Program Notes

Imaginary Variations, Violin and Piano, op. 114 (2010)

Born 11 August 1943, Cracow, Poland.

I happen to agree with Debussy’s beautiful remark that music begins where the words end. I also think that, contrary to the widespread practice during the last century, the composer’s task is to write music rather than talk about it. Even if the composer’s musings about matters technical or aesthetical may contain some useful information for the listener, making comments about a specific work inevitably leads to the imposition of the composer’s own vision, whereas the power of music lies in its ability to evoke a multitude of reactions.

This is why I shall limit myself to disclosing that the Imaginary Variations owes its existence to the beautiful recordings made by Janet Packer that I listened to with great pleasure before embarking on my task of composing the work. The title itself is but a reflection of a rather wicked idea: the piece was constructed on the model of classical variations and the listener may hear it as a constant transformation of a musical thought. In truth, the work consists of twelve short movements that may sound like variations but, in reality, they are not.

Krzysztof Meyer (translated by Marek Zebrowski)

Imaginary Variations was commissioned by Janet Packer with funding from the Pro Violino Foundation. It was premiered by Ms. Packer and pianist Geoffrey Burleson on 9 November 2011 at the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Chicago.  To date, Ms. Packer has performed Imaginary Variations sixteen times throughout the U.S.

Krzysztof Meyer was born on 11 August 1943 in Cracow. From the age of five he learned the piano, and from 1954 - theory and composition with Stanisław Wiechowicz. After graduating from the Fryderyk Chopin State Secondary School of Music in Cracow he began to study at the College of Music in Cracow where he obtained two diplomas with distinction: in 1965 in composition, under Krzysztof Penderecki (after Wiechowicz's death), and in 1966 in theory (with Aleksander Frączkiewicz). In 1964, 1966, and 1968 he studied with Nadia Boulanger in France. In 1965-67 Meyer appeared as a pianist with the contemporary music group "MW2 Ensemble,” giving concerts both at home and in most European countries. He also played his solo compositions for piano.

From 1966 to 1987 Krzysztof Meyer taught theory at the State College of Music (now Academy of Music) in Cracow. In the years 1972-75 he was the head of the Department of Music Theory. Since 1987 he has taught composition at the Hochschule für Musik in Cologne. He has also lectured on contemporary music abroad (Soviet Union, East and West Germany, Austria, Brazil). In the years 1985-1989 he was the President of the Union of Polish Composers.

Krzysztof Meyer is a prize-winner of numerous awards, including the First Prize at the competition for young composers in France (1966), Second Prize at the Young Polish Composers' Competition for Symphony No.1 (1966), the Aaron Copland Scholarship (1966), Honourable Mention for Symphony No. 2 (1967) and the First Prize for Symphony No. 3 at Fitelberg Competition (1968), Grand Prix at the Prince Pierre de Monaco International Composer's Competition for his opera Cyberiada (1970), twice Special Mention at Tribune Internationale des Compositeurs UNESCO in Paris for String Quartet No. 2 and String Quartet No. 3 (1970 and 1976 respectively), twice the Award of the Minister of Culture and Art (1973, 1975), the First Prize at the Karol Szymanowski Competition in Warsaw for Symphony No. 4 (1974), twice the Medal granted by the Government of Brazil for String Quartet No. 4 and Concerto retro (1975, 1977 respectively), the Gottfried-von-Herder-Preis (1984), the annual Award of the Union of Polish Composers (1992), the Alfred Jurzykowski Award (New York, 1993) and Johann-Stamitz-Preis (Mannheim 1996). He is a member of Freie Akademie der Künste in Mannheim.

A music historian as well as composer, Meyer is the author of the first Polish monograph on the life and work of Dmitri Shostakovich (PWM 1973; new edition and translations: Paris 1994, Bergisch Gladbach, 1995; Amsterdam, 1996; Madrid, 1997; St. Petersburg, 1998; Warszawa, 1999). He has also written a number of articles, mainly on contemporary music, published in Melos, Muzyka, Ruch Muzyczny, Das Orchester, Sovetskaya Muzika, and other periodicals.