Monday, August 24, 2009

Poland Starts New Coin Series Dedicated To "History of Polish Light Music"

The National Bank of Poland has begun a new collector coin series in 2009 entitled "History of Polish Light Music". The first person to be honored in what is sure to be a series generating great interest amongst coin collectors and music memorabilia collectors alike, is legendary Polish rock performer Czeslaw Niemen. Niemen is widely regarded as one of the most important Polish singer-songwriters of the last quarter century, and this set of coins has been released on the 70th anniversary of his birth and 5 years after his passing.

Poland 2009 10ZL Czeslaw Niemen Square Silver Proof

Born in Belarus on February 13, 1939, Czeslaw Niemen made his debut on the music scene in the early 1960's singing Polish soul and rock numbers. His popularity grew quickly on account of his unusually wide vocal range and his talent for composing and keyboard playing. His birth name of Czesław Juliusz Wydrzycki was discarded shortly after a successful run of concerts in France, when he took the pseudonym Niemen. He did this as a way of marking his birth country (Niemen is the Polish pronunciation of the Neman River, a major river rising in Belarus) as well as making his name easier to pronounce for foreigners.

Over the course of his career he released 20 studio albums and over two dozen singles and EP. While most of these were in Polish language Niemen did record 3 English language albums while working under the CBS record label. His 1967 song, "Dziwny jest ten świat" (Strange Is This World) is acknowledged as one of the most important Polish protest song of that era (an English language version was recorded in 1972). In 1964 Niemen and his band supported the touring Marlena Dietrich at Congress Hall in Warsaw, where Ms Dietrich was so taken with the Niemen song "Czy mnie jeszcze pamiętasz" (Do you still remember me?) that she decided to record his own version of the song - "Mutter, Hast du Mir Vergeben" (Mother, have you forgiven me?).

Czeslaw Niemen gained notoriety as being one of the first Polish singers to grow their hair long and wear colourful clothing, helping to influence communist Poland with the leanings of the psychedelic 60's. Of course, this angered officials but only brought Niemen greater popularity with citizens. In his later years he experimented with various styles of music including jazz-rock fusion and electronic. He composed soundtracks for films and the theatre and in the 1990's began painting and even dabbled with computer graphics.

To celebrate the life and songs of this extraordinary Polish citizen, the Mint of Poland has struck 3 separate coins; two 10 zloty silver proof issues and a 2 zloty nordic gold brilliant uncirculated release. Of the two silver proof coins one is struck in a unique square shape, with the other is the standard circular shape.

The reverse design on the square silver proof (shown at top) is taken from Niemen's 1976 concept album, "Katharsis", which he worked on completely alone, playing all the instruments himself. The obverse has a portrait of Czeslaw Niemen from the 1970's, at the height of his renown.

Poland 2009 10ZL Czeslaw Niemen Silver Proof

The standard 10 zloty silver proof carries the reverse image taken from the cover of Czesław Niemen's 1966 EP "Sen o Warszawie", along with inscriptions marking this coin as part of the History of Polish Light Music series. The obverse is inspired by his 1980 studio album, "Postscriptum", and also has the year of issue and nominal face value. The coin is encapsulated.

Poland 2009 2ZL Czeslaw Niemen BU

For the 2 zloty nordic gold issue the makers have chosen Czeslaw Niemen's 1971 album "Człowiek jam niewdzięczny - aka "Czerwony Album" ("Ungrateful Human I Am" aka "Red Album") as inspiration for the reverse design. The obverse carries the familiar layout for all 2 zloty commemorative coins - the Eagle motif, symbol of the Republic of Poland, above centre with the the face value and year of issue below. This coin is supplied in a protective plastic flip.

All three Czeslaw Niemen commemorative issues are currently available to order through Euro Collections International. Click on the product images above to be taken to the respective offers.

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