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Portrait of Górecki
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Henryk Górecki

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Symphony No. 3, Op. 36, Symphony of Sorrowful Songs

Polish composer Henryk Górecki composed his 3rd symphony between October and December of 1976. The piece's profound emotional impact and heartbreak is best heard in the second movement, which Górecki based on a prayer written by a young Jewsih woman on the wall of the cell where she was imprisoned by the Gestapo. It is this text and the two others used by Górecki from which the symphony receives its name, Symphony of Sorrowful Songs. A solo soprano sings a different Polish text on the themes of motherhood and separation through war in each movement. In the first movement, Górecki sets a 15th-century Polish lament of Mary, mother of Jesus. The prayer of the imprisoned Jewish girl follows in the second movement and a Silesian folk song of a mother searching for her son who has been killed by the Germans is heard in the third movement. We play the 1992 David Zinman/Dawn Upshaw recording that became a sensation, selling over a million copies.