May Night: Karol Szymanowski’s First Violin Concerto

Ever heard a concerto that started like this before?

[Go on, listen to it all: it’s worth it!]

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May Night [Noc majowa] is the title of the poem by symbolist Tadeusz Miciński that was a source of inspiration for Szymanowski’s first violin concerto. The fantastical imagery of the poem –Miciński’s work was a precursor of surrealism and expressionism – certainly seems to find its parallel in the extraordinary sonorities of the music. Nature – birds, insects; human passions – exotic and erotic, all these seem to colour the dream-like world of Szymanowski’s fascinatingly beautiful creation.

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Asses in crowns settle majestically on the grass,
Fireflies are kissing the wild rose,
And death shimmers on the pond and plays a frivolous song…

…All the birds pay tribute to me
for today I wed a goddess…

Tadeusz Miciński: May Night
[Noc majowa]

Course materials:

More on modes

plus those (useful!) hardy perennials:

Cycle of 5ths

Keyboard graphic 2 octaves

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