BBC Symphony Orchestra marks 100 years of Polish Independence 2 November, Barbican and BBC Radio 3

Content by Albion Media

The world-premiere of Paweł Szymański’s new score for orchestra is the centrepiece of a major event to mark 100 Years of Polish Independence with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. The 15-minute overture was inspired by Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points, the President’s famous statement of principles for peace following World War I and contributed to the foundation of the modern state of Poland.

Conductor Michał Nesterowicz leads the BBC Symphony Orchestra in this performance, joined by Polish-Canadian pianist Janina Fialkowska for Paderewski’s passionate and romantic Piano Concerto. The concert also includes Elgar’s characterful symphonic prelude Polonia (dedicated to composer and statesman Paderewski) and Lutosławski’s eloquent First Symphony.

The concert, a collaboration between Adam Mickiewicz Institute and BBC, is a landmark event for the UK among the worldwide celebrations of Polish Independence.

In Fourteen Points, Szymański reflects not just on Polish Independence, but also on President Wilson’s vision of peace and stability for Europe, almost unimaginable after the war in 1918. He does not forget the catastrophe that followed in 1939 however, nor the fact that Wilson’s vision of Polish independence was tarnished, in the composer’s view, by Communism. Although the piece consists of fourteen brief sections, Szymański will not be drawn on whether there is direct reference to Wilson’s Fourteen Points in the music, but invites people to be free in how they interpret his music.

Fourteen Points was co-commissioned for this special event by BBC Symphony Orchestra and the Adam Mickiewicz Institute as a part of the Polska Music programme and POLSKA 100, the international cultural programme celebrating the centenary of Poland regaining independence. Financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland as part of the multi-annual programme NIEPODLEGŁA 2017–2021.

Adam Mickiewicz Institute

The goal of the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, a state-funded cultural institution operating under its flagship brand, is to promote Poland and Polish culture abroad. Through the presentation of high-quality initiatives and events in the fields of art, music, and design, the Institute aspires to introduce an international audience to contemporary Polish culture. Adam Mickiewicz Institute has presented more than 5500 events, attracting an audience of more than 52.5 million across five continents.

Polska Music

For years now the Adam Mickiewicz Institute actively supports performances of Polish classical music by renowned international artists worldwide, aiming to increase its popularity across the globe under the brand Polska Music. As well as initiating international stage productions and concerts, commissioning new work, and nurturing contemporary composers, Polska Music also promotes recordings, books and events.

Polska Music has collaborated with a host of high-profile partners around the world, including the BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC SymphonyOrchestra, Berliner Philharmoniker, Bregenzer Festspiele,  Chandos Records, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Cité de la musique – Philharmonie de Paris, Elbphilharmonie, Ensemble Musikfabrik, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, Klangforum Wien, Lincoln Center Festival, London Philharmonic Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Münchener Kammerorchester, Philharmonia Orchestra, Rambert Dance Company, Royal Opera House, Time of Music Festival, Welsh National Opera and Quay Brothers.


From 2017 until 2021 the Adam Mickiewicz Institute will coordinate POLSKA 100, an international cultural programme accompanying Poland’s centenary of regaining independence. The content strategy of POLSKA 100 focuses on the modern reinterpretation of the heritage of the interwar period as well as on the legacy of the avant-garde.  This dynamic and creative period continues to this day to inspire artists. Projects that make up the program will be implemented in cooperation with the most famous Polish artists and cultural institutions.  POLSKA 100 is financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland as part of the multi-annual programme NIEPODLEGŁA 2017–2021.

BBC Symphony Orchestra

At the heart of British music for over 80 years, the BBC Symphony Orchestra performs an exciting, distinctive and wide-ranging season of concerts at the Barbican in its role as Associate Orchestra, offering everything from works at the heart of classical music to world premieres from today’s finest composers. The BBC SO provides the backbone of the BBC Proms, performing around a dozen concerts each year, including the First and Last Nights. It performs throughout the world, and works regularly with its Chief Conductor Sakari Oramo, Semyon Bychkov, its Günter Wand Conducting Chair and Conductor Laureate Sir Andrew Davis. Strongly committed to twentieth-century and contemporary music, it has given recent premieres of works by Harrison Birtwistle, Betsy Jolas, George Walker and Raymond Yui. Central to its life are recordings made for BBC Radio 3 during sessions at its studios in Maida Vale, London, some of which are free for the public to attend. The vast majority of its concerts are broadcast on BBC Radio 3, streamed live online, and a number are televised, giving it the highest broadcast profile of any UK orchestra. Among ongoing learning projects are the BBC SO Plus Family scheme, which introduces families to live classical music, BBC SO Family Orchestra and Chorus, Total Immersion composer events, and work in local schools.

BBC Symphony Orchestra

2018-19 Season

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