Górecki’s music is often placed alongside that of Arvo Pärt, who was celebrated during the previous edition of Nostalgia Festival Poznań. The Polish composer – not unlike Arvo Pärt – underwent an artistic transformation. He abandoned his fascination with the avant-garde of the 1950s and 1960s, which had introduced him to the Warsaw Autumn and the Polish School scenes. While still drawing on the latest 20th century composing techniques, he turned to values, which were seemingly long depleted – melodic phrases full of simplicity, consonant harmonics, intensive dynamics and expression.
Henryk Mikołaj Górecki is best known for composing “Symphony No.3”. The recording of this piece was sold in over a million copies on both sides of the Atlantic and became the biggest commercial success of Polish contemporary classical music. The record reached the top of classical music charts, but it also did well in pop rankings; it was ahead of Sting on the Billboard 200 list. Górecki became an icon. He was the only Pole to be listed on the 2007 list of living geniuses published by The Telegraph, where he shared 32h place with Prince.
The composer won many awards and distinctions. His “Refrain” op. 21 for orchestra was awarded 3rd place by the UNESCO International Composers’ Council in Paris, and in 1973 he was awarded 1st place by the same body for “Ad Matrem” op. 29 for soprano, choir, and orchestra. He received the Order of St. George the Great, the highest distinction bestowed on a secular person by the Pope. He also received many honorary doctorates from institutions such as the Warsaw University, the Jagiellonian University, and University of Montreal. He also held highest Polish distinction – The Order of the White Eagle.
Henryk Mikołaj Górecki died in 2010. The premiere of his last unpublished work “Sanctus Adalbertus” op. 71 took place on 4 November 2015 in Cracow.
“In truth [Górecki] uses musical memories; these are actually very simple melodic formulas, musical phrases, fragments of dance, religious songs; they reverberate with melodies of the past, with songs of childhood. They draw on the nostalgia for the old, beautiful, harmonious musical world”, said Tadeusz Wilecki about the exceptional nature of Górecki’s music.
What will the Nostalgia of Henryk Mikołaj Górecki be like? Find out more next year on www.nostalgiafestival.pl.