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A Polish Renaissance

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This text contains four biographical portraits of leading Polish composers of the 20th century - Andrzej Panufnik (1914-91), Witold Lutoslawski (1913-94), Krzystof Penderecki (b.1933) and Henryk Gorecki (b.1933) - with contextual considerations of their work. Each composer has a different creative approach despite a common national background. Key elements in that background are Poland's folk and art music; the Roman Catholic tradition; and the sequence of political regimes - Nazi, Communist and post-Communist - by which all were affected. For Penderecki and Gorecki (being of a younger generation) the music of Panufnik and Lutoslawski is also part of their shared experience. Against the background of the varied musical styles practised in the latter half of the 20th century - serialism and its clever incidental results, and on the other, the use of chance procedures, the "new simplicity" and minimalism - the author dramatizes the position of these four composers, showing how each rises above the musical movements with which they are habitually linked. Their individual lives and careers are also compared and contrasted in a series of "interfaces", and show their contribution to the revival of modern Polish music. This text is part of the 20th-century composers series, examining composers in a biographical context, and offering a comprehensive study of key figures in the creation of 20th-century music. None of the books in the series presume a knowledge of specialized terms or musical notation. Each book in the series features a list of works, a bibliography, and a discography.
Product Details

Table of Contents

Panufnik; interface 1; Lutoslawski; interface 2; Gorecki; interface 3; Penderecki; postface; list of works.

Promotional Information

The design for this series received a 1995 Award for Typographical Excellence from the New York Type Directors' Club.

About the Author

Bernard Jacobson was Artistic Director of the Residentie Orkest (Hague Philharmonic) from 1992 to 1994, and is widely published as an author and translator.


On the 20th Century Composers Series "As a series, Phaidon's 20th Century Composers has brought remarkable variety and a welter of information, both necessary and delightfully trivial. Intended both for the general reader and for the more enthusiastically musical."-The Scotsman

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