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Henryk Górecki


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Czernica, Silesia, Poland (1933 – 2010)

Henryk Mikołaj Górecki (born December 6, 1933 in Czernica, Silesia, Poland. Died 12 November 2010 in Katowice, Poland) was a Polish composer of classical music. Though his earlier work in the late 1950s and 1960s were characterised by a dissonant modernism influenced by Luigi Nono, Karlheinz Stockhausen and contemporaries Krzysztof Penderecki and Kazimierz Serocki, he moved in the mid 1970’s towards a ‘pure’ sacred minimalist sound encapsulated by the 1976 Symphony No. 3. Gorecki has since progressed through several distinct styles, from the reverence of Beatus Vir (1979), to the meditative Miserere (1981), to the spiritualism of Good Night (1990).

He was married to pianist Jadwiga Ruranska and has two children - Anna, also a pianist, and Mikołaj, a composer.

Attending the Katowice State Higher School of Music from 1952, Gorecki studied under the composer Bolesłav Szabelski, a former student of Karol Szymanowski. His first public performances were held in Katowice in February 1958, and showed clear influence from both Szymanowski and Bartók. By 1961 he had progressed to the modernism of Webern, Xenakis and Boulez and was at the forefront of the Polish avant-garde, with his Symphony No. 1 gaining international acclaim at the Paris Biennial Festival of Youth.

While continuing his studies in Paris, Górecki was influenced by contemporary composers such as Anton Webern, Olivier Messiaen and Karlheinz Stockhausen, composers which were at the time suppressed by the Polish government.


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