Krzysztof Meyer

Krzysztof Meyer at the age of 70.
Krzysztof Meyer at the age of 70.

To be a composer you must ‘be born՚, but to pursue the profession you need to master a few skills,which Krzysztof Meyer did under the supervision of Stanisław Wiechowicz. After his teacher’s death, Meyer completed his studies in the class led by Krzysztof Penderecki and was awarded a diploma from Kraków‘s State College of Music (now the Academy of Music in Kraków). He was also supervised by Nadia Boulanger in Paris and Witold Lutosławski in Warsaw. He then taught himself: firstly theoretical subjects at his alma mater in Kraków, and later composition at the Hochschule für Musik in Cologne (1987-2008).

He made his debut whilst still a student at the IX ‘Warsaw Autumn’ festival in 1965 with his String Quartet No.1. He was, at the time, the youngest composer in the history of the festival. Meyer’s works from the 1960s were characterized by their diversity of sound which was typical of the ‘Polish school՚ of the avante-garde at that time. The sounds were often so unconventional that it was as if they were born from dissatisfaction with already existing instruments and traditional ways of playing. His works perfectly fitted into the repertoire of festivals of new music and, as a result, this drew attention to the composer.

In later works, Meyer gradually limited the multitude of sonic ideas. He increasingly focussed on the drama and expression as understood in a traditional way although avoiding romantic effects. The composer decided that music composed with contemporary language can also provide listeners with a deep experience and give the performers the pleasure of playing the music (and thanks to this his works have been performed by such artists as David Geringas, Heinz Holliger, Ivan Monighetti, Aurele Nicolet, Peter Pears, Boris Pergamenschikow, Dmitry Sitkovetsky). Initially, as he has explained, he created ‘stories told through sounds՚. Over the years, the ‘stories՚  became more and more dramatic and the ‘sonic narrative’ gave way to mood. These effects were enhanced, in particular, by the orchestra being like one huge instrument, in which the variety and the way of transformation in the colours and dynamics depends only on the fantasy of the composer. These pieces have often been included in concert programs addressed to regular concert-goers.

Mediathek
  • Krzysztof Meyer, student at the Music Lyceum in Kraków, 1961.

    Krzysztof Meyer, 1961

    Krzysztof Meyer, student at the Music Lyceum in Kraków, prepares for his piano certificate examination.
  • Music in the age of the avant-garde.

    Music in the age of the avant-garde

    This is what sheet music looked liked in the age of the avant-garde: the start of the I. String quartet by Krzysztof Meyer.
  • Sketches for the VII. Symphony.

    Sketches for the VII. Symphony, 2001

    Sketches for the VII. Symphony (2001), as ever in pencil: traditional notation, traditional sound.
  • Karlheinz Stockhausen was also a guest at the Festival in 1970 – here he is talking to Krzysztof Meyer.

    Festival of new music, 1970

    The “Warsaw Autumn” Festival of new music, presented since 1956.
  • Meyer talking to one of the most outstanding pianists of his generation Swjatoslaw Richter after his concert; Warsaw 1980.

    Meyer and Swjatoslaw Richter, 1980

    Meyer talking to one of the most outstanding pianists of his generation Swjatoslaw Richter after his concert; Warsaw 1980.
  • Between 1985 and 1989 Krzysztof Meyer was the chair of the Association of Polish Composers.

    Krzysztof Meyer, 1989

    Between 1985 and 1989 Krzysztof Meyer was the chair of the Association of Polish Composers.
  • Krzysztof Meyer and Mauricio Kagel met up regularly for years at the Academy of Music in Cologne, where both composers taught.

    Krzysztof Meyer and Mauricio Kagel

    Krzysztof Meyer and Mauricio Kagel met up regularly for years at the Academy of Music in Cologne, where both composers taught.
  • The opera "Kyberiade": The first page of the programme of the production directed by Friedrich Meyer-Oertel.

    The opera Kyberiade

    The opera "Kyberiade" with a libretto based on tales by Stanisław Lem.
  • Two of the protagonists in the opera Kyberiade in Wuppertal, 1986.

    Opera Kyberiade in Wuppertal, 1986

    Two of the protagonists in the opera Kyberiade in Wuppertal, 1986.
  • The five-year-old Krzyś with his parents Maria and Jan Meyer in their house in Kraków (Summer 1947).

    Krzyś with his parents, 1947

    The five-year-old Krzyś with his parents Maria and Jan Meyer in their house in Kraków (Summer 1947).
  • The composer and conductor Antoni Wit, who conducted the Polish premiere of the VI. Symphony “Polska”.

    Antoni Wit, 1984

    The composer and conductor Antoni Wit, who conducted the Polish premiere of the VI. Symphony “Polska”.
  • The composer talking to the conductor Andrey Boreyko before the world premiere of "Chansons d’un rȇveur solitaire".

    Düsseldorf, January 2013

    The composer talking to the conductor Andrey Boreyko before the world premiere of "Chansons d’un rȇveur solitaire".
  • In 1965 Krzysztof Meyer was the first diploma student of Krzysztof Penderecki.

    The first diploma student

    In 1965 Krzysztof Meyer was the first diploma student of Krzysztof Penderecki.
  • Krzysztof Meyer retained many unforgettable memories of his countless meetings with Dmitri Shostakovich.

    Armenia, summer 1979

    Krzysztof Meyer retained many unforgettable memories of his countless meetings with Dmitri Shostakovich.
  • Danuta and Witold Lutosławski with Krzysztof Meyer in Bergisch Gladbach, near Cologne, autumn 1992.

    Krzysztof Meyer, 1992

    Danuta and Witold Lutosławski with Krzysztof Meyer in Bergisch Gladbach, near Cologne, autumn 1992.
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