November 12, 2010

ONE OF THOSE PIECES OF MUSIC OU NEVER FORGET HEARING FOR THE FIRST TIME:

Henryk Gorecki, Composer Of 'Symphony Of Sorrowful Songs,' Dies At Age 76 (Thomas Huizenga, 11/12/10, NPR)

Gorecki was little known outside Poland until a 1992 recording of his Symphony No. 3, subtitled the "Symphony of Sorrowful Songs," shot up the charts, eventually selling well over a million copies, and was heard on radio stations around the world.

The symphony, which Gorecki wrote in 1976, is centered on three texts — including a prayer inscribed by a teenager on a cell wall of a Gestapo headquarters — which the composer turned into haunting laments, backed by simple, slowly churning surges of beautiful music.

But in 1976, such music was frowned upon by academics, and the symphony, as Gorecki recalled through an interpreter in a 1995 NPR interview, received a cool reception.


Henryk Górecki, Polish composer, dies (The Telegraph, 11/12/10)
-OBIT: Polish composer Henryk Gorecki dies at the age of 76 (BBC, 11/12/10)
His early works were avant-garde in style, and later influenced by folk music of his native land.

By the 1970s he had developed the monumental style for which he became famous.

He was often at odds with the communist authorities in Poland and withdrew from public life in the 1980s to concentrate on composing.

His Symphony No. 3, which dealt with themes of war and separation in a slow, stark style, became the best-selling record by a contemporary composer.

Gorecki had completed his fourth symphony, the premiere of which was shelved on account of his illness.


Henryk Górecki, RIP (Gregory Wolfe, 11/12/10, Commonweal)
It is said that when a Los Angeles classical radio station first played the Symphony No. 3 (”Symphony of Sorrowful Songs”) by the Polish composer Henryk Górecki in the early 1990s, cars could be seen pulling to the side of the freeways because the drivers’ eyes were full of tears. The symphony, which incorporated included a 15th-century lament, a Silesian folk song, and words written by a teenage girl on the wall of her Gestapo prison cell, brought Górecki international acclaim.

Górecki has often been grouped with composers like Arvo Paert and John Tavener–they’ve been called the “holy minimalists.” But Górecki’s music ranged beyond minimalism and cannot be so easily pigeon-holed.


Posted by Orrin Judd at November 12, 2010 3:41 PM
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