Crossing the curtain

Polish jazz meets poetry in the europäische Heimat


  • Zbigniew Granat Nazareth College of Rochester



Berendt, Cold War, European jazz, jazz and poetry, Komeda, Polish jazz, transnationalism


This article focuses on a little-known collaboration of West German producer Joachim E. Berendt with Polish composer and pianist Krzysztof Komeda that resulted in a 1967 album entitled Meine süsse europäische Heimat: Dichtung und Jazz aus Polen. Released as part of Berendt’s series ‘Jazz und Lyric’, this extended musico-poetic work of Komeda attempted to cross the Iron Curtain and deliver a sombre commentary on Poland’s political situation. The article offers the first source-based analysis of Komeda’s project, including its transnational ‘message’ and musical style. I discuss the nationalistic aspects of the work, coded in the strongly political texts by Poland’s well-known poets, and analyse select tracks that articulate the conceptual realm of the ‘European Country’ encapsulated in the work’s title. I demonstrate that Komeda’s work succeeds as a transnational statement mainly because its message was embedded in an advanced musical language that fused the African-American impulse with European sensibilities.

Author Biography

Zbigniew Granat, Nazareth College of Rochester

Zbigniew Granat has taught at Boston University, New England Conservatory of Music, and Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. He is currently Assistant Professor of Music at Nazareth College in Rochester, NY. His research interests include twentieth-century avant-garde, Polish sonorism, jazz and politics in the Cold War, issues of intertextuality in music, Miles Davis and musical aesthetics. He is currently completing a book on the open work in twentieth-century music as well as a monograph on Miles Davis.


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How to Cite

Granat, Z. (2013). Crossing the curtain: Polish jazz meets poetry in the europäische Heimat. Jazz Research Journal, 6(2), 201–227.