Henryk Górecki

Polish composer (1933–2010) / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Henryk Mikołaj Górecki (/ɡəˈrɛtski/ gə-RET-skee, Polish: [ˈxɛnrɨk miˈkɔwaj ɡuˈrɛt͡skʲi];[1] 6 December 1933 – 12 November 2010)[2][3] was a Polish composer of contemporary classical music. According to critic Alex Ross, no recent classical composer has had as much commercial success as Górecki.[4] He became a leading figure of the Polish avant-garde during the post-Stalin cultural thaw.[5][6] His Anton Webern-influenced serialist works of the 1950s and 1960s were characterized by adherence to dissonant modernism and influenced by Luigi Nono, Karlheinz Stockhausen,[7] Krzysztof Penderecki and Kazimierz Serocki.[8] He continued in this direction throughout the 1960s, but by the mid-1970s had changed to a less complex sacred minimalist sound, exemplified by the transitional Symphony No. 2 and the Symphony No. 3 (Symphony of Sorrowful Songs). This later style developed through several other distinct phases, from such works as his 1979 Beatus Vir,[9] to the 1981 choral hymn Miserere, the 1993 Kleines Requiem für eine Polka[10] and his requiem Good Night.[11]

Quick facts: Henryk Górecki, Born, Died, Era, Works...
Henryk Górecki
Górecki in 1993
Henryk Mikołaj Górecki

(1933-12-06)6 December 1933
Czernica, Silesia, Poland
Died12 November 2010(2010-11-12) (aged 76)
Katowice, Silesia, Poland
WorksList of works

Górecki was largely unknown outside Poland until the late 1980s.[12] In 1992, 15 years after it was composed, a recording of his Symphony of Sorrowful Songs with soprano Dawn Upshaw and conductor David Zinman, released to commemorate the memory of those lost during the Holocaust, became a worldwide commercial and critical success, selling more than a million copies and vastly exceeding the typical lifetime sales of a recording of symphonic music by a 20th-century composer. Commenting on its popularity, Górecki said, "Perhaps people find something they need in this piece of music [...] somehow I hit the right note, something they were missing. Something somewhere had been lost to them. I feel that I instinctively knew what they needed."[13] This popular acclaim did not generate wide interest in Górecki's other works,[14] and he pointedly resisted the temptation to repeat earlier success, or compose for commercial reward. Nevertheless, his music drew the attention of Australian film director Peter Weir, who used a section of Symphony No 3 in his 1993 film Fearless.

Apart from two brief periods studying in Paris and a short time living in Berlin, Górecki spent most of his life in southern Poland.