FACING A NEW REALITY: POLISH COMPOSERS IN THE FIRST YEARS AFTER 1945


After the WW2 Poland was included into the Soviet zone of political control. The cultural policy of the communist party was soon to shadow the musical life in Poland. But the first years after 1945 was the time of an enormous activity in recreating – after the war pounding – the structures for musical organisations and building the shapes for musical life in the country. Already in 1945 there were created such institutions as Polish Music Publishers (PWM Edition) and the Polish Composers’ Union – both to have a great impact on the artistic musical life for the following decades. Especially the years up to 1948 were of particular importance for creating institutions and for presenting important musical works. But together with tightening the political control, symbolised by imposing the doctrine of socialist realism in music (1949), the situation became much more difficult: composers lost their independence and the country plunged into the cultural isolation which lasted until the political thaw in 1956. The article aims to show the strategies that Polish composers took in the first years after WW2 to create both the organisational frames for their existence, and to compose ambitious and original music. The crucial time of “sinking into socialist realism” is presented using selected source materials – mainly the correspondence and speeches by the composer and music critic, Zygmunt Mycielski, President of the Polish Composers’ Union in 1948–1950.