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Tam. Music for Violin, Voices and Instrument (Rafał Augustyn)

“When one grows older...”, one begins to glance – from time to time – under the cloak of reality. But then the cloak is turned inside out and one needs to look around again. This should suffice as the “programme” or “framework” of my concert: Tam [“There”] to texts by Bolesław Leśmian forms the first part of the diptych, while Tu [“Here”] to words by Tymoteusz Karpowicz – is a work still “in progress”.

For the foreigners among the audience (probably more than for the Polish listeners) I should also add that both text authors – the symbolic-ecstatic Bolesław Leśmian (1877–1937) and the structural-ironic Tymoteusz Karpowicz (1921–2005) – deeply explored the constructional and expressive possibilities of the Polish language, both in their own way. Their poetic worlds, ostensibly poles apart, in fact very well complement each other. (Karpowicz, who was himself a literary critic and historian, knew Leśmian’s work very well). One might even argue that the procedures used in the composition: assembling and disassembling the ensemble and its sections, rhythmic structures and gestures, and particularly, placing the voice and the text in a context – bear a close if not always fully conscious relation to the verbal operations performed by the two poets.

Composers frequently shun their native language – whatever their reasons, prosaic or noble. The Polish texts that I use “there” and “here” are an attempt to take the bull by the horns and handle the language on all the available levels of form and content. In this sense, the text may even be a more important material than non-linguistic sounds, and that is also true (though it may sound like a paradox) for the instrumental voices, including the solo part.

I wrote my first version of Tam “then”: in 2002, thanks to a scholarship from the Ministry of Culture, as that institution was called at that time. Later I often returned to that score on the margin of my numerous other projects, musical or not. So the present version is virtually a completely new piece of music.

I dedicate this composition to Christina Pryn.

Rafał Augustyn


Bolesław Leśmian


Something distant flashed there by

Despite the nearby water –

Something dewy welled up there

All amidst the garden.


Faraway worlds in a sparrow’s eye. The meeting of the flesh with grass.

Whispers in the well. Me in the woods. That fog was you? Could happen!

Your lips in the avenue. Dawn by the mill’s weir.

Sky in the gate opened wide. The death of bees in the clover.


In stars, on lake bottoms, on the hilltops,

In the lion’s maw, the snake’s fangs, the dream’s beyond-sights,

In the mole’s hole, man’s tears, in the lips and the eyes,

Even in shapeless carrion and meaningless clouds

Something still struggles, and bustles, and rustles!


Something winged has fulfilled

O’er a hustled flower!

Something God-sped has been scared

‘Tween me and the world!


from the cycle Mimochodem – [By the Way];

Zwiewność [Airiness], v. 9–12;

Eliasz – [Elijah] (excerpt)

(translated by Tomasz Zymer)