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BBC Symphony Orchestra marks 100 years of Polish Independence 2 November, Barbican and BBC Radio 3

Wednesday 24 October 2018

  • World-premiere of specially-co-commissioned new work from Paweł Szymański inspired by Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points – the President’s famous principles for post-war peace and the foundation of the modern state of Poland
  • Programme includes Paderewski’s Concerto for Piano in A minor, Elgar’s homage to that great Polish musician and statesman ‘Polonia’, and Lutosławski’s Symphony No. 1   
  • Conductor Michał Nesterowicz and pianist Janina Fialkowska, make BBC SO debuts

The world-premiere of Paweł Szymański’s new score for orchestra is the centrepiece of a major event to mark 100 Years of Polish Independence with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. The 15-minute overture was inspired by Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points, the President’s famous statement of principles for peace following World War I and contributed to the foundation of the modern state of Poland.

Conductor Michał Nesterowicz leads the BBC Symphony Orchestra in this performance, joined by Polish-Canadian pianist Janina Fialkowska for Paderewski’s passionate and romantic Piano Concerto. The concert also includes Elgar’s characterful symphonic prelude Polonia (dedicated to composer and statesman Paderewski) and Lutosławski’s eloquent First Symphony.

The concert, a collaboration between Adam Mickiewicz Institute and BBC, is a landmark event for the UK among the worldwide celebrations of Polish Independence.

In Fourteen Points, Szymański reflects not just on Polish Independence, but also on President Wilson’s vision of peace and stability for Europe, almost unimaginable after the war in 1918. He does not forget the catastrophe that followed in 1939 however, nor the fact that Wilson’s vision of Polish independence was tarnished, in the composer’s view, by Communism. Although the piece consists of fourteen brief sections, Szymański will not be drawn on whether there is direct reference to Wilson’s Fourteen Points in the music, but invites people to be free in how they interpret his music.

Fourteen Points was co-commissioned for this special event by BBC Symphony Orchestra and the Adam Mickiewicz Institute as a part of the Polska Music programme and POLSKA 100, the international cultural programme celebrating the centenary of Poland regaining independence. Financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland as part of the multi-annual programme NIEPODLEGŁA 2017–2021.


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