Festive concert for the opening Polish History Museum - Polish History Museum in Warsaw SKIP_TO
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Festive concert
for the opening
Polish History Museum

hour 19:00
fot. Bruno Fidrych

fot. Thomas Zydatiss

The truth about Polish history

The dedications with which the successive parts of the work are labelled recall the truth about the experiences of Polish history, which was kept silent for years, and point to heroic testimonies of faith in the highest values.

Two parts of the Requiem were written in connection with the events of 1980–81. Lacrimosa Lament was written at the request of Solidarity for the ceremony of the unveiling of a monument to the victims of the December 70 Polish protests, symbolising the workers’ struggle against the communist regime. The performance of the piece in Gdańsk on 16 December 1980 during the ceremony that attracted nearly 2 million people, became a manifestation of the movement’s strength. 

Upon hearing of the death of Primate Stefan Wyszyński in May of the following year, Penderecki composed the supplication prayer Agnus Dei for choir a cappella. It was performed during the funeral ceremony of the ‘primate of the millennium’, whose unyielding stance in defence of spiritual values against totalitarian power had a significant impact on the consciousness of Poles. 

After the introduction of martial law, the composer’s imagination crystallised into the idea of creating a great cantata-oratorio form as a testimony to the memory of the tragic events of Polish history. In keeping with the tradition of the requiem genre, Penderecki drew on the successive texts of the funeral mass liturgy. He dedicated the first part of the Dies irae sequence to the Warsaw Rising - the heroic and tragic struggle for independence, the memory of which was destroyed by the communists. The second - Recordare Jesu pie - he dedicated to the memory of the sacrifice of Father Maksymilian Kolbe’s own life in Auschwitz. The part Libera me, Domine, based on the responsorial text and preceding the finale of The Polish Requiem, recalled the tragedy of Katyn - the truth about the murder of thousands of Polish officers by the Soviet authorities, which had been concealed for years. 

After Poland regained independence, the composer included the laudatory Sanctus in The Polish Requiem, which shifted the work’s focus towards the symbolic ‘sphere of light’. Finally, Chaconne in memoria del Giovanni Paolo II, composed in 2005 after the death of the pope from Poland, closed The Polish Requiem as a whole.
black-and-white photo of Krzysztof Penderecki holding a conductor’s baton enlarge
Krzysztof Penderecki holding a conductor’s baton
Fot. PAP/A. Rybczyński


fot. annalubanska.pl
fot. rafalbartminski.pl

fot. J. Multarzyński
fot. Adam Golec

Fot. Piotr Banasik




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