Born: 1882

Died: 1937

Karol Szymanowski

One of Poland's greatest composers, Szymanowski's language is exotic, highly perfumed and is increasingly often heard on concert platforms.

Szymanowski was born into a wealthy land-owning Polish gentry family in Tymoszówka, then in the Russian Empire, now in Ukraine. He studied music privately with his father before going to Gustav Neuhaus’s Elizavetgrad School of Music from 1892. From 1901 he attended the State Conservatory in Warsaw, of which he was later director (1926-30). He travelled widely throughout Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and the USA. These travels, especially those to the Mediterranean area, provided much inspiration. The fruits of these trips included not only musical works (notably the opera King Roger), but poetry and his novel on homosexual love Efebos, parts of which were subsequently lost in a fire in 1939. 

Szymanowski was influenced by the music of Wagner, Richard Strauss, Reger, Scriabin and the impressionism of Debussy and Ravel. He also drew much influence from his countryman Chopin and from Polish folk music. He died in a sanatorium in Lausanne from tuberculosis.

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