Henryk Mikołaj Górecki
Henryk Mikołaj Górecki (1933-2010) was one of the most excellent Polish composers of all times. Górecki, his teacher Bolesław Szabelski, and Krzystof Meyer are numbered among composers whose creative activity in the 2nd half of the 20th century was a turning point for the Polish music, and resulted in its comeback to concert halls all over the world.
Górecki was quite a separate composer, though, and a strong individuality, too. Nevertheless, even those who would hardly accept his aesthetics, were, in a way, seduced by the magic of music. He was an avant-garde musician of his time, coming through stages that differ in musical technique and form. The process finds its reflection in the variety of his works: Symphony No. 1, Scontri, Genesis, and Refrain. He used to experiment with dodecaphony (twelve-note composition; twelve-tone serialism) and sonorism (the so-called “Polish school of the 1960s”, alternatively known as “sound mass composition” or “sonoristic composition”). He would sometimes dialogue with the music of the past, or alternately enlarge and diminish the number of voices and the music substance; he would also use extreme dynamics, contrastive sound quality and experiment with compositional texture, as if he were constantly afraid of triviality or shallowness in his music. In spite of that, as Krzysztof Droba, the eminent expert in contemporary music says, ’the element of constructivism and intense, vivid expression’ would always prevail in his works.
Górecki’s music was, and has always been, both well thought-out and touching. It is so with his great orchestral works with vocal voices: Ad Matrem, Symphony No. 2 ‘Copernican’, Symphony No. 3 ‘Symphony of Sorrowful Songs’, ‘Beatus Vir’ Psalm, and with his chamber vocal works for solo voices or chorus, written either a capella or sometimes with the accompaniment of solo instruments.
Chamber works are the main representatives of his last creative period: Recitatives and Ariosos ‘Lerchenmusik’ for clarinet, cello, and piano, and three string quartets, of which the last one was finished in 2005.
One of the most distinctive features of Górecki’s music is its Polish character, recognized especially abroad. Although he had never wrote a stylization, or arrangement, at least not in the exact meaning of the word, he would sometimes cite Polish melodies – as it is in his String Quartet No. 1’Already It Is Dusk’. One can say, his nationality was inherent in his music. It was as natural, as a natural and never posing man was the composer himself.