The Dream of Jacob

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The Dream of Jacob
by Krzysztof Penderecki
Krzysztof Penderecki 20080706.jpg
The composer in 2008
Native name Als Jakob erwachte
Key C
Dedication Prince Rainier III
Performed 14 August 1974 (1974-08-14) – Monte Carlo
Duration 7 minutes
Scoring Orchestra

The Dream of Jacob, also referred to as The Awakening of Jacob[1][2] (Polish: Przebudzenie Jacuba), is a composition by Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki. It is scored for large orchestra and was finished in 1974.

Conception and composition[edit]

The work's original German title, Als Jakob erwachte aus dem Schlaf, sah er, daß Gott dagewesen war. Er hat es aber nicht gemerkt (Jacob woke from his sleep and said: Truly the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it),[1][3] is extracted from the Bible and can be found in Genesis 28:16. The work was commissioned for the Silver Jubilee of Prince Rainier III of Monaco, to whom it is dedicated, and was first performed in Monte Carlo in August 14, 1974, by the Orchestre National de l'Opéra de Monte-Carlo under Stanislaw Skrowaczewski.[4][5] It was eventually published by the Polish Music Publishing House and Schott Music.[2][6]


The composition is scored for three flutes, three clarinets, three oboes, three B clarinets, three bassoons, five F horns, three B-flat trumpets, three trombones, one tuba, percussion and a large string section.[6] The composition is loosely based on the Bible passage mentioned above, therefore trying to resemble being in the desert on a ladder to heaven, while the angels are ascending and descending.[1]

The composition is in one movement and takes approximately 7 minutes to perform. According to the score, it is in C.[6] This composition is still one of the most performed in its repertoire and also the composition with which Penderecki introduced his neo-Romantic style, which he further developed in his following works,[5] moving away from the style he had been using for the previous 15 years, which included the composition of his first symphony.[7]


The composition received initially mostly positive reviews from Polish and European critics.[2] In the Polish literary magazine Kultura Paryska, the composition is praised for the elimination of "aggressive sound effects and terseness of form" in favor of a more refined style.[8] German music critic Detlef Gojowy described the compositions as bearing strong influences of Richard Wagner and Dmitri Shostakovich.[9] Andrew Porter, from The New Yorker, was also struck by the composer's exquisite use of the twelve ocarinas.[10] However, Polish magazine Ruch muzyczny stated that The Dream of Jacob did not "fulfill the emotional expectations of the German audience”, but the logic and clarity used in its composition was heartily welcomed.[11] Bernard Holland, from the New York Times, highlighted that the Cracow Philharmonic's performances were reviewed favourably, but also noted that the people "would eventually tire of the riveting sounds in his works and begin to wonder why its musical ideas do not flow together more effectively".[12] Penderecki was also criticized by the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra for the difficulty of the notation.[13] and June Schneider, from Music and Musicians, questioned if the composer "is able to provide anything other than superficial sound manipulations".[14]

In popular culture[edit]

The Dream of Jacob has been featured in other audiovisual material. The following is a list of the movies and video games in which the composition is featured:

Notable recordings[edit]

Following are some of the most well-known recordings of this piece:

Orchestra Conductor Record company Year of recording Format
Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra Krzysztof Penderecki EMI 1974 LP and CD[2][20]
St. Olaf Orchestra Krzysztof Penderecki WCAL 1977 LP[2]
Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra Jacek Kasprzyk Supraphon 1980 LP[2][21]
Kraków Philharmonic Orchestra Jacek Kasprzyk Polskie Nagrania Muza 1980 LP[2]
RAI National Symphony Orchestra Krzysztof Penderecki Fonit Cetra 1982 LP[2]
New England Conservatory Symphony Orchestra Piero Bellugi New England Conservatory Performances 1985 Cassette[2]
Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra Antoni Wit Polskie Nagrania Muza 1987 LP[2][22]
Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra Krzysztof Penderecki Chandos 1995 CD[23]
MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra Herbert Kegel Berlin Classics 2003 CD[24]
Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra Antoni Wit Naxos 2008 CD[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Blue" Gene Tyranny. "Krzysztof Penderecki – The Dream of Jacob, for orchestra". Rovi Corporation. Retrieved February 8, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Bylander, Cindy. Krzysztof Penderecki : a bio-bibliography. Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc. ISBN 0-313-25658-6. 
  3. ^ "Krzysztof Penderecki – "Als Jakob erwachte aus dem Schlaf, sah er, daß Gott dagewesen war. Er hat es aber nicht gemerkt."". Notafina GmbH. Retrieved February 8, 2014. 
  4. ^ Avis, Peter (2007). Penderecki: Orchestral Works. EMI Records Ltd. 
  5. ^ a b Whitehouse, Richard. "PENDERECKI, K.: Fonogrammi / Horn Concerto / Partita / The Awakening of Jacob / Anaklasis / De natura sonoris No. 1 (Warsaw Philharmonic, Wit)". Naxos Digital Services. Retrieved February 9, 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c Penderecki, Krzysztof (1973). "Als Jakob erwachte composer: Krzysztof Penderecki aus dem Schlaf, sah er, daß Gott dagewesen war. Er hat es aber nicht gemerkt." für Orchester. Schott Music. Retrieved February 4, 2014. 
  7. ^ Whitehouse, Richard (2000). 8.554567 – PENDERECKI, K.: Symphonies Nos. 1 and 5 (Polish National Radio Symphony, Wit) (Liner Notes). Hong Kong: Naxos Digital Services. Retrieved February 9, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Dużo szybko i powierzchownie". Kultura (41): 12. 1975. 
  9. ^ Gojowy, Detlef (1975). "Diese erstaunlichen Polen. Krzysztof Penderecki in Bonn". Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: 23. 
  10. ^ Porter, Andrew (March 21, 1977). "Musical Events: Catching Up". New Yorker (123): 27. 
  11. ^ "Penderecki dyryguje w Bonn". Ruch muzyczny 20 (1). 1976. 
  12. ^ Holland, Bernard (January 20, 1986). "Concert: Penderecki and Cracow Ensemble". Ruch muzyczny: 25. 
  13. ^ "The Israel Festival Trims Its Wings". High Fidelity/Musical America 25 38. December 1975. 
  14. ^ "Penderecki, HonRAM". Music and Musicians 23 (8): 43–44. December 1975. 
  15. ^ "The Shining (1980) Soundtracks"., Inc. Retrieved February 9, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Inland Empire (2006) Soundtracks"., Inc. Retrieved February 9, 2014. 
  17. ^ "Katyn (2007) Soundtracks"., Inc. Retrieved February 9, 2014. 
  18. ^ Hyrb, Larry (2007-10-11). "BioShockMusic list". Major Nelson's Blog. Retrieved 2007-10-12. 
  19. ^ Information about the album. Retrieved March 20, 2014.
  20. ^ "Penderecki: Orchestral Works". Warner Classics. Retrieved February 8, 2014. 
  21. ^ "Penderecki*, Lutosławski*, Baird*, Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra,Jacek Kasprzyk* – Anaklasis / Mi-Parti / Elegeia / The Awakening Of Jacob". Discogs. Retrieved February 8, 2014. 
  22. ^ "Krzysztof Penderecki – Stefan Kamasa, Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, Antoni Wit – Concerto For Viola And Orchestra / The Awakening Of Jacob / Adagietto From "Paradise Lost"". Discogs. Retrieved February 8, 2014. 
  23. ^ "Penderecki: A Polish Requiem; The Dream of Jacob". Chandos. Retrieved February 8, 2014. 
  24. ^ "Penderecki, K.: Capriccio For Violin And Orchestra / Capriccio For Oboe And String Orchestra / The Awakening Of Jacob / Threnody (Kegel)". Retrieved February 9, 2014. 
  25. ^ "PENDERECKI, K.: Fonogrammi / Horn Concerto / Partita / The Awakening of Jacob / Anaklasis / De natura sonoris No. 1 (Warsaw Philharmonic, Wit)". Naxos Digital Services. Retrieved February 9, 2014. 

External links[edit]