Poland, like Finland, is defined by a single composer as a nation-state.
Chopin shackled his successors to a national agenda. A century elapsed after his death in 1849 before they were able to free themselves from the collective expectation that a composer’s job was to explain the nation to itself.
The post-1945 generation were liberators of Poland and its music. This year, three composers are finally beginning to receive recognition for their epochal achievement.
In my monthly essay in Standpoint magazine, out today, I examine the backdrop to a Polish insurrection:
Norman Lebrecht, May 2013
If the musical world was not up to its ears in Wagner, Verdi and Britten, it would probably spend this year contemplating the more troubling question of what, if anything, is meant by Polish music.
Two men who sought an answer to that conundrum are celebrating back-to-back centenaries — Witold Lutoslawski this year, Andrzej Panufnik next. A third, Andrei Tchaikovsky, is being plucked from oblivion with a major operatic premiere in the summer. They add vastly to our appreciation of what it was to be a Pole in the century of its nationhood, and what it means today.
Read on here.