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Is My Painting Title Correct In Polish?


Tony Johansen 2 | 14
16 Jan 2011 #1
I am an artist I am working on a painting that is going to go to Olsztyn in Poland. My mother is half Polish but born elsewhere and cannot speak more than six words of Polish so cannot help me.

In English my painting is called "The 600 Year Old Song"

I use Google Translate to translate that as "Sześćset lat piosenki" or perhaps "Sześćset lat muzyka".

I know that both seem to be literally correct but I do not know if it is the way a Polish speaker would say it. Is it correct or should it be something else that captures what I mean in the title in English? The title refers to the 600 year history of Olsztyn and the way music continues to live there. The painting depicts Feliks Nowowiejski conducting an orchestra with Olzstyn castle in the background.

Also in English I would say "The 600 Year Old Song by Tony Johansen" What is the Polish way of saying that a painting is "by" a particular artist? Unfortunately Google Translate cannot help with cultural matters.

I want to get this correct. I think it is a matter of respect to get things right when doing something for another country. I think it is sad that my mother and her grandparents did not think it important to keep the Polish cultural memory alive in the family but I guess times were hard and survival in a new country was more important for them at the time.
Paulina 10 | 1,865
16 Jan 2011 #2
"The 600 Year Old Song"

"Sześćsetletnia piosenka"

Also in English I would say "The 600 Year Old Song by Tony Johansen" What is the Polish way of saying that a painting is "by" a particular artist?

"Sześćsetletnia piosenka" autorstwa Tony'ego (Toniego?) Johansena.

Or:

"Sześćsetletnia piosenka"
Autor: Tony Johansen

("Autor" means "author")
OP Tony Johansen 2 | 14
16 Jan 2011 #3
Thank you Paulina. It is good that I asked because the literal translation is obviously not correct.

"Sześćsetletnia piosenka" autorstwa Tony'ego (Toniego?) Johansena

This brings up an interesting cultural difference. I am aware that Polish names change according to context and I always found that confusing (not always certain different versions are actually the same person) but seeing my own name changed like that gives me an emotional reaction since it no longer looks like my name as an English speaker. Silly I know, but one has to live with ones inner world and feelings and they are conditioned by childhood experience. I guess I better start getting used to it.

Again, thank you.
puella 4 | 172
16 Jan 2011 #4
I am aware that Polish names change according to context

not only names but nouns generally. It calls declination ;)

"Sześćset lat piosenki"

means literally "600 years of a song".

Paulina translation would be more accurate. To make it short you can write "600-letnia piosenka". Is it for Grunwald anniversary?
Paulina 10 | 1,865
16 Jan 2011 #5
Thank you Paulina.

No problem :)

To make it short you can write "600-letnia piosenka".

Good point! And it's easier to write this than "sześćsetletnia" ;)
OP Tony Johansen 2 | 14
16 Jan 2011 #6
Is it for Grunwald anniversary?

No. It is for the Warmińsko-Mazurska Filharmonia im. Felixa Nowowiejskiego w Olsztynie.
The have a new music center nearing completion and the music director. The Marshall of Warmia/Mazury wrote asking me to provide an artwork but I think it was the musical director Janusz Bogdan Lewandowski who knew of my work I do paintings with musicians and bars and jazz clubs etc). They were not offering any money but I wanted to do it because of my own Polish heritage. So I have worked full time on it from September to now and it is nearly finished. This is it:



f stop 25 | 2,513
16 Jan 2011 #7
I like it. I like it a lot.
OP Tony Johansen 2 | 14
16 Jan 2011 #8
Thank you. So far the reaction from Polish people who have seen it is very positive. A group of Polish women came to see the painting a short while ago. They love the painting and felt proud of all the Polish culture in the picture. When people see it they just stand in front of it unable to take their eyes off it. I think they get lost in the dreamy foreverness of the music and landscape together.

A reporter asked me when is it finished because she is thinking of doing a newspaper story about it and the story of the painting born in Sydney going half way around the world to Poland. I tell people about Nowowieski writing the music for Rota and inspiring this wonderful orchestra. I show them the castle and tell them that in that castle Copernicus wrote the first chapter of his book revealing that the sun is at the center of the universe. I tell them about Chopin and how his second piano concerto was actually his first, and how at the end of it he tells the violinists to play col legno. There is such a rich story here in the elements of this painting.

This is the words I used to describe the painting when sending a progress report to Olsztyn recently. I have to figure out how to say these words in Polish so that they have words to go with the painting when it is on their wall and these words seem about right:

Nowowiejski is conducting the orchestra. They are playing Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 2. Nowowiejski is pulling the whole world out of the musicians, the clouds arise from the instruments and the audience becomes the forest around Olsztyn Castle and there is no division between forest and people and clouds and sky. This signifies how the music and the people and the city and their whole world live in the heart of that culture that continues on through time. The city and its people and its musicians and their hearts are all indivisible. For more than 600 years the people have danced and made music around that castle. With your new music center you look to carrying that long history into the future.

We have the impression that we are looking at the scene through the eyes of one of the violinists. The viewer of the painting is invited to feel part of the whole experience. The whole painting is about movement - how the music and the visual world grow from the rhythms of life.
cinek 2 | 345
16 Jan 2011 #9
Sześćsetletnia piosenka

Let me put my 2 cents in. I think 'piosenka' may be not a good word for such big event. I'd use 'pieśń' instead. 'Piosenka' is a diminutive of 'pieśń' and usually means a small piece of music (e.g a pop song, folk song etc.). For bigger and more 'artistic' forms we use 'pieśń' (e.g. for Chopin's songs we'd never say 'piosenka' but always 'pieśń').

So in my opinion '600-letnia pieśń' sounds better here.

Cinek.
Paulina 10 | 1,865
16 Jan 2011 #10
So in my opinion '600-letnia pieśń' sounds better here.

Yes, I think you're right...

Btw, I like the painting :)
Bzibzioh
16 Jan 2011 #11
So in my opinion '600-letnia pieśń' sounds better here.

I agree. "Sześćsetletnia pieśń" would be more appropriate in this case.
purplelady 1 | 32
16 Jan 2011 #12
Tony--this is off-topic, but thank you for the "PF gallery showing" of your painting. It is beautiful and passionate and reminds me of work by the American painter, Thomas Hart Benton.

I'm sure it will look lovely in the new music center.
OP Tony Johansen 2 | 14
16 Jan 2011 #13
For bigger and more 'artistic' forms we use 'pieśń' (e.g. for Chopin's songs we'd never say 'piosenka' but always 'pieśń').

Okay, except that the intention was not so much to specify a particular type of song or music, but rather to be all encompassing so that the title includes the long folk tradition as well as the bigger more artistic pieces such as Chopin's Piano Concerto. Does 'pieśń' capture that broader and perhaps more humble world? On the other hand if we went with piosenka does that exclude the orchestra?
PennBoy 76 | 2,436
16 Jan 2011 #14
No. It is for the Warmińsko-Mazurska Filharmonia im. Felixa Nowowiejskiego w Olsztynie.

It's very nice Tony.
OP Tony Johansen 2 | 14
16 Jan 2011 #15
I'm sure it will look lovely in the new music center.

Thank you. I am usually not compared to Benton but rather to Lautrec but then a lot of my work is in jazz clubs and bars with live music and so has acid greens and reds that are more Lautrec-like I guess, while this one with the theme of integrating the music with landscape has more muted colors at this stage. In another week there will be more mauves and violets to balance the sienna oranges of the violins so it might look less Bentonesque then.

Currently I am painting in the music sheets. I found Polish versions so while the notes are universal some of the other wording is different.
Bzibzioh
17 Jan 2011 #16
Does 'pieśń' capture that broader and perhaps more humble world?

yes, pieśń suggest something more serious

On the other hand if we went with piosenka does that exclude the orchestra?

yes
Ziemowit 13 | 4,405
21 Jan 2011 #17
It is always a real challenge to find a good title to a good piece of art. The same is true about translations of titles; translations of cinema or theatre pieces, for example. Notice that they are often completely different from original titles. The translation must seek the spirit of the language into which the title is converted. If a literal translation goes well with the spirit of language, that's OK, but it as often does as it does not.

Personally, I would make the Polish title a little more monumental, somewhat in line with the monumental character of this painting. My proposal is to change it to: "Pieśń od sześciuset lat". I originally thought of "Muzyka od sześciuset lat", but although the word 'pieśń' refers to one piece only, it is obviously used figuratively here, so it may eventually be better, but I am not sure on that. While "re-writng" the time range as in the expression 'od sześciuset lat' [literally in English: for 600 years], I wanted to underline that the 'music' or 'song' has been lasting for so many years.

Now that I've read it once again, I'd choose "Muzyka od sześciuset lat".
Halina2 1 | 6
21 Jan 2011 #18
"Pieśń" is more appropriate for the type of music. "Piosenka" refers to a more contemporary piece, e.g. a pop song. Both however, refer to singing rather than playing. Therefore, my suggestion would be: 600-letnia muzyka. My predecessor's proposition of "Muzyka od sześciuset lat" implies that music started 600 years ago, which is not the case. Also, I would suggest to replace "autor" with: wykonawca dzieła: Tony Johansen, as I understand you're a painter rather than a composer and it would also preserve your name intact.
Ziemowit 13 | 4,405
21 Jan 2011 #19
What about "Pieśń od sześciuset lat w Olsztynie" ?
Magdalena 3 | 1,837
21 Jan 2011 #20
How about "Sześć stuleci muzyki" (Six Centuries of Music)?
puella 4 | 172
21 Jan 2011 #21
wykonawca dzieła

No ut doesn't sound good.

Autor: Tony Johansen if we consider painting. Wykonawca means performer or manufacturer while we should say author if we are talking about art or literature.
alexw68
21 Jan 2011 #22
pędzla Tonego Johansena (from the brush of) ? This was suggested to me offline by a young Polish woman (and PF irregular) of exquisite, if somewhat sepulchral, artistic sensibilities who more than knows her way around a gallery.

(You know who you are :))

Obligatory Google quote:

obraz olejny pedzla czeslawa wasilewskiego , Warszawa, Sprzedam

The other suggestion I'd make is - less is more. You simply do not need to say 'by' - or its Polish equivalent - in the context of a hanging or exhibition. Any accompanying placard would be of the format

Tony Johansen (19xx - present)

The Six Hundred Year Song

... but the 'by' version might be for, say, the catalogue.

But we're losing sight of the main issue here: @Tony, this work is just magical.
Halina2 1 | 6
21 Jan 2011 #23
Tony Johansen (19xx - present)

Agreed. It proves the importance of the context.

"Sześć stuleci muzyki" (Six Centuries of Music)

Well, this is not a faithful rendition of the original title, it it? It puts emphasis on the music through the ages rather than the particular piece that the painting depicts. It's up to the author how close to the original he wants to be.


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