• Find us on Facebook
  • Follow us on Twitter
  • Follow us on Instagram
  • View Our YouTube Channel
  • Listen on Spotify
  • View our scores on nkoda

The Symphony actually dates from 1976 when Górecki was (as he tells us in the film) a 'non-person' in the political sense, when his music was banned in his native Katowice in Poland. He told me that its inspiration had come from a book he had found about the Nazi occupation of Poland. In the footnotes there was an example of the different messages scratched on the walls of a Gestapo prison. One, written by a young girl, said only: "Mama, don't cry". Very simple. Nothing melodramatic or even tragic, but a heartfelt cry that scorched the soul. At an early performance in Paris, a music critic whispered in Górecki's ear "Merde!" At the first screening of the film in 1993, the then commissioning editor of music programmes on Channel FOUR said: "what rubbish is this?" Now, only a few years later, no-one can remember either of their names. Melvyn Bragg showed the film on The South Bank Show, and even managed to persuade the hierarchy of ITV that it would be an abomination to disrupt the film with any commercial breaks for, say, Durex. The 53 minute film was shown uninterrupted, an acceptance perhaps of the urgency of its content. "I wanted to express a great sorrow", Górecki says. "The war...the rotten times under Communism...our life today...the starving. What madness! This sorrow, it burns inside me. I cannot shake it off".

You may be interested in

Stay updated on the latest composer news and publications