Friday, November 12, 2010

Henryk Górecki (1933-2010)

Henryk Górecki, the Polish composer most widely known for his Third Symphony ("Symphony of Sorrowful Songs"), has died at the age of 76. He had been in poor health for several years.

The symphony, written in 1977 in remembrance of the Holocaust, was one of the works that marked Górecki's turn from avant-garde composition to a religiously influenced style that many likened to American minimalism. It was recorded in 1992 by conductor David Zinman and the London Sinfonietta with soprano Dawn Upshaw. The disc, on the Nonesuch label, ultimately sold more than 1 million copies.

A 1992 performance of the symphony by conductor Fred Cohen, the University of Richmond Orchestra and soprano Michelle Harman-Gulick was one of the first U.S. performances of the work.

An obituary by Maev Kennedy in The Guardian (UK):