Dramatic Story

Dramatic Story for orchestra (1968–70)

Radio Philharmonisch Orkest van de Nederlandse Omroep Stichting, cond. Andrzej Markowski, „Warsaw Autumn” 1971

Dramatic Story for orchestra
Dramatic Story for orchestra

The title suggesting a reference to a theatrical drama is associated with some ideas for a plot which accompanied Serocki as he was working on the piece, but which ultimately were not put into practice. What emerged was a work resembling a symphonic poem with dramatic action carried out in a purely musical sense through various presentations and transformations of sonic ideas. The premiere took place on 23 September 1971, during the 15th "Warsaw Autumn”, and featured the Hilversum-based Netherlands Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Andrzej Markowski.

The composer himself commented on the piece in the following manner (Programme book of the 15th “Warsaw Autumn”):

The title of the work stems from its formal concept, in which the composer draws on the form of theatrical drama. Several emphasised structural-sonic elements, which are fully distinguishable to the listener, act like a kind of exposition of “dramatis personae”. The way these elements appear subsequently in changed sound forms as well as their mutual relations, nature and development over the duration of the work could be compared to the characters and behaviour of protagonists in a stage drama. There are three closely connected developmental stages in the work leading to a climax followed by a kind of epilogue. The first developmental stage is marked – in addition to exposition – by the beginning of the drama, which, after a number of climaxes of varying intensity, is in a way suspended in the second stage (characterised by an extensive bowed string fragment using quarter tones and string instruments) and attempts to find a different, positive resolution of the conflict. This, however, proves impossible and in the third stage we hear a gradual return of increasing dramatic tensions leading to the main climax of the work, in which the sound matter is torn or broken. This is followed by a brief epilogue with a return of modified elements of the second developmental stage. Despite the fact that such a formal concept could suggest a semantic nature of the work, it is constructed strictly on the basis of structural-sonic elements. However, the composer does provide for a possibility for the work to be performed on stage as a ballet.

Such ballet performances took place twice during Serocki’s lifetime. The first ballet performance of Dramatic Story  – in 1974 at Teatr Wielki in Łódź – was choreographed by Tomasz Gołębiowski, while the second was presented with Conrad Drzewiecki’s choreography at Polski Teatr Tańca in Poznań in 1979.

Ballet performance of Dramatic Story


  • Tadeusz A. Zieliński, O twórczości Kazimierza Serockiego [On Kazimierz Serocki’s Oeuvre], Kraków 1985.


Sheet music available from: PWMRICORDI