Henryk Mikołaj Górecki


I woke up to this music on the radio this morning, and almost could not tear myself away to start getting ready for work. I’ve never heard anything like it. It’s by a composer I had never heard of before, Henryk Mikołaj Górecki. He was a Polish composer of contemporary classical music, who sadly passed away last year on November 12, 2010.

Henryk Mikołaj Górecki

The work is known as Sorrowful Songs, Symphony No. 3, Opus 36. The recording that AllClassical.org was playing was this one, with Dawn Upshaw, soprano.  It is haunting, beautiful, passionate, elegant. The full work is nearly an hour long, and when my radio kicked on it was about 45 minutes into it, so I couldn’t tell you now which movement it was.  Here are some YouTube videos of the piece, there are more out there if you’re interested.

This piece did the 1992 equivalent of going viral, after it was recorded by Dawn Upshaw with the London Sinfonietta. Górecki observed, “Perhaps people find something they need in this piece of music […] somehow I hit the right note, something they were missing. Something somewhere had been lost to them. I feel that I instinctively knew what they needed.”

FAIR WARNING: The video for the third movement contains graphic images, which some people may find disturbing. You may want to listen without watching.

First movement:

Second movement:

Third movement: GRAPHIC IMAGES

There is obviously more to it, and I am off to ArkivMusic to buy the CD now.

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6 thoughts on “Henryk Mikołaj Górecki

  1. Can someone explain to me what is going on in the third? There were a lot of people who had died in some parts, but they seemed to have died suddenly and I don’t really understand.

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  2. It seemed to be a collage of violence around the world: Saddam Hussein, starving kids in Africa, I think one segment might have been Bosnia. I didn’t watch the whole thing, not entirely sure where some of it was filmed. I read online that the whole symphony was written as a lament for the violence in the world (one of the commenters on YouTube) but the Wikipedia article said it was a tribute to the Holocaust. This page has a really good write up on him, if you’re interested. I’m just learning about him so don’t know more than that at the moment.

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