Requiem for Poland – Penderecki in Israel
February 17, 2014
Krzysztof Penderecki, an internationally known composer, is performing one of his most famous pieces, the Polish Requiem, with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra this week in Tel Aviv.
Written 30 years ago, the Requiem mirrors the horrors of his times: the Holocaust, the Nazi occupation of Poland, the persecution under communism.
"I am emotionally very much involved in this piece because it tells us the story of our history and the history of the last decades to which I was a witness," Penderecki said. "When the Second World War started, I was only five but I still remember... and I wanted people to remember what happened in our country and elsewhere."
The Polish Requiem, an immense work involving brass and percussion, choir and solo performances, commemorates the Jewish uprising against the Nazis in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1943 (Dies Irae) and the Soviet massacre of some 22,000 Poles in Katyn Forest in 1940 (Libera me, Domine), among other harrowing events.
Now 80, Penderecki is still very active, working on several new compositions simultaneously. The Vienna State Opera has commissioned him to compose an opera based on French dramatist Jean Racine's "Phaedra", the ancient Greek myth. He is also writing a new work commemorating the centenary of the outbreak of World War One.
"I am writing one big piece a year and a lot of chamber music. Now at my late age, I appreciate it very much. There are very few good chamber music (pieces) in the last decades and I think it is very necessary to write," Penderecki said.