• Recollecting Górecki

While I was in Warsaw last week, a new book was launched that goes beyond traditional reminiscences of recently departed artists.  It is almost three years since Henryk Mikołaj Górecki died – he would, like Penderecki, have been 80 this year and no doubt there would have been wider celebrations of his music had he still been alive.  The 2013 ‘Warsaw Autumn’, in a fit of commemoration, put on three concerts devoted to Lutosławski (Piano Concerto with Krystian Zimerman, Third Symphony), Penderecki (St Luke Passion) and Górecki (the three string quartets).  This new volume on Górecki, however, is no mere commemoration.  The contributors to Górecki. Portret w Pamięci (Górecki. Portrait in Memory) – all 42 of them, many of whom knew him extremely well and over many years – bring Górecki’s vivid, complex and sometimes contradictory personality back to life.  Taken together, they don’t miss you and hit the wall, as the saying goes.  There is a tinge of regret at the absence of his closest contemporaries, the composers Zbigniew Bujarski, Wojciech Kilar and Penderecki, and of the dedicatee and conductor of the premiere of Scontri, Jan Krenz.  But the collection is nevertheless rich in telling detail.

The book’s concept and execution were down to my friend Beata Bolesławska-Lewandowska.  She asks intelligent and searching questions and elicits fascinating responses, accessible to a wide range of readers.  Unfortunately, it is only in Polish, so readers and contributors who do not know the language have little chance of enjoying the memories therein.  An English version surely beckons.

Homma 1993 2

The contributions are grouped according to the interviewees’ occupations or relationship with the composer, each section printed on different coloured paper, and each interview prefaced by a photograph of the interviewee, sometimes with Górecki.  Here’s a list of the contributors and a byline on each.

Najbliżsi (Nearest): Jadwiga Górecka (widow), Mikołaj Górecki (son, composer), Anna Górecka (daughter, pianist)
• Uczniowie (Students): Eugeniusz Knapik (composer, pianist, teacher), Rafał Augustyn (composer, critic, Polish philologist), Małgorzata Hussar (composer, teacher)
Okiem muzykologa (In the eyes of the musicologist): Leon Markiewicz (Katowice Music Academy), Mieczysław Tomaszewski (former director of PWM, Kraków Music Academy), Teresa Malecka (Kraków Music Academy), Krzysztof Droba (Kraków Music Academy), Adrian Thomas (quite why I’m here rather than in group six I’m not sure!), Grzegorz Michalski (author, broadcaster, President of the Witold Lutosławski Society)
Kompozytorzy i wykonawcy (Composers and performers): Włodzimierz Kotoński (composer, teacher), Zygmunt Krauze (composer, pianist), Elżbieta Chojnacka (harpsichordist), Antoni Wit (conductor), Zofia Kilanowicz (soprano), Marek Moś (conductor, former leader of the Silesian String Quartet), Father Kazimierz Szymonik (priest, conductor)
• Dania (Denmark): Louise Lerche-Lerchenborg (commissioner of Lerchenmusik), Rosalind Bevan (pianist), Teresa Waśkowska (critic)
• Wielka Brytania (Great Britain): David Atherton (conductor), Paul Crossley (pianist), Janis Susskind (publisher, Boosey & Hawkes)
Stany Zjednoczone (United States): David Zinman (conductor), David Harrington (leader, Kronos Quartet), John Sherba (second violin, Kronos Quartet), Carol Wincenc (flautist)
• Bielsko-Biała (town south of Katowice where Górecki hosted a short festival each October; it still flourishes): Władysław Szczotka (Director, Bielsko-Biała Cultural Centre), Ewa Stojek-Lupin (pianist, portrait painter), Jacek Krywult (politician, President of Bielsko-Biała)
Promotorzy, organizatorzy (Promoters, organisers): Andrzej Kosowski (Director of Institute for Music and Dance, former director of PWM), Joanna Wnuk-Nazarowa (MD of NOSPR – National Symphony Orchestra of Polish Radio, Katowice), Ewa B. Michalska (music manager), Andrzej Wendland (Artistic Director, Tansman Festival, Łódź)
Interpretacje (Interpretations): Andrzej Chłopecki (✝ musicologist, broadcaster, critic), Krzysztof Zanussi (film director), Szymon Bywalec (conductor), Malgorzata and Marcin Gmys (musicologists), Mirosław Jacek Błaszczyk (conductor), Violetta Rotter-Kozera (TV documentary director)

2 Responses to • Recollecting Górecki

  1. chris wilson says:

    Great website Adrian, amazing work

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