Music is the healing force of the universe…………Gorecki 3rd Symphony

When I started this blog a few years ago my intention was to focus on music of all genres and keep the blog entirely music based. Since then ther blog has developed into an eclectic mix of writing on music, politics, history, industral archaeology, education, psychology, humour and virtually anything else that takes my whimsy.


I have also featured numerous photographs that I have taken with special emphasis on the delightful Baltic State of Lithuania, which has to some extent become a second home for me.

As I get older I look at the world at the moment and think “how much worse can it get?”……Israel, Gaza, Iraq, Syria all mired in conflict the root cause of which is usually religious differences. It is enough to make any sane person despair.

This morning whilst doing some research on YouTube, one of the recommendations flashed up for me was the 3rd symphony by Henryk Gorecki, the Polish composer.



The Symphony No. 3, Op. 36, also known as the Symphony of Sorrowful Songs (Symfonia pieśni żałosnych), is a symphony in three movements composed in Katowice, Poland, between October and December 1976. The work is indicative of the transition between Górecki’s dissonant earlier manner and his more tonal later style.

A solo soprano sings a different Polish text in each of the three movements. The first is a 15th-century Polish lament of Mary, Mother of Jesus the second a message written on the wall of a Gestapo cell during World War II, and the third a Silesian folk song of a mother searching for her son killed by the Germans in the Silesian uprisings.

The first and third movements are written from the perspective of a parent who has lost a child, and the second movement from that of a child separated from a parent. The dominant themes of the symphony are motherhood and separation through war.

Until 1992, Górecki was virtually unknown outside his native land but in that year, Elektra – Nonsuch released a recording of the 15-year-old symphony that topped the classical charts in Britain and the United States.

There are heated discussions about which is the best “version” of the symphony with many critics citing various recordings made by Polish orchestras and soloists. For me nothing will ever surpass the transcendental performance of the London Sinfonietta conducted by David Zinman and featuring Dawn Upshaw singing the soprano part that is breathtakingly beautiful.

I was fortunate to hear this symphony played live at the Huddersfield Contemporary Musical festival some years ago when Gorecki himself was in the audience.

In these troubled times it is pieces of music like this that give us hope and help us remember some of the awful things in the past, hopefully to learn.

I leave you to make your mind up about this symphony…………..

This entry was posted in Culture, Holocaust, Music, Religion, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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