Mieczyslaw Kolinski

Mieczyslaw Kolinski


Mieczyslaw Kolinski (5th Sept 1901, Warsaw — 7th May 1981, Toronto) was a Polish-Canadian ethnomusicologist and composer. He became a naturalized Canadian citizen in 1974.

Kolinski received his education in Berlin, where he studied piano and composition with Leonid Kreutzer and Paul Juon at the Hochschule für Musik (1923-'26). The scholar then pursued musicology at the Berlin University under Erich M. Von Hornbostel, Hermann Abert, Arnold Schering, and Curt Sachs, granted a PhD in 1930. As Hornbostel's assistant at the Berlin Staatliches Phonogramm-Archiv (1926 to 1933), Kolinski made several field trips to Bavarian Alps and Sudeten.

He spent the mid-'30s transcribing Surinamese, Dahoman, Togonese, Ashanti, Haitian, and Kwakiutl Indian music for Northwestern University and Columbia University. From 1938 till 1951, Mieczyslaw Kolinski resided in Brussels, Belgium.

In 1951, Kolinski traveled to the United States and spent fifteen years in New York. He worked as Hargail Music Press's editor and a music therapist at several hospitals and co-founded the Society For Ethnomusicology (serving as president in 1958-'59).

Since 1966, Mieczyslaw Kolinski lived in Canada. He taught ethnomusicology at The University Of Toronto (1966-'76), becoming the university's first Scholar Emeritus upon retirement. Some of his pupils include Peter Goddard (2), Alison Mackay, Doug Riley, and George Sawa. Kolinski was also an associate composer at the Canadian Music Centre.

Among Kolinski's primary research interests was establishing the scientific basis of harmony and melody. One of his early monographs, Konsonanz als Grundlage einer neuen Akkordlehre ("Consonance as the basis of a new chord theory") published in 1936, anticipated a few of Paul Hindemith's theories.

In ethnomusicology, Kolinski is most notable for developing cross-cultural analytical methods for studying the human acoustic perception that would apply to an overarching variety and diversity of the world's music genres and styles. Rather than focusing on contrasting differences between European and non-European musical cultures like most scholars did, Kolinski instead highlighted existing parallels, suggesting there are "basic similarities in the psycho-physical constitution of mankind."

In the absence of such a universally recognized "objective" comparative framework in ethnomusicology today, most contemporary scientists, including Bruno Nettl, routinely mentioned Kolinski's findings, alongside Béla Bartók's and his teacher Hornbostel's writings, as most notable attempts to create one.

As a composer, Mieczyslaw Kolinski often employed elements of modernism and wrote in a wide range of styles. His compositions include at least one work for an orchestra, many chamber pieces for small ensembles, duos for piano with violin or oboe, and solo piano pieces. Kolinski authored settings and arrangements of numerous carols and German, Dutch, Slovak, French, American, Canadian, Yiddish, Sephardic, Hebrew folksongs. ,
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