Stories From The Eastern West

Stories From The Eastern West

Little-known histories from Central & Eastern Europe that changed our world... Heard of how The Rolling Stones played for the Communist Party? The bear who fought in WWII? Or the man who single-handedly created an entire language? Each episode of our narrative podcast tells incredible stories that all have one thing in common: the Eastern West. #SFTEW


August 18, 2023 26 mins

Aga Derlak remembers her fascination with music as a young child. And once she began learning piano, she would lose hours in flowing through improvised journeys at the keyboard. This passion led her to gaining a place on the year-long Berklee Global Jazz Institute program. And in this interview, she discusses the impact that has had on many levels of her life. The founder of the project, pianist Danilo Perez, who is part of the inc...

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In Marek Pędziwiatr there is a connection between the past and the present. The history of jazz and the African American musicians, who created it, and Polish innovators from Chopin through Krzysztof Komeda and Niemen. Marek is a hub, a central force pulling his golden threads of jazz, hip-hop, classical music, avant-garde, and Slavic folk. But his interest in weaving these genres together is driven by the human experience. 

Marek ...

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February 1, 2023 25 mins

To describe Joanna Duda as simply a pianist doesn't capture the extraordinary dimensions of the music she produces. Whether touching a broken keyboard, using the sound of a rewinding tape machine, or mixing in field recordings, her innate playfulness allows any instrument to blossom - you get a sense that one of her greatest strengths is to listen attentively to whatever she uses. Joanna is also an incredible editor, cutting and mi...

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January 3, 2023 19 mins

In the history of jazz, there haven't been many musicians that give credit to their playing video games. But as a nine-year-old hardcore player, Kuba Więcek developed an affinity with repetitive practice and now feels the need for strategic thinking and fast decision-making has stood him in good stead as a bandleader today. After a pivotal moment as a teenager, which he talks about in the interview, when he improvised on his saxoph...

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November 29, 2022 27 mins

Marcin Masecki considers that he has two parents, jazz and classical music. As a pianist, he is steeped in the tradition of learning piano as a young child with all the purity and precision that comes with that. In this interview, you get the sense of how that triggered Marcin’s disruptive streak, and how that has been central to his approach to music. There is reverence and intellectual rebellion. Like many accomplished musicians,...

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September 1, 2022 25 mins

In the very last episode of Stories of The Eastern West as you knew it, we’re taking you to Estonia, 1989. A group of people there made 2 million others hold hands and create a human chain of unprecedented size and significance.

The Baltic countries had a truly turbulent 20th century. They went from regaining their independence to losing it to the USSR and becoming subject to a ruthless policy of Ru...

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January 27, 2022 23 mins
Several years after the war, a strange encounter in the heart of Paris made Zofia Posmysz, a former Auschwitz prisoner, start wondering what it would be like to meet her camp overseer. Posmysz turned her fantasy in a successful radio play in which she explored the unlikely perspective of an oppressor, a Nazi German concentration camp overseer. 

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December 17, 2021 25 mins

Get to know Piotr Szkopiak, a London-based film and TV director who’s spent a good portion of his life pondering the nature of his identity.

Piotr Szkopiak was born in the United Kingdom but into a Polish family. As he g...

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November 10, 2021 30 mins

Nicolaus Copernicus, born in 1473, was the orphaned son of a copper merchant in Toruń. Thanks to his bishop uncle, he obtained a first class education at the Kraków Academy and then in Italy, where he became an avid observer of the night sky – even though he was supposed to be preparing for a church career.

His day job as a church canon, diplomat and doctor in Frombork – when he wasn't defending castles against the Teutonic Knights...

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October 7, 2021 26 mins

Vera Chytilová was the most important woman director of the Czechoslovak New Wave – although she remains relatively unknown outside of Central Europe. As the first female student of the prestigious FAMU film school in Prague, she had to fight in order to do things her own way. During the creative explosion of the Czechoslovak New Wave, she made her most well known film ‘Daisies’ (1966) – a surrealist pop-art comedy, about two young...

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September 7, 2021 27 mins

Stanisław Lem was a science-fiction writer whose works, abilities and quirky sense of humor convinced Phillip K. Dick that he was too brilliant to exist and must have actually been a committee of people! Indeed his rare gift for blending philosophy with technology and action made him an instantaneously recognisable voice in t...

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August 24, 2021 1 min

This year we have more great stories for you! There's going to be a bit of sci-fi, a pinch of socialist realism, a good portion of astronomy, and some old-fashioned moving testimonies from a region that never sleeps!

Stay tuned: the first episode drops September 7th!

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July 29, 2021 29 mins
Like most Polish jazz musicians, Zbigniew Namysłowski learned the basics of jazz listening to Willis Conover’s “Jazz Hour”. Originally starting his musical career playing piano, cello and tr...

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July 16, 2021 24 mins

Adam Makowicz grew up in a house where a piano was the centre of the home. His mother had long planned for him to become a classical virtuoso, but a meeting with a musician who introduced h...

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July 1, 2021 29 mins

“Polish jazz group - 100$ a night”

Displayed on the posters in Michał Urbaniak’s band’s van while playing across Europe in the 60s, this hippy traveling player was soon to become one of the most innovative Polish jazz mu...

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June 17, 2021 31 mins

Urszula’s love for unruly musical experiments got her kicked out from music school when she was a young girl. A few years later, like many young Poles, she stumbled upon The Voice of America - a radio station meant to bring American culture and censorship-free news to people locked up behind the Iron Curtain. Th...

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June 17, 2021 31 mins
It may be hard to believe, but when Jan Ptaszyn Wróblewski started playing music, jazz was censored in Poland. As a result of Stalin’s cultural politics that governed what kinds of art and culture could be consumed in the country,  anything that may have been associated with western imperialism was formally excluded from public life. However,...

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April 30, 2021 1 min

This week we've a special preview for you: Rebel Spirits!

It's a podcast about five Polish jazz musicians who came of age in the 1950s and became mesmerised by the music they heard on the outlawed American radio station Voice of America.

You'll hear how they went from learning to play jazz from worn-out vinyls to becoming icons that continue to inspire the music world today.


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March 31, 2021 28 mins

In 1967, Marian Marzyński was a popular TV show host and filmmaker in Poland. But then a seemingly faraway military clash sparked an unexpected conflict within the Polish communist party that led its Jewish members to be accused of anti-Polish sentiments. The conflict developed into an anti-Semitic campaign that affected all of Polish Jew...

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March 1, 2021 24 mins

In 1938, Hitler's forces marched into Czechoslovakia, a country that had only gained its independence two decades earlier. A puppeteer named Josef Skupa was ready to fight back with the help of Spejbl and Hurvínek – a father son duo of wooden puppets. Because the Nazi German occupiers didn't seem to take puppets very seriously, Skupa's th...

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