Polish composer famous for Sorrowful Songs

November 29, 2010

Polish classical music composer Henryk Gorecki, whose distinct minimalist style of music gained throngs of followers beginning in the early 1990s, died Nov. 12 from complications of a lung infection.

He was 76. Archbishop Damian Zimon of Katowice and Cardinal Franciszek Macharski, retired archbishop of Krakow, celebrated his funeral Mass Nov. 17.

He is most well known for his Symphony No. 3, Symphony of Sorrowful Songs.

But it took 16 years between the time the symphony was written in 1976 and the time it gained a worldwide following.

Critics initially panned the symphony when it debuted in 1977.

It was not until the symphony was released again in 1992, with American soprano Dawn Upshaw and the London Sinfonietta performing it, that listeners became attracted to it, citing the work's spiritual depth.

The second movement's lyrics are taken from a message etched by an 18-year-old woman on the walls of a Gestapo prison during the Second World War.