Meyer at 70

Krzysztof Meyer

2013 was an anniversary year for Krzysztof Meyer, who celebrated his 70th birthday last August. In recognition of Meyer’s admirable accomplishments as a composer, many concerts and festivals throughout Europe commemorated the occasion with a slate of concerts devoted to Meyer’s opus.

First and foremost, two of Meyer’s operas were premiered in Poland: Gracze [Players] in January 2013 in Gdańsk, and Cyberiada in May 2013 in Poznań. The first is Meyer’s completion of the unfinished score by Shostakovitch. Meyer’s opera Cyberiada was written to a libretto by Stanisław Lem and recognized with the Grand Prix by Prince Pierre of Monaco in 1970. It was performed in Germany on a few occasions in the 1980s, but its staging in Poznań was a Polish premiere. The manuscript of Cyberiada is housed in the Polish Music Center’s Manuscript Collection at USC.

Meyer Cyberiada manuscript
Krzysztof Meyer, Cyberiada manuscript

During the 2013-1014 season, Meyer was composer-in-residence for the National Philharmonic in Warsaw. Four of his major works—Sinfonia da Requiem for Chorus and Orchestra (to texts by Adam Zagajewski), Mass for Choir, Organ and Orchestra, the Clarinet Quintet and the Second Sonata for Cello and Piano were heard during that season from the Warsaw Philharmonic stage.

Meyer’s song cycle for soprano and orchestra to texts by Paul Verlaine received its world premiere in Duesseldorf, and the Bayerischer Rundfunk presented Meyer in June in a special evening program, highlighting his work. The Fourth International Shostakovich Music Festival in Gohrisch, Saxony, placed Meyer’s works along those by Shostakovich and Britten during a weekend of concerts in late September 2013.

For a few years now, Meyer’s music has appeared on the NAXOS label and the company’s recently-completed project included a recording of all thirteen of Meyer’s string quartets as performed by the Wieniawski String Quartet: String Quartets, Vol. 1 – Nos. 5, 6 and 8 (Naxos 8.570776); String Quartets, Vol. 2 – Nos. 9, 11 and 12 (Naxos 8.572656); String Quartets, Vol. 3 – Nos. 7, 10 and 13 (Naxos 8.573001); and String Quartets, Vol. 4 – Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4 (Naxos 8.573165). Upcoming NAXOS releases will feature Meyer’s Piano Quartet and Piano Quintet.

The Music Academy in Poznań honored Meyer’s birthday with a book, containing articles by several noted musicologists about the composer and his prolific catalogue of works. The publication of this volume was a fitting tribute to Meyer’s teaching activities that spanned nearly half a century. Busy as always with composing, Meyer divides his time between his residences in Germany and Poland and is currently working on a composition for organ and orchestra, commissioned by the Łódź Philharmonic and scheduled for a world premiere in February 2015.

[Sources: email communication, naxos.com, ilharmonia.pl, ]