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USC Monogram Polish Music Center Books
 

POLISH COMPOSERS

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Karol Szymanowski was born on October 3, 1882, on his family's estate in Tymoszówka (now Ukraine). He was raised in a strong musicial, conservative family. Szymanowski began his music education with his father and continued at Neuhaus's school in Elisavetgrad. In 1901 he went to Warsaw for more regular studies in music. From that year until 1904 he had private lessons with Zawirski for harmony and with Zygmunt Noskowski for counterpoint and composition. His creative output may be divided into four periods: early career, the World War I period, the 1920s, and 1930s. Early musical studies and activities in Warsaw date from 1901 until 1906 and include membership in a Society for Performing Contemporary Polish Music. During the years 1907-14 Szymanowski travelled extensively in Germany, Italy, France and England. In the years 1914 - 1917 he remained in Tymoszówka where he studied and composed with a renewed intensity. Unfortunately, in the fall of 1917 the Szymanowski's house was destroyed and the family moved to Elisavetgrad. For nearly two years Szymanowski exchanged music for literature. He wrote a long novel, Efebos, which was lost in the Warsaw fires of 1939. Towards the end of 1919 he settled in Warsaw. Together with his friends, violinist Pawel Kochański and pianist Artur Rubinstein, Szymanowski twice travelled to the USA by way of London in 1920-21, giving concerts that met with critical and popular success. During the years 1924-26 Szymanowski received increasing recognition at home, despite the opposition of conservative sections of musical society. He spent a lot of time in Paris, chiefly for the many performances of his compositions.

Szymanowski received many high distinctions and was appointed to numerous international societies. In 1927 he was offered the directorships of the conservatories of Cairo and Warsaw. He chose Warsaw, despite the much better terms of Egyptian invitation and the opportunity of living in a climate which would have benefited his health, threatened since early childhood by tuberculosis. Szymanowski saw the Warsaw post as an opportunity to re-invigorate Polish music education, neglected during the years of partition, and to form a new generation of Polish composers. The years 1927-29 were entirely taken up by his campaign to established a new model of training, to open wide horizons to the young and to provide them with a thorough knowledge of composition. He achieved his aim, but at a very high cost: these were years of creative stagnation and of great physical and nervous stress, which led to a serious crisis in his health. His pulmonary tuberculosis advanced seriously and he had to give up his duties and go to a sanatorium in Davos. There he remained for almost a year, writing a treatise, "The educational role of musical culture in society." The next two years (1930-31) were the period of his greatest stability, success and prosperity. He rented a house "Atma" in Zakopane. In 1930 he was appointed rector of the Warsaw Academy of Music and made an honorary doctor of Kraków's Jagiellonian University. He was elected to the highly select group of honorary members of the ISCM. The Stabat Mater brought him widespread renown, and in 1932 the opera King Roger was presented in Prague. In April 1936 he experienced his greatest popular success when his ballet Harnasie, which had received its premiere in Prague in the previous year, was presented at the Paris Opera and was highly praised by critics and public alike. He died shortly after a move to a sanatorium in Lausanne on 24 March, 1937.

SELECTED LIST OF WORKS

BULLETStage Works

The Lottery for Men, operetta in 3 acts - 1908-09
Hagith, opera in 1 act - 1913
King Roger, opera in 3 acts by K. Szymanowski and J. Iwaszkiewicz - 1918-24
Mandragora, pantomime in 3 scenes by R. Boleslawski and L. Schiller for symphony orchestra - 1920
Harnasie, ballet-pantomime in 3 acts by J. Iwaszkiewicz and J.M. Rytard - 1923-31
Prince Potemkin, music for chamber orchestra to the 5th act of drama by T. Micinski - 1925


Orchestral and Vocal Orchestral Works
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Concert Overture, in E major for symphonic orchestra - 1904-05
Symphony No. 1, in F minor - 1906-07
Salome, for soprano and orchestra - circa 1907
Penthesilea, for soprano and orchestra to text from S. Wyspianski's "Achilles" - 1908
Symphony No.2, in B flat major - 1909-10
Love Songs of Hafiz , for voice and orchestra - 1914
  • The Tomb of Hafiz
  • The Pearls of My Heart
  • Your Voice
  • Eternal Youth
  • Drinking Songs
Symphony No. 3 "Song of the Night", for tenor or soprano solo, mixed chorus and orchestra to words of the 13th century Persian poet and mystic, Jabal-al-din-Rum - 1914-16
Violin Concerto No. 1 - 1916
Demeter, cantata for alto solo, female choir and orchestra to poems of Z. Szymanowska - 1917
Agawe, cantata for alto solo, female choir and orchestra to text by Z. Szymanowska- 1917
Slopiewnie, for voice and orchestra to words of J. Tuwim - 1928
Stabat Mater, for solo voices, mixed choir and orchestra to text of medieval Latin sequences - 1925-26
Veni Creator, for soprano solo, mixed chorus, organ and orchestra - 1930
Litany to the Virgin Mary, 2 fragments for soprano, femail chorus and orchestra - 1930-33
Symphony No. 4 "Symphonie Concertante", for piano and orchestra - 1932
Violin Concerto No. 2 - 1933
Songs of a Fairy - tale Princess, for voice and orchestra - 1933
Songs of the Infatuated Muezzin, for voice and orchestra - 1934


Chamber Works
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Sonata, in D minor for violin and piano - 1904
Piano Trio, - 1907
Romance, in D major for violin and piano - 1910
Nocturne and Tarantella, for violin and piano - 1915
Mythes, 3 poems for violin and piano - 1915
  • Fountain of Arethusa
  • Narcissus
  • Dryads and Pan
String Quartet No. 1 - 1917
Three Paganini Caprices, for violin and piano - 1918
Lullaby "La berceuse d'Aitacho Enia", for violin and piano - 1925
String Quartet No. 2 - 1927


Songs and Choruses for voice and piano
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Six Songs, to poems of Kazimierz Tetmajer - 1900-02
  • The world has been left afar
  • You have not died
  • In the fog
  • Sometimes when half - dreaming
  • I heard you
  • The Pilgrim
Three Songs , to the poems of Jan Kasprowicz - 1902
  • Dear God
  • I am and I weep
  • Blessed be this moment
The Swan , to words of Wladyslaw Berent - 1904
Four Songs, to poems of Tadeusz Micinski - 1904-05
  • I am so sad
  • In an enchanted forest
  • Flying above me into the azure sea
  • Roar, o storm !
Five Songs, to German Poems (R. Dehmel, F. Bodenstedt, O.J. Bierbaum) - 1905-07
  • Voice in the twilight
  • Christkindleins Wiegenlied from the collection "Des Knaben Wunderhorn"
  • On the sea
  • Zuleikha
  • The Black Lute
Twelve Songs , to German poems (R. Dehmel, A. Mombert, G. Falke, M. Greif) - 1907
  • In early dawn
  • The Secret
  • Flirtations
  • In the night
  • Reflection
  • Foreshadow
  • After the storm
  • Disappointment
  • Lullaby
  • The Soul
  • Fragment Aflame
  • Night of Love
Six Songs , to poems of T. Micinski's cycle, "In the twilight of the stars" - 1909
  • On the dark moon
  • St. Francis speaks
  • The extraordinary scent of your golden hair
  • In my heart
  • From the singing halls of Mauritania
  • On the hollow reed
"Bunte Lieder" , to German poems (K. Bulcke, A. Paquet, E. Faktor, A. Ritter, R. Huch) - 1910
  • The hermit
  • Song of the maiden at the window
  • For little girls
  • Summer night's silver miracle
Love Songs of Hafiz, Hans Bethge's paraphrase of Arabian texts - 1911
  • Greeting
  • The Only Medicine
  • Flaming Tulips
  • Dance
  • The Love-sick Wind
  • Sad Spring
Songs of the Fairy-tale Princess, to the text by Zofia Szymanowska - 1915
  • Lonely Moon
  • The Nightingale
  • Golden Slippers
  • Dance
  • Song of the Wave
  • The Feast
Three Songs, to poems of D. Dawidow - 1915
  • Sunrise
  • Sky Without Stars
  • Autumn Sun
Four Songs , to text of R. Tagore from his cycle, "The Gardener" - 1918
  • My Heart
  • The Young Prince I
  • The Young Prince II
  • The Last Song
Songs of the Infatuated Muezzin , to words by J. Iwaszkiewicz - 1918
  • Allah, Allah, Akbar
  • O, my beloved
  • Barely the sun glistens on tower's roofs
  • At noon the city is white from the heat
  • At the hour when the city sleeps
  • You departed into the western desert
Two Basque Songs, to folksong texts - circa 1920
  • Beautiful moon
  • Beloved golden hair
Slopiewnie, 5 songs to words of J. Tuwim - 1921
  • Slowisien
  • Green words
  • St.Francis
  • The guelder - rose orchard
  • Wanda
Three Lullabies, to words by J. Iwaszkiewicz - 1922
  • Lean quietly over the crib
  • I sing to the sea, the stars and you
  • The white orb of the moon is enormous
Twenty Children's Rhymes, to poems of K. Illakowicz - 1922-23
  • Before falling asleep
  • How best to keep the hornet away
  • The dwelling
  • The little piglet
  • The little star
  • Wedding of the princess
  • The bumble bee and the beetle
  • Saint Christine
  • Spring
  • Lullaby of the dolls
  • The bullfinch and the magpie
  • Sadness
  • Visit with the cow
  • Chris's Lullaby
  • The Cat
  • The doll's lullaby
  • The mice
  • Bad Moses
  • Lullaby of the bay horse
  • The craven starling
Four Songs, to poems of J. Joyce - 1926
  • Gentle lady
  • Sleep now
  • Lean out of the window
  • My dove, my beautiful one
Vocalise - etude - 1928
Kurpie Songs, for chorus - 1928-29
Kurpie Songs - 1930-33


Piano Works
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Nine Preludes - 1900
Four Studies - 1902
Variations, in B flat minor - 1903
Sonata No. 1, in C minor - 1904
Variations on a Polish folk theme, in B minor - 1904
Fantasy, in C major - 1905
Prelude and Fugue - 1905
Sonata No. 2, in A major - 1911
Metopes, three poems for piano - 1915
  • Isle of mermaids
  • Calipso
  • Nausicaa
Twelve Studies - 1916
Masques, three pieces for piano- 1916
  • Scheherazade
  • Tantris the Buffoon
  • Don Juan's Serenade
Sonata No. 3 - 1917
Twenty Mazurkas - 1924-25
Four Polish Dances - 1926
Two Mazurkas - 1933-34

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PMC Home Page Composers


Copyright 1999-2013 by the Polish Music Center

Send your comments and inquiries to: polmusic@usc.edu
Page updated May 21, 2013 by K. Close.

Based on Encyklopedia Muzyki (Warsaw: PWM, 1995)
and The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (1980).
Edited in July 2000 by Ewa Grzegrzulka. Updated on 9 October 2009.