Henryk Mikolaj Górecki was born in 1933 near Rybnik in Polish Silesia. After musical studies in Rybnik and Katowice, he began making his mark as a composer in the mid-1950s, at the forefront of the Polish avant-garde.
His early works show a clear development from the folk-influenced worlds of Syzmanowski and Bartók to the modernist techniques of Webern and Boulez, as demonstrated in his Symphony No. 1 (1959). During the 1960s, Górecki continued in a radical direction in the ›Genesis‹ (1962-63) and ›Muzyczka‹ (1967-70) cycles, while continuing to explore the folk music traditions of his beloved Tatra region in such works as ›Three Pieces in Old Style‹ (1963).
The simple yet monumental style for which Górecki is today renowned became fully established in the 1970s with such works as the Symphony No. 2 ›Copernican‹ (1972), the much-lauded Symphony No. 3 ›Symphony of Sorrowful Songs‹ (1976) and ›Beatus Vir‹ for chorus and orchestra (1979). Withdrawing from public life in the early 1980s, Górecki concentrated on choral settings and chamber music.
In the end-1980s, Henryk M. Górecki's music has enjoyed increasing popularity on the international level. This renewed interest has led to the composition of two major string quartets, ›Already It Is Dusk‹ (1988) and ›Quasi una fantasia‹ (1991), both commissioned for the Kronos Quartet. In addition to being featured at numerous international festivals, Górecki's compositions have appeared in a series of highly successful new recordings on the Nonesuch and Decca Argo labels.
(Status 1997, Source: Henryk Mikolaj Gorecki)