Academic journal article Notes

Andrzej Panufnik's Music and Its Reception

Academic journal article Notes

Andrzej Panufnik's Music and Its Reception

Article excerpt

Andrzej Panufnik's Music and Its Reception. Edited by Jadwiga PajaStach. (Acta Musicologica Universitatis Cracoviensis, 11.) Kraków: Musica Iagellonica, 2003. [274 p. ISBN 8-7099-124-6. Z160.] Music examples, analytical charts, indexes.

In his 1987 autobiography, Composing Myself (London: Methuen, 1987) Andrzej Panufnik made the following observation about the significance of geometry in his compositional technique:

I felt that geometric shapes could provide my compositions with an unseen skeleton within which my harmonic, melodic and rhythmic concept could be bound together as a cohesive whole; an organized framework out of which both spiritual and poetic expression could freely flow. (p. 327)

The geometric designs used by Panufnik in composition preoccupy the attention of the authors of the studies that appear in Andrzej Panufnik's Music and Its Reception. Indeed, one of these essays, by the world's foremost Panufnik expert, Beata Boleslawska, was originally called "Geometry in Panufnik's Oeuvre" in its first version, presented at the International Andrzej Panufnik Conference held in Cracow, Poland, on 23-25 November 2001. In my "Andrzej Panufnik-Bibliography," I noted that this volume of conference proceedings would be published in Polish by Musica Iagellonica and in English by the Polish Music Center (PMC) at the University of Southern California (Polish Music Journal, vol. 5, no. 1 (summer 2002), online, http://www.usc .edu/dep t /polish_music/PMJ /archives .html [accessed 30 August 2004]). The volume's editor and conference organizer, Jadwiga Paja-Stach (professor of musicology at the Jagiellonian University in Cracow), had submitted her book proposal to the PMG's Polish Music History Series. Upon recommendation from, and with full support of, Panufnik's widow, Lady Camilla Jessel Panufnik (who wrote the introductory essay and edited all the English translations), Paja-Stach and Musica Iagellonica decided to publish the volume only in English.

Indeed, the need for a book-length study of Panufnik's music in Polish is not as urgent as one in English. In 1994, Tadeusz Kaczynski published a slim, but informative volume, Andrzej Panufnik i jego muzyka ([Andrzej Panufnik and His Music] Warsaw: Panstwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, 1994). Beata Boleslawska's book, based on her M.A. thesis (expanded into a doctoral dissertation at Cardiff University of Wales, under the guidance of Adrian Thomas) appeared in 2001 (Panufnik, [Krakow: PWM, 2001]). In English, scholars and musicians could read about Panufnik in the autobiography cited above and in an earlier, brief overview, Impulse and Design in My Music (London: Boosey & Hawkes, 1974). If we ignore a text on Panufnik in Boguslaw Maciejewski's Twelve Polish Composers (London: Allegro Press, 1976), as we should (along with the whole book, best left unopened, rather than cited by students for their term papers), the only notable overview of Panufnik's contribution to twentieth-century music may be found in Bernard Jacobson's survey of four Polish composers, juxtaposing Panufnik with Lutoslawski, and Gorecki with Penderecki, to the benefit of the composer first named in each pair. Deceptively entitled A Polish Renaissance (London: Phaidon, 1996), and without an explanatory sub-title that the twentieth-century, rather than the sixteenth, is its subject matter, this persuasive and elegant study makes a strong case for considering Andrzej Panufnik the most significant Polish composer in the second half of the twentieth century.

Jacobson's essay, "Panufnik's Music in the Context of the 20th Century" is placed in a position of honor in Andrzej Panufnik's Music and Us Reception; it opens the largest and most important part of the book, containing ten theoretical and analytical studies of the composer's music. In his text, conversational in tone and supported with interesting musical examples, Jacobson elaborates on his main theme, Panufnik's unique historical significance. …

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