• Polish Composer Doodles Revealed

Last week I posted two doodles cropped from working materials of the 1950s by two Polish composers.

Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at 18.36.22

Screen Shot 2014-12-12 at 16.29.58Here they are on their full pages.

The first comes from the first score of Symfonia pokoju (Symphony of Peace, 1950-51) by Andrzej Panufnik.  The blue-ink score is not in Panufnik’s hand, but it is overlaid with many markings and revisions in pencil and coloured crayon that are in his hand.  It is clear that Panufnik used this score to conduct the rehearsals for and first performance of Symfonia pokoju on 25 May 1951.  The revisions may or may not have been made during rehearsals for the premiere.  Panufnik would revise it again for publication by the Polish publishing house PWM (1952) and yet again when he renamed it Sinfonia elegiaca (1957).

Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 10.41.18The doodle – the only one on this score – comes during the central movement.  It seems decorative rather than compositionally functional.  I am no expert, but like so many doodles it has repetitive, symmetrical qualities.  These, of course, tie in with Panufnik’s lifelong obsession with mirrored patterns.  Here there is an untidy vertical dislocation between the bottom and top parts of the doodle (or is it an attempt at perspective?).  More intriguingly, the top part seems to be built around a cross, with lines radiating outwards from its centre.  I can find no reason why it appears where it does, but then that is also a common feature of doodles.

The second doodle is of a different character and arguably is more like a graphic representation of an aural intention.  It comes from Henryk Mikołaj Górecki’s first sketchbook and relates to his pre-compositional work on the First Symphony ‘1959’.  The intersecting angular lines of different strengths are typical of Górecki’s directness and forcefulness.

Screen Shot 2014-12-12 at 16.38.11The annotation indicates that it relates to the second movement, ‘Antiphon’.  Below the line is a short sequence of seven notes.  This is the opening phrase of Poland’s most famous hymn, Bogurodzica, a source of inspiration for a wide range of composers, Górecki and Panufnik included.  In this instance, Górecki may have been echoing it in the finished score by using unison notes in ‘Antiphon’ and an oscillation between D natural and C natural in the third movement, ‘Chorale’.

 

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