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Born: 1882, Tymoszówka, UkraineDied: 1937, Lausanne, Switzerland

“Let our music be national in its Polish characteristics, but not falter in striving to attain universality. Let it be national, but not provincial.”

While Szymanowski’s early works owed much to the influences of his countryman Chopin and Richard Strauss, his middle period found him discovering the music of the French Impressionists; his works from this time are a balance of these lush harmonies and soundscapes coupled with the traditional structure of Germany’s late Romanticism. Personal events following Poland’s October Revolution of 1917 severely affected Szymanowski’s ability to compose. From 1921-1927, in response to a healing political and personal climate, Szymanowski was able to compose anew, this time finding inspiration in the folk melodies of his country, creating a fresh national awareness in some of the greatest compositions of his life.

Further listening: Symphony No. 3, “Song of the Night” (1914-1916) Jon Garrison, Peter Thomas, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Rattle (EMI Classics)