Audycja V (Programme V)
- Andrzej Krzanowski
The cycle of six vocal–instrumental–stage compositions, jointly titled Programme, was written in the years 1973–82. The audacity is striking with which the twenty-something composer used new means and unashamedly created a genre that would become identified with him. The common thread of these compositions is the specific text and musical content. The original composer’s concept was to perform the entire cycle during a single concert to show the evolution of form: from the relatively short Programme I and II to the nearly two-hour-long Programme V, the cycle’s climax.
The title alludes to radio programmes, in which music and text are complementary. Likewise in Krzanowski’s works, the text is not merely an inspiration for the music but has equal rights. Instead of traditional singing, the poems’ words are le to the actor’s free interpretation, resulting in their meaning being particularly emphasised. The peculiar vision of reality presented in the poems of Bierezin and Dolecki, in which reality mixes with the symbolism of characters and things, is directly musical as a testimony of the time and place of Krzanowski’s life: the grey everyday reality and nostalgia for absent values.
Programme V has no parallel in musical literature. Krzanowski composed the work in 1977, at the tender age of 26, as a summary of his earlier experiences in combining different arts. The circle of inspiration nods at Scriabin and his notion of syncretic art. Krzanowski himself called Programme V a metaopera: “it is a total transformation of existing values of traditional opera.” The work presents a synthesis of visual arts, poetry, drama, and film, all set to music that unambiguously identifies the composer’s style.
Why did the work wait more than four decades to be premiered? Likely because of the means envisaged by the score. The total concept calls for lights play, film projections, a happening / performance involving the audience, which is handed over candies and sprinkled with perfumed clouds. The cast includes actors, a solo soprano, chamber choir, an orchestra subdivided into several groups, dancers, a mime, and multi-channel electroacoustic layer. All this gave the performers a major challenge, impossible to overcome at the time of the work’s creation, especially given the lack of tradition for this kind of composition in Polish music. The opera is composed of 20 scenes. Krzanowski again used texts by Bierezin and Dolecki, but added two authors: Mrożek and Stanclik. The texts differ in their narrative, structure, and poetic means, but they share a common aura: grim and dimmed. In the poems, a personal, lyrical approach dominates, while the texts in prose suggestively emphasise details: the clash between everyday reality and fiction, seriousness and grotesque. Some words recur several times, gaining special importance in the narrative: “heart,” “love,” and “emigration,” known from the previous Programmes. Pessimism is supported by loftiness, referring to universal values and forgotten ideas.
Content is often presented simultaneously, with traditional singing clashing with screams, chanting, or interrupted, incisive laughter. A contrast of worlds and poetic means translates into musical contrast: a clash of intimate phrases and extreme, radical expression.
Poetic references and musical quotes weave a complex of associations and contexts, confirming the passage from abstract to symbolic art. The sounds of sirens, whistles, exatone, atypical articulations on traditional instruments, and a rich tape part, so typical of Krzanowski, are exposed in the foreground and remind us of the avant-garde experience. Yet this intuition is misguided: in one of his radio transmissions from the Warsaw Autumn Festival for Polish Radio Programme 2, Andrzej Chłopecki said: “all that can be associated with elements of sonorism, but it is no sonorism. ... It is the process of a tale, a great narrative. Krzanowski was the greatest visionary of Polish music of the 1970s. And maybe beyond? What if the premiere had happened in those times? Would the history of Polish music have taken another course?” Later, he said about the music itself: “This is truly new romanticism! There is no banalisation, but an investment of particularly ardent feelings into the matter.” This statement, referring to Krzanowski’s Symphony no. 1, would well apply to Programme V.
Earth, I am your firstborn son.
I was here – I am – and I shall be forever.
...I – Homo Faber – I cry out from the depths:
Draw the heaven to me, earth!
Mieczysław Stanclik, De Profundis (fragments)
a woman’s voice filled with light
unseen by the eyes
gazing at the starry sky ...
Zbigniew Dolecki, Universum (fragments)
This huge sea silence of the soul
is still present if so distant
as a breath of all seas
As God’s heartbeat
Zbigniew Dolecki, Sofrosine (fragments)
one of the patrons of my calendar
whose pages as harpsichord's steps
lead to the highest register
of being: love
Zbigniew Dolecki, * * * (fragment)
I boarded the train and set myself in the compartment. There were others: an artillery officer, a young girl, a bearded man—looking like a merchant, a friar, an old man with noble traits, a hunchback, almost a dwarf, and in the corner, a modest, miserable man.
When the train departed, the young girl, almost a child still, clapped her hands and exclaimed, jumping on the bench from a simple, naïve joy: We are going! Going!— Her braids were jumping up. The friar made the sign of the cross. His wide brown sleeve slipped down, revealing tanned skin and on the forearm, fragment of a tattoo. Gathering speed, the train ran on an iron bridge. An unpleasant clatter could be heard. Deep down, a river glittered. — In my youth, I swung on a chair and leaned too much backwards, explained the hunchback. His meticulousness seemed out of place. Suddenly, I encountered the eyes of the miserable passenger with a pale, tired face. He stared at the others. He was anxious. — All in God’s hands: the chair, the armchair, the shelf, sighed the friar, even the smallest shelf. The bearded man, undoubtedly a rich merchant, leaned with his hands on thick thighs. He apparently had a broad, jovial nature that resented sad or excessively earnest talk.
— Maybe we could sing?, he asked with a deep bass voice — In our place, at the Hedgehog Plain, we always sing while travelling. He shook his thick black hair. He had a friendly if somewhat canny face. — Sing, sing!, the girl clapped her hands again.
— In principle, you should only sing when marching, the soldier observed, I know this as an officer. e old man rebuked: — Singing is the privilege of youth. How noble did he look with his palms on the pommel of his old-fashioned cane.
— Only corrupt youth is afraid of singing, as a criminal who avoids bright, clean places, and is most at ease at the edge of a forest. e so words of the old man unexpectedly frightened the silent passenger. He sank deeper in his corner, and his eyes gazed wide open.
— The brass bell swung, hey, it swung..., proposed the merchant. — Do you know this?
— The bell, cried the young girl. I felt a sharp, edgy object rubbing me on the side at her every move. — The brass bell swung, hey, it swung..., the father from our white tower, intoned the merchant. — We should cast the bells into cannons, requested the officer.
e merchant sang in a smooth if somewhat unnatural bass voice. Suddenly something horribly happened to this throat. The bass voice ended and the next note was sung in a soprano, though clear and sonorous. Without noticing it, he kept on singing for a while in rapture, before noticing and stopping. He hemmed: It is always related to the weather. The new moon and drought, he said, trying to x his artificial beard which started to fall off.
— And I would play some whist!, exclaimed the officer, apparently trying to overcome the unpleasant situation. — A true garrison game!
—There is no room to place the cards, observed the old man. — Why not on me!, suggested the fat man — I shall sit in the middle and you can put cards on me. I can stand still.
I again thought he was too obviously making a case for himself.
— I have no cards, declared the officer after looking in his coat’s pocket.
— I left them at the front.
Yet there was something puzzling in their ostentation...
Suddenly and unexpectedly, total darkness engulfed us. The train entered a tunnel. A deformed echo struck. I lost any sense of direction...
Sławomir Mrożek, Who is Who (fragment)
I was boarding that train with mixed feelings. It was to be my first true voyage into the unknown. Unknown, as none of us knew where he was going. Some said it would be a voyage into history. Others claimed it would lead to a desert continent, or discussed the social and existential conditions in future prisons. The ones or the others were called idealists, I still do not know who was who.
My fellow passengers from the compartment differed little from other passengers. One older lady with a parrot and daughter, apparently the widow of a cavalry captain. A fat, puffing man suffered from asthma, and after a few days, also nostalgia. An exalted young man, a student from a working class family, had two passions: Shakespeare and narrating his sexual defeats with a curvy lady we knew—he claimed—from a Delacroix painting. By my side, the short-haired head of some officer nodded periodically. His female companion was visibly bored and kept looking defiantly at the student. Seated opposite her, a friar with a very thin face and parchment-like skin looked at the scene with obvious disgust. His fingers kept nervously moving the beads of a rosary so long as to look like a symbol of eternity. I can say little about two silent men seated at the window. They were sad, with no characteristic signs. They wore shining black top hats, which they kept on even during meals. When one of them bowed to an angel passing through the corridor, I saw his head rising with the top hat. For a while, I saw the neck looking from above as the trunk of a freshly cut tree; then all returned to normal.
After some time—I may not say how long—we learned from a moustachey train captain that a long stopover would happen. What would follow, he did not know. The train stopped at a large station at platform number twenty, which was as crowded as other platforms, with no realistic chance of leaving the carriage. At the doors, winged angels were stationed with hands in the pockets of their nylon raincoats. Their pockets were full of chalk and they drew a cross on the back of everyone who approached the exit or even went to the toilet. Inside, this posed no particular threat, but if anyone succeeded in leaving the train...
We knew the platforms were patrolled by pairs of identical angels – with no chalk but fiery swords. They smiled sympathetically to people trying to board the train. The waving crowd stormed all entrance doors. I saw from short distance the animated faces of women, screaming children, sweaty men carrying suitcases and elbowing their way to the train. An undescribable noise reigned on the station, further increased by a big beat band of the Union of Youths United in Unions. A group of girls in short chequered skirts and young long-haired boys wearing jeans and sweaters with high turtlenecks tried to enter our carriage. A few angels had to keep order; a man in black suit yelled something through a loudspeaker.
When we finally moved on, I noticed new passengers on the carriages’ roofs and buffers. Their fingers clinched to the metal, their faces grinning with happiness. We said nothing to them at the station, though contrarily to hearsay, our mouths were not laced up.
Jacek Bierezin, The Train
...underneath the branches of the veins and the knots of the ribs, a heart was beating.
Jacek Bierezin, The Woodcutter (fragment)
I rushed to be in time for the drunken ship, which was departing from the eastern station at 6:40. My suitcase was packed. I just needed a few books, like every thinking man.
After questioning the cause and effect of revolution in the domain of consciousness, as well as beauty and happiness (see the books of Sankhya: he who can discern considers human happiness to a be sort of suffering), nothing tied me to this city anymore...
Yesterday night, by verdict of my conscience, I reliquinshed my own right to internal emigration. Not without effort did I shut the heavy door of the only impossible exit...
Now I rushed to be in time for the drunken ship, which was departing from the eastern station at 6:40, evne though I knew there were no more drunken ships, that some voyages are as impossible as ever.
Jacek Bierezin, Emigration (fragments)
On all the world’s train stations where I have not been
(lack of money passport and so many other things)
on all mountain summits I have not climbed
in Zen Buddhism
I have sought ways of liberation
When the day was too large to find one’s way through it
when all the night gave you was a richness of pain
I held the hands of those who had not yet sold their hands
whose lips and eyes still desired
After the last season in the mountains
I decided to spend a season in hell
I am trying in vain to improve my failed CV
indecent because of
the word homelessness the word exile the word free
And the phraseological expression internal emigration
In lifestyle terms there is now more tolerance
so I need not hide at the bottom of the eye
of all women who were sundials
Measuring time the last one left me a hairpin
She feared she could fall in love with me
I shall not hide my suffering
I suffer from undeveloped feelings
weak will a need for strong experiences
the inability to work diligently with no perspectives
These features yield a tendency toward anarchy
drug and alcohol addiction
I shall wait one h of my life for a flat
if I survive the saddest afternoon
I shall switch on the TV just in time
to see the arms race
the peace race as well as the moment of solemn decoration
Jacek Bierezin, A Season in Hell
Let tiredness permeat all our paths
With a streak of rain let it walk over hot faces
Soothing music it shall play to the unweary
And bring the relief of doubt to the happy
Let slumber permeat all our nights
Drown our riches in the river of oblivion
Let wormwood be bitterer than wormwood
Let love be homeless and mute
(Freedom shall still be dangerous)
Distant truth and present earth.
Jacek Bierezin, * * *
(Translations of all texts: Wojciech Bońkowski)