Variations on a Polish Folk Theme for piano Op. 10 – Karol Szymanowski
Like Variations in B flat minor Op. 3, so Variations on a Polish Folk Theme for piano Op. 10 date from the period of Szymanowski's studies under Zygmunt Noskowski and it was to him that they were dedicated. Composed in 1900-1904, they draw their theme from a tune in Jan Kleczyński's book O muzyce podhalańskiej / On the Music of Podhale (1888); interestingly, this tune will reappear in Harnasie a few years later.
The ten variations have a somewhat uneven stylistics, a fact attributable to Szymanowski's formative stage. Traditional passages that follow the nineteenth-century pattern (such as the final variation with the four-voice fugue) exist side by side with more individualized ones in which Szymanowski's creativity manifests itself alongside his mastery. Such is for example the moving, tense variation No. 8, its form that of a funeral march. Roman Palester has adapted it for symphony orchestra and this version was played by the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra under Józef Ozimiński during Szymanowski's funeral ceremony in Warsaw on 6th April 1937.
Author: Anna Iwanicka-Nijakowska, September 2007.