The Solemn Overture for symphony orchestra
Through his adult life Kilar maintained strong links with Katowice, the Upper Silesian capital. Asked by director Jane Campion, he even said that in order to write music in his style, one had to live there It is therefore not surprising that he celebrated the granting of city rights to Katowice with a special work: Solemn Overture.
single-movement composition is clearly divided into three sections. The first,
a grandiose chorale, develops in a dialogue betweenbrass and strings. Tension
rises until wind instruments including the woodwinds, accompanied by timpani
and cymbals, introduce a new variant of the previous thread: a simple melody
soon taken up by the strings. This becomes the basis for the second section. The
melody, wrapped in others, wanders through the voices of the string quintet,
from lowest (double basses) to highest (violins). Incidentally, with regard to
structure and sound, this
section resembles the beginning of Henryk Mikołaj Górecki’s Symphony No. 3, and with regard to sound and mood,, to the exposition of the main theme of
Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. The string melody is next taken up by thewinds,
which bring about its apotheosis of sorts. When it occurs, the strings, against
marching strikes of the snare drum, again introduce the choral thread from the
beginning of the piece, which is then continued in a dialogue with the brass.
Thus begins the third and final section of the Overture. The material
from the preceding two episodes is “accumulated” here: the chorale from the
introduction (in the brass) and its variant (in the woodwinds) are not played
in succession, but simultaneously.
Two important qualities of the Overture – the final “accumulation” of material from the earlier sections, and the measured rhythm bringing to mind a solemn procession – indicate a possible source of Kilar’s inspiration. A similar structure and similar (though not grandiose) mood can be found in Festivals (Fêtes), the second of Debussy’s orchestral Nocturnes. The French composer was a genuine idol for Kilar, and that second Nocturne was among his “beloved pieces.”