Special Concert to Mark the 120th Anniversary of the Warsaw Philharmonic Filharmonia Narodowa

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The concert marking the 120th anniversary of the Warsaw Philharmonic, whose inaugural concert on 5 November 1901 was led by Emil Młynarski and featured Ignacy Jan Paderewski as soloist, will be devoted entirely to Polish music under the batons of three superb conductors each of whom has headed this institution for the past two decades.

Although included as the Third in the cycle of his symphonies, Karol Szymanowski’s “Song of the Night” is a phenomenon that stands apart from any convention – both in terms of genre and in relation to the forms and timbral arrangements of many works written at that time. It is the fruit of an intense search for a new style and new expressive devices, which the composer explored during the First World War, when he was unable to continue his fascinating and inspiring journeys. The freely structured cantata, based on the 13th-century poem of the Sufi mystic Jalāl ad-Dīn Mohammad Rūmī (using Tadeusz Miciński’s paraphrased translation based on the German version) is a musical reflection of the composer’s fascination with the “imagined Orient”, understood as “a land of souvenirs, impressive ruins, lost secrets, and hidden meanings” (Sławomira Żerańska-Kominek). Also, the musical stylisation, albeit in a rather superficial layer – but how seductively – conjures up a vision of the lavish East with its penchant for ornamentation, arabesque, and a lush palette of shapes, colours and scents. One of its author’s most original works is at the same time one of the most important achievements of Polish music at that time.

Thanks to the choice of title Witold Lutosławski’s Concerto for Orchestra in a way enters into a polemic with the very assumption of the genre, namely a confrontation between soloist and orchestra. And yet, the concerto is a reference to the early form of the “ensemble concerto”, in which all the musicians of an orchestra displayed the same level of quasi-soloistic virtuosity. Commissioned by Witold Rowicki in 1950, the work was completed four years later. The composer was plagued by doubts and dilemmas – the piece based on folk motifs was supposed to fit into the folklore trend that was so in favour during the gloomy epoch of socialist realism. And yet the triviality and political undertones of this trend were completely alien to Lutosławski. As a consequence, he wrote a piece that was independent of these postulates and pursued instead the artistic sublimation of folklore. Effervescent, colourful and perfect in its structure, the work gained lasting recognition from music lovers and conductors alike.

The audience will witness the world premiere of a new piece composed especially for the jubilee season by Jan A.P. Kaczmarek – the author of musical scores for over seventy films and numerous theatre plays, and a 2005 Oscar winner for his soundtrack to the film Dreamer. He has also written a great many symphonic pieces, including oratorios, commemorating the most important events of contemporary history. These include Cantata for Freedom to mark the 25th anniversary of the Solidarity movement, Oratorio 1956 commemorating the 50th anniversary of the June 1956 events in Poznań, and Universa – Open Opera for the celebrations marking the 650th anniversary of the foundation of Jagiellonian University.