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She began composing when she was 13, and went on to study with Kazimierz Sikorski, a pupil of Nadia Boulanger. In , she headed to Paris to learn from the great pedagogue herself, as well as continuing her violin studies. Bacewicz saw her music falling into three periods: 'I - youthful, very experimental; II - wrongly referred to here as neo-classical, though, in fact, it's atonal'; and 'period III… absolutely avant-garde in nature.
The Concerto for String Orchestra, which draws on the Baroque concerto grosso, is often cited as Bacewicz's most performed orchestral piece. It certainly deserves to be often heard. Each movement is a gem. First, a vigorous Allegro , bristling with energy. Next, an Andante in which poignant solos lead into ecstatic writing for the whole ensemble, before the music subsides towards a wistful close. And to end, a dancing Vivo.
Cast in three movements, and scored for five trumpets, celesta, xylophone, side-drum, timpani and strings, the work pits its instrumental groups against one another. It's fierce, unsettling and inventive. The seven string quartets by Bacewicz are an important, if still underperformed, part of 20th-century string repertoire. Falling into her neo-classical period, a label Bacewicz herself disliked, this quartet draws on Polish folk music and explores the expressive possibilities of the genre.
Bacewicz wrote two piano quintets, both of which are works of impressive stature and imagination. The First is flavoured with Polish folk music, and blends expressive intensity with sparky writing. Bacewicz's series of violin concertos culminates with the Seventh in her avant-garde period in the s. Although she had premiered many of her other concertos herself, by this point a serious car accident had put an end to her performing career.
It's a searching, taut piece, with a moody night music section at its heart. The violin might have been Bacewicz's preferred instrument, but she was no slouch at the piano either.
She premiered her Second Sonata, later described as 'a real display piece' when the world-renowned pianist Krystian Zimerman championed it on disc. The three-movement work comprises a volcanic Maestoso , a sombre Largo and — as so often with Bacewciz, a fleet-footed finale, in this case a Toccata.
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She began composing when she was 13, and went on to study with Kazimierz Sikorski, a pupil of Nadia Boulanger. In , she headed to Paris to learn from the great pedagogue herself, as well as continuing her violin studies. Bacewicz saw her music falling into three periods: 'I - youthful, very experimental; II - wrongly referred to here as neo-classical, though, in fact, it's atonal'; and 'period III… absolutely avant-garde in nature. The Concerto for String Orchestra, which draws on the Baroque concerto grosso, is often cited as Bacewicz's most performed orchestral piece. It certainly deserves to be often heard. Each movement is a gem. First, a vigorous Allegro , bristling with energy.
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