Polish Music Journal
Vol. 6, No. 2, Winter 2003. ISSN 1521 - 6039

"Composing is a Terribly Personal Matter":
Henryk Mikołaj Górecki in Conversation with Maja Trochimczyk

(Katowice, April 1998)
translated by Maja Trochimczyk [1]

Górecki in his Katowice studio, filled with religious folk art.
Photo by Maja Trochimczyk, April 1998. See its larger image.

Maja Trochimczyk: Thank you for agreeing to talk to me today. I have a lot of questions to ask. Where shall we start?

Henryk Górecki: I would like to share with you my excitement about a true musical revolution. Grzegorz Michalski first told me about this discovery which was announced during a small musicology session in Warsaw. During the session, Jan Węcowski - I'm sure you know him - revealed a bit about the mystery that he is working on.[2] In his study he proves that Chopin used Polish religious church songs in his works. I called him up and talked to him on the phone. He confirmed that - and I quote - "Chopin arranges old Polish church songs." But this has never been mentioned before! Never, in no books! Of course, we know about his use of the Christmas carol, "Lulajże Jezuniu," but this is just the beginning. I have never seen anything like it and I have seen a lot of research on Chopin; I have a lot of books. Nobody mentions it. But if this is true, and it has to be true, because Węcowski is a serious fellow and knows what he's doing - then we have a true Chopin revolution. Węcowski told me: "Do you know what a tragic character Chopin really was?" Of course, we know all the cliches, all the banalities about the revolutionary etude, the struggle, the uprising, the bayonets. . . This is a 90 percent martial matter. We have attached this image of a revolutionary patriot to Chopin. At the same time we have this image of Chopin as a "ladies' man" who sits at his instrument and reflects about the lost Poland and does nothing really. All these obertas, kujawiaks, are nice, but nothing more than nice. But if you could prove that he actually used church songs, that have texts that mean something, not only the folk mazurkas, but also the expressions of folk spirituality, then we see how Chopin returned to the foundations, to the roots from which all the music grows.

Similarly you have Szymanowski using the material from Skierkowski's collection.[3] You know, if it weren't for Skierkowski, if it weren't for the Kurpian music, this Szymanowski would be very poor. In the end he found the material that he had been searching for. And Skierkowski helped him a lot with that. He went beyond górale music which is somewhat one-dimensional. It is rich, do not misunderstand me, but it is one-dimensional. One or two melodies suffice to give the whole technical image of this music. In contrast, Kurpian music is built from melodies, melo-structures based on intervals. It is much more complicated and it is certainly not accidental that Szymanowski turned his ear, so to speak, towards this region.

But we have to know that church songs are 90 percent folk songs. These are folk songs that were created over centuries: at first there were old plainchant melodies, already adjusted to the needs of the people. The pastor sang his music and the people listening to him transformed the music in their way. They wrote new texts, etc. It is also interesting that Węcowski is going to publish a Dictionary of Polish Church Songs simultaneously with his study on Chopin. Most probably a lot of these songs were already forgotten. Therefore, for me it is completely different. Or, not completely different. It is the Chopin revolution.

MT: How so? Why is it so important?

HMG: It is a revolution because the whole mystery of Chopin's craftmanship, of Chopin's music - of this amazing genius is - now explained. You know that geniuses do not fall from the sky. The fact that you have hearing, that you have memory is good, but it is not enough. . . Something else is needed for me to be "myself."
MT: Personality?

HMG: Yes, Chopin - who learned how to move his fingers quickly over the keyboard - had a good memory: he knew almost all music, he was sensitive, attentive, erudite, but that was not all, that was not enough. He knew all the piano literature, but in order to be "Chopin" he had to do something special within himself, inside himself. These sounds were in his mind; one person would say that they were in his heart, someone else that they were in his head. Composers are like that. Somewhere within us the music sounds, we are surrounded by these sounds. But what would one do with all that music? This is an incredible truth, an incredible discovery. It is clear that it was filtered through his education, his knowledge but that there was the source for his melodies. There is no other melody like Chopin's.

MT: It is often said that Chopin's melody is derived from the opera, especially from Bellini.

HMG: But it has nothing to do with Bellini! Look: Chopin's harmony naturally develops from his melodies. Just look how different he is from his contemporaries: Hummel, Spohr, Field. There are lots of them, but he is different. But he did not fall down from heaven here, he did not come out of nowhere. He knew the music literature. He had to know it. He collected all these new things and distilled them into his harmonic language. Bach also collected and distilled the religious music of his time. Chopin alone collected Polish songs. After Chopin it was all over. After Chopin one could not go further along the same path, because he did it with such genius. There were many other composers in his time: Kalkbrenner, Field... Hummel will remain Hummel, Bellini will remain Bellini. . . But Chopin's music was not about Bellini! This is a half-truth that someone heard somewhere and which keeps recurring. But they do not repeat that Chopin played and remembered Bach's fugues and preludes until the end of his life. Nobody talks about the fact that once, after a concert he gave his favorite student the score of Beethoven's Fidelio, not Bellini. He bought this score for his student, so, he knew what Fidelio was. He also knew what Bach's fugues were. Now, consider this: Bach's head was also filled with his protestant chorales and with his own church songs. You can see it everywhere, every note of Bach's music stems from this source, not from the music of other composers that surrounded him. And now let us look at Chopin: It is truly amazing to discovered that he did the same thing as Bach, that he turned to his own religious folk songs for sources of material, for inspiration. I am very grateful to Jan Węcowski for his work on Chopin's use of Polish church songs. I regard musicological studies of this kind highly, studies that I can take and use, studies that teach me something.

Interestingly, I was often annoyed with Węcowski in the past. He publishes a lot of material on religious music and I know his work quite well. I often teased him because when he edited songbooks, he selected the first, third or fifth strophes and omitted the second, fourth or sixth strophes. It upset him: but if you publish a song like that, why can't you print all the strophes of the text? I remember the times when one was not allowed to use "anatomical" terms in church songs. For instance, the Mother of God could not have breasts in such a song, the word "breast" had to be removed. But as a Mother was she really without breasts? How did she feed the baby Jesus, I ask? Other deletions in the songbooks were of simple folk expressions that were deemed unsuitable for publication by the editor. There are many enemies of simple folk poetry, people who hate simple, regular rhythms and call them "rymy częstochowskie."[4] The term is derogatory and means poetry of no literary merit and very simplistic form and it refers to Częstochowa, where the Marian cult is expressed in a variety of popular religious songs with texts of this kind. But why should one apply such literary criteria to folk expressions of piety? Do these critics want old beggars who panhandle in Częstochowa to recite the poetry of Miłosz or Mickiewicz, or Norwid? I thought about it for a long time. It has to be that way: the old beggar is no more than an old beggar, the singing church hag is nothing else but a singing church hag... If you read Mickiewicz's The Forefathers and notice what the old people sing in the Lithuanian cemetery, you realize that this folk song is nothing but doggerel. But it all depends on how this poetry is used. Mozart also had texts that were true doggerel and he was able to compose phenomenal operas to such horrid libretti. If you also write bad music, everything is wrong. But if you, as a composer, are able to distill from the folk songs, from this doggerel what is the most important in them, then you may create something of lasting value. Therefore, it is very important how the folk material is used, not cited, but used as raw material for the creation of the work. Chopin did not like quotations, but was able to use musical material from religious folklore as a source for his works. Węcowski claims that traces of these songs may be found in such diverse pieces as preludes, etudes, and mazurkas. Even in the nocturnes in G Major or in E-flat Major there are so-called chorale sections that should be called plainly and simply church songs.

MT: I can see that you are very enthusiastic about this issue. Perhaps you find it so important because that is what you do yourself: you use old Polish church songs as source material for your music. Let me ask the next question about Bogurodzica. Did you know it from church liturgy? Is there a moment when you learned about this song? I heard it first in my music history classes, but it was also sung in St. Martin's Church in Warsaw by the Franciscan Sisters. Did you sing it in the church? Did you learn it in live practice or from the books?

HMG: In my neighborhood, where I was growing up in Silesia, this song was not known. I never heard it in the church in those early years. I learned it during my music studies, I read about it in books and articles, the study by Hieronim Feicht, the volume edited by Woronczak that you see over there on my shelf. These were my sources.[5]

MT: But even Siedlecki's Church Songbook,[6] so popular before the war and repeatedly reprinted, includes a version of Bogurodzica. . .

HMG: Yes, but Siedlecki was not so popular in my neighborhood, in my youth. I do not recall having ever heard it in church.

MT: So why did you grow so attached to it and why did you use it in so many works?

HMG: Somehow. Even in St. Adalbert [Salve Sidus Polonorum][7] there is a lot of Bogurodzica, but it is transformed there, used my way. Let me put it this way: I do not like to create elaborate theories about this. I have come across this melody and liked it a lot; I liked the text, I liked the melody, I liked this song as a historical document, a proof of how ancient Polish culture really was.

MT: What was more important for you in this hymn: the text or the music?

HMG: It depends, sometimes the sounds, at other times, the words. It depends on what I wanted to use. But I remember only one thing, that I was annoyed with the existence of so many different versions of this song, both the text and the music: so many manuscripts, so many versions. I know that there are many different editions, different copies, that it is so ancient that we really do not even know who wrote it. Some people even claim that St. Adalbert wrote it and that he composed "Chwała Tobie Gospodzinie" - a Czech song. If he could write that one, he could also write Bogurodzica. But, because of the different versions, one cannot even be certain if what one has is the real hymn, or a distortion. What is important in this song for me is its melodic contour, its pitches, not its rhythms or durations. The sounds could be sustained for longer or shorter intervals, there was no stable rhythm in the notation. I have all the different versions gathered in my book on Bogurodzica. Knowing this material, I wanted to allude to it, but not cite extended fragments from it. It is so characteristic and so well known that it would be hard to place it in a new musical context. There is the major second and the fourth at the beginning; these intervals are so obvious.

MT: Many composers have quoted it, though: Andrzej Panufnik in Sinfonia Sacra (1963), Wojciech Kilar in Bogurodzica (1975), Marta Ptaszyńska in Conductus, A Ceremonial for Winds (1982). . .[8]

HMG: For me it is too serious a matter to make it into a sort of easily recognizable musical sign, almost a joke. It is a great thing and we should leave this song alone the way it is. It is an incredible, fantastic historical document. Only let us consider the following question: Whose document is it? Is it ours? Is it from Poland? We know that it was used and sung during the battle of Grunwald. But what if it turns out that the song itself is of German-Bohemian origin? What if we borrowed it? Would it be good or bad to find out? So I think that these political uses of the song are dubious; they are more political games than valuable artistic artefacts.

MT: This issue is highly politicized in the Grunwald battle scenes in The Teutonic Knights where the Polish and Lithuanian forces sing Bogurodzica while the Teutonic Knights respond with Christ ist erstanden and both songs clash.

HMG: In the novel by Sienkiewicz or in the film by Ford? [9]

MT: Sienkiewicz cites Bogurodzica, but the clash of two religious songs, addressed to Christ and his Mother appears only in the film. However, according to historians, Grunwald was not the only battlefield where Bogurodzica was sung. It was also heard during the battle at Varna, where Polish prince Władysław IV (Vladislaus IV) was defeated and killed by the Ottoman army. It was also used on more ceremonial occasions. Jan Łaski placed it at the beginning of the Statutes of the Polish Kingdom and it was also sung during the crowning ceremonies of the Jagiellonian dynasty. It appeared in many contexts, but it was transformed into a military hymn in Sienkiewicz's novel. This image was later referred to by such composers as Panufnik and Kilar.

HMG: Right. But I do not like it. For me it is a song about the Mother of God. It is not a martial song, but one can use it for just about anything. Why can't it be a funereal song? It could be used the way the Stabat Mater is used. It is a wonderful church song, a religious song. Why can't we find another patriotic song in its place? Here, let me return to the main subject of our conversation: what religious songs did Chopin absorb from the church? You have to admit that he was a tragic man, not some atheistic bozo, even though he did not often participate in liturgical practices. He was born here, had parents here, lived here in Warsaw. Here he was formed before he left. I cannot believe that he then dreamed and remembered only folk dances and folk ensembles ["kapele"]. He had to remember also church songs. How could he leave without taking these songs with him, at least in his memory? I have these songbooks at home. But, I am sorry to say, as a society, we really neglect this repertoire. We forget about it. Why are these songs not published? So, if Chopin took this folk poetry and music from Kujawy, Mazowsze, he also took with him the religious songs of his youth. He was not deaf! He played organ in the church. He attended services as a student. And these songs have remained in the church repertoire until today.

I remember now my conversations with Bolesław Szabelski. In the 1950s and 1960s, at a festival we heard a piece in which Bogurodzica was played with the banging of drums, with the screaming of trumpets. For me it was a cheap effect. This melody is so characteristic that its appearance in the music is too obvious. I believe that we should leave it for special occasions. Instead, let us use individual sounds and intervals from this melody. If you play the note "D," then you really want to play "C" - and with these two sounds you already have the beginning of Bogurodzica. It is obvious for us, Poles. Then, if you add the third and fourth note "F" and "E" - now it becomes so clear that it is no longer Bogurodzica, but an apparition.

MT: Are the initial intervals the most important, then? Adrian Thomas finds the initial motive of Bogurodzica in numerous fragments of your music.

HMG: I have not read his book yet, it was not translated into Polish. I discovered the motive that Adrian calls the "Skierkowski turn" - it is one of the most beautiful melodies that exist. It appears in Szymanowski's music, too, but I took it from somewhere else. There is a little book called "Melodie Puszczy Kurpiowskiej" by Antonina Woraczyńska. [10] It is a very beautiful book, but it is too short, it only reveals the tip of the iceberg. . . We should do more than that, we should publish the whole Skierkowski collection, which is filled with amazing melodies. I love, for instance a song called Boże obiady [God's dinners]; it is amazingly beautiful and funereal at the same time. While composing the Third Symphony I was looking for a theme, for a very long theme. I had this idea: to use not a short little theme, but a really long one, even longer than the longest subject in a fugue. This theme was to serve as the basis for the canon at the beginning. Therefore I decided to use a religious song; I thought that perhaps a whole song could provide the theme for my canon. So I looked, and looked, and looked. . . Naturally, I needed a particular structure for the theme so I browsed through all these collections for a long time. Finally, I found the songbook by Woraczyńska and noticed these fascinating melodic "turns," with a minor third and a fourth.

MT: A similar motive appears in Bogurodzica, only there it is inverted. . .

HMG: Yes, but I did not cite Bogurodzica here. I did a lot of research while preparing the theme for the Symphony and this is where I found it. I call it the "Kurpian motive." This does not mean that I simply quoted the whole, unchanged melody from Kurpian folklore. Not at all. I composed it myself in this way. Why not? Szymanowski did this, so can I! I should make it clear here that this is not a folksong, but a melody that I composed on the basis of all the references that I reviewed, all the church songs that I studied. I wanted to construct a true folk "church song" and it seems to me that I succeeded in this task.

MT: There are similar motives at the beginning of the Symphony No. 2.

HMG: You know, I really, really like these thirds and seconds. I think these intervallic relationships have a great potential, you can invert them and still recognize the motives. I based a whole massive section in St. Adalbert on Bogurodzica, but it is presented only by instruments. There is one additional reason for citing this hymn in the oratorio: St. Adalbert was considered the author of this hymn. In my work the melody emerges in a pretty natural way. It starts from a sixth and gradually appears in the texture of the music. I was always opposed to straightforward, obvious quotations. Bogurodzica is Bogurodzica and will remain this way. Using it in its entirety as a quotation seems to be almost blasphemous. It is cheap, it is banal. The same effect could be created with another song, why waste Bogurodzica?

MT: Is the piece completed already?

HMG: It is still in manuscript. It is going to be premiered in June 1999 during the visit of the Holy Father to Bydgoszcz. During this trip he will stop in Toruń, Łowicz, Gdańsk, Częstochowa, Kraków. . . I still have to write a letter to His Holiness, because this oratorio is the second part of the whole cycle. The first part was Beatus vir which I wrote when he became the Pope. The second part is St. Adalbert, the third will be about St. Jadwiga [Hedwig]. I would like to have a whole cycle of Polish saints. At first I wanted to start with martyrs, but then I changed my mind. The fourth part will be about St. Maksymillian Maria Kolbe. The fifth part will be about all saints, from Vespers, with the title "Święci Twoje Pana zakwitną" [Your Saints, O Lord, Will Blossom]. This is a wonderful title, again with doggerel rhymes. St. Jadwiga's oratorio will last for half an hour, St. Adalbert for an hour. It will be very long, I do not know if you would be able to play the whole cycle in one night, who would survive that.

MT: Perhaps, you could divide the cycle into several concerts. . .

HMG: Perhaps. We'll see how it turns out as a whole. However, the cycle has to have an overall form, I envision it in the outline of a massive symphony.

MT: Does it mean, then, that Beatus vir, the first movement, is the equivalent of a symphonic Allegro?

HMG: Yes, and St. Adalbert is the Adagio. I do not yet know what St. Jadwiga will be.

MT: Perhaps she should be a dancer, it is time for a scherzo. . .

HMG: Perhaps I could have five movements in the way Shostakovich arranged them in his String Quartet No. 15. That is: Adagio, Adagio, Adagio, Adagio. . . I could do it that way, too.

MT: I would like to ask you now about O Domina nostra.[11] What type of "victory" do you refer to when you call the Mother of God "Victoriosa" in this work? Is this "victory" in the extra-temporal, spiritual dimension?

HMG: She is "Victoriosa" because she is from the Bright Mount, Jasnogórska. But stop these questions. It is an illness, or something: you would want to know so much. But I will not tell you everything, other than it was a very definite piece composed for a definite occasions. I consider this work as being extremely difficult. I am afraid as to whether I will be able to find singers, if I'll be able to find two musicians who would want to do what is there to be done.

MT: Is it because the music is so slow?

HMG: Yes, it is slow, but you could perform anything if you wanted to. The whole trick is in the organ part. I did not provide registration for it, perhaps later I will add these markings. But everything in this work is so simple, it seemed to me that a good organist would be able to intuitively recognize the intention of the composer and chose the proper registers for the various sections of this piece. I started composing it in the year celebrating the 600th anniversary of the shrine. Our Lady of the Bright Mount was a national symbol for us for so many centuries. Whether one likes it or not, the whole history of the Black Madonna is a great thing. It is fantastic and dramatic in every respect.

MT: I would like to change the subject now and talk about your idea of human motherhood. In my study of the Third Symphony I referred to the concept of the lullaby, the slow, soothing, rocking motion implied in its rhythm, the comforting character of the song that brings tranquility and rest.

HMG: If I wanted to say something wise about it, I would not want to explore technical aspects of the lullaby's rhythm. It is a lullaby whether it is in 3/4 or 4/4 or 6/8 or even 9/8. A lullaby is not the rhythm by itself, a lullaby is the emotional quality that the rhythm and melody create with the words . . . I wrote three Lullabies as a set. For one I used a text from Kolberg, the texts for the other two I found in a little book. The lullaby "Uśnij, że mi uśnij" [Sleep, for me, sleep] has a lot of versions.[12] I wanted to use two strophes of the text. I have all the details in my notes.

MT: But I do not want you to talk about these details now, but about the "idea" of the lullaby as it appears in other works, not just in "Lullaby" settings.

HMG: This is a form that interests me more as an inspiration. I do not know how not to name it. It is not what is outside, but what is inside What is a lullaby? It starts from a relationship between the mother and the child, could be the father and a child. . . There is always a child and a parent, male or female. And what else? These are, if one were to define them, the most wonderful, tranquil moments of human life. When singing the lullaby, there is no teaching, no discipline. . . It is the most happy, blissful moment between the parent and the child. This is it and this is what I am interested in, not in particular rhythms, motives and so forth.

MT: There is very little happiness and tranquility of this kind in Ad matrem.[13] While studying this work I introduced the images of the process of childbirth and an awakening from a nightmare. Do you think I was right? Could one find such imagery in your music?

HMG: Neither childbirth, nor nightmares. You are going too far. I do not want to create legends associated with my music. It is obvious that everyone will have certain images, that there is no such thing as pure, absolute abstraction. So there are various associations that emerge while listening to music. For me it was my life. My case was very tragic, very dramatic. This is where it comes from. It seems to be a different thing when you hear someone saying: "His mother died" and when they say: "A young girl died." But my mother was a young girl when she died: what is 26 years? Then, there were all these tragedies I lived through: the broken family, no home, illnesses, the war. . . Everything was superimposed in my memory. This is my experience. . . I composed this piece in 1971. Mikołaj was born on 1 February that year and was three months old when I went for my kidney operation, one in a series, to the same hospital where my mother died. I am sure staying in that hospital that May brought all these thoughts back to life. Her death was a tragedy, an unexplained, mysterious tragedy. I searched for information about it for years, I found some partial documents, memoirs of family members, vague recollections. . .

MT: This is why Ad matrem sounds so tragic.

HMG: Yes, but as I said, I do not want to create a legend for this work. I started composing from the central section, based on Bach's Prelude in E-flat minor. Later I wrote the introduction with all these "biological" elements, with the heartbeat of the mother, the first cry of the newborn, and so forth. I wanted to write this kind of a piece and I did it. That is all. I have to say that I wrote this piece without a conscious effort to express my feelings about parenthood. But whether conscious or subconscious, these ideas are still there. It is a reference to Stabat Mater but the roles are reversed here: not the mother, but the son is standing under the cross. . . You know, I have this ideal image of my mother. You should also know that she really wanted to become a nun. But enough of that.

MT: You mention the "biological" sphere here. Let me change the subject to other ideas borrowed by composers from nature. Bartók was fascinated with the golden section and its manifestations in shells, cones, sunflowers, etc. Did you do anything of this kind?

HMG: I was always fascinated by it and liked reading about Bartók, but during my youth when I was interested in this subject there were no books in Polish about him. I remember reading an article in Ruch Muzyczny about his work, but it was rather superficial. By the time Zieliński wrote his huge study of Bartók[14] I had stopped being interested in him in that sense. I was fascinated with the golden section, with the series of proportions summarized by the Fibonacci series: you know, the relation of three to five, then eight to thirteen, and so forth. When using these proportions in my works I sometimes counted the measures and sometimes the rhythmic values. I do not have the notes here, but for every work I made descriptions of its structure that included such numbers.

MT: These notebooks would be a gold mine for researchers.

HMG: Yes, but I am not sharing my secrets. At the end of my life the first thing I will do while I am still able to walk is to burn all of this material. I understand the musicologists, I know that it is important for them. But for me it is such a personal matter: The ordering of material, deciding upon a method of structuring a new piece. Serialism is just one of the many possibilities. I invent my own order and this is how I work.

MT: You did go through a serial period yourself, though, so your method was not always that different.

HMG: In the past I invented and worked out detailed frameworks for my pieces. I had everything prepared and described before the work was composed. This started when the First Symphony; also in Scontri, Monologhi, Elementi I introduced different ways of structuring the pieces. Later I just knew - I had a technique and then other ideas came in. Composing is a terribly personal matter: the overcoming of difficulties, gaining knowledge, deciding upon a certain order, a certain method of constructing a new piece. This is important. You have to chose your way, you have to pick a proper path from an infinite number of possibilities.

MT: Are you saying that all of these works are based on the golden section?

HMG: No, the technique differs from one work to another. I come up with many different ways of structuring my compositions. Let me put it this way: you scholars would want to know too much. Of course it is important to know how a piece is constructed and how it was made. But later this mechanism, this architecture ceases to be all important; the composer thinks about the forms that the music should be "poured into." Thus, you could reverse the order between the structure and the music. On the one hand, you invent the form and the construction for the whole work; on the other hand, you begin with the music that could be written down and structured in different ways. What I am trying to say is that music begins with sound. It is always based on some musical association, a musical theme or a structure. Now it is fashionable to say that there are no themes, but they continue to exist. At times I even treated a 12-tone series as a theme. When composing I always begin with introducing some order. I have many things prepared much, much earlier when I actually begin to compose a piece. In this way I have researched and analyzed the possibilities provided by my materials. However, many pieces that I have worked on have never been finished. I only ordered the materials without composing them out into pieces. It is very important for composers to think these ideas through. If Chopin did not think through and consider all his options, he would not have been able to compose any music. Schubert, Beethoven. . . There would be nothing. You have to create an order in your work, you have to start from order.

But we have to end now, your three hours are up.

MT: Thank you very much for sharing with me some of your secrets.

Górecki with Maja Trochimczyk, Katowice, April 1998. See its larger image.


[1]. Interview recorded on two 90 minute cassette tapes, transcribed by Adrianna Lis and Blanka Sobuś, translated by Maja Trochimczyk. [Back]

[2]. Jan Węcowski's article, "Religious Folklore in Chopin's Works," was published in Polish Music Journal 2, nos. 1-2 (1999), online. [Back]

[3]. Władysław Skierkowski, Puszcza Kurpiowska w pieśni [Songs from the Kurpie Forest], 2 vols. (Płock: Wyd. Tow. Naukowego Płockiego, 1928-1934). [Back]

[4]. "Rymy częstochowskie" [Rhymes of Częstochowa] is the Polish name for "doggerel" poetry of very low artistic quality and extreme simplicity of form. The term is associated with religious folksongs sung at the shrine of Our Lady of the Bright Mount in Częstochowa. [Back]rymy czestochowskie

[5]. Jerzy Woronczak, Bogurodzica (Wrocław: Zakład Narodowy im. Ossolinskich, 1962); Hieronim Feicht, "Bogurodzica," in Hieronim Feicht, Studia nad muzyką polskiego średniowiecza [Studies in the Music of the Polish Middle Ages] (Kraków: Polskie Wydawn. Muzyczne, 1975). [Back]

[6]. Jan Siedlecki, ed., Śpiewnik kościelny z melodjami na dwa głosy [Church Songbook with Melodies, for two Voices] (Lwów-Kraków-Paris: Missionary Fathers, 1928). [Back]

[7]. Salve Sidus Polonorum, Op. 72 for chorus and ensemble was composed in 1997-2000 and was not premiered in 1999. The work lasts for 25 minutes, not an hour and the texts come from Catholic liturgy as well as the composer. The work was premiered on 21 June 2000 at Garden Church, Hannover, by a chorus and instrumental ensemble from The National Philharmonic, Warsaw conducted by Henryk Wojnarowski. [Back]

[8]. See Maja Trochimczyk, "Bogurodzica Reborn: A Medieval Anthem in Contemporary Polish Music," in Mittelalter-Sehnsucht?, Dorothea Redepenning and Annette Kreutziger-Herr, eds. (Kiel, Germany: Wissenschaftsverlag Vauk Kiel KG, 2000), 131-152; "Sacred/Secular Constructs of National Identity: A Convoluted History of Polish Anthems," in Maja Trochimczyk, ed., After Chopin: Studies in Polish Music (Los Angeles: Polish Music Center, 2000), 246-268. [Back]

[9]. Henryk Sienkiewicz's novel, Krzyżacy [The Teutonic Knights], written in 1900, was filmed by Aleksander Ford in 1960, with the music by Kazimierz Serocki. The film is distributed in English as Knights of the Teutonic Order. [Back]

[10]. Antonina Woraczyńska, Melodie Puszczy Kurpiowskiej [Melodies of the Kurpie Forest]. [Back]

[11]. O Domina nostra. Meditations on Our Lady of Jasna Góra / Medytacje o Jasnogórskiej Pani Naszej for soprano and organ (1985); ca 35'. [Back]

[12]. Three Lullabies, Op. 49 (1984, rev. 1991) for mixed choir. For a discussion of the lullaby in Górecki's music see Maja Trochimczyk's article in the current issue of the Polish Music Journal. [Back]

[13]. Ad matrem / Do Matki, Op. 29 (1971) for soprano, choir, orchestra, to text by the composer based on Stabat Mater. [Back]

[14]. Tadeusz Zieliński, Bartók (Kraków: PWM, 1969). [Back]


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Copyright 2003 by Henryk Górecki and Maja Trochimczyk.
Editors: Maja Trochimczyk and Linda Schubert.
Editorial Assistance: Krysta Close.
Publisher: Polish Music Center, Winter 2003.
Design: Maja Trochimczyk & Marcin Depinski.
Comments and inquiries by e-mail: polmusic@email.usc.edu