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Written Polka Music (Music and Lyrics)
  • Does anyone know of a place/person who can supply written music and lyrics to polka music? For example, if I wanted the music and words to "White Eagle's Polka" by Marion Lush, where could I get it? There doesn't seem to be anyone who writes the music anymore. It seems that bands are just listening to the recordings and picking the song up by ear. Thanks for any help.... The only place that I know of that has written music is concertina.com but they usually do not have the lyrics to the songs.
  • johnz June 2009
    Barry, I have researched polka music sheet music quite a bit, and I come of empty, except for the concertina site. A band could possibly help you out and if Mike knows Mrs. Lush, she may be another direction for you to persue. Lush did offer a series of music books of his music that some one may still have. There is a couple of people that post on alt.polkas that are most cooperative with lyrics and music, I would definately post the request there. Joe Rogers should be able to help you out.
  • Barry,
    In the old days, many bancs put the words to the songs on the back of the 33 1/3 rpm album cover. I have several by the Conn. Twins, Frank Wojnarowski and others that did this.
    More recently several bands have included a song booklet with their CD's. Most especially John Gora has done this for some of his.
    Some bands on their websites have the lyrics to the songs included, especially Frankie Liszka,s TBC website.
    Other than individual places like that, I know of no central place to get words to songs.
    Hope that helps,
    John Pavlovcak, Northampton, PA
  • "Polkaperson":

    Barry,
    In the old days, many bancs put the words to the songs on the back of the 33 1/3 rpm album cover. I have several by the Conn. Twins, Frank Wojnarowski and others that did this.
    More recently several bands have included a song booklet with their CD's. Most especially John Gora has done this for some of his.
    Some bands on their websites have the lyrics to the songs included, especially Frankie Liszka,s TBC website.
    Other than individual places like that, I know of no central place to get words to songs.
    Hope that helps,
    John Pavlovcak, Northampton, PA


    John,

    Thanks for the help. I originally came from the Philadelphia area (New Jersey, actually). I remember having all the Conn Twins albums and, particularly, "Sing Along With Stas". That was the one that I remembered that had the lyrics on the back of the cover. They also had music books published through Stella Music Co. Unfortunately, Stella Music Co. (Hillside, NJ) is no longer in business and I made the mistake of lending my Conn. Twins music books to someone because I never got them back.

    I guess what I am driving at is that if we want to perpetuate live polka bands it would be a great help to have a source of music and lyrics beside having to learn the songs and lyrics by ear from CD's. It is a step in the right direction for groups like John Gora, Frankie Liszka, etc. to have the lyrics published either on their websites or enclosed with the CD's.

    Thanks again for your response. I appreciate it.

    Barry

    Surprise, AZ
  • ClaudeW June 2009
    There are severals sources for sheet music arrangements.

    Although Browns Music store in New Ulm, MN closed, they still operate as a mail order business and have changed the name of their web site to Vitak-Elsnic (there is a familiar name in polka music). You can browse the whole site but if you are looking for charts for a working polka band, here is the page you want.
    http://vitak-elsnic.com/music/vitak-elsnic-publications/band-and-orchestra-folios/
    The International Polka folios are your best bets if you want to play tunes right out of the box. Most tunes in the Polish folios series are the merest sketches around which you will have to work an arrangemnt. Also, it seems to me the International Polka books have much newer tunes and newer sounding arrangements than the other series by nationality. All are instrumentals as far as I know. They are very cleverly orchestrated so they will work with virtually any combination of instruments. You'll probably want at least two horns. All of these are very old but nothing ever changes, though. The Helena polka chart is the basis for most recorded versions of Helena polka. Sections may be re-arranged or repeated with different horns and some rhythms are changed for variety but Louis Vitak's chart can clearly be heard. Listen to the old Ampol Aires recording while you are reading along on the Vitak arrangement! You can just see the band sitting there with their pencils deciding "You take it at letter B," etc.

    My favorite supplier is Joe Hasper. While he does not have many charts, they are classic tunes and they are read-to-play "real" arrangements. They are written for 3 or 4 horns. With a little testing and a pencil, I'll bet you could get most of them to work with 2 horns. About 20 charts are currently available. Many are vocals but with the melody cued for some horn so you can play them as an instrumental. He will customize them for a reasonable fee. They are delivered as PDF files so I can store them on my hard drive. I wish everyone did that.
    http://www.jazz-charts.com/polka.htm

    Ken Morey has thousands of charts, (hand) written in such a way that they work from 2 to 6 horns. Vocals, instrumentals, we are talking perhaps 5,000 to 6,000 tunes. Unfortunately, Ken is quite ill. It might be worth trying. I noticed that his web page is off-the-air. I have his email but will not post it or give it to anyone without Ken's permission. I'll email Ken now and, if he responds affirmatively, I will post his email address here.

    I had quite good luck finding very old polka charts on EBay. I bought a complete set of the Sajewski Chicago Polka books, both C and Bb. I also found some very old Podgorski charts and Vitak Elsnic charts. These latter two probably belong in a polka museum somewhere but some of them are playable. Try to set up an automated ebay search for known polka music publishers. Woops, then you can bid against each other!

    Good luck.

    Claude
  • "ClaudeW":

    There are severals sources for sheet music arrangements.

    Although Browns Music store in New Ulm, MN closed, they still operate as a mail order business and have changed the name of their web site to Vitak-Elsnic (there is a familiar name in polka music). You can browse the whole site but if you are looking for charts for a working polka band, here is the page you want.
    http://vitak-elsnic.com/music/vitak-elsnic-publications/band-and-orchestra-folios/
    The International Polka folios are your best bets if you want to play tunes right out of the box. Most tunes in the Polish folios series are the merest sketches around which you will have to work an arrangemnt. Also, it seems to me the International Polka books have much newer tunes and newer sounding arrangements than the other series by nationality. All are instrumentals as far as I know. They are very cleverly orchestrated so they will work with virtually any combination of instruments. You'll probably want at least two horns. All of these are very old but nothing ever changes, though. The Helena polka chart is the basis for most recorded versions of Helena polka. Sections may be re-arranged or repeated with different horns and some rhythms are changed for variety but Louis Vitak's chart can clearly be heard. Listen to the old Ampol Aires recording while you are reading along on the Vitak arrangement! You can just see the band sitting there with their pencils deciding "You take it at letter B," etc.

    My favorite supplier is Joe Hasper. While he does not have many charts, they are classic tunes and they are read-to-play "real" arrangements. They are written for 3 or 4 horns. With a little testing and a pencil, I'll bet you could get most of them to work with 2 horns. About 20 charts are currently available. Many are vocals but with the melody cued for some horn so you can play them as an instrumental. He will customize them for a reasonable fee. They are delivered as PDF files so I can store them on my hard drive. I wish everyone did that.
    http://www.jazz-charts.com/polka.htm

    Ken Morey has thousands of charts, (hand) written in such a way that they work from 2 to 6 horns. Vocals, instrumentals, we are talking perhaps 5,000 to 6,000 tunes. Unfortunately, Ken is quite ill. It might be worth trying. I noticed that his web page is off-the-air. I have his email but will not post it or give it to anyone without Ken's permission. I'll email Ken now and, if he responds affirmatively, I will post his email address here.

    I had quite good luck finding very old polka charts on EBay. I bought a complete set of the Sajewski Chicago Polka books, both C and Bb. I also found some very old Podgorski charts and Vitak Elsnic charts. These latter two probably belong in a polka museum somewhere but some of them are playable. Try to set up an automated ebay search for known polka music publishers. Woops, then you can bid against each other!

    Good luck.

    Claude



    Claude,

    Thanks for the reply. I have used Ken Morey in the past and I know that he is quite ill. He has an outstanding library of tunes. I really like what he offers because he would give you a catalog of all the tunes with the bands that actually recorded them. You could then choose the arrangement that you wanted. Also, you could choose what instrumentation that you wanted. It was perfect for small bands or even just individuals. Another advantage of Ken's arrangements is that he included the lyrics. It would really be great if someone could either work with Ken or maybe take over his library. I don't think anyone can match what Ken Morey had to offer. He was originally recommended to me by Happy Louie and its just a shame that he is in failing health.

    I really appreciate your other recommendations and will look into them.

    Thanks again.

    Barry
    Surprise, AZ
  • ClaudeW June 2009
    Barry,

    It would be nice if Ken could make arrangements for his arrangements (sorry about that). It could be an individual, an association, a library, etc. Shame if it was lost. When I was much younger, I would hear about a Big Band book being discarded about every week. The husband dies and his wife throws away all the music, music stands, cases, etc. etc.. What a shame. I write books about historical subjects. I can tell you that libraries and associations charge so much money for a license to use an old photo that it is virtually impossible to use them. It would be a shame if that happened to Morey's music although I understand it costs money to store it. Some energetic person could scan all of it and post it on the internet to be sold from an automated site. Grant money might even allow access to the music for free.

    On a second issue, can you read Morey's manuscript? I'm a drummer and it doesn't seem too difficult to me. My players, on the other hand, compain bitterly about not being able to read it. What do you think?

    On a third issue, are there many Polish-style polka bands in southern Arizona? I'd like to retire to a place where I can still play drums (polkas, Big Bands, almost everything). We lived in Tucson back in the 60s and I played in a Big Band there. Now, Tucson just seems too big and congested. We think we'd like a smaller town but finding a small town where I could play is tough! Retirement is 4 years away so I have sometime to check out places.

    Claude
    Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • "ClaudeW":

    Barry,

    It would be nice if Ken could make arrangements for his arrangements (sorry about that). It could be an individual, an association, a library, etc. Shame if it was lost. When I was much younger, I would hear about a Big Band book being discarded about every week. The husband dies and his wife throws away all the music, music stands, cases, etc. etc.. What a shame. I write books about historical subjects. I can tell you that libraries and associations charge so much money for a license to use an old photo that it is virtually impossible to use them. It would be a shame if that happened to Morey's music although I understand it costs money to store it. Some energetic person could scan all of it and post it on the internet to be sold from an automated site. Grant money might even allow access to the music for free.

    On a second issue, can you read Morey's manuscript? I'm a drummer and it doesn't seem too difficult to me. My players, on the other hand, compain bitterly about not being able to read it. What do you think?

    On a third issue, are there many Polish-style polka bands in southern Arizona? I'd like to retire to a place where I can still play drums (polkas, Big Bands, almost everything). We lived in Tucson back in the 60s and I played in a Big Band there. Now, Tucson just seems too big and congested. We think we'd like a smaller town but finding a small town where I could play is tough! Retirement is 4 years away so I have sometime to check out places.

    Claude
    Colorado Springs, Colorado




    Claude,

    I have no problem reading any of Ken's manuscripts. Everything he as ever sent me is good quality work. That is one reason that it would be very sad if this work were to be lost.

    Regarding polka bands in Arizona, there are more Slovenian style polka bands than Polish polka bands but I was really surprised to find the number of Polish organizations that exist out here. Except for July and August, you could go to a polka dance every week out here. The Pulaski Club is very active in promoting local bands as well as nationally known bands. Gene Swick, a polka promoter from Southern California, has sponsored quite a few bands to perform at the Pulaski Club in Phoenix. So far he brought in Jerry Darlack and the Buffalo Touch (twice), Full Circle, the Buffalo Knewz and John Gora and Gorale. Our band plays there as well as a few other Polish organizations throughout the valley. Retirement communities such as Sun City West and Sun City Grand (Surprise, AZ) as well as clubs in Mesa and other towns also host Polish events. Many Polish musicians from the Chicago area have moved out here so there are quite a few bands that have been formed. I really enjoy living here after moving from the Philadelphia area about ten years ago.

    Hope this info helps.

    Barry
    Surprise, AZ
  • janekj July 2009
    Anyone looking for Polish or Rusyn (Lemko) lyrics can contact me via email. I have a pretty large collection of both. My email address is jasienek@hotmail.com. (Free of charge!)
  • Hello All, My name is Todd Harris and I am the new owner of the Vitak-Elsnic Co. which was once owned by the Browns in New Ulm, MN. The Vitak-Elsnic library is very extensive and there is more to offer than what is even listed to date on the website http://www.vitak-elsnic.com, and more than I can possibly explain at this time during this post. There are hundreds of Band and/or Orchestra arrangements, hundreds of piano accordion solos and books, thousands of concertina solos and books including methods, hundreds of Piano solos and books. The website I have currently works but I'm working on adding additional content while at the same time developing an entirely new website to allow searching and online purchases, plus including everything else that isn't currently listed on the web site. I would love the opportunity to discuss with you all how I can help solve your polka and Ethnic music needs.

    Sincerely,

    Todd Harris
    Vitak-Elsnic Co.
  • LGomulka July 2009
    Todd -

    Your post made my day. My name is Lenny Gomulka. Born & raised in Chicago I now live in Ludlow, Massachusetts. I was raised on the southwest side of Chicago about a mile and a half from Chicago's original Vitak-Elsnic Music Store near 48TH & Ashland in Chicago. That's where my brother would take me as a kid to hear and buy polka records and polka music. Eventually I made it there on my own to get the latest in polka records while being able to listen to them first in the sound rooms made available. I'm even the owner of an original "Vitak-Elsnic trumpet" which was made in the mid 1930's. It's in superb condition and was rarely, if hardly ever, played.

    I'm wondering how we can help each other in an effort to extract more talent and expand the polka audiences out there. Any idea's you continue to have are greatly appreciated. Thank you for your interaction in this site. Without a doubt, this site is an excellent tool for all of us.

    Sincerely,

    Lenny Gomulka
    Chicago Push
    http://www.chicagopush.com
    http://www.gonefullcircle.com
    e-mail: lennygomulka@aol.com
    phone: (413) 583-4544
  • ClaudeW August 2009
    Hi Lenny,

    Do you have the words to "Stephan's Christmas Party" in a form that you could (and would be willing to) easily provide to me? If I am correct, you recorded that song.

    BTW, although I now live in Colorado, I was raised at 55th and Pulaski. Much of my family lived across from the "Club Windy" at 48th and Hermitage. When I was in my teens (I'm now 62), I played drums with a family polka band at the Club Windy as well as many other venues. I just loved growing up in Chicago.

    Claude Wiatrowski
  • GENE MIKRUT October 2009
    MY NAME IS GENE MIKRUT,I PLAY ACCORDION AND
    WRITE POLKA ARRANGEMENTS.
    IF YOU HAVE ANYTHING SPECIFIC IN MIND EMAIL ME
    AT G.MIKRUT@ATT.NET
    MY OWN ARRANGEMENTS CONSIST OF
    POLISH,CZECH,SLOVENE,GERMAN,CROATIAN,
    UKRAINE, SLOVAK,ITALIAN AND SOME MEXICAN MUSIC.

    IN CONTRAST TO OTHER ARRANGERS,
    I TRY TO LIMIT THE ARRANGEMENTS TO FOUR
    MEASURES PER LINE.THIS MAKES IT MUCH EASIER
    TO READ,ESPECIALLY FOR THOSE WHO STAND
    WHILE PLAYING.

    ALSO SEARCH FOR WEBSITE CALLED SPUSCIZNA.ORG
    THEN CLICK SONG INDEX.
    I COLLABORATE WITH THIS SITE ON POLISH MUSIC
    AND HAVE SUBMITTED MANY TUNES FOR THEM.
    THESE TUNES ARE VERY EASY,WRITTEN IN MIND
    FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVE NOT TOUCHED THEIR
    INSTRUMENTS FOR YEARS BUT SHOULD BE ABLE
    TO PLAY THE SONGS WITH LITTLE OR NO DIFFICULTY.
    YOU WILL FIND POLISH POLKAS,WALTZES,TOASTS,
    AND POLISH CHRISTMAS CAROLS,MANY WITH LYRICS.
    YOU CAN DOWNLOAD AND PRINT THE MUSIC ON THIS
    WEBSITE FREE.
    THERE IS ALSO A COLLECTION OF MIDI MUSIC
    RECORDED BY OTHER MUSICIANS ON THAT SITE.
    IF YOU WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT ME
    SEARCH FOR MUSIC BY GENE MIKRUT
  • accordionBarry December 2009
    I was wondering if anyone had the words to a polka what was recorded by Little Wally (among others). The title of the tune is "Kamien Na Kamieniu". I would appreciate it.

    Thanks.

    Barry LuBrant
    Surprise, AZ
  • jrodg January 2010
    Hi,Barry: There are a fe versions of this oldie. Here is a pretty standard one:

    Kamien na kamieniu, na kamieniu kamien," a na tym kamieniu jeszcze jeden kamien." ( repeat part in "")
    Kamien na kamieniu,nad kamieniem woda , jak kamien przeplynie to bedziesz ty moja.









    " ". jakes' ty mnie nie chcial, pocos' u mnie bywal?
    Nie chce sie ozenic' , hej moja Marysiu, bo jak sie ozenie to juz po wszystkiemu.
    Zostane samotnym , pomys'lalem sobie--jak mi just tak dobrze, diabli mi po tobie.
  • jrodg January 2010
    Sorry,I just hit the wrong key and the post went out before I fixed the spacing (^^) ---While I'm at it, tho, Lil Wally had a version with some different lines , like ( most of the folk song talks about guy/girl problems , using water and stones as a poetic device : i.e. "When the stones float on the water that's when I'll fall in love with you ") :

    Mezulku, mezulku,nie ro'bze mi krzywdy, ty mnie zawsze bijesz, a ja ciebie nigdy (= "My sweet husband, don't be so mean to me : I never hit you, but you're always beating me." )

    Thre was also a pretty decent English version of this number, entitled "I'll never Love Again,"which gave some of the original flavor in translation . As I recall , it went more or less like this ( A couple of words may have been different):

    I thought that you were mine to love me for all time , but you loved other men--I'll never love again.
    I thought that you were nice--You broke your promise twice -- So I don't need you now: I'll get along somehow.

    Whoa, my memory keeps dredging up other verses ( There are a million of them to this song ) as I write-- One good one I think I heard in Europe as a kid ( I haven't heard this one sung here ) is : Kamien na kamieniu, na kamieniu kamien, piszcie se dziewczeta moje imie na nim = "Rocks on rocks, stones, on stones, write my name , girls, on those stones." ( a sort of macho/braggart version---There were a lot of those in these old songs )
    ....and now, maybe the best one of all, comes last ---I don't know where I heard this one, but it describes many an old country "party" scene ( Same tune, but different subject:A little table (stolik) instead of a stone ):
    Stolik za stolikiem,za stolikiem stolik ---a tam za stolikiem siedzi alkoholik.
    = There's a little table behind a little table ---and there behind the little table sits -- an alcoholic ! -:(

    By the way, on the East Coast anyway, you most often hear completely different words , that have nothing to do with the original "Kamien na Kamieniu" song, sung to this tune ( and this version is usually recognizable, too, by the fact that it modulates/changes key every verse ) : This version, originally recorded by H. Louie, I think, and still played by E. Forman and others ( as well as EB, jr. in Chicago, I believe) goes on at length about a Polish wedding ( Describing the bride, groom, bells, ceremony, etc. ) --I have the feeling that it was written by one or the other of Louie's original native Polish-speaking songwriters/advisors.
  • accordionBarry January 2010
    Joe,

    Thanks much for the reply. I really appreciate it.

    Barry
  • jrodg January 2010
    A pleasure , Barry---All the best and a Happy New Year "out there." Joe R
  • jrodg January 2010
    PS: I just noticed that there's a typo in my first post on this song. In the last line of that post )(last line of the song) , "just" is incorrect: It should read "jest," which means "is" in Polish ...
  • JPolaski June 2013
    There was published in Chicago a "Polish Fake Book" much like the classic fake book of dance tunes all the bands used to use. I bought several in a local music store, but haven't seen one since. Green, cover stock cover and spiral plastic bound and about 1/2-->3/4" thick and many tunes had lyrics.
    Jim Polaski