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


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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The oeuvre of Tadeusz Baird – an attempted appraisal

According to the American art historian George Kubler, a scholar attempting to evaluate a work should bear in mind two points of reference. First, the autonomous value of a work resulting solely from the artist’s talent; secondly, the value of that work resulting from the place it holds in tradition (whether it is a primary work or a replica).1068 The results of detailed analytical consideration of the changes in Baird’s compositional style, as well as documents of analytical reception, allow one to affirm categorically the lofty value of his art. That is expressed both in his technical proficiency (métier) and in his continual self-improvement, in the processual character of his creative work. Although working in difficult circumstances, Baird continuously developed his talent, making a huge effort to seek his own ‘ideal’ music. For those reasons, most of his compositions were important and valuable at a particular creative moment.1069 Looking at his oeuvre with hindsight, of course, a number of ‘flagship’ works signalling changes in his style emerge: the Sinfonietta (neoclassicism), Colas Breugnon (quasi-archaic output), Four Essays (dodecaphony), Tomorrow (expressionism), Sinfonia breve (sonorism) and Voices from Afar (postmodernism). Yet it would be wrong to dwell on those compositions alone, since Baird was also a master of succinct, small-scale works for chamber forces (for example, Erotics, Play). In addition, one feature that indicates the lofty value of his art is his individual and creative connection with...

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