Sunday, April 30, 2017
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Kuczynski - King of Country Music

Some performers are all flash and no substance, but in the world of country music, Pee Wee King was both.

 Kuczynski Julius Frank Anthony Kuczynski was born on the south side of Milwaukee in 1914 to John and Helen (nee Mielczarek) Kuczysnski. His parents spoke Polish and broken English and the youngster switched easily between the two languages. He was called Frank and was taught to play violin and accordion. Dad led a polka band and young Frank joined up at age fifteen.
     It was not long before he started his own band, the King's Jesters, and took the stage name Frank King, in tribute to "Waltz King" bandleader Wayne King. They played a mixture of polkas, cowboy and pop songs. In 1933 his band was a regular on the Milwaukee radio show Badger State Barn Dance. A young Gene Autry hired them as his back up band as their music turned more to the country and western side. It was Autry who nicknamed King "Pee Wee" for his five foot six inch height, as well as the fact that there were three Franks in the band.

Read more: Kuczynski - King of Country Music


Polka for Everybody

For many of us, some of the fondest memories of grandma and grandpa are of visits to their house where the radio was set to a program that blared out polka, obereks and rhinelanders.
Theories on the origin of the polka have been well explored before. Briefly, the music and dance are of Bohemian (Czech) origin. It was called the polka either after the Czech word for "half" in reference to the dance's characteristic half-step, or in sympathy for the Poles' 1830 uprising. The very word "polka" means Polish woman in the Polish language. One theory says that it may have been a Polish folk dance borrowed by the Bohemians. Another says it has Gypsy roots. Some say it can even be traced to a single person, a Bohemian girl named Anicka Chadimova.
At any rate, form its early 1830s beginnings it spread across Europe vis theater performances and became a true craze. Its appeal was that it was so unlike any dance or music that existed at the time in western Europe, freewheeling and lighthearted. By the early 1840s it had captivated London. In 1844 it arrived in America, first performed in New York.

Read more: Polka for Everybody


Cory Wells Lewandowski of Three Dog Night

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Three Dog Night was one of the most popular rock music groups in the world. From 1969 through 1974, they had more top ten hit records than anyone else. One of the leaders of the group was Cory Wells.

Wells' given name was Emil Lewandowski. He was born in Buffalo, New York in 1942. His natural father was an Englishman residing in Canada named Wellsley. His mother gave her son her last name. She later married a man who turned out to be an alcoholic and a less than pleasant step-father to the boy.

Read more: Cory Wells Lewandowski of Three Dog Night


Madame Landowska (1879-1959) – Harpsichordist & Socialite

LandowskaWanda Landowska is called a great musician but seldom a great historian. Yet, in essence, that was what she was. Born in 1879 in Warsaw, her parents were educated and well to do. Her father was a lawyer and her mother was the first person to translate the works of Mark Twain into Polish. Though they were ethnic Jews, Landowska's parents and grandparents had converted to Christianity.

 Young Wanda was a musical prodigy who began playing piano at age four. She began studying at the Warsaw Conservatory of Music, and at 17 went to Berlin for further schooling. There, the young lady won several competitions, developed an interest in 17th and 18th century music, and met young Polish folklorist Henryk Lew. Lew encouraged her interest in vintage music and instruments and convinced her to go to Paris with him. They moved there in 1900 and married, but they both took female lovers since Landowska was a lesbian.

Read more: Madame Landowska (1879-1959) – Harpsichordist & Socialite

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