Henryk Górecki (December 6, 1933 – November 12, 2010), composer.

Henryk Górecki was a Polish composer and composition professor. Although his early compositions were in the avant-garde serialist style of Webern, Boulez, and his fellow countryman Penderecki, Górecki’s later music were written with a simpler, minimalist style that was emotionally complex and moving. This change in style was viewed negatively in by critics and academics, but resonated with audiences. He achieved worldwide fame with a 1992 recording of his earlier Symphony No. 3, “Symphony of Sorrowful Songs, which sold over a million copies. He also had a long and fruitful relationship with the Kronos Quartet, for whom he composed several works. Like Penderecki and Estonian composer Arvo Pärt, Górecki’s music was often inspired by sacred themes. He was also an outspoken critic of communism while Poland was part of the Soviet bloc.

Górecki suffered from poor health most of his life and died from complications of a lung infection after a long illness. In an interview about his craft, Górecki stated:

“I think that music is one of the domains that people really need, and its importance only depends on whether one knows how to receive it. Every person needs to be prepared to know how to “use” music. Not only music — also literature, painting, sculpture, and film… Tarkowski said that art is prayer. It is something that I also emphasize.”

A more complete biography and feature of Górecki will appear with next week’s “Composer of the Week” article.

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