Author Topic: Henryk Mikolaj Gorecki (1933-2010)  (Read 31947 times)

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Offline Maciek

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Henryk Mikolaj Gorecki (1933-2010)
« on: April 13, 2007, 02:19:30 PM »
Another born in 1933. :o

Henryk Mikołaj Górecki
(not to be confused with his son, Mikołaj Górecki, also a composer).

I found 2 topics about him on the old forum:
Gorecki
Happy Birthday Gorecki!

His name usually stirs up controversy because of the immense popularity (and sales) of Dawn Upshaw's/David Zinman's recording of his 3rd Symphony. Because of that this piece has turned into a very guilty pleasure - apparently it's bad to be popular ;D. Well, let me shock you all - not only do I quite like the piece (though it is definitely not my favorite by this composer) but the part I love most is that looong opening canon in the first movement! HA!

 8)

Anyway, most people aren't aware of the fact that before Górecki became the composer he is today, he went through a serialist/avantgarde phase. His first 20 or so opuses (he's one of the few modern composers who use opus numbers) were nothing like the stuff he writes today. The first 10 or so are chamber works and are serialist rather than avantgarde/sonoristic. The next 10 are violent experimental works with all sorts of effects usually associated with Penderecki (undetermined pitch, clusters, all sorts of percussive effects).

But everyone mellows with age (not only Penderecki ;)), and what Górecki wrote later and has been writing ever since could be linked with the minimalist movement, though it is a very personal brand of minimalism. He is usually associated with a sort of slow, plaintive tone well known from the 3rd Symphony, but his music is actually very often dynamic and energetic (think of the Harpsichord Concerto!).

My favorite of Górecki's pieces: the String Quartets (I only know the first 2), the Muzyczka series, the 2nd Symphony, the Harpsichord Concerto (definitely better in the original version but I like it played on a piano too) and Lerchenmusik. I generally like all of his music for chorus as well - I think he is a splendid choral writer.

There are some pieces I'm not very fond of (Ad Matrem, Kleines Requiem für eine Polka) but I would only single out Good Night as something I completely dislike.

What are your thoughts about this composer?

You may begin denigrating the 3rd Symphony (I know you want to very, very much ;)) ...

NOW!

Cheers,
Maciek
« Last Edit: March 29, 2014, 04:55:59 PM by Maciek »

Offline Brian

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Re: Henryk Mikolaj Gorecki (b. 1933)
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2007, 05:42:15 PM »
I agree - the fact that the Third Symphony is popular should not be held against it! The truth is it's one of the most emotional, powerful works of music of the last 75 years, and it speaks to thousands and thousands of people. It's an amazing work - my favorite part by the way is the looong closing of the first movement!  :)

I have heard Wit/PNRSO/PRNSO/any other acronyms for that orchestra - what gripping music!
Thanks for the post - more Gorecki is needed in my diet.  :)

Offline Catison

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Re: Henryk Mikolaj Gorecki (b. 1933)
« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2007, 07:56:34 PM »
What I wonder is why Gorecki changed direction mid-career.  At least from what I've heard his change happened rather abruptly.  It becomes interesting in comparison to composers like Elliott Carter who have also had huge stylistic changes, but have changed gradually.  Another interesting question is if his own style and that of his contemporaries like Penderecki are coupled.  Both composers having similar early and late periods.  Was because of what was happening in eastern Europe at the time, or is it just coincidence?
-Brett

Offline Maciek

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Re: Henryk Mikolaj Gorecki (b. 1933)
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2007, 12:29:27 AM »
My guess would be that it didn't have anything to do with history/politics. I think they were just tired... ;)

Anyway, in Górecki's case I think the change was good. I'm not sure it was so abrupt, though. He did retain some of the earlier elements - the sort of raw brutality characteristic of Varese-like avantgarde. Obviously not in the 3rd Symphony but it's present in many other pieces...

On second thought: the reason they started to write the extremely sonoristic stuff might have been political in the first place (this happened around the time of the 1956 "thaw"). But why they decided to change direction later - I have no idea.

Offline Solitary Wanderer

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Re: Henryk Mikolaj Gorecki (b. 1933)
« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2007, 03:23:10 PM »
Just finished listening to:



I enjoy the piece alot.

Very interesting essay in Michael Steinbergs book ~ The Symphony.

He talks about the success of this piece being primarily a CD phenomenon, as opposed to a piece being regulary performed in concert halls and also says;

'...Are people really listening to this symphony? Ho many CD buyers discover that 54 minutes of very slow music with a little singing in a language they don't understand is more than they want? Is it being played as background music to Chardonnay and brie?'
'I lingered round them, under that benign sky: watched the moths fluttering among the heath and harebells, listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass, and wondered how any one could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth.' ~ Emily Bronte

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Henryk Mikolaj Gorecki (b. 1933)
« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2007, 10:21:42 PM »
Annoyingly I discovered the great Symphony No 3 (Olympia CD) before it was famous, as a coach driver sent me a tape of it. Then I could impress my friends and introduce them to this unknown composer...next thing it was Top of the Pops  ;D
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Robert

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Re: Henryk Mikolaj Gorecki (b. 1933)
« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2007, 09:27:20 AM »


Another one born in 1933. :o

Henryk Mikołaj Górecki
(not to be confused with his son, Mikołaj Górecki, also a composer).

I found 2 topics about him on the old forum:
Gorecki
Happy Birthday Gorecki!

His name usually stirs up controversy because of the immense popularity (and sales) of Dawn Upshaw's/David Zinman's recording of his 3rd Symphony. Because of that this piece has turned into a very guilty pleasure - apparently it's bad to be popular ;D. Well, let me shock you all - not only do I quite like the piece (though it is definitely not my favorite by this composer) but the part I love most is that looong opening canon in the first movement! HA!

 8)

Anyway, most people aren't aware of the fact that before Górecki became the composer he is today, he went through a serialist/avantgarde phase. His first 20 or so opuses (he's one of the few modern composers who use opus numbers) were nothing like the stuff he writes today. The first 10 or so are chamber works and are serialist rather than avantgarde/sonoristic. The next 10 are violent experimental works with all sorts of effects usually associated with Penderecki (undetermined pitch, clusters, all sorts of percussive effects).

But everyone mellows with age (not only Penderecki ;)), and what Górecki wrote later and has been writing ever since could be linked with the minimalist movement, though it is a very personal brand of minimalism. He is usually associated with a sort of slow, plaintive tone well known from the 3rd Symphony, but his music is actually very often dynamic and energetic (think of the Harpsichord Concerto!).

My favorite of Górecki's pieces: the String Quartets (I only know the first 2), the Muzyczka series, the 2nd Symphony, the Harpsichord Concerto (definitely better in the original version but I like it played on a piano too) and Lerchenmusik. I generally like all of his music for chorus as well - I think he is a splendid choral writer.

There are some pieces I'm not very fond of (Ad Matrem, Kleines Requiem für eine Polka) but I would only single out Good Night as something I completely dislike.

What are your thoughts about this composer?

You may begin denigrating the 3rd Symphony (I know you want to very, very much ;)) ...

NOW!

Cheers,
Maciek

Hi Maciek

I thought You knew the third string quartet has been released by Kronos.  I thought you had gotten it... I was waiting for your review.....

greg

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Re: Henryk Mikolaj Gorecki (b. 1933)
« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2007, 11:04:11 AM »
What I wonder is why Gorecki changed direction mid-career.  At least from what I've heard his change happened rather abruptly.  It becomes interesting in comparison to composers like Elliott Carter who have also had huge stylistic changes, but have changed gradually.  Another interesting question is if his own style and that of his contemporaries like Penderecki are coupled.  Both composers having similar early and late periods.  Was because of what was happening in eastern Europe at the time, or is it just coincidence?
I know, i haven't thought of it so much, but not that you bring it up, if you think about it, it's EXTREMELY strange.

Gorecki's style started changing from the 2nd movement of the 2nd symphony onward, which was 1972.
Penderecki started changing more gradually, but started in the late sixties and early 70s. Basically, it seems like the same timing.

But even though they are similar in styles, they sound very far apart. But they use some of the same techniques and stuff-
just listen to Gorecki's 1st and compare it to Penderecki's Threnody.
then listen to Gorecki's 3rd and compare it to Penderecki's 4th.

so strange, how does this happen? everyone knows what I'm talking about, right? are there any interviews where they explain how this happens?

The Emperor

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Re: Henryk Mikolaj Gorecki (b. 1933)
« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2007, 11:12:53 AM »
I guess i must check Penderecki's 4th... ;)

Offline Maciek

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Re: Henryk Mikolaj Gorecki (b. 1933)
« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2007, 12:15:35 PM »
Hi Maciek

I thought You knew the third string quartet has been released by Kronos.  I thought you had gotten it... I was waiting for your review.....

Hi Robert!

Yes, I know it's out but I still don't have it. Can't make up my mind about buying it... :-\

Anyone else willing to try? ;)

Maciek

Offline Maciek

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Re: Henryk Mikolaj Gorecki (b. 1933)
« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2007, 12:18:02 PM »
I know, i haven't thought of it so much, but not that you bring it up, if you think about it, it's EXTREMELY strange.

Gorecki's style started changing from the 2nd movement of the 2nd symphony onward, which was 1972.
Penderecki started changing more gradually, but started in the late sixties and early 70s. Basically, it seems like the same timing.

Wojciech Kilar (I started a thread about him recently) started his transition at the beginning of the 70s too. I'm sure I'd find more Polish composers doing the same thing at about that time if I looked around a little... Or maybe not. ;D

Robert

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Re: Henryk Mikolaj Gorecki (b. 1933)
« Reply #11 on: April 15, 2007, 12:20:26 PM »
Wojciech Kilar (I started a thread about him recently) started his transition at the beginning of the 70s too. I'm sure I'd find more Polish composers doing the same thing at about that time if I looked around a little... Or maybe not. ;D

I have that film music disc you mentioned plus his Dracula is very interesting....

Robert

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Re: Henryk Mikolaj Gorecki (b. 1933)
« Reply #12 on: April 15, 2007, 12:21:20 PM »
Hi Robert!

Yes, I know it's out but I still don't have it. Can't make up my mind about buying it... :-\

Anyone else willing to try? ;)

Maciek

If I find myself in that mood I might take a shot.....

S709

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Re: Henryk Mikolaj Gorecki (b. 1933)
« Reply #13 on: April 15, 2007, 05:37:36 PM »
I like Górecki a lot, the 3rd symphony included -- but mostly the 3rd movement. Somehow the specific dialect of Polish the text uses, and its certain kind of simplicity (it loses a great deal in the translation I think), plus the simplicity & lyricism of the music itself make it very powerful - to me at least.

His earlier stuff can be so wild and crazy that it's pure fun! For example "Genesis II" and the 1st movement of Symphony No. 2.

I have to listen again to a few less known things of his I have like "Canticum graduum", the "Cantata for organ & soprano", and the Four Preludes for piano to say more...

S709

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Re: Henryk Mikolaj Gorecki (b. 1933)
« Reply #14 on: April 15, 2007, 05:53:04 PM »
I thought for a while that Canticum graduum was a very rare piece that I could only hear in my webcast recording, but it seems there's a CD out with yet another take on Symphony no. 3 which includes Canticum graduum; I wonder if anyone here has heard it:



More info here.


Danny

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Re: Henryk Mikolaj Gorecki (b. 1933)
« Reply #15 on: April 15, 2007, 06:55:12 PM »
Nuts......................almost bought the Third Symphony today..........................ah, nuts!

Offline Maciek

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Re: Henryk Mikolaj Gorecki (b. 1933)
« Reply #16 on: April 16, 2007, 02:19:44 AM »
Eh? ???

You're not making any sense (to me at least), Danny... ???

Who, what, when, why?

greg

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Re: Henryk Mikolaj Gorecki (b. 1933)
« Reply #17 on: April 17, 2007, 07:16:47 AM »
Wojciech Kilar (I started a thread about him recently) started his transition at the beginning of the 70s too. I'm sure I'd find more Polish composers doing the same thing at about that time if I looked around a little... Or maybe not. ;D
really? then it must've been some thing where the Polish guys got together and said, "well, you know, we all are going to change our styles in the 70s, ok? Get it, got it, good? If you don't, we'll send the mafia on your behind."
so probably they changed their styles to save their lives  :-\

Offline Maciek

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Re: Henryk Mikolaj Gorecki (b. 1933)
« Reply #18 on: April 17, 2007, 08:29:51 AM »
Yeah, must have been something like that ;).

Offline Maciek

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Re: Henryk Mikolaj Gorecki (b. 1933)
« Reply #19 on: April 17, 2007, 08:35:09 AM »
Another great mystery: Penderecki and Gorecki were both born in 1933.

And Kilar was born only a year earlier (1932).

And many great 20th century Polish composers were born in a year ending with "3":

1913 - Witold Lutoslawski
1933 - Krzysztof Penderecki, Henryk Mikolaj Gorecki
1943 - Krzysztof Meyer

(well, four great composers is "many", isn't it?)