Sorrowful Songs

Henryk Górecki’s 3rd Symphony, the Symphony of Sorrowful Songs, was composed in 1976. While many take its meaning as a remembrance of the Holocaust, Górecki himself said that it was an evocation of the ties between mother and child.

Here’s the second movement in a filming that underscores the Holocaust interpretation. It’s an extract from Holocaust – A Music Memorial Film, which was shot in Auschwitz. The soprano is Isabel Bayrakdaraian, and she is accompanied by the Sinfonietta Cracovia, conducted by John Axelrod.

According to the Wikipedia entry for the 3rd Symphony, the text of the second movement is an inscription scrawled on the wall of a cell of a Gestapo prison in the town of Zakopane, in southern Poland. The words were those of 18-year-old Helena Wanda Błażusiakówna, a highland woman incarcerated on 25 September, 1944. It read “O Mamo nie płacz nie—Niebios Przeczysta Królowo Ty zawsze wspieraj mnie” (Oh Mamma do not cry—Immaculate Queen of Heaven support me always). 

(hat tip to The Observer for the link to the video)

About Geoff Coupe

I'm a British citizen, although I have lived and worked in the Netherlands since 1983. I came here on a three year assignment, but fell in love with the country, and one Dutchman in particular, and so have stayed here ever since. On the 13th December 2006 I also became a Dutch citizen.
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