Epitaph op. 12
Epitaph is also Górecki’s homage to the poet Julian Tuwim, whose poems had inspired the last of the composer’s Three Songs op. 3 and his Songs of Joy and Rhythm op. 7. This time, he used words the poet scribbled on a serviette in a cafe in the mountain resort of Zakopane just an hour before his death: …for the sake of economy, put out the light eternal,
were it ever to shine for me.
The bitterness of this text seems to stand in contradiction to Górecki’s own deeply religious stance. Still, the composer brilliantly conveys the great poet’s farewell message. The extremely ascetic musical means, limited to a melo-recitation of Tuwim’s text with special emphasis on the words “eternal light”, repeated at the work’s start and finish and coloured by single instrumental sounds, mostly percussion, create a highly moving effect.
the first piece in which Górecki consciously arranged his performers in space.