The Unknown Grażyna Bacewicz: PWM Edition Publishes Her Early Works
Mar. 01, 2021
In a 1947 letter to her brother, Grażyna Bacewicz wrote, “I rejected my old compositions. Now, when I know more, I can see great disadvantages of these pieces, so why should they exist?” The obsessive self-criticism that accompanied the composer throughout her life, as well as the recommendations in her will made it difficult for artists to access works that had been rejected by the composer. Thanks to a fruitful cooperation with musicians and musicologists, PWM Edition is publishing Grażyna Bacewicz's early works for the first time, beginning with pieces for solo violin and violin and piano edited by the violinist Agata Szymczewska who noted:
“Studying the manuscripts left by the composer was extremely interesting for me as a violinist. At times, the chaotic sketches of the versions of these works made it challenging to prepare them for publication, but the challenge contributed to an extremely gratifying, creative process. I made sure to incude all of the composer’s performance markings in the notes, each time looking for an answer to the question, 'How would Grażyna Bacewicz play this fragment on the violin?'".
On the 112th birthday of the outstanding composer and violinist, PWM Edition presents the first editions of Grażyna Bacewicz's works for solo violin and for violin and piano:
• Sonata no. 1 (1929) was composed when Grażyna Bacewicz was a twenty-year-old student at the Conservatory. At that time, she was fascinated by the music of Karol Szymanowski, and she was still looking to develop her individual style. Parallel studies in violin and piano classes made it possible for her to continue research during her compositional studies and to verify it during performance.
• Partita(1934) for violin and piano was written during studies in Warsaw and Paris. Even while being a young composer, her extraordinary potential and excellent compositional skills were visible. The best proof of this is the use of part of the musical material from this piece in the version for solo violin composed in 1935. It was this year that Bacewicz received the first distinction at the 1st International Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition. At that time, the artist was in great form as a violinist.
• Scherzo (1945) for solo violin is a unique and very valuable work, which, thanks to its lightness and airiness, will surely appeal to violinists looking for spectacular and, at the same time, original pieces. It is a great piece for any occasion.
• Légende (1945) for violin and piano refers to one of the most popular Polish violin miniatures - Légende op. 17 by Henryk Wieniawski. However, Bacewicz’s musical language is more innovative, distinguished by an interesting harmonic layer, characteristic to the composer, and an elusive and somewhat mysterious violin melody.
Music theorist and journalist Małgorzata Gąsiorowska explains:
“Wanda Bacewicz, executor of Grażyna Bacewicz's will, followed it strictly, but eventually she presented all of her sister's saved scores and sketches to the National Library in Warsaw. The composer's daughter has been convinced by many artists and musicologists that it is worth revealing Grażyna Bacewicz’s earliest pieces. Even if sometimes we find her remaining under the spell of Szymanowski’s music or struggling with the sound, this is evidence of the artist’s emerging style, a development of style that changed gradually, without significant shocks or changes in the way of thinking about music”.
Listen to Grażyna Bacewicz's Violin Concerto No. 6 (1957):
(Violin Concerto No. 6/Grażyna Bacewicz/Bartłomiej Nizioł, violin/
Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra/Christoph König, conductor)
To learn more about Grażyna Bacewicz and to purchase the premiere editions of her early works for solo violin and violin and piano, visit: pwm.com.pl.