Peoples’ Republic of Poland (a non-democratic system) and the Third Republic of Poland (democratic system). The authors draw attention primarily to the integrating and mobilizing function of music.
The first chapter – Magdalena Szpunar’s “Emotions in Music” – constitutes an apt introduction into the subject matter of the volume. The author concentrates on the reception of music, pointing out that its functions and wide deployment stem from its emotion-inducing character.
The authors of the three subsequent articles engage in an analysis of the mobilizing function of music. Their focus is on patriotic music based on the commonality of national experiences and accentuating selected events from the history of the state and the nation.12 Patriotic songs were profiled to account for the recipients’ social background, place of living and worldview. There were songs addressed to inhabitants of a given region and to specific social and ideological groups. Music constituted not only an expression of national character but was a part of national culture. Music had a bearing on the development of the nation and enhanced its identity, being an expression of national sentiments. Jan Lewandowski in his study “The Lublin Repertoire of Patriotic Songs During World War I” argues that music prompted the recipients to action, being a form of political manifestation, boosting social mood under the partitions and during World War I and integrating the nation for the sake of the common cause. In her chapter “The Role of Patriotic and Religious Songs in the Shaping of the Peasants’ Civic and Patriotic Attitudes under the Influence of Peasant Movements (until 1939),” Alicja Wójcik in turn notes that patriotic ←9 | 10→songs were performed in Poland alongside religious songs, which enhanced the former’s message and created pathos. Subsequently, patriotic content was added to religious songs and religious content – to patriotic songs. Music was used to raise patriotic sentiments, to construe civic and national awareness and to strengthen national solidarity. Ewa Maj in her “Politics in Music, Music in Politics: Reflections on the Press Discourse of National Democracy” draws attention to the fact that the debate on music in the discourse of National Democracy (one of the most powerful political groups of the Second Republic of Poland) testifies to the acknowledgement of the role of music and its political symbolism in the construction of the national capital.
The following two articles address the use of music to strengthen the political message in the non-democratic system of the Peoples’ Republic of Poland. The case studies indicate ways in which the authorities exerted influence on the musicians, making their artistic careers dependent on state institutions. In “ ‘My Most Beautiful Homeland:’ Rock Music Serving the Nation in the PRL (during the 1960s)” Zbigniew Zaporowski argues that the authorities attempted to persuade the musicians to address specific subject matter in their compositions. Wishing to function within the public sphere, an artist had to be subjected to legal regulations. Bands/singers promoting folk culture, praising the beauty of the fatherland and advocating social attitudes and values desirable to the authorities were cherished. Łukasz Jędrzejski in his chapter “Political Music on the Agenda of the Polish Film Chronicle (1981–1988)” indicates the benefits reaped by the artists affirming the political system of those times.
Dariusz Baran in “Music Journalists and Politics: The Case of the Polish Music Press of the 1980s and 90s” studies the extent of the politicization of music press during the final decade of the Peoples’ Republic of Poland and the first decade of the Third Republic of Poland. The author sheds light on the ways in which music press was politicized and explains why political engagement was not conducive to the development of this segment of the press market.
Dominik Kurek (“The Opole Voivodship: Festival of Political Songs”) and Anna Szwed-Walczak (“The Orle Gniazdo [Eagle’s Nest] Festival in Poland (2013–2017) as a Tool of Political Communication of the Polish National and Nationalist Movements”) both study the role of music festivals in political communication. The two chapters constitute case studies, with the analysed festivals differing in terms of the addressers and addressees of the message, their goals, scope and character. Dominik Kurek discusses the National Festival of Polish Song in Opole and the evolution of its political significance from a historical perspective. Anna Szwed-Walczak, in turn, concentrates on a festival of identitarian music, defining its major thematic categories and functions.
The chapters by Jarosław Macała (“Popular Music and Polish Geopolitical Imaginations After 1989: An Overview”) and Marek Jeziński (“The City as a Political Phenomenon in Popular Music: The Case of the Band Maanam”) explore the involvement of popular music in the political discourse. Macała analyses geopolitical imaginations as evinced by popular songs created in Poland after 1989, emphasizing the pro-West sentiments expressed by the artists. Jeziński, in turn, discusses representations of the city in the songs of the band Maanam, concluding that the city is construed in Maanam’s songs in a two-fold way: as a space to live in and as a political idea.
The final two chapters of the volume discuss music as an element strengthening the political message. Agnieszka Łukasik-Turecka in “Music in Auditory Political Communication: A Case Study” presents the results of her research into free electoral broadcasts emitted by a regional station of the Polish Radio. Agnieszka Kamińska in her article “The Role of Music in Election Adverts during the 2015 Presidential Campaign in Poland” explains the role of music in multi-modal election advertisements. Both authors focus on the significance of music as a background for political content.
The methodology used by the authors of the chapters included in the volume is determined by the subject and character of their research. Various forms of political communication as well as individual compositions of a political character are analysed in the book. Music is presented as a tool of political communication and as a background enhancing political content.
The authors of individual chapters include media scholars, political scholars, sociologists and historians from several Polish universities. On account of its interdisciplinary character, the book is addressed to readers interested in political music, politicization of cultural life, and political and public communication in democratic and non-democratic systems. Students of social sciences are likely to find the book of particular interest.
The chapters included in the volume were written in 2018 and 2019. The editors would like to express their gratitude for the financing of the publication to the subsequent Rectors of Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin, Poland (Prof. Stanisław Michałowski and Prof. Radosław Dobrowolski) and to the Heads of the Department of Social Communication and Media (Prof. Iwona Hofman) and Department of Political Sciences and Administration (Prof. Marek Pietraś) of the Faculty of Political Science and Journalism at Maria Cure-Skłodowska University in Lublin, Poland.
Demska-Trębacz, Mieczysława. “Po ziemi swojej chodzę, po Polsce…” w poszukiwaniu narodowej tożsamości muzyki. Lublin: Polihymnia, 2003.
Umberto, Eco. Apocalypse postponed, ed. Robert Lumley. London: Flamingo, 1995.
Jabłońska, Barbara. Socjologia muzyki. Warszawa: Scholar, 2014.
Jeziński, Marek. Muzyka popularna i jej odbiorcy w poszukiwaniu autorytetu. Toruń: UMK, 2017.
Massaka, Iwona. Muzyka jako instrument wpływu politycznego. Łódź: Ibidem, 2009.
Mika, Bogumiła. Muzyka jako znak (w kontekście analizy paradygmatycznej). Lublin: Polihymnia, 2007.
Thomson, Oliver. Easily led: a history of propaganda. Stroud: Sutton Publishing, 1999.
Zwoliński, Andrzej. Dźwięk w relacjach społecznych. Kraków: WAM, 2004.
2. Articles in periodicals
Massaka, Iwona. “Polityczna funkcja muzyki. Antyteza estetyki autonomii dzieła muzycznego.” Środkowoeuropejskie Studia Polityczne 2003, No. 1, pp. 75–94.
3. Articles in books
Hargreaves, David J., MacDonald, Raymond. and Miell, Dorothy. “How Do People Communicate Using Music?” In: Musical Communication, eds. Dorothy Miell, Raymond MacDonald, David J. Hargreaves. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005, pp. 2–20.
Kantyka, Zbigniew. “Muzyka polityczna.” In: Encyklopedia politologii. Pojęcia, teorie i metody, v. 1, eds. Wojciech Sokół and Marek Żmigrodzki. Warszawa: Wolters Kluwer, 2016, pp. 395–397.
Migut, Mateusz., Wrzałka, Bartłomiej. “Muzyka a inne rodzaje sztuki.” In: Muzyka i my. O różnych przejawach wpływu muzyki na człowieka, ed. Ewa Czerniawska. Warszawa: Difin, 2012, pp. 13–24.
1 Translator’s note: quotations from English-language sources are given from originals, and quotations from Polish sources are translated into English. When Polish names or titles appear in the main text, their quotations into English are provided in brackets, when relevant.
2 Mateusz Migut, Bartłomiej Wrzałka, “Muzyka a inne rodzaje sztuki,” in: Muzyka i my. O różnych przejawach wpływu muzyki na człowieka, ed. Ewa Czerniawska (Warszawa: Difin, 2012), p. 42.
3 Oliver Thomson, Easily led: a history of propaganda (Stroud: Sutton Publishing, 1999), p. 34.
4 Barbara Jabłońska, Socjologia muzyki (Warszawa: Scholar, 2014), pp. 18–19, 31.
5 Jabłońska, Socjologia muzyki, pp. 32–44.
6 Iwona Massaka, “Polityczna funkcja muzyki. Antyteza estetyki autonomii dzieła muzycznego,” Środkowoeuropejskie Studia Polityczne 2003, No. 1, pp. 76–77.
7 David J. Hargreaves, Raymond MacDonald, Dorothy Miell, “How Do People Communicate Using Music?,” in: Musical Communication, eds. Dorothy Miell, Raymond MacDonald, David J. Hargreaves (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), p. 2.
8 Andrzej Zwoliński, Dźwięk w relacjach społecznych (Kraków: WAM, 2004), p. 291.
9 Zbigniew Kantyka, “Muzyka polityczna,” in: Encyklopedia politologii. Pojęcia, teorie i metody, v. 1, eds. Wojciech Sokół, Marek Żmigrodzki (Warszawa: Wolters Kluwer, 2016), pp. 395–396.
10 Iwona Massaka, Muzyka jako instrument wpływu politycznego (Łódź: Ibidem, 2009), pp. 13–14; see also Bogumiła Mika, Muzyka jako znak (w kontekście analizy paradygmatycznej) (Lublin: Polihymnia, 2007), pp. 13–24.
11 Umberto Eco, Apocalypse postponed, ed. Robert Lumley (London: Flamingo, 1995), p. 309.
12 Massaka, Muzyka jako instrument wpływu politycznego, p. 92; Marek Jeziński, Muzyka popularna i jej odbiorcy w poszukiwaniu autorytetu (Toruń: UMK, 2017), pp. 20–24; see Mieczysława Demska-Trębacz, “Po ziemi swojej chodzę, po Polsce” w poszukiwaniu narodowej tożsamości muzyki (Lublin: Polihymnia, 2003), pp. 11–140.
Abstract: The experience of music – albeit oftentimes unreflective and unconscious – is of a common character. This praxis has been multiplied by the media on numerous levels, making the reception of each musical genre of unlimited character. What is of primary importance is a realization that the space that we live and function in is full of sounds and of music. Music constitutes a vital element of the public sphere and the quality of reflection on music may serve as a measurement of the overall condition of culture. Music is an art that has an abstract form but it deeply affects human emotionality. This chapter explores one of the major elements determining musical reception, namely the emotional layer of music. I understand it as a two-way process: yielding to the emotions induced by music and projecting one’s own emotions and moods onto music. My analysis will attempt to clarify the ontological status of musical emotions and answer the question why musical emotions are so important in music’s reception.
Keywords: emotions in music, experience of music, models of music’s reception, typology of listeners, musical preferences
The experience of music – even if oftentimes unreflective and unrecognised – is of a universal character. The experience has been multiplied on many levels by the media, making the reception of any musical genre practically unlimited. It is essential to realise that the space that we live and function in is full of sounds, but also of music. Music constitutes an important element of public sphere, and the quality of reflection on music may constitute a perfect gauge of the general condition of culture.
Music is an art of an abstract form, but one that at the same time has a profound impact on the recipients’ emotionality. In this chapter I would like to address one of the more important factors that determine the reception of music, namely its emotional layer. I understand this emotional layer as being ←13 | 14→a two-way process: yielding to emotions induced by music, but also projecting one’s own emotions and moods onto the music. I will also attempt to clarify the ontological status of musical emotions and find out why emotions are so important in the reception of music. The chapter presents results of research into emotional reception of music, referring to selected – due to the scope of the chapter – neurophysiological, psychological, musicological and philosophical conceptions related to the issue.
According to many theorists studying psychological processes related to the reception of music, its emotive layer constitutes a key factor determining its reception.3 Scholars of emotions induced by listening to music generally adopt one of two stances. The first group maintain that the ontological status of musical emotions is the same as that of other reactions to affective stimuli, while others claim that the former are incomparable and irreducible to other emotions.4 Some scholars are sceptical whether music can have emotional impact and claim that attributing the induction of emotions to music is a typical mistake of attribution, for the only reaction music can generate is some unclarified arousal.5 What is characteristic of almost all aesthetic emotions (including musical ones) is their minor intensity and briefness as well as a significant role of the experiential component.6
Scholarship defines emotions induced by music as refined emotions, for self-reflection and self-awareness play a determining role in them.7 Even though they are not related to basic life goals, functioning so to speak on the margin, ←14 | 15→their role is by no means peripheral or irrelevant. Musical emotions and music per se constitute a powerful reservoir for the shaping of one’s own identity, the creation of one’s own self, determining one’s place in a peer group and for broadly understood socialization processes. Music is a text of culture that is not so much intra-subjective, but rather inter-subjective: it seems impossible to understand it without communicating with others, without inter-subjective communicability. Some scholars argue that musical emotions enable one to feel a sense of meaning8 and to find a source of positive resources for self-fashioning.9
There is a common tendency to clearly distinguish intellectual processes from the emotional layer. The neurology of music centres on the processes occurring in the brain under the influence of music and, as Olivier Sacks points out,10 it is only recently that scholars have become interested in the affective aspects of the reception of music and have drawn attention to the fact that music is both intellectual and emotional.11 He further argues that while musicality is heavily contingent on brain structures, emotional sensitivity to music is more complex, for the listener’s personality plays a key role in it alongside neurological factors. Emotional reactions to music are almost universal, both for those with and without musical education,12 with the exception of those suffering from amusia. Sacks writes at length about the positive influence of music for many neurological disorders.
Research into music’s impact on physiological processes indicates the presence of the phenomenon of resonance as described in physics, whereby two objects in close proximity to each other begin to vibrate at the same frequency even if only one of them has been stimulated to vibration.13 While listening to music, the so-called somatic resonance occurs. The qualities of music – its tempo, metre, rhythm – make a person’s biological rhythms synchronised with the musical composition.14 The emotional states experienced while listening to music are generated by the stimulation of endorphins and their impact on the reticular formation.15 It is thanks to endorphins that people experience perfect mood and all euphoric states, with the exception of those induced by “external activators.”
Aaron Copland distinguishes three models of music’s reception – sensory, expressive and purely musical. In his view, the main motivation for participation in concerts and listening to music is a possibility to escape from reality, which allows one to dream thanks to music and a propos music, without even listening to it.16 Clearly, the American composer devalues and has a negative attitude to the sensory dimension of music, glorifying its purely musical – or perhaps we should say, technical – aspect. Such a stance is in accord with Theodor Adorno’s views; he draws attention to the fact that only structural and analytical listening qualifies as proper listening.17 Such a way of reception ←16 | 17→centres on the analysis of a musical piece’s structure and endangers loss of sensitivity to musical emotions and nuances. For Adorno, the highest position in the hierarchy of music’s reception is occupied by an expert who combines the qualities of a sensitive artist, good craftsman and a theorist of music. “A good listener,” placed somewhat lower, is one that “knows well the language” of music but is not interested in details. The next step is occupied by an educated listener who is interested solely in methods of interpretation. The lowest position falls to an emotional listener willing to savour connotations generated by music.18 Obviously, Adorno has a pejorative attitude to musical emotions and sensitivity. The affective aspects of the reception of music lead to its degeneration and to a shallow, simplified reception. Contrary to his point of view, it is emotions that enable a complete musical reception, not restricted to mere technicalities. As Sacks aptly points out,19 technical accuracy in itself is not sufficient; when it is attained, emotions must return, otherwise only caustic accuracy will be left.
A pejorative assessment of the emotive aspects of musical reception may also be found in the typology of listeners put forward by Klaus E. Behne,20 who distinguishes the following types of listeners: a motional listener, who cannot control their physical reactions to music, a compensating listener, who forgets about unpleasant experiences thanks to music, a vegetative listener, who concentrates on the reactions of his/her body to music, a dispersed listener, for whom music constitutes a non-disturbing but also unengaging background. Behne enumerates also listeners particularly interesting to this study: a sentimental listener, who dreams and reminisces about pleasant or unpleasant life experiences, an emotional listener, who is engrossed in sounds, searching for his/her emotions in them, and an associative listener, who creates a plot to accompany music. For Behne, the most conscious and profound recipient of music is a distanced listener, who analyses and focuses on the technique and performance.
Both Adorno and Behne seem to deprive music of what constitutes its distinctive feature, namely emotions. The reception of music does not occur only on the intellectual or cognitive level, but also – perhaps primarily, as some would say – on the affective level. Music is often about feeling, experiencing, remembering, getting goose bumps, or even inducing a state of trance. Without ←17 | 18→it, music would be shallow, one-dimensional and devoid of affective truth. A distanced, rational analysis of a musical piece deprives it of its value and has nothing to do with an engaged and profound reception of music.
It is worthwhile at this point to refer to Witkiewicz’s notion of pure art. Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz believed that only painting and music are able to cause metaphysical sensations in the recipient. He treated music and poetry as the so-called “pure arts,”21 whose aim is to create certain emotions in the recipient, without engaging them in their rational context. Ewa Bieńkowska makes an interesting comment on the issue that does not devalue the emotionality of music in the manner of Adorno and Behne: “Emotionality and infinity – what is the most inner in a person and what most radically transcends him/her, the personal sphere and the universal sphere, meet in a purified musical form, free of the force of gravity.”22
Some scholars caution against a belief in some unchangeable predispositions to musical reception, for an important role is played by temporary and permanent features of a given listener, his/her musical experiences and the context of reception.23 It is worthy pointing out here that in the reception of music it is music itself that plays a bigger role that the features of the listener or the situation of the reception.24 A Polish philosopher Krystyna Wilkoszewska expresses a constructivist stance,25 claiming that there are neither objective nor subjective reactions to music, for they result from the mutual interaction of the listener and music. A similar point of view is espoused by John Dewey,26 who argues that any form of art changes the object of experience itself, hence, also the emotions linked to its perception.
Generally speaking, musical preferences may be operationalized as liking or disliking a given type of music. Speaking of musical preferences, one needs to refer to the notion of tase as Pierre Bourdieu saw it. To put it simply, Bourdieu maintained that each social class has its specific taste; those who have it consider ←18 | 19→their preferences and choices to be proper, rejecting those that are not typical of their social class. In other words, he claimed that class membership is characterized primarily by taste.27 Richard A. Peterson’s interesting research into musical taste28 questions Bourdieu’s popular and oft-cited conception. Peterson argues that the elite’s musical consumption can be conceived of as omnivorous. Hence, a snob of a narrowly profiled taste is replaced by a versatile, multicultural individual that consumes not only what is assigned to him/her as what they “should” consume, but also cultural products “typical” of a lower class. I see these conclusions as significant not only for the discussion of musical taste but also of tastes and preferences in general.29
It is estimated that musical taste is shaped by the age of 18–20. One reason for that is the openness to novelty that decreases with age, but also the attainment of relative brain maturity.30 The feeling of pleasure is generated by a musical piece that one wishes to listen to repeatedly until satiation.31 Everybody must have experienced compulsive listening to a given musical composition until they have got tired of it. What one prefers in music permanently or temporarily has an important influence on their musical taste,32 although it needs to be pointed out that relatively stable preferences are normally related to intense emotional experiences.33 These need not be of a positive character. In her interesting research into musical preferences, Alexandra Lamont concludes that people prefer music they listened to in their pre-natal lives.34 Musical ←19 | 20→preferences are said to be shaped relatively early – by the age of 2. It does not mean, however, that musical preferences are constant, unchangeable for the whole life. They must undergo some evolution, though they rarely undergo radical transformation.
Interesting research into the impact of music was conducted by Hermann von Helmholtz and Edmund Gurney,35 who studied individual elements of a musical composition. As a result of their experiments, they concluded that high-pitch sounds generally have a positive influence and improve mood, while low-pitch sounds generate a sense of majesty, dignity and solemnity. The pace works similarly: fast pace stimulates activity, while slow pace calms down and relaxes. Analogous impact is seen in rhythm: strong rhythm is declared to give energy, but also solemnity, while calm rhythms generate feelings of happiness, gratitude, dreaminess.
An important role in the processes of dis/liking music is played by an element of surprise. People tend to like music that maintains the balance between surprising them and fulfilling their expectations.36 To put it differently, to be liked, music needs to be similar to some extent to the music already liked but it should also surprise and not merely reiterate what is already known. Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis draws attention to similar elements that shape musical experience.37 The author of the model of musical expectations points out that music construes a certain tension stemming from surprise. This occurs in situations of engagement of attention and refutation of expectations when music flows differently than expected. What matters is the balance. If a composition is perceived as too simple, it is not going to be liked; the same happens if a piece is viewed as too complex and too unpredictable.38
According to scholars, what moves the recipients in music is what is perceived as honest and in some way close to them.39 It is also important if music can in some way reactive the memories that people have.40 Stephen Davies ←20 | 21→embraces a referential stance, according to which extra-musical experiences have the most bearing on musical emotions.41 The states occurring most often with reference to musical reception include awe, transcendence, tenderness, nostalgia, calmness, a sense of power, and also joy, sadness and tension.42 For adult listeners, nostalgic music is one treated as their own, that is music listened to in adolescence.43 The period of adolescence is a phase when particularly intense emotions are felt, thus those related to musical perception turn out to be long-lasting. Definitely, what matters here is the presence of nostalgia for the past and its idealization; the familiar sense of “it used to be better” includes as well a feeling that music “used to be better.”
Music is certainly a medium that can easily transport the recipient to a different dimension and de-contextualize daily life, which attributes almost sacral qualities to events related to music. I do not mean here exclusively concerts, as not everybody has a predilection for group experience of music. Mystic experiences may also occur through an individual, reflective reception of music. Due to the effect of group enhancement, however, concerts may intensify these emotions and reinforce the exceptionality of one’s musical fascinations in accord with the social proof of their validity. Especially for teenagers, sharing musical fascinations seems a particularly important bond-shaping factor.
A transcendental dimension of music is declared by 11 percent of respondents,44 yet this statistics may be considered as understated for the recipients may define transcendence in various ways and downplay its occurrence while comparing themselves to others. What is more, musical experiences are elusive, which makes it difficult to clarify and term them, making them remain inexpressible.45 Music’s asemanticity is actually a feature that is often emphasized in scholarship. As Aaron Copland aptly describes the process, music may express all the hues and subtle differences of emotions, a meaning for which no proper word exists in any language.46 Music becomes a meta-language of emotions, ←21 | 22→a subtle play of understatements, a way to induce memories and experiences. Claude Lévi-Strauss referred to the untranslatability of the language of music in the following way, claiming that music is a complete and irreducible language, whose privilege lies in expressing what cannot be expressed in any other way.47 It is no wonder then that musical programmes with song dedications have enjoyed a huge popularity.
Undoubtedly, reactions to music may be very strong, for they are genuine, natural, unforced, deprived of any masks. Music offers a space that allows one to be themselves, to reveal who they really are, to disclose their sensitivity so belittled today, without a risk of being ridiculed. Musical emotions may cause states of being moved, of aesthetic rapture, or even physical trembling.48 Interestingly, physical reactions – the so-called goose bumps – are induced by music defined as “sad,” and are experienced more often by women than by men.49 Scholars link this to women’s maternal instincts, or, to be more precise, to women’s sensitivity to a child’s crying. Some point out that listening to music may even evoke states such as loss of control, graphic imaginings, or a sense of detachment from the world.50 It is sufficient to remember mass faintings of women during Elvis Presley’s or The Beatles’ concerts.
At this point I would like to discuss music termed as “sad” in more detail. I am aware of the ambiguity of the term and possibilities of various emotive definitions of this kind of music, and I use the term to clarify specific musical experiences. Scholars of musical emotions argue that in some social situations people tend to prefer feeling negative rather than positive emotions, despite the hedonism implemented in the individual.51 An interesting idea in this respect has been developed by a Russian philosopher Lev Shestov. He divides people into two categories: permanently unhappy and restless spirits in search of meaning and euphorically happy narcissists.52 He terms the latter monkeys, for ←22 | 23→they are never tormented by anything and are always naively satisfied.53 The latter group are never deeply involved in any sphere of life. When it comes to musical experiences, they resemble those suffering from amusia.
It is worth pointing out that sad music is preferred by individuals who are open to new experiences and empathetic; they also feel sadness in music more acutely.54 Paradoxically, it turns out that “sad” music may induce positive feelings,55 even if it is not listened to with the view of improving one’s mood.56 Pleasure from listening to this type of music is contingent upon a way of listening: the more empathetic it is,57 the deeper the processing and the more focused attention,58 the bigger pleasure it generates. John Stuart Mill mentioned that when he experienced melancholia or anhedonia in his youth, it was music that brough at least temporary pleasure to him.59
A number of life experiences, not necessarily traumatic ones, will make one search for music that will enable entrance into a “dark” trance. It has to be pointed out, however, that it is the listener who projects his/her mood onto the music. Feeling sadness, he/she will be likely to search for music that will reflect his/her emotions, but they will also transpose their emotions onto the music, seeing more sadness in it than a happy person would.60 Hence, musical experiences of such a person will be way more intense and deep than of a person in a good mood.
During the present time of information overload and Welsch’s anaesthetics, deep processing and close attention become very important elements, as the excess of stimuli implies deficits of attention. Wolfgang Welsch defines anaesthetics as a state in which the ability to experience undergoes regression.61 Excess of visual stimuli bombarding us from all directions makes us indifferent to them, causes de-sensitivity, making the stimuli themselves invisible and transparent. We become de-sensitised to protect our perception from overload, as our attention capabilities are quite circumscribed. The same mechanisms occur in the auditory realm. We listen to music without hearing it. Excess of sounds generates lack of attentiveness and their shallow consumption. A focus on the intellectual layer of music makes it shallow and deprived of its immanent qualities. To experience music, one needs to decode it not only on the cognitive level but also on the affective one. It is the combination of the two that leads to the fullest possible reception of a musical piece. Without a genuinely deep experience of music, we will become nothing more that monkeys that – though capable of understanding – in fact understand nothing.
Berlyne, Daniel Ellis. Aesthetics and Psychobiology. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1971.
Blood, Anne J. and Zatorre, Robert J. Intensely Pleasurable Responses to Music Correlate with Activity in Brain Regions Implicated in Reward and Emotion. St. Louise: Washington University School of Medicine, July 16, 2001.
Bourdieu, Pierre. La Distinction: Critique socjale du jugement. Broché: Les Éditions de Minuit, 1979.
Davies, Stephen. Musical Meaning and Expression. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1994.
Dewey, John. Art as Experience. New York: Capricorn Books, 1934/1980.
Dissanayake, Ellen. Art and Intimacy: How the Arts Began. Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, 2000.
Janiszewski, Mirosław. Muzykoterapia aktywna. Warszawa- Łódź: PWN, 1993.
Kierył, Maciej. Elementy terapii muzycznej. Warszawa: Żak, 1996.
Kivy, Peter. Sound Sentiment: An Essay on Musical Emotions. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1989.
Lévi-Strauss, Claude. Les mythologiques: Le cru et le ciut. Paris: Plon, 1990.
Levitin, Daniel J. This is your brain on music: the science of a human obsession. New York: Pengiun Random House LLC, 2016.
Metera, Anna. Muzykoterapia. Muzyka w medycynie i edukacji. Leszno: Centrum Technik Metronom, 2006.
Meyer, Leonard. Emocja i znaczenie w muzyce. Warszawa: PWM, 1974.
Polczyk, Romuald. Pochłonięty umysł. Absorpcja a podatność hipnotyczna. Kraków: UJ, 2005.
Raffman, Diana. Language, Music, and Mind. Bradford: A Bradford Book, 1992.
Sacks, Oliver. Musicophilia: tales of music and the brain. London: Macmillan Publishers, 2008.
Schwabe, Christoph. Regulative Musiktherapie. Stuttgart-New York: Gustav Fischer Verlag, 1979.
Sloboda, John A. Exploring the Musical Mind: Cognition, Emotion, Ability, Function. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.
Szestow, Lew. Potestas clavium (Władza kluczy), trans. Jacek Chmielewski. Kęty: Antyk, 2005.
Szpunar, Magdalena. Kultura cyfrowego narcyzmu. Kraków: AGH, 2016.
Szpunar, Magdalena. Nowe-stare medium. Internet między tworzeniem nowych modeli komunikacyjnych a reprodukowaniem schematów komunikowania masowego. Warszawa: IFIS PAN, 2012.
Wilkoszewska, Krystyna. Sztuka jako rytm życia. Rekonstrukcja filozofii sztuki Johna Deweya. Kraków: Universitas, 2003.
Witkiewicz, Stanisław I. Sonata Belzebuba. Warszawa: Biblioteka Ateneum, 1925.
2. Articles in periodicals
Bieńkowska, Ewa. “Muzyka-Świat.” Teksty 1975, No. 2, pp. 39–58.
Chęćka-Gotkowicz, Anna. “Czy umiemy słuchać – typologia odbiorców muzyki,” Estetyka i Krytyka 2010, No. 19, pp. 25–35.
Frijda, Nico., Sundararajan, Louise. “Emotion Refinement: A Theory Inspired by Chinese Poetics.” Perspectives on Psychological Science 2007, No. 2, pp. 227–241.
Garrido, Sandra., Schubert, Emery. “Individual Differences in the Enjoyment of Negative Emotion in Music: A Literature Review and Experiment.” Music Perception 2011, No. 28, pp. 279–296.
Hesmondhalgh, David J. “Towards a Critical Understanding of Music, Emotion and Self-Identity.” Consumption, Markets and Culture 2008, No.11, pp. 329–343.
Hunter, Patrick G., Schellenberg, Gleen E., Griffith, Andrew T. “Misery Loves Company: Mood-Congruent Emotional Responding to Music.” Emotion 2011, No. 11, pp. 1068–1072.
Juslin, Patrik N. “From Everyday Emotions to Aesthetic Emotions: Towards a Unified Theory of Musical Emotions.” Physics of Life Reviews 2013, No. 10, pp. 235–266.
Kantor-Martynuska, Joanna. “Reakcje emocjonalne na muzykę: integracyjne ujęcie czynników muzycznych, indywidualnych i sytuacyjnych.” Studia Psychologiczne 2015, pp. 47–63.
Konečni, Vladimir J. “Does Music Induce Emotion? A Theoretical and Methodological Analysis.” Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts 2008, No. 2, pp. 115–129.
Lamont, Alexandra., Webb, Rebecca. “Short-and Long-Term Musical Preferences: What Makes a Favourite Piece of Music?.” Psychology of Music 2010, No. 38, pp. 222–241.
Margulis, Elizabeth H. “A Model of Melodic Expectation.” Music Perception 2005, No. 22, pp. 663–714.
Panksepp, Jaak. “The Emotional Sources of ‘Chills’ Induced by Music.” Music Perception 1995, No. 13, pp. 171–207.
Peterson, Richard A. “Understanding Audience Segmentation: From Elite and Mass to Omnivore and Univore.” Poetics 1992, No. 21, pp. 243–258.
Scherer, Klaus R., Zentner, Marcel R. and Schacht. Annekathrin. “Emotional States Generated by Music: An Exploratory Study of Music Experts.” Musicae Scientiae 2002, No. 6, pp. 149–171.
Szpunar, Magdalena. “Emotywne aspekty recepcji muzycznej.” Kultura Współczesna 2017, No. 3, pp. 68–77.
Szpunar, Magdalena. “Muzyczna wszystkożerność.” Kultura Współczesna 2017, No. 3, pp. 26–35.
Thayer, Robert E., Newman, Robert J. and McClain Tracey M. “Self-Regulation of Mood: Strategies for Changing a Bad Mood, Raising Energy, and Reducing Tension.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1994, No. 67, pp. 910–925.
van den Tol, Annemieke J.M., Edwards, Jane. “Listening to Sad Music in Adverse Situations: How Music Selection Strategies Relate to Self-Regulatory Goals, Listening Effects, and Mood Enhancement,” Psychology of Music 2014, pp. 473–494.
Vuoskoski, Jonna K., Thompson, William F., McIlwain, Doris., Eerola, Tuomas. “Who Enjoys Listening to Sad Music and Why?.” Music Perception: An Interdisciplinary Journal 2012, Vol. 29, No. 3 (Feb. 1, 2012), pp. 311–317.
Zentner, Marcel., Grandjean, Didier., Scherer, Klaus. “Emotions Evoked by the Sound of Music: Characterization, Classification, and Measurement.” Emotion 2008, No. 8, pp. 494–521.
3. Articles in books
Copland, Aaron. “How We Listen to Music.” In: The Conscious Reader, ed. Caroline Shrodes. Boston-London-Toronto: Glencoe/McGraw-Hill School Pub Co, 1998, pp. 441–452.
Erber, Ralph., Erber, Maureen W., Poe, Jennifer. “Mood Regulation and Decision-Making: Is Irrational Exuberance Really a Problem?.” In: The Psychology of Economic Decisions, Vol. II: Reasons and Choices. eds. Isabelle Brocas, Juan D. Carrillo, London: Oxford University Press, 2004, pp. 197–210.
Gabrielsson, Alf. “Strong Experiences with Music.” In: Handbook of Music and Emotion: Theory, Research, Applications, eds. Patrik N. Juslin, John A. Sloboda, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010, part V.
Galińska, Elżbieta. “Muzyka w terapii. Psychologiczne i fizjologiczne mechanizmy jej działania.” In: Człowiek-muzyka-psychologia. Książka dedykowana Profesor Marii Manturzewskiej, Warszawa: Akademia Muzyczna im. Fryderyka Chopina, 2000, pp. 472–486.
Madison, Guy. “Cause and Affect: A Functional Perspective on Music and Emotion.” In: Art and the Senses, eds. Francesca Bacci and David Melcher. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011, pp. 329–350.
Lamont, Alexandra. and Greasley, Alinka. “Musical Preferences.” In: The Oxford Handbook of Music Psychology, eds. Susan Hallam, Ian Cross and Michael Thaut (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009, pp. 431–440.
Volgsen, Ulrik. “Emotions, Identity, and Copyright Control: The Constitutive Role of Affect Attunement and Its Implications for the Ontology of Music.” In: The Emotional Power of Music: Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Musical Arousal, Expression, and Social Control, eds. Tom Cochrane, Bernardino Fantini and Klaus R. Scherer, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013, pp. 341–356.
Postmodernizm – antologia przekładów, ed. Ryszard Nycz, Kraków: Baran i Suszczyński, 1996, pp. 520–546.
1 ORCID ID: 0000-0003-1245-5531, Professor of Sociology, Head of the Chair of New Media at the Department of Journalism, Media and Social Communication, Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland, more information at: www.magdalenaszpunar.com.
2 The first version of this text appeared in Polish as Magdalena Szpunar, “Emotywne aspekty recepcji muzycznej,” Kultura Współczesna 2017, No. 3, pp. 68–77.
3 Robert E. Thayer, Robert J. Newman, Tracey M. McClain, “Self-Regulation of Mood: Strategies for Changing a Bad Mood, Raising Energy, and Reducing Tension,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1994, No. 67, pp. 910–925, Guy Madison, “Cause and Affect: A Functional Perspective on Music and Emotion,” in: Art and the Senses, eds. Francesca Bacci and David Melcher (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011).
4 See Patrik N. Juslin, “From Everyday Emotions to Aesthetic Emotions: Towards a Unified Theory of Musical Emotions,” Physics of Life Reviews 2013, No. 10, pp. 235–266.
5 Leonard Meyer, Emocja i znaczenie w muzyce (Warszawa: PWM, 1974); Peter Kivy, Sound Sentiment: An Essay on Musical Emotions (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1989).
6 Joanna Kantor-Martynuska, “Reakcje emocjonalne na muzykę: integracyjne ujęcie czynników muzycznych, indywidualnych i sytuacyjnych,” Studia Psychologiczne 2015, p. 50.
7 Nico Frijda, Louise Sundararajan, “Emotion Refinement: A Theory Inspired by Chinese Poetics,” Perspectives on Psychological Science 2007, No. 2, pp. 227–241.
8 Ulrik Volgsen, “Emotions, Identity, and Copyright Control: The Constitutive Role of Affect Attunement and Its Implications for the Ontology of Music,” in: The Emotional Power of Music: Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Musical Arousal, Expression, and Social Control, eds. Tom Cochrane, Bernardino Fantini and Klaus R. Scherer, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), pp. 341–356.
9 David J. Hesmondhalgh, “Towards a Critical Understanding of Music, Emotion and Self-Identity,” Consumption, Markets and Culture 2008, No. 11, pp. 329–343.
10 Olivier Sacks, Musicophilia: Tales of music and the brain (London: Macmillan Publishers, 2008).
11 Olivier Sacks points to a certain paradox when he writes about people who have no qualifications to assess the formal aspect of music but still like music a lot. On the other hand, there are people highly sensitive to musical nuances in whose lives music does not play an important role. Sacks discusses the problem of amusia that affected many well-known scientists. He refers, among others, to Sigmund Freud, completely insensitive to music, who said that it was impossible for him to experience even the slightest pleasure through music As some rational or perhaps analytical capacity of his brain rebelled against being moved by anything. Sacks, Musicophilia.
12 Mirosław Janiszewski, Muzykoterapia aktywna (Warszawa-Łódź: PWN, 1993), pp. 42–43.
13 Elżbieta Galińska, “Muzyka w terapii. Psychologiczne i fizjologiczne mechanizmy jej działania,” in: Człowiek-muzyka-psychologia. Książka dedykowana Profesor Marii Manturzewskiej (Warszawa: Akademia Muzyczna im. Fryderyka Chopina, 2000), p. 477.
14 While listening to music, changes in the following were observed: measures of blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature, oxygen intake, metabolic rate, endocrinological activity of the adrenal cortex – see Anne J. Blood and Robert J. Zatorre, Intensely Pleasurable Responses to Music Correlate with Activity in Brain Regions Implicated in Reward and Emotion, (St. Louis: Washington University School of Medicine: July 16, 2001); Maciej Kierył, Elementy terapii muzycznej (Warszawa: Żak, 1996); Anna Metera, Muzykoterapia. Muzyka w medycynie i edukacji (Leszno: Centrum Technik Metronom, 2006); Christoph Schwabe, Regulative Musiktherapie (Stuttgart-New York: Gustav Fischer Verlag, 1979).
15 Kierył, Elementy terapii muzycznej, p. 27.
16 Aaron Copland, “How We Listen to Music,” in: The Conscious Reader, ed. Caroline Shrodes (Boston-London-Toronto: Glencoe/McGraw-Hill School Pub Co, 1998), p. 441.
17 Anna Chęćka-Gotkowicz, “Czy umiemy słuchać – typologia odbiorców muzyki,” Estetyka i Krytyka 2010, No. 19, p. 29.
18 Chęćka-Gotkowicz, “Czy umiemy słuchać – typologia odbiorców muzyki,” pp. 29–30.
19 Sacks, Musicophilia, p. 323.
20 Chęćka-Gotkowicz, “Czy umiemy słuchać – typologia odbiorców muzyki,” p. 28.
21 Stanisław I. Witkiewicz, Sonata Belzebuba (Warszawa: Biblioteka Ateneum, 1925).
22 Ewa Bieńkowska, “Muzyka-Świat,” Teksty 1975, No. 2, p. 40.
23 John A. Sloboda, Exploring the Musical Mind: Cognition, Emotion, Ability, Function (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005).
24 Klaus R. Scherer, Marcel R. Zentner, Annekathrin Schacht, “Emotional States Generated by Music: An Exploratory Study of Music Experts,” Musicae Scientiae 2002, No. 6, pp. 149–171.
25 Krystyna Wilkoszewska, Sztuka jako rytm życia. Rekonstrukcja filozofii sztuki Johna Deweya (Kraków: Universitas, 2003).
26 John Dewey, Art as Experience (New York: Capricorn Books, 1934/1980).
27 Pierre Bourdieu, La Distinction: Critique socjale du jugement (Broché: Les Éditions de Minuit, 1979).
28 Richard A. Peterson, “Understanding Audience Segmentation: From Elite and Mass to Omnivore and Univore,” Poetics 1992, No. 21.
29 For more on that see Magdalena Szpunar, “Muzyczna wszystkożerność,” Kultura Współczesna 2017, No. 3, pp. 26–35.
30 Daniel J. Levitin, This is your brain on music: the science of a human obsession (New York: Pengiun Random House LLC, 2016), pp. 250–251.
31 Daniel Ellis Berlyne, Aesthetics and Psychobiology (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1971).
32 Alexandra Lamont, Alinka Greasley, “Musical Preferences,” in: The Oxford Handbook of Music Psychology, eds. Susan Hallam, Ian Cross and Michael Thaut (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009).
33 Alexandra Lamont, Rebecca Webb, “Short-and Long-Term Musical Preferences: What Makes a Favourite Piece of Music?,” Psychology of Music 2010, No. 38, pp. 222–241.
34 Alexandra Lamont observed that infants tend to look longer at the speakers when they hear music their mothers listened to during pregnancy. Such a tendency was not noticed in the control group of infants that listened to music unfamiliar to them. Lamont deploys the method of conditioned headturning procedure, used by the majority of researchers, whereby an infant is placed on their mother’s knees between two speakers, see Levitin, This is your brain on music, pp. 241–243.
35 Janiszewski, Muzykoterapia aktywna, p. 46.
36 Meyer, Emocja i znaczenie w muzyce.
37 Elizabeth H. Margulis, “A Model of Melodic Expectation,” Music Perception 2005, No. 22, pp. 663–714.
38 Levitin, This is your brain on music, p. 253.
39 Ellen Dissanayake, Art and Intimacy: How the Arts Began (Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, 2000).
40 Stephen Davies, Musical Meaning and Expression (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1994).
41 Kantor-Martynuska, Reakcje emocjonalne na muzykę, p. 52.
42 Marcel Zentner, Didier Grandjean, Klaus Scherer, “Emotions Evoked by the Sound of Music: Characterization, Classification, and Measurement,” Emotion 2008, No. 8, pp. 494–521.
43 Levitin, This is your brain on music, p. 250.
44 Alf Gabrielsson, “Strong Experiences with Music,” in: Handbook of Music and Emotion: Theory, Research, Applications, eds. Patrik N. Juslin, John A. Sloboda (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010).
45 Diana Raffman, Language, Music, and Mind (Bradford: A Bradford Book, 1992).
46 Copland, “How We Listen to Music,” p. 442.
47 Claude Lévi-Strauss, Les mythologiques: Le cru et le ciut (Paris: Plon, 1990), passim.
48 Vladimir J. Konečni, “Does Music Induce Emotion? A Theoretical and Methodological Analysis,” Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts 2008, No. 2, pp. 115–129.
49 Jaak Panksepp, “The Emotional Sources of ‘Chills’ Induced by Music,” Music Perception 1995, No. 13, pp. 171–207.
50 Scherer, Zentner, Schacht, “Emotional States Generated by Music,” pp. 149–171.
51 Ralph Erber, Maureen W. Erber, Jennifer Poe, “Mood Regulation and Decision-Making: Is Irrational Exuberance Really a Problem?,” in: The Psychology of Economic Decisions, Vol. II: Reasons and Choices. eds. Isabelle Brocas, Juan D. Carrillo (London: Oxford University Press, 2004).
52 Cf. Magdalena Szpunar, Kultura cyfrowego narcyzmu (Kraków: AGH, 2016).
53 Lew Szestow, Potestas clavium (Władza kluczy), trans. Jacek Chmielewski (Kęty: Antyk, 2005), p. 48.
54 Jonna K. Vuoskoski, William F. Thompson, Doris McIlwain, Tuomas Eerola, “Who Enjoys Listening to Sad Music and Why?,” Music Perception: An Interdisciplinary Journal 2012, Vol. 29, No. 3 (Feb. 1, 2012), pp. 311–317.
55 Zentner, Grandjean, Scherer, Emotions Evoked by the Sound of Music.
56 Annemieke J.M. van den Tol, Jane Edwards, “Listening to Sad Music in Adverse Situations: How Music Selection Strategies Relate to Self-Regulatory Goals, Listening Effects, and Mood Enhancement,” Psychology of Music 2014.
57 Sandra Garrido, Emery Schubert, “Individual Differences in the Enjoyment of Negative Emotion in Music: A Literature Review and Experiment,” Music Perception 2011, No. 28, pp. 279–296.
58 Romuald Polczyk, Pochłonięty umysł. Absorpcja a podatność hipnotyczna (Kraków: UJ, 2005).
59 Sacks, Musicophilia, p. 335.
60 Patrick G. Hunter, Gleen E. Schellenberg, Andrew T. Griffith, “Misery Loves Company: Mood-Congruent Emotional Responding to Music,” Emotion 2011, No. 11, pp. 1068–1072.
61 Cf. Magdalena Szpunar, Nowe-stare medium. Internet między tworzeniem nowych modeli komunikacyjnych a reprodukowaniem schematów komunikowania masowego (Warszawa: IFIS PAN, 2012); Postmodernizm – antologia przekładów, ed. Ryszard Nycz (Kraków: Baran i Suszczyński, 1996), p. 522.
Abstract: The chapter presents preliminary results of research into the Lublin patriotic songs during World War I. The most commonly performed songs, considered as hymns, included: Alojzy Feliński’s “God Save Poland,” Józef Wybicki’s “Poland Is Not Yet Lost” and Maria Konopnicka’s “Rota.” Initially, Kornel Ujejski’s “Chorał” also belonged within the most popular songs. Alongside songs known across the nation, there were also compositions typical of social subgroups: soldiers (Riflers and members of the Legions), scouts, the peasant movement or the socialist movement. Available sources rarely mention the performance of songs created during World War I; typically these were earlier songs, often updated to the current situation. Due to the change of political situation in the wake of the withdrawal of Russian troops and authorities from the Lublin region in the summer of 1915, political events became legal and were often of a mass character. The number of participants, including organized performers of songs, increased.
Keywords: Polish patriotic songs, Lublin patriotic songs, regional songs, hymns, World War I
The social life of the Lublin region in the first two decades of the 20th century offered ample opportunities to present a broad musical programme, including a patriotic repertoire. Such opportunities were enabled by (legal and illegal) celebrations of national anniversaries, political manifestations, rallies, concerts of professional and – even more often – amateur performers, but also funerals and church services, including those occurring in prison.
The range of the performers was vast, starting from professional artists2 and orchestras, through a huge and varied group of amateurs, including, among ←29 | 30→others, school choirs and orchestras, scout bands, workers’ or peasants’ bands, city district or village bands, to the “unorganized” participants in the events who joined in the singing of songs, whether familiar to them or not.
The First World War in the Lublin region can clearly be divided into two distinct parts, the caesura being the pushing out of the Russian army by the Central Powers in July and August 1915. Lublin and the Lublin Governorate in its early 1913 shape was under the Austrian occupation, where conditions of life – despite the difficult material situation of the majority of the inhabitants – were better than under the German occupation, not to mention the last year of the Russian rule.
The primary source of information on the subject is the Lublin press of 1914–1918, and the memoirs (more rarely, the diaries) of the participants in these events, even though some results can possibly be garnered from archival research.3 In light of the abundance of information both in the press and in the memoirs, what strikes one is its general character when it comes to musical programmes. A typical example may be information on the peasant convention in Urzędów on 23 October 1915 that lasted 9 hours; “at the end of the meeting, representatives of Liga Kobiet [Women’s League] sang several national songs and the participants left for their respective villages with a song on their lips.”4 Most likely, these were songs already known, as Liga Kobiet Pogotowia Wojennego had started its activity in the Lublin region at the turn of the summer and autumn of 1915.
More information is available about the pre-war patriotic programmes of illegal scout groups of the Lublin region during the Russian occupation. As a female scout from the troop in Władysław Kunicki’s merchant school recalled, “each [conspiratorial] meeting ended with the singing of ‘Rota’ [The Oath] and ‘Jeszcze Polska nie zginęła’ [Poland Is Not Yet Lost]. We sang quietly, yet there was strength in the song.”5 “Rota” was “an organisational song, whereby each girl ←30 | 31→scout was supposed to stand to attention whenever she heard or sang it, regardless of the place.”6 Feliks Kaliński, a student at a Russian school in Łuków, in which a boy scout troop was created, reminisced: “You should see with what joy and zeal we marched in fours outside the town, singing our favourite and forbidden songs: ‘Hej strzelcy wraz’ [Hey, Riflers Together], ‘Widziałem ja cztery orły’ [I Saw Four Eagles], ‘Grzmią pod Stoczkiem’ [Roar at Stoczek] etc..”7
In the wake of Russia’s withdrawal from Lublin (30 July 1915), “Rota” and other patriotic songs were sung in the city streets legally, albeit initially in sad circumstances. On 6 August there took place in Lublin the funeral of Jan Wojtkiewicz “Wysoki,” sub-lieutenant of the 1st Uhlans Regiment of Polish Legions, who had died two days before at Kozłówka. “The orchestra marched at the front, then the clergy, then the coffin on an ordinary peasant wagon dressed in green, behind the coffin the fiancée of the deceased, then friends and comrades-in-arms on horseback, crowds of mourners… and the procession was ended by a platoon of the Uhlans on horseback.”8 By the grave, the bugle wake-up call was played and “Rota” was sung. Accounts of the funeral emphasized the fact that during the procession numerous Austrian and German soldiers and officers present in the city saluted the deceased; the singing of religious songs has not been noted.
“Rota” was also sung at the grave of the 15-year-old scout Grzegorz Puternicki, a member of Milicja Obywatelska [Citizens’ Militia], where he worked as an orderly on a bicycle. Puternicki had died on 20 August 1915 in a car accident caused by a Prussian officer. The Lublin scouts made their first official appearance at this sad occasion.9
In the final days of November 1915 legal and ceremonial celebrations of an anniversary of the November Uprising were organized for the first time. On Sunday, 28 November, The Celebrations Committee of Wydział Narodowy Lubelski [the Lublin National Department, WNL]10 published in Ziemia Lubelska “The Programme of National Celebrations on 28 and 29 of November.” Next day Ziemia Lubelska released Wybicki’s “Song of the Polish Legions from 1799,” ←31 | 32→different from its 1797 version, Alojzy Feliński’s “Boże coś Polskę” [God Save Poland], Kornel Ujejski’s “Z dymem pożarów” [With the Smoke of the Fires], Władysław Anczyc’s “Marsz strzelców” [Riflers’ March] (“Hej strzelcy wraz”) and “Tak nam dopomóż Bóg” [So Help Us God], that is Maria Konopnicka’s “Rota.” During a ceremonial procession from the cathedral to the cemetery in Lipowa Street the following songs were sung: “Jeszcze Polska,” “Boże coś Polskę,” “Z dymem pożarów” and “Rota.” There was also a spectacle in the cinematograph Oaza, where the choir of the Piaski district performed “Z dymem pożarów,” with the numerous audience applauding by standing up from their seats. “The programme continued with the choir singing of the amateurs from Piaski, solo performances and declamations.”11 The celebrations took place in all the major towns of the Lublin region, and the occupant authorities gave various numbers of participants, from several to twenty thousand. The participation of labourers was noted, who sang “Czerwony Sztandar” [The Red Flag].12
Commemorative publications for the occasion of the anniversary included a neatly published book Sto najpiękniejszych pieśni polskich patryotycznych, wojennych, żołnierskich i ludowych zebranych ku uczczeniu 85-ej rocznicy powstania listopadowego [A Hundred Most Beautiful Polish Patriotic, Wartime, Military and Folk Songs Compiled to Celebrate the 85th Anniversary of the November Uprising], sporting a coloured cover.13 Published anonymously, the book furthered the political programme of the WNL, accentuating pro-independence activities. Many songs included in the book express strong anti-Russian sentiments, with infrequent compositions of – directly or indirectly – anti-German or anti-Austrian character.
The programme of celebrations and procession was prepared by the WNL’s Celebrations Committee. The WNL also organized readings and prepared publications, including, among others, two one-time publications (the so-called jednodniówka).14 Financial reports of the WNL mentioned the publication of Wybór pieśni wojennych [Selection of Wartime Songs] and Polskie pieśni wojenne [Polish Wartime Songs] in ten thousand copies each.15
Another round of celebrations was related to the anniversary of the January Uprising. The celebrations took place on Saturday and Sunday, 22 and 23 January 1916. On Saturday in Teatr Wielki [Great Theatre], “the male choir of Lubelskie Towarzystwo Muzyczne [the Lublin Musical Association] conducted by the director Strzyżewski beautifully sang the hymn ‘Z dymem pożarów,’ which the audience listened to standing up, followed by Gall’s ‘Wianek pieśni narodowych [Wreath of National Songs]16 and Lechman’s song ‘Do boju czesi’ [Fight, Czechs].”17
On the next day, the insurgents’ crucifix was officially consecrated at the cemetery in Lipowa Street (in the awful weather, the participants sang “Z dymem,” “Boże coś Polskę” and “Rota”), while in the evening a feast was organized by the soldiers of the Polish Legions to honour the Uprising’s veterans: alongside the toasts there was also “the Legions’ music and song.”18
Despite political complications,19 the 125th anniversary of the Constitution proclaimed on 3 May 1791 was celebrated with the most elan. After the mass, over a dozen thousand people participated in the carefully planned procession from the cathedral to the Litewski Square, where a memorial stone was unveiled. In accord with the organisers’ wishes, the song “Boże coś Polskę” was sung on the way. It took the numerous audience over an hour to fill Litewski Square. As the memorial stone was being unveiled, “the choirs of male and female scouts, boys and girls, sang … ‘Warszawianka’ [The Varsouviana].”20 A triple bugle call and the singing of “Mazurek Dąbrowskiego” constituted the signal to depart. It is known, however, that even before the start of the celebrations several thousand peasants, who came to celebrate (in folk costumes and with banners) passed the time singing.21
Three days earlier, the first legal First-May manifestation took place in Lublin. It was of a rather modest character, and I was not able to find any information on whether any songs were sung. Half a year later, however, Głos Lubelski noted that on the All Saints’ Day a procession of the Polish Socialist party visited the grave of Rev. Piotr Ściegienny, with a flag draped with shrouds. After the speeches, “socialist songs were sung.”22
The announcement of the Act of 5 November had a ceremonial character, both in the headquarters of the General Military Government in Lublin in the Lubomirski Palace and in powiat stations. In Lublin the Austrian regiment orchestra played the anthem of Austria-Hungary and “Jeszcze Polska.” Because the ceremony had long been kept secret, the Austrian regiment musicians did not have a chance to rehearse the melody of “Mazurek Dąbrowskiego” and played out of tune.23 In Tomaszów, in front of the building of the powiat station “ ‘Jeszcze Polska’ was played, and flags in the Polish national colours were hung alongside state flags. Then, to the sound of national songs, the participants marched to the church, carrying the Polish flag. There, ‘Te Deum’ was sung.”24
After the Act of 5 November 1916, the importance of anniversary celebrations faded, while conventions, rallies and manifestations related to the current political situation gained prominence in the political fight for the shape of the future Polish state. The final great anniversary celebrations took place in October 1917 on account of the centenary of Tadeusz Kościuszko’s death. In Lublin, an evening performance was organised in Teatr Wielki on that occasion, in which the choirs of Lubelskie Towarzystwo Muzyczne and Teatr Wielki sang “Boże coś Polskę” and “a number of patriotic songs.”25
There is way more information on the songs sung during a manifestation on 26 July 1917, in which over a dozen thousand people participated in the wake of Józef Piłsudski’s arrest by the Germans. After a turbulent rally on the Litewski Square organised by pro-independence activists in Lublin, especially socialists and the peasant movement, and the singing of “Rota,” the procession marched alongside Krakowskie Przedmieście Street towards the park, singing “O cześć wam panowie” [Glory to You, Gentlemen] (Gustaw Ehrenberg’s “Szlachta ←34 | 35→w roku 1831” [Gentry in 1831], starting with “Gdy naród do boju” [When the People Rise to Battle]), “Marsz strzelców” and “Czerwony sztandar.” The signing of “Jeszcze Polska nie zginęła” was a signal for departure.26
Despite the less severe regime under the Austrian than under the German occupation, there were political prisoners also in the former, especially after the Oath crisis (July 1917) and the protests in the wake of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk (February 1918). Political prisoners in Lublin were frequently placed together with criminal ones in the Lublin Castle, where they could take part in the mass in the prison’s chapel. There, they were subjected to political reeducation conducted by prison chaplains. One of the prisoners recollected his imprisonment in the Castle in the following way:
Many of us were quite willing to go to the chapel as this was the only opportunity to see other prisoners or to pass illegal correspondence. A prison choir was organized and led by comrade Świątek, comprising comrades and peasant activists, who sang songs during the mass, travestying known patriotic songs to refer to the new oppressors, the Austrians, for example ‘Dręczy lud biedny Habsburg okrutny’ [The Cruel Habsburg Oppresses Poor People]27 or:
‘Poland has not yet perished,
So long as we still live.
What the wicked Teresa has taken from us,
We shall with sabre retrieve’ etc.
Reacting to the anti-Habsburg character of the song, the agitated chaplain addressed the prisoners in a hateful sermon: “You are here for crimes, arson, murder, perjury, rebellion against power established by God.” After the mass, one of the indignant participants stated: “on behalf of 110 political prisoners I protest against these wicked insinuations. ‘We are fighting … against occupant looters for people’s freedom and it is for this that we are imprisoned, not for common crimes.” The enraged chaplain began to offend and threaten ‘the criminal,’ which prompted other prisoners to react. “as a sign of protest ‘Gdy naród do boju’» resounded vigorously, perhaps for the first time, in the chapel. The prisoners sang the song of fight and plight with such power that the Czech guards stood powerless, not knowing what to do. The priest initially shouted ←35 | 36→as loud as he could, waving his arms, but his voice was drowned by the choir of hundreds of voices. Enraged by his own powerlessness, he had to listen to the whole song before commanding: – ‘Do not bring political prisoners to the chapel any more – away with them!’.”28
The situation described above is naturally not the only case of travestying or updating earlier texts. It seems that the text of “Mazurek Dąbrowskiego” was changed the most often. The publication on account of the 85th anniversary of the November Uprising mentioned above includes “Mazur Piłsudskiego from 1914,” with the following text:
Poland has not yet perished,
So long as we still live.
What the foreign force has taken from us,
We shall with sabre retrieve.
Chorus: March, march, Piłsudski,
Lead us to bloody fight.
Under your command
We shall enter Warsaw.
You have woken us to arms
You have woken the knights
You’ve convinced us that to win
It is necessary to believe.
The Riflers – Legionists rose
At your command
Today our victory will come true
Poland will be resurrected.
We will crush Moscow’s shackles
We will live in freedom
Our case is sacred case
Listen to us, the nation.
After the Act of 5 November 1916 was proclaimed, the pro-Austrian Ziemia Lubelska published the text “Boże coś Polskę,” with a verse: “Our homeland, our freedom, keep for us, the Lord.”30 It was not only older texts that got ←36 | 37→travestied. One of the outstanding pro-independence activists in Lublin, related to Brygada Legionów [Brigade of Polish Legions] and POW [Polish Military Organization] (among others, the commander of POW in Lublin for a while and the vice-commander of POW’s District VIII), Jan Arnsztajn “under the penname of Jan Ćwiek published at that time numerous up-to-date travesties of well-known cabaret songs that enjoyed a lot of popularity among the Legions and POW members.”31
Accounts of the turbulent events of 1918 (including protests in the wake of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk and the October manifestations) do not contain new and vital information about songs performed at that time, even though in the streets and halls of Lublin the words of “Rota,”32 “Mazurek Dąbrowskiego” and “Boże coś Polskę” could be heard with increased frequency. On 10 November 1918 over a dozen thousand participants in the rally of support for Daszyński’s government on the Litewski Square were dispersing “to the sound of the national anthem and ‘La Marseillaise’.”33
This chapter is of an introductory, tentative character and does not aspire to offer definitive conclusions. Nevertheless, on the basis of research conducted several hypotheses may be posed to be verified in the course of further research:
1. The most prominent songs were national anthems and pan-national songs,34 including “Boże coś Polskę,” “Rota” and “Mazurek Dąbrowskiego,” functioning under various titles, with the exception of the first song. Initially, Kornel Ujejski’s “Chorał” enjoyed a similar popularity, but with time it appeared more rarely. What is interesting, the singing of “Mazurek ←37 | 38→Dąbrowskiego” signalled the end of the manifestation, procession or assembly.
2. After the withdrawal of the Russian army and authorities in July 1915, songs previously sung illegally could now be performed publicly, while political events of various kind (manifestations, processions, anniversary celebrations, rallies, etc.) became of a mass and legal character. Because of that, it can be assumed that the number of performers – both professionals and amateurs (choirs, theatre troupes, orchestras) – as well as “unorganized” participants increased.
3. There is no record of texts created after the outbreak of the war, despite the fact that ample poetry of various quality was published, most often in the press or in separate volumes.35 There were plenty of diverse travesties of earlier texts, related to the events, situations or people of 1914–1918. This may suggest that earlier texts (from before 1914) were known and performed before the outbreak of the war, as corroborated by the case of “Rota” as the scouts’ anthem. It is possible that war-time texts may be referred to by ambiguous mentions of “Riflers” or “Legions’ ” songs.
4. Lublin was not only an important centre of political life, but also a publishing centre, including patriotic and musical literature.36 An important role was played in this respect by Wydział Narodowy Lubelski and other structures of the independence movement. A patriotic repertoire was attempted to be shaped, although it is difficult to determine the outcome of these attempts. Melodies to well-known Legions’ songs were composed by Zygmunt Pomarański, a Zamość-based soldier of the First Cadre Company of Riflers, member of the Legions and POW, book store owner and publisher. The songs performed did not include any specific Lublin ones, as it is difficult to treat “Grzmią pod Stoczkiem armaty” as such. The song had been written during the November Uprising by the Lublin-born Wincenty Pol.
5. Given political trends (socialists, peasants, National Democrats) and social groups (soldiers, scouts, students) had their own musical programmes. The material researched for the purpose of this chapter includes some information on the repertoire of the scouts and the socialists (to mention “Czerwony sztandar”) and peasants (“Gdy naród do boju”). As signalled above, these issues need further researching.
Kruk, Stefan. Życie teatralne w Lublinie (1782–1918). Lublin: Lubelskie, 1982.
Lewandowski, Jan. Królestwo Polskie wobec Austro-Węgier 1914–1918. Warszawa- Łódź: PWN, 1986.
Przyczynki do historii I Żeńskiej Drużyny Harcerskiej im. Emilii Plater w Lublinie. Lublin .
Zieliński, Konrad. W cieniu synagogi. Obraz życia kulturalnego ludności żydowskiej w latach okupacji austro-węgierskiej. Lublin: UMCS, 1998.
2. Articles in periodicals
Kruk, Stefan. “Teatr Żydowski w Lublinie 1916–1917.” Biuletyn Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego w Polsce 1982, nos. 3–4, pp. 49–64.
Kruk, Stefan. “Teatralia w lubelskiej ‘Myśli Żydowskiej’ 1916–1917.” Pamiętnik Teatralny 1992, No. ¼, pp. 377–390.
Zieliński, Konrad. “Życie teatralne ludności żydowskiej na Lubelszczyźnie w latach pierwszej wojny światowej.” Annales Universitatis Mariae Curie-Skłodowska, sec. F, 1997/1998, Vol. 52/53, pp. 301–327.
3. Articles in books
Lewandowski, Jan. “Koncepcje polityczne Wydziału Narodowego Lubelskiego 1915–1918.” In: Szkice z dziejów polskiej myśli politycznej, eds. Jan Jachymek, Albin Koprukowniak, Lublin: UMCS, 1987, pp. 53–72.
4. Unpublished materials
Wesołowski J., Lubelski ruch wydawniczy w latach pierwszej wojny światowej, Lublin 2006 (unpublished doctoral dissertation placed in Biblioteka Główna UMCS).←39 | 40→
National Archives in Kraków, Archives of Naczelny Komitet Narodowy 1914–1921, item 125. The celebration of 5 November 1916 in Tomaszów.
National Archives in Lublin, c. i k. Komenda Powiatowa w Lublinie 1915–1918, sign. 25 December 1915. Materielle Situationsmeldung. Politisches in Allgemeinem.
29 listopada 1830. Jednodniówka [One-time publications], with images by Konstanty Rayski, 1915.
Głos Lubelski 3 May 1916, No. 120.
Głos Lubelski 4 May 1916, No. 121.
Głos Lubelski 6 Nov. 1916, No. 304.
Głos Lubelski 9 Nov. 1916, No. 307.
Głos Lubelski 15 Nov. 1917, No. 284.
Głos Lubelski 16 Nov. 1917, No. 285.
Komunikat No. 40 from 1917.
Komunikat No. 94 from 1918.
Noc Listopadowa. Jednodniówka [One-time publications], 1915.
Polska Ludowa. Dwutygodnik poświęcony sprawom narodowego życia 1915, No. 3.
Sprawa Polska from 1915 and 1916.
Ziemia Lubelska 24 Jan. 1916, No. 32.
Ziemia Lubelska 4 May 1916, No. 214.
Ziemia Lubelska 6 Aug. 1915, No. 216.
Ziemia Lubelska 24 Aug. 1915, No. 250.
Ziemia Lubelska 5 Nov. 1916, No. 548 (mid-day).
Ziemia Lubelska 1 Dec. 1915, No. 420.
Hupka, Jan. Z czasów Wielkiej Wojny. Pamiętnik nie kombatanta. Lwów: Miejsce Piastowe, 1937.
Jampolski, Jerzy. Wspomnienia z czasów okupacji austriackiej w Królestwie Kongresowym. Kraków: Krakowska Spółka Wydawnicza, 1924.←40 | 41→
Księga pamiątkowa 25-lecia harcerstwa na Lubelszczyźnie. Wspomnienia i dokumenty 1911–1936. Lublin: Zarząd Okręgu Lub. ZHP, 1936.
Mroczek. “Restaurare omnia in christo.” In: Pod sztandarem POW. Szkice i wspomnienia. Lublin: Zarząd Okręgu i Koło Związku Peowiaków, 1935.
8. Song lyrics
Pieśni polskie na chór męski, Kraków (year of publication unknown).
Pieśni obozowe ułożone na polu walki w 1914–1915 przez legionistów polskich, compiled and with piano music by Adam Szlendak, parts 1 and 2. Lublin, 1915.
Rozkwitały pąki białych róż… Wiersze i pieśni z lat 1908–1918. O Polsce, o wojnie i o żołnierzach, selected, edited and with an introduction by Andrzej Romanowski, Vol. 1–2. Warszawa: Czytelnik, 1990.
Sto najpiękniejszych pieśni polskich patryotycznych, wojennych, żołnierskich i ludowych zebranych ku uczczeniu 85-ej rocznicy powstania listopadowego. Lublin, 1915.
1 Professor of Political Science, Wyższa Szkoła Gospodarki Krajowej in Kutno. Research interests: East and Central Europe of the 19th and 20th centuries, nation-making processes, national and religious conflicts, regional history.
2 On the theatre and concert programmes of that period see, among others, Stefan Kruk, Życie teatralne w Lublinie (1782–1918) (Lublin: Lubelskie, 1982); Stefan Kruk, “Teatr Żydowski w Lublinie 1916–1917,” Biuletyn Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego w Polsce 1982, nos. 3–4; Stefan Kruk, “Teatralia w lubelskiej ‘Myśli Żydowskiej’ 1916–1917,” Pamiętnik Teatralny 1992, No. ¼; Konrad Zieliński, W cieniu synagogi. Obraz życia kulturalnego ludności żydowskiej w latach okupacji austro-węgierskiej (Lublin: UMCS, 1998); Konrad Zieliński, “Życie teatralne ludności żydowskiej na Lubelszczyźnie w latach pierwszej wojny światowej,” Annales Universitatis Mariae Curie-Skłodowska, sec. F, 1997/1998, Vol. 52/53.
3 This pertains especially to political reports of the General Military Government [c. i k. Generalne Gubernatorstwo Wojskowe] in Lublin between 1915 and 1918 and acts of the powiat stations of that period. More detailed accounts of archival corps will be given in subsequent footnotes.
4 Polska Ludowa. Dwutygodnik poświęcony sprawom narodowego życia 1915, No. 3.
5 S.Tallat z Kiełłpszów Trębicka, “Wspomnienia drużynowej,” quoted in: Księga pamiątkowa 25-lecia harcerstwa na Lubelszczyźnie. Wspomnienia i dokumenty 1911–1936 (Lublin: Zarząd Okręgu Lub. ZHP, 1936), p. 20.
6 Przyczynki do historii I Żeńskiej Drużyny Harcerskiej im. Emilii Plater w Lublinie (Lublin: Popularna, ), p. 8.
7 Quoted in: Księga pamiątkowa, p. 22.
8 Ziemia Lubelska 6 Aug. 1915, No. 216.
9 Ziemia Lubelska 24 Aug. 1915, No. 250.
10 For more on the WNL see Jan Lewandowski, “Koncepcje polityczne Wydziału Narodowego Lubelskiego 1915–1918,” in: Szkice z dziejów polskiej myśli politycznej, eds. Jan Jachymek, Albin Koprukowniak (Lublin: UMCS, 1987), pp. 53–72.
11 Ziemia Lubelska 1 Dec. 1915, No. 420.
12 National Archives in Lublin, c. i k. Komenda Powiatowa w Lublinie 1915–1918, sign. 25 Dec. 1915. Materielle Situationsmeldung. Politisches in Allgemeinem.
13 Sto najpiękniejszych pieśni polskich patryotycznych, wojennych, żołnierskich i ludowych zebranych ku uczczeniu 85-ej rocznicy powstania listopadowego (Lublin: 1915), p. 74.
14 29 listopada 1830. Jednodniówka, with images by Konstanty Rayski, 1915; Noc Listopadowa. Jednodniówka, 1915.
15 Sprawa Polska from 1915 and 1916.
16 Pieśni polskie na chór męski, published in Cracow (year of publication unknown), contains in the section Wieniec pieśni narodowych the following songs: “Modlitwa przed bitwą” [Prayer before Battle], “Marsz Żuawów” [The Zouaves’ March], “Gdy naród polski” [When the Polish Nation], “Uderzcie w bębny” [Strike the Drums] and “Jeszcze Polska nie zginęła” [Poland Is Not Yet Lost].
17 Ziemia Lubelska 24 Jan. 1916, No. 32.
18 Ziemia Lubelska 24 Jan. 1916, No. 32; Jan Hupka, Z czasów Wielkiej Wojny. Pamiętnik nie kombatanta (Lwów: Miejsce Piastowe, 1937), pp. 157–158.
19 For more on the issue see Jan Lewandowski, Królestwo Polskie wobec Austro-Węgier 1914–1918 (Warszawa-Łódź: PWN, 1986), pp. 89–91.
20 Ziemia Lubelska 4 May 1916, No. 214.
21 Głos Lubelski 3 May and 4 May 1916, nos. 120 and 121.
22 Głos Lubelski 6 Nov. 1916, No. 304.
23 Jerzy Jampolski, Wspomnienia z czasów okupacji austriackiej w Królestwie Kongresowym (Kraków: Krakowska Spółka Wydawnicza, 1924), p. 22; Głos Lubelski 9 Nov. 1916, No. 307.
24 National Archives in Kraków, Archives of Naczelny Komitet Narodowy 1914–1921, item 125. The celebration of 5 Nov. 1916 in Tomaszów.
25 Głos Lubelski 15 and 16 Nov. 1917, nos. 284 and 285.
26 Komunikat No. 40 from 1917.
27 It is the beginning of “Pieśń lirnika” [The Lyrnik’s Song], whose first stanza was written by Władysław Anczyc. Its other versions are: “Dręczy lud biedny wróg nasz okrutny” [The Cruel Enemy Oppresses Poor People] and “Dręczy lud biedny Moskal okrutny” [The Cruel Moskal Oppresses Poor People].
28 Mroczek, “Restaurare omnia in christo,” in: Pod sztandarem POW. Szkice i wspomnienia (Lublin: Zarząd Okręgu i Koło Związku Peowiaków, 1935), pp. 55–56.
29 Sto najpiękniejszych pieśni polskich, p. 23, item 33.
30 Ziemia Lubelska 5 Nov. 1916, No. 548 (mid-day).
31 Rozkwitały pąki białych róż… Wiersze i pieśni z lat 1908–1918. O Polsce, o wojnie i o żołnierzach, ed. Andrzej Romanowski, t. 1–2 (Warszawa: Czytelnik, 1990) [part 2], p. 203. The text includes information that Arnsztajn’s literary texts were published by Alicja Bełcikowska in the anthology Polska Organizacja Wojskowa w pieśni i w poezji (Warszawa: Główna Księgarnia Wojskowa, 1939).
32 That was the case, for example, with the unification convention of the Polish scouts [Harcerstwo Polskie] that took place in Lublin on 1 and 2 Nov. 1918. Zofia Gołębiowska-Borowska, “W zaraniu niepodległości – wyjątki z dziennika,” in: Księga Pamiątkowa, p. 51.
33 Komunikat No. 94 from 1918.
34 The book Sto najpiękniejszych pieśni polskich [One Hundred Most Beautiful Polish Songs] includes 12 texts in the section “Pieśni Ogólno-Narodowe (patryotyczne)” [Pan-National (Patriotic) Songs], starting with “Bogurodzica” [Mother of God], and including “Boże coś Polskę” as the “national anthem” as well as “Pieśń Legionów Polskich z 1798 r.,” “Przysięga” (“Rota”) and Chorał “Z dymem pożarów.”
35 See Rozkwitały pąki białych róż….
36 For more information see Janusz Wesołowski, Lubelski ruch wydawniczy w latach pierwszej wojny światowej, Lublin 2006 (unpublished doctoral dissertation placed in Biblioteka Główna UMCS). Many texts were published by the Lublin press, both legal and illegal. Alongside the publications mentioned above, there was also Pieśni obozowe ułożone na polu walki w 1914–1915 przez legionistów polskich, compiled and with piano music by Adam Szlendak, parts 1 and 2 (Lublin, 1915). Each part contains 10 songs with their musical score. The ending note reads: “Publication allowed K. u. K. Kreiskommando 10/12 1915.” Despite its title, the songbook contains also earlier songs.
Abstract: The Polish peasant movement valued the role of patriotic and religious song and music in the process of shaping the attitudes and national and social awareness of the peasants, treated as a key force in the process of regaining independence and consolidating the democratic system of the state. Songs and music accompanied events organized to commemorate anniversaries of historical events or historical heroes and celebrations of folk festival. These celebrations were meant to deepen one’s affiliation with the fatherland and at the same time mobilize peasants to fight for their civil rights and for the realization of the ideals of social justice and democracy.
Keywords: the peasant movement, patriotic and religious songs, national manifestations, Poland’s independence, social justice, democracy
The Polish peasant movement began to take shape at the end of the 19th century, at first in Galicia, then in the Kingdom of Poland and, from its very beginnings, it placed great emphasis on raising both national and civic awareness among peasants. Peasant activists focused their attention on combining national objectives with social goals and put them at the top of their political agenda. On the one hand, the Peasants’ Party (since 1903 The Polish Peasants’ Party) in Galicia aspired to secure social and political independence of peasants, reject the control exercised over them by the landlords and the clergy, shape the attitudes and awareness of the peasantry toward civic engagement, while on the other hand, the party aimed at shaping the proper attitude of a good citizen and a Polish patriot, capable of fulfilling his responsibilities towards his home ←43 | 44→country and nation. They aimed to find ways to transform political realities and shape a new model of political and social relationships.
Peasant activists claimed that peasantry had a certain historical mission to fulfil, as a social force capable of restoring independence and establishing fair social conditions. They assumed that the future of the home country depended on the peasantry and their attitudes. Therefore, they aimed to gain peasant commitment to shape a better future for Poland, the fair and democratic people’s Poland. Peasant activists expressed deep-seated convictions about an inextricable connection between the realization of political freedom and providing social equality and justice to the working class.
A clear goal was set: to establish independent People’s Poland, in which peasants, realizing the ideals previously mentioned, would become influential power holders. To realize the ideal of People’s Poland, the awareness and attitudes of peasants, who existed on the margins of society, had to be thoroughly restructured and it was necessary to prepare them for playing an active role in the process of the country’s reconstruction and radical political transformations.
Peasant activists aimed to transform the consciousness of the peasants, not only by strengthening their sense of belonging to the same language, culture and religion but above all by gaining their approval to achieve the overriding goal of the nation – the country’s independence. At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, national sentiment was not deeply ingrained in the peasants’ minds. This was testified by the memoirists and writers of the period who documented the life of rural communities. According to them, the Polish peasants, who had existed on the margins of society for several centuries, had little knowledge of their home country, were scared of it and did not consider themselves Poles.2
In terms of social consciousness, the predominant peasant mentality was shaped by the long-lasting institution of serfdom and ancestral fears, inhibitions, lack of confidence as well as the feeling of social inferiority to the rich and educated. The social relations prevailing at the turn of centuries guaranteed the status quo would be preserved: the supremacy of the big landowners, ←44 | 45→descendants of the old gentry and aristocracy, often supported by church representatives, prevailed in all areas of public life.
With regard to the above-mentioned issues, some significant observations were made by Jakub Bojka, a prominent peasant activist and writer from Galicia. In his series of articles entitled “Dwie dusze” [Two Souls], published in 1904 in People’s Party magazine Przyjaciel Ludu [The People’s Friend], Bojko described the peasant personality shaped in the past under the influence of serfdom, and he exhorted the peasants to overcome the submissive and humble “serfdom soul” and to enhance their self-confidence and self-esteem.3 Therefore, he stressed the necessity of encouraging the peasants’ willingness to act, educating them to become active, brave, self-confident and independent citizens, capable of pursuing their rights and fulfilling their needs. The main way to achieve that goal was to encourage broadly understood education, including first of all school education, as well as other forms of acquiring knowledge about human nature and the surrounding world: through different associations and political, educational, cultural, industrial and local government institutions.
Peasant parties used various methods and forms of work in their political and educational activity among peasants. These included organisational work, propaganda (party press and publications, lectures, talks), meetings, peasant assemblies, and meetings during electoral campaigns to the Parliament and local self-governments. Organizing celebrations and manifestations dedicated to important historical anniversaries as well as commemorating national heroes and poets ranked high on the list of ideological principles.4
That process occurred mainly in Galicia, where a large degree of autonomy enabled political parties an active participation in the life of the Habsburg Monarchy, allowing them to organise different forms of national life. The Kingdom of Poland did not create such opportunities for peasant activists. Established in 1904, the Polish People’s Association operated as a resistance movement and, as a result of repression, it soon ceased to exist. It was only during the First World War (1915–1918), after the Russians left the Kingdom of Poland, that different forms of political and national life began to develop. PSL ←45 | 46→[Polish People’s Party] was founded in 1915 and on 2nd November 1918 it was named PSL “Wyzwolenie” [Polish People’s Party “Liberation”].
Music and Songs during Religious and Patriotic Celebrations (until 1918)
Peasants’ life was constantly accompanied by music and singing: during working days and during various festive celebrations. They used a wide collection of folk songs which were created mostly by folk artists and musicians. These were an essential element of everyday life, work and rural traditions. Jakub Bojko stressed that “willingness to dance and sing made it easier for the peasants to bear the yoke of serfdom, to endure their daily labour.” On the other hand, he pointed out that “a place where people do not sing is a dangerous place to live.”5 In his view, music and singing “improved human soul,” so they had a positive impact not only on shaping the life of an individual but also on “life within a group,” basing it upon shared moral values. As a consequence, singing together fostered the attitudes of openness towards other people and encouraged the peasants to make an effort to cooperate effectively for the common good and to strengthen their social bonds. Peasant activists valued cultural development in rural areas. They encouraged peasants to support theatre groups, choirs and rural orchestras, which were supposed to promote “wise entertainment” and spread positive moral and patriotic values. Singing associations, choirs and rural orchestras were highly valued in the process of shaping patriotic and civil attitudes. Poems and songs were meant to promote social transformation in rural areas and encourage members of rural communities to become conscious citizens.6
A significant role in igniting political activity in rural areas fell to religious and patriotic musical compositions and songs which conveyed the most important values in the life of the Polish nation and also helped the Polish people to endure the hardship of being deprived of statehood and freedom. The peasants got familiar with those songs mostly during worship services, and religious and ←46 | 47→national celebrations organised to commemorate important historical events as well as national poets and heroes.
The peasant movement activists were fully aware of the importance of religion and the status of Catholic priests in rural communities. The peasants’ attitudes and behaviour were marked by a deep-rooted belief in God and the dogmas of the Catholic church were considered to be sacred and indisputable. The priests, some of whom were descended from peasant stock, were highly respected. Many of them referred to patriotism and nation in their sermons. Church songs, which contained both prayers and patriotic motifs, also promoted concepts of nation and national identity. Heaven-storming prayers for a free homeland were a recurrent element of those songs. Initially, they were mostly sung in churches during religious services, but overtime they were also performed during patriotic celebrations which mixed secular themes and religious motifs. Very often the church melodies were adapted to secular texts and patriotic themes were incorporated in the lyrics of religious songs.
Attempts made by the PSL to achieve some independent peasant political activity as well as their opposition to the dominant church were met with suspicion and reluctance on the part of the Catholic clergy. The involvement of priests in the political struggles led to conflicts between the peasant activists and the clergy. The priests were accused of giving their support to the groups which represented the interests of large landowners: conservatives and the National Democracy movement. Moreover, rural activists objected to excessive fees for the conduct of worship services, imposed by the clergy, and their lack of consideration of the low financial status and poverty of the church folk. Nevertheless, the peasant activists emphasised that the negative assessment of the clergy did not negate the church’s mission, faith or the moral rules based on the Christian code of conduct.
At the end of the 19th century, the national revival in Galicia manifested itself in many different ways, among others in celebrations of historical anniversaries important for the Polish nation. In Cracow, Lviv and other major cities, celebrations of national anniversaries and commemoration gatherings were held, which brought together representatives of various social groups, including clergy and national political figures, and were also attended by Poles arriving from the other partitioned regions. Great importance was attached to the following anniversaries of Polish national uprisings: the Kościuszko Uprising (1794), the November Uprising (1830), the January Uprising (1863), and also other important historical events: the vote upon the Constitution of the 3rd of May (1791), the Battle of Racławice (1794) and the Battle of Grunwald (1410). The events commemorated the greatest national heroes – Tadeusz Kościuszko ←47 | 48→and Bartosz Głowacki – and their heroic actions as well as the greatest of the national bards: Adam Mickiewicz, Juliusz Słowacki, Maria Konopnicka. These celebrations, especially round anniversaries of historical events that fell at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries, attracted large numbers of participants and took place in sumptuous visual settings. These anniversaries included: celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the Kościuszko Uprising in 1894, the 5th centenary of the Battle of Grunwald in 1910, the 50th anniversary of the January Uprising in 1913 and the 100th anniversary of the death of Tadeusz Kościuszko in 1917.7
The organised peasant movement, which was emerging at that time, was actively involved in promoting the revival of national life. The Polish People’s Party encouraged mass participation in national celebrations. Taking into consideration a low level of national awareness among the peasantry, those events were considered as a favourable opportunity to “arouse the national spirit” of the Polish people. For the majority of the illiterate population of rural communities, those who could not read or afford to buy a newspaper or a book, taking participation in various events created an opportunity for the peasants to broaden their knowledge about Polish history, important current affairs and public issues. Besides, the peasants participated in those events side by side with members of other social classes and political groups, which fostered breaking down the walls of distrust and prejudice, reinforced national sentiments and a common commitment to the achievement of national goals, as well as attachment to the Polish tradition of fighting for independence. This laid the foundation for the process of the peasantry’s gradually increasing national identification and engaging their support in the struggle for independence.8
The celebrations usually followed definite patterns: these patriotic demonstrations were often preceded by a mass held at local churches, which included religious and patriotic songs. Following the service, a procession accompanied by an orchestra continued to some symbolic places, graves and monuments. A re-enactment of some historical events often took place during the celebrations. A fixed part of the event was a school celebration organised on school premises, which included lectures and talks that reminded participants ←48 | 49→of important anniversaries. The celebrations were enriched with artistic events, including poetry recitation, theatre plays and singing performances. The musical and visual content of those events was a source of knowledge about national heroes, traditions and glorious moments in Polish history, which drew attention to national matters. Another important function of the celebrations was reinforcing emotional attachment to home country, strengthening ties with compatriots living in different partitions and establishing cooperation aimed at reuniting the partitioned Poland and re-establishing an independent Polish state.
Each celebration began and ended with communal singing. The participants usually sang the following songs: “Boże coś Polskę” [God Save Poland], “Jeszcze Polska nie zginęła” [Poland Is Not Yet Lost], “Boże Ojcze Twoje dzieci” [Lord, Our Father], “Gdy naród do boju” [When the People Rise to Battle]. They were considered the most important musical compositions in the repertoire of patriotic and religious songs, well-known on the Polish soil at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. This repertoire of songs was popularised by word of mouth but also in songbooks, prayer books and collections of poems, which were distributed in large numbers and passed on to the next generations. They were also popularised in peasant magazines, e.g. Przyjaciel Ludu published selected poems (written by national poets) and patriotic songs.9
Alojzy Feliński’s song “Boże coś Polskę” became an essential part of awakening national consciousness after the mid-19th century. The hymn was originally created to honour and praise Tsar Alexander the First, and was then transformed into a patriotic and religious song. The melody was borrowed from a widely known religious song and the lyrics contained a solemn prayer for a free homeland. The song was heard during the November Uprising in 1830, but it became extremely popular during the rebirth of the national spirit and patriotic demonstrations during the years 1860–1861. Due to its strong religious and patriotic tone, the hymn became one of the most frequently performed songs at various celebrations at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.10
Another song that was most commonly performed was “Jeszcze Polska nie zginęła,” which was originally meant to boost the morale of Polish soldiers. Since the beginning of the 19th century, the song was firmly ingrained in the generation’s collective consciousness, as a manifest of the immortal glory ←49 | 50→earned by Polish soldiers who fought for freedom on the foreign soil. The history of Henryk Dąbrowski’s Polish Legions, which were created in Italy at the end of the 18th century, contributed to the emergence of some new ideas such as patriotism, civil rights and equality, which became ingrained in national consciousness. Despite the tragic fate of soldiers who served in the Polish Legions, the song brought comfort and consolation during the era of partitions and raised hopes that the nation would strengthen their unity and make joint efforts to regain independence.11 The myth of the Polish Legions instilled democratic values in the society. All strata of Polish society fought side by side in the Polish Legions: peasants, burgesses and nobles. The need to involve lower classes, and above all the peasantry, in the struggle for independence, was increasingly emphasised at the end of the 19th century. The song “Jeszcze Polska nie zginęła” encouraged the nation to build a modern, independent state.12
At the end of the 19th century another patriotic song “Gdy naród do boju” was popularised. The song inspired both patriotism and revolutionary spirit. The origins of the song dated back to the end of the 1830s. The original text was written by Gustaw Ehrenberg, a poet actively involved in conspiratorial activities of the Association of the Polish People.13 However, the composer who created the inspiring melody of that song remained unknown. Not only the lyrics but also the evocative and catchy melody resulted in the song’s wide circulation at the end of the 1880s.14
For the emerging peasant movement, the song soon became a symbol of the fight for people’s Poland, for a better future, and also a protest against the limited political influence of peasantry. The song contained patriotic themes and the motifs of liberation. The author of the lyrics criticised the privileged classes (lords, princes, counts, prelates) for their attitudes during the November ←50 | 51→Uprising and held them responsible for the downfall and subjugation of Poland. The attitudes and behaviours adopted by the upper class members were driven by egoistic self-interest, which outweighed their sense of responsibility towards their fatherland. The peasants, however, were patriotic-minded people. Despite the injustice of serfdom, which had lasted through long centuries, the peasants were willing to fight for freedom and social justice. The song promoted rebellion against the privileged classes, and announced retaliation and vengeance for the injustice of serfdom. Moreover, the song was interpreted by certain people as encouragement to revolution, which would lead to an abolition of social injustice experienced by the peasants. The words “our native land” which is “spattered with blood” were perhaps an allusion to the Galician Slaughter of 1846, when the peasants, encouraged by the Austrians in the Austrian Partition, turned their anger against the nobles.
When the peasant party structures were established at the end of the 19th century, the traditional national celebrations became elements of the party agenda. At its meeting on 30 May 1903, the General Council of the Polish People’s Party in Galicia decided to celebrate 4 April as a “folk festival” to commemorate the Battle of Racławice in 1794 during which the Kosynierzy [The Scythemen] (peasants armed with scythes) had rendered a great service to the country. The local party executive was responsible for preparing the celebrations. The party activists drew up a folk festival programme in which they recommended chanting “Boże coś Polskę,” “Gdy naród do boju” and “Jeszcze Polska nie zginęła.” The Polish People’s Party leaders encouraged mobilisation of the largest numbers of peasants to take part in the celebrations in order to confirm their solidarity with other compatriots in their struggle for freedom and the rights of peasants.15
The 110th anniversary of the battle was celebrated with great pomp and ceremony the following year. In September 1904, a ceremonial unveiling of the monument erected for Bartosz Głowacki, a peasant who had become a Polish national hero during the Battle of Racławice, took place in Tarnobrze.g. In 1906 a similar event happened in Lviv and gathered a large number of peasants. Głowacki became the patron of those who took an active part in public affairs and made demands for equality and the right to jointly decide the issues important for the future of Poland. The legendary glory earned by the peasants during the Battle of Racławice was enhanced gradually by the peasant activists in order ←51 | 52→to emphasise peasants’ attachment to their home country and their aspirations to obtain equal civil rights.
The Battle of Racławice became a symbol of peasants’ commitment in the struggle for national independence as well as the symbol of peasants entering the national political arena. Whereas during the 100th anniversary of the battle in 1894 activists of all political stripes were involved in the celebrations, at the beginning of the 20th century the event was almost entirely dominated by the peasant movement, which began to emphasise the social class issues. The celebrations conveyed the message that the peasants wanted to follow their own political path, define their own values and ideas and accomplish both short-and long-term objectives, adopted by their own social class and by the whole nation.16
The folk festival programme included worship services in the local churches, parades, lectures, talks and re-enactments of past events, commemorating the anniversary of the Kościuszko Insurrection by the symbolic act of planting a tree, funding a plaque or other national mementoes, or by taking up a social initiative such as setting up libraries and reading rooms. A fixed part of the folk festival was its artistic element. Music and singing, orchestras, choirs, solo performers and all participants of the event contributed greatly to the celebrations. During folk festivals in Galicia at the beginning of the 20th century, the most commonly performed songs were the patriotic songs heard during national demonstrations, but also the musical compositions referring to the insurrection of 1794: “Patrz Kościuszko na nas z nieba” [Kościuszko, Look Down on us from Heaven] and “Bartoszu, Bartoszu” [Bartosz was a peasant hero who fought under Kościuszko at the celebrated Battle of Racławice and after whom this Polish folk song was written].17
These two songs referred to the heroes of the Kościuszko Insurrection. The songs and legends about Tadeusz Kościuszko, the Kosynierzy and the brave peasant Bartosz Głowacki were meant to instil patriotic and democratic ideals in the peasantry. They remined them of Kościuszko, the legendary leader of the resurrection, who swore to protect Poland, wearing a peasant’s russet coat, and who had the courage to treat peasants as the force capable of regaining ←52 | 53→independence and called them to arms. He also made them aware of the importance of civic duties: the peasants joined the national cause and agreed to enrol in Kościuszko’s army voluntarily, without coercion of any kind. Głowacki personified the peasants’ dedication to the national cause. In the face of the growing class struggle at the end of the 19th century, Głowacki emphasised that the peasants should subordinate their class interests to the interests of their home country – Poland. Songs composed during Kościuszko’s era conveyed the message that the peasants fighting for independence, civil rights and social equality would play an active role in shaping the future of the country.18
Organizing the celebrations to honour Kościuszko around the themes of nation and class sometimes met with a negative response from political opponents: conservatives and national democrats. It was the case particularly when the peasant activists emphasized the links between the struggle for independence and the causes which led to the loss of freedom. They accused the magnates and the gentry of egoism and self-interest which caused the downfall of the country in the 18th century, and their epigones – of the intention of keeping the peasantry passive and obedient.19
“Rota” [The Oath] was another important song, which was added to the repertoire of patriotic songs, shaping the civic and political awareness of peasants at the beginning of the 20th century. The song’s lyrics were written by poet Maria Konopnicka, whose literary work was highly valued by the peasant activists for its sensitivity towards the fate and social injustice experienced by the poor and underprivileged, as well as for the poet’s speaking up for their rights. Her poems were simple, easy to understand for everyone and had an immense social impact. Many of Konopnicka’s poems were set to music and had an enormous patriotic value. Konopnicka wrote the famous poem “Rota,” which first appeared in 1908 in Przodownica [The Leader], a monthly women’s magazine published in Cracow, with the intention of supporting Poles living in the Prussian Partition in their fight for regaining the Polish independent state and Polish as an official national language.20
“Rota” was set to music by a famous composer Feliks Nowowiejski, and was first performed during a special evening celebration, on 23 January 1910, held to commemorate the anniversary of the outbreak of the January Uprising. The first public performance of “Rota” took place in Cracow on 15 July 1910, during a huge patriotic demonstration which gathered Poles from across the country and which was held to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Polish victory at the Battle of Grunwald. It was pointed out that after 1910, the lyrics and melody of “Rota” gained “the power to capture the minds and hearts of a vast number of people” and a status equal to the national anthem, “proclaiming loyalty to the home country, love of freedom and a harbinger of victory in the struggle for national independence.” Stanisław Pigoń expressed the ideological message of the song as follows: “The generations of Poles who sang ‘Rota’ knew instinctively that the song expressed Its [the nation’s] mind and the intense national feelings that welled up inside It.” “Rota” reminded Poles that their independent Fatherland was their greatest treasure. As a protest against the fate of a nation deprived of its statehood and freedom during the partitions of Poland, the song encouraged the nation to unite around the national cause and defend their Polish identity, threatened by the Prussians’ attempts to Germanize the Poles in the Prussian Partition. The lyrics of “Rota” referred to the greatest values in the life of the Polish nation: attachment to the land, faith and the language of their ancestors as well as the courage to defend these values. For the generation living during that time period, “Rota” became an expression of their deepest needs, desires and patriotic feelings and instantly became popular all over the partitioned Poland.21
“Rota” as a song performed “to honour the patrimony and those who preserve the ancestral ties to the land”22 became very popular among the peasants activists because its lyrics reflected the values and attitudes typical of the peasantry: a steadfast attachment to the ancestral land, defence of the faith and national traditions, and a struggle for independence. The song signalled the beginning of a new phase in the nation’s life: the peasants would take over the responsibility for the reconstruction of the country and its future stability. The ←54 | 55→peasantry embodied “the spirit of the new Polish nation, marching to a new future, the people’s Poland.”23
The Grunwald celebrations, held on 15–17 July 1910 in Cracow, brought together over 100 thousand participants from all the three partitions and included various cultural events. Participation of large numbers of peasants was considered proof of their growing political and civic maturity.24
The peasant activists attempted to popularise the Grunwald celebrations in rural communities. In July and August 1910, in many villages in Galicia festive parades, church services, matinees and lectures were held which referred to the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Grunwald. During those meetings, a special emphasis was placed on the victory over the powerful Teutonic Order in 1410, to stop German expansion and strengthen resistance against oppression and Germanization, painfully felt by Polish people living under the Prussian Partition. By participating in the Grunwald celebrations, the PSL manifested the national character of their political programme, pointing out to the role of the peasants in historical development, particularly in the struggle to maintain Polish identity. They also indicated the principle of national solidarity and cooperation with other social classes and political parties as an important factor in the struggle to achieve their national objectives. Despite underlining the need for an effective national unity, the peasant activists emphasised that uniting in a common cause would not justify maintaining patronizing attitudes of the higher classes towards the peasantry.25
The celebrations of national anniversaries, which included artistic and musical performances, had a great impact on the participants, as reflected in readers’ letters addressed to newspapers and magazines aimed at the countryside. They increased peasants’ interest in Polish history and spurred them to become actively involved in public life. Rural communities actively contributed ←55 | 56→to the independence movement during World War I. Many young men joined the military forces of Związek Strzelecki [The Riflemen’s Association], Polska Organizacja Wojskowa [Polish Military Organisation] and Legiony Polskie [The Polish Legions], since they believed that in so doing they would contribute to the regaining of Polish independence. For peasants, serving in the armed forces was an opportunity to acquire knowledge of social and political life, which shaped their national and social consciousness. The tragic social consequences of the war, as well as the Austrian and German oppression, strengthened the desire for independence. The social, economic and educational activity at the individual and group level grew steadily, which was reflected in the establishment of various organizations, cooperatives and schools. Breaking the passivity of rural communities manifested itself also in the political sphere, which became particularly apparent during the first months of independence.26
The Period of the Second Republic of Poland
In independent Poland, music and songs still accompanied political life and the social activity of the peasant movement, which was apparent in the process of building the political unity of the movement, shaping convictions about the value of group effort and the awareness of social bonds among peasants and their class interests. This did not mean that efforts to strengthen patriotic attitudes and the sense of responsibility for the country were abandoned. It became strongly apparent during the fights over Poland’s borders during the period of 1919–1921, but also at the end of the 1930s, in the face of the growing threat from the aggressive Third Reich. Yet, it can be noticed that the celebrations of national anniversaries, so strongly present in the partitioned Poland, lost their previous momentum. Admittedly, some occasional articles referring to national anniversaries were published in Polish peasant papers, but the relevant information about those events rarely reached rural communities. The peasant activists were mainly focused on current political fight, meetings with voters, parliamentary debates and polemics with their political opponents. What came to the fore were current social issues, the need to strengthen the sense of common purpose among the peasants and unite to defend their rights.
In the early years of independence there were strong expectations among the peasantry, reinforced by the peasant parties, that an independent Polish state would be restored in which the labouring class would be freed from bondage ←56 | 57→and treated fairly. It was therefore expected that the peasants would be granted their own land and workplaces, would have the right to decide their own fate, would be given access to education and national culture, as well as that they would be moved out of poverty, come out of ignorance and forget the sting of past humiliations. The initial enthusiasm towards politics, aroused particularly during the first elections to the Polish Parliament held in 1922, gradually faded. The delay in agricultural reforms and the difficult economic situation in rural areas led to growing distrust among peasants towards the government and the ruling elites. Naturally, the Polish peasant parties were expected to protect the interests and dignity of peasants, who were still referred to as “louts” and “workhorses” in the so-called upper class circles. However, the disintegration of the peasant movement, which split into several rival parties competing for electoral support in rural areas, weakened the efficiency of their actions.27
At the beginning of the 1930s, a successful attempt was made to overcome this political disintegration, when in 1931 Polish peasant parties such as PSL Piast [the Polish People’s Union – Piast], PSL Wyzwolenie [Liberation] and Stronnictwo Chłopskie [Peasant Party] joined together as one Stronnictwo Ludowe [Polish Peasant Party]. Apart from the problem of party unity and consolidation, Stronnictwo Ludowe faced the challenge of writing a new programme for the party, which would meet peasants’ expectations generated in the difficult period marked by a severe economic crisis and breaches of democratic standards by the Sanation government. Poverty spread as the crisis deepened, however, the government ignored the interests of rural residents and adopted the policy of repression against peasants who went on strike to protest against low prices for agricultural products. This provoked their critical attitudes toward the government. The sense of injustice grew in strength, and the hopes for ensuring fair and equal treatment for all citizens were dashed, particularly when the state authorities sent out armed police forces and the military to suppress peasants’ protests during the mass strikes and demonstrations in the years 1932–1933 and 1936–1937.
Stronnictwo Ludowe focused on developing a sense of identity, dignity and solidarity in peasant communities, and advocated in favour of peasant rights as well as restoration of democracy in the country. The authoritarian Sanation government was strongly criticized for violating citizens’ rights and demolishing democratic institutions, which marginalized the position of the peasantry in the political life of the country. The idea developed that the country’s social ←57 | 58→structure required a radical transformation and that it was necessary to ensure for the peasant his equal citizenship rights in a fair democratic country, in people’s Poland.28
The SL emphasised the need to protect and defend peasants’ rights and attached importance to introducing some clear symbols of the peasant movement. At the 1931 unification congress, the SL chose as its emblem “a green banner decorated with the picture of wheat ears”29 and a green four-leaf clover as its membership badge. The widely-known song “Gdy naród do boju” [When the People Rise to Battle], signifying people’s readiness to fight for freedom and social justice, became the party’s anthem. The song accompanied the activities of the peasant movement from its very beginning, and in the political context of the 1930s, it aimed at encouraging people to fight for a democratic system, to defend citizens’ rights violated by the Sanation government, to improve the position of peasants in the country’s social structure as well as the economic conditions of people living in rural areas.30
Stronnictwo Ludowe also reintroduced the tradition of celebrating Święto Ludowe [Peasant Holiday] “as the symbol of unification of peasant parties and the expression of peasant unity.”31 From that time on, the peasants were called upon to participate in national celebrations, which were intended to become “a powerful manifestation of the struggles of all peasants for a better future.”32 The SL circular issued by NKW SL [the supreme executive committee of the Polish Peasant Party] in April 1932 contained detailed suggestions on how to organise various events and celebrations (lectures, talks, parades, demonstrations, theatrical performances, songs and dances). The SL attached great importance ←58 | 59→to the song repertoire and recitations, which were performed during social gatherings. Community singing aimed at fostering a sense of strength and unity among the participants, thus it served mobilisation and propaganda purposes. Therefore, recommendations were made by the activists to promote the lyrics of celebratory songs. Owing to the fact that songbooks were in short supply, it was stipulated that the songs lyrics should be published in the party paper, so that any SL member could become familiar with them before the date of the planned celebrations.33
As a matter of fact, collections of songs suited to various occasions were published, which provided evidence that there was a clear demand for publications of this kind. In 1934 Śpiewnik ludowy [The Peasant Songbook] was published, consisting of a number of various songs, including both solemn hymns and playful songs. Another example was the edition of Śpiewnik ludowy, prepared and published with the support of the SL in 1937 in Warsaw, which contained “songs, poems, stagings of folk events.” The collection of songs was divided into several thematic sections: hymns and solemn songs, songs for “Godne Święta” [Christmas celebrations], songs to accompany the unfurling of the party banner and party meetings, for Święto Ludowe [Peasant Holiday] and Święto Wiosny [Spring Festival], for Żniwne Święto [Harvest Festival] and to honour the deceased.34 The lyrics of the songs were written both by famous poets and folk authors.
The celebrations of Święto Ludowe were attended by large numbers of people. Different forms of canvassing took place during these events: the passing out of flyers and public notices, containing not only political slogans but also song lyrics and poems, which often conveyed radical messages. Under these conditions, songs served as tools of canvassing and propaganda, they were meant to unite people and prompt them to fight against the government policies.35 Singing brought participants together not only during folk festivals. Songs became an important part of other mass gatherings in which peasantry participated in large numbers: e.g. peasant demonstration at Nowosielce in 1936, strikes in years 1936–1937 or other forms of protest.
Patriotic and religious songs became an inseparable component of national celebrations and meaningful events that formed part of the peasant movement from its very beginnings at the end of the 19th century. The content of the celebrations helped to increase class consciousness among the peasants and encouraged them to become influential power holders in the country. Participation in those celebrations was an opportunity for peasants to display their patriotism and national solidarity in the struggle for independence. The emerging peasant movement recognised the value and role of songs in mobilizing popular patriotic feeling among the peasants, as well as their willingness to remain attached to their native language, faith and ancestral lands. Songs were chosen that lived in people’s consciousness, passed down from generation to generation, and therefore they were a perfect medium to transmit patriotic and religious values and to instil into the minds of peasants the right patriotic attitudes and views on social issues.
Peasant activists also valued songs referring to the miseries of serfdom experienced by the peasants and calling for the abolition of social injustice, which was considered part of the struggle for independent Poland, a country free from social inequality. The songs also conveyed messages about the key role of the peasantry in the process of nation-building and working for the future independence and the democratic rule of law in their homeland.
The songs traditionally performed during religious and national celebrations as well as during events organised with the purpose of defending peasant rights remained popular in the repertoire of patriotic songs in sovereign Poland. During the interwar period, and particularly in the 1930s, the songs played an important role in mobilising rural communities to realize social justice and the idea of the people’s democracy. The songs were a perfect medium of protest against the Sanation regime; they helped to unite peasants, struggling to achieve their class objectives and goals, which were identified with the interests of the whole nation. Thus, music became a powerful weapon for conducting the peasants’ class struggle.
Brodowska, Helena. Chłopi o sobie i Polsce. Rozwój świadomości społecznonarodowej. Warszawa: Ludowa Spółdzielnia Wydawnicza, 1984.
Gmitruk, Janusz., Mazurek, Jerzy. Rota, Warszawa: MHPRL, 1998.
Jakubowska, Barbara. Ruch ludowy wobec przeszłości narodowej (do 1939 r.). Warszawa: Trio, 1995.
Molenda, Jan. Chłopi – naród – niepodległość: kształtowanie się postaw narodowych i obywatelskich chłopów w Galicji i Królestwie Polskim w przededniu odrodzenia Polski. Warszawa: Neriton, 1999.
Podgórski, Wojciech Jerzy. Skąd nasz ród. Polskie pieśni hymniczne. Warszawa: Interlibro, 1991.
Wawrzykowska-Wierciochowa, Dioniza. Nie rzucim ziemi skąd nasz ród…. Warszawa: MON, 1988.
Ziejka, Franciszek. Złota legenda chłopów polskich. Warszawa: PIW, 1984.
2. Articles in periodicals
Jachymek, Jan. “Społeczno-polityczne treści obchodów Święta Ludowego na Lubelszczyźnie (1931–1939).” Roczniki Dziejów Ruchu Ludowego 1977–1978, No. 19, pp. 117–153.
Wawrzykowska-Wierciochowa, Dioniza. “Pieśni walczącej wsi (1917–1939).” Roczniki dziejów Ruchu Ludowego 1969, No. 11, pp. 222–257.
3. Articles in books
Jezierski, Krzysztof W. “Rota Marii Konopnickiej i Feliksa Nowowiejskiego – jeden z najpiękniejszych hymnów naszych narodowych obowiązków.” In: Rota w panoramie dziejów Polski, ed. Janusz Gmitruk. Warszawa: MHPRL, 2011, pp. 139–185.
Kochanowicz, Jacek. “Powstanie i chłopi. Cztery interpretacje.” In: Kościuszko – powstanie 1794 r. – tradycja, ed. Jerzy Kowecki. Warszawa: BN, 1997, pp. 77–90.
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