October 3 is the 141st anniversary of the birth of Karol Szymanowski, one of the greatest composers of the 20th century. On this occasion, a portrait of Karol Szymanowski illustrated by artist Paweł Szlotawa appeared in Google Doodle.
Karol Szymanowski is one of the most famous Polish composers of Young Poland. He became famous not only as an outstanding musician, but also as an education reformer, teacher and writer. In his works, he willingly drew on folk motifs, and he had great sentiment for the Ukrainian countryside.
On the occasion of the 141st anniversary of the composer’s birth, Karol Szymanowski’s likeness appeared on Google. The illustration was made by Paweł Szlotawa.
Who was Karol Szymanowski?
Karol Szymanowski was born on October 3, 1883 in Tymoszówka, Ukraine. He died on March 29, 1937 in Lausanne. He came from a traditional Polish family from Masovia, which had to move to Ukraine after the Kościuszko Uprising. Little Karol grew up in a happy home in Tymoszówka and was surrounded by music from an early age. His father Stanisław played the piano and cello, his brother Feliks played the piano, and his sister Stanisława sang.
At the age of 7, he began his musical education, initially at home and later at the local school of Gustav Neuhaus, who discovered that the boy could compose. Karol’s musical talent needed to be further developed, so after years of studying at his uncle’s school, the composer went to study in Warsaw, where he learned composition and counterpoint, among others. under the supervision of Marek Zawirski.
What works did Karol Szymanowski create?
Karol Szymanowski grew up in a traditional, intelligentsia family that led a quiet life on an estate on the eastern borders of the country. He grew up in a cultural melting pot, fed with patriotic stories, which is why no one is surprised that in the initial phase of his work he was inspired by the Romantics, including: Fryderyk Chopin, Richard Strauss and Richard Wagner. He composed music to works by Jan Kasprowicz and Kazimierz Tetmajer, and over time he turned to metaphysics.
Before the outbreak of World War I, Szymanowski made several trips around Italy and northern Africa. He returned fascinated by the Orient, and in his works he eagerly referred to the music of the Arab world, motifs from fairy tales, sultans, and ancient ruins. He composed, among others: “Songs of a Mad Muezzin” or “Songs of a Fairy Tale Princess”.
In 1919, he returned to an independent country and then there was a breakthrough in his work. He turned to traditional and folk motifs. At the suggestion of his friends, he went to Zakopane and there, based on highlander motifs, he created “Słopiewnie” with lyrics by Julian Tuwim, one of his most famous works. In his further work, Szymanowski was inspired not only by the folklore of the Podhale region, but also referred to the traditions of Masovia and Kujawy when creating mazurkas.
The most famous works of Karol Szymanowski
The composer’s most famous works include:
“Nine Preludes” op. 1 for piano (1899-1900)
“Variations in B flat minor”
“Three fragments from Jan Kasprowicz’s poems”
“Songs of a fairy tale princess
“Idom se siuhaje dołu, singing”…
What did Karol Szymanowski suffer from?
Karol Szymanowski suffered from tuberculosis. The disease attacked the composer’s throat, so in the last years of his life he had difficulty swallowing meals. In the 1930s, he settled permanently in Zakopane and also willingly visited Swiss clinics. He died in 1937 in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Where was Karol Szymanowski buried?
Karol Szymanowski was buried in Krakow, in the Basilica of St. Michael the Archangel and Saint Stanisław Bishop and Martyr Crypt of the Meritorious on Skałka. The Obrochta highlander band played while the coffin was being lowered into the grave.
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