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Polish composer and pianist, b. 9th July 1951 in Ruda Śląska. In 1970-76, he studied composition with Henryk Mikołaj Górecki and piano with Czesław Stańczyk at the State Higher School of Music in Katowice (now the Music Academy). In 1976, he received a French government scholarship to study composition with Olivier Messiaen in Paris. At present he holds the post of professor at the Department of Composition, Conducting and Music Theory at the Music Academy in Katowice. He is the founder and director (since 1992) of the Computer and Electroacoustic Music Studio at that academy. As a pianist, he gives performances in Poland and abroad, playing mostly 20th century piano works. He has widely recorded for the radio and television as well as record companies.
Eugeniusz Knapik has won numerous prizes as a composer and pianist, including, in 1976 - a prize of the Festival of Polish Piano Interpretation in Słupsk, as well as 2nd prize in the Young Composer's Competition of the Polish Composers' Union for Le Chant for soprano and orchestra (1976); in 1977 - 3rd prize in the International Chamber Music Competition in Vienna for Concerto grosso for chamber orchestra (1972-77); in 1979 - 1st prize at the "Young Musicians for the Young City" Festival in Stalowa Wola for Corale, interludio e aria for flute, harpsichord and strings (1978); in 1985 - the Stanisław Wyspiański Award for Wyspy [Islands] for chamber string orchestra (1983-84). His compositions twice represented the Polish Radio at the International Unesco Rostrum of Composers in Paris: in 1978 his La Flute de jade for soprano and orchestra (1973) was recommended, and in 1984 his String Quartet (1980) was selected. In the same year, the composer was granted the annual Prize of the Polish Composers' Union as well as the Minister of Culture and Arts Award. In 1985, he received the Polyhymnia Award for chamber music.
In 1988, Eugeniusz Knapik started his work on an opera trilogy entitled The Minds of Helena Troubleyn to a libretto by Jan Fabre, which had been commissioned by the director of Opera la Monnaie in Brussels. In 1990, the first part of this cycle - Das Glas im Kopf wird vom Glas (1988-90) - was premiered in De Vlaamse Opera in Antwerp. In 1992, the 2nd part - Silent Screams, Difficult Dreams (1990-92) - had its first performance during the Documenta IX in Kassel. During the 1996 "Warsaw Autumn" International Festival of Contemporary Music, the first stage performance of part 3 - La liberta chiama la liberta (1993-95) - took place. In collaboration with Jan Fabre, Knapik has also staged ballet spectacles: The Sound of One Hand Clapping (1991), Da un'altra faccia del tempo (1993) and Quando la terra si rimette in movimento (1995), and Three Solos (1995).
worksEugeniusz Knapik made his debut as a composer with Andrzej Krzanowski and Aleksander Lasoń at the "Young Composers for the Young City" festivals in Stalowa Wola, where in 1975-80, eleven works by these three composers (named "Generation '51" because of their dates of birth) were performed for the first time. Eugeniusz Knapik had two of his compositions premiered in Stalowa Wola: Tak jak nad brzegiem morza [As on the Seashore] for instrumental ensemble and tape (1977) and Corale, interludio e aria for flute, harpsichord and eleven string instruments (1979). The composer defined the principles of the Stalowa Wola group in these words: "The work of the composers who entered their artistic lives at the fesivals in Stalowa Wola was a kind of opposition to the 1950s and 60s avant-garde: opposition towards novelty for novelty's sake, and towards total destruction. This opposition was a spontaneous, intuitive, deep-rooted reaction, which we only later became fully aware of."
Eugeniusz Knapik was the most radical of these "dissidents", and he penetrated most deeply into the musical tradition. His work best fits into the definition of "new romanticism", a term used for the Stalowa Wola generation also at a later time. Many years after these festivals, the composer said: "I am most interested in music which expresses certain values. For many years, I have been extremely keen on music and art from the turn of the 19th century: the last quarter of the 19th and the first quarter of the 20th centuries. Mahler's and Skriabin's works appeal to me the most, but I am also fascinated with the last opuses by Beethoven, the compositions of Brahms and - in the 20th century - Ives and Messiaen. Recently, two or three years ago, I made my personal discovery of Szymanowski, whose music I get to know again working with students of the Piano Sonata No. 3, Symphony No. 4, or listening to mazurkas. For years, Szymanowski's music seemed unclear and weirdly complicated to me. I thought that the composer worked on these pieces in a somewhat "impure" manner. It is only now that I am beginning to understand this. Five years ago, I wouldn't even have mentioned his name."("Studio" 1995 no. 1).
Knapik's work, romantic in outward expression, distinctly individual, is characterised by excellent composer craftsmanship, with strong emphasis on the melodic component. The melody is again the central element determining the form of the musical work.
Three Miniatures for Piano (1970)
Sonata for Violin and Piano * (1971)
Sonata for solo flute * (1972)
Concerto grosso no. 1 for chamber orchestra (1972-77)
La Flute de jade for soprano and orchestra to words by Chinese poets * (1973)
Psalms for solo voices, mixed choir and great symphony orchestra (1973-75)
Le Chant for soprano and orchestra to texts by Paul Valéry * (1976)
Tak jak na brzegu morza... for instrumental ensemble and tape to a text by Paul Valéry * (1977)
Corale, interludio e aria for flute, harpsichord and string ensemble * (1978)
String Quartet * (1980)
Partita for violin and piano * (1980)
Hymn for clarinet, trombone, cello and piano * (1982)
Versus I for organ * (1982)
Islands for chamber string orchestra * (1983-84)
Strophes for baritone, horn and organ (1984-85)
Das Glas im Kopf wird vom Glas, opera in 8 scenes to a libretto by Jan Fabre - Part 1 of an opera trilogy The Minds of Helena Troubleyn (1987-89)
Silent Screams, Difficult Dreams, opera in 4 scenes - Part 2 of an opera trilogy The Minds of Helena Troubleyn (1990-92)
The Sound of One Hand Clapping, ballet to a libretto by Jan Fabre (1991)
Da un'altra faccia del tempo, ballet to a libretto by Jan Fabre (1993)
La liberta chiama la liberta, opera in 5 scenes - Part 3 of an opera trilogy The Minds of Helena Troubleyn * (1993-95)
Quando la terra si rimette in movimento, ballet to a libretto by Jan Fabre (1995)
Three Solos, ballet to a libretto by Jan Fabre (1995)
Up Into the Silence, songs for soprano, baritone, string ensemble and orchestra to words by Edward E. Cummings and Jan Fabre * (1996-2000)
Tha' Munnot Waste No Time for three (or two) pianos and clarinet (1998)
I'm Coming Near You for soprano and chamber orchestra to words by Edward Stachura (2001)
Baculewski Krzysztof Knapik Eugeniusz.In: Encyklopedia Muzyczna PWM (część biograficzna pod red. Elżbiety Dziębowskiej) [The PWM Encyclopaedia of Music - biographical part, ed. by Elżbieta Dziębowska], vol. "klł", PWM, Kraków 1997
Bias Iwona Eugeniusz Knapik. Kompozytor i pianista [Eugeniusz Knapik. The Composer and the Pianist.], Akademia Muzyczna w Katowicach, Katowice 2001
Kosz Stanisław Eugeniusz Knapik - "Wyspy" [Eugeniusz Knapik - "Islands"].In: Muzyka polska 1945-1995 [Polish Music 1945-1995] (ed. by Krzysztof Droba, Teresa Malecka, Krzysztof Szwajgier), Akademia Muzyczna w Krakowie, Kraków 1996
Thomas Adrian Knapik Eugeniusz.In: The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Second Edition (ed. Stanley Sadie), vol. 13, Macmillan Publishers Limited, London 2001