The following excerpts are taken from the superb new series from cpo: Panufnik: Symphonic Works, Volumes 1 to 4. Digitally recorded in 2010 and 2011, conducted by Łukasz Borowicz with the Konzerthausorchester Berlin and Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra, they are all available as MP3 downloads and CDs – please see the Discography Current Releases page.
Streamed with kind permission of cpo, Boosey & Hawkes and MCPS/PRS
Autumn Music 1962, revised 1965
Excerpt taken from the beginning of the first movement (Andante). Panufnik writes: “Autumn Music was composed in memory of a friend, who, after a long, incurable illness, experienced her last autumn in 1960. Writing this work, I was responding to the end of a suffering human life and to the season of autumn, with all its manifestations in nature.”
Tragic Overture 1942, reconstructed 1945
Excerpt taken from the beginning of the first movement. Dedicated to Panufnik’s late brother Mirek, a brave resistance fighter, the piece was composed in war-ravaged Warsaw “under the influence of the fear and horror of our daily life, and my agonizing sense of worse things to come”.
Excerpt taken from the end of the 4th movement (Pieśń Nadwiślańska). Panufnik based this piece on folk melodies and the vigorous, full-blooded rhythms of Polish folk dances in order to compose a work of overtly joyous character, complimenting the contrary dramatic and sombre nobility of Elgar’s work of the same name. Commissioned by the BBC and premiered at the Royal Albert Hall, London in August 1959.
Symphony No.10 1988, reviseD 1990
Excerpt taken from the beginning of the first movement (Legato). Commissioned by Sir Georg Solti for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Centenary. Panufnik writes: “I decided that the best homage to these brilliant players would be a symphony which, through various combinations of groups of instruments, would demonstrate their supreme sound quality, show off their collective musicianship and humanity, and their ability to convey their intense and profound feeling.”
Sinfonia Elegiaca (Symphony No.2) 1957, revised 1966
Excerpt taken from the start of the 3rd movement (Molto Andante). Panufnik writes: “Sinfonia Elegiaca, my second symphony, is my anti-war protest against violence and the aggressive element in mankind, and is an expression of my deep anguish for all war victims of all nationalities, all religions and all races throughout the world.” Premiered by Houston Symphony Orchestra conducted by Leopold Stokowski in 1957.
Sinfonia Sacra (Symphony No.3, Vision III) 1963
Excerpt taken from the 3rdmovement. Winner of the 1963 Prince Pierre de Monaco composition prize, and still one of the most admired Panufnik symphonies. Composed as a tribute to Poland’s Millenium of Christianity and Statehood, it is based in an abstract way on the last 4 notes of Bogurodzica, the first known hymn in the Polish language.
Excerpt taken from near the start of the piece. Subtitled A Poem for Chamber Orchestra, premiered in New York City by the New York Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Panufnik. “The title Harmony refers to the vertical sound (harmony based on 8- and 9-note scales); horizontal sound (melodic lines constructed on two 3-note cells); ‘harmonious’ use of metres 4/4 and 3/4; and the balance of orchestral colour – the composition is designed stereophonically, with dialogues between strings and woodwinds, both groups have equal significance. The subtitle Poem refers to the poetic and emotional element. This composition is dedicated to my wife Camilla in celebration of the 25th anniversary of our marriage – hence the warm and lyrical climate,” writes Panufnik.
Sinfonia Mistica (Symphony No.6) 1977
Excerpt taken from the finale of the 6th and final movement (Molto Allegro). Sinfonia Mistica reflects Panufnik’s deep fascination with the mystery and beauty of geometry, a symbol of universal order and inner harmony. First performed by Northern Sinfonia in Middlesbrough, 1978.
Procession For Peace 1982-83
Excerpt taken from the middle of the piece. Dedicated “to peace-loving people of every race and religion, of every political and philosophical creed”.
Nocturne 1947, revised 1955
Excerpt taken from the opening of the piece. Premiered in Paris by L’Orchestre Radio-Symphonique, conducted by Panufnik in 1948. Nocturne won first prize in the Karol Szymanowski Competition in Poland, and marked Panufnik’s return to orchestral composition after the terror and misery experienced in Warsaw during the Second World War.
Heroic Overture 1952, revised 1969
Excerpt taken from the climactic ending. First performed in July 1952 at the Olympic Games, Helsinki by Finnish Radio Orchestra, conducted by Panufnik. “My idea for Heroic Overture with its triumphant conclusion came to me in 1939 in Warsaw, after the Germans first attacked and met with the most heroic resistance from the Polish nation” wrote Panufnik, although this optimism was soon crushed by the Stalin-Hitler pact in September 1939. Over a decade later Panufnik re-approached the theme “to express my faith in my people and their ability to survive as a nation.”
Excerpt taken from the start of the 3rd movement (Lento). “My intention in composing my Rhapsody was to show off all the soloists of the orchestra. I constructed this short work in three parts, and designed it symmetrically,” writes Panufnik. First performed and recorded in the BBC studio at Maida Vale in the New Year of 1957.
Sinfonia Rustica (Symphony No.1) 1948, revised 1955
Excerpt taken from the start of the first movement (Con Tenerezza). Panufnik’s first symphony, inspired by traditional Polish folk art, was awarded First Prize in the 1949 Chopin Competition, Warsaw.
Sinfonia Concertante (Symphony No.4) 1973
For flute, harp and strings. Excerpt taken from the second movement (Molto Ritmico). Composed as a token to Panufnik’s wife in the tenth year of their marriage. Solo flute by Łukasz Długosz, solo harp Anna Sikorzak-Olek.
Hommage à Chopin 1949, revised for orchestra1966
Excerpt taken from the first movement (Andante). Solo flute by Łukasz Długosz. Originally commissioned by UNESCO for a concert in 1949 commemorating the 100th anniversary of Chopin’s death, drawing on both composers’ shared love of rustic melodies and rhythms, most specifically the folk music of Mazowia, the central part of Poland where Chopin was born.
Sinfonia Sacra (Hymn) 1963
This excerpt is the climactic finale of Panufnik’s third symphony and most performed work. Championed by Sir Georg Solti, Leopold Stokowski, Semyon Bychkov, Tadaaki Otaka, Gerard Schwarz, Constantin Silvestri, John Storgards and many others.