Górecki, Henryk Mikolaj

Górecki, Henryk Mikolaj hĕn´rĭk mēkô´lī gôrĕt´skē [key], 1933–2010, Polish composer. He studied (1955–60) at the Katowice State Higher School of Music, joining the faculty in 1968, rising to provost, and resigning in 1979. Górecki made use of a wide variety of modernist techniques in his atonal works of the 1960s. His music became more lyrical during the 1970s and 1980s, making use of Polish folk songs and sacred music and reflecting a mystical and characteristically Eastern European brand of minimalism while exploring religious and political themes. Works of this period include Beatus Vir (1979), Miserere (1981), and Totus Tuus (1987). Constantly at odds with Poland's regime, he was little known in the West until the fall of Communism in 1989. Even afterward Górecki was relatively obscure until 1992, when a recording of his haunting, lament-filled Symphony No. 3, Symphony of Sorrowful Songs (1976) for soprano and orchestra became a worldwide success; it has since entered the standard classical repertoire. Known particularly for orchestral-vocal works, he also wrote much chamber music, e.g., the string quartets Already It Is Dusk (1988), Quasi una Fantasia (1991), and …songs are sung (1995).

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