1918, near the end of World War One, a British regiment discovered
the remains of two unidentified musicians in the ruins of a Catholic
church in Krakow. Also found were the shattered remnants of several
musical instruments, including a hurdy-gurdy, harmonium, tenor guitar,
viola, 3-string bass and fragments of North African percussion,
all of which now reside in the Smithsonian Institute.
....It would eventually be determined
that the bodies were those of Tomcha & Vlasch: the great Polish
gypsy performers and songwriters known and beloved throughout Europe.
generally agree that the duo met while attending a Polka festival
in Warsaw in 1906. Being highly inebriated, they spontaneously
and independently began pelting the leading act with pierogi.
Their mutual disdain for the sterile and commercialized Polish
idiom served as their initial common bond.
of their greatest works were written while entertaining soldiers
of the Great War. Jumping from trench to trench and racing (often
intoxicated) across No Man's Land while dodging machine gun fire
and the occasional biplane (Tomcha claimed to have taken a bullet
from the famous German air ace: Baron Manfred von Richthofen),
they plied their trade to both sides of the conflict, offering
songs and vaudeville pantomime in exchange for biscuits, tins
of tobacco and schnapps.
one time believed to be lost, their handwritten notations and
lyrics were discovered in 1949 under the floorboards of a French
brothel where they had apparently been bartered for certain favors.
These documents are now safely in the archives of Professors Bering
& Nawrot where they are undergoing a thorough codifying, cataloging,
analysis and scientific re-interpretation before becoming available
to the public.
controversial technique of scientific re-interpretation, or "contemporization"
which has been applied to the extensive oeuvre of Tomcha &
Vlasch has its many critics, and in fact, some musicologists deplore
this modernization as unnatural. However, Professors Bering &
Nawrot firmly believe the technique is not only valid, but is
thoroughly in keeping with the historical tradition of Tomcha
& Vlasch, given their penchant for composing in the idiom
of their intended audience.
Professors Bering & Nawrot
troops claimed that the statue of Jesus wept
& Vlasch relax in trench
near the Somme
brothel frequented by Tomcha & Vlasch