Musicologist and tenor, James Savage-Hanford will explore Szymanowski's life, legacy and music. This talk will be accompanied by chamber works for voice, violin and piano, spanning all three distinct periods of the composer's oeuvre, performed by soprano Marie-Anne Hall, violinist Michał Ćwiżewicz and pianist John Paul Ekins.
(select "June Lecture Series")
The ways Karol Szymanowski’s music has been received among scholars and, more generally, among audiences in both Poland and Britain prompts numerous questions regarding social, cultural, historical, and ideological influence. An exploration of the concerns underpinning Szymanowski’s reception at home and abroad effectively allows us insight into two cultural contexts: the music serves as a lens through which certain place-determined aesthetic judgements may be brought into focus.
The talk takes its cue from the fact that, historically, Polish and Anglo-American scholars have been excited by contrasting aspects of Szymanowski’s oeuvre. Anglo-American scholars have concentrated largely on the exotic works of Szymanowski’s middle phase, and more generally on the role of exoticism throughout his oeuvre. Polish writers have focused instead on the works belonging to the composer’s final phase (which exhibit the use of indigenous folk material from the Polish Tatras), claiming furthermore that they represent the peak of Szymanowski’s creative endeavours.
This combined lecture and recital explores the variety of Szymanowski’s oeuvre, together with what it has meant – and why – to different people, in different places, as well as considering the place Szymanowski occupies for contemporary audiences today.