Music, Mourning, and War

Maria Cizmic

in Performing Pain

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199734603
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918546 | DOI:
Music, Mourning, and War

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This chapter examines Henryk Górecki’s Symphony No. 3, “Symphony of Sorrowful Songs,” and the ways in which it engages historical memory by referencing numerous traumatic events that shaped Poland’s national identity. Culminating with the unprecedented success of the 1992 Nonesuch recording, the case of Górecki’s symphony demonstrates how a musical work can bear witness to trauma both through formal and aural features and its reception. On the one hand, many of the symphony’s musical elements resonate with the psychological experience of grief. On the other, music proves to be capable of providing an affective response to a range of different events—a 1993 film for British television directed by Tony Palmer juxtaposes the Third Symphony with a visual catalog of 20th-century atrocities.

Keywords: Henryk Górecki; Symphony No. 3; trauma; mourning; grief; memory; Poland; WWII; Holocaust; quotation

Chapter.  15113 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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