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Karol Szymanowski Tickets


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Classical Concert
22 May 2024, Wed 8 PM
Composer: Francis Poulenc , Franz Liszt , Frédéric Chopin , Wanda Landowska
Cast: David Kadouch
View Tickets from 83 US$

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Classical Concert
23 Jun 2024, Sun 6 PM
Composer: Richard Wagner , Carl Orff , Georges Bizet , Giacomo Puccini , Giuseppe Verdi , Karol Szymanowski , Krzysztof Penderecki , Pietro Mascagni , Ruggero Leoncavallo , Stanisław Moniuszko
Cast: Anna Terlecka , Chorus of the Polish National Opera , .... + 6
Classical Concert
22 Oct 2024, Tue 7:30 PM
Composer: César Franck , Gabriela Ortiz


Karol Maciej Szymanowski was a Polish composer and pianist, the most celebrated Polish composer of the early 20th century. He is considered a member of the late 19th-/early 20th-century modernist movement Young Poland and widely viewed as one of the greatest Polish composers.

The early works show the influence of the late Romantic German school as well as the early works of Alexander Scriabin, as exemplified by his Étude Op. 4 No. 3 and his first two symphonies. Later, he developed an impressionistic and partially atonal style, represented by such works as the Third Symphony and his Violin Concerto No. 1. His third period was influenced by the folk music of the Polish Górale people, including the ballet Harnasie, the Fourth Symphony, and his sets of Mazurkas for piano. Król Roger composed between 1918 and 1924, remains the most popular opera by Szymanowski. His other significant works include opera Hagith, Symphony No. 2, The Love Songs of Hafiz, and Stabat Mater.

He was awarded the highest national honors, including the Officer's Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta, the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland and other distinctions, both Polish and foreign.

Szymanowski was born into the Korwin-Szymanowski family, members of the wealthy land-owning Polish gentry class, in the village of Tymoszówka, then in the Kiev Governorate of the Russian Empire (now Tymoshivka in Cherkasy Oblast, Ukraine). He studied music privately with his father before enrolling at the Gustav Neuhaus Elisavetgrad School of Music in 1892. From 1901 he attended the State Conservatory in Warsaw, of which he was later director from 1926 until retiring in 1930. Since musical opportunities in Russian-occupied Poland were quite limited, he travelled throughout Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and the United States. In Berlin he founded the Young Polish Composers’ Publishing Company (1905–12) whose primary aim was to publish new works by his countrymen. During his stay in Vienna (1911-1914) he wrote the opera Hagith and composed two song cycles called The Love Songs of Hafiz, which represent a transition between the first and second periods of the composer's style. Being lame in one knee made him unsuitable for military service in World War I, and consequently, between 1914 and 1917, he composed many works and devoted himself to studying Islamic culture, ancient Greek drama as well as philosophy. During this period, his works such as Mity (1914; “Myths”), Metopy (1915; Métopes), and Maski (1916; “Masques”), are characterized by great originality and diversity of style. The dynamic extremes in Szymanowski's music became softened, and the composer started employing coloristic orchestration and using polytonal and atonal material while preserving the expressive melodic style of his previous works.

In 1918, Szymanowski completed the manuscript of a two-volume novel, Efebos, which took homosexuality as its subject. His travels, especially those to the Mediterranean area, provided him with new experience, both personal and artistic. Arthur Rubinstein found Szymanowski different when they met in Paris in 1921: "Karol had changed; I had already begun to be aware of it before the war when a wealthy friend and admirer of his invited him twice to visit Sicily. After his return he raved about Sicily, especially Taormina. 'There,' he said, 'I saw a few young men bathing who could be models for Antinous. I couldn't take my eyes off them.' Now he was a confirmed homosexual. He told me all this with burning eyes."

Of his works created or first imagined, such as Król Roger, during the years 1917 to 1921, both musical and literary, one critic has written: "we have a body of work representing a dazzling personal synthesis of cultural references, crossing the boundaries of nation, race and gender to form an affirmative belief in an international society of the future based on the artistic freedom granted by Eros."

Szymanowski settled in Warsaw in 1919. In 1926 he accepted the position of Director of the Warsaw Conservatory though he had little administrative experience. He became seriously ill in 1928 and temporarily lost his post. He was diagnosed with an acute form of tuberculosis, and in 1929 traveled to Davos, Switzerland, for medical treatment. Szymanowski resumed his position at the Conservatory in 1930, but the school was closed two years later by a ministerial decision. He moved to Villa Atma in Zakopane where he composed fervently. While living in Zakopane, Szymanowski developed a keen interest in the Polish folk idiom and undertook the task of creating a Polish national style, an endeavour unattempted since the times of Chopin. He immersed himself in the culture of the Polish Highlanders (Gorals) and embraced their tonal language, syncopated rhythms, and winding melodies into the new style of his music. In 1936 Szymanowski received more treatment at a sanatorium in Grasse, but it no was longer effective. He died at a sanatorium in Lausanne on 29 March 1937. His body was brought back to Poland by his sister Stanisława and laid to rest at Skałka in Kraków, the "national Panthéon" for the most distinguished Poles.

Szymanowski's long correspondence with the pianist Jan Smeterlin, who was a significant champion of his piano works, was published in 1969.

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