Stabat Mater (Szymanowski)

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Karol Szymanowski's Stabat Mater was composed in 1925-1926 for soprano, alto and baritone soloists, SATB choir, and orchestra. The work is divided into six movements and uses Jozef Janowski's (1865–1935) Polish translation of the Marian hymn, Stabat Mater.

Szymanowski's first composition on a liturgical text, Stabat Mater was written during his late Nationalist period of 1922-1937, characterized by his use of Polish melodies and rhythms. Following a trip to Zakopane in 1922, Szymanowski wrote of Polish folk music: "[it] is enlivening by its proximity to Nature, by its force, by its directness of feeling, by its undisturbed racial purity." [1] Szymanowski's pairing of Polish musical elements with a liturgical text in Stabat Mater is unique, and a clear reflection of his Nationalist convictions as a composer.

Origin and performances[edit]

First commissioned in 1924, Princess Edmond de Polignac requested "a piece for soloists, choir, orchestra (perhaps with Polish text) - a kind of Polish requiem." [2] Teresa Chylińska indicates Szymanowski's intentions for the piece: "a type of peasant requiem - something peasant and ecclesiastical, naively devotional, a sort of prayer for souls - a mixture of simple-minded religion, paganism and a certain austere peasant realism." [3] Szymanowski and the Princess lost touch, thus the commission lost momentum. However, later that year thoughts on such a composition were revived when Warsaw industrialist Bronisław Krystall commissioned Szymanowski for a work in memory of his late wife. In addition, circumstances in the composer's personal life also served as an inspiration for the work.[4] Upon the death of his niece, Alusia Bartoszewiczówna, in January 1925, the composer spent time consoling his sister in her loss, subsequently choosing to set the Stabat Mater text, with its profound reflection on the "grieving mother."[4] External circumstances also served as motivation for the work, including financial need, although there is no evidence of the composer receiving compensation for this work.[5]

Premiered on January 11, 1929 in Warsaw, conducted by Grzegorz Fitelberg.

Published by Universal Edition, Austria.

Instrumentation[edit]

Soprano, contralto, and baritone soloists; SATB choir; and orchestra consisting of 2 flutes, 2 oboes (2nd doubling cor anglais), 2 clarinets in A, two bassoons (2nd doubling contrabassoon), 4 horns, 2 trumpets, timpani, bass drum, triangle, suspended cymbal, tam-tam, tubular bells, harp, organ (ad lib), and strings consisting of 8 first violins, 8 second violins, 6 violas, 6 cellos, and 4 contrabasses.

Movements[edit]

  1. Stała Matka bolejąca (Stabat mater dolorosa, verses 1-4) for soprano, SA choir, and orchestra
  2. I któż widział tak cierpiącą (Quis est homo qui non fleret, verses 5-8) for baritone, SATB choir, and orchestra
  3. O Matko Źródło Wszechmiłości (O, Eia, Mater, fons amoris, verses 9-12) for soprano, alto, SA choir, and orchestra
  4. Spraw niech płaczę z Tobą razem (Fac me tecum pie flere, verses 13-14) for soprano, alto, and SATB choir (a cappella)
  5. Panno słodka racz mozołem (Virgo virginum praeclara, verses 15-18) for baritone, SATB choir, and orchestra
  6. Chrystus niech mi będzie grodem (Christe, cum sit hinc exire, verses 19–20) for soprano, alto, baritone, SATB choir, and orchestra

Polish Text[edit]

Szymanowski chose to set Jozef Janowski's (1865–1935) Polish translation of the Latin Stabat Mater text. Although the 13th-century text is inherently dramatic, Janowski's translation is especially raw. Kornel Michałowski indicates the composer's initial attraction to the Polish translation was a result of its "unusually primitive, almost 'folk-like' simplicity and naivety.".[6] While the score includes Latin translations, the score notes that it should always be performed in Polish when performed in Poland.

For a full English translation and commentary on the Polish text and translation, see: Belland, Douglas Keith. An examination of the Persichetti, Poulenc, and Szymanowski Stabat Mater settings with pertinent information on the text. Dissertation: University of Cincinnati, 1992.

Study of Early Music[edit]

Coinciding with his composition of Stabat Mater, was Szymanowski's study of early music - encompassing "pre-Palestrinian" and Palestrinian periods, as well as a study of old-Polish religious music.[7] Devices used indicating this influence include: parallel movement between voices, modal pitch organization, and strongly patterned rhythms such as ostinati. Also incorporated into the work are melodic elements of two Polish Hymns: Święty Boże [Holy God] and Gorzkie żale [1] [Bitter Sorrows].."[8]

Nationalism and folk music[edit]

Influenced by composers such as Stravinsky and Bartók, Szymanowski began to incorporate folk music into his composition during his Nationalist period of 1922-1937. In the years preceding the composition of the Stabat Mater, the composer kept a notebook of highlanders' melodies that he encountered in his visits to the Tatra Mountains, which were later incorporated into his compositions. For example, his use of the Podhalean mode, an ancient Polish folk mode characterized by its raised fourth scale degree (Lydian), can be seen in Stabat Mater."[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Leon Pommers, "Polish Aspects of Karol Szymanowski's Style" (Masters thesis, Queens College of the City University of NEw York, 1968), 30
  2. ^ Samson, Jim. The Music of Szymanowski (New York: Taplinger Publishing, 1981), 180; quoted in Zielinski, Richard. "Karol Szymanowski 1882-1937: The Father of Contemporary Polish Choral Music" Choral Journal, Sept 2005: 9.
  3. ^ Zielinski, Richard. "Karol Szymanowski 1882-1937: The Father of Contemporary Polish Choral Music" Choral Journal, Sept 2005: 9
  4. ^ a b Zielinski, 9.
  5. ^ Belland, Douglas Keith. An examination of the Persichetti, Poulenc, and Szymanowski Stabat Mater settings with pertinent information on the text. Dissertation: University of Cincinnati, 1992.
  6. ^ Zielinski, 10.
  7. ^ Zielinski, 14.
  8. ^ Zielinski, 15.
  9. ^ Zielinski, 19.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Belland, Douglas Keith. An examination of the Persichetti, Poulenc, and Szymanowski Stabat Mater settings with pertinent information on the text. Dissertation: University of Cincinnati, 1992.
  • Chylinska, Teresa. John Glowacki, trans. Karol Szymanowski : his life and works. Los Angeles: University of Southern California, School of Music, 1993
  • Howard, Luke. Pan-Slavic parallels between Stravinsky and Szymanowski. Context: A journal of music research, Issue 13, Winter 1997, pp. 15–24. Melbourne: University of Melbourne. ISSN: 1038-4006.
  • Jeffers, Ron. "Stabat Mater", Translations and Annotations of Choral Repertoire. earthsongs, Corvallis, Oregon: 1988.
  • Maciejewski, B. M. Karol Szymanowski: his life and music. London: Poets & Painters' Press, 1967.
  • Saffer, Bernard Agnes, Sister. A stylistic analysis of Stabat mater for solo voices, mixed chorus and orchestra by Karol Szymanowski. Dissertation: University of Rochester, 1965.
  • Samson, Jim. The music of Szymanowski. New York : Taplinger, 1981.
  • Samson, Jim. "Szymanowski, Karol (Maciej)", Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed 2/1907), http://www.grovemusic.com
  • Szymanowski, Karol. Wightman, Alistair, ed. Szymanowski on music : selected writings of Karol Szymanowski. London: Toccata, 1999.
  • Szymanowski, Karol. Karol Szymanowski and Jan Smeterlin; correspondence and essays. London, Allegro Press, 1969.
  • Wightman, Alistair. Karol Szymanowski : his life and work. Brookfield, Vermont : Ashgate, 1999.
  • Zielinski, R. "Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937): The father of contemporary Polish choral music." Choral Journal No. 46 September 2005, 8-24.
  • Karol Szymanowski's "Stabat Mater". Spanish Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra. Thomas Dausgaard, conductor. Live concert.