|ORCHESTRA : Symphony; Fantasy for Violin and Orchestra; Fantastic Scherzo; Praga; Asrael Symphopny; Zráni.|
|CHAMBER MUSIC : Quintet; Quartet in A- Minor; Trio in C-Minor, etc.|
|Pieces for piano.|
|VICTOR : Fairy Tales (for piano).|
|POLYDOR : String Quartet in B-Major.|
"He stands in the front rank of moderns, together with Ravel and Stravinsky."--JOSEPH MARX
KAROL SZYMANOWSKI, Poland's outstanding modern composer, was born in Timashovka, in Ukrania, in 1883. When it became apparent that he had enormous talent for music he was sent to Warsaw where, from 1901 until 1904, he studied under Sigismund Noskowski. Here he made rapid strides in his studies, and began the composition of piano pieces which, tho they revealed the influence of Chopin, disclosed amazing talent and imagination. His first compositions to reach publication were the Piano Preludes, and altho they are the creation of a boy of seventeen, they already emphatically announced the arrival of an important composer.
"The lyric sincerity of these works," is the comment of Zadislaw Jachimecki, "the charmingly poetic ideas, the beauty of melodic invention, the harmonic variety and, finally, the elegance of technique and fineness, commanded universal attention. Scarcely a trace of reminiscence, hardly an echo of another's phrase appear in this music. It is filled with melancholy and longing. Its habitual mood is sad and tender, but at times it bursts into full flame and becomes dramatic. It is clearly expressive of the highly cultivated spirit of its author and is a true exponent of his personality. . . . From the very beginning Szymanowski disdained the vulgar. The sonorous qualities of his Preludes are an evidence of the composer's skill and refinement. There is not one banal idea."
In the Warsaw Conservatory he became a close friend to Gregor Fitelberg, also a student, who in later years was to be so active with his baton in popularizing Szymanowski's music in Germany. These two musicians, together with Miecyzslaw Kierlowicz, Ludomir Rozycki and Apolinary Szeluto, organized a society which they called "Young Poland in Music" whose aim was the furthering of their national music. All of the members of this society decided to advance their musical careers by going to Berlin and there continuing their study. As a consequence, Szymanowski came to Berlin in 1907--and here his musical outlook was considerably broadened and his background immeasurably enriched. While in Berlin he composed a number of songs of great interest. Returning to Poland, he immersed himself more seriously than ever before in serious composition, turning now to the larger and more ambitious forms of music.
In 1914, Szymanowski left Warsaw for his estate in Ukrania, interrupting his long sojourn there with periodic visits to St. Petersburg and Moscow to attend performances of his music. In 1917, the Bolshevists confiscated his property, and Szymanowski was left financially destitute, entirely dependent upon the meagre income which his music brought him. In 1919, Szymanowski returned to Warsaw to make it his permanent home, and immediately assumed leadership over contemporary Polish composers.
Critics are generally agreed that, about 1914, a definite break occurred in Szymanowski's style which suddenly turned from the influence of Chopin and became individual, based--as is the music of Scriabin--on complex chords. It is in this idiom that Szymanowski produced his most important works, works of great character and originality, works of deep emotional content.
"The work of Karol Szymanowski," in the opinion of Alexander Tansman,____________________