Monika Karwaszewska, Piotr Rojek

Krzysztof Knittel’s chamber opera and Agnieszka Stulgińska’s music theatre – examples of new syncretistic medium in contemporary Polish music

The new technologies and the development of the new media result in a global and unlimited access to multimedial contents and, additionally, change the process of creating music and the manner in which it is perceived. As a result, compositions are created in which the very process is perceived as a basic medium of creative expression. The concept of the medium itself when it comes to considerations regarding artistic creation, however, is by no means obvious and requires a further comment during the paper presentation.

Intermediality, as a phenomenon of postmodern culture, constitutes one of the significant paradigms of contemporary comparative studies. It is an artistic gesture which consists in combining different ways of passing information, where media construct a new integrated message.

The paper will present selected works by Polish composers – The Heartpiece – Double Opera (1999) by Krzysztof Knittel and John King as well as Three Women for three women and 10 instruments (2017) by Agnieszka Stulgińska, both of which create an intermedial spectacle with elements of performance, revealing the symbolic meaning of sound emission that interacts with the text of the play, its choreography, light, the theatrical form and electronic medium.

Stuglińska’s work is a kind of a modern musical theatre in which the listener, apart from the sounds generated by various sources, follows the elements of the scenery (performers’ body movements, the arrangement of the performers and speakers on the stage, the props, emission of light). It is light that turns out to be the main form-defining matter of the work. The changes in its intensity influence distinguishing the particular parts of the work.

The chamber opera, in turn, is the result of creative work of two composers (a Polish one and an American one) on the text of the libretto based on the play Herzstück by Heiner Müller. Each of the composers created music to their own parts of the opera written in their native language. Music and text became the basis for creation of an active scenery which is built live during the performance.

The aim of the paper is a multi-aspect analysis and interpretation of the selected works’ scores and recordings as well as of the media that were employed for creating the artefact.
The relations between the form of the score noting and the semantics of the text in Double Opera, where music can be both seen and heard, will constitute another research aspect.

For characterising the object of research, the concept of hybridisation and Werner Wolf’s theory of intermediality, which assume the presence of various relations into which a given medium enters with other media, turn out to be fundamental.
Partly improvised works under analysis represent the kind of compositions in which intracompositional intermediality, to use Wolf’s terminology, is present. The fusion of different means of expressing meanings creates an intermedial discourse, a complementary whole and the final artistic result – a new syncretistic medium.


Stanislaw Moniuszko Academy of Music in Gdansk, Poland

Is music theoretician. She is a graduate of The Stanislaw Moniuszko Academy of Music in Gdansk with a degree in Music Theory. Since 2006 she has been working at her alma mater in the position of a lecturer (assistant professor). In 2013 she was granted the doctoral degree in musical arts for her thesis Andrzej Dobrowolski’s compositional idiom in the context of stylistic changes in Polish music of the 2nd half of the 20th century (a supervised research project of the Minister of Research and Higher Education funded by the National Research Centre) at the Academy of Music in Cracow. She is the member (candidate) of the Musicologists’ Section of the Polish Composers Association and the author of the monograph Andrzej Dobrowolski. The Music of Pure Form. Her scientific interest focuses on the theory of music of the twentieth and twenty first centuries, accounting for intermedial and intertextual methodologies.

Karol Lipinski Academy of Music in Wroclaw, Poland

Is graduated from The Karol Lipinski Academy of Music in Wroclaw at the Department of Instrumental organ class Andrzej Chorosiński and the Department of Composition, Conducting, Music Theory and Music Therapy in composition Zygmunt Herembeszta and Krystian Kiełb. Held a series of master classes – interpretative and improvisational, led by such outstanding personalities from the world of organ music. P. Rojek is working as a lecturer (associate profesor) at his alma mater, where he directs the Cathedral Organ, Harpsichord and Early Music and Dean Instrumental Faculty. The artist has performed in most European countries. He also conducts master classes in the country and abroad. He has recorded a dozen or so discs. Piotr Rojek is a scholar of the Ministry of Culture and the Arts, Internationale Altenberger Orgelakademie in Germany and winner of organ competitions and composers.