There were several 'firsts' involved in my initial encounter with Zygmunt Krauze's music: my first visit to Poland (1970), my first 'Warsaw Autumn' festival and its first concert (19 September), and the Warsaw premiere of Krauze's first Piece for Orchestra (1969). The memory has stayed with me ever since, not least because here was a work that was distinctly different from the other new Polish music that had so far filtered westwards. I was familiar with some Lutosławski, Penderecki and Górecki, but what struck me that evening was the restraint, delicacy and individuality of Krauze's music. It stood out for being quiet, reflective and very beautiful.

I have long thought that Krauze has not always been given his due. He is, in fact, a great pioneer. His exploratory nature manifests itself in his abiding fascination with a certain inter-war painter, in improvisation, in new timbral combinations, at times incorporating folk or mechanical instruments, in spatial music and installations, and in being postmodern before the term had much musical currency. (...)

Perhaps most significantly, the ways in which different musical worlds rubbed shoulders with each other in Krauze's music in the 1970s and beyond - while not abandoning the underlying unistic aesthetic - amounted to proto-postmodernism, way ahead of moves by other Polish composers and indeed many composers elsewhere. His large-scale piano solo The Last Recital (1974) is both serious and droll in its commentary on the relationship between new music and the past, and Krauze continues to be entranced by juxtapositions of genres and idioms. He composes with a unique subtlety and great inner strength, refracting his material through a semi-ironic, semi-abstract lens. There is no-one quite like him.

Adrian Thomas

September 2013

Who is Yvonne to you?

She is an intriguing woman that I find attractive. I have a feeling that I would like to understand her and get to know her better, but I cannot because I don't know enough about her. What arouses my interest in Yvonne is her inscrutability, the fact that she rebels and the knowledge that she is constantly at odds with the world.

Eight pieces for harpsichord, two of them for harpsichord and tape, consisting of one part only, lasting from 3 to 11 minutes, together 52 minutes of music created between 1982 and 2005 by composers who belong to three generations. And only one, to which I come back and welcome with joy whenever our paths meet. I mean Zygmunt Krauze's Commencement.

Zygmunt Krauze (b. 1938) stands out among the generation of composers born before the war because of the originality of his sound language. Almost at the very beginning of his career, the composer formed his unmistakable idiom and began to compose music quite unlike any other.