Veni Creator op. 57 - Karol Szymanowski
In 1930 Karol Szymanowski was re-appointed chancellor of the re-opened Warsaw Academy of Music, its activities reformed and its name changed to the Higher School of Music. For this occasion he set Stanisław Wyspiański's hymn Veni Creator for soprano, chorus, organ and orchestra. The setting of the lofty and solemn words proved just as pompous, and Szymanowski reflected on it in a letter to Zofia Kochańska:
"Such a huge ceremonious-and-spectacular nonsense, and I personally do not like it, but had to do it for a number of reasons ... Unfortunately - entre nous - even this music machine is becoming rusty - Veni Creator is a proof - I find it invariably awful and written without heart. Yet I think it will be (in Warsaw, naturally) more successful than my best works - because of the pathos and the flourish!"1
Veni Creator was first performed by Stanisława Korwin-Szymanowska, the Music Conservatory Choir and the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra under Grzegorz Fitelberg during the opening concert of the Higher School of Music which took place at the Warsaw Philharmonic on 7th November 1930. In later years it would re-appear in concert programmes several times, but was hardly ever recorded. Of the few recordings of note is an early one, made in March 1966 by Halina Słonicka and the National Philharmonic Choir and Symphony Orchestra under Witold Rowicki (it is kept in the collection of the Polish Radio), as well as the 1989 one by Barbara Zagórzanka and Silesian Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra under Karol Stryja (released twice on CDs - by Marco Polo and Naxos).
The score has never been published.
1 "Karol Szymanowski. Korespondencja" / Letters, Vol. III: 1927-1931, part 3, p. 377-378, letter to Zofia Kochańska of 2nd Sept. 1930, ed. Teresa Chylińska, Musica Iagellonica, Kraków 1997.