Born: 1933, Czernika, PolandDied: 2010, Katowice, Poland
“I think about my audience, but I am not writing for them. I have something to tell them, but the audience must also put a certain effort into it.”
As a youth Górecki had piano lessons, but he did not begin serious music studies until he was 21, at the Music Academy in Katowice, where he later taught. He quickly became a star in the post-war Polish avant garde, however, with premieres at Warsaw Autumn festivals. His early style was tough and often abrasive, but in the late 1960s he began moving towards a more reflective and modal music, influenced by peasant and liturgical devotional music. With its surface simplicity and consonant consolations, his Symphony No. 3 shocked audiences that were expecting something modernist at its premiere in 1976. His later music continued this interest in large-scale forms and modality, along with allusions to earlier music.
Further listening:Totus tuus (1987) Prague Philharmonic Chorus, John Nelson (Decca)String Quartet No. 3, “…songs are sung” (1995) Kronos Quartet (Nonesuch)