Author Topic: Tadeusz Baird (1928-1981)  (Read 6656 times)

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Offline Maciek

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Tadeusz Baird (1928-1981)
« on: July 26, 2007, 10:37:02 AM »


Tadeusz Baird was born exactly 79 years from today, on July 26th 1928. He was one of the most important Polish composers of the 20th century. In August 1949 (at the infamous Łagów conference) together with Kazimierz Serocki and Jan Krenz he formed the "Grupa 49" ("49 Group" or "Group of 49"). The main aim of this group was to secure full artistic freedom for contemporary composers. The group was probably Polish music's greatest success in the 20th century - it was Baird and Serocki who at the end of 1955 came up with the idea of starting an international contemporary music festival in Warsaw. This was the beginning of a completely new era not only in Polish music (every notable Polish composer of the 20th century had some of his pieces premiered at this festival, from Bacewicz to Szymański) but a new era for the music of the entire region (Warsaw Autumn became a "window" to the music of the West).

But more about Baird himself. If not for his premature death in 1981, his career would surely have flourished in the later years when the iron curtain began to crumble. As it is, he is a mainstain in Polish 20th century repertoire, is considerably well known in Germany, and remains practically unknown everywhere farther West.

He began studying composition during the war. His teachers were Bolesław Woytowicz and Kazimierz Sikorski. He continued his studies in the years 1947-51 with Piotr Rytel and Piotr Perkowski. He also studied the piano and musicology. He taught composition himself since 1974 (among his students was the young Paweł Szymański!). In 1976 he became president of the Polish section of SIMC. In 1979 - a member of the Akademie der Künste in Berlin.

Thrice during his life he was awarded 1st Prize at the UNESCO Rostrum in Paris (in 1959 for Four Essays, in 1963 - for Variations without a Theme for symphony orchestra, and in 1966 for Four dialogues for oboe and chamber orchestra). He was also awarded the Music Prize of Cologne (in 1963), The Koussevitzky Award (1968), The Arthur Honegger Award (1974), and the Jean Sibelius Medal (1976). (Frankly, I don't know what most of these are but I'm listing them anyway...)

Tadeusz Baird's music is often referred to as very romantic and emotional, though it won't remind you of Penderecki's bombastic neo-romantic compostitions. In his case, romanticism means keeping a sort of very intimate diary in music (he once said "a vast majority of my works are sort of chapters of my most private autobiography"). Unlike some modern composers, he had great respect for tradition, and was especially fond of the Romantic, Baroque and Renaissance periods - hence many of his pieces contain stylistic quotes from those eras (especially neostylistic pieces such as Overture in the Old Style, 1950; Colas Breugnon, 1951; Concerto for Orchestra, 1953; 4 Love Sonnets, 1956; Songs of Trouvères, 1963). His output is not homogeneous - he explored tonality (for example in 5 Songs, 1968; Elegeia, 1973; Variations in Rondo Form, 1978) but he also wrote 12-tone works (Cassazione per orchestra, 1956; String Quartet No. 1, 1957; Essays, 1958). He was a great melodist, and even those of his pieces which are in the most modern idioms, are dominated by a strong melodic element. I suppose it is because of that that I find the vocal and concertante works the best in his output. My favorite works of his are Głosy z oddali (Voices from Afar) for baritone and orchestra to texts by Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz (1981 - incidentally, one of his last completed works) and Goethe-Briefe - cantata for baritone, choir and orchestra (1970).

Also see the short article at USC (the discography is slightly outdated).

Sean

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Re: Tadeusz Baird (1928-1981)
« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2007, 10:30:58 PM »
Hi Maciek, I recorded the Piano concerto (1949 was it) from the radio, an early piece but very well constructed and full of rich textures. By Serocki I picked up the Romantic concerto (piano and orchestra) and by Krenz the Piano concertino- all figures I'd return to.

Offline jurajjak

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Re: Tadeusz Baird (1928-1981)
« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2007, 06:04:04 PM »
I like his Viola Concerto--the "Concerto Lugubre"--which, though lugubrious and anxious indeed, is also very emotional...I should return to this sometime.

I also have an odd recording (on Olympia) of his one-act opera "Tomorrow," which is a little under an hour.  I confess I only listened twice, and found it very difficult to get into.


Andrew

Offline Szykneij

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Re: Tadeusz Baird (1928-1981)
« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2007, 11:22:34 AM »
The only Baird I have in my collection is an excellent 2-CD set titled Dziela (Works) which contains a nice sampling of his vocal, chamber and symphonic output. It's a Polskie Nagrania recording I got on ebay a year or two back that I don't see listed on Amazon here. His string writing is masterful, particularly in his Suite in the Old Stlye for String Orchestra and Flute.
Men profess to be lovers of music, but for the most part they give no evidence in their opinions and lives that they have heard it.  ~ Henry David Thoreau

Don't pray when it rains if you don't pray when the sun shines. ~ Satchel Paige

springrite

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Re: Tadeusz Baird (1928-1981)
« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2007, 09:06:14 AM »

I also have an odd recording (on Olympia) of his one-act opera "Tomorrow," which is a little under an hour.  I confess I only listened twice, and found it very difficult to get into.


This is the only CD I have of his music, and I have the same reaction to "Tomorrow", although I like the shorter piece on that CD -- Psychodrama. Maybe being a psychologist has something to do with it. (I bought the CD because of the title of that piece).

Offline jurajjak

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Re: Tadeusz Baird (1928-1981)
« Reply #5 on: July 30, 2007, 03:29:03 PM »
Yes, I liked Psychodrama too...perhaps the brief running time (only about 10 minutes) makes it accessible.  I found this CD only by chance in a record store bargain bin; it was only 2 dollars.  The online site Berkeshire Record Outlet has been offering a CD of Baird's film scores, which I am tempted to buy.


Andrew

Offline Maciek

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Re: Tadeusz Baird (1928-1981)
« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2007, 12:42:14 PM »
Ahem. I must admit Jutro (Tomorrow) is probably one of Baird's least accessible pieces. And the fact that the Olympia release does not contain a libretto certainly does not enhance the enjoyment... ::)

Musically, it is very carefully constructed. It involves the employment of a loose serialist technique and an extended use of leitmotivs of various types. For instance certain characters are connected to certain pitches forming a sort of tonal backdrop for them (Jozue is usually accompanied by an A or D sound, Ozias by a G or D, Harry by a B [in Polish that's H!], and jESsica by an E flat [Es in Polish] or B). They are also associated with certain instruments or groups of instruments etc. It's all very intricate (certainly much more than it would seem from the above description). There are also some structural similarities between Jutro and Wozzeck. Perhaps the "sea" motive also brings it close to Peter Grimes. Certainly not an optimistic opera...

Psychodrama, OTOH, is an excellent piece with the additional merit of being a bit easier to grasp. I love it!

The other Olympia CD, the one with Voices from Afar, and Goethe-Briefe is certainly much better as a starter kit. Not to mention the 2CD set mentioned by Szykniej:


I have that film music CD too (one of 2 volumes, unfortunately I was too late to get the other one - BRO had it for a while too). I still haven't given it a good listen, so I can't really comment on it (yet).

Offline Maciek

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Re: Tadeusz Baird (1928-1981)
« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2007, 12:46:14 PM »
Oh, and if you click on the picture of the CD above, you'll get to a page where you can sample some samples! 8)

Offline Maciek

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Re: Tadeusz Baird (1928-1981)
« Reply #8 on: November 05, 2007, 02:11:28 PM »
Tadeusz Baird - Voices from Afar
performed by Jerzy Artysz and the Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Antoni Wit

http://www.mediafire.com/?0y21myg5yk1

Sample:
[mp3=200,20,0,left]http://www.fileden.com/files/2007/8/25/1381505/GMG%20sound%20samples/Baird%20Tadeusz%20Voices%20from%20Afar%20sample.mp3[/mp3]
« Last Edit: November 05, 2007, 02:20:10 PM by Maciek »

Offline Maciek

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Re: Tadeusz Baird (1928-1981)
« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2007, 04:54:23 AM »
Tadeusz Baird - Four Love Sonnets for baritone and orchestra
performed by Andrzej Hiolski and the Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Antoni Wit
http://www.mediafire.com/?3yekdcptydn

These are in fact four fragments taken from Baird's theatre music to Romeo and Juliet. It is a setting of four of Shakespeare's Sonnets: nos 23, 91, 56 and 97 (in that order). The text used is a Polish translation by Maciej Slomczynski (who translated Shakespeare's complete works into Polish). This cycle is one of those compositions where Baird's love for the music of past eras is clearly visible.

Sample here:
[mp3=200,20,0,left]http://www.fileden.com/files/2007/8/25/1381505/GMG%20sound%20samples/Baird%204%20Love%20Sonnets%20sample.mp3[/mp3]
« Last Edit: November 06, 2007, 04:57:56 AM by Maciek »

Lilas Pastia

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Re: Tadeusz Baird (1928-1981)
« Reply #10 on: November 09, 2007, 09:07:19 PM »
Ususally chips off the workbench, but Baird's film music (the Olympia disc) is pure magic, worthy of the best Rota.