Tone Poem Tuesday

Mieczysław Karłowicz was a Polish composer who was just coming into his own, and who might well have become that nation’s greatest composer, when he was killed in an avalanche while skiing when he was just 32. He did not leave behind a particularly large body of work, but what remains is nevertheless fascinating post-Romantic writing, lush and evocative, almost impressionistic in its tone coloring. This work, “Returning Waves”, was apparently inspired by a trip Karłowicz took to the sea. A YouTube commenter provides this quote, apparently from Karłowicz’s journal:

“We sat on a rock jutted out into the sea, which was boiling. It clung to the rocks, and anger was accompanied by a roar that made a thunderous noise. The rocks were dripping from the receding waves, and when the sun came out for a moment, the whole battlefield was cleared up with white spots like snow, and the green water flashed like glass.”

I can’t vouch for the accuracy of this–information on this particular work is hard to find online–but it definitely seems to fit the piece’s general mood. This is earthy, naturalistic music that puts me in mind of other post-Romantic composers like Arnold Bax.

Here is “Returning Waves” by Mieczysław Karłowicz.

(I just did a quick search to see if I’ve mentioned him before, and it turns out that Mieczysław Karłowicz was actually the composer I featured on the very first Tone Poem Tuesday I ever did, back in 2016! How time goes by….)

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