Concert of Music by Wojciech Kilar in Lviv


An Extraordinary Symphonic Concert by WOJCIECH KILAR, born in Lviv in 1932, was held at the Lviv Opera and Ballet Theater on October 10, 2003.

Symphony Orchestra of the Lviv Opera and Ballet Theater
ANTONI WIT - conductor

The program consisted of the following works by Wojciech Kilar:
"Orawa" for strings (1986).
Piano Concerto (1997)
"Koscielec" 1909 (1976)
"Krzesany" (1974)
The concert was co-organized by the Solomiya Krushelnitskaya Lviv State Opera and Ballet Theater and the Lviv Center for International Initiatives.
The concert was held with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Poland, as well as the following sponsors:
Lviv Coffee Factory "GALCA" Ltd
Medical Equipment Manufacturer "BALTON", Warsaw
Kredyt Bank Ukraine
Construction Company "EDBUD", Warsaw-Lviv
Grand Hotel Lviv
Media sponsor: "Lvivska Gazeta"
Says the composer:
"I have never had absolutely no sense of rejecting anything. It may sound megalomaniacal, but it has always seemed to me that I write my music with all the awareness that it is somehow connected to the past." (Conversations with Wojciech Kilar, Krakow PWM 1997).
Listening to the works performed at today's concert, one will think, perhaps, of sources of inspiration, of traditions, of rootedness.
And so: the symphonic poem Kościelec 1909 (1976) refers us back to the tradition of this genre - that fascinating stylistic-aesthetic hybrid, inspired as much by music itself as by literature, painting, theater, nature - a mature fruit of the romantic consciousness of the 19th century, a genre par excellence symphonic, blossoming in the multicolored medium of the orchestra, in the expressive-illustrative-descriptive speech of sounds. In two works - manifestos of the new symphonism - Krzesany and Kościelec precisely - the symphonic poem, romantic in spirit, marked by a string of great names of successive generations of composers, is revived with surprising simplicity; the romantic idea gains a sensational new incarnation: in Krzesany - vital and folkloric, in Kościelec - dramatic and tragic. Both poems, in the language of expressive neo-symphonicism, seem to tell us "what can be heard, what has happened in the mountains" (paraphrasing here - with reference to the history of the genre - the title of the first of a series of symphonic poems by Liszt); the rooting in the Tatra nature, the permeation of Kilar's music with the breath of the mountains, I would like to particularly emphasize here. With unparalleled evocativeness, the music, one might say, presents us with two like faces of the mountains: bright, full of life energy, gushing with joy; and dark, breathing with deadly force. 
The tragic death of Mieczyslaw Karlowicz in an avalanche at Kosciellec - the event that inspired the poem's music - rises to symbolize Tatra tragedies in general. The 1909 Kosciellec shakes with an intense expression of tragedy - with a similarly strong one we will only meet again in the 20th century in Mahler and Shostakovich.
Deep are the roots and old are the traditions of such music: through the Romantic era, in which the expression of tragedy culminates, go back to the Italian lament of the early 17th century, with its rhetoric of emphatic figures: sorrow, grief, despair.... Adagio time seems here to be the most appropriate medium for the musical expression of tragedy: a persistent persistence - ostinato - heightening the inner tension of the drama, overwhelming with the weight of sound, in dark and chiaroscuro colors....
The Piano Concerto (1997), twenty years later, also makes us think of Romantic traditions, when this genre, after Mozart's 18th century apogee and Beethoven's peaks of concert drama, so wonderfully flourishes again in the 19th century (in Chopin, Schumann, Liszt, Brahms), reviving also in the 20th century (Ravel, Prokofiev, Bartok). Three fundamental modi of expression combine in Kilar's composition to form a richly differentiated whole: the reflective-lyrical modus of the first movement, in the Chopin-Schumann tradition, so to speak; the (Beethovenian) modus of spiritual concentration and religious exaltation in the second movement; and the modus of intensified vital dynamics - in the third movement.
All the works presented here were already written after a fundamental breakthrough in the composer's creative path, and are preceded by a rather long evolution (characteristic, by the way, of Kilar's generation); its basic trend can be briefly described as follows: from avant-garde serialism and sonorism - in structure and form - to "new romanticism". - in expression and drama.
Says the composer (in conversation with Leszek Polony, 1996):
"Basically, my work is divided into three periods and two in-between periods. In the beginning, I wrote like everyone else after a slow period. At that time, my music was rooted in the classics of the mid-20th century. Changes began around 1960. I became interested in dodecaphony under the influence of the darmstadt-Donauesching movement, but in the end it too was nothing new. Suddenly, however, I discovered that there was other music besides Stravinsky and Prokofiev.... The turn away from serialism, sonorism, on the other hand, came in the 1970s..."
The turning point in this evolution, the milestone on Wojciech Kilar's path, is the symphonic poem Krzesany (1974) - in it the composer's new style is fully revealed.
One can still ask, what changes here with the passing of the years, and what remains unchanged as a signum of the creator's identity?
The sound language, the system of sound organization is changing: from neoclassical harmonics and tonality, through dodecaphony, serialism, sonorism, bruitism is moving towards quasi-romantic neotonality. The melodicism and dramaturgy of the form are changing, evolving also in the direction of "new romanticism."
Something constant from the beginning of the road is a strong sense of sound concreteness, a predilection for the beauty of expressive sounds, firm rhythm, rapid movement, clear structures. Something constant is also a sense of the logic of the drama of form.
It can be said, although it will sound tautological and seemingly banal, that in Kilar's works the music, arising from the innate musicality of the creator, simply wants to be musical.
How do you define the style of Wojciech Kilar's works?
His music gives me a special sense of fullness: fullness of form in the interplay of elements, fullness of expression in its shades, fullness of style. This is all the more striking because, after all, this fullness is also based here on a certain reduction of means, a simplification of the system of organization of sounds - harmonics, tonality.
In place of the former (avant-garde) flavor of novelty about novelty, we get fullness of music in a more traditional sense: intensity of emotional expression, beauty of melody and sound, dramatic tensions of form.

As an admirer of Wojciech Kilar's music, having been close to it for years, and as the author of this discussion, I have to admit to a certain helplessness when I try to explain why this music has such a strong effect on me, why I like it so much, giving this exciting impression of fullness?
Why do I experience the symphonic poem Koscielec 1909 - in its adagio dramaturgy of thickened time, its ostinato tensions of form, its growing expression of tragedy - similarly (which is not to say in the same way) to certain places in the music of Mahler, Karlovich, Shostakovich? Why am I so drawn to the magic of dance rhythm in the ostinato metamorphoses of a simple theme-song in Orava? Why do I listen to the Piano Concerto, in its three-act dramaturgy, as if it were a new incarnation of some kind, and at the same time a fractious synthesis, of the old idea of piano concertos, once so fertile in masterpieces?

All of these works are marked by the ostinato modus (rhythm, melody, timbre) - an important way of shaping also large areas of 20th century music, eloquently testifying to its roots in the past: in Baroque, Romanticism; and in Kilar's work, belonging directly to the attributes of his style and compositional technique.

Ostinato, used at various levels of a work's structure, integrates the course, unifies the form, and intensifies the power of the music. But it only intensifies, because, after all, this force exists, given in advance, before any more composing!
And here, I think, we touch the core of the mystery of the impact of Wojciech Kilar's music. For it is the force that animates the sounds, moves the elements, shapes the form that determines the high value here, obvious to us listeners sensitive to the speech of such music. A simple energy, in fact, undefinable, an elemental force that can only be felt.

Today, from the perspective of Missa pro pace, I realize all the more that the creative achievements of Wojciech Kilar and his ways of doing music (including film music) are in fact its renewal and lead to its revival by a (seemingly) simple path. It is a path of return, of conversion to the values deeply rooted in the traditions of music of the Western world and Mediterranean culture: beauty - melody, rhythm, sound; melodic speech of sounds that moves feelings; the drama of music, resulting directly from the drama of our existence and our life in the spirit.

SWith his compositional work, Wojciech Kilar renews the ties (perhaps too recklessly severed in the 20th century) between the life of man - as a spiritual being inscribed in the space of Faith - and music itself. In his music the pulse of life beats again, the rhythm of life is clearly perceptible (also in those fundamental tensions between "spirit" and "body", corporeality and spirituality). And this pulse and rhythm is so clear and strong that it can probably only be compared to the pulse-rhythm of the last and greatest of the "metaphysicians of life" in music: Gustav Mahler.

This is how I feel and experience Wojciech Kilar's music today, trying to over-describe it....
And it is a poignant feeling and a wonderful experience!                       
                                                                                                       Bohdan Pociej


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