Andrzej Panufnik

Biography

Born: September 24, 1914; Warsaw, Poland   Died: October 27, 1991; Twickenham, London, England  
Andrzej Panufnik was living proof that genius is exportable. Without compromising his Polish roots, he became a British citizen, and eventually reached full stature as a composer in his adopted country, but it was not an easy transition.

Son of a leading violinmaker, he studied with Sikorski at the Warsaw Conservatory and Weingartner in Vienna. After the Nazi invasion of Poland, he kept the creative spark alive in the Polish underground,
Read more where he became a friend of Witold Lutoslawski and was conductor of the Krakow Philharmonic Orchestra from 1945 to 1946. His first serious work, the Tragic Overture, composed in 1944, was followed in 1949 by Homage to Chopin, for soprano and piano (or -- an early example of Panufnik's readiness to encourage freedom of musical expression -- for flute and strings).

By 1954, Panufnik was Poland's leading composer, but Russian domination was making artistic freedom impossible; in 1956, while on a recording trip to Switzerland, he boarded a flight to London with no intention of returning to his native country. For some years, he was treated coldly by the British musical intelligentsia. His style was neither traditionally tonal nor fashionably serial; but it certainly sounded "un-British," and for nine years, none of his music was broadcast by the BBC. (American audiences were to prove more responsive).

At his home in Twickenham near the River Thames, Panufnik continued to work on symphonies constructed from small cells of two or three notes arranged in geometric forms, somewhat akin to Webern. By the end of his life, Panufnik had written ten symphonies, including Sinfonia Elegiaca, premiered in Boston in 1957 by Stokowski.

Much of his work reflects the sufferings of the war and its aftermath. It is easy to see why Panufnik would not have survived as an artist under a Stalinist dictatorship. The composer exacted his own bleak revenge: Katyn Epitaph (again premiered by Stokowski in 1968) exposed the massacre of 15,000 Polish officers executed on Stalin's orders. Sinfonia Votiva (premiered in Boston by Seiji Ozawa in 1982) celebrates the popular uprising against Communist rule in the form of a votive offering to the "black Madonna," a statue in Gdansk where the first blows for Polish freedom were struck. After the solo cadenza that opens the Violin Concerto written in 1972 for Yehudi Menuhin, the soloist is (unusually) allowed to decide both the tempo and overall interpretation of the whole work, perhaps yet another symbol of the freedom Panufnik had demonstrated by his own self-exile.

After the collapse of Communism in Poland, Panufnik's reputation there was quickly re-established, and his music became part of the militant modernism for which the country was noted in the liberalization that followed. In Britain, where he conducted the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra from 1957 to 1959, his music was gradually becoming better-known, with performances in London of the Symphony of the Spheres (1976) and Ninth Symphony (1987). The Tenth Symphony was premiered in Chicago in 1990.

When his last work, a cello concerto written for Rostropovich, was played in London in 1990, Panufnik had achieved full recognition in his adopted country. In 1987, he wrote a revealing biography called Composing Myself. Read less

There are 37 Andrzej Panufnik recordings available.

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Works

Andrzej Panufnik


MOST POPULAR WORKS
I. Andante
II. Allegretto
III. Andantino
IV. Vivo
V. Andante
No. 1 in C sharp minor
No. 2 in F sharp minor
No. 3 in B minor
No. 4 in E minor
No. 5 in A minor
No. 6 in D minor
No. 7 in G minor
No. 8 in C minor
No. 9 in F minor
No. 10 in B flat minor
No. 11 in E flat minor
No. 12 in A flat minor
I. Molto rubato
II. Vivace
III. Lento
Piano Trio, Op. 1: I. Poco Adagio ? Allegro ? Poco Adagio
Piano Trio, Op. 1: II. Largo
Piano Trio, Op. 1: III. Presto
WORKS
I. Andante
II. Presto agitato
III. Andante
I. Entrata
II. Canto I
III. Intermezzo
IV. Canto II
V. Fine
I. Pomposo
II. Lirico
III. Giocoso
I. Allegro moderato
II. Andante
III. Allegro
I. Andante
II. Allegretto
III. Andantino
IV. Vivo
V. Andante
I. Preambulum: Vivace
II. Cantio: Adagietto
III. Chorea polonica: Allegro non troppo
No. 1 in C sharp minor
No. 2 in F sharp minor
No. 3 in B minor
No. 4 in E minor
No. 5 in A minor
No. 6 in D minor
No. 7 in G minor
No. 8 in C minor
No. 9 in F minor
No. 10 in B flat minor
No. 11 in E flat minor
No. 12 in A flat minor
I. Molto rubato
II. Vivace
III. Lento
I. Maestoso
II. Poco piu mosso
III. Poco allegro
IV. Molto lento
V. A tempo (Molto lento)
VI. Molto vivo
VII. -
VIII. -
IX. Meno vivo
X. Molto vivo
XI. -
XII. Molto lento
XIII. A tempo (Molto lento)
XIV. -
XV. Poco allegro
XVI. Meno mosso
XVII. Maestoso
I. Andante rubato
II. Allegro assai
I. Dance 1, "Cenar": Allegro giusto
II. Interlude: Lento espressivo
III. Dance 2, "Wyrwany": Allegretto leggero
IV. Chorale: Andante tranquillo
V. Dance 3, "Hayduk": Allegro deciso
Largo -
Allegro moderato -
Presto -
Adagio
Piano Trio, Op. 1: I. Poco Adagio ? Allegro ? Poco Adagio
Piano Trio, Op. 1: II. Largo
Piano Trio, Op. 1: III. Presto


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