Updated: Nov 10, 2020
One of my most inspiring performances was when I performed two pieces by Mieczysław Karłowicz – Polish composer and conductor. At some point, when I was practising the pieces, I also got involved in discovering his personality and other aspects of his life. He was born in Wiszniew but travelled with his family to Heidelberg, Prague and Dresden where he took his first lessons and attended school classes but after those changes they moved to Warsaw in 1887. During this period he had his first attempts to compose pieces – there is one piece that was saved from that time – a piano piece, “Chant de mai”. He moved to Berlin to study violin with Joseph Joachim but, in the end, he found Heinrich Urban, his composition teacher. He also studies philosophy on Berlin University and, occasionally, would publish articles in student magazine “Music and Theatre Echoes”. He composed his first serious pieces such us “Serenade” for string orchestra and score for Jozef Nowinski drama, “White Dove”.
He started working on his symphony, “Resurrection (pol. Odrodzenie” which he decided to finish after coming back to Warsaw. He would conduct publishing activity to support modern Polish music, he created string orchestra in Warsaw and continued to compose. He wanted to become a conductor so he took a conducting course in Leipzig. In 1907 he settled down in Zakopane to be closer to mountains. His dead was caused by avalanche of snow. He dedicated himself to symphonic poem. He created six of them within five years. As a vocalist, I am also interested in his cantos written for poems of great Polish poets (e.g. Juliusz Slowacki, Adam Asnyk, Maria Konpnicka). I would like to introduce a translation to my favourite one: “Before the Eternal Night”:
Let me hear your voice before the eternal night Like a chant of hope in the time of dying And maybe then, beyond the silence of the grave The moon of resurrection will arise!
And if, crying over faded pupils, You will place your quiet hands like flowers, The grave will burn in fire and a hundred bolts, Crowns of immortal suns will douse me.
M. Karlowicz: Eternal songs
If you wish to know more about Polish musicians on the Pop music-type, do not miss the following two posts: