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Polish composer Henryk Górecki has died in Katowice, Poland, aged 76. Known principally for his Symphony of Sorrowful Songs, which Classic FM championed in 1992, Górecki did not achieve international fame until he was almost 60.
Górecki made a name for himself as a leading member of the young, avant-garde generation of composers in Poland whilst still a student. On leaving the school, he became a primary school teacher, and then went on to study composition in Poland and Paris.
In 1979, Górecki was selected to write music for Pope John Paul II’s visit to Poland, and his Beatus Vir received its first performance. Despite success in many composers’ competitions, Gorecki remained relatively unknown outside of Poland until the fourth commercial recording of the Third Symphony, Symphony of Sorrowful Songs, was released by Dawn Upshaw, the London Sinfonietta and David Zinman in 1992. This recording has sold over a million copies and risen to the top of the classical music charts in the UK and USA.
Górecki assimilated styles as wide as 14th-century Polish chant, 16th-century polyphony, Wagner, and 20th-century techniques including serialism, to develop his own individual style.