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Henryk Górecki

(1933—2010) Polish composer


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(b Czernica, Rybnik, 1933; d Katowice, 2010).

Polish composer. On leaving school in 1951, became primary school teacher. Began formal music studies in Rybnik, 1952. Rector of Katowice Cons. 1975–9. Won first prize at several composers' competitions. His Beatus Vir was first perf. at Kraków in 1979 on occasion of Pope John Paul II's visit to Poland. Górecki was among Polish composers who took advantage of relative ‘thaw’ in 1950s in relations with West and came to know mus. of Xenakis, Stockhausen, Nono, Messiaen, and others. But his own mus., initially influenced by Webernian serialism and later by clusters, has never made use of elec. instr. and has developed a highly individual style, going back for inspiration to 14th‐cent. Polish chants, to Palestrina's polyphony, and to the richness of the Wagnerian orch. His 3rd Sym. (1977) achieved worldwide popularity, perhaps because its reliance on modal and triadic structures and its preoccupation with slow tempos are in strong contrast to the dissonance of many contemp. works.

Subjects: Music.


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