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2004 | 4 | 5-26

Article title

ROMAN PALESTER AND LUIGI DALLAPICCOLA (Roman Palester i Luigi Dallapiccola).


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Although Roman Palester (1907-1989) and Luigi Dallapiccola (1904-1975) grew up in different creative environments and cultural traditions, their generational and spiritual affinities coupled with common artistic goals converged into a mutual friendship. In their mature periods, both composers drew upon the heritage of the Second Viennese School, in particular that of Alban Berg. Both composers' debut appearances took place in the 1930s and both were promoted by the International Society for Contemporary Music. Palester and Dallapiccola probably met at one of the pre-war contemporary music festivals; they later cooperated within the festival juries. Their relationship is documented by numerous letters from the 1940s and 1950s. In their early compositional careers they shared a similar position within their respective musical traditions. This situation changed when in 1951 Palester chose to emigrate from Poland. His works were banned in Poland and were denied both performances and appearance in print. When the Polish section of ISCM was revived in 1957, Palester's compositions, not representing any specific country, disappeared also from international festival programmes. It is unknown whether - and how - Dallapiccola sought to help his friend, but it is probably thanks to him that Palester established contacts with the Suvini Zerboni publishing house in Milan. As Boguslaw Schaeffer already remarked, Luigi Dallapiccola became the first exponent of the 'reconciliatory agenda' between traditional and twelve-tone music. Roman Palester clearly referred to this notion, although the stylistic breakthrough in his music between the 1940s and 1950s was influenced by his interest in the modern Viennese school and in the twelve-tone theory through the work of René Leibowitz. The affinity of his music with that of Dallapiccola can be seen in its unrigorous approach, particularly in the practice of introducing the series not at the beginning of a piece, but in its middle section and sometimes even at its end. In addition, both composers attributed great importance to varied texture, rhythm and colour in consecutive presentations of the series. In his best work - the 'musical action' 'The Death of Don Juan' (1959-1961) - Palester revives the tradition of expressionist theatre, as does Dallapiccola in his 'Il prigioniero', while the inner consistency of the narrative, based on one series, and the formal symmetry of both works indicate a common path in establishing a new opera style. Palester dedicated the last piece of his piano cycle 'Espressioni' (1964-1975) to Dallapiccola, to whom he felt closest of all contemporary composers. The conclusion of the piece bears the motto 'Ricordanza L. D. 18 II 1975' (Dallapiccola died on February 18th, 1975).






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  • Zofia Helman, Uniwersytet Warszawski, Instytut Muzykologii, ul. Krakowskie Przedmiescie 32, 00-927 Warszawa, Poland


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