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On 20 March 2021, the Polish Music Center at the USC Thornton School of Music will recognize the tenth anniversary of Henryk Mikołaj Górecki‘s death last November. Due to pandemic restrictions on public performances, the annual Polish Music Center Spring event will be held online, in a one-time broadcast on the Thornton/Live platform at 11 a.m. PDT (2 p.m. EDT, and 7 p.m. Central European Standard Time).

USC Thornton Professors Lisa Cooper Vest, Elizabeth Hynes, and Larry J. Livingston will provide context for Górecki’s music and share their memories of Górecki’s 1997 USC residency, including his triumphant conducting of the famous Third Symphony with the USC Orchestra on October 3. Their video contributions will be followed by a screening of the 2012 documentary film, Please Find—Henryk Mikołaj Górecki, directed by Violetta Rotter-Kozera. Produced by TVP Katowice, Silesian Film and IAM, this probing documentary is rarely seen outside of Poland. It will be presented in Polish with English subtitles.


Gorecki Autumn Poster
Gorecki Autumn Poster, 1997, USC, Los Angeles.

Musicologist and USC Thornton School of Music professor Dr. Lisa Cooper Vest specializes in contemporary music in Poland and recently authored a book, Awangarda—Tradition and Modernity in Postwar Polish Music, published by University of California Press.

Soprano Elizabeth Hynes, a USC Thornton School of Music faculty member since 1995 and former Chair of the Vocal Arts/Opera Department, performed in October 1997 as soloist in Górecki’s Third Symphony performed by Thornton Symphony under the direction of the composer.

A distinguished conductor, educator, motivational speaker and former Dean of USC Thornton School of Music, Larry J. Livingston was one of the organizers and hosts during Górecki’s visit and concerts in Los Angeles.

Find more information about the 1997 ‘Górecki Autumn’ at USC as well as Górecki’s music in general in the Vol. 6 No. 2 of the PMC’s Polish Music Journal, including Mark Swed’s rave review in the Los Angeles Times and many other details.

Film Screening

Violetta Rotter-Kozera’s 91-minute film was released to a worldwide acclaim in 2012. According to the director, “In my film I tried to explore the phenomenon of universality of Henryk Mikołaj Górecki’s music, but didn’t try to explain it as that is a mystery.” Rotter-Kozera’s fascinating documentary includes contributions from the composer’s wife, Jadwiga and her children— Mikołaj, a composer and Anna, a pianist. Distinguished film directors Peter Weir and Krzysztof Zanussi appear alongside such icons of contemporary music as Krzysztof Penderecki, Antoni Szabelski, Carol Wincenc, Antoni Wit and David Zinman. The Górecki documentary also includes commentary by musicologist Adrian Thomas (a friend of the composer) and a number of USC faculty who co-organized the composer’s visit in California and his campus residency, including Donald Crockett, Elizabeth Hynes, and Maja Trochimczyk, among others.

Additional archival material, including photos of Górecki with his LA friends, hosts, and PMC founders—Stefan and Wanda Wilk and other members of the Polish émigré community in Southern California—will round off this Spring 2021 PMC presentation.

Henryk Górecki with Wanda and Stefan Wilk and their daughter Diane, backstage in USC’s Bovard Auditorium on 3 October 1997. Photo courtesy of USC Daily Trojan.


20 March 2021 | 11:00 a.m. PDT [2:00 p.m. EDT, 7:00 p.m. Central European Time]
Remembering Górecki—A Discussion and Film Screening
Online broadcast at Thornton/Live