Serocki, Kazimierz International Festival of Contemporary Music Warsaw Autumn

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Composer and pianist, born in 1922 in Toruń; he died in 1981 in Warsaw. He studied composition with Kazimierz Sikorski and piano with Stanisław Szpinalski at the State High School of Music in Łódź. In 1947–48 he continued his studies with Nadia Boulanger (composition) and Lazare Lévy (piano) in Paris. In 1946–51 he gave performances as a pianist in Poland, Romania, Germany, and Czechoslovakia.

From 1952 onwards he focused exclusively on composition. In 1956 and 1958 he won prizes at the Grzegorz Fitelberg Competition for his Sinfonietta for two string orchestras (1956), Musica concertante for orchestra (1958), and the song cycle Eyes of the Air for soprano and piano (1957). In 1959 Sinfonietta was also commended at the International Rostrum of Composers.

A leading representative of the avant-garde in Polish new music, Serocki had astonishingly broad interests, which are reflected in his works. With Tadeusz Baird and Jan Krenz, he founded Group 49, which professed “positive optimism” expressed through communicative, uncomplicated music. Several years later, in 1956, it was also Serocki and Baird who established the Warsaw Autumn Festival, the platform for the then most avant-garde musical manifestations in Poland. His personal story as a composer started with folk inspirations, which did not stop him from exploring sophisticated dodecaphonic and serialist techniques. Soon afterwards he began to apply aleatory concepts in his works, which assigned a major role in composition to chance and to open form.

In 1954–55 was the vice-president of the Polish Composers’ Union’s Managing Board. His numerous Polish and foreign accolades included a State Award for his soundtrack for Chopin’s Youth (1952), Minister of Culture and Art Award for lifetime achievement (1963), Polish Composers’ Union Award (1966), and State Award, 1st Class “for outstanding achievements in the field of music composition” (1972). 

Selected works: Symphony no. 1 (1952), A Warsaw Bricklayer, cantata (1952), Suite of Preludes for piano (1952), Symphony no. 2 (1953), Sinfonietta for two string orchestras (1956), Heart of the Night, song cycle for soprano and piano to texts by Konstanty Ildefons Gałczyński (1957; version for soprano and chamber orchestra, 1960), Eyes of the Air, song cycle to texts by Julian Przyboś (1957), Musica concertante for chamber orchestra (1958), Episodes for strings and three groups of percussion (1959), Segmenti for chamber ensemble (1961), A piacere for piano (1963), Symphonic Frescoes (1964), Niobe, poem for two reciting voices, mixed choir and orchestra to words by Konstanty Ildefons Gałczyński (1966), Continuum, percussion sextet (1965–66), Forte e piano, music for two pianos and orchestra (1967), Poems for soprano and orchestra to words by Tadeusz Różewicz (1969), Swinging Music for clarinet, trombone, cello / double bass, and piano (1970), Dramatic Story for orchestra (1968–70), Fantasmagoria for piano and percussion (1970–71), Fantasia elegiaca for organ and orchestra (1971–72), Impromptu fantasque for orchestra (1973), Concerto alla cadenza per auto a becco e orchestra (1974), Ad libitum, five pieces for orchestra (1973–77), Arrangements for 1–4 recorders (1976), Pianophonie for piano, electronic sound transformation and orchestra (1976–78).