The missing voice in Polish music is female

The missing voice in Polish music is female


norman lebrecht

February 07, 2020

From the Lebrecht Album of the Week:

The missing voice in modern Polish music is female. At the time of her early death, aged 59, in 1969, two contemporaries of Grazyna Bacewicz, Lutoslawski and Penderecki, were world famous and two others, Panufnik and Gorecki, were laying down tracks for the future. Poland punched well above its weight on the musical map, yet Bacewicz, alive or after, was barely heard….

Read on here.

And here.

This is a singularly clever album cover, crossing images of the composer and the soloist.


  • R. Brite says:

    I very much liked her Piano Quintet No. 1 at the Proms last year.

  • Bob Oxley says:

    It is a gift that Bacewicz’ music is becoming more available . In particular, her String Quartets, recorded by the Silesian SQ , are outstanding. From what I read I get the impression she was no shrinking violet.

    • I agree! My music festival, Bard Music West, featured her and her music as our theme this past October in a festival titled “Grażyna Bacewicz and Her World.” She was a truly wonderful composer and fascinating person who never hesitated to express her opinion on anything and everything. Her letters are particularly delightful and filled with sarcasm, wit, and strongly held views. Some are published online here by the Polish Music Center at University of Southern California -

  • David K. Nelson says:

    Many years ago – many decades ago I should say – there was a weekly radio program here in Milwaukee called Pro Arte Polonica, that was entirely Polish classical music. The host, a Mr. Romanski, was Polish and obviously had access to pretty much the complete Muza/Polskie Nagrania catalog, and much else besides, including performance tapes. There was remarkably little Chopin or Wieniawski on that show. I recall hearing a fair amount of Bacewicz’s music (which I suspect was more to the host’s tastes than Lutoslawski or Penderecki). But in point of fact, there is much Polish music, from earlier eras to more modern, which is a closed book to most of us, apart from the few famous names. And based on that radio program, Polish performers who also had no reputation in the west comparable to their skills.

    I wonder who got his record collection.

    So it is not just the female Polish composers who are under-known. If you can track it down, the Olympia label had a CD called The Polish Violin, and Bacewicz’s Violin Concerto No. 7 (7!) was one of the highlights. But so is the Krzysztof Meyer Concerto op. 12, a remarkable work, so again I think it is important to put any ignorance of Polish composers in context. (And the violinist in the recording, Roman Lasocki, is excellent and he too deserved more attention). I think it is the Polishness as much as the gender that seems to be the problem, except for that handful of names, and we music lovers are the poorer off for it.

  • Rob Keeley says:

    A wonderful composer: 4th Violin Concerto is terrific, and everything else I’ve heard is never less than gripping.

  • And here’s another album (I’m in it, so modesty forbids…):