Thursday, October 6, 2011

Variations on a Polish Theme

Karol Szymanowski (born October 6, 1882) was a Polish composer and pianist.

In the history of classical music, there is a strong focus upon the "Greats" of the tradition. That's as it should be, but it is nice to stop occasionally and take a listen to the music of the lesser accomplished masters. Their music may not have that special spark of genius, but, if it has authenticity and artistry, then it well worth our time and attention.

And so we'll celebrate the birth date of the Polish composer, Karol Szymanowski, born on this date in 1882 (although I've seen it listed as being October 3rd at some places.) I feel that his music is sadly overlooked. Yes, he wasn't a great innovator or paradigmatic of a style. However, he was an "explorer" of various trends within classical music of his era, from late Romanticism to Impressionism to Nationalism. His compositional style wandered through the turbulent influences of early 20th century, adapting and incorporating musical elements as fit his own interests.

Portrait of Karol Szymanowski (1930) by Witkacy

Therefore, let's appreciate his musical journeying. We can't all be geniuses, but we can honestly make the most of the talents which we have cultivated. I think Szymanowski's works fit that description.

Here's some music.


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