Biography

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.

In 1975 Górecki was appointed Professor of Composition at the State Higher School of Music in Katowice, but resigned his post in 1979, in protest against the government’s refusal to allow Pope John Paul II to visit the city.

Górecki’s Symphony No. 3 ‘Symphony of Sorrowful Songs’, Op. 36 was used for the soundtrack of the 2001 HBO Film “Wit,” an adaptation of Margaret Edson’s play of the same name. It starred Emma Thompson and was directed by Mike Nichols.

Works
Four Preludes, Op. 1, (Piano), 1955
Three Songs, Op. 3, 1956
Sonata for Piano, Op. 6, (Violins), 1956
Songs for Joy and Rythm, Op.7, 1956
Sonata, Op. 10, 1957
Epitafium, Op. 12, (Choir and Instrumental), 1958
Symphony No. 1, Op. 14, (Strings and Percussion), 1959
Monologhi, Op. 16, (Soprano and three instrumental groups), 1960
Three Pieces in an Old Style, (String Orchestra), 1963
Genesis III, Op. 19, 1963
Choros I, Op. 20, (String Orchestra), 1963
Cantata for organ, Op. 26, 1968
Ad Matrem, Op. 29, 1971
Two Sacred Songs, Op. 30, 1971
Symphony No. 2 ‘Copernican’, Op. 31, 1972
Amen, Op 34, 1975
Symphony No. 3 ‘Symphony of Sorrowful Songs’, Op. 36, 1976
Beatus Vir, Op. 38, (Baritone, Choir and Orchestra), 1979
Miserere, Op. 44, (Choir a Cappella), 1981
O Domina Nostra, 1985
Totus Tuus, Op. 60, 1987
Good Night, Op. 63, 1990
Male Requiem Dla Pewnej Polki, Op 66, (Piano and Instruments), 1993
Niech Nam Zyja I Spiewaja, (Choir), 2000

Edited by CypheroN on 1 May 2014, 20:47

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Formed in
  • 1933
Split in
  • 2010
Founded in
  • Czernica, Silesia, Poland

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