In recognition of Cyprian Kamil Norwid’s contribution to Polish art and culture, on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of his birth, the Sejm of the Republic of Poland adopted a resolution declaring the year 2021 the Year of Cyprian Kamil Norwid.
Talented painter and sculptor, prose writer and playwright, Norwid is above all a poet for Poles. Having left Poland in 1842, he lived in Germany, Italy, Belgium, the United States, and especially in France, in Paris, where he died in 1883. His work has been rediscovered by a wider audience thanks to the Polish modernist movement Młoda Polska.
A radiophonic, musical and literary artwork, based on his poems translated into French, was created by the Polish composer Elżbieta Sikora on the occasion of the year dedicated to the poet. Together with the scriptwriter Zbigniew Naliwajek, they made a selection of poems on which this composition is based, having the ambition, as the latter says, “to share with the listener the relevance and modernity of the Norwidian concepts as well as to resurrect the beauty of a few lines of his luminous poems.”
Find out more about Norwid on culture.pl
Listening to Norwid’Ellipse
Texts: Cyprian Kamil Norwid / Translated by Christophe Jeżewski
- On the radio
“Let us imagine Norwid walking today in the streets of Paris. Is it really himself or is it his souvenir that walks among the passers-by? A bicycle, a scooter, a car pass by him, he hears the ambulance signal, the tramway bell stops him. He finds himself in a group of young people who are chatting and picks up the words of a rapper, the poet of our days.
Norwid, this exile, looks and observes, hears and judges. He is homesick, he misses his country, but he treats his homeland and his fellow citizens with great severity and irony. He feels bad always and everywhere but when free is [his] thought, he lives with delight. The beauty of his poems amazes us, the wisdom and insight of his observations force us to think.
The selection of the poet’s texts is the core of this radio work. The musical realization follows this structure, preceding it with an introduction and ending it with a coda. In the introduction, we go in search of Norwid, whose name is unknown to almost all passers-by; his words emerge just before the beginning of the first part; the coda recalls the fragments already used, like a mantra or a memento.
Text and music are intimately linked here: the sound scenography based on the sounds of accordion and double bass, often transformed, completed by the recordings taken in the streets of Paris, envelops the texts with which Norwid addresses us today. The sound of footsteps in a Parisian church evokes the world of the St. Casimir’s Hospice in Paris, where Norwid spent the last years of his life.”
The artistic agency SONORA MUSIC initiated this project.
Credit photo : Portrait of Norwid (National Library > www.polona.pl)