Who is Karol Szymanowski? The Polish composer in today's Google Doodle

Who is Karol Szymanowski? The Polish composer in today's Google Doodle
Poland’s Independence Day marked by Google Doodle

Today’s Google Doodle has taken a rather musical turn as the illustration honours the life and work of the composer Karol Szymanowski.

The vibrant illustration by Wrocław-based guest artist Paweł Szlotawa features a cartoon of Szymanowski smiling as he plays the keyboard, while musical notes and a loopy “Google” floats around him.

Who is Karol Szymanowski?

On what would have been his 141st birthday, Karol Szymanowski was a well-respected Polish composer of the 20th century.

In 1918, when Poland gained independence, Szymanowski helped to create the country’s national sound and was renowned for his originality, innovation and use of many styles, becoming a master of orchestration.

He was born on 3 October 1882 in Timoshovka, Ukraine. In his early childhood, he learned to play the piano and later, in 1902, moved to Warsaw to study harmony, counterpoint, and composition.

Feeling as though the city’s tastes were too conservative, in 1905, Szymanowski co-founded the Young Polish Composers’ Publishing Company. The organisation helped give him opportunities to perform his own works on stages in places such as Berlin and Warsaw.

Paweł Szlotawa, Google

The start of World War I stopped Szymanowski’s burgeoning career and the young composite returned home to Ukraine where he went into artistic isolation. It was during this time that his inspiration widened to even further afield, and included Mediterranean cultures and ancient Greek philosophy.

In 1919, Szymanowski was able to return to Poland, which was newly independent. There, he realised that Poland lacked a national sound and his music transformed to create one – a move that split opinion. He took inspiration from visits to the Polish highlands and listening to Podhale and Kurpie folk music.

His creative associates included people such as the writer Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz, poet and dancer Borys Kochno and actor Witold Conti. Meanwhile, his works, such as his opera King Roger, referenced his romantic relationships.

Throughout his decorated career, Szymanowski earned many awards and accolades and was notably awarded the National Prize for Music in 1935. He also served briefly as the rector of the Warsaw Conservatory and was also an honorary member at music academies across the world.

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