Lithuania remembers Polish composer Moniuszko

The city council of the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, has declared 2019 the Year of Stanisław Moniuszko, the Polish composer who was born 200 years ago.

Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius has said that without Moniuszko the city would be deprived of an important part of its cultural heritage.

“Moniuszko arrived here from what is present-day Belarus. Later in his life, he lived in Warsaw, where he was one of the symbols of Poland’s national revival. But the years spent in Vilnius were very important in his musical career,” he said.

Born in Ubiel near Minsk in 1819, Moniuszko settled in Vilnius in 1836 and lived there for 18 years, working as a church organist and conductor.

It was in Vilnius that he composed numerous songs, including four Litanies of Ostra Brama (Litanie Ostrobramskie) in honour of the shrine to the Virgin Mary at Ostra Brama Cathedral in Vilnius, a place venerated by Lithuanians and Poles alike.

His opera Halka, in its first, two-act version, was premiered in Vilnius on 16 February 1854. The work’s four-act version had its first performance in Warsaw four years later.

Moniuszko Year is being celebrated in Poland with a wide range of events throughout 2019.

It has been included on a list of UNESCO-sponsored anniversaries as a result of a joint initiative by Poland, Lithuania and Belarus.

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