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Culture, Warsaw: 39 reviews and 77 photos


Warsaw Culture

Music and theatre have long been a part of Polish cultural life, and around Warsaw in particular there is a great sense of pride in Frederic Chopin. Born in 1810 in Zelazowa Wola, he moved shortly thereafter to Warsaw, where he remained until 1830. The Grammy Award winner, Krzysztof Penderecki, had his debut during the Warsaw Autumn festival in 1959. Poland's golden age in terms of art and culture was the Sarmatism (Polish Baroque) period (1572-1764). The dress, sculpture and painting of the period reflect the lifestyle of the Polish nobility, familiar to most in the costume of the 'Winged Hussars'.

Warsaw has a number of world-class cultural institutions, including the National Philharmonic and the National Theatre. The main cultural season runs from September to July, although there are often summer festivals. In addition to the venues themselves, tickets can often be purchased at the ZASP box office, aleja Jerozolimskie 25 (tel: (022) 621 9383), or at larger music shops, chiefly CMR Digital, aleja Jerozolimskie 2 (tel: (022) 827 8773) and Planet Music, ulica Mokotowska 17 at plac Zbawiciela (tel: (022) 825 6619).

Music: The main orchestra in Warsaw is the Filharmionia Narodowa (National Philharmonic, also called the Warsaw Philharmonic; tel: (022) 826 5712; fax: (022) 826 5617; located opposite the Palace of Culture and Science. The company includes both symphonic and chamber players, with separate entrances for each hall: ulica Sienkiewicza 10 (symphony concerts) and ulica Moniuszki 5 (chamber concerts).

The National Theatre, plac Teatralny 1 (tel: (022) 692 0200; fax: (022) 826 0423; web site: www.teatrwielki.pl) comprises the Teatr Wielki (Grand Theatre) and Opera Narodowa (National Opera) and has a tradition dating back to 1778. Opera and ballet performances run every evening except for Monday during the season. Performances are generally in the 2000-seat Sala Moniuszki (prices: Z6-90), which has one of the largest stages in Europe, enabling performances of large-scale productions such as Aďda. Warszawska Opera Kameralna (Warsaw Chamber Opera), aleja Solidarnosci 76b (tel: (022) 692 0200), performs at a variety of venues throughout Warsaw.

Theatre: The Operetka Roma (Roma Musical Theater), ulica Nowogrodzka 49 (tel: (022) 628 8371), stages productions of Broadway-type hits, such as Crazy For You, and some matinees for children. The Teatr Zydowski (Jewish Theatre), plac Grzybowski 12/16, (tel: (022) 620 6281) is Europe's only full-time Yiddish-language theatre company (and one of only two in the world). There are two theatres that mount productions in English: the English Theatre Company of Poland, ulica Grzybowski 6, and the Globe Theatre Group, Poland's professional English-language theatre group (tel: (022) 620 4429).

Dance: Ballet performances are part of the National Theatre's regular programme (see above). Cabaret-style dance shows - the Revue on Wednesday and the nominally erotic Tango & Sex on Saturday - play at the Tango club (see Clubs in the Nightlife section).

Film: The 1956 film Kanal, directed by Andrzej Wajda, is based on the resistance movement and the Warsaw Uprising in 1944, when people used the sewers under the city to bypass the restrictions placed on them by the Nazi occupiers. A more modern vision of Warsaw is in Krzystof Kieslowski's Dekalog and Three Colours: White.

There are more than a dozen cinemas in Warsaw, and almost all films are shown in the original language, with Polish subtitles. Listings can be found under 'Kino' in Friday's Gazeta Wyborcza. Art-house and Polish-language films with English subtitles can be seen at the Rejs cinema, behind the Kultura cinema at Krakowskie Przedmiescie 21/23 (tel: (022) 620 0231, ext. 651), and the Muranow, ulica Gen. Andersa 1 (tel: (022) 831 0358).

Literary Notes
Romanticism is evident in the works of Adam Mickiewicz, whose epic poem Pan Tadeusz (Thaddeus) is a masterpiece of Polish literature. Teodor Josef Konrad Korzeniowski (Joseph Conrad) is another famous Warsaw-born writer, although he emigrated and wrote in English. Henryk Sienkiewicz won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1905. Wladyslaw Stanislaw Reymont, who lived in Warsaw for a time, received the Nobel Prize for literature in 1924. His epic novel, The Peasants, documents the life and rituals of a small peasant village in Poland. The poet Czeslaw Milosz lived in Warsaw during the Nazi occupation. Isaac Bashevis Singer spent his childhood and the start of his writing career in Warsaw. His recording of Polish-Jewish culture in his epic family chronicles earned him a Nobel Prize in 1978.

Review Helpfulness: 1.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Aug 26, 2002
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