One year ago on November 12th, the amazing Polish composer Henryk Gorecki passed away. I received a CD of Gorecki's Third Symphony, with Dawn Upshaw as soprano soloist, on my 20th birthday. After first listening to the Symphony, I cried and cried, lost in Gorecki's beautiful mournful tones. I was amazed at the connection I felt with this work though I knew nothing about Gorecki or his music. As a classically trained musician, my classical music exposure has been more intense than the average person of our popular culture. My connection to this piece, however was similar to the reaction mentioned by Kozinn regarding the 1992 release of Gorecki's Third Symphony.
Though Gorecki was relatively unknown to popular culture upon release of this CD, the recording sold around one million copies and was on the British pop charts. Gorecki's music is not exactly pop music but he struck a nerve somewhere, touching people in a way they needed. That is exactly what I experienced upon listening to this wonderful recording.
That being said, his death was greatly mourned. This year, he and his music was celebrated with a free concert at Le Poisson Rouge in New York. The two featured pieces were his Second String Quartet, performed by the JACK Quartet, and his "Kleines Requiem für eine Polka," performed by the Signal ensemble. Kozinn notes that 45 minutes before the concert, there was standing room only which attests to how much Gorecki touched people of popular and classical culture with his music.
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