Thursday, November 3, 2011

Penderecki - Threnody To The Victims Of Hiroshima

Krzysztof Penderecki (born 1933) is a Polish composer and conductor.  He was a member of the avant-garde music movement in the 1960's.  The composition that brought him to international attention was Threnody : To The Victims of Hiroshima for 52 stringed instruments. He wrote the piece in 1960 as an exercise in writing for strings treated with unconventional scoring and performing techniques. He originally named the piece 8'37".  But in Penderecki's own words, “[The piece] existed only in my imagination, in a somewhat abstract way. When Jan Krenz recorded it and I could listen to an actual performance, I was struck with the emotional charge of the work. I thought it would be a waste to condemn it to such anonymity, to those“digits”. I searched for associations and, in the end, I decided to dedicate it to the Hiroshima victims."

 The work is written in unconventional notation and calls for the players to slap the sides of their instruments, play behind the bridge and to play in quarter tones. The overall effect is indeed disconcerting. It is by no means an easy piece to listen to, but it brings forth the horrors of the atomic bomb blast in what some may not call music, but it certainly is powerful and cannot be ignored.

Penderecki has since moved away from the avant-garde into the realm of more traditional music with rich harmonies and compositions based on tonality. He does revert back to his avant-garde style to good effect within some of his more recent compositions.

Penderecki's Threnody To The Victims Of  Hiroshima:

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