Monday, April 8, 2019

No Great Women Composers? (2)

This is part 2 of a series; I encourage you to read part 1 before reading this.

Here's the backstory:

In 2015, Jessy McCabe, 17, petitioned one of Britain’s biggest exam boards to change its A-level music syllabus to include female composers.

Ms. McCabe found that Edexcel’s A-level Music Syllabus featured 63 male composers and no female ones. She had also noticed that on 8 March 2015, BBC Radio 3 managed to programme an entire day of music by female composers to honour International Women’s Day.

“Surely, if BBC Radio 3 can play music composed by women for a whole day," Ms. McCabe wrote, "Edexcel could select at least one to be part of the syllabus alongside the likes of Holborne, Haydn and Howlin’ Wolf?”

Edexel was initially reluctant to make any such change. Its head of music wrote: “Given that female composers were not prominent in the western classical tradition (or others for that matter), there would be very few female composers that could be included.”

After a petition subsequently launched by Ms. McCabe received 4,000 signatures, Edexcel apparently bowed to public pressure and changed their 2016 syllabus to include works by five women: Clara Schumann, Rachel Portman, Kate Bush, Anoushka Shankar and Kaija Saariaho.

The story is very interesting, and, depending on your point of view, inspiring or alarming; you can read more about it here:

The inclusion of female composers/songwriters in the 2016 syllabus was celebrated by some, and criticized by others. Among the critics was Damian Thompson, who, in a 2015 article in The Spectator (a conservative British magazine on politics, culture, and current affairs, according to Wikipedia) entitled There’s a good reason why there are no great female composers, asked the question: How good is [women composers'] music compared with that of male composers? 

He discussed works by several women composers – Clara Schumann (1819–1896), Fanny Mendelssohn (1805–1847), Amy Beach (1867–1944), Dame Ethel Smyth (1858–1944), Elizabeth Maconchy (1907–1994), and Thea Musgrave (born 1928) – to support his conclusion that women composers were not as good as their male counterparts, and therefore their music did not merit inclusion in the list of composers to be studied by British A-level students.

The counter-argument proposed by Ms. McCabe was that the inclusion of women composers in the Edexcel A-Level syllabus was important, “so that girls are freely able and inspired to become composers, to enrich the A-level syllabus and to ultimately ensure that women’s works are valued, as they should be.”

Here are a few thoughts further to this episode, and Mr. Thompson's response to it:
  • As I pointed out in my previous post on this topic, the article's title, There's a good reason why there are no great female composers, is completely unrelated to the actual article. At no point does the author propose or discuss a reason, good or otherwise, why “there are no great female composers.” 
  • Further to the previous point, an unbiased and well-researched article exploring reasons for the extreme gender imbalance among composers of the common-practice period (roughly 1650-1900) would perhaps be enlightening to those that blithely assume that women and men competed on an equal playing field throughout history. They didn't, and, some argue, still don't, although the situation has improved significantly since the 1960's. Historically, the roles available to women were severely restricted, and, within this, the roles of women in any field within music were even more restricted. Yes, Clara Schumann managed to develop a career as a concert pianist, but women were barred from European orchestras; the Vienna Philharmonic did not accept female member until 1997; The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra did not hire its first female musician until 1982 (violinist Madeleine Carruzzo). I would be curious to know how often these all-male orchestras performed works by women prior to 1900; if it occurred at all, I suspect it was extremely uncommon. 
  • Only one of the five women composers selected for criticism by Mr. Thompson was included in Edexcel's syllabus: Clara Schumann. He spent the bulk of his article arguing against the inclusion of women composers whose music was not actually included in the syllabus, but perhaps Edexcel's syllabus was published after Thompson's article.
  • All works discussed in Mr. Thompson's article were selected by him. It seems possible that musicologists with expertise in the music of the named composers might have been able to find other, stronger works by these composers for discussion; when one's intention is to prove that music by women composers is not very good, it can hardly be a surprise when the examples chosen to illustrate this point do so rather well.
  • The threshold for inclusion in the Edexcell Syllabus is not "all-time" greatness, as in equal in quality to the music of Bach, Beethoven, and The Beatles. Ms. McCabe's letter, quoted above, mentions Anthony Holborne (late renaissance British composer of music primarily for lute, 1545-1602), and Howlin' Wolf (much-acclaimed blues singer and guitarist, 1910-1976). A quick perusal of Edexcel's 2016 syllabus reveals names such as Courtney Pine (British jazz musician, b. 1964), La Familia Valera Miranda (A family of musicians from the Oriente region of Cuba that play a mid-tempo form of ‘son’, Cuba’s traditional musical style), as well as Vivaldi, Vaughan Williams, and Berlioz. So, by not including works by women, there is an implied message that no women were as worthy of inclusion as all of the male musicians on the list, and this does not seem defensible. Since popular music artists are on the Edexcel list, why not include Kate Bush, Joni Mitchell, Carole King, or countless others? Since film music composers are another category, why not include Rachel Portman (who was included following Ms. McCabe's successful petition), Sofia Gubaidulina, or any of the other names on Wikipedia's list of female film composers?
  • I'm not sufficiently familiar with Edexcel's history to know if they make a special effort to include British composers in their syllabus, but I noticed quite a few such musicians in the 2016 syllabus. If they do give British composers/musicians any kind of preferential status, which they have every right to do, why not make the effort to be inclusive of other groups within British society as well, such as women? Thanks to Ms. McCabe, and a successful publicity campaign, they now do.
  • As I mentioned above, Ms. McCabe argued in favour of the representation of women composers on the Edexcel syllabus, “so that girls are freely able and inspired to become composers, to enrich the A-level syllabus and to ultimately ensure that women’s works are valued, as they should be.” This in itself is an interesting argument – I don't know if there are any studies that prove that exposure to music by members of a target population empower or encourage other members of that target population to pursue careers in music, but it certainly seems possible. And if it is possible, then it seems worth doing.
That's all for now, but please leave a comment if you agree or disagree with any of this.

Once again, here are a couple of recordings of music by Clara Schumann, with scrolling scores:

Monday, April 1, 2019

No great women composers? (1)

I recently came across a provocative article from 2015 in The Spectator, called "There's a good reason why there are no great women composers," by Damian Thompson, who is described in Wikipedia as an English journalist, editor and author with a Ph.D in the sociology of religion from the London School of Economics. He writes a monthly column about classical music for The Spectator.

Not familiar with The Spectator? Here is an excerpt from its description in Wikipedia, which I've abridged slightly, indicated by the ellipses (…):
"The Spectator is a weekly British magazine on politics, culture, and current affairs. It was first published in July 1828... Its principal subject areas are politics and culture. Its editorial outlook is generally supportive of the Conservative Party, although regular contributors include some outside that fold... The magazine also contains arts pages on books, music, opera, and film and TV reviews."
If you align yourself ideologically as a liberal or progressive, you may be reluctant to pay much attention to a conservative journal, but I believe in making your own mind up about things on a case-by-case basis, and not simply based on the degree to which others are expressing views that align with your own – so let's examine what the article actually says.

For starters, the article's title is misleading; at no point does it propose "a good reason why there are no great women composers;" it does not explore that question at all. In many publications, an article's title is not written by the article's author – there are others whose job it is to write headlines – so perhaps the author is not to blame for the misleading, "click-bait style" title.

Here's what the author writes:
"Last week a 17-year-old girl forced the Edexcel exam board to change its A-level music syllabus to include the work of women composers. Jessy McCabe, a sixth former at Twyford Church of England High School in London, started a petition after studying gender inequality. Good for her, you might think. But is it good for A-level students?
"A delicate question lies at the heart of the subject of female composers, and it’s not ‘Why are they so criminally underrepresented in the classical canon?’ It’s ‘How good is their music compared with that of male composers?’"
Is this a legitimate question? It is, as the author acknowledges, a "delicate" one – simply asking the question might offend some – but it is fair game to ask questions such as this? Before answering, consider whether it is okay to ask other similar questions involving comparisons, such as the following:
  • How good is British music of the 18th and 19th centuries, compared with that of German and Austrian composers?
  • How good is French music of the 18th and 19th centuries, compared with that of German and Austrian composers?
  • How good is American music of the 18th and 19th centuries, compared with that of German and Austrian composers?
  • How good is Salieri's music, compared with Mozart's?
And so on…

We tend to assume that the canonical works of classical music history are the result of a Darwinian meritocracy – we perform and study Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, etc., because they represent the artistic pinnacle of human achievement within their periods in the art form that is classical music.

So, you might ask, why not ask questions such as those above?

I have no objection to any of these questions, but I wonder (a) where they get us, and (b) what the motivation is behind them?

Where do these questions get us?

Let's propose, for the sake of argument, that the answer to all of the above questions, is "less good." That is, Salieri's music is less good than Mozart's; American, British, and French music of the 18th and 19th centuries is less good than that of German and Austrian composers; and women composers of these periods composed music that did not rise to the level of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms, which I'll group as "A-List" composers.

So what?

Does that mean we jettison the music of "lesser" composers – Berlioz, Bizet,  Borodin, Bruckner,  Dvorak,  Elgar,  Grieg, Holst,  Liszt, Mahler, Felix Mendelssohn, Rossini,  Saint-Saëns,  Schubert, Robert Schumann, Sibelius, Smetana, etc. – from the repertoire?

Well, of course not! Each of the "lesser" composers listed above wrote wonderful music that has moved generations of classical music lovers, and the musical landscape would be considerably poorer without their contributions.

But wait, you might shout! The "lesser" composers above were still excellent composers!

I agree! They were indeed excellent composers, whose only misfortune was failing to achieve the exalted artistic heights of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms.

So, let's make a list of composers whose level of artistic achievement does not come very close to the level of the "lesser" composers above; these are composers I have heard of, and in all cases, whose music I have actually heard, and I selected them from lists of classical composers found in Wikipedia (List of Classical-era composers).

For every name listed below, there were probably about 10 other names on the Wikipedia list I did not include because I was unfamiliar with them. These might be considered "C-List" composers because they are a level or two below the composers on my previous list (Liszt, Mendelssohn, Mahler, etc.), who themselves might be considered "B-List" composers, because they were a level (or so) below the all-time greats – Bach, Mozart, & Beethoven, at least in what I suspect is the opinion of many people, but I recognize that some would not agree with this assessment.

Wilhelm Friedemann Bach (1710–1784)
William Boyce (1711–1779)
Johann Ludwig Krebs (1713–1780)
Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714–1788)
Christoph Willibald Gluck (1714–1787)
Johann Wenzel Anton Stamitz (1717–1757)
Johann Philipp Kirnberger (1721–1783)
Antonio Soler (1729–1783)
Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach (1732–1795)
Jean-Jacques Beauvarlet Charpentier (1734–1794)
Johann Christian Bach (1735–1782)
Michael Arne (1740–1786)
Samuel Arnold (1740–1802)
Giovanni Paisiello (1740–1816)
Carl Stamitz (1745–1801)
Joseph Quesnel (1746–1809)
Domenico Cimarosa (1749–1801)
Johann Nikolaus Forkel (1749–1818)
Muzio Clementi (1752–1832)
Josef Reicha (1752–1795)
Vicente Martín y Soler (1754–1806)
Anton Stamitz (1754–1798 or 1809)
Luigi Cherubini (1760–1842)
Johann Ladislaus Dussek (1760–1812)
Ferdinando Carulli (1770–1841)
Anton Reicha (1770–1836)
Sophia Corri Dussek (1775–1847)
Johann Nepomuk Hummel (1778–1837)
Fernando Sor (1778–1839)
Anton Diabelli (1781–1858)
Mauro Giuliani (1781–1829)
John Field (1782–1837)
Niccolò Paganini (1782–1840)
Louis Spohr (1784–1859)
Friedrich Kuhlau (1786–1832)
Carl Maria von Weber (1786–1826)
Carl Czerny (1791–1857)
Giacomo Meyerbeer (1791–1864)
Gaetano Donizetti (1797–1848)

Incidentally, those listed above all had active compositional careers, and they all wrote works that have been recorded and performed frequently by many performing artists. In the case of the guitar composers on the list (Carullil, Sor, Giuliani), I have played their music, and professional guitarists continue to play their music regularly.

They may not have reached the lofty heights of Brahms and Beethoven, but they nevertheless accomplished much in their compositional careers.

Making lists such as those above is a bit of a silly game, perhaps – if I have Brahms on my B-list, and you have him on your A-list, it doesn't matter much, does it? – but there are potentially interesting/instructive aspects of debating these questions, such as the following:
  1. They might lead us to discover works with which we were previously unfamiliar, some of which we might enjoy hearing;
  2. They might challenge us to reconsider composers whose music we had previously dismissed or not valued highly, with the potential benefit of discovering good music that we previously did not know, or not know well, or discovering that a piece we had previously dismissed is actually a pretty good composition;
  3. They force us to examine the basis on which we evaluate music, and that seems like a beneficial exercise to consider, at least periodically. Why do I like what I do? Why do I think less of some pieces than others? Am I a musical snob? Am I truly open to new composers and new styles of music?
As composers, I believe the third aspect above is essential to improvement. If I can identify some of the attributes that make great music great, then perhaps I can incorporate those aspects into my music.

I wrote a post about five years ago on Form in Post-Tonal Music (the first in a series of three on this topic) in which I mentioned the guitar Sonata in C, op. 22, by Fernando Sor, a piece I used to play. I regard it as a pleasant piece, but not up to the level of repertoire by Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven that we study in my musical form class.

Having played and heard a fair amount of his music, I think of Sor as a C-list composer, someone who made a career from composing and performing his own music, someone who knew what he was doing in terms of composition, but ultimately, someone who did not manage to reach compositional greatness.

What was interesting to me was that while I am quite clear about my views on Sor's music, it was surprisingly difficult to come up for reasons to support my opinion. Anyone can have an opinion, but articulating the reasons behind that opinion in an intelligent and considered way can be quite challenging.

Returning to The Spectator article cited above, the author asks the question: How good were women composers in comparison with their male counterparts? He then provides examples of works by several women composers – Clara Schumann, Fanny Mendelssohn, Amy Beach (1867–1944), Dame Ethel Smyth (1858–1944), Elizabeth Maconchy (1907–1994), and Thea Musgrave (born 1928) – to support his conclusion that – surprise! – women composers were not as good as their male counterparts, and therefore their music does not deserve inclusion in the list of composers to be studied by British A-level students.

To me, a more pertinent question is not whether women composers were capable of writing music that matched the quality of the greatest male composers, but whether the best women composers wrote any music that compared favourably with the music of any of the composers from the lists above.

Everyone can come to their own conclusion on this question, but if you were to suggest that Clara Schumann and Fanny Mendelssohn failed to match the artistic level of Paisiello, Stamitz, Carulli, et al, I would suggest otherwise, and yet the music of Paisiello, Stamitz, and Carulli, et al, continues to be performed and recorded without any extramusical justification (e.g., "we're performing music by composers based in Milan from 1750-1800 on tonight's programme!), whereas I suspect some people feel that the only reasons Clara Schumann and Fanny Mendelssohn get performed nowadays are (a) they shared the same last name as more famous composers, and (b) they were women, and if they were men we would have forgotten about their music long ago.

And I would suggest that while (a) might have some validity, (b) does not; had they been men, I don't think anyone would question why their music continues to be recorded and performed today, any more than people question why the music of many of the "C-List" composers above gets recorded and performed.

What is the motivation behind these questions?

So, in the case of the article from The Spectator mentioned at the outset of today's post, the motivation seems pretty clear: To discredit women composers. They were not, the author argues, as good as the great male composers, so we should therefore stop all this political correctness nonsense and not include their music on the Edexcel exam board A-level music syllabus.

And yes, this is my own summary of the Spectator article, but you should read it yourself to see if am being unfair or overly harsh.

This motivation, if I have represented it fairly, is not in itself bad – if I were motivated to write an article about why the first movement of Beethoven's Waldstein sonata is considerably more sophisticated than the first movement of his first published sonata, op. 2 no. 1, I would like to think that the motivation is fine, as long as I were able to support my conclusion with clear and unbiased evidence.

Where this kind of motivation is problematic, however, is that the writer is starting with a conclusion that is largely dismissive of an entire group of composers, and then hand-picking evidence to support the conclusion. This is the level of discourse you see on phone-in sports shows on radio or television ("I think Mike Trout [major-league baseball player, considered by many to be the best of his generation] SUCKS! I watched a game the other night where he make an error and struck out TWICE! Hell, I could have done that!"), or in bar discussions by drunken folk (I still remember one such discussion from many years ago between two people I knew, about whether dogs were better than cats, or vice-versa).

Ideally, we'd all find a way to look at evidence objectively and then write intelligently about what we learned from the experience, but I recognize that we are far from any kind of ideal when it comes to discourse on anything, especially on controversial matters.

As so often happens in my blog posts, I have gone on much longer than planned… I was going to look at and listen to some of the works by women composers and see if the author of The Spectator article was being fair or not, but I will save that for my next post.

In the mean time, here are a couple of recordings of music by Clara Schumann, with scrolling scores:

Monday, March 4, 2019

Sacred Minimalism (3): John Tavener

This is the third of my short forays into the music of composers associated with the term "sacred" (or "holy") minimalism. The previous two posts in this series touched on Aarvo Pärt and Henryk Górecki.

A third composer associated with this term is John Tavener, described in Wikipedia as follows:
"During his career he became one of the best known and popular composers of his generation, most particularly for The Protecting Veil, which as recorded by cellist Steven Isserlis became a bestselling album, and Song for Athene which was sung at the funeral of Princess Diana."
Here are recordings of the two mentioned pieces; have a listen, and share your thoughts in the "Comments" section below, if you wish.

Let me know if you have any suggestions of other favourite Tavener pieces to add to these recordings; I'll happily post more recordings if I get suggestions.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

The "get it done" league

One of my favourite sports quotes comes from Josh Donaldson, formerly of the Toronto Blue Jays, who, following a frustrating loss on May 16, 2015, said:
"This isn't the "try" league, this is the "get it done" league. And you know, eventually they're gonna find people who are going to get it done."
These are unsettling words, especially to anyone who isn't getting "it" (their job) done, but Mr. Donaldson was, I believe, correct.
In major league baseball, or the highest-level of any profession, if you aren't "getting it done" – i.e., if you aren't doing your job at a satisfactory level – you may find yourself demoted to the minor leagues (or equivalent thereof), or even out of a job entirely, irrespective of how hard you were trying.
The "try" league refers to people who aren't getting it done, but claim to be trying very hard (and perhaps they do try very hard); Donaldson's point was that the amount of effort you put into doing your job, or accomplishing a task of any kind, is irrelevant if you aren't succeeding. The only thing that matters is results, at least at the highest level of sports (and probably other professions as well). Saying you are trying hard when you are not producing the results expected of you can sound like an excuse.

Strangely enough, Donaldson's words are somewhat similar to something said by Yoda, in Star Wars, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back:

"Try not. Do… or do not. There is no try."

As it turned out, both Josh and the Blue Jays did indeed get it done that year – Mr. Donaldson, perhaps channelling his inner Yoda, won the American League Most Valuable Player award, and his team came first in the American League East Division for the first time in twenty-two years.

Today's post will explore the relevance of this idea to composition, and more specifically:

• Does the idea of "get it done, or we'll find someone else to get it done for you!" apply to the world of professionalism composition? 

• Does it apply to compositional training?

• Does the effort we put into a task matter if we aren't getting it done?

The answer to the first question, is, in a word, yes. If you are a professional composer and not getting it done – i.e., not finishing compositions by deadlines, or perhaps not finishing them at all, or meeting a deadline but not producing the kind of piece you were commissioned to write, or the kind of music that the movie needs, in the case of a film composer, you will not last long in the profession.

It's not a completely Draconian world out there – if you have built a good reputation by consistently delivering high-quality compositions on time for years, being a day or two late with a project will probably not derail your career. But if you are late multiple times, then much of the good reputation you spent years earning will likely erode, which will eventually lead to fewer opportunities, and eventually, no opportunities at all.

So, yes, professional composers do need to find a way to "get it done," no matter how challenging this may be, or what their personal struggles might be.

If you are in the process of developing your compositional skills, however, different rules apply, at least to some extent. You are basically in the  "learning how to get it done" league, which is hopefully more forgiving, unless you find yourself in the kind of vicious and heartless music school depicted in Whiplash, the 2014 film about the relationship between an ambitious jazz drumming student and a sadistic and abusive instructor.

Luckily, most music instructors are nurturing and genuinely care about the musical development of their students, at least in my experience, although I have had a few notable exceptions as teachers along the way.

At our university, and at many others, students who are unable to accomplish tasks due to personal struggles of any kind can request accommodations to avoid academic penalties. Valid excuses do matter, and are taken into consideration. The same may be true in many other professional environments as well.

But, even in the training process for aspiring composers, there are aspects of the "get it done" league that apply, such as:
  1. Finishing a composition.
  2. Doing the above by a deadline.
  3. Doing the above, and being satisfied that the composition is as good as you can make it in your current stage of development, and given your time constraints.
  4. Doing the above, and making sure that all score details and other matters of score presentation are logical, musical, clear, and as unambiguous as possible; also, doing the same for parts.
  5. Doing the above, and getting the score and parts to performers in plenty of time for them to learn it, assuming you want it to be performed in an upcoming concert. 
  6. Doing the above, plus doing whatever it takes to address any concerns the performers (or commissioner) have, including modifying sections of the score if necessary. This is something I plan on writing a post about in the near future, by the way.

At times I have taken an absurd amount of time – in some cases, weeks – working and reworking the ending of a composition. The objective is always the same – come up with an ending that works best for that particular piece – because I never want people to think, after hearing my composition, what the hell just happened there at the end? It was all going pretty well up to the last minute or so! Or, perhaps more importantly, I don't want to think such thoughts when I hear my own piece in a concert.

There is plenty of justification for taking the time necessary to "get it right," not just in the ending, but in every section of your composition (I guess, if you want to keep using sports slogans, we can call this the "get it right" league), but, most of the time, composers face the challenge of both finding a way to both get it done, and get it right by a deadline.
Sometimes, however, the "get it right" part may need to be slightly compromised in order to meet a deadline.
Put another way, we always want to get it right, but getting it right should never trump the objective of finishing by our deadline.

Why? There are many possible negative outcomes that may result if you "get it right" but miss your deadline, such as:
  1. The performers may not play your piece. This may not seem very likely, especially if the performers are friends, but, not only can it happen, I have personally experienced this, and I know of others who have as well. And it can be devastating.
  2. The performers may resent you, justifiably, for not giving them sufficient time to learn the piece well, which in turn can make them disinclined to ever play a piece of yours again.
  3. Your reputation will probably take a hit, particularly if writing for professionals.
  4. If it is a commission and you signed a contract to deliver the music by a certain date, you may not get paid (!).
Developing the habit of finishing by a deadline is, I would therefore suggest, essential for composers, even in the training stages of our development.

If you are experiencing angst because, in order to finish by a deadline, the ending or another section is not as good as you would like, I feel your pain, but perhaps you can take comfort in this thought:
You can make further changes to the composition after the first performance, but, if you miss your deadline, the piece may not get a first performance, at least not by the musicians originally scheduled to perform it.

If you can find/create an opportunity for a second performance (which itself can be a challenge), aim to make that version of the piece the one with which you are fully satisfied.

When faced with a deadline, try to channel your inner Josh Donaldson, your inner Yoda, or, if you prefer, your inner Queen Elsa from Frozen (!), and let it go. (Sorry ☺️; I will herewith stop the slogans and catch-phrases, I promise!).

If, in order to meet a deadline, you had to "let it go" before reaching a point of complete satisfaction with your composition, just remember that you can get it back after the premiere and revise it further, if you wish.

Incidentally, I have no idea who first used the term "let it go" in a song, but a long time before 2013's Frozen, in 1980, John Lennon wrote I just had to let it go in a song called Watching the Wheels. The concept itself goes back millennia, and is associated with Buddhism, among other faith/philosophical traditions.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Henryk Górecki: Three Pieces in Old Style

Another Górecki piece (with scrolling score), quite different in character from the Symphony of Sorrowful Songs. Here's the write-up of this piece posted at the publisher's website:
Three Pieces in the Old Style were written in 1963, in answer to a friendly accusation on the part of Tadeusz Ochlewski, then director of PWM Edition, who stated that Górecki's works were lacking in melody. Work on the new composition lasted from 28 November to 23 December 1963, and its premiere took place on 30 April 1964 in Warsaw. 
This work was a sort of novelty - for here in the art of a young composer who had already openly declared himself as supporter of the avant-garde, there suddenly appeared three miniature pieces combined in one small cycle, characterized by a very strong reference to the style of Renaissance music. The composer himself mentioned years later that they had been an antidote for him, an attempt to go beyond the aesthetic of sonorism and post-serialism flourishing at the time. 
Written for string orchestra, this little work encompasses three segments, maintained in different tempi and differing in character. The outer movements of the cycle, reminiscent of lively dances, surround the nostalgic second piece. About this piece, Tadeusz Zieliński wrote in 1975: The purposefully simple, but at the same time tasteful dosage of purely sonorist values of string sound, variation and contrast in its density and dynamics, lead us to the very essence of Góreckis individual style. These pieces represent a modest (as it were, simplified, adapted to the archaic theme), but effective and charming sample of this style and the typical aesthetic-technical issues of their creator. 
Duration: 10 minutes