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Classical Composers A-Z: Karol Szymanowski

Peter Wintersgill presents a word portrait of Karol Szymanowski, a Polish aristocrat.

Born
6th October, 1882, in Tymoszowka, Poland.

Family
Polish aristocratic.

Childhood
Spent in the Ukraine, showed early musical promise, had lessons from father.

Adolescence
Had a leg injury, resulting in permanent limp, and restriction to sedentary life. Became keen on Chopin, stayed so all his life. Wrote nine piano preludes in 1900.

Adult Life
Studied composition in Warsaw at 21, later with Polish colony in Berlin. Became keen on Wagner, R. Strauss and Reger, wrote First Symphony there.

Returned to the Ukraine in 1908, wrote Second Symphony there (1910) and Third (choral 1916). Also during this time wrote Second piano sonata (1911), opera Hagith (1913) and violin concerto (1916).

Became Musical Director of Warsaw Conservatory and wrote opera King Roger (1926), Stabat Mater (1928), and Veni Creator (1929).

Became fired with Polish patriotism, wrote mazurkas and Polish songs. Then toured Europe as solo pianist.

He was influenced by several sources, e.g. the German school of R. Strauss and the French Impressionism of Debussy.

He died of TB(?) 28th March, 1937, in Lausanne, Switzerland aged 55.

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