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Tadeusz Baird. The Composer, His Work, and Its Reception

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Barbara Literska

This book is the first monographic study of Tadeusz Baird – one of the greatest Polish composers of the second half of the 20th century, a connoisseur of music tradition and a prophet of the future of music (postmodernity), a composer of worldwide renown, an erudite. Baird was deeply engaged in art, aware of the threats and problems of contemporary world, and endowed with a sense of a mission. His personality was shaped by traumatic experiences during World War II and during the late 1940s and early 1950s. He was very demanding of himself and others. As signaled in the title, the book is an extensive, monographic representation of the composer's work and concepts in their stylistic, cultural, and esthetic contexts.

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4. Reception

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4.1. Methodological strategy

The reception of the musical work is a broad notion, variously defined.470 It is a process played out in a cultural time and space which imparts to the work a generalised, but widely approved, significance, value and message. The work itself is a fixed, historically invariable, element, but the changing context within which it functions (historical, social, aesthetic) affects the varying expectations and tastes of performers and listeners with regard to the work. Hence reception tells us not about how the work is in essence, but about how it is perceived. One basic method in the study of reception is analysis of all documents of an intersubjective kind (so not confined solely to the experiences, impressions and thoughts of a single cognizant subject) functioning in the representations of a given society. Following the classification of Małgorzata Woźna-Stankiewicz, we can distinguish four different forms of reception, which are linked to the degree of conscious and purposeful action on the part of the receiver.471 Most frequently encountered is the purely receptive form,472 which characterises every active listener who aspires to discerning the meaning and significance of the music being received. Reception of this kind is documented by all forms of personal archiving of observations and conclusions, so private correspondence and entries in a diary. We speak of the second form, defined as creative reception, when the receiver ‘transforms the process of reception into his or her own creative output’,473...

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