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Milosz Magin

Milosz Magin was born in Lodz in 1929. At the Warsaw Conservatory he studied piano under Margerita Trombini-Kasuro and took composition lessons from Jan Maklakiewicz and Kazimierz Sikorski (Grazyna Bacewicz, Andrzej Panufnik and Kazimierz Serocki were also Sikorski students). Magin graduated in 1957, with prizes in both piano and composition. Due to travel restrictions in Communist Poland, Magin's concertizing was restricted to Poland and Russia. In 1957, he won the Vianna da Mota piano competition in Lisbon (he also won prizes at the Chopin Competition in Warsaw and the Concours Long-Thibaud in Paris). Taking advantage of his international exposure, Magin, along with his wife, Idalia Skonieczna, also a pianist, applied for permission to travel abroad. Permission was granted, and the Magins left Poland, eventually deciding to remain in the West. After a year in Portugal, and sojourns in England and Germany, they settled in Paris, in 1960. Unfortunately, in 1963, driving home after a concert, Magin was severely injured in a car crash; in addition to life-threatening trauma, his left wrist was broken and all feeling lost in one of his fingers. Undaunted, he fought his way back to fitness. By 1968, Magin had so much regained his previous form that he was able to record, for Decca, the complete works of Chopin -- a critically acclaimed set that was selected for re-issue on CD. He was also a conductor, as well as a competent violinist and cellist. Hardly surprisingly, he was a dedicated teacher, eager to share his vast knowledge of the piano repertoire (particularly the works of Chopin and performance style. Magin's music definitely deserves to be better known. It is generally tonal, though freely admitting enough dissonance to give much of his output an invigorating, biting tang. Despite a certain eclecticism, which, naturally, implies Polish motifs and moods, Magin's voice as a composer is quite distinctive. A composer of remarkable wit and charm, Magin also wrote music of extraordinary dignity and depth, and a world that embraced Gorecki's Third Symphony should also respond to Magin's deceptively simple but profoundly moving Stabat Mater, for strings and timpani (a favorite Magin combination). His Musique des morts of 1965 was a direct result of the car accident of two years earlier: he "wanted to recreate the musical visions I experienced during [his] ambulance ride to hospital" when he was "in an intermediate state between life and death." Not surprisingly, the piano features prominently in his catalogue: there are five works for piano and orchestra, including three concertos, and a considerable number of solo-piano pieces, four important sonatas, and several suites, exemplified by the Polish Triptych of 1967 -- consisting of three dance movements, the last of which is a ferociously exciting Oberek. There are four other concertos, two for violin and one each for clarinet and cello, as well as further orchestral works, including a Polish Rhapsody (1963), a ballet, Bazyliszek (1964), two symphonies, both scored for strings only (1969 and 1988), and an Adagio, again for strings and timpani. Very little of this output is available on CD. There are two Polskie Nagrania discs, one recorded by Isabelle Oehmichen and the other by Magin himself. Magin died in 1999; he was buried next to Chopin's tomb at the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris.
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