Hall: Concert Hall
Subscription: D1 - Symphonic concerts, Z1 - Golden subscription
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The year 2017 marks the 110th birth anniversary of Roman Palester, a composer who was cut off from his native country for many decades by the “Iron Curtain”. Ranked among the most promising composers of his generation, he fled Poland in the Stalinist era, choosing the fate of an émigré, and began to work for Radio Free Europe, where he headed the Polish culture department. This led to a complete 20-year ban on his output, and though the ban was lifted in 1977, his varied and extremely interesting oeuvre never became well known on the Polish music scene. His music for the ballet The Song of the Earth (1937) is one of the few compositions by this artist which stylise Polish folklore (NB in a highly original fashion).
Paweł Kletzki and Alexandre Tansman had similar early biographies. Both were born into Jewish families in the industrial city of Łódź, where they received music education and played in the city’s symphony orchestra. Later both took up studies at the University of Warsaw. Tansman permanently settled in Paris and focused on composition, becoming one of the most important European neo-Classicists. His amazing Piano Concerto No. 2 was performed in 1928 in Hollywood Bowl to an audience of 18 thousand. Dedicated to Charlie Chaplin (who helped the composer’s family escape Holocaust by leaving Europe), the concerto contains humorous allusions to films featuring the great comedian.
After his Berlin studies, Kletzki embarked on a dazzling career as a conductor (of, among other, the Berliner Philharmoniker). He then resided mostly in Switzerland and led many international orchestras (in 1966-1970 he directed the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande). Until World War Ii he was also a highly regarded composer, but later stopped writing music almost completely. His impressive Orchestral Variations of 1929 will remind us of this now forgotten aspect of the great conductor’s work.