Karol Szymanowski

Polish composer and pianist (Tymoszówka, 1882 – Lausanne, 1937)

He always considered music as a real means of expression and made significant contributions to music in terms of instrumental technique, harmony and orchestral conception.

Born to a family of artists, Karol studied music privately with his father when he is only 7. Soon after, he attended the State Conservatory in Warsaw, where he studied with Zygmunt Noskowski. He met Arthur Rubinstein as well as the members of the modernist movement Young Poland, promoting trends of European neo-romanticism, symbolism and art nouveau. He gave many concerts abroad, especially in France, where he met Maurice Ravel and Alfred Cortot. Then, he returned to his native country where he focused on local folklore, which would inspire many of his works.

The works by Szymanowski were divided into three periods: the post-romantic period in which we notice the influence of Chopin, the Young Poland period that reflected an attraction to impressionist music after meeting Debussy, Ravel and Stravinsky, and - lastly- the period in which he rediscovered the music of his native country.

6 landmark dates in the life of Szymanowski

• 1901: he entered the State Conservatory in Warsaw

• 1920-1921: he performed throughout the USA with Rubinstein

1926-1932: Director of the Warsaw Conservatory

• 1899-1914: 1st period, late Romantic school

• 1914-1921: 2nd period, the most prolific years for him

• 1921-1937: 3rd period, he returned to his origins

6 key works by Szymanowski

• 1910: Symphony No. 2, op.19

• 1910: Sonata No. 2, op. 21, for piano

• 1915: Three Myths, for violin and piano

• 1917: Violin Concerto No. 1

• 1925-1926: Stabat Mater, op. 53

• 1926: King Roger, op. 46. opera in 3 acts