Symphony of Sorrowful Songs for 9/11 at 7pm Today

This evening on Symphony @ 7, we have a single musical offering, the Third Symphony of Polish composer Henryk Gorecki, a nearly hour-long work he titled Symphony of Sorrowful Songs.

Gorecki wrote this elegiac lamentation in three movements in 1976.  It is scored for soprano and orchestra and constructed around simple harmonies, leading some commentators to refer to it as “holy minimalism,” linking it to other similar minded composers such as Arvo Paert and John Tavener.

The dominant themes of Symphony of Sorrowful Songs are motherhood and separation through war.  In each of the three movements, a solo soprano sings.

The First Movement is a 15th century Polish lament of Mary, the mother of Jesus.  In the Second Movement, the text is a message written on the wall of a Gestapo prison cell during World War II by an 18 year old girl, “No mother do not weep, most chaste Queen of Heaven support me always.”  The Third Movement uses a Silesian folk song of a mother searching for her son killed in War.  It begins, “Where has he gone my dearest son?”

Join me this evening for this deeply moving and  meditative work by Henryk Gorecki, who was as surprised as anyone when his Symphony of Sorrowful Songs became a huge classical “hit” in 1992, when a recording by soprano Dawn Upshaw with the London Sinfonietta was released.  To date, it has sold over a million copies.  It obviously struck a responsive chord in many people.

And a reminder, stay with us after Symphony @ 7 tonight for a special broadcast of Mozart’s Requiem from the O.S.U. School of Music at 8pm with host Christopher Purdy here on Classical 101.

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