Who was Gorecki before he became Gorecki?

From this week’s Lebrecht Album of the Week:

Ever wonder what Henryk Mikolai Górecki did before he hit the jackpot with that million-selling third symphony?

The sage of Katowice never stuck to any doctrine or style, allowing himself to develop from modernism to minimalism and all points between….

Read on here.

And here.


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  • All those aural snapshots sound like someone being stuck, be it slowly-larmoyant or fast-primitive, no wonder he put his head into an eternally black hole of mourning:


    That this ‘jackpot’ got so popular is, it seems to me, because the music is so simplistic and answered a wide-spread need to feel bad.

    • Your comment is to negative to my humble opinion. I follow your point that this piece of music may appear as “primitive” or “simplistic” but this is not a profound argument for or against “good” music. By the way he composed he produced deepest feelings at the listeners. Isn’t this one important aspect of classical music? Isn’t this one of the major points when you argue against “tonal art”? While you were mentioning simplistic composition it reminded me of Richard Wagner’s introduction to Rheingold. E-flat major for several minutes (!). You may call this simplistic but to me this is one of the greatest musical introductions to an opera. (However, I do not want to compare Gorecki with Wagener – don’t get me wrong.)

      • It seems to me that it is the quality of those ‘deep feelings’ that matter. There is a difference between ‘expressive’ and ‘larmoyant’ (which is a form of sentimentality: aping expression). Music is aural psychology, and being ‘expressive’ is not enough in itself… And the prelude to the Ring is quite another matter: that bit is part of a bigger context and is not simplistic at all. The chord may be the same over a long stretch but the orchestral textures are subtle and complex, building-up tension in a most effective way.

    • Well, do I detect a hint of bitchiness and jealousy in your comment, in so far as Gorecki composed a piece that struck a chord with millions and often on a purely emotional level. Simplistic and naive you may call it, but it is music that at times touches the soul………..now tell us which piece of your music has such depth and appeal!
      And here is possibly the definitive version of the symphony, although I still carry a torch for the Dawn Upshaw version.

      • Often when people run-out of arguments, they stop discussing and try to resort to ad hominum attacks. So, any critique can only be motivated by professional resentment, envy, etc. etc. which means that no critique is critique. Such reactions exclude the author from any serious exchange.

        • Often when people are unwilling or unable to address the point in question they resort to so called intellectual bullshit, which indicates an unwillingness to engage, and hide behind a mask of their perceived superiority!

          • That’s what I often think here! Great to finally read it at a serious place. I’m always reluctant to ask him serious questions because the answers mostly send me up to the library to inspect the encyclopedia and dictionary which leads to serious delays of finishing all those letters.


  • If modern classical music were as interesting and inspiring as all pre-1950 classical music (from Palestrina to Bernstein), live orchestras and everything that goes with them would not be in grave danger of becoming extinct. 99% of post 1950 classical music is not worthy of a second hearing.

  • “…which US-born conductors would be candidates to fill the current vacancies at Minnesota, Detroit and elsewhere?”

    Minnesota has an opening? Osmo Antero Vänskä is under contract there, enjoys it, and is under contract until 2022 when he will be 69.

    Please clarify.

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