Roman Maciejewski Works in detail

Quintet for wind instruments

Maciejewski’s Quintet for wind instruments (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon and French horn) was commissioned by American instrumentalists and was premiered in Los Angeles in 1971. Although it is a single-movement piece, it comprises 15 sections (from A to O) and is over 30 minutes long.

It is an interesting item in Maciejewski’s oeuvre given its untypical line-up and the composer’s stylistic syncretism. On the one hand the musical form and language (e.g. reference to the traditional polyphonic techniques) place the composition within the neoclassical strand, on the other the use of Polish folk music (the “Oj chmielu, chmielu” motif) points to Maciejewski’s strong attachment to the national-folkloristic trend.

The composition’s assets include attention to colour, so typical of the technique used by Maciejewski, who groups instruments in a variety of ways and contrasts them, e.g. by register changes or motivic correspondence. The quotation from the folk song “Oj chmielu, chmielu” is undergoing transformation in the piece, but also acts as an integrating element.

The composer hoped that the quintet would be appreciated by performers and listeners, as is evidenced by a letter to his brother Wojciech (28 March 1972):

First-rate musicians who have performed it say that it is the best composition for this kind of ensemble and if published, it has all the chances of becoming a permanent part of concert programmes, and there are several thousand such ensembles active here in the United States.