Polish Market Magazine, October 2007r.
Polish Market’s Maciek Proliński talked to composer, pianist and conductor Piotr Salaber. A onetime student of Karlheinz Stockhausen’s master courses
in Kuerten by Cologne, Salaber does most of his composing for the theatre. In November he will appear at Polish Market’s Pearls of Polish Economy gala.Q: They say only a busy artist is a happy artist. Your certainly work a lot, and in a variety of musical fields.
A: I feel close to the musician image of bygone eras, when musicians weren’t seen as merely performers.
I can express myself best through writing music, composing. For years now I’ve been treating all other musical forms as channels by which I can relay what I’ve written. I don’t have time to write for my desk
drawer. If you’re lucky enough to be able to do what you love best in life, then yes, that really is happiness. It’s one of the best things that can happen to you. There is a lot going on in my musical life at the moment. I’m working on scores for a series and a full-length movie to be aired on TV Polsat next spring. I’ve also finished some new music to lyrics by Ernest Bryl, and the premiere is already in November. For New Year’s I’m preparing a premiere showing of a spectacle based on songs by Jeremi Przybora and Jerzy Wasowski.Q: Do you like commissions? Most of your music are stage scores. What draws you to the theatre?
A: I think that in the theatre the seed of inspiration comes from the text, the actors, the director’s visions, or the settings of the play. For me it is easier to write on order. Perhaps it just is easier that way. Theatre
music has evolved a lot in recent years, and today it is almost an separate musical variety. In my work I take great care not to limit the music to a strictly background role which can be faded out any time. I’ve learnt quite a lot from directors I’ve worked with. Working in the theatre I have the chance to move around in a variety of styles and eras. The theatre is also something like an island on which you feel totally free. Here you can always make very subjective, and authentic statements without the whole production and decisionmaking rigmarole you have in the film industry. Also, the theatre opens up some really fascinating vistas – like writing music to “Gulliver’s Travels”. Here I will have to delve back into this fantastic book and translate it into music through the prism of my adult life. At least that’s how I see the challenge today – also because I’ve been at sea for two years myself.Q: “Missa Mundana” is one of your very special pieces, both in inspiration and dedication…
A: The origins of this piece go back a few years. The first parts were inspired by Opera Nova head Maciej
Figas and were to honour pope John Paul II’s visit in Bydgoszcz. When Małgorzata Szułczyńska wrote the text of the mass she was already terminally ill, however we all wanted to offer “Missa Mundana” to the pope within six years of his Bydgoszcz visit. It was to be a sign of our gratitude for his 27- year pontificate. The whole project was possible thanks to the support and hard work of a large group of friends. The premiere took place on April 3, 2005 in the Cathedral in Bydgoszcz, with myself conducting the choir, orchestra and soloists. This was the day following the pope’s death.Q: Emotions are an important part of your music, aren’t they?
A: When we analyzed Stockhausen’s music at his courses, he often said something that proved quite valuable: “Learn! Learn, but when you sit down to write, forget all you’ve learnt”. Of course somewhere in the back of my head there’s all I’ve learnt about music theory and history, but, as Wojciech Kilar once put it, “too much music today comes from the head and too little from the heart”. I couldn’t agree more.Q: What will you play at the Polish Market gala?
A: I’ll be appearing with Ewa Lewandowska, winner of the Handicapped Youth Song Festival in Ciechocinek. It will be a short, intimate evening with a programme selected to highlight Ewa’s exceptional vocal talent. We’ll do some opera and classical music, but also some more popular songs.Thank you
Interview by MACIEK PROLIŃSKI