Alexandre Tansman is chiefly remembered as a Parisian composer; he lived in the French capital from 1920 until his death in 1986, apart from an enforced stay in the USA during the war years. But it is in Poland that, in 1897, he was born, as Alexander Tancman, and he retained his connections there as well as his affinities with Polish musical traditions. And it is in his native city of todz that he is commemorated, by an annual music competition, a plaque on the building in which he was born (ulica Prochnika 18) and a Tansman display in the History Museum.


That museum, in a lavish palace that was formerly the home of the Poznanski family, leading industrialists in todz, devotes a number of rooms on the first floor to the city’s notable cultural figures. The Tansman room was set up in 1996, partly with material supplied by one of Tansman’s daughters in Paris. The display, captioned in Polish and English, is nicely balanced, showing him as a family man, as a significant figure in the world of Parisian emigre musicians, as a Pole, as a Parisian and as a composer. There are many photographs of him with his family, and personal possessions -pens, a camera, a lighter, cufflinks, birth certificate, passports, a table given to him by Stravinsky. There are photos of his many composer and musician friends, and correspondence with several of them (Ravel, Bartok, Prokofiev, Milhaud, Schoenberg, Gershwin, Segovia). There is a photo of Charlie Chaplin, who once saved Tansman’s life. The awards include a Prix Berlioz and an Order of Merit of the Polish People’s Republic. There are cases displaying recordings of his music and examples of his editions and manuscripts: his Franco-Polish identity is neatly hit off in a framed enlargement of his Tombeau de Chopin and an edition of his Hommage a Lec Walesa. A bust by Pavel Jocz is prominent.

There is also a room in the museum devoted to the conductor Henryk Debich and three to the most famous of all todz musicians, the pianist Artur Rubinstein (for whom Tansman composed two sonatas), established in 1982 and enlarged in 1990 when the pianist’s daughter Eva donated her father’s collection to the museum.

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