Polish Violin Music in the 20th and 21st Century
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The purpose of this dissertation is to promote Polish violin music written in the 20th and 21st Century. My recitals included many lesser-known compositions and composers which I strongly believe deserve to be better known and more often performed. The search and preparation of those pieces, for which recordings and music scores are not easily found, was a very exciting and stimulating process. Much Polish music written in the 20th and 21st Century is interesting, expressive, beautiful, and deserves to be more often performed.
Performing 20th and 21st Century music opens new perspectives in two directions: musically and technically. Performer and listener are, in many cases, unbound from tonality. Composers are looking for new sonorities and exploring such performing techniques as varieties of harmonics, quarter tones, extreme dynamics, complex rhythms, and usage of a wide range of registers.
An important part of Polish music is Polish folklore. The little town of Zakopane is known for Polish traditional clothing, food, architecture, dance and music. Also, most prominent Polish luthiers including Wojciech Topa, whose instrument I am playing, have been making their instruments in Zakopane. This little town in the Tatras Mountain has been an inspiration for many Polish artists including Iwaszkiewicz, Witkacy, Karłowicz, and Szymanowski. Those composers used such folklore elements as folk scales, popular tunes, and imitations of the sound of the folk band with characteristic folk dance rhythms.
Other musical genres where folk elements are strongly present are the compositions dedicated to young musicians, with a specifically educational purpose. Among composers who wrote educational music were Grażyna Bacewicz, Witold Lutosławski, and Henryk Mikołaj Górecki. This approach makes the works more easily understood by young performers and, at the same time, broadens their understanding of Polish culture and prepares them for the challenges of contemporary music.
This has been an exciting project for me because, on the one hand, it allowed me the challenge of performing compositions that are lesser-known and often consist of musical language new to me while, on the other, it brought me back to my roots and the country of my mother tongue.