Zygmunt Krauze: The Declaration

(Photo of Zygmunt Krauze by Adam Stępień, Agencja Gazeta)

(Submitted by ISCM – POLISH SECTION)

Composer and pianist Zygmunt Krauze (b. 1938) divides his work into four categories: the first is unistic (unitary) music inspired by the paintings of Władysław Strzemiński; the second – spatial compositions performed in specially constructed interiors; the third – “music about music”, characterized by the presence of allusions and quotes; the fourth is subjective, deeply expressive “music of returning to the roots”. He is the author of 7 operas and over 100 orchestral, chamber and solo compositions. As a concert pianist, he performs on the most important stages in Europe, the Americas and Asia. In 1967 he founded the band Warsztat Muzyczny, which he managed for 25 years and for which over 120 works were written by leading composers from around the world. He gives master classes and lectures at universities in Japan, South Korea, China, USA and many European countries. He sat as a juror in over 50 international composers’ competitions. At the invitation of Pierre Boulez, he became an artistic advisor at IRCAM. In 1987–90 he was the president of the International Society for Contemporary Music, for two decades he was the chairman of the Polish section of this organization. He received an honorary doctorate from the National University of Music in Bucharest (2013) and the Academy of Music in Łódź (2015). He was awarded, among others, the French National Order of the Legion of Honor (2007) and the title Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (1984), and in Poland the Knight’s Cross – The Order of Polonia Restituta (2014) and the Gold Medal for Merit to Culture – Gloria Artis (2010). He is an honorary member of the Polish Composers’ Union, the Witold Lutosławski Society, Polish and International Society for Contemporary Music.

The Declaration (2018) for mezzo-soprano, baritone, and 14 instrumentalists, had its world premiere on 12 September 2018 in Krakow as part of the Sacrum Profanum festival in a performance by the Hashtag Ensemble under the baton of Maciej Koczur. Fragments of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations on
December 10, 1948, are used in this work. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights can be regarded as the first significant achievement of the UN, yet in spite of the passing of so many years, some postulates of the declaration have not yet been fully implemented. This work reminds us of the painful fact of unfulfillment, and the inability of countries and politicians to harmonize their mutual relations according to the spirit of this document. Krauze writes, “The Declaration reflects not only the important and relevant ideas contained in the UN Declaration, but also expresses my thoughts through the character and emotional state of specific fragments in the work. It is a continuation of my interest in matters that are not only musical. Previously these interests have been brought into the open in the following compositions: Tableau Vivant (1982) – martial law in Poland; Hymn to Tolerance (2007) – devoted to the city of Jerusalem; Exodus 2016 (2016) – an image of the inhuman treatment of refugees; Terra Incognita (1994) – unpredictable and cruel Europe; Arabesque (1983) – the Arabic-French conflict; Blanc-Rouge (1985) – the drama of Polish history.”

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