CENL Event

3rd November 2021

National Library of Poland: The Henryk Mikołaj Górecki Archive

The Henryk Mikołaj Górecki Archive – Event to mark the publication of Volume 27 of the Catalogue of Manuscripts of the National Library


On October 14, 2021 a promotional event took place at the home of the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra in Katowice to mark the publication of Catalogue of Manuscripts of the National Library Vol. 27: The Henryk Mikołaj Górecki Archive.

Henryk Mikołaj Górecki (1933–2010) was one of the greatest Polish composers of the last century. He was perhaps most famous for his Symphony No. 3 for solo soprano and orchestra, Op. 36, also known as the Symphony of Sorrowful Songs,the recording of which became a worldwide bestseller. The composer left a unique archive, which was purchased by the National Library in December 2017 thanks to a grant from the Ministry of Culture, National Heritage and Sport. With the consent of Górecki’s heirs – his widow Jadwiga Górecka, daughter Anna Górecka and son Mikołaj Górecki – all the musical manuscripts have been digitized and are available via the digital library polona.pl.

At the event in Katowice, the Director of the National Library Dr Tomasz Makowski presented a copy of Catalogue of Manuscripts of the National Library Vol. 27: The Henryk Mikołaj Górecki Archive to Jadwiga Górecka, professor Anna Górecka and Director of the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra Ewa Bogusz-Moore.

The proceedings were accompanied by a discussion chaired by Jakub Kukla with Professor Eugeniusz Knapik, Dr Tomasz Makowski and Mateusz Melski.

The catalogue, compiled by Mateusz Melski, is a comprehensive guide to Górecki’s legacy. The introduction discusses the life of the composer and includes a short history of the acquisition of the collection. It also contains details of manuscripts held by other institutions and discusses the methodology followed for describing manuscripts.

The main catalogue comprises three parts: musical manuscripts, working materials (notebooks) and correspondence. The first part gives detailed descriptions of the autograph manuscripts of nearly all the composer’s works (176 items), also those hitherto unknown and unpublished, including the works for piano Kołysanka (Lullaby) Op. 9, Z ptasiego gniazda(From a Bird’s Nest) Op. 9a, Mazurkas Op. 41, Various Works Op. 52 and the choral works Sławny w męczenników gronie Op. 74 and Susan Op. 84. The working materials section presents five notebooks containing detailed instructions for composition, including explanations, musical fragments and diagrams. They relate to specific works from the early and mature periods of the composer’s output, the years 1959–67. The last part of the catalogue presents the composer’s correspondence – more than 120 letters – arranged thematically and chronologically. It includes letters mainly from other composers, musicians and conductors, including such notable figures as Michał Spisak, Witold Lutosławski, Tadeusz Baird and Włodzimierz Kotoński.

The catalogue also presents a wealth of supplementary data, such as verified dates of first performances, details of editions and descriptions of the circumstances in which certain works were written. The text is illustrated with reproductions of fragments from the manuscripts.

Catalogue of Manuscripts of the National Library Vol. 27: The Henryk Mikołaj Górecki Archive is available from the online bookstore of the National Library and via the digital library polona.pl.


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