Composer, educator, active member of the music
world. Baird studied composition under Bolesław Woytowicz and
Kazimierz Sikorski, during the time of Poland’s occupation. In the
years 1947-51 he continued his studies at the State Higher School of
Music in Warszawa [Warsaw] under Piotr Rytel and Piotr Perkowski. He
was also a student in the piano class of Tadeusz Wituski and of
Musicology at the University of Warsaw.
His first works referenced the neoclassical trend: he composed symphonies, suites, sonatas, overtures (including his Colas Breugnon suite – 1952, and Sonety miłosne [Love Sonnets] – 1956). He was one of the pioneers of dodecaphony in Polish music, which he introduced into his compositions from 1955.
Baird – known as “The last Polish romantic” – had a style characterised by profound lyricism, expressiveness, and frequent use of archaising melodic phrases which bespeak a relationship with the musical traditions of the Renaissance, Baroque and Romanticism. Among the best-known of his works are Cassazione per orchestra (1956), Cztery eseje [Four Essays] for orchestra (1958), Egzorta [Homily] for reciting voice, choir and orchestra (to Old Hebrew texts, 1960), Concerto lugubre for viola and orchestra (1975), and Głosy z oddali [Voices from Afar] to the words of Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz (1981).
Baird was a member of the Polish Composers’ Union, and one of the originators (along with Kazimierz Serocki) of the Warszawska Jesień [Warsaw Autumn] International Festival of Contemporary Music, which first took place in 1956.
He also wrote music for 20 films, including Andrzej Wajda’s Lotna (1959) and Samson (1961) – here he used material from his Second Symphony, Wojciech Jerzy Has’ Pętla [The Noose] (1958) and Kazimierz Kutz’s Ludzie z pociągu [Night Train] (1961).
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